Book one: The return to an old home
The snow was falling slowly through the air, almost hypnotic, before silently landing atop of the already fallen snow. As with every winter, the snow had transformed the landscape to a plain area, with white trees surrounding the path going north. The adventurer shook off the snow from his shoulders and shivered. It had been a while since he had been this far north. He didn't remember the snow being this deep, nor the cold being so merciless. At least he would soon be in the longhall with his kin and feeling the warmth of both fire and family. He stopped his walking for a minute. Then he just shaked his head and continued his journey forward. Family. It had been a while, hadn't it? Those glorious days when he didn't fought alone, where ideas and creation were made, a family that you loved and were loved back. But that was in the past now. The clan had been disbanded and everyone had gone their own way to do what they were best at. And this person as no exception.
After what felt as endless walking through the never ending falling snow, he could finally see the outlines of the village. Soon, he would also see the two guards at the entrance, guarding without giving as much as a shiver. He raised his hand as a greeting, but didn't see the response since his gaze was already fixed at the large wooden structure in front of him. As he entered the tavern, he shook off the last of the remaining snow on his shoulders and the people inside turned around to see the newly arriving stranger.
"Sigdar Far-strider! Have you finally returned to stay?"
"Peer! It wasn't yesterday, how are things?"
"The usual. The dagannoths have retreated back to their caves at Waterbirth for the winter and we are stocking on supplies. But tell us now about all your adventures you had this past years."
"Sure, but there are two things I need first."
"Anything you say, we are happy to have you back."
"First, I need a messenger sent to Netiznot, my hometown. There is a list I need from them, along with a letter to an old friend."
"And the second thing?"
"For today, I'm not Sigdar Far-strider. I'm Tyco, the elf of the Nordic lands."
A week later, Sigdar was sitting at the roof of the longhall where he had met Peer. Looking east towards the high mountains in the distance, the white and plain deforested area in front of him gave peace to his soul as he watched it in total silence.
"Nothing beats being home, huh?" he said to himself.
This wasn't his hometown, but still enough to feel at home. He turned the head to the north and saw in the distance a small figure zigzag over the frozen ocean. It had been four days since the ice was considered thick enough and the messenger had left on ice-skates towards the islands with several letters and important messages. Being a messenger wasn't safe considering the dangers of holes in the ice and the dagannoths, just to name a few. Still, the people here was raised in such hardships and were therefore stronger than the average human you could find anywhere else. They struggled, but could forge things they truly could call their own.
Sigdar jumped down on the soft snow and walked out to the bridge where the boats normally stood during summer-season. There he waited until the small figure finally became bigger and stepped up on the bridge from the frozen ocean. Not that Sigdar thought that he actually was big or anything. The messenger was carrying a big leather bag around his left shoulder. Sigdar instantly noticed he had blood on his skates.
"Trouble along the way?"
"Just a dagannoth hunting for small preys close to Jatizo. No trouble for me." the young messenger answered.
"You got what I asked for?"
"Yes, I have it here. It's the biggest names from this last mooncycle."
He searched his bag for a bit before handing a thick envelope to Sigdar and looked up, full of expectation.
"Last mooncycle? But that's outdated, many things happen in a mooncycle!"
"That's what we currently have, unless you know a way to Asgarnia and back within the day."
Sigdar reflexively laid his hand on his runepouch, but stopped when he saw the questioned face of the boy. Using runes here would be more foolish than throwing a beef in the face of a bear. He shaked his head.
"No, this will do. Tack Askaladen, bra jobbat." The last words were spoken in the Nordic tunge. Sigdar turned and began walking towards the market. The boy's expression changed and he kicked off his skates before running up beside Sigdar.
"You bet I did good. Not even Svensen would make the lap in this short amount of time."
"You are right, he would actually make it without taking any time at all, Sigdar answered and pretended to study the envelope."
The boy's cheeks turned red and he began to put force on his steps as he walked.
"He's just hiding in his house and luring people into his never-ending maze that's impossible to clear. You just watch! I will become the fastest Fremennik these lands have ever seen."
"And you still hang around the longhall, trying to fool strangers into sitting on rock-crabs?"
"It's their own fault for not knowing how things works around here. But you will see, I will be the new chief!" The boy put his chest out and began walking proudly beside the tall elf. Sigdar looked down on him with an ironic face.
