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    A Treatise on Utgardr and Beira III, Last Daughter of Utgardr


    Lineage : Progeny of Arcanos
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    First Magic: Arcane Fate Magic
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    A Treatise on Utgardr and Beira III, Last Daughter of Utgardr Empty A Treatise on Utgardr and Beira III, Last Daughter of Utgardr

    Post by Fraag 16th April 2020, 1:01 pm

    Despite the fact that Beira was, for all intents and purposes, immortal, she had been, of late, subjected to thoughts of transience and the realization that nothing truly is forever. For this reason, she decided to try her hand at writing a book. Her first. It would be a documentation of her past, Utgardr, and everything that she could remember that had happened to her right up until she arrived in Fiore. Just for the sake of documentation... and to give someone something to read if ever they desired to know more about Utgardr. To this end, she bought an empty book, of the size she imagined her work would fill, took a pen and ink, and made her way into the Librarium Obscuri, where she settled down to begin her work, undisturbed by matters in the worlds beyond. It would be best to write as though she were telling a story of someone other than herself, and try to be as brutally honest as possible. With these thoughts, she laid the pen to the paper, and began to write...

    When you see the young adult known as Beira of Utgardr, never will you imagine that she is actually so old that she has no idea just how ancient she really is. Better yet, never will you imagine that she is quite a lot more than she appears to be. Then again, hers isn’t the kind of story you hear thrown around in gossip circles. This treatise will be meant to help you make sense of who, and what Beira really is, as well as the many convoluted matters relating to her past. Apologies if it is long, but you may as well grab a cup of coffee and settle in for a tale so unbelievable you would never realize it was actually true.

    Beira’s Assumed Heritage: Descendant of Hrim the Old
    This one was allegedly born as Beira the Third, last child of the Supreme Rulers of the Kingdom of Utgardr, which by the way doesn’t exist in Earthland. Utgardr exists on a different plane, in a place called Jotunheimr, of which you might still see a few people that know of it. Today, it is a realm of harsh, unforgiving ice and snow, and giants. Then (if we want to believe that Beira’s story is true), Utgardr still had jotnar (that is, frost giants), ice and snow, but giants weren’t the dominant race in Utgardr, even if they were the rulers of Jotunheimr. Utgardr was ruled by normal-sized, but very magically strong folk; it is believed that they may have been Aesir who crossed the mighty Ifingr River and settled on its shores on the other side of Asgardr. Of course, as soon as they settled, they had been set on by the giants, and had been initially on the receiving end of a long and bitter war, until Hrim the Old arose from among the Utgardians. Okay, it would be quite a disservice to just mention the name Hrim without speaking of his deeds, for Hrim was of a similar race as the heroine of our story, Beira of Utardr. Hrim was an orphan; no one really knew who his parents were, but it was generally believed that they had died in one of the jotnar raids on the outer regions of Utgardr’s territories. In any case, Hrim was, or at least, seemed to be an Utgardian biologically, but his power was such as Utgardr had never witnessed before. So great was Hrim’s power that, in the same year he first marched to war as a lad not older than sixteen suns, he put a swift end to the Utgardian-Jotun war, and almost single-handedly at that. He quickly became a rallying point for the Utgardian armies, and was charismatic and fearless in mettle. The frost giant hordes were utterly crushed and their remnants chased out of Utgardr’s territories, bringing a long-forgotten peace to the region. If you are quite conversant with matters concerning Beira III of Utgardr, you would have correctly assumed that Hrim the Old, like Beira, who came many ages after him, was an ‘Incarnato’, a being of power, whose origins will be touched on later in this treatise. In any event, it is said he had the powers of the greatest of the Aesir, lords of Asgardr, and with this power, Hrim redirected a portion of the Ifingr to serve as a moat for his new kingdom. It was discovered that Hrim had the ability to absorb, and control, whatever element or weather he was exposed to, and he had exposed himself to the cold until it had become a part of him, making him an unrivalled manipulator of ice. Hrim ruled Utgardr as its first emperor, and at this point we must confess that despite how good the histories make him sound, Hrim was nothing near a benevolent and compassionate ruler. As one who didn’t see any use for weakness, he was brutal and merciless, a trait many Utgardians were quick and ready to embrace, having gone through years and years of bitter war and strife at the hands of the relentless frost giants. One particular characteristic trait of Hrim was his habit of going into war in rather poor degrees of covering. Almost totally unclothed, this behavior of his (aside to show off his godlike physique, yes) was meant to expose his body to the inclement climate of Utgardr so that he could absorb, and thus manipulate ice magic, as well as taunt his foes in battle. After all, how aggravating it would surely be to see a foe, unarmored and barely clad, rushing onto the