By-Tor Brigade Legacy
Prologue – The Protagonists
- Loners of Darford
- Li-Al Saar
- A New Alliance
- New Loners
Loners of Darford
Our story began about twenty years ago, somewhere near the village of Darford, on a very stormy night. The wind and rain raged outside the drafty little one-room hut lived in by Gedrik and his wife Thorodda [Þórodda]. She was pregnant with their first child and many days past due for delivery.
The midwife had just visited earlier that day and she voiced how worried she was about Thorodda’s chances of survival. Gedrik was a large man, and Thorodda was quite small. The midwife warned that if the baby did not come soon, its arrival would very possibly kill both mother and child, due to the child’s size. She promised to return early the next morning with herbs that would induce labor.
But in the night Thorodda awoke with a painful scream as her labors began. Her cry was almost drowned out by an explosion as lightning destroyed a tree in the nearby field. In response, Gedrik jumped up to run out and fetch the midwife. Then he grimly realized he would never convince the woman to brave this storm, so he silently started preparing for the childbirth himself.
Thorodda struggled through hours of immense pain and stress before the baby finally started to emerge into the world. Gedrik guided and pulled the baby from his mother’s womb, but when the child finally appeared, the poor boy was lifeless. Thorodda had labored courageously, but the trauma was just too much for her and she also expired.
Gedrik was emotionless for a moment. His whole life had been filled with hardship and mishap, like a man cursed by the gods, yet he had never abandoned his drive for happiness. But this tragedy was too much for him. Anger escalated within him until his whole body trembled with rage. Gedrik held his lifeless son in his hands, lifted him above his head and screamed in fury at the gods. Then a fierce bolt of lightning struck Gedrik’s feeble hut, like retribution from the thunder god himself, as if to teach the forlorn woodcutter yet another unfortunate lesson in humility. The force of the electric flash stunned Gedrik into unconsciousness. Simultaneously, and astonishingly, the shock sparked life into the infant. The baby gulped his first breaths of air and began to cry.
One might wonder, was that the intent of the thunder god? Did he insist upon being the one to grant life to this child through his power? Or was it just an amazing coincidence that resulted from his punishment upon Gedrik. Only the Norns can know and they have not yet revealed the answer to the mystery.
In the morning, when the midwife arrived with her basket of herbs, she was amazed at what she witnessed as she entered the hut: a healthy, breathing, newborn baby boy, lying on the floor beside his unconscious father.
Gedrik survived the ordeal, and the baby was indeed very healthy, seemingly unaffected by the unusual circumstances of his birth. Gedrik had a premonition that the boy would someday accomplish great deeds and achieve great fame, so he named his miraculous son Daedgar [Dædgár], which means “deed-strong weapon-point”, as in “one who leads valiantly into bold deeds.” In the Westrian tongue he became known as Dodge.
Dodge grew much faster and stronger than other boys his age, and seemed to favor becoming a woodcutter like his father. When Gedrik would take Dodge into Darford on festival days, and the local boys would gather teams for their battle games, Dodge always chose the smaller and weaker side to help even the odds. He felt no sense of accomplishment in an easy victory, and would rather oppose those who were more worthy. Despite the requests for alliance from the larger and older boys, he always tended to help the innocent and defenseless, rather than taking advantage of others with his superior size and strength. Because of his brave and noble attitude, he was appreciated and befriended by most of the other children in Darford, especially Sidric, Hrothgar and Sturm, and admired by Sidric’s younger sister Breena.
During one of the Darford festival gatherings Dodge met and befriended two misfit boys his age – Kyran and Glenlivet – and a little blonde girl named Yríadel. Villagers were perplexed as to what drew the athletic and popular Dodge to these oddball loners, but their odd friendship became enduring.
Kyran Grimsson was raised by his elderly parents, Grimr and Brynja, poor subsistence farmers who lived outside the village of Darford. With his black hair, dark eyes, and tan complexion, he bore no resemblance to his Angarian parents – or anyone else from the region. Kyran always suspected he was adopted and eventually his parents confirmed the obvious truth. They revealed that he had been discovered as an infant on their doorstep with only a note reading “My name is Kyran. Please take care of me.” Nothing more was known about his ancestry.
Kyran dutifully learned the trade of farming from his parents. He worked hard for them and became productive, but eventually his parents recognized that farming would not be his calling in life.
Because of his unconventionally dark appearance, Kyran always felt like an outsider. He was quiet and shy as a boy, which caused others to consider him gloomy and aloof, so he usually kept to himself. The rare exceptions were his friends Dodge, Glenlivet and Yriadel.
