Tag Archives: Valkyrie: Ragnarok

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.

Subscribe to our newsletter for the full excerpt. You can find past excerpts by checking out the Valkyrie: Ragnarok tag (bookmark it).

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.


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The Long Night — Valkyrie: Ragnarok

Continue the Valkyrie: Ragnarok story. Can Faya survive the night, perched high above the city, among the spires of Bastion?

Subscribe to our newsletter for the full excerpt. You can find past excerpts by checking out the Valkyrie: Ragnarok tag (bookmark it for easy access).

Faya swam in a confusing dreamland, half-waking, half-sleeping. She felt incredibly tired, but it was a comfortable weariness. She was aware of pain, but it was numbed and barely real. Slowly her senses coalesced and she realised she was propped up against the hard granite of a pillar. An ash dwarf—maybe the one she had seen on the bridge below—was rifling through her bag.

“Hey, stop that you!”

“Whaaat? Is not stealing I is doing. I is looking fur summin’.” The ash dwarf held up its empty hands indignantly. “You is lost lots of blood, you is. I is ‘opin’ to mend you wiff summin’.” The small grey man was jumping up and down and gesturing wildly, as if that would somehow make him more trustworthy.

The dwarf had ripped her shirt and shawl to make bandages, and had bandaged her arm and braced her shattered leg with a plank.

“You is need ‘elp girl, if you is want walk again. Lots of people is looking fur you too. What ya is gonna do, girl?”

“I know a little of the healing arts.”

“Is ya now? I ‘ope you is, but is ‘aving a betta plan, I is.”

“Oh yes?”

“You is stay ‘ere, and I is coming back. You gotta do me one favour.”

“Oh?” Faya tried to shift, but the pain was too much.

“Ya rest an’ don’t die. You is wait long, but you is patched up. Just wait an’ keep alive ‘til I come.”

There was a shout from somewhere and the jangle of chain. Faya noticed for the first time that the dwarf was chained at the ankle, and the chain was drawing taught. Without another word the dwarf was off, scuttling across the rooftop and down a ladder.

She could see a trail of blood leading from it to where she lay, though she had no idea of how she’d gotten from there to here. More pillars hid her away from anyone who might peer over the rungs. She needed to find a safer place, but as she tried to move again the pain became unbearable. She wasn’t going anywhere.

Flight through Bastion. Image credit: Jace Afsoon
Image credit: Jace Afsoon

Faya knew she had to do all in her power to keep awake. She was weak from blood loss and pain, and the shakes of shock were starting. She checked the rest of her body for injuries, moving her good hand slowly over her body because of the pain. A fractured rib, a cut across the palm from the whip, the snapped arrow shaft in her arm. Her leg was the worst of all. It was shattered below the knee, and had become an ugly, swollen purple. The ash dwarf had cut her breeches from the ankle up to the knee. She knew there wasn’t much she could do, but raised it carefully up onto her bag.

Her mother had known a great deal of the apothecary’s arts and had spent many hours teaching Faya what she knew. Faya had become an adept apprentice. In the Court of Eight Needles, pain and suffering brought great ecstasy, but all too often a neophyte or guest would take things too far and her mother would have a new patient.

“Healing”, her mother had said “is the bright face of the two-faced moon. The Savonin are despised for their ways with poison and pain, but when it comes to healing, we are without equal. We know the body for we explore it in every way we possibly can.” To suffer and heal in an ongoing cycle of great ecstasy was one of the most sacred tenants of the Lotus Court of Eight Needles.

The Long Night
Image credit: Billy Huynh

Far above her a spire egret wheeled majestically. She’d heard of these great birds before, and now, watching them filled her with a childlike sense of wonder. She had heard they were big enough for men to ride to war on, but they wheeled far too high above for her to discern a rider.

The world of spires above the city was a beautiful one. She’d been in the deep shadows of Bastion for so long she’d forgotten what it felt like to breathe the clean air, to watch the low scudding clouds float by, or to see sunlight.

Oh, how good it would be to feel the sun again. She was a child of Savo, it was true. Her kin, at least the elven line of her mother, had spent their lives in the shadows of the great trees of the Forest, and had little love for the sun. The dwarves had taught her to love the sun, even low below the earth. Their homes were warm and bright, lit by clever devices that brought the sun’s warmth far below the mountains. She had spent days with Gawn wandering the dwarven farms above the surface too. They were great hidden terraced fields of wheat and barley that survived only because of the dwarves’ ingenuity.

