++ Winds of Fortune Spring 381YE ++ Spear of the Stars


“In Wintemark they call it Rhyv, the bleeding wound, or the bloody dagger” said Dalbor, touching the runestone carefully. “The rune of blood - healing and harming like the double-edged knife.”

Rak nodded. “We also call it Rhyv, obviously -”

“Obviously, that is it’s name” Dalbor interjected, emptying his glass.

" - but my mother called it the spear, not the dagger. It is still bloody, but it is the hunter’s spear. It kills, it sheds blood and in doing so brings life to the tribe." The orc leaned back from the runes scattered across the table, his eyes a little distant as he finished his own drink.

“Was your mother a hunter?” asked Dalbor.

“Yes, I seem to recall it. We were separated quite early of course - as soon as my abilities became apparent. The Dragons are careful to ensure that the testing and training of those who can wield true power begins early.”

“Tell me about the dragons,” the old Varushkan asked, directly. The warlock stared at him, expressionless, blinking slowly.

“It’s interesting that this is the first time you have asked,” he said, speaking slowly as if choosing his words carefully.

“For a while I was worried it would be rude,” Dalbor shrugged. “But the Winter night is dark and long, and neither of us is tired, and we have hours to fill until dawn …”

Rak raised his eyebrows, slipping the runestones back into his belt. Dalbor refilled their glasses. Slowly, the orc opposite him reached up and lifted the orichalcum medallion that lay against his chest. He ran his fingers over its five serpentine heads, their gemstone eyes glinting in the candle light.

“The Dragons are the Thule. They are living ancestors,” he said without preamble, a tone in his voice as if he were reciting. “Five of them, as old as our people - older. If they were born at all it was before the first humans came to this place. We were not the Thule then - it was they that made us Thule. They taught us to be hard. They taught us true power. They guided us to conquer, to wield magic, and to take what is our due.”

He looked at Dalbor then, from under furrowed brows. “Do you understand? They are so much more than leaders; they are the absolute certainty of our lives. They watched over me before I was born and if I am hard, and wield power without weakness, they will shelter me with their wings when I am dead. I knew their names before I could talk, I learned to read by studying them and their aspects.”

The orc’s finger lingered on each dragon’s head as he named them.

“Caridis Runebinder, speaker of the truth. Orobus the Chained, who brings and binds. Night-Dark Fraynir, the one who waits. Hinodir of the Bright Orb, who sees all. Tahenon the Gyre, great in his wrath. Five-and-one-and-five at the heart of us all.”

Dalbor began to become uneasy. Normally, the orc diplomat seemed on the verge of openly laughing, taking delight in wordplay and discussion. He had never seen him so serious, and focused, and distant. His eyes were hooded, his voice rough, all hint of self-assurance melted away and replaced by something else. Awe. Or dread. The old Varushkan was reminded that the warlock was not some jovial Imperial Orc, some fellow citizen, but a member of an ancient and inhuman people who had been at war with humans since before there was an Empire.

And Dalbor was alone with him, and everyone else in the house was asleep. He felt a sudden urge to change the subject.

“You know I never noticed before,” he said, as casually as he could muster. “All the orcs I have ever known or heard tell of are uncomfortable when they aren’t around their own kind, but you seem to have no problem with being alone.”

Rak considered him, his face again blank and unreadable.

"That is very true, Dalbor. " he said lightly as he slipped his medallion back inside his shirt. “But then … I am never alone.”

And his face broke into a broad smile that did not quite reach his eyes.

The Thule! Northern neighbours of the Empire, currently at peace after centuries of war. Now that Doghri Thulebane is no longer doing his famous impression of “giant well-armoured strategically positioned fly in the ointment”, there are opportunities to be exploited- for the Northern Trade Network, and for the Senate alike.

There’s also some new flies in the ointment - specifically matters of Imperials held as slaves, and at least one accusation of clandestine raiding that must be answered.

You can learn the details of this wind of fortune here → https://www.profounddecisions.co.uk/empire-wiki/Spear_of_the_stars

#spearandmagicimplement, #itbelongsinanorcmuseum, #embassyshmembassy