battle field, and despite all attempts by enemy forces to show him his folly in eschewing armor, the bloke would just not die. Yes, Hrim was practically immortal. There was nothing that could apparently kill him, not weather, not wounds, not weapons. One moment, news would have spread that the jotnar had beaten Hrim’s corpse into a bloody pulp on the plains, only for the same Hrim to return to the battlefield screaming, and plough into his foes like a demon from the icy hells. And so he defeated the frost giants, and ruled Utgardr. For a time, he remained impulsive and reckless, and in time, his people, the Utgardians, began to emulate his qualities. This will explain the curious choice, or lack thereof, of clothing prevalent in some aspects of Utgardian culture, for against general belief, all Utgardians do not run about in clothing levels sufficient to outrage the modern Fiorean. This quirk of Utgardian culture, along with other matters of their traditions, will be elaborated on in the next chapter of this reading. Hrim, for his part, ruled how best he could, though it became evident, as time passed, that his aggressive impulsiveness began to give way to a guarded unease. Something worried the great king, but he did not deign to share it with his subjects. He would, from time to time, hand ruling responsibilities to his eldest daughter, who was old enough to rule unaided, and disappear for long periods of time, only to return, rule for a while and disappear again. Also, it seemed that age was beginning to take its toll on him, for he seemed to be weaker every time he returned from his long journeys. One fateful day, confined to what appeared to be his deathbed, he gathered the Utgardians, officially crowned his daughter Empress of Utgardr, and then used a great deal of his magic power to create wards that shielded Utgardr’s territorial space from external threats. Having done this, he bade his people farewell, told them they would never see him again, and ordered everyone out of his chambers. The next morning, the royal chamber was empty. Hrim had vanished into legend and myths. Eventually, his people came to terms with the permanence of his absence, his daughter permanently took the throne, and till the day the shielding wards of Utgardr fell, a descendant of Hrim the Old was always on the throne of Utgardr.

    Beira’s Assumed Culture: The Utgardians
    The history of the Utgardians has been attended to in the previous chapter. Before we go on with the matters pertaining to Beira of Utgardr, it would be wise to learn a bit about Utgardian culture, as that would assist in the understanding of some of the quirks of the last Daughter of Utgardr. We shall attend to Utgardian culture under the following headings:
    Environment: Dwelling in a land similar in environment and atmosphere to Iceberg in Earthland, Utgardr was, despite its snow and cold, teeming with life in its own way. The entire land area, probably about as large as a little less than half of Fiore, was surrounded by the mighty Ifingr, a great river which ran not only geographically, but also between dimensions (if you can wrap your head around that). Ifingr demarcated the boundary between the planes of Jotunheimr, land of the frost giants, and Asgardr, home of a mighty race revered as gods by some Earthland cultures. With the Ifingr bent by Hrim the Old to flow around Utgardr, the realm was a well-defended island, sitting somewhere between dimensions. It was mostly characterized by vast plains and lakes, though there were a number of mountains as well. These mountains were more or less Utgardr’s lifeblood, for from their heights flowed rivers running so deep that the ice could not grip them, and from these mountains and hills, incredibly rich in minerals and gemstones, all sorts of metals and jewels could be mined. Pine tree forests dominated the exteriors of the mountains and a good portion of the plains, so there was sufficient animal life as well, ranging from wild boars to deer of all kinds, mountain lions, wolves and foxes, rodents and many others, many types of birds and fish included. There were also a great deal of legendary animals like wyverns, manticores and gigantic reptiles and arthropods. Dragons were seldom seen, but not rare. There was never summer, yet many plants had evolved the ability to survive the perpetual winter, and the rivers with their liquid water made drinking water available to any life that had not adapted itself to acquiring much needed nutritional water from the snow, which was in great abundance. The dominant sentient race was that of the Utgardians, though frost giants would occasionally cross the Ifingr and attempt to do battle, at which point they were thwarted often by Hrim’s wards and the vigilant Utgardians. Dark elves, mindflayers and other sentient monstrosities lived deep underground, but did not involve themselves with Utgardian life for the most part. At the edge of the realm of Utgardr, just after crossing the Ifingr, one would come across a translucent white sheet which rose from the ground to form an immense dome that covered the whole of Utgardr. This was regarded as the shielding wards of Hrim the Old. Crossing them drained a traveler of physical and magical energy but never killed them, so that they were at the mercy of patrolling Utgardians once they crossed the wards, and these patrols were well coordinated and effective. This served as a rather workable defense against the ravaging jotnar beyond the Ifingr. Only a few Utgardians knew how to bypass the shielding wards, so the country’s borders were sufficiently guarded.
