|The following article contains player-created lore or theories.
It is not necessarily an accurate reflection of official game lore.
Tales from the Windswept Peaks
These tales are from the Windwalker sect of the Nomads of the Arid Steppe, and will attempt to give a perspective on things from their view.
To the readers of the Tales, I will now introduce myself, and tell you a bit more about the Tales. I am Kraggur Kveldcharn, a scholar of the Moon Mage guild. For several years now I have followed the Nomads of the Arid Steppe, living their ways, following both their seers and their normal people.
The Tales are glimpses into moments I have witnessed or been told about in the lives of Nomads. Unlike the other so called “sects”, the Nomads are not a body of magicians, but an entire nation of individuals. To call the Nomads Moon Mages makes as much sense as calling the inhabitants of Riverhaven or Shard Moon Mages. The difference is that many of the leaders, oracles, and soothsayers are able to seek the future through their various methods. Many fall into the category of Skindancers, who seek the probabilities through the cast of rune-inscribed bones, or through spirit journeys conducted in their yurts. Others practice darker arts more akin to necromantic practices and are considered insane – the Bonedancers.
As such, the seers of the Tribes are drawn in three distinct ways. The first is toward their individual tribe. These range from the Bensu to the Windwalkers, and for more information I will refer the reader to the Trabe Plateau, where Guildleader Cherulisa and the nomad in the yurt will be glad to answer questions about the tribes. Even though centuries have passed since the unification of the Tribes, these identities have not died. They are aspects which contribute to the whole that no longer endlessly war as they did before the coming of Kir Dor’na’torna.
The second is as the Nomads of the Arid Steppe. Within this are their roles as advisors and leaders to the nation that wanders the high plains and mountains west of Hibarnhvidar. This separates them from the other sects, which are groups of lunar magicians working towards their similar ends. It is this role, and their distance from Throne City and the usual machinations of the residents of the “civilized” lands which gives them pause in their allegiance to the guild.
Third are the bonds that tie them to the Moon Mage Guild. It is undeniable that Kir’s actions greatly benefited the Nomads. These ties are loose, for the Nomads defy single leadership as they are nomadic. Sect members wander Kermoria, and likely other places abroad, yet as a whole entity, they comprise a sizeable enough contingent of the Guild that they cannot be overly coerced.
Guildleader Cherulisa spans the gap between the second and third areas. She was a member of the Council before she resigned to take residence in the crystal spire atop the Plateau and breaking the second Kir’s influence over the Tribes. As such she is painfully aware of how many nomads feel about the role of the guild and its attempts to steer the Nomads.
Returning now to the Tales, I will leave it to the reader to discern which I have been told, and which I have witnessed myself. I hope that these writings may inspire others to look into the histories of their own guild and attempt to discern the lore and actions of their members.
Signed by my hand,
Kraggur Kveldcharn, 187th day of the 394th Year AV
- Note that this was originally written just after "Bones"
Precariously perched on a ledge in the mountains bordering the Arid Steppe to the west crouches a nomad. The hides worn are decorated with a multitude of bird feathers, flapping wildly in the winds that roar along the mountainside.
With a fading blue flash, a second figure appears next to the nomad, also clad in feather-decorated hides. The winds whisper and bring the smell of decay upon them. Such as has not been scented since the false Kir strode the Steppes.
The first nomad turns his head slightly towards the newcomer, apparently unperturbed by his arrival.
- "It is as the winds have long whispered, since the foreigners first stepped past our lands. Much good and much evil came from their arrival, though they left tasks unfinished. But it is as the Winds of Fate dictate. We can do no more and no less. Time still flows though increasingly short."
Turning to face the wind, the first nomad’s mouth moves for a moment before he disappears in a blue flash similar to the second nomad’s arrival.
A nomad clad in a bronze scaled outfit designed as a wyvern dances slowly upon a mountaintop. Around him, precariously balanced, other nomads play a haunting tune on bone flutes.
The wind rises and falls, at times overpowering the flutes, but they only serve to play off each other in harmony.
Slowly the nomad's voice is heard chanting louder and louder in the tongue of the Windwalkers.
- "Seasons come and change, let the Wyvern die it is its time. Scales come to rest and the panther rises to hunt."