It was, she guessed, mid-morning, and the sun was behind her. She sat in the obfuscating shadows and watched. And waited. Slowly the shadows crept from left to right. She could hear people far below, the general hubbub of the city, but not a soul disturbed her.

She had only a few sugar cubes, which she ate, and a small flask of her own concoction of herbs. She fought to keep these down, and kept her eyes on the sky to distract her from the nausea.

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Flight Through Bastion — Valkyrie: Ragnarok

Continue the Valkyrie: Ragnarok story with Faya’s flight through Bastion. Can she escape, or will she swing for the trail of blood she has left behind her?

Subscribe to our newsletter for the full excerpt. You can find past excerpts by checking out the Valkyrie: Ragnarok tag (bookmark it).

Author’s Note:

We leave Faya’s memory of the dwarves to return to her flight through the city of Bastion. She has just stabbed a man and lost a business associate, and now, with the authorities after her, she tries to make her escape through the labyrinthine city of Bastion. Faya knows that, as a half-elf, she isn’t likely to receive a fair trial; escape is her only option.

If you’ve missed parts of the story, don’t worry, I’ll be compiling all of these into a complete novel, so enjoy these highlights from Faya’s adventures in the meantime.

Flight through Bastion. Image credit: Jace Afsoon
Image credit: Jace Afsoon

Flight Through Bastion

Faya slid under the giant’s tabard and through his legs. Leaping up, she caught a slender stone strut that angle up, into the darkness.

Below she could see the lamps and burning torches of the Undercity. Above sparkled the undying magical luminescence of glow globes.

With her hands and feet, she climbed up and up as arrows whizzed past her. She had to somehow slip out of sight of the watch and escape.

More struts, like stony black ribs, appeared out of the darkness above her. She jumped for them, but as she flew through the air an arrow punched through her upper arm. She caught one of the struts with both hands, but the pain was too much and her right hand slipped.

For a moment she hung in space, illuminated by the torches of the watch and dangling in the open.

Faya gritted her teeth against the pain and caught the strut with her injured hand, then hauled herself up. More arrows bit at the stone between her and the shouting men. She hopped from strut to strut, as her pursuers followed her along the parallel walkway below.

The series of struts ended abruptly at a wall, which the walkway cut through via a narrow tunnel. It was too far to jump back to the walkway, which was packed with men brandishing halberds. Where in the Abyss was that giant, Faya though? She could sense the tempo of the archers now and waited for the lull between their firing and reloading. Then she swung out again and caught the edge of the tiled roof above and pulled herself up, screaming against the pain in her arm. In a moment she was running up the sloped roof, then over an adjoining roof that covered the wall. The guards followed her through the tunnel, their arrows ready to catch her if she hesitated for even a moment.

There was nothing on the other side, only a deep dark void and a covered bridge that crossed from left to right above her. It was too far to jump.

Suddenly Faya heard a sharp crack. It took her a moment to feel the pain across her cheek, but by then she’d already turned to face her assailant. A city watchman, dresses in the burgundy and black of their number, stood higher up on the roof, his whip coiling through the air for another strike.

“Oh yes, let’s play!” The man was slender, with angry red skin and a sneer. His whip arched back, then snapped forwards in a flash.

“No games,” Faya said, as she caught the whip. She gave it a hard pull and it came free from the man’s hand. The momentum pulled him forwards and he stumbled towards the edge. In a flash, Faya jumped onto his back and launched herself towards the bridge. As the man fell to his death, she lashed out with the whip and caught one of the stone pillars of the bridge. She swung across. She climbed up as fast as she could, aware that an arrow could catch her at any moment.

Springing through one of the stone arches, she bumped over a baker and her basket of fresh bread. Other people stopped to watch the commotion, and the shout went up for the watch. It was early morning, and if she stayed on the street she’d never escape.

Looking around Faya spotted an ash dwarf chained to a post. The post was affixed to the wall by brackets and ran up into the rafters of the bridge’s roof.