    Food: Due to the abundance of teeming wildlife, there is quite much to eat, if you can set decent traps or shoot arrows decently. Utgardians favored meat, especially fresh meat, and they hardly ever boiled, or fried their meat. Meat was mostly roasted, and Utgardians didn’t tend to discriminate in what meat was to be eaten as long as it was mammalian; a wolf would do as well as a rabbit, but they tended to prefer boars and deer. Aside fish, game birds and some crustaceans, an Utgardian would never put any other sort of flesh in their mouths. Snakes were particularly considered to be unpleasant, as food or anything else. Utgardians felt blood was sacred, and they did not eat it with the meat. They bled their meat out, before roasting, using many spices that are lost to Fiorean kitchens today. Meat wasn’t the only thing on the menu; incredibly, using magic, Utgardians were able to thaw relatively large swaths of ground for farming, and they grew various grains, legumes, roots and fruit trees. They also did keep a relatively large amount of mostly ruminant livestock, which would occasionally be herded to graze in the forests on the mountain slopes, and provided meat, milk, leather, wool, fibers, and other raw materials. Bread and a spicy meaty stew was basic traditional Utgardian food. Due to the cold, which was not so conducive for fermentation, alcohol was present, but very rare, and was only drunk on exceptional occasions. In special underground lofts, mushrooms and other strange and medical plants and fungi could be cultivated. Utgardians kept dogs and cats of all sizes, but these were not eaten, instead being used as hunting partners, mounts and battle companions. Horses were also kept for this regard.
    Clothing and Age Groups: With the rise of Hrim the Old, Utgardians discovered to their delight that their emperor was so powerful, his magic began to rub off on them, making them rather resistant to the cold of Utgardr. To honor Hrim, their most elite members of the military opted to wear less clothes like he did, using jewelry instead as a means to show affluence. Over time, clothes in Utgardr became more of a symbol that reflected the age, and marital status of its wearer, and little else. The younger a person, the less clothes they wore, although Utgardians had a similar notion, as does the modern Fiorean, of where the naughty bits are located. Initially, to combat the forces of the jotnar, who still tried, time and again, to attack Utgardr, the monarchy had commissioned a special group of warriors, the Children of Winter, who were trained extensively to manipulate ice, and had the signature of going into battle (and eventually by custom, everywhere else) almost unclothed, as was Hrim’s custom, initially done by the emperor to better expose himself to the cold of Jotunheimr which he turned into a weapon. However, the Children of Winter did so simply to emulate their first emperor, and defy their enemies by fighting unarmored. Most Utgardians strove to imitate Hrim the Old, and the Children of Winter in this regard, thus adapting eventually to wear relatively few clothing, even in cold. Wearing of many clothes was seen as fitting for the old whose physical fortitude had begun to decline, and Utgardian elders were the only ones who were fully clothed. There were three major age classes of Utgardians: Young, Adult, and Old. Young people were from ages 0 to 35, Adults were from 36 to 70, and the Old were from 70 and above. The Young dressed in as few clothes as possible; the rule was, if you were wearing underwear under your clothes, no matter how skimpy, you were covered enough for a Youth. This was to show off their athletic bodies, and in honor of Hrim, who was known to always go into battle barely clad. Adult clothes tended to cover more, though arms and shoulders could be exposed, as well as from the knees down. The Old had just their faces and hands visible. No matter the age, Utgardians tended to favor boots, though sandals were not uncommon.
    Social Culture and Values: The fundamental values of the Utgardian culture included strength of character, discipline, assertiveness, industry, stalwartness, honesty, martial prowess, community respect and especially loyalty. Biological sex did not matter, and gender roles were undefined. Birth and death were quite revered among Utgardians, as was marriage. Birth was a thing of joy, and often well celebrated, and while death was not as greatly anticipated, Utgardians believed that if one lived well, and died bravely, theirs was a life worth celebrating. Utgardians, despite their youth’s style of dressing, believed that to sleep with someone was to marry them, and so premarital and extramarital affairs were very rare. While there was no legal punishment for these, if two youngsters slept with each other, they were immediately expected to marry, or they would live with the shame of being seen as disloyal snakes, or undisciplined slime molds. Marital infidelity had a similar response, with members of society disdaining the culprits as breaching the sacredness of loyalty. In a society in which everyone sought to be seen as respectable, this was enough to persuade stringent monogamy. Marriage and children were seen as reputable, though Utgardians did not shame the unmarried or childless, and no one was pressured into getting married, as all knew it was a lifelong endeavor, and there was thus wisdom in choosing a mate carefully. Having children or getting married moved one automatically from the age group of Young to Adult, no matter their age, and if one had a grandchild, they moved from Adult to Old, as well. Respect for age groups above one’s own was heavily encouraged, and disrespect to the Old was punishable. Violence to the Old was a severe offence. Every Utgardian at least had a weapon, and on the average, two weapons and a shield. Armors were looked on with contempt. There were various military organizations, but one of the most elite was named the Children of Winter. Only the most skilled Youths could join, as well as Youths from the royal family. The Children of Winter had the responsibility of keeping the Temple of Winter, and from among their ranks came one who would be saddled with the title and responsibilities of the Aspect of Winter. More about the Aspect of Winter shall be discussed subsequently.