The wyvern-nomad then sits down, and is revealed holding a drum as he lets then outfit fall from his shoulders. A rapid rhythm arises from the drum, and the flute players disappear in flashes of red and black only to be replaced by other drummers in similar flashes of light.
A crescendo builds then comes to a thunderous silence.
As a female nomad appears, in a flash of black light, clad as a golden panther, the drummers bow then vanish.
She slinks toward a small altar scattered with runes. Pulling a knife from within the skins, she cuts across her palm and lets her blood fall before the altar before swiftly binding the cut with a clean strip of cloth. Taking the runes in her other hand, she then kneels, her face turned to the sky, observing the stars in their patterns.
Minutes pass by before the wind seems to whisper, now! and she casts the runes.
Studying them for a moment, she then stands and returns to the center of the mountaintop. Slowly, the figures reappear: first the wyvern-nomad, then the flutists, and lastly the drummers. They all kneel before the panther-nomad.
- "The omens for the year are as dark as the tainted winds that reach us. Yet, the golden panther shall hunt, and not be the hunted."
For comments see here.
In two brief flashes of a black void, two nomads appear on a ledge overlooking the Trabe Plateau, which lies to the distant east. A harsh wind swirls snow around them, and settles in the elegant beard of the older nomad.
The older nomad says, "One of the soulless guardians has appeared on the Plateau. The winds have said such to me. They whisper that it is related to the stench of darkness that comes from the lands where the sun sets."
- "Our mountains will likely protect us. What of the unliving cares for our mountains? Yet several of us have walked the winds to Forfedhdar to help them face this threat. Too well do we remember the days of darkness and the false Kir."
The younger nomad figets and looks nervous.
- "What if they do come up here? What will we do then?"
- "Do what we have always done - survive."
Bitter winds swirl across the mountain range, yet for now the snows have stopped. The screams of a few wounded come from the yurts carefully arranged on a broad shelf. A bearded nomad stands slightly to the side, looking down at the encampment.
A wise woman steps from the closest yurt, her leathers covered in blood up to the elbows, as well as down the front of an apron overflowing with bandages and herbs. The bearded nomad walks towards the wise woman.
- "It is good we did not march to the lowlands, or that the walking dead did not come farther north. But it is also good that we send aid to the dwarves, for they have upheld their deals with us."
A series of flashes occur as a handful of nomads appear, some carrying others, about half of them wounded. They move into the tents. Shaking her head sadly, the wise woman replies over her shoulder as she turns to heads back toward the yurt.
- “Death stalks us still though. None of the young have died yet, but the injuries keep coming. You know we are too few to survive if many die. Would you have the line die out completely to uphold our agreements?”
Touching a heavy onyx amulet that rests around his neck, bearing the sigils of the wolf, nightingale, and raven, the bearded nomad nods once without hesitation.
- “Yes. Without honor and memory we are as nothing. Would you have us become as the Bonedancers?”
Quick as a striking snake, the wise woman spins and slaps the bearded nomad across the face.
- “Never mention that tribe again. They are as nothing. They listen not to the wind, only the dead silence in their hearts.”
Clinging to the side of the Hag’s Crag, a young nomad ascends the face of the mount, snow and wind threatening to dislodge her. A courier's case is bound tightly at her waist.
Above the battlements of the Raven’s Gate a figure wearing hides crafted from firecat pelts fires arrows into a mass of shambling creatures darkening the park east of the city.
Leathers torn almost to shreds, another nomad fights, then dies under a royal blue flag flying a black tower under a golden seven-pointed star.
Carrying a thick pack stuffed with cotton, an older nomad wanders the back roads before crossing a bridge to the south of a tall crystal tower. He carefully unloads the pack, gently stacking vials of naphtha in a crate that was nearly depleted.
Far from all these scenes, a withered crone steps back from a basin filled with water which gradually clouds over. She shakes her head sadly, yet a grim smile rides upon her face.
The wind howls and screams outside of a hollow cave in the mountainside. Around a fire sit several nomads while a few guard dogs bask sleeping in the comforting heat. Snow drifts are piled on either side of the trail running past the cave mouth except where the winds have blown it clear.