"That's good. You can start with solving Svensen's maze for a start."
"How is that supposed to help? I mean, the rooms look all the same and there is not hint whatsoever."
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe you could get used into thinking about how he got his name for a bit?" Sigdar tried giving the boy a quick blink as he said that. The boy stopped and looked confused for a moment. Then he ran through the market and entered a small house before closing the door behind him. Sigdar continued to the longhall, he had a lot to read through.
Sigdar sat at the corner inside the longhall. He had intentionally chosen that spot to avoid being interrupted by the people who went though the door during the day, or by people who would want to hear one of his many tales a couple of times too much. He was reading through the list he gotten earlier and it wasn't a short one. He must have been very interested by the content since he didn't notice the two strong men who entered the longhall. One of them was wearing a warhammer and had an eye-patch over his right eye. His iron armor was grey with gold around the sides. The second man after him was wearing thick light-brown hide-armor and had a brown gold-trimmed cape on his back. On his head was a decorated steel helmet. Their presence seemed to sober up anyone who saw them and as they passed through the longhall, the people would either raise their hand or lower their head as a greeting. The man wearing the warhammer gave a short nod to the barmaid. She sighed, knowing what was coming.
"Dags att gå hem, pojkar."
The remaining people looked at her and slowly began rising from their chairs and wobble their way out towards the cold, snow-filled street. Some were even carrying beer-kegs under their arms. The barmaid waited until the last one had left before closing the two thick wooden doors after him and then began cleaning up the tables from her messy customers. Sigdar, still deep in his thoughts, didn't notice anything until the two men raised in front of him and blocked the warmth of the fireplace reaching him. First then did he notice that something had changed and looked up at the the man wearing the eye-patch.
"Brundt! What gives me the honor? Can I offer you a drink?"
"It has been far too long, when was the last time we met? Your birthday? It was such a good party, I must say...."
"...I clearly didn't knew when the party was over. I remember waking up at the pigsty, only to return and buy a keg for everyone around..."
Brundt took a deep breath and was just about to shout, but a hand on his shoulder stopped him. The man wearing the hide-armor stepped in front of Brundt.
"...only to this time wake up at the chicken pen and..."
Sigdar stopped. He looked at the other man and instantly recognized his famous helm. A round steel helmet, trimmed with gold and white wings around the sides, worn by nonetheless the ruler of Netiznot. Sigdar felt how he began to stumble.
"Hi Mawnis, it wasn't yesterday..."
"I know. Birthday party, too many kegs, Vargas throwing you out after singing that horrible national anthem you tried to make for his kingdom long ago."
"Yaaa, something like that. Sooo, are you just passing by?"
Mawnis gave him a hard look and clenched his fists.
"I just came on ice-skates from Netiznot, beating small group of dagannoths with nothing but my fists along the way. Do I look like I'm just passing by?"
"Well, no. But one never knows. I mean, why not?"
Brundt felt this needed to get back on track before both of them would do anything they would regret later. He stepped up beside Mawnis.
"The reason we are "passing by", Sigdar, is this due to this."
He held up a letter. He threw it on top of the list Sigdar had studied earlier.
"It's from you."
"Is......there any trouble?"
Mawnis looked at Sigdar for a moment before grabbing the letter, folding it out and started reading:
"Hi Mawnis! I hope blaaa blaaa blaaaaaaa, how are things and I wish you good. Oh, wait! Here is the interesting part."
Brundt looked at Sigdar and he knew what was coming. Mawnis continued.
"I have returned briefly to Rellekka to check how things are. Due too unexpected events, I need to travel for a long time, hopefully only a couple of years before maybe stopping by when opportunity gives. Unfortunately, I have to leave soon and hope I can one day return to once again savor the taste of pickled herring, hear the sound of ice trolls and watch some duels between Fremennik brothers."
Mawnis folded the letter and look directly into the eyes of Sigdar, who felt forced to look the other way.
"I find you, an elf in the nordic lands, take you in and raise you for I-don't-know-for-how-many-years and then you just leave, never wanting to see us again? What do you want, a kiss from me and a handshake before drinking at someone else's tavern and brag about how you lived for free on yak-beef and pickled herring at Netiznot?
"Well, no. But you know, things gets in the way...."
