Servants of the Crone

Servants of the Crone — Valkyrie Ragnarok

Continue the Valkyrie: Ragnarok story as Faya is taken in by an old crone and discovers a malicious alliance with the forces of evil in Servants of the Crone!

Last Month

Faya sat, wounded, atop the spires of Bastion, watching a sun she’d not seen in years pass across the sky. After a harrowing night, an ash dwarf brought a strange woman to tend to Faya and her pulped leg.

You can check out last month’s excerpt, The Long Night, here.

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I’m going to change things a little, and the reason will become apparent. Faya’s story is evolving, much like any storyteller’s tale evolves over time, through retellings and the teller’s exploration of their story and art. The world of the Valkyrie saga exists in my head and in a growing collection of notes, and these ideas are slowly knitting into a more realised whole. I hope you’ll enjoy watching this story germinate and take root, and that you’ll forgive the few unchecked branches.

The crone’s refuge was hidden away in a hollow spire, high above the chasms of the city. A vagrant’s home lost to the world among the uncountable spires of Bastion’s skyscape. It was dark inside. The ash dwarf’s chains had kept him from following us. She had given me strange berries that numbed the pain but brought back the terrors of the night. We hobbled through a twisted nightmarescape of shadowy towers and thin stone bridges, me leaning on her shoulder, where one misstep would spell death.

In her hovel I lay under mildew covered hides and rags. Hours blurred into days, blurred into weeks, maybe months. Sometimes there was a small fire, but it was always cold. The deathly cold of death’s presence.

I remember tinctures and vials tucked into the rafters, glass and pottery vessels that shone like bat’s eyes when the crone’s fire flared.

There were moments of clarity too, when she worked her rituals. These cut through the figments and drowsiness but brought new horrors that would stalk me from that day to this. These took the form of creatures from the umbral world that exists in the spiritshadow of our own. These vision creatures bayed like dogs at the crone’s chanting as they danced about the walls like shadows. Their claws raked my leg with icy talons, but never cut the flesh, and only when the crone’s gestures or some other distraction took my attention.

When her chanting ceased the demon shadows fled. The pain would come rushing back with unconsciousness and fevered dreams.

The Geezer had once spoken of the threads of magic, the unseen bindings of reality. Wizards knew how to manipulate these, to pluck on the taught strands to conjure manifestations of their wishes. I know now that they had little knowledge of the effect this plucking had, for it was worse than twanging on some spiderweb of the arcane. The witch knew both the web and those that lurked unseen on the other end, past where our world and a world of dark horror meet. She had made some pact with these servants, and they served her well.

The crone taught me many things too, but I hid my revulsion at her arts and failed at my lessons whenever I could fain a lack of understanding.

The Savonin fear one thing more than anything, and their word for it is ‘Venn.’ It might be translated as ‘spirit beings.’ The Savonin are creatures of the here and now. Their immortality binds them to this world. When they die, they have no souls to send to the afterlife, and so they fear anything from that world. Their fear, I think, led them to their hatred of humans, with their short lives and infinite ever afters. The Savonin elves know only the Venn of depravity and despair, for they are closest to the elves. In the common tongue, you’d call them “demons.”

I will not use the Savonin word ‘Venn’ for the eternal creatures of hope and promises kept, though the Savonin do not make this distinction. There is an older Dwargen word more appropriate: ‘Walkure.’ In the common language ‘angels,’ ‘heavenly messengers,’ or ‘little gods’ might all work. The dwargen knew their hierarchy and pantheon, but only worshipped a select few of the Walkure. Chief among the worshipful Walkure was one with many names, some unspoken, who rules over all. It was His light I sought in those dark hours of toiling at spirit calling.

 

The rest of the story continues, but you’ll have to be a newsletter subscriber to get the rest of the action.


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