Long, long ago, in the lands of the old gods, there existed a great city of peace and harmony known as the city of Mir’Kept. There, the people had few worries and fewer fears. They lived very fruitful lives free of the burdens of war, famine, crime and injustice. The people there flourished beneath the Eastern Sun and all were quite happy, all thanks to one man, Ghylnor.
Some say that Ghylnor had been born of the very gods that watched over Mir’Kept, son of the goddess Uzebta of the southern sky and Cragnomicus, the god of justice. The people of Mir’Kept had suffered long under the tyranny of warlords and criminals. Together they prayed for years, all as one, for the gods to deliver them from such unrelenting evil.
And then, one night, every star in the sky was stripped from the evening sky, save for one. That very star fell to Orr and from that molten rock emerged Ghylnor.
But Ghylnor needed yet a blade. He took the star from the ground and carried it upon his back as he traveled to a nearby mountain. Down inside the mountain, among the fires deep within the very heart of Orr, it was there that he crafted his blade, Raithnier.
Within months of his arrival, Ghylnor defeated the warlords surrounding Mir’Kept. Cragis the Steed and his armies of Landstanders, For’narl Bloodfinger and his golden lance, and even Porchello with his terrible whip of fire-glass all fell before Ghylnor’s black sword. He destroyed them all and saved the people of Mir’Kept. There was much rejoicing among the people, but Ghylnor was not satisfied. He rid the city of crime and strife and worked hard to ensure the safety of its people so the peace they had found could last an eternity.
But after many long years of peace, Ghylnor began to grow bored and restless. The people had all they needed and there was less need for the mightiest of heroes. News of the deaths of the warlords had travelled far, as did stories of the sentinel who dutifully stood guard over his people. Men would come from far and wide to challenge Orr’s mightiest hero only to be crushed under the weight of the Raithnier. Such mindless violence made Ghylnor unhappy, but that did not last long either. Eventually even such would be conquerors stayed far beyond the reach of the black blade.
So, one day Ghylnor was eager for a new sense of purpose. He sent out emissaries to all the neighboring lands to the south to see if they needed his aid, but every emissary came back with the same story. The news of Ghylnor and Mir’Kept had kept them safe as well. So Ghylnor sent the emissaries out to the east and they came back saying the same. Peace had spread so far and wide as so many warlords had fallen to the Raithnier. So Ghylnor sent his men out as far as they could travel to the north, but only one returned.
A powerful demon had taken over the land to far the north in the country of Salessa. He had done unspeakable things to the people there and had gone almost entirely unopposed. Those who stood up to the demon were either killed or indoctrinated into his hellish army. The demon’s name was Krassis and he had purposefully kept his conquests clear of the lands protected by Ghylnor and killed anyone who might take the news to the god prince.
That very day, Ghylnor took his blade and rode hard towards the north in search of Salessa to rescue its people from such terror. For days and days he traveled, passing through mountains and harsh terrain until finally coming to the gates of Callay, the capital of Salessa, but what he saw shocked and terrified Ghylnor to the point he began to weep upon the fresh, hearty soil. His tears were so rich that trees began to spring up from the ground all around the city. Salessa was at peace.
There was no sign of any invading army, no strife or turmoil to be found. Ghylnor knew he’d been tricked and understood why. He boarded a fresh horse and rode hard back to Mir’Kept. When the horse died, he found another and another. When he could find no horse, he ran.
After just two days, Ghylnor had returned to Mir’Kept. The city had been destroyed, burned to the ground and its people dead or scattered.
Among the rubble and destruction, Ghylnor found a dying priest who told him of the horrors which had befallen the once glistening city. The emissary had been a demon in disguise all along, the deceitful Krassis. Once Ghylnor had left the city, Krassis transformed into his demon form and opened the city gates so that his armies could overtake it in mere hours and they had left almost as quickly afterwards. Their job was done and they feared Ghylnor far too much to try to keep the city for long.
Ghylnor was heartbroken. His people were gone and the weight of their deaths fell upon the man’s powerful heart. Ghylnor buried the remains of his people and carried Raithnier to the highest cliff overlooking the sacked city and drove it into the ground.