Just then crowd parted, and the giant came into view.

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

Rising Phoenix Games’ RPG Con is On

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Monday’s post was about painting flesh golems for your roleplaying table.

The Lion’s Den — Valkyrie: Ragnarok

Continue the Valkyrie: Ragnarok story as the crew of the Rat finally reach their home. What will happen to their stowaway in The Lion’s Den?

Subscribe to our newsletter for the full excerpt. You can find past excerpts by checking out the Valkyrie: Ragnarok tag (bookmark it).

“Never underestimate the depth of our work, Gawn.” The captain sat in his command chair, speaking with pride as the Rat rolled slowly down the great highway, past tall monuments, towards the vast doors of the dwarven city. “We dwargen have built more than a city. We have built a civilization beyond the taint of men and elves, yes. We have built libraries and mills, mines and inventions, sure. But our true genius is not in any one individual thing. Our brilliance is the interconnectivity of each individual part. A meshing of gears so harmonious that the system sustains itself. No such colossal creation could function without this harmony. Yes, maybe for a time, but entropy would win out, eventually. That is the fault of humanity. They are too short sighted and proud to build something that can both support the system it exists in and be sustained by that system. Yes, they can innovate, and their systems are continually improving, but their works lack the agreement across all parts. Like themselves, their inventions are individual in nature.” Gawn nodded to show he was still listening, though his thoughts were more on seeing home again. It wouldn’t be long now

“It is a lesson we take from nature.” The captain continued. “The birds eat the fruit of the tree, they spread the seeds and saplings grow in new lands. The blossoms of the trees provide nectar for the bees, and so on and on it goes. Such harmony cannot be created from chaos. There is architecture built into the system. As Argitekos built our world and gave the oceans their ebb and flow, created a harmonious, interconnected system, so we mirror his divine creation, a creation that ultimately fulfils his mighty purpose. We all have purpose, Gawn, and it’s time for you to fulfil yours.”

Gawn looked up, paying attention for the first time. “Captain?”

“You’ve done a good job as my second in command. This last outing was a close thing, but you kept the boys together. It could have gone horribly wrong, I can’t deny it, but we’ve made it through. I’m of a mind to recommend you for promotion.”

“Thank you, Captain. I’m honoured.”

“You’ve earned it.”

There was a moment of silence as the Rat crept between two giant stone monoliths. Cascading lava illuminated the large inscribed pictograms that covered it. The play of the shadow in the red light made the features all the more striking, as if they contained the very fires of the lava within. They recorded the great histories of the Dwargen of Grothoring Highhold, a record of the mightiest of the dwargen kingdoms beyond the Mistiga Barg in Avernos.

“One day your deeds will be marked on one of those stones. You’ve the aptitude for it.” The captain said, smiling. “I can see you’ll do great things, Gawn. Protect our great work.”

Valkyrie: Ragnarok. Photo credit: Isis Franca

What hell is this, Faya thought as she awoke inside the belly of a terrifying creature. She guessed it was a dragon because of the smoke, the red hot fire that burned somewhere unseen and cast red shadows on the black walls, and the awful roar. Tiny black creatures of soot danced around her, then leapt across her skin and made it prickle. Worst of all was her thirst. She was sure a creature of ash was choking her with its gritty hands.

I’ll die here. Please, Mother, let it be soon.

She heard her mother’s voice answer in the incessant clanking, but what she said was just beyond understanding. She saw wondrous sakrust falling around her like manaleaf from above, but it turned to acrid slag in her mouth and made the thirst worse.

A sudden hiss made her jolt. There was a violent shudder, then everything went still. The red reflected off the innards of the beast seemed to dim, but the metal dragon or whatever it was was surely only asleep. Gaining enough of her wits, she knew she had to flee, now. She scrambled over the iron decking and through the vaguely remembered crawl space, back into the storage compartment where the dark haired dwarg had hidden her. Was it the longing for sakrut or some other tincture that had given her the visions? She wasn’t sure. She kicked hard at the door. And again. Again. Finally, the lock broke and the door swung open. She rolled out and dropped down, into the shadows below a ledge that ran parallel to the dwargen contraption. Someone heard the commotion and shouted something after her, but Faya was already running.

