The Earthshaker’s Oath Prologue “I have no time for your politics, Chancellor. We have a problem and we need to stop it.” Two men stood in a large room, dimly lit by dying candles and the thin streaks of dawn light that fell through the tiny arched windows. They stood on opposite ends of a long, dark oak table, the surface of which was covered in maps that had recently been laid out, detailing the whole of Isanbjorg and the recently captured holds which surrounded it. One was tall, heavily built and with rugged features, and he wore fine clothing in the city’s white and blue. He wore a steel breastplate and greaves over his clothing, and a helmet had been placed on the table beside him. He rested his hand on it, the other placed gently on the hilt of the blade that was sheathed to his hip. The other was shorter and his age had clearly taken its toll on his body. Thin, wispy grey hair fell from his head and he wore long robes and a medallion around his neck, both of which appeared to be as old as he. With a thin, bony hand he pointed at the other man, his face twisted in frustration. He spoke. “No, Vargr. You have a problem. These rumours have no credit, yet you follow them blindly in an attempt to reclaim some stolen glory, and ignore the real issues at hand!” Vargr had grown tired of listening to Chancellor Aldafar’s complaints. The old man was senile at his best, but a paranoid and manipulative weasel at his worst. The man was powerful though, and had been advisor to the royal family in any and all matters for longer than Vargr had been alive. There had been a time when he had respected the older man’s council, but that time had long past, and Vargr found himself constantly fighting with him whenever it came to matters involving the city’s protection. Vargr had worked long and hard to earn the position of Isanbjorg’s marshal, and it was his job to keep the city he had been born in safe. If it were not for Aldafar’s meddling then he might be able to do his job, but the elderly man was in a position of greater power, and his sway over the ruling of the city was stronger than he would have liked you to know. Thankfully there was only one subject where the two of them clashed, which meant that Vargr could usually do his job in peace. Whenever he attempted to enforce changes in the managing of the Earthshaker’s; Isanbjorg’s resident giant population and militia, Aldafar would complicate things. Vargr not only managed the city guard but also the Earthshaker’s, and thus had control of the city’s most powerful resource. Furthermore, he saw them as less of a tool and more as individuals, unlike Aldafar, and understood that they had all come to Iron Fort for refuge. If a human sought refuge in Isanbjorg then they would be found a room to stay and be fed a hot meal, not enslaved and forced to build stone walls. While he could not deny the usefulness of giants as soldiers and builders, Vargr knew that they had come here seeking sanctuary, not imprisonment, and that a stronger alliance between the two peoples could be forged if only they were willing to give it to them. That was where their opinion differed. Aldafar saw them as little more than wild beasts to be tamed and sent to the slaughter. To him, any giant that questioned an order was a traitor, plotting to overthrow the Iron Fort, and he would have sentenced a hundred giants to death if it had not been for the Queen stepping in. Vargr had no doubt that Aldafar was loyal to the city and sought only to protect it, but if he were left unchecked then we would cause more harm than good. Creator bless that woman, Vargr thought. At least she has some sense about her. The marshal grit his teeth and flexed his hands, fighting back the urge to raise his voice. “So you would force us to reorganise the Earthshaker’s, throwing them into disarray, the moment we might need them to help on the southern border? Just because you want to separate giants you think might be plotting something?” “Rather risk attack from the south than risk attack from within.” “I am tired of your-” A man threw open the door, bursting into the room. Vargr’s voice fell silent as he turned to face the man, a furious expression across his face. The man who entered was one of the marshal’s messengers, and it was clear that whatever he had to say was urgent. “What?” Vargr barked. The messenger gulped, holding up a piece of scrolled up parchment. “It’s the fort at the Dálkr Pass, sir. It’s been attacked.” ~ It is the early hours of a freezing cold morning when you receive your calls to action. A young human man, fresh faced and no older than twenty, dressed in the fine garbs of the Queen’s messengers, has delivered a letter to each of you individually. Each one of these letters is marked with the seal and signature of the city marshal, the man in charge of Isanbjorg’s military affairs, but also the man who officially leads the Earthshaker’s. This seal features the head of a stag, the icon of the marshal, which is well known among the giants of the city as a call to duty. It is highly unusual for a group of giants to be called so early in the morning, but it is clear by the messenger’s short, sharp breaths that he was told to deliver the notices as quickly as possible. The letter is brief but clear, as while most giants speak the common tongue of Isanbjorg it is only a minority that can read or write it, and even fewer that can do so well. Still, even the newest and least educated members of the Earthshakers are taught to recognise certain words that the marshal deemed important, and for those still unable to understand the message the messenger has been instructed to read it out for them. Once the message has been delivered the man bows his head and leaves, clutching his satchel of messages tightly in his hand. The letter says that any who receives it is to report to the Iron Keep, the grand spire of in the centre of the city, where they will report to city marshal for further instructions. Most giants in the city know of marshal Vargr Stål but only a few have met him personally. Opinions of him vary greatly, but he is known to sympathise more with the giants than most people in the city. It is likely that Queen Elisavet offered him the position for that very reason. The letter continues, stating that each giant involved has been reassigned to a new group. Giants usually operate in small groups, the number varying depending on the mission but usually consisting of five to ten individuals, and will rarely change unless a death occurs or a new giant arrives in Isanbjorg. A change in the structure of a group is usually done under exceptional circumstances. The letter itself is exceptional, however, and certainly means that change is coming.