Glenlivet Lesgoth was the half-elf son of Dargoth and Glenna. He had white hair, pale white skin, and pink eyes. He inherited these albino features through his mother Glenna, from his grandmother Arragwen, who was reputedly a pure albino. His half-elf ancestry came from Dargoth, through his elven grandmother Lesseth. Similar to his friend Kyran, Glenlivet had no chance of fitting in at Darford, despite the appeal of his elven ancestry.
Dargoth was a prominent leader in Darford and a man of substance, so Glenlivet lived his early years in comfort. He was receiving a rare and valuable education until tragedy struck. While still very young, both his parents were brutally murdered. His uncle Arrion and aunt Fenloch took him in, but they quickly burned through his inheritance. Arrion was the older brother of Glenna, and he and Fenloch seemed to resent Glenlivet for some unexplained reason. They forced him to do harsh and degrading work to earn his room and board, and his older cousins Arrioch and Arraphel tormented him and bullied him into doing their menial chores.
Thoughout the sadness of his tragedy, and the travails he endured afterward, the one good thing that remained in Glenlivet’s life was his remarkable friendship with Dodge, Kyran and Yríadel. Whenever Glenlivet could escape the overbearing attentions of his foster family he would try to spend his precious time with his three friends, and he gained relief through their encouragement. He also drew comfort in the solemn knowledge that his father had been a valiant defender of Darford, and that Glenna had been regarded as the most beautiful woman in the village.
Glenlivet held fond memories of his parents telling tales of his unusual heritage, which he would share with this friends. His favorite was how his grandfather, Gleann Liobhait, had come from a highlander clan in the north long ago, moved south to the town of Linwich and became a successful brewer. In Linwich, Gleann discovered the street orphan Arragwen, an albino whom many had shunned due to her looks, but whom Gleann considered exotic and beautiful. He rescued her from loneliness and poverty by marrying her. Because of her, he was ridiculed by his business associates, so Gleann relocated to Darford to raise their children, Arrion and Glenna.
Yríadel Yngvarsdottir was the daughter of Yngvarr and Thýri. As a young child she was skinny and awkward, yet she had an unearthly cherubic appearance that drew much unwanted attention. She had deep brown eyes and golden hair that seemed to glisten in the sunlight. As she grew older, she began to have a troublesome effect on others that she was unable to explain or control. Boys and girls alike were drawn to her, yet the boys could only speak to her in clumsy stutters, so they eventually learned to avoid her. Girls grew to detest her, perhaps out of jealousy for her effect on boys. Strangely, there were three exceptions: Dodge, Kyran and Glenlivet. For some unknown reason, they always felt at ease around her and genuinely enjoyed her company. They wholly admired her and were watchful and protective of her.
As they grew older, when it was just the three boys together, they would talk light heartedly about the village girls – which ones they liked and what they liked about them. Yet they never mentioned Yríadel in these discussions, for secretly they each held feelings for her which they could not describe and preferred not to share. When Yríadel was in their company they spoke of no such things.
Over the next couple of years, as young adulthood arrived for the four, their issues all seemed to increase detrimentally. Kyran became even more solemn and would speak only cryptically about himself. Glenlivet became more anxious and secretive about his appearance. Yríadel felt more and more like a pariah as others could not resolve how to communicate with her. Dodge experienced frequent bouts of anger that would often become violent. When they were together they could often work things out, especially with Yríadel’s calming and healing effect, but their rare days together were about to end.
One summer day, Dodge was doing a chore for his father – taking some repair work to a blacksmith in the village. As he approached the blacksmith’s shop he witnessed his friend Glenlivet being lashed with a willow switch by Glenlivet’s two cousins, Arrioch and Arraphel. Glenlivet, to his credit, defended himself bravely, but was outnumbered and cornered. Despite the pain of the lashing from his teasing tormentors, he chose to fight rather than run away. Angered at the injustice he witnessed, Dodge charged at the two bullies and bowled them over. As the older boys turned the switch on Dodge, a berserker rage seemed to possess him, like those sung in tales of the distant Nordheimr Vikings. Dodge pounded the two boys into blood and bruises before the blacksmith could subdue him and cool his heated rage.
The blacksmith, whose name was Finley, a large muscular man with long, light-blond hair, was a former Viking. He recognized the berserker trait and decided to help poor Dodge. So he extended an offer to Gedrik: he would take on Dodge as an apprentice blacksmith, and secretly train him to control his rage, so that no further mishaps would occur. Gedrik agreed, already having been forced to pay damages to Arrion, the father of the two injured boys.