Mawnis drove his fist into the nearby table and the wood shattered to all sides as he broke it in half. The letter, list and remaining glasses that previously had stood there flew across the room. Mawnis was clearly mad.
"To the extent you can't even see the ones who took care of you?!?!"
Luckily Brundt stepped in before Sigdar would even try to answer Mawnis. He took a deep breath and said calmly:
"Sigdar, we know you have been traveling a lot to Asgarnia and the rest of the world. But you have always stopped from time to time, no matter how long the journey were. Tell me, why the change? What could possibly be so big that you can't even visit us for a day?"
"And that is something I am very curious to find out as well, Mawnis said."
Sigdar, finally getting a pause from Mawnis anger, took his first breath since Mawnis had broken the table. He looked at the two men, collected the small courage he had and said calmly:
"I understand there is much you both don't know, that you deserve to hear. However, let's speak of this tomorrow when we all had a good nights sleep and can think this through calmly."
Brundt clenched his hold of his warhammer, but said:
"Sure, we will wait until tomorrow and then you better give us some straight answers about what's going on Sigdar Far-strider, hero of the Dagannoth war."
Sigdar breathed out. He was safe. For now.
"Great. Now, I will just return to..." He tried to raise from the chair, but Mawnis big hand prevented him. He looked deep into Sigdar's eyes.
"No. You will sleep. Here. On this chair. And we will return tomorrow, finding you at this chair. Understood?"
"And one more thing. If you take a single step out of this building, I will find you and stuff you with pickled herring until you smell like one."
"But you know I like those?"
"Yes. And I know the rest of the world doesn't."
The two thick wooden doors flew up and the early light from the rising sun entered the tavern. Mawnis entered and made quick steps to the sleeping elf who sat in a chair in the corner of the room. He was just about to knock the chair over when he got a better idea. He took the closest chair and snapped off one of the legs, but not enough for the leg to separate entirely from the seat. Then he put the chair next to the elf. This time he knocked the chair over, with the elf in it. Sigdar woke up, confused and dazed, on the dirty floor at the tavern and wondered what he was doing there.
"God morgon Sigdar. Had a good night's sleep?"
"Morning Mawnis. Unfortunately, no."
In the meantime Brundt had entered together with a large group of people. Soon the tavern was filled with people from all over the town, all sitting on chairs or tables and began ordering beer.
"What are they doing here? Sigdar asked."
"They are probably just here for their morning drink."
As if, Sigdar said in the back of his head. He was sure either Mawnis or Brundt had invited them to enjoy the show. Mawnis took the fallen chair from Sigdar and sat down on it. Brundt finally came with a chair of his own and sat down beside him. Sigdar groaned.
"I really liked that chair, the craftsman must be proud of it."
Sigdar finally stood up and look at the chair Mawnis sat on. He then looked around and saw another chair next to him. He wondered when it got there, but ignored that thought and was about to sit down when Brundt said:
"Sigdar, stand up. You will only sit down after you have finished your story, and not a second before. Understood?"
Sigdar stopped in his motion and looked at both of them. Then he turned to the rest of the audience. They immediately turned the other way and started talking with each other. Sigdar looked back at the two men.
"Can I start now?"
Brundt gave him a nod. Mawnis just leaned backwards and enjoyed his chair. Sigdar cleared his throat and began:
"A while ago, a big event happened that has, and will continue, to change our lives. A god named Guthix has died and with him the protection that keep the gods away from our world."
He looked at how they reacted. Brundt looked troubled. Mawnis looked uninterested. The rest of the audience didn't even breath.
"With his last breath, he gave me the power of the World Guardian, to being balance to the world and the protection from the influence of gods. I have been tasked with the responsibility to keep an eye on the gods and prevent them from doing harm on our world. And that is why I have to leave. I have new responsibilities I didn't have before and I must fulfill them to keep the world safe. To keep you safe. To keep all safe."
Mawnis stopped looking uninterested and stood up from his chair.
"So what? A dying god said "You know what? You don't look so stupid. You will carry out my will!" and suddenly nothing else matters?"
"To keep us safe? You calling us weak, we who are fighting the dagannoths that makes noobs wet their pants?"
"And along your journeys, you seem to have become the weak one, talking about "responsibilities" and aiding people for rewards. I bet you would even let yourself be shot from a cannon into a wall by a dwarf if he gave you the money."