    Government: The Utgardians maintained a strict monarchy, of a king/queen, with their consort and co-ruler. The ruler was always of Hrim’s line, but there were noble families from which a king or queen could pick a spouse, and these noble families often had their eldest members serve as advisors to the crown. The word of the ruler was law, although the ruler, due to the respect for age that was so pervasive in Utgardian culture, often respected the desires of the council of advisors. Cities, towns and villages in Utgardr were almost always gerontocratic, with the old and respected leading the communities, and each community being relatively autonomous, although every authority eventually deferred to the crown. Every Utgardian was expected to be a soldier, though the Old never fought unless the situation was dire, and the Adults often had positions of leadership in the army, or were seen as veteran officers, and thus much more respected than Young soldiers. Any Young below fifteen, as well as the pregnant, were exempted from fighting as well, unless in desperate circumstances. While the government was an autocracy, the leaders attempted to rule as embodiments of the ideal Utgardian virtues, and also be loved by their people. As this was the case, the dying monarch often chose one of their children who seemed to be wise and firm, and yet have an eye for the people. It was traditional for the eldest child of the monarch to reign, but in some cases, which were not too rare, if younger children had shown better leadership values, their seniors were overlooked in their favor. In most cases, the council of advisors agreed with the choice of the monarchs for their next ruler, but if they didn’t, they did not show their displeasure until after the reigning monarch was dead, at which point they put their weight solidly behind anyone of the royal offspring whom they desired to have the throne. Due to the reluctance to fight against the council of advisors, a much younger regent would have to abdicate the throne for their favored sibling. Despite the Utgardian extolment of honesty and stalwartness, these rigors of politics began to cause the Utgardian nobility to adapt more underhand tactics to secure the throne for themselves or their favored candidates, although they were very careful not to allow these underhand deeds to be brought to light, as such revelations could allow their enemies, who were often many, to move against them with the support of more traditional elements, and oust them from the corridors of power. As such, the royal city of Utgardr was full of secrets, plots and shadows. Rulers could vanish from the public eye for many months, and reappear to continue leading their people. In time, the people of the city got used to their antics.
    Children of Winter:Among the military, answerable only to the crown and commanded by the general known as the Aspect of Winter, were the special elite forces known as the Children of Winter. Handpicked by special scouters from a very young age and trained specifically in the use of ice and elemental magics, it was their job to patrol Utgardian borders, and they were usually the first response to external threats, being trained to work with brutality and decisiveness, as did their progenitor and patron, Hrim the Old. They were highly revered in Utgardian society, and it was their eschewal of clothing as a choice to honor Hrim the Old that eventually led to the general society’s response to clothes and the custom of Utgardian youths dressing in rather few clothing articles. The Children of Winter were often distinguished from others by the heavy jewelry they wore; only they, and royalty, were allowed to be much bedecked with jewelry, as a sign of their prestige. As a result, it was every Utgardian child’s dream to be conscripted into the ranks of the Children of Winter. When anyone from the Children of Winter became an Adult, they retired from the Children of Winter automatically. If they still desired to remain in the army, they were given high ranks. The general known as the Aspect of Winter could never resign from the Children of Winter, although they were allowed, like other Utgardians, to dress in the requisite garb that pertained to their age. It was always required that an Aspect of Winter was present and functional at all times, and a couple of Children of Winter, definitely from the royal house’s line, were usually trained for the sole purpose of taking over and replacing an Aspect of Winter, should the Aspect suddenly die or disappear. Despite the honors conferred on the Aspect of Winter, it was not a position very much coveted, for once every hundred years, the living Aspect of Winter was required to die to keep Utgardr safe.
