Friday, October 2, 2015
Tiberius triumphant return from the battle of Mago’s Tomb was met with troubling news. While the Hydra Legion has been successful at keeping order in the countryside, the Beastmen of the city of Hamatar have been chafing at subjugation under Tiberius. Upon seeing the Skull Collectors facing an external threat they seized the opportunity to rise up in open rebellion. Large bands of bugbears turned bandit and began attacking the tax collectors and merchants of the realm.
In a fury, Tiberius gathered his forces and set out to make an example of the beastmen. Intending to turn the city into a pile of rubble as a warning to other beastmen that may harbor thoughts of rebelling, Tiberius marched upon the city with the Hydra Legion; Murderface and Fan Club; and Manfred, Beavis, and Dead Eye Hayes. Using his carpet, spells, and the newly acquired Rod of Deception to cloak their movements, Tiberius hunted down and destroyed a number of marauding bands outside the city. After a week of skirmishes, the bugbears withdrew back into the city. Tiberius then proceeded to lay siege to the city. Purple Worms rampaged through the city, undermining foundations and collapsing buildings. Eventually Tiberius led a strike against the leadership of the beastman revolt. When the leaders fell, the rest of the rebels scattered. The city was razed to the ground and the survivors either fled the realm or were hunted down. Hundreds were taken prisoner and sold into slavery, many ending up in Yoesville.
After quelling the rebellion, Tiberius returned to Fort Hydra. He invested heavily in improving the city, domain, and his personal tower. Fort Hydra’s control expanded south and east into the unclaimed territory between Gatavia. Over time, he used a series of Wall of Stone spells and Permanent Illusion spells to create the Hall of Wonders. The Hall of Wonders is an outdoor garden/museum where citizens can go to view illusions of the fantastic creatures that the Skull Collectors have faced and defeated in battle. With the Hall of Wonders complete, Tiberius withdrew into magical research. Using his newly created library and workshop of legendary proportions, he started performing more and more radical magical experiments. He researched several new power summoning spells to place fantastic creatures under his control, and created several rituals, including wish. Constructs of various kinds with strange abilities began to emerge from his workshop, fighting alongside the Hydra Legion. He also created several powerful magical artifacts of his own design, bestowing several upon Helpful Bill and the other Skull Collectors. It was during one of these experiments that a strange green glow enveloped Tiberius’ tower. Those looking at the tower could see it within as additional colors began to swirl around it. With a loud sound like the ringing of a giant bell, the tower vanished. Some say that the tower imploded, killing all within. Others say it was transported to a distant time or place. Divinations gave little information about what occurred, except to say that Tiberius would eventually return. As years and generations passed the story became little more than a legend with most believing that Tiberius would never return.
After crushing the Bugbear Rebellion, Sister Helena left Tiberius’ service and established a fortified Abbey to the south of Fort Hydra on the southeastern corner of Gatava, pledging to defend the tenants of the Neutral faith. The small village of Sister’s Blade arose around the Abbey. She trained the Sisterhood of Juno, a group of Bladedancers that would help defend the tenants of the neutral faith.
Helpful Bill remained in Tiberius’ service, helping to rule over the beastmen in the Realm and serving as Tiberius’ second in command in the Hydra Legion. As a reward for long term service, Tiberius formally made him the first Knight of Valdar, bestowing the title of Sir Bill, General of the Hydra Legion. Sir Bill led the Hydra Legion for many years, personally training many of the new recruits and keeping the peace. It was a common sight to see him riding into battle on the back of a Hydra that he summoned using the enchanted Hydra figurine that Tiberius created for him; and flanked by two golems in the shape of hydras, controlled by an amulet that he wore. Following Tiberius’ disappearance, Sir Bill assumed full command of the Hydra Legion and became ruler over Fort Hydra. He would marry one of Tiberius’ former apprentices, Valinia, and pass the realm down to his son Helpful Bill the Second upon his death.
The shocking secret of Portchester having traded dwarves to the Old Ones in return for peace during the founding of the city caused immense anger to spread far and wide in the dwarven territories, and nowhere was this anger better personified with than Murderface Jack.
Murderface Jack personally began scouring the Badlands, ruthlessly slaughtering anyone wearing a symbol of Bor, or identifying as being from Portchester. At least at first. Murderface’s rage rapidly expanded beyond just hating Bor or Portchester, and quickly expanded to the nearly genocidal hatred of humans. Villages discovered to have a worshipper of Bor were put to the sword and entire caravans traveling to or from Portchester were wiped out to the last soul. The followers of Woden soon began following suit, and the rest of the Skull Coalition were forced to take action before any more innocents were slain.
Badaxe Jack, ever a shrewd dwarf, used every ounce of his religious and secular authority to set Murderface to a task: war with Portchester. Calling upon diplomatic ties with the forces of the elf woods, and taking advantage of Murderface’s recent rampages emptying the northern end of the Badlands of any humans (with the exception of a few small towns), Badaxe swiftly tripled the territory he directly controlled, creating a massive increase in the dwarf population of the Badlands.
Meanwhile, Murderface was set to task expanding both Badaxe Jack’s army, as well as his personal army, The Sons of Woden. Now based in The Tower Graf, The Sons of Woden utilized Skull Mountain as a training area. One-Axe Jack and Two-Axe Jack used Murderface’s ring as a recruitment tool, gaining even more raw recruits to be turned into berserkers.
Murderface’s rage was occupied, but now he felt a great emptiness. Killing weak humans was not the future that Murderface pictured for himself. One night Murderface received a dream of Woden himself. In the dream Woden ordered Murderface to sail out of the Badlands, never staying in one place for any longer than a month, until Woden orders otherwise.
And so Murderface made ready to leave. He declared that One-Axe and Two-Axe Jack would be the new leaders of the Sons of Woden, to operate using the lessons learned during their time with Murderface, under the direction of Badaxe Jack and with the divine council of Fancy Jill. The names of One-Axe and Two-Axe grew to become the titles of the nominal leaders of the Sons of Woden.
Leaving a vast fortune in treasure and magic to the Sons of Woden, Murderface made off, stopping only long enough in Portchester to topple the bell tower at the church of Bor and scrawl obscenities on the roof of their chapel in the blood of its defenders.
Where Murderface went from there is the matter of stories to his friends and horror stories to his enemies. But it is believed that he will return to the Badlands for his greatest, and final, battle.