As one, the nomads start a drifting chant which focuses the mind then lets it float free. In the back of the cave a young nomad stiffens, her face exhibiting an image of sheer horror before it relaxes to a state of resigned unhappiness. Slowly she speaks of what she sees:
- “There is torment as freedom is bound in our image and name… a fragment of the heavens locking in an ancestor’s soul in name. He screams for he has become bound, yet by binding him, he in turn binds the heavens. The shard has shifted and is now part of us.”
An ancient crone stops suddenly in midstride before falling to the ground clutching her head. Hurriedly, the other nearby nomads run and delicately lift her, bearing her to her tent. She lays there whimpering as healers are swiftly summoned. Days pass and none of the normal remedies work. Finally, seeing no other recourse, the nomads seek aid from the seers.
The seers quickly take her to the highest peak near where this section of the mountains where the tribe is camped. There she is laid upon the finest wolf furs at hand, while they weave their magic upon her. One stands aloof, his face held to the wind, seeking the omens carried upon the howling winds.
Suddenly a hand shoots forward from within his robe, deeply scarred and worn from the years. The actions around the crone stop immediately.
- “She sensed the beacon shining from far in the east. I too sense it as a challenge to rival the very heavens. It is laden with the prayers of all the gods, and has no place within the cosmos as we understand it. The shrieks of countless souls fill the crone’s second sight, blinding her to our world.”
He quickly incants a spell, and suddenly the crone’s body relaxes. He motions for the nomads to carry her back to her tent.
- “That should allow her to regain control over her second sight.”
Raising the hood of his robe, he then sits, back to the group and loses himself in meditation.
Icy winter winds still blast the mountain peaks as a nomad struggles to ascend a mountain. Below her, along the steep-sided valley, lie the tents of her people, and even farther below are the herds of her tribe.
Struggling, she slips and falls for several yards before precariously catching herself and resuming the climb. Gradually, she reaches the peak, her hair covered with dirt and sweat, blood flowing freely from cuts and scratches.
The tassels on her leathers are whipped to knots as she turns her head to the heavens and shrieks a clarion call as piercing as a hawk’s cry. From the other side of the peak, appearing from thin air, a stout figure wrapped in a fine robe steps next to her, the glint of chainmail appearing from under the collar. Reaching into a sack, the figure draws a finely crafted metal knife which she takes.
Grabbing the nape of her hair, she sharply draws the knife, cutting loose her braid of hair. Loose blond strands snap free in the wind, and her shorter hair now whips around her face. Swiftly she bends and ties the cut braid to a pole set at the summit. Along side that she lays a bracelet woven from mountain flowers. With fierce pride she cries out again before sitting down and closing her eyes, and bearing her left shoulder.
The figure shrugs its shoulders in a wry manner, indicating that it is pleased before crouching next to her. Swiftly implements appear on the ground next to her, and the figure begins its work. Blood soaks into the folder leather at her shoulder as the figure works, gnarled fingers and hands steady despite the shifting winds.
At length the task is done, and the figure collects its tools and then disappears in a flow of black shadows. The woman stirs, and then draws her leathers up again, before slowly descending the mountain. Yet the tattoo becomes briefly visible, a golden eagle with its wings stretching down her arm and up her neck, with the pinion feathers just brushing her left eye socket.
Sitting next to the dying embers of a fire, a young nomad carefully cleans the last gore from a set of boar tusks. He then sets them aside and grabs a burin, delicately carved from an oak limb and set with a small topaz.
Tilting his head back, his eyes stare into the sky for several minutes, observing the constellations. He then looks down, and picks up the bones, his eyes closed as the chants softly under this breath. Slowly red lines form over the tusks with the passage of the burin, forming lines of some significance across their length.
At last, the nomad is finished, and he sets down the burin in place of a slightly curved bladed knife. For hours his hands move over the tusks, whittling away the material as the chant continues under his breath. The magic guiding his hands has taken the place of the firelight, the embers now cooled to darkness. Grey shadows stretch as the false dawn starts.