    Education and Art: The primary education of the Utgardian was of war. Every Utgardian boy or girl, was trained in matters of combat, with emphasis on how best to utilize one’s strengths to be the best fighter one could possibly be, and to work cohesively with others as a team. As a result, there were many schools of combat, and every Utgardian settlement, from the smallest of hamlets to the capital city, had at least three schools of combat, one focusing on brute strength and endurance, another on physical and mental dexterity, and the last on magic control and metaphysical matters. Some hybrid schools existed, which would meld any two, or all three of the basic schools. The capital city had at least 30 schools of combat. Aside combat, Utgardians were all taught to read and write in Utgardian, and could learn a number of arts and trades that would set them up for adult occupation. Despite their harsh lives, Utgardians had this strangely placed pride in their existence as a refined people. As descendants of migrants from Asgardr, they were aware of other civilizations existing, even if these were far removed from them spatially and dimensionally. Their expectation was that, were they to be visited by travelers from afar, such travelers would not come and meet a backward, barbaric people who lived in rough crude shelters and knew nothing of literacy. For this reason, schooling was free, as Utgardians believed that everyone, being educated, would be able to make reasonable contributions to the society. Even orphans were educated, and as such, despite their relative lack of sophistication, at least in the opinion of the modern Fiorean, Utgardians had their own type of complexity, especially in their art. Being lovers of beauty, they made a lot of apparently simple, but profoundly beautiful pieces of art in sculptures, paintings, metal work, architecture, textiles, pottery, word craft and music. Even the humblest Utgardian dwellings were made of standing stone, not some cheaply erected structure that could not withstand a strong wind. The only thing Utgardians did after a major blizzard, with screaming winds that could lift a full grown man off his feet, was simply dig trenches in the fallen snow with which to make walkways. Each house usually had the name of its owner etched on the capstone, and some old houses had lists of the more illustrious members of the house hold inscribed on its stones in beautiful pattern work.
    Occupation and Economy: Every Utgardian was expected to be a soldier on reserves, and as such an impressive army could easily be raised in a very short time. Yet aside the universal military occupation of the Utgardians, they also had a wide range of ways to earn their keep. These included planting of food and raw material crops and rearing of animals, medicine, smithing of metals into tools, jewelry and weapons, woodwork, carving and carpentry, masonry, pottery and sculpting, weaving and tanning, dyeing, textile and leather working, inscribing, book and scroll making, tutoring and academics, among others. Many of these crafts were heavily supported with various kinds of magic, as Utgardians wer naturally quite inclined towards the use of magic. There were no schools for learning magic. It came naturally to them, and as such was magic education was incorporated into everything. It was totally unheard of that an Utgardian could not use magic; there were never any recordings of such, and despite the lack of scholarly materials dedicated to Utgardian culture, these amazing ancient people did quite a lot of documentation. Children of noble houses and royalty learned etiquette, history, and matters of statecraft such as diplomacy and public administration. Trade was carried out using coins, with copper, silver and gold coins being used, and it was extremely rare for Utgardians to trade with anyone, or anything, other than their own. Utgardian technology seemed to be something about as developed as what Fioreans refer to as Bronze-age or maybe Iron-age technology, although their technology was quite magical, and thus rather effective in its own archaic way.
    Language and Religion: The Utgardians spoke Utgardian, a dialect of Asgardian, which is a tongue relatively unknown in modern Earthland. This dialect is scholarly proof that Utgardians are an offshoot from Asgardians, although it is very likely that such information is unfortunately redundant today. The Utgardian language had its own script, with the writing having a runic design. Utgardian language was symbolic, drawing on puns, word plays and rhymes for an interesting effect, with the understanding of the language mostly on a contextual basis. Utgardians did not necessarily have a pantheon, but they believed that the heavens above were home to mostly powerful creatures, and dead Utgardians who had lived worthy lives became stars. There were also nine hells, of ice, fire, barren wastes, and other unlivable climes, infested with demons. Those who did evil in life were sucked into the hells and transformed into demons. It was believed that from time to time, demons attempted to attack the heavens to take over the cosmos, but they always failed. For this reason, anything which came from the sky was considered divine, and that which issued out of the earth was probably evil. The Utgardians didn’t worship anything in particular, although they revered their noble ancestors, especially Hrim the Old, whom they revered as a god of winter, but didn’t have any rites or rituals to honor him. They still tried to live as best as they could, for doing so would earn them a place among the stars. Utgardr had only one temple, the Temple of Winter, built in the capital city. Though this was not a place of worship, it housed the greatest Utgardian artifact, the Heart of Winter, created when Hrim used his powers to create the shielding wards of Utgardr. The Heart of Winter was a giant, translucent white gem, which generated the magic necessary to keep up the wards. In a ceremony held every hundred years, an individual with great magical prowess, always of Hrim’s line, called the Aspect of Winter and trained for this purpose, sacrificed themselves to keep the Heart functioning, and the shielding wards maintained.