But we all know that was not the end of Ghylnor.
After many long years of wandering the wastes, Ghylnor had grown ragged and tired. Worn out and famished, the once great sentinel of Mir’Kept sat beneath a mighty tree. His spirit broken, he did not even realize where he was.
“Excuse me,” said a voice. “You’re in my way.”
“I am sorry,” replied Ghylnor, but he did not move.
“If you do not move, I will have to walk past you,” added the voice.
“Very well,” said Ghylnor. “I am nothing now, treat me as such.”
Just then, the base of the mighty tree lifted from the ground and rolled the warrior over. As it passed overhead, Ghylnor looked up to see that the roots of the tree were actually a mighty foot. He blinked in surprise and stared up at the sky, fore it was not a tree, but a giant.
Ghylnor rolled about on the ground and scrambled to his feet. A large man himself, he had never seen anyone bigger the he. Ghylnor gasped in amazement and jumped back as yet another massive foot swung through the air above him. It was as if all the trees had come to life around him, the ground trembling with each step they made.
“Where am I!?” Ghylnor called to the giants.
“You are in Salessa, or at least what’s left of it,” they replied.
Ghylnor was shocked for he saw the remains of the massive gate which once protected the good people of Callay. It, like the walls of Mir’Kept, had been destroyed and the trees around its borders had grown into the creatures that now walked around him.
“What happened here?” Ghylnor asked.
“You really don’t know?” they replied. “Krassis and his demon army took the city many years ago after the great hero of the south vanished. With him out of the way, there was nothing to stand in his way.”
“Could they not fend for themselves?” wept Ghylnor.
“They tried, as did many cities, but only Ghylnor was a match for Krassis.
“What happened to this warrior?” asked Ghylnor with a sigh.
“They say he gave up after he was defeated by Krassis. A man who knows only victory, does not understand how to handle a loss.”
“And how does one handle loss? How can one redeem their failure which has taken so much?” wept Ghylnor.
The giant blinked and paused for a moment and fetched Ghylnor up from the ground. He held the son of the god in his hand for a full day and then spoke.
“This horror is not of your sow, but you must face your defeat. You were given to the people of Mir’Kept for a purpose. Your land is gone, the people you were charged to protect are gone, but you are not gone.”
Ghylnor understood, but his body had grown weak with age and remorse. At first he began to walk back to Mir’Kept. After that, he jogged. After that, he ran and after that he ran even harder. The hills parted to his passing the trees fell before his feet to make bridges for him to cross.
He reached the Raithnier and bore its hefty weight once more upon his back before setting off to find the demon Krassis. But Krassis had many ears and many eyes across the strife ridden land and he knew of the warrior’s return. Knowing he could never defeat Ghylnor, the demon sent his armies into the valley of Mir’Kept to surround and flank the hero.
As the horde began to surround the hero, Ghylnor swept his blade across the valley, slaying foes all around him. Blood was spilled as warriors fell before the mystic weapon. For hours on end, Ghylnor carved his way through all who would stand before him, each one a small redemption for what was lost.
But the battle was only a guise for Krassis was already planning his escape. He sent his greatest warriors to block the gate to his keep, but the fury and thirst for vengeance was all Ghylnor could see. Despite his fatigue, he was not tired. Despite his wounds, he did not feel the pain. He smashed down the walls of the keep and fought his way to Krassis.
“Krassis!” he shouted, blood and spit flinging from his face. “You have defeated me once, but never again.”
“I’ve already won,” replied Krassis with a grin. “You can never get back what I took from you. You’ll never see those people again.”
“That may be so, but neither will you.”
And with that Ghylnor plunged the mighty Raithnier deep into Krassis’ chest, leaving it there so the demon would feel the hero’s wrath for all eternity.
People would soon return to the land and peace would once again be achieved. No longer would Ghylnor be able to protect his people, but his image and what he stood for would live on as a symbol. If ever anyone felt loss or despair, they would reflect on Ghylnor and how even the mightiest warrior can become distraught from failure, but it takes an even stronger hero to overcome, ride against the tide and defeat the dark past for a brighter future.