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Plunder for your Undersea Campaign

Hordes of plunder for your undersea campaign, Atlantean inventions, a fleet of new ships and vehicles, and more feats than you can swing a yardarm at.

Get it now with this special discount (good until the 7th of July).

Soup With the Enemy — Valkyrie: Ragnarok

A new excerpt from Valkyrie: Ragnarok is here! Join the crew of the Rat, a dwarven mine crawler, and their mysterious guest in Soup With the Enemy. Far from home and running out of supplies, the Rat’s crew resort to desperate measures…

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The churned sand sucked at her feet as she walked, her slave shift whispering against the sand as she moved. In the distance, the sun sank slowly past the darkening dunes again, marking another dusk. The twilight was dreamlike, peaceful.

Sand exploded up, a great cloud that showered dirt over the travellers. In the chaos that ensued, Faya caught only fragments of sound and sights. The awful clanking of metal. Balls of fire flying through the air. A guard, screaming as flames engulfed him. A loud crack and a flash, then death screams. A short, thick shouldered figure battered a guard with the butt of his weapon. Then vice-like hands grabbed her by the arm. She tried to run, to wrestle herself free. She didn’t want to die. A gruff voice, commanding her is a harsh language she couldn’t understand. She broke free. She ran. An arm wrapped around her waist and held her tight.

She was half pulled, half dragged through the sand and gloom. Several masked figures stood close, ramming rods into their long weapons, then firing gouts of explosive flame past her shoulder. More shouting, then more of the creatures arrived. She suddenly yanked up into the air. More thick hands grabbed her and she was bundled through a dark opening.

It was like another world. Dark, hard, cold, metallic. Acrid smoke burnt her nose and choked her lungs. It was cramped here, claustrophobic. She was shoved and pulled along. The metal grating below her feet clanked as the creatures jostled her.

There was a monstrous roar and the world began to buck and shudder beneath her feet. She fell over, cracking her head hard on the edge of something. More shouting. She got to her knees and felt warm blood running down her face, covering her fingers.

For a time, Faya must have blanked out. She caught glimpses of red light, heard rough, savage laughter, and the thump of a hammer. Darkness enveloped her, but always there was the horrible shuddering.

‘Gawn, you blundering bulldog. “Water,” I said, and here’s you, giving us another mouth to quench.’ Captain Stalslag flexed his bandaged hand, sitting forward in his captain’s chair to stare sternly at the younger dwarf.

‘Aye, Captain. But she was clearly a prisoner.’

‘So, is she our prisoner now, or who exactly have we done a favour for? She’s clearly no Savonin welp.’

‘I have no…’

‘Neither is she a local.’


‘Nor is she a mokith pup, though I might be glad if she were.’

‘Aye, but…’

‘Don’t speak while I’m scolding you, boy. This is an important lesson you need to learn. Use your head, boy. Your heart’s in the right place, but now we have a problem, and I don’t intend to be the one cleaning it up. Do you get my meaning?’

‘Aye, Captain. I…’

‘You’ll listen carefully, is what you’ll do. Beir recons we’ve got enough water to make the run back, which means three or four days. Five, if we’re unlucky. You need to decide what you’ll do with your little pet before we reach the grottoes.’ The captain held up three thick fingers. ‘Three days, Gawn, three days. After that she can’t come with us. You know the penalty. And it’ll be your head, not mine. Are we clear?’

‘Aye, Captain. You have my word.’

‘Good. You’re a good lad, and you did the right thing. Just sort it out, for all our sakes. Dismissed.’

‘Aye, Captain.’ Gawn turned on his heels and left the cockpit.

In the companionway he met The Geezer. ‘Gawn, Captain give you an earful, did he?’

‘Aye, but it’ll all be sorted soon.’

‘I have a mind to tell you the same thing that I’m sure the Captain did. She’s not something we want aboard when we reach the grottoes.’

Gawn moved to pass the older dwarf, who grabbed him by the arm before he could escape.

‘She’s not what you think, Gawn. She’s human enough, but not all of her is. She has a touch of the Dark Woods about her. That scares me, Gawn. She shouldn’t be alive if she’s one of their tryst bastards. That’s one taboo the elves don’t take a kindly view of.’

Gawn paused, considering the fact.