    Recreation and Festivities: Utgardians, despite their inclination to work hard, usually spent their evenings socializing among age groups, in which they would engage themselves in singing, dancing, and competitions of strength, intelligence, or magical prowess. Once a year, the only major yearly holiday, the Great Hunt, was held. On that day, there would be quite a great deal of hunting, which the vibrancy of the fauna of Utgardr allowed to remain as a sustainable yearly event. On this day, when the hunting was over, people would gather and build great bonfires, over which they would roast their meat, sing songs and dance, as well as give gifts to one another and engage generally in merrymaking. It was on this event that alcohol was traditionally allowed to be drunk. The greatest bonfires were always in the capital city, and gifts were given to the city’s inhabitants by the crown. The only other memorable day was not so much as festive as the Great Hunt, and it held once every hundred years. On that day, the Aspect of Winter died to keep Utgardr safe by maintaining the shielding wards with their magic. The Aspect of Winter would lay hold of the Heart of Winter, which would suck out all their magic power, as well as their soul, granting them a sure and inexorable death. This sacrifice was seen as a great service, and the Aspects of Winter were honored in society, for the sacrifice they had to undertake.

    Of Beira, the Old Ones and the Incarnati
    Enough of the boring history. We’re more concerned about the royal brat called Beira. It is expected that she was the last child of her parents, the then king and queen of Utgardr. Only a very few people know of the truth, which is recounted here. Some years after the birth of Hodr, second child of the rulers of that age, a great star fell from the sky, crashing into the plains of Utgardr. The Children of Winter were dispatched to investigate, and returned in awe, with strange powerful beings in tow, who called themselves People of the Stars. These People of the Stars, the beings who are more commonly referred to, and who refer to themselves as, Old Ones, were quick to gain the trust of the Utgardian royalty, seemingly appearing as benign beings. They desired resources with which to repair their star vessel which had crashed. Why it had crashed, they refused to say, but their ambience was so amazing and calming, hat nobody thought to ask. In return, they said, they would gift the Utgardians with another Hrim. Of course, the Utgardians were surprised that they knew of their great leader, but the Old Ones assured them that they had seen the suffering of the Utgardians at the hands of the frost giants, and had decided to help in their own way. To this end, they had sent Hrim to the Utgardians. He was created by them, they said, created to be Utgardian, to save the Utgardians. They offered another Hrim, one that would bring unrivaled prosperity to the Utgardians. Something about these beings was so compelling that the Utgardian royalty believed them, and decided to help them.  What no one knew at the time was that Hrim was truly created by the Old Ones as an Incarnato, but he had not been sent to Utgardr; he had escaped and found his way there. The Old Ones had actually been rulers of a vast intergalactic empire, but something unknown had destroyed them, and they were currently trying to find their way back through time to reverse the events that had destroyed them. At the height of their power, they had developed warriors called Incarnati, who were grown, then sent to mingle with the culture of a great race, and eventually destroy the culture from within. The Old Ones would assimilate the culture’s technology and magic, and the survivors would be subjugated as slaves. Hrim had been probably raised to infiltrate Asgardr, but had escaped before the Old Ones could complete their conditioning of him, because he had been created as a fully matured child, instead of an infant, as the Old Ones were desperate for quicker results, and could not waste the years it would take to raise him to childhood. He had been wild from the scratch, and exceptionally powerful, and had escaped to Utgardr, and founded an empire. The Old Ones, unwilling to fight the Utgardians openly, had decided to destroy them insidiously and harvest their magic; the magic in question after all belonged partly to the Old Ones, as Hrim had made the Utgardians strong. The unwitting Utgardians, for their part, were eager to help the ‘People from the Stars’, and soon, the Old Ones had repaired their ship and decided to stay for a little while, giving the royal Utgardian family their blessings. Unknown to everyone, the Old Ones, on whom the shielding wards of Utgardr had no effect, had surreptitiously gotten in contact with the frost giants, as well as the denizens of the subterranean worlds deep below Utgardr. It was all a brilliantly planned set up, and through it all, no one was either aware, or suspicious of the Old Ones’ part in the fall of the Utgardian Empire. Whatever happened next was kept relatively secret from the Utgardian masses. All they knew was that with the presence of the Old Ones, they improved on their technology significantly, and as the Old Ones had promised, things began to look prosperous. Perhaps it is because of her recognition of the Old Ones’ technology that Beira III is currently not very enthusiastic about delving into technology, due to her psychological equation of technology with the workings of the Old Ones. In continuation of this tale, the Utgardians prospered, the king was seen scarcely, the queen even less, but the council of advisors seemed to have everything under control, and the Old Ones kept the rabble distracted. People traveled from all over Utgardr to see the ones who came from the stars, who were even being considered to be gods, as they had come down from the skies above, from whence it is believed that the good and noble issue forth from. For nearly a year, the Old Ones improved the Utgardians, and then departed back to the heavens from which they had come. On the night of their departure, it was announced that the queen had given birth to her third child. Great was the celebration, and there were speculations among the Utgardian nobility that this new child was the next Hrim promised by the Old Ones. They named her Beira, after Hrim’s eldest daughter, who had taken the throne on his disappearance.

