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A blast from the past


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With all this talk about Guild Wars, etc.


Dairmuid of Halas made his way to the east of Antonica to learn the art of blacksmithing. After many perils he had arrived in Rivervale, aided in no small part by the Lady Feylin D’Credee of some renown. For a time he forayed the lands between the home of the halflings and Freeport, but eventually he grew homesick, and longed again to see the cold majesty of Everfrost.

As has been explained, the path between Halas and Rivervale is dangerous, and not to be trodden lightly. The first time he had tried to come east ended in disaster. The second was only successful due to the spells woven about him by Lady Feylin, making him invisible to unfriendly eyes and filling him with the speed and the spirit of the wolf. Dairmuid was loath to petition this great lady again, and so purposed to make the crossing himself. The deadliest part of the journey compressed all the perils of the many leagues into a mere 500 paces; The Gorge of King Xorbb, which separated the goblin citadel of Runnyeye and the border of the East Karanas, filled with goblins, floating eyes, muddites and many other perils. Not least of these, the hideously axed Minotaurs.

This path had been the bane of many travellers, no few more doughty than Dairmuid. So the Northman instead considered another route via Highpass Hold of which he’d heard nothing but disturbing rumour. Surely this could not be worse than the Gorge of King Xorbb? But if his time in the East had taught him aught, it had taught him caution. He decided to find fresh intelligence of this road before trying it himself.

With this in mind, he approached a halfling, hight Bimblefoot; a hardy, capable though somewhat reckless soul who would scout the way and report back to Dairmuid. After diverse and careful preperations, Bimblefoot set forth and was never heard of again. Our hero concluded that there were indeed worse places in the world than the Gorge of King Xorbb, and Highpass Hold was a place to be assailed by warriors such as he only if travelling in battalion strength.

Another may have quailed at the thought of the journey, but Dairmuid was renowned among those that knew him as a man who acted straight from the heart (often, it was added by those less well disposed towards him, without that vital detour via the brain). He almost turned his back on the thought of going home, but as the Northman worked at the forge, ruining yet another piece of iron ore, he looked up at the hot sun over Freeport and remembered the cool lake of his homeland where the char swam in silver abundance. And he recalled the smoky taste of bear meat washed down with the heady spiced mead that was his clan’s favourite beverage, and the tall women of Halas whose like was not to be seen anywhere else in the world.

In truth, what tilted the scales was that working the forge in Halas had been pleasantly warm, here, in this desert clime the heat and sweat meant that he was forced to bathe almost daily if the petite, disturbingly, pleasantly attractive women of the east were even to give him a second look (Woodelf mays especial; but they tended to have little to do with men of Dairmuid’s status). The Northman threw his hammer into the coals and turned his mind to chancing the fearsome path west.

He left Freeport that very evening after placing a goodly amount of ore in the vaults. The Northman skirted the Commonlands by way of the encircling mountains; this to keep him from the clutches of the giants that plagued those lands. Even so, he came across the occasional fallen traveller who had succumbed to one of the deadlier denizens of that territory. The dreams of his homeland and the thought of regular bathing left behind steadied his resolve through the unspeakable horrors of the Kithkor Woods, and he arrived in the halfling lands of Rivervale without misadventure. Again, he visited the vaults, this time to deposit his beloved claymore “Morrigan’s Kiss,” for he knew the passage would not be made by force of arms and did not wish to risk losing her in that deadly place. Finally, he purchased iron rations and water. It was with some relief that he straightened up (for the ceilings of the halflings are low, threatening injury to head, back and dignity), and headed for the first test; Runnyeye citadel.

Runnyeye was a place Dairmuid had visited many times before; he was no stranger to its passages, but this time the goblins that called these reeking caves home were to be avoided, not smitten. Many of its foul populace were too cowardly to seek battle, so the Northman was confident that he could get to the gorge without incident. Only once did trouble beckon, when a goblin warrior carrying a greatsword looted from one of the fallen drew near. Dairmuid waited until the creature had gone before proceeding; the goblin would have been an easy victim, but the warrior from Halas thought it wise to save his strength for the horrors of the gorge.

In time, his eyes caught the glimmer of a lightstone ahead, and his nose detected the copper smell of fresh blood. He edged forward more cautiously now, more fearful of an errant arrow from a fellow venturer than the swords of the goblins. He passed several corpses of the inhabitants of Runnyeye; Dairmuid nodded. The man who had slain them watched him pass without a word.

At the westwards gate the Northman halted. Here a mage healed a badly injured man while two warriors scanned the gorge nervously. Dairmuid looked out himself, but saw no sign of danger. The Northman whispered a prayer to the Mother of All, before checking his gear one last time and hurling himself into the gauntlet.

Fifty paces down the Gorge, and Dairmuid was suddenly faced by a surprised Goblin lookout. Without thinking the Northman kicked the ugly creature savagely. The blow was not fatal, but sure to be a major disappointment to the victim’s hideous spouse for many a night to come! The anguished howls of the lookout drew the attention of his foul companions, but Dairmuid had already run past his victim and deeper into the Gorge. Bellowing in anger, the goblins launched into vengeful pursuit. Our hero did not stop to look back, but pushed the thoughts of home to the forefront and tried to run even faster. Then at 270 paces there were muddites in front of him; Dairmuid leapt over the unholy monsters before they were aware of him, but then they too joined the pursuit.

The Northman no longer tried to count the number of steps he had taken, but ran and ran looking for the one boulder which marked the way to the west and safety. Mounting a pile of scree he saw the landmark he desired. Heartened, Dairmuid redoubled his efforts to reach safety.

The unseen goblin caught Dairmuid a vicious swipe as the Northman ran past. He stumbled, and for the first time beheld the full number of his pursuers. Blows rained about his head with casual cruelty from the foul soldiery of Runnyeye and the rock hard fists of the Muddites, and Dairmuid would surely have died at the base of that boulder. But one sight in that lonely place gave our hero the strength to cast the evil warriors aside and break free of the silicaceous monsters intent upon taking his life. It was no thought of home, just the sight of a lone goblin, hobbling forward with terrible purpose, protecting injured body part with one hand while brandishing a pair of hastily improvised, horribly practical pruning shears in the other.

With a scream, Dairmuid leapt forward again, almost spent. But he knew that if he could but make the border, the pursuit must cease, so he continued to drag himself westwards. Safety glimmered ahead in the fading light. If only he could keep moving…

The Minotaur leered out of the darkness in front of the luckless Northerner, and the chase was over. Fortunately the dwellers in the Gorge of King Xorbb have no compunction about kill-stealing so the minotaur ended our hero’s life before the outraged goblin could take his revenge. The mob stayed awhile, then drifted away, ready for the next traveller to use the gorge to find fame, or fortune, or just try to avoid a daily bath.


A furtive figure ran from the shadows to where the fallen man lay and began stripping the corpse of its gear, all the while looking fearfully into the heart of the gorge, before retiring towards the Karanas, counting under his breath. At nineteen, he disappeared from view, and the denizens of the Gorge of King Xorbb missed the angry, single syllable epithet which screamed across the plains of East Karana.

The moral of this story? Why there are two; personal hygene is very important, and friends in need are pests, but they do live longer!


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Small world; I have a character on Faydark; a Wood elf Druid called Stag. The update times could be a pain in the butt because the main time I have to play was during the day (I work permanent night shift), so I switched to Runnyeye, a European server.

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