‘Poor thing cut her head. I bandaged her up. The proof’s right there, Gawn, hidden in her hair.’

‘Thank you, Geeze, you’re a good friend.’

‘I’ll be your only friend, if you don’t sort this out.’ The older dwarf chuckled. ‘What will you do?’

‘I’ll think of something.’

‘What? Drop her off with the mokith? Drop her off on the surface? I’m not sure what’s worse.’

‘There has to be a human settlement somewhere. Maybe the bedawi?’

‘The bedawi won’t touch her with a stick.’ Sal said, as he came in through a porthole, carrying a bowl of steaming soup for the captain. ‘Foods up. You better eat.’

‘Aye, before Beir scoffs it all.’ The Geezer said. ‘But take that bowl through, then explain what you mean.’

‘The bedawi?’ Sal asked, then continued. ‘They’re down to earth people, but they didn’t survive Angor by being curious.’

‘And other villages, Sal?’ Gawn asked.

‘You’re out of luck. The next village is a day’s detour north. Considering the Savonin were heading that way, I wouldn’t bet my luck on it.’

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The Rat’s Crew — Valkyrie: Ragnarok

This is the fourth excerpt from Valkyrie: Ragnarok, which introduces Gawn and the intrepid crew of the Rat, a dwarven mine crawler. Far from home and running out of supplies, the Rat’s crew look for hope in old legends.

For the full excerpt, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter. You can find past excerpts by checking out the Valkyrie: Ragnarok tag (worth bookmarking the link too).

Not recommended for readers under the age of 12.

Gawn Dwargstul stood atop a rocky ridge, surveying the desert with his telescope. Its gears whirred like angry bees as he refocused the lenses. Below his vantage point, Ratta spat into his goggles and wiped them with the corner of his greasy apron.

Rat's Crew. Desert by Yuliya Kosolapova

“Grease, grease is what she needs. No water. She has water, plenty of water. Grease will keep her smooth.’ Ratta muttered on.

‘I’ll run smoother with some water.” Gawn removed the telescope from his eye, revealing a harsh vertical scar over his eye.

Gawn was a handsome dwarf, with thick black hair and a full beard he kept in a simple braid. He had sharp green eyes under his thick eyebrows. Blue tattoos covered his arms, the entwined dragon lords of Fear and Death. ‘Come on Ratta, you old fool. Cap had good intentions, but no amount of fresh air will do you enough good. Back to the Rat.’

‘Aye. Grease. Greasy gears. Good, greasy gears.’

Gawn patted the older dwarf on the back and led him over to a hole in the ground, which they promptly disappeared into. There was the muffled clank of a metal hatch closing, followed by the growl of an engine. Suddenly dirt exploded up from the hole, sending down a shower of grit. When the dust finally cleared, the hole, and the dwarves, were gone.

The Rat was a sleek mine crawler with eight births and a cramped cargo bay. It was a machine to be proud of, with an intricate combination of valves and chain-driven cogs that worked together in synchronized harmony to propel the drilling rig through the earth. As much as Gawn loved the Rat, it was his brother crewman that filled him most with pride.

The Rat's Crew. Photo credit: Isis Franca

Big Beir was the crew’s cook and joker, a dwarf who never seemed to worry, no matter what life threw at him. He stood near the Rat’s small stove, rummaging through a box of dry rations. ‘Anything?’ He asked the returning dwarves.

‘Not a drop.’ Gawn said.

Sal was Bier’s opposite, a contemplative loner who seldom shared his thoughts. He was dependable to a fault and the most widely travelled of the crew. He sat cross-legged on the decking, cutting wood for the stove.

‘See anything?’ Gawn asked Sal.

‘Same as you, I reckon. But follow this ridge and we’ll hit something.’

‘Aye aye.’

‘Or dive and we’ll hit all the water we could ever want.’ Tav said, lazily buckling on his breeches as he stood by his bunk. The ship’s weapons master wore his dusty orange hair in a tight mohawk that showed off the scars that crisscrossed his scalp.

‘I told you Tav…’ Sal began.