    The Fall of Utgardr, and What May Be To Come
    Of course, being the last child of her parents, and not having any responsibilities of the throne to attend to (as matters of the throne usually fell to the elder siblings), Beira the Fair grew up in a very privileged world, and was terribly spoilt and overindulged. She hardly interacted with her parents, who were too busy with matters of the state, always in the company of caretakers who jumped at her every command. Her eldest sister, Skadi the Fierce, was to be queen, and had no time for her as well, but her elder brother, Hodr the Meek, was the only person she could call a real friend, as he always made the effort to keep her spirits high. As a royal child, she was taught a lot of things, including etiquette, martial arts, hunting, science (or the witchcraft it was considered to be then), and medicine, at Hodr’s insistence, so that Beira would be aware of the travails of others, and if possible, learn to sympathize with suffering. Life couldn’t have been better. Until the rise of the dark elves.
    It was heard that bands of dark elves from parts unknown began crossing the Ifingr successfully, despite the shielding wards, and attacking Utgardian outposts, during which they managed to kill the then Aspect of Winter. Why the elves had decided to become so bold was a mystery, but the King and Queen directed Skadi to take some troops and rout the elves. This was done with brutal efficiency. Skadi returned victorious, as expected. To prevent the elves from attacking again, Hodr was sent to build and occupy a fortress on the banks of the Ifingr, named Winterhelm. Unwilling to part with her only friend, Beira went with him. It was at this point that Skadi, getting mistrustful of the bond between her two siblings, thought it possible that they could unite their powers if left alone to scheme and plot, and thus vie with her for the throne of Utgardr, suggested to her parents that Beira become the next Aspect of Winter. This was displeasing to Hodr, but the king and queen approved of this, and Beira began her training to become the Aspect of Winter at Winterhelm.
    Winterhelm was initially a volatile place, seeing a lot of action with bands of dark elves and jotnar attacking from time to time, all who had somehow managed to bypass the shielding wards. During this time, Beira began to respect Hodr more than ever before. He was considerate with the soldiers under his command, and surprisingly merciful, even to his enemies. And yet, on the plains of battle, he was fearsome and decisive. This coupled with his ability to engage in persuasive dialogue, resulted in him making peace with the local jotnar in the region, and even ended up brokering a diplomatic meeting between the dark elves and Utgardr’s rulers, after close to a decade of unrest. Skadi, becoming more paranoid at her brother’s popularity, and fearing that he would be eventually chosen by the current rulers as their successor, encouraged her parents to attend the meeting with the dark elves, pointing out that their presence would indicate that they were eager for the diplomacy to work out. Eventually persuaded, the king went to Winterhelm, while the queen remained behind.
    The meeting was disastrous. A band of assassins attacked the diplomatic forum, and slew the king of Utgardr. Hodr managed to escape with his life. The queen, apparently unable to cope with her husband’s passing, died a month later, which was strange, seeing that the queen was quite independent and strong-willed, and should not have pined away with her husband’s passing. Skadi, in the midst of the tumultuous times, was crowned Queen of Utgardr. Her first act as queen was to declare full war on the dark elves, commanding Hodr to take the army of Winterhelm and make the first stroke of war. Somehow, the elves knew he was coming, and set a trap for his army, which was cut down to the last, even though they sold their own lives dearly with the blood of many more elves. Beira, bereft of friends and cheer, spent her time in Winterhelm, continuing her training as the next Aspect of Winter, while being placed in charge of the new garrison of Winterhelm, having just turned fifteen. For four years, she trained, and forged bonds of respect and camaraderie with the Children of Winter.
    Not up to three months after her nineteenth birthday, a dark elven herald strutted before Winterhelm’s gates, wearing Hodr’s armor. Incensed, Beira took a squad of soldiers and pursued the elf, who fled into a coming snowstorm. Ignoring her soldiers’ advice to turn back, she made her way alone into the storm, and got lost. When the weather had subsided, Beira found herself face-to-face with another dark elf, who requested to speak with her. Still harboring a hatred for the dark elves because of Hodr’s death, Beira responded by attacking. She was disarmed and knocked out, with the last thing she remembered being stuck in a rather humiliating position as her consciousness was choked out of her. She awoke in a subterranean dungeon, where, to her surprise, she was treated well, aside being locked behind bars. Eventually, the dark elf who had captured Beira came and introduced herself as Aelyd, requesting for a second time to be given audience. Initially, Beira, humiliated by her capture, refused to acknowledge her, but eventually, having nothing to do and little else to lose, she decided to acquiesce to the elf’s request.