Finishing his task, slender curls of white and brown showered across his leggings and boots, he reverently sets aside the blade. Rubbing his thumb over each of the four pieces, he gives a brief nod before filling a small clay plate with some white liquid, which he gently rolls the bones in, some of the last remaining red symbols flaring briefly before disappearing. Taking an identical plate, he pours black liquid into it, repeating the process, and causing the last of the symbols to flare before fading. Two bottles are filled with the leftover liquids, and then the nomad rises.
Turning to the west, the half-crescent of xibar is still faintly visible. Once again taking up his burin, he studies the moon intently before rapidly scribing each of the many sides of an almost spherical bone. Over an hour is taken, one sigil slowly flaring to life at a time, this process repeated sixty three times.
Xibar has set by now, and the warm reds of the summer morning start brining color to the surrounding steppe. The nomad unsheathes a slender knife crafted from bone from its strap on his thigh. Below it a bloodstained bandage is visible, the cloth as of yet unstained from daily wear. Holding the bones high, the knife flashes quickly, and a single line of blood forms from a shallow cut on his hand. Clenching his hand tightly for a moment, the bones held tight in his grip, the nomad mutters a quick prayer to his ancestors and spirits of the gods. The knife is returned to its binding, and he then opens his hand as he kneels down to the short grasses.
The cut upon his hand is gone and there is no evidence of blood as he reverently casts the bones along the ground. For a brief moment, the nearly spherical bone is highlighted as a blue flash in the symbol of a star is shown. His head bowed, the nomad offers thanks to the spirit of the fallen boar, before collecting the bones and placing them in a soft leather pouch at his hip.
- Moved to: Stories behind Lunar Enchantment
Death and Dolls
Screams erupt from within a tent, high pitched and wailing from young throats. A small child, staggers out from the tent, blood streaming from an arm cut down to the bone, taking several small steps before collapsing. Several adults sitting around the fire leap up to tend to the child, others darting into the tent before they too are driven back, deep lacerations evident around their lower bodies. One yells, “It’s the dolls! They live!” before falling to the ground, blood seeping in a widening pool.
Simultaneously, other screams echo from other tents as the camp erupts into chaos. In the flickering firelight, dolls wielding scythes dance maniacally as they spread suffering and chaos. All too soon, the camp becomes silent, except for the eerie sound of wooden parts moving.
Several days later, another band of Nomads comes across the encampment. Noticing the bloodshed and violence, a messenger is immediately sent to call the seers and wise women to council. A second is sent to the Tower and the Guildleader Cherulisa. The remaining Nomads linger to conduct rites for the dead.
The gathered elders prepare for their auguries, aided by Cherulisa, when the sound of thundering hooves is heard. A slender elf flings himself from the saddle, and strides to the group, bows perfunctorily to the Guildleader and then states, “Boar Clan has been attacked. Many have died, but the perpetrator, one Hobglup the Toymaker has been revealed, and his evil creations driven off. We believe that now he travels to the Fists far to the east.”
The elf bows briefly again before commandeering a fresh mount and continuing on to the south. “I ride for Hibarnhvidar to carry word there. We believe he is up to more evilness, and I would burn any doll he gave rather than risk it ride.” Spurring the mount he disappears back into the night.
A wizened seer stands and nods his head to Cherulisa, “We must warn the other camps, in case something does happen.”
Council upon the Plateau
Many nomads sit gathered around a campfire, their faces turned ruddy by the coals. Before them stands a young man, passion blazing in his eyes as he angrily gesticulates towards the east.
- “We must go forth and challenge this evil. The foul ones inhabit the forests below; pollute the mountainsides and the clean air with their sorceries. I can smell their taint from here.”
The other nomads listen to his words and shake their heads, save for a few younger members who nod in agreement and mutter encouragement. An older tribesman stands and motions for silence. He gazes into the heavens for a moment before looking back down.
- “Such is not, and has not been our way. We are not the desert tribes, who came from the North, nor are we of the tribes beyond the southern mountains, with their war-like ways. Long ago, the D’Reathor waged war, striking down the Trabe. If we leave here as such, even in the name of protecting the wilds, we shall be such as the others, taking violence where there is now peace.”
Even before he finishes his statement the young man is already rising and talking again,
- “But we know the sorcerers are evil, and bring harm to the land. They make the dead walk again, and make no qualms about it. Even here we have heard of the Temple’s purging of necromancers and sorcerers, of the Hounds baying accusations, and mobs forming in the streets. What if they come here, claiming our Shamans and people are no better, for our use of the sacred bones and skins?”