‘The Abyss runs shallow here, Tav. We can’t dive, Tav. Your mother’s a whore, Tav. Give it a break already. We’ll find water before we ever hit the boundary. And don’t give me that ‘saltwater’ nonsense. We’ve got the Geezer.’ Tav thrust his thumb over his shoulder. In the shadow of another cot, an older dwarf harrumphed. ‘Not you too, Geezer.’ Tav said, throwing his hands in the air. ‘To the Abyss with all of you, I’ve got munitions to polish.’ The young dwarf threw open a hatch and disappeared inside, just missing the laughter that erupted in his wake.

‘So, Geezer, is it true? Can you turn brine into water?’ Gawn asked.

The old dwarf rose from the shadows. He was bald, but his long white beard was braided through with golden talismans.

‘I can turn brine to wine, and more. Lead to golden ore, or your mother into a lusty…’

‘Oi, that’s enough.’ Gawn interrupted, but the gleam in his eye was full of laughter.

‘No. In a different time, maybe,’ the Geezer continued, ‘but now, no, impossible.’

‘Why?’ Sal asked.

You’ll get more of the story about the Rat’s crew if you’re a subscriber to our newsletter.

Bunny Girls

April 1st wasn’t much fun for many of us this year, but we still had a good laugh with Book of Races: Bunnygirls. Kim Frandsen’s newest book for 5th edition is available on our Rising Phoenix Games store, on Drive Thru RPG, on Paizo.com, and on Itch.io.

Book of Races - Bunnygirls Cover

Faya’s Memories — Valkyrie: Ragnarok

This is the third piece of fiction in the Valkyrie: Ragnarok and Valkyrie: Saga settings, and sits at the start of Valkyrie: Ragnarok, following on from Coercion. I hope you enjoy it. For the full story, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

Because of adult content, the following is not recommended for readers under the age of 12.

When she awoke, Faya was lying on the rotting floorboards. Her senses were muddled, and she gasped with pain when she tried to move. Bors had somehow broken a rib, she was sure. There was blood across the floor, leading to the door, but he was gone.

Faya pulled herself slowly up and dressed. Each movement triggered a sharp pain in her side. It was hard to breathe. She carefully brushed out her hair with a hand while holding her side, careful to cover her ears with her bangs. She then rifled through the sheets and searched the dark corners of the room. Besides the sleeping pallet and a small smokey lamp in an alcove the room was empty, and there was no sign of her weapon. She cursed, then slipped out of the room, and into the darkness of the undercity.

It didn’t take long to find Anders lying in a dark alcove, covered in alcohol and his own blood. If the alcohol was meant to mislead anyone, it wasn’t necessary; the stab wounds spoke volumes. Here, so close to the Depths, nobody would care about a bloody corpse anyway.

Bors had figured out enough of Faya’s history to scare her. It was her mother, not her father, that was elven, but he’d been right on many other accounts. Her mother was a queen of the Lotus Courts, and that had given Faya an unlikely refuge in a world that hated her for her mixed heritage. She had never known her father. It was possible that he’d escaped during the Night of Betrayal, but she would likely never know. She knew how terrible life in Savonin was for humans—she’d known the whips and the thousand tortures herself—but she could only guess at his fate. So many slaves had fled into the deserts of Angor that night. Many had died in the weeks after, killed by the mokith, the heat, or hunted down by Savonin slavers. Still, it was possible that he’d died before that mass escape, even before her birth. Her mother had never spoken of him. She would whip Faya for daring to ask, so her life had been one of noiseless service within the gloom of the Lotus Courts. She had been a shadow, veiled and jeweled and ever silent.

After the Night of Betrayal, the hunters of the Savonin raided far into Angor. By the third cycle of the moon, they’d recaptured many of the last surviving slaves, slaves who had been too weak to run any longer. These were kept in camps for collection by the caravans that went back and forth from the forests of Savo. The mokith had proven to be a deadly obstacle, and so the caravans moved only under heavy guard. A lifetime under the green, lightless canopy meant that the Savonin could not stand the brightness of the sun, so they only ventured out across the sands when it was dark. It was slow going, and so supplies were always short, and morale low. Soon the Lotus Courts were sending the queens they could spare with the caravans, to heal and work their seductive magic over the Savonin’s elite hunters. Inevitably, Fethfaura, Great Queen of the Enticing Needle, Faya’s mother, was called to cross the scorching sands to work her needle magic. Faya went too, hidden within her mother’s palanquin as a favored slave.