When Yríadel learned of the incident, she sought out Glenlivet, hoping to heal his wounds and ease his heart. But sadly, he was nowhere to be found. He was so traumatized by the situation that he immediately gathered what few meager belongings he owned and fled from Darford.
Kyran had begun to grow restless and dream about adventuring and great treasures – a much different life than a penniless farmer. He had been teaching himself how to wield various weapons, not just the axe and sword so dominant by the men of his village. Also about this time, strange magical powers began to manifest within him which caused great anxiety. Following the disappearance of Glenlivet, his fellow misfit, Kyran began to feel more and more detached from everyone around him, so he sought the council of his father. Fearful of magical accidents and subsequent reprisals, Grimr took Kyran on a journey, far away to an ancient elven sorcerer named Myrguth, in the distant land of Gwynedda. After examination and careful consideration, Myrguth came to recognize the potential in Kyran, and agreed to accept him as an apprentice sorcerer. Publicly, Grimr would answer questions about the relationship by explaining that Kyran was to be trained in the ways of weapons, which was true, and certainly plausible, for the house guards of Myrguth were famous. But privately, only Grimr knew that Kyran would also be trained in the ways of sorcery.
Not long after the disappearance of Glenlivet and the departure of Kyran, Darford was visited by a traveling priestess. She spotted Yriadel and chose her to study in the temple of Odin at Linwich. Though saddened at the prospect of leaving her family, and her lone remaining friend Dodge, she accepted the invitation and with great hope departed for the city and her apprenticeship as a priestess.
Dodge was now without his closest friends, so he buckled down hard to learn the skills of a blacksmith. And the ways of the Berserker.
After Glenlivet departed from Darford, he wandered east along the River Tamesis, avoiding the city of Linwich. At Tilaburg he sneaked onto a sea-going vessel as a stowaway. He was eventually discovered during the southward passage on the Great Sea, and upon arrival in Dol Amroth he was bound and sold into slavery.
Glenlivet’s purchaser was quite intrigued by his white hair and stark white skin, considering him to be quite a novelty. His master also assumed that escape would be impossible, since he stood out like a bright moon on a clear night sky. However, most of his master’s friends did not care for Glenlivet’s appearance, some were even repulsed, and their relationships deteriorated to the point where his master decided to dispose of him to restore his friendships and business associations.
Glenlivet’s next master assigned him as a rower on a galley ship. While passing through the Bay of Belfalas, their ship was attacked by corsairs. In the bloody battle, the masters of the galley ship were killed. The victorious corsairs promised freedom to all the oarsmen if they rowed the cargo to Umbar. They were amazed at Glenlivet’s appearance – and somewhat fearful – and seemed relieved to be rid of him after they reached the Haven of Umbar.
Everywhere he roamed in Umbar people feared him, and he was attacked numerous times, so he started wearing a cloak to hide his strange appearance, as well as to protect his skin from the hot sun. Departing from the city, he began traveling northeastward towards Near Harad, into the desert, avoiding populated areas. It seemed that practically every place he visited he had to fight for his life.
One fateful day, Glenlivet was befriended by a horribly disfigured man named Ashkari. They became traveling companions, and during their time together he taught Glenlivet to use a small quick sword called a scimitar. Originally from Eruk, a city-state of Shem whose asshuri were famed for their skill at arms, Ashkari had fled his homeland for similar reasons as Glenlivet, to escape ridicule because of his appearance. He had spent the majority of his life’s years roaming the dark lands of Far Harad, yet never found peace. Ashkari was returning to his homeland with the goal of becoming appreciated by his people so that one day they would judge him for his accomplishments and not his hideous appearance. This convinced Glenlivet to return to his homeland too.
Glenlivet began his journey to the port city of Azgalun, the most important coastal city of Shem, and the capital of the region of Pelishtia. Along the road he met a likable rogue named Li-Al Saar, who was also a foreigner to the land but seemed to have a remarkable skill at fitting in. Rather than shunning Glenlivet like others had, Li-Al Saar befriended him.
After they became friends, Li-Al revealed his courageous story to Glenlivet. When he was a very young child, he was stolen from his home by several men with black hair, dark skin, and dark eyes. They were corsair slavers and they took him to Near Harad where they sold him to a man named Al el-Saar, who raised him as a slave in Akkharia, one of the southernmost city-states of Shem. Fortunately, his master was a kind man and treated him very fairly. Li-Al was too young to remember the names of his parents – or even his own name – so his master gave him the name of Li-Al, which means “Bright Star of Al.” In time, Li-Al came to love his master as his own father, and eventually, Al el-Saar adopted Li-Al as his own son. Years later, Al el-Saar became ill and passed away. But just before he died, he revealed to Li-Al all he knew about Willowdale, the land of his birth. With the passing of his adopted father, Li-Al decided to return to this land and investigate his origins.