As he finishes this statement, more assenting voices are heard in response, yet the gathering continues late into the night as each faction speaks its piece.
Passage of the Nera
A wisened woman, bearing the tattoos of the Windwalkers sits before an assorted collection of nomads, who have gathered for the fall moot. Many gather close for it is heard that on this night she shall recount the coming of the Nera to the steppe.
- "In the ancient days, before the tribes flourished in full and the seers established their holdings upon the plateau more fully, we, the Windwalkers held sway over the far western mountains where heaven and sky meet. Uncontested masters of the high peaks, all were thought known to us in our range, as we traveled north and south with the seasons."
- "One summer, word reached us of a peoples from the west fleeing some unknown darkness. We watched as they passed through the lowland valleys where our herds oft grazed in the winter. They were a ragged group, not like those you know of today."
- "Upon their way, we aided several of them in their passage. In return we gained knowledge of a new sigil lore, patterns which then we were able to scribe to our geometric techniques. It was a most beneficial exchange."
- "To this day, the Nera do not speak of what forced them from their lands. The darkness they scribed to did not penetrate the mountains upon which the Windwalkers tread, nor so far as we know to the plateau. Perhaps one day we will know, but for know the secrets remain locked within the lore of the Nera."
Across the Plateau, seers, sages and warlocks simultaneous erupt from their deliberations with the announcement that the great evil has been slain in the distant lowlands to the east. As materials are collected for celebration at one encampment, several figures remain in the background, untouched by the celebrations. One of the warlocks approaches them, and with a nod and curt word, they are dispatched. Returning to his brethren, the warlock replies:
- “Now is not the time for celebration. While she might be gone, the taint is firmly established here now and shall not be returned back to the wastelands in the west. Yes, a victory has been won, but the war is far from over.”
Y'Shai (Part 2)
As the winter snows swirl around the Trabe Plateau, several young nomads confront two elder shamans.
- “You said the soulless one would be gone once Lyras had passed! Yet that monstrosity remains, defiling our lands.”
- “You must have patience, these things can take time to resolve.”
- “The undead ones crossed our lands for many moons and the shamans failed to see that, many of the herd were lost. Now Cherulisa sits in her tower and does nothing as those…” the leader of the young nomads spits on the ground, “fools like you sit in their towers elsewhere, caring nothing for our peoples!”
Rapidly, the second shaman reaches out and slaps the nomad across the face. As a stilled silence settles, the second shaman speaks softly, and then walks away.
- “Challenge not that which you lack the knowledge and foresight to understand, child. Our people have benefited long from our association with the other towers, even if it is not always apparent. While we have also suffered their indignity and sacrilege to our sacred ancestors, it is not your role or place to question such matters.”
Y'Shai (Part 3)
Angry voices are heard as a line of torches wend their up towards the Spire upon the Plateau. As the voices become louder, an aged but vibrant lady steps from the Spire. Her gaze is cold as as starless night as representatives from the Tribes crest the top of the hill. A frown furrows her brow as the wind carries the words to her, words of frustration, anger and hatred. Unlike the last time, when the voices were youthful, she now hears older and wiser voices in the crowd.
- "She said the soulless one would be gone!"
- "It would only be here until the necromancer's threat had passed!"
- "Why do these shamans keep thinking they rule our lives?"
One hand idly rubs the ivory and copper carving on her wrist as the representatives come closer, their faces finally visible. Nodding as she recognizes faces from the remaining Tribes, including those who are leaders amongst them but not necessarily magicians, the lady steps to the side and gestures them into the Spire.
Y'Shai (Part 4)
Still the soulless one remains upon the Plateau, guarding the shard in the Spire. Representatives of the different tribes pass back and forth from the gates, and often raised voices can be heard from Cherulisa's office. From the quarters assigned to him, the Dwarven scholar listens on with interest as the authority of the guild is repeatedly challenged by the people of the Plateau. The soulless one has also come to disturb him, for his time amongst the tribes has brought him close to their ways of thinking. His quill scratches on parchment:
- "What does it mean when the statements of an authority are not backed by action?"