Faya in the Desert of Angor. Photo by Yuliya Kosolapova

The red desert shimmered in the scorching midday heat, a vast, uncrossable barrier. The caravan was camped out in the shade of a mighty crag of black-singed orange stone, spread out between the great blasted boulders between the cliff and the shadow’s shifting edge. The guides called the landmark “little castle.” Some of the soldiers had dared each other to scale the tower of rock, but most rested uneasily, tired from the nights of marching and their running battles with the mokith. It would be another long, harrowing trek through the dark desert as soon as the sun-kissed the horizon.

Fethfaura slept easily on her palanquin. She’d perfected the art of sleeping serenely, yet with a sultry smile on her face and her hair draped perfectly across her shoulders, accentuating her breasts. These were adorned with necklaces of silver shards and blood-red rubies. She wore a silk summer sadi, in the style of the Angorian badawi, colored in the black and red of her sect. Around her waist was the wide black belt of a queen of the Lotus Court, with her sect’s distinctive silver ring pierced with eight sharp needles. Each was as long as a finger and their wicked points caressed her skin but drew no blood.

Faya had often wondered about those needles, but she would never dare ask her mother about them. There were many rules in the Lotus Courts, but Fethfaura had given her daughter only two; go unsee, remain unheard. Faya had quickly learned the consequences of disobeying those two rules.

One of her earliest memories was of her mother’s terrible scoldings…

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Wargaming With Kids

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Coercion — Valkyrie: Ragnarok

This is the second bit of fiction in the Valkyrie: Ragnarok and Valkyrie: Saga settings, and sits at the start of Valkyrie: Ragnarok. I hope you enjoy it. For the full story, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

Because of adult content, the following is not recommended for readers under the age of 12.

Bors ran his rough fingers over her skin, lightly tracing every scar.
“You’re pretty, for a Get.”
“You’re pleased, master?”
“You’ll do, half breed.”
“Thank you, master.
“You’re trained?”
“Yes master, by the queens of the Lotus Courts.”
“Really, a Savonin plaything? I thought they drowned their bastards? Or were you a curiosity?” Bors asked, running his hand down her long legs.
“I don’t know, master.”
“Probably. And yet you’re here. Far from Savonin. Far from Angor.” Bors ran his hand along her arm, then grabbed her wrist, hard. He pulled her hand closer, until it was between their faces. “A plain decoration,” he said, indicating the burnished orange bangle on her wrist. “But not Savonin, or Angorian. Not from Avernos either, at least not the lands the light touches. Dwarven.”
“If you say so, master.”
Bors shook her, hard, his expression dangerous. “You know it is. My spies have been watching you. You wear your hair loose to hide it, but you’re a half breed Get, plain enough. The child of a human slave and her elvish slave master, a child of a Savonin heathen lust ritual, more likely than not. Yet, you’re alive and far from the lands that spawned you. You’re an interesting one, for sure, but everyone has their story. Not easily do the miserly dwarves give up their tokens, even of copper. What’s your story, wench?”
“My story is whatever you want it to be, Master.” She said, as she tried to pull out of his iron grip.
“No games.” Bors’ demeanor changed again, and he smiled, revealing his brown, stained teeth. “A Get like you has a hard enough time as it is. Uncle Bors can help. I’ve got many brothers. Friends, really. Help us and we’ll help you. The undercity of Bastion would be a hard place for one, such as yourself, if you were found out.”
“Master can have what he paid for.”
Bors swung himself over her, pinning her to the musty sleeping pallet with his naked body. “I want answers. My silver not good enough for that?”
“Off me, or I’ll scream.” She’d dropped the coquettish act.
“Oh, your man’s been dealt with. So hard to get good help these days, hey?” Bors’ voice turned cold. “Now, tell me the truth, or you’ll end up in the Depths. Can you speak the elven tongue?”
“And Dwarven?”
“No. I know nothing of…”
Bors slammed the back of his hand through her face. “Tell me again.”
“I know it.” She said, as blood welled up inside her mouth.

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First Contact — Valkyrie: Ragnarok

This is the first story in the Valkyrie: Ragnarok and Valkyrie: Saga settings, and sits between both. I hope you enjoy it. For the full story, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

First Contact

The ground shook, rattling the shelves of tools and threatening to topple the computer screens in the small control room.