Upon hearing this story, Glenlivet was astonished to realize they were both originally from the same area of Prettonia, though Li-Al Saar knew it as Forlindon, and they both decided to join their quests together and share their journey to Willowdale.
In Azgalun, the duo acquired passage on a ship to Argos, whence they hired passage for the remainder of their journey across the Great Sea to Prettonia. Eventually they arrived safely in Willowdale, then the village of Darford. Glenlivet was reunited with his childhood friend Dodge, and introduced Dodge to his new friend Li-Al Saar, and the three became good friends. While staying at the Darford Inn, Li-Al also became good friends with Drogo, a halfling rogue who worked as a waiter in the taproom.
A New Alliance
Magna Morko, born Maethron Telhedrion in the Sindarin language of the elves, was the son of half-elves Telhedron and Calarwen. Magna inherited a distinguished ancestry from his father, who was the son of half-elves Telarion and Elhedril Medlineth. Magna’s paternal grandfather Telarion was the son of Telar Bal, a human, and Eristeth, an elf. Telar Bal, Magna’s great grandfather, had been a ranger of renown and at one time a brief member of the By-Tor Brigade. But Telar Bal earned his most acclaim by having fought under the command of Geldron in the Gryflet Guerillas. Magna’s paternal grandmother Elhedril Medlineth was the daughter of Elendil, an elf, and Medliwen, a human. Elendil, Magna’s great grandfather, was a member of the fabled Neldër, an elven warband which included Elendil’s brother Elessar and sister Elwing. Like Telar Bal, the Neldër fought beside Geldron in the Gryflet Guerillas. Elwing eventually became the wife of Geldron. Thus, Magna was the great, grandnephew of Geldron and Elwing. Geldron, Wielder of Gorauk, was a former member of the By-Tor Brigade, but of late was Chieftain of the Gryflet Guerillas [Aran Maethurin] and Lord of Blackwood [Aran Eryn Vorn].
Magna was raised among the secretive peredhil rangers of Eryn Vorn, and trained to track, detect, and slay orcs. In common Westrian, Eryn Vorn is known as Blackwood, and in former times it was once called the Gryflet Forest. Magna completed his training as the leader among his young ranger troop, and on the strength of this ranking (perhaps also due to his distinguished ancestry) he was chosen for a special mission. Geldron, the leader of the Gryflet Guerillas, selected him personally. Geldron explained that he was once a member of a group of adventurers known as the By-Tor Brigade, who became separated after their final rescue mission around 80 years previous. He had lost track of his former companions and could only assume that they had all passed away by now, having human lifespans. Now that Blackwood was finally experiencing an era of peace, Geldron’s desire was to know the stories of their final glory and perhaps the names and fates of their descendants. Therefore, Magna was commissioned to journey to “Willow Dale” and seek out a bard named Curulírion, who could likely be persuaded to provide assistance. The last known location of Curulírion was in the village of “Dartron’s Ford” near the banks of the River Tamesis.
Magna traveled by land to the port city of Vinyalondë, then northward over Belegaer (the Great Sea), across the Sea of Lhûn, to Forlindon and the port of Forlond. He soon learned that the local Angarians called the city Linwich, not Forlond, and that the closest resemblance to Dartron’s Ford was Darford, located up the River Tamesis.
Soon Magna found his way to Darford and was able to locate Curulírion the Bard – whom the locals affectionately called Liric the Scop. Curulírion had settled in Darford a few years before after a fight with goblins up near Prittlewell left him with a crippled leg. He earned his keep as an entertainer in the town’s only tavern and inn. Despite his injury, he was a capable performer, and earned enough to live in one of the rooms above the tavern. Curulírion took an instant liking to Magna, partially due to their shared peredhil ancestry, and they spent several weeks together while Curulírion shared his knowledge about Darford and the local history of Willowdale. While spending so much time at the inn with Liric, Magna also became friends with Trygil, the owner of the inn, and Alrica his daughter.
Liric and Drogo introduced Magna to Glenlivet, which soon led to meetings with Dodge and Li-Al Saar. At first, Magna was taken aback by the unusual appearance of Glenlivet, but he soon got past it after they got to know each other. They both shared a common half-elf ethnicity. About this time, Kyran left his mentor to return home to Darford where he was reunited with his family and old friends – and made new friends, Magna and Li-Al Saar. Soon all five were close companions, sharing meals and pints of ale in the inn whenever they could get the chance.