That was the last straw. Sigdar took the collar of Mawnis and shouted in his face.
"I may already been shot from a cannon by a dwarf into a mountain while wearing a golden helmet, but I would never EVER abandon a family asking for help even if my reward would be two sacks of cabbages and rotten potatoes!"
"Then why leaving us, the ones who needs help with food, construction and the never-ending threat of the dagannoths?!"
"BECAUSE I LOVE ADVENTURING!!!"
Mawnis looked shocked. Sigdar let go of his collar and let him sit down.
"I have seen the world. There are always people who need help. They live in fear, running and covering from the darkness that hurts them. And while I helped them, I felt free. I choose the path I believed was right and helped those in need. The journey through the fear of making a mistake, the never-ending problems and the mightiest of foes who stand in the way, they all made me feel alive. The rewards at the end is nothing compared to the moment when you are standing there, when everything looks hopeless but you still fight for a better tomorrow, or when you wake up in the morning and feel proud of what you have done."
Mawnis finally changed his expression into a pensive one. Brundt had a big smile on his face.
"This town, these lands, they are too small for me. I want to see the world, discover places where nobody has been before, help those who needs help and do what I think is right. I am not leaving because of some "responsibilities", but because of the journey these responsibilities gives me. Because I want to adventure! And I will still do it, even if I have to walk around in a jester costume smelling pickled herring for the rest of my life!!!"
Sigdar had shouted out those last words. The tavern was in complete silence. Then Mawnis raised from his chair and snapped his fingers. The barmaid came carrying a barrel filled with something. "Time to eat up my words", Sigdar thought. Then, Mawnis took of his helm, polished it a bit with his pants and put it on Sigdars head. Sigdar felt a slight headache as Brundt's warhammer lightly hit the top of the helm and made it go over his eyes.
"There you go. Keep it. And take this too."
Mawnis handed over the barrel the barmaid had come with. It was not filled with pickled herring, but beer! Still confused, he looked at Brundt. He gave a quick nod in the direction of the audience.
"We have decided it's time to let you walk your own path. But we wanted to make sure it was your own and not some "responsibilities" that you made up along the way. Everyone here wants you to stay, but every single one will respect you for the one you want to become."
Sigdar looked at the audience again. He hadn't noticed until now how many they really were. He started feeling emotional. Brundt turned towards the audience and raised his beer glass.
"For Tyco elf, the World Guardian of Gelinor!"
They all raised their glasses into the air and began drinking. Tyco, still overwhelmed, slowly raised his barrel and began drinking. As the audience finished their glasses, they started watching the hero as he slowly emptied the barrel. Then halfway, he stopped and started to sit down.
"This is too much in one breath, I will soon..."
He didn't come any further. As he sat down, one of the legs on the chair he sat on snapped. Thrown off balance, he fell backwards on the hard, dirty floor. As he landed, the half-empty barrel landed on top of his stomach and a wave of beer washed over him. Moreover, the weight of the barrel was too much and a stream of beer came out of his mouth, looking like water from a fountain. After what felt like an eternity, the fountain stopped and a groan could be heard.
The tavern exploded in laughter. Brundt and Mawnis looked over the hero and said in choir:
"Welcome home, Tyco elf."
Tyco, still lying on the dirty floor, slowly raised his fist into the air and said:
"Just for today, call me Sigdar."
He smiled and hoped that the helm prevented them from seeing the stream of tears that came out of his eyes.
The small room had only the most necessary. A chair and a table, a mirror on the wall, a bed in one corner and a carmine in the other, still crackling. A window let the early afternoon light into the room and gave a view over the city of Varrock, covered in snow. A knocking suddenly came from the door.
"Lunch in 10 minutes!"
The person in the bed groaned. He was tempted to pay for another night just to sleep the day off, telling the innkeeper he was on vacation or something.
"But then I guess every day is a vacation for me."
He slowly raised from the bed and looked into the mirror. The tired elf in the mirror looked back.
"I guess today is the day."
He began stroking his chin, just like he seen all fremenniks do in the morning.
"I guess elves don't grow beards" was said after a moment.
The mirror sighed and shaked its head.
"It took you that long to figure that out?"