Stevens cursed and grabbed the monitors. “No, no, no. Not now.”

“What the hell was that?” Stern asked. He’d slopped hot coffee all over his white shirt.

“Probably a mine collapse. There are several major shafts running through this area.” Stevens straightened his chair and grabbed the PC’s mouse. “Diagnostics all green. Nothing in the envelope, and the seals are all good.”

“We should manually inspect the exterior. Call it ‘protocol.’”

“Right, Did you ever get to listing emergency procedures for earthquakes?”

“Haha,” Stern said, mirthlessly, “I’ll get to it. Just after I finish writing emergency protocol procedures for dealing with aliens, pixies, and hippies.” He grunted a laugh.

Suddenly the lights flickered. Both men leaned forward to peer through the perspex viewing window, into the hanger beyond.


“The Landing Pad was built for a single purpose,” Stevens said, speaking into Stern’s camera. “The saying goes: ‘build it and they will come.’ So we built it.”

Stevens stepped aside as Stern began his long pan, which took in the hanger and all of its modifications.

The Landing Pad, as they’d dubbed it, was a medium-sized airplane hanger, an old military building they’d bought and repurposed. The hanger was purposely empty except for a large square marked out in yellow and black chevron tape on the concrete floor. The square was exactly a meter from each wall, and the space it marked out was empty — the envelope.

There were four red lights, one in each corner, at eye level. All of them were off.

Besides these, the hanger was featureless, although sensors and cameras were carefully tucked away into the girders that make up the hanger’s skeleton. Heavy white plastic sheeting covered the walls and ceiling between each girder, overlapping and carefully bonded together to form an airtight seal. Behind that, the corrugated iron sheeting of the hanger had been carefully reinforced and sealed as well, to prevent anything bigger than a bug from getting in.

“This structure is a marvel of ‘can-do’ engineering.” Stevens said, “It’s a science project on a massive scale. This is what happens when men with a passion for science put their efforts and their money together. Some called us mad. Some said it was a midlife crisis, but here we are.”

Stevens stood in the centre of the envelope with his arms outstretched. “This is the world’s first monitored teleportation landing pad. It is a safe zone for machines, for vehicles, to teleport into, perhaps from a different time. We will provide a live feed and a freely accessible archive of the 24-hour video footage, of the envelope and Landing Pad via our website, which you can find in the links below.”

Stern zoomed in for the finale.

“We predict,” Stevens said, “that our first arrival will occur within moments of the project’s completion. Join us live in three weeks, on December 6th, for the launch of our live feed. Till next time, teleport safely.”

Stern cut.

That had been two weeks ago.


The four warning lights flashed, bathing the Landing Pad in red, strobing light. The two men gazed through the perspex, into a confusing conglomeration of substance which their minds, at first, failed to comprehend. Then they discerned figures, bodies in battle with dark masses that bore sharp black fangs down with savage fury, ripping the throats of the human figures in a frenzy of bloodlust. The vision dissolved into a red mist, and then nothing.

The red lights blinked twice, then went dim.

The yellow glow of the hanger’s overhead lights took their place, revealing a scene that was unchanged from moments ago, the envelope empty again.

“First contact,” Stevens mumbled, fumbling for a pen, a phone, he wasn’t sure what.

“Get on the phone Stevens.”

“To who?”

“The news. The President. Someone important, you ass.”

Stevens didn’t seem to register, and was mumbling to himself. “They’re early. The vents aren’t even closed yet. I still need to test the scrubbers. Anything could leak out.”

“Screw the scrubbers. We’ve been broadcasting, look. The feed’s live.” Stern pointed to the screen.

“We’ve been streaming for a minute. Look, it started just before the quake. You can see it on the log.”

Stern grabbed Steven’s phone and started dialling. “Crap, this is bad. Start the lockdown.”

Suddenly the earth shook. This time, tools cascaded from the racks, clanging to the floor. Draws of filing cabinets rolled open and a coffee cup smashed to the floor. The red warning lights began flashing their steady pulse and a siren began its droning wail.

Stevens took a deep breath. “Something’s coming through.”


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