Tales From The Renge: The Prophecy, Chapter Eleven

Draagonlore sat upon his topaz throne in the mountains of the eastern kingdom of Theylorn. The Eastern mountain kingdoms were known for their dragon riders. In the wars against the gods, they had ridden in the alliance of the gods and had struck fear in the hearts of the Rengelanders. Their counterparts to the west, the Orc riders, had ridden for the alliance of races.

The dragon riders had once been allies of the Renge. It had been their duty to see that no threat made it past the eastern mountains, and they had. And they had been richly rewarded by the gods. But they were gnomes. They lived in their mountain tops and took care of their dragon mounts, training for invasions from across the Expanse.

The sea kings saw to trade with kingdoms beyond the Expanse and defense of the coasts. They relied upon the dragon riders for help, at times, but only asked when the threat was too large. In return, they traded with the dragon riders at a preferred rate. This meant that the dragon lords received all trade at a lower cost for their part in defending the coasts whereas the rest of the mountain folk did not.

Trolls and goblins also shared the mountains with the gnome dragon lords, while the dwarf lords sought solace in the roots of the mountains mining for precious metals and stones. The gnelven and gelven peoples lived in the foothills between the mountain kingdoms and the lowland elves. Centaurs and other halfling races wandered throughout the wilds to the south.

Muspel was a hot swampland between the wilds and the southern coast. It straddled the Great Muddy’s southern half, below where the Big Muddy joined it.  At least, that was what Draagonlore had heard. He had never been that far south and all lands looked alike from the air. He didn’t really care to find out what the truth was. Many rumors and legends told what the men of Muspel were. Demons. Wild men. Dark elves. Giants hated by the gods.

They rarely wandered too far north. Few people ever saw them when they did come north and often, they went unnoticed. Perhaps that was a good thing. Most thought it unlucky to meet up with a man from Muspel.

Draagonlore sat back on his throne. The mountains were his. At least the mountains around Theylorn were. To his north, the mountains of El Thrune were under the watch of another, as were the mountains around Thryngaard, Dracias, and Thracius. The kingdoms on the coast were Ophir, with its capital Dark Haven, and Morridia with its capital Dark soul. There were a couple smaller Kingdoms, but they were sparsely populated and either too swampy to be of any importance or too cold to warrant raiders much of a profit.

To the south, the kingdoms were larger, but less of a target. The heat and humidity tended to keep many raiders from going there, but those who did usually found the cities impregnable and blocking their way up the Great Muddy. Some pirates, though, found the challenge irresistible. They couldn’t help wanting to sneak up the river.

None had made it past the twin ports of Colchys and Phrygialis that sat at the mouth of the Great Muddy. Still, the lure was too great for the most seasoned. They continually worked at the defenses, hoping one day to break their power. What lay beyond was anyone’s guess.

No pirate had laid eyes upon the lands of Muspel that lay beyond the great twin cities. No pirate had laid eyes upon a man from those forbidden lands. Every pirate had the urge to bring that lack to an end. What could it hurt?

***

Muspelheim, capital of the lands of Muspel, was a dark wonder on the great continent that held all the lands. One of five black cities, its shadowy splendor was as legendary as Muspel’s history of dark magicks. But the dark magicks were only part of its reason for being. Muspel was a haven for outcasts. Sorcerers. Mages of all Orders.

Though not the fiery land that it was rumored to be, nor the swampy land, it was a land of mystery. Muspellians never left their homeland. There was no need. Their lives were a continuous pursuit of magicks. Here, Sorcerer Supremes were common and not outlaws.

Muspel was known for two things, other than magicks. One was their fire lancers and fire archers, the other were their dark lancers—better known as the demon killers. Their fire lancers were better known as god-killers. Legend had it that they had fought on both sides as mercenaries. The truth was that they had fought on the side of the gods, but had also served as hunters of rogue gods, gods gone bad.

Many of their most heroic had found their way to the hall of heroes, Vallal. There, they awaited, with the heroes of old and the gods, for that one final battle that would unite the lands from coast to coast, and from north to south—even beyond the great land bridge of Mexoltle and Mayatlan to the lands of the Amazons and the Moche Incaran.

Only the wandering mages who sought refuge in Muspel had ever been beyond Mexoltle and Mayatlan to see the Amazon or Moche. Only a few rarely told tales of their time among either. Many had tales of the sharp toothed natives of Mexoltle, the infamous Blood Packs who drank their victims’ blood as they carved their heart from their chests. Mages rarely entered the hellish cities, with their large stepped temples, out of fear of becoming their next victim—their next sacrifice to their dark and evil gods.

Mayatlan, though sharing the stepped temples, was a kingdom of light. Their gods were openly discussed and their customs talked about widely. The inhabitants of Mayatlan were loved by wandering mages because of their hospitality. Open and friendly, the Mayatlani people would take travelers and give them a meal and shelter for the duration of their stay.

But that was as far as the tales would go. Mages would tell no tales beyond what happened in Mayatlan. The Amazon empire and the rising Moche kingdoms remained a mystery.

***

To the west, Elesidel-Lord of the Dark Mountains-stood upon the second floor balcony of his palace. The Roc riders had always looked to the east with wary eyes. The Renge, which lay just beyond the barbarian wastes, had ever been a source of sorrow. Below his mountain home, the White Ring’s cities had materialized making him question what sort of evil had risen in those forsaken lands. Tyr-na-Nog, Elisidel’s grand city, had long been known as the city of eternal youth and its elves envied throughout the lands.

Yet they rarely left their mountains, since the gods no longer roamed the continent. His people were better known as the Aesiri after their second largest city, Aesgrarath. Mydthgarath, their third largest city, held many wonders. In truth, their kingdom was the great and legendary Lotharia and was bordered by Ambria, Caerium, and Dumnonia.

Vaenirium, the sea kingdom, stretched the entire length of the western coasts. Somewhere beyond the Great Western Expanse, that great endless ocean, lay the lands to where the demon hordes had been banished. Some said that the demon hordes had been banished to islands somewhere upon the Expanse, others said there was a great continent somewhere beyond even the islands where they had been banished. To most, it didn’t matter. The demon hordes had been banished and a spell held them bound to their prison.

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