"Oh dear, you have started to talk to yourself, a common sign of going mad."
The mirror didn't answer, but raised its left eyebrow. With another conversation won, Tyco elf took his helm from the table and went down for lunch.
"You never know when the party is over, do you?" The innkeeper commented while serving Tyco his second portion of soup.
"Why makes you think that? he asked, trying to look confused." The innkeeper shrugged.
"Just a feeling." he said and went back behind the bar.
Actually, Tyco was well aware that yesterday was such a day when he didn't knew when the party was over. He had a faint memory of leaving Rellekka, tired and unsteady on his feet, before using his runes too teleport to Varrock and start a new party at the inn he was currently in, the Blue Moon Inn. He smiled when thinking back on yesterdays event. It had been quite a day, if only every day could be like that. Actually, he had to tell someone about it, right now, while everything was (somewhat) fresh in his memory. He giggled as he turned to the blue-haired woman sitting next to him. He raised his voice so everyone could hear.
"You don't know what you missed yesterday, it was the party of the year! No, it was actually bigger, like...."
Tyco stopped as he realized that there wasn't any woman sitting beside him, nor anyone in the whole bar. His smile faded as he realized this and returned to his soup.
"I guess I am really going mad after all." he muttered to himself.
Last time he had seen her was 2 months ago. She was probably killing something 20 times her size right now. That's how she liked it, deadly and challenging. He put down the spoon. It had been too long, hadn't it? There was a time where yesterday would have been a very good day among other good days. Yet here he sat, on Christmas, alone in a bar with tales to tell but no audience. Needless to say, that saddened him. A lot. He took the almost torn apart list from his pocket and put it on the table. While it was over a month old, it had served its purpose. Tyco marked the 92:th ranked name on the list with a circle, gave himself some words on encouragement and raised from his chair, going for the exit.
"Wait, you forgot your list!"
"No need for it." Tyco replied the innkeeper, who studied the list more closely.
"And who are these "Clan Quest" people?"
Tyco stopped at the exit and looked at the questioned eyes of the innkeeper.
The guard yawned. Not because he was tired, but because nothing interesting happened. Again. Guarding a citadel had turned out to be a very boring job, with exception of events and the non-stop saluting at passing clan-members. But it was well paid and the uniform was something the guards of Falador could only dream about. For the 361:st time the guard did a 180-degree turn and continued patrolling along the outer wall. However, he didn't notice as a grappling hook latched itself on the wall behind him and a white figure climbing up. Neither did he notice the figure fire a second hook onto the roof of the keep and swing across the courtyard.
Tyco climbed up to the roof and quickly hid behind the low wall that surrounded the roof. He pressed his white hood and cloak closer, hoping the color would blend in with the snow surrounding him. After a moment, he could hear the guard shiver in the distance. Tyco on the other hand wasn't freezing as he continued, crawling along the wall across the roof. He was accustomed to cold. Once on the south side, he carefully peeked over the wall and studied his surroundings. The guards on the west and east sides of the outer wall ended their route before reaching the south wall of the keep and due to the snowy weather, the guard on the southern outer wall that normally would have seen him saw nothing more than a white dot as Tyco slowly descended along the wall of the keep. Tyco looked down at the window below him.
"Lets see what they are doing today."
As he rappelled down, he could only hope that nobody would look out through the window, or that his shadow wouldn't block out the light of the room. He then suddenly stopped. Looking at his shadow, it became bigger the longer he stared at it. Why would it......
He turned around too late as the big creature came down from above with shining fangs pointing at him.
"From Lizbeth to Msk! Merry Christmas!"
Santa threw the present across the room to the elderly woman sitting next to the fireplace, who caught it with one hand and opened it in one motion.
"200 cabbage-flavored teabags!"
She turned to the younger woman sitting next to her and gave her a big hug. Applaudes came from the surrounding clan-members and a wisecracker said "You may now kiss the bride". Laugh followed. Santa now turned to the big pile of presents and the even bigger heap of wrapping paper that was almost touching the roof. Dwarven cannons, clockwork toys, cups of tea, cabbages and notepaper of various items filled the room.
"250 presents opened, 51 more to go."
"Need any help Santa?"
"No, but thanks anyway Alex. I shall manage."
Santa picked an envelope from the pile of presents. Addressed to him by coincidence. He opened it and read it out loud.
"To Santa from Alex! You may pick anyone to assist you dealing out the remaining presents!"
Santa looked up and saw Alex silently form the words "pick me". Judging from his facial expression, he had something big in mind. Determined not to let him win this, Santa pretended to be in deep thought and walk back and forth until he raised his finger in an enlightened expression and said with an ironic voice:
"Alex, can you tell Nogard to fetch my elf. I must have forgotten him on my way from the north pole."
As soon as he finished that sentence, the big window shattered as a frost dragon flew through it and into the heap of wrapping paper, dragging it across the room before making a sudden stop when reaching the wall. A short struggle has heard inside the heap before silence spread across the gathering room of Clan Quest.
Santa, who had thrown himself aside at the grand entrance of Nogard, the frost dragon of Clan Quest, got up from the floor and slowly approached the now even bigger heap of paper. The sitting clan-members who observed everything jumped back as a proud Nogard suddenly stack out his head in surprise with a big smile on his face.
"Nogard! What in the name of...."
Msk stopped as she saw a hand, still moving, stick out of Nogard's mouth. Before she could continue, Lizbeth had already taken steady steps to the dragon.
"Nogard! Spit it out!" she said while pointing at the floor in front of her.
The smile of Nogard disappeared. He slowly sank into the heap of paper as he crouched while looking at Lizbeth with a firm look. A low growl could be heard.
"No! This is mine!" is what Nogard would have said if he were capable of speaking.
"Nogard, I'm serious!"
Lizbeth gave the dragon an even harder look and they both stared at each other in silence. Santa could swear that he saw sparks coming out of their eyes. A long silence followed. Then, Nogard slowly raised his head before opening his mouth and let the content inside fall down on the floor. Santa jumped back as saliva spread out at all directions. Lizbeth didn't move as much as an inch. Then Nogard gurgled and spat out something at high speed. Alex ducked as a helm barely missed him and stuck itself at the wall with a loud "splat".
"I will remember this!" is what the look on Nogard said as he got out of the heap of wrapping paper and flew out through the window he came in through. Lizbeth starred after him for a moment and then turned her attention to the content drenched in dragon saliva.
"Get Irene. This one needs attention."
"Geeez Alex, I didn't mean it literally."
"Wasn't me. Promise!"
Tyco opened his eyes. A woman standing beside him became surprised as their eyes met. She then bowed gently and left the room, leaving Tyco confused. He looked around and saw that he somehow gotten himself to a small medical room and fallen asleep in a bed.
"Lets leave it as it is Santa. I don't think Alex need to explain anything. Now, let us not keep our guest waiting. Alex, dismissed."
An elderly woman, followed by two younger men entered the room. She smiled.
"Excuse us for the wait. My name is MsKonnan10 and to the left of me is Santa Ends. Mr Handsome to the right is Cireon."
The man to the left raised his hand in a greeting. The right one flexed his muscles and said:
"Wazzap?" "And the one behind the door is Lord Earth." Cireon turned around just to see a glimpse of something disappearing at the door. He simply gave the door a wink before turning his attention to Tyco.
"And you are?"
Tyco opened his mouth to answer, but then noticed his helm being carried by Santa and became aware that his ears were showing. He reflexively put on his hood and saliva from before washed down over his face. Needless to say, he felt quite stupid right now.
Santa couldn't help but laugh at the action of the elf. Msk did a failed attempt to cover her mouth as she began giggling hysterically. Cireon was the only one to, barely, control himself.
"I believe you may need this?"
He took the helm from his laughing comrade and held it out. Tyco looked up. There was something that felt familiar with all of this and as he took his helm, he remembered it. The laughter of good times, the moment of stupidity, the warm hand of helpfulness. Then he saw a hooded elf, covered in saliva and with a confused look in the reflection of his helm.
He laughed. He couldn't help but laugh at everything. The three members of Clan Quest looked in surprise as the elf bursted out in laughter. He fell off the bed and continued laughing while rolling around the floor in front of their eyes. And then, the laughter was slowly replaced with crying. They stood there, not knowing what to do, as the elf cried tears of joy. He had found them! He had found the adventurers! He had found a home, but more importantly a family!
He stopped his weeping for a moment.
"Can I join?"
Book one: The return to an old home