    Aelyd proceeded to tell Beira a story rather shocking to the young Utgardian. The dark elves, living in the vast subterranean caves below Jotunheimr, had been attacked and enslaved by horrendous abominations called mindflayers, with whom they had been at war for centuries, beneath the surface world, away from the eyes of the sun, until a mutant mindflayer with unsurpassed psionic abilities rose to power and subjugated the elves. The mindflayers, having psionically enslaved the elves, had been using them to attack Utgardr, aware of the powers of the Utgardians, and desirous to enslave them as well. Some elves had managed to escape enslavement, fighting the mindflayers via guerrilla tactics. Aelyd was one of them. The mindflayers had been responsible for the dark elf attacks, but Hodr had managed to uncover this, and was willing to cooperate with the dark elven resistance to free their fellows. Somehow, among Utgardian ranks was a mindflayer sympathizer, who had revealed all this to the mindflayers, and they had, with the help of the Utgardian traitor, sent elves to assassinate the king. Hodr’s last battle too had been betrayed by this traitor, resulting in his death. When the subjugated dark elves were returning from the slaughter, Aelyd and her people had ambushed them and taken their spoils, Hodr’s corpse included, which they buried. While Beira didn’t want to believe this, she eventually realized it had to be true, seeing that it would have otherwise been impossible for Winterhelm to have been infiltrated by assassins, and the king slain, or for Hodr to have been taken and killed, if their enemies were uninformed and unaware of their plans and intentions.
    Confused, Beira asked what the elves wanted from her, to which they answered that their desire was the alliance of themselves with Utgardr to wipe out the mindflayers. Beira asked to be returned home, to which the elves consented, with the promise that she would aid their cause. Aelyd gave her a medallion, telling her to break it, should she require help, and the elves set her free. On returning to Winterhelm, she was taken immediately to see the queen, Skadi her sister, who expressed joy in seeing her alive, though she wondered how Beira had survived the savage elves. Beira lied that she had escaped, but being quite poor at lying, she made Skadi smell a rat. What made Beira alarmed, for her part, was a shadowy creature which Skadi introduced as her counsellor. Its features fit Aelyd’s description of a mindflayer, down to a T.
    In the middle of the night, Beira was attacked by assassins. They managed to inflict a poisoned wound on her, before, remembering Aelyd’s medallion, she drew out the item and broke it. It cast a teleportation spell, which transported her from the palace to the dark elven caves below Utgardr, just before she fainted from the effects of the poison in her bloodstream. She struggled between life and death for nearly a week, but managed to survive, at which point she learned from the dark elven intelligence that Skadi had branded her a traitor to Utgardr, responsible for the assassination of the king, as well as the mishap that had cost Hodr his life. More mindflayers were seen more frequently in Utgardr now, being introduced to the people as servants of the People from the Stars, and having the good will of Utgardr at heart. No Utgardian knew that they came from beneath the earth, else people would have been more suspicious, as Utgardians believed that evil dwelt below, and good lived above. At this point, Beira realized that it would be necessary to begin making moves against the mindflayers and the current ruler of Utgardr, if she were to save the nation, and her own head.
    For two years, she stayed hidden beneath the earth, training in the unorthodox ways of medicine, warfare and combat known to the dark elves, with Aelyd being her instructor. The dark elf was quite an effective teacher, although her methods often left Beira uncomfortable and embarrassed due to her penchant for bawdry behavior. Still, Beira was quick to learn, and became a shrewd and charismatic leader, even among the elves. She began leading campaigns against mindflayer colonies, all of which were met with success. As she prevailed, more elves were released from their subservience to the mindflayers, and the army of dark elves fighting the mindflayers began to increase. This fortuitous turn of events for the elves was definitely noted by the Utgardian crown and the mindflayers, who began influencing the Utgardian army to perform preemptive strikes against the dark elves, who were allegedly amassing forces to destroy Utgardr. This was what Beira wanted.
    The first incursion against the elves involved the entire contingent of the Children of Winter. The battle was short, as the elves were completely routed and fled before the elite Utgardian unit, drawing them deeper underground. Confident of their battle prowess, and casting spells to ensure that the elves would not be able to ambush them or close off their escape, they pressed the attack. It was then they discovered that the elves had fled on purpose. The elves regrouped, but made no attempt to attack. As the Utgardians advanced, Beira revealed herself to them, and tried to make them realize that the mindflayers were not the allies they believed them to be. Being appreciative of beauty and thus initially repulsed by the appearances of the mindflayers, they decided to hear Beira out, although much of the reason for their willingness to pay her heed came from the comradeship they shared with her. Taking a few of the Children of Winter, Beira led them secretly to a subterranean mindflayer colony, proving without a doubt that these creatures were from beneath the earth, and not from the stars, and thus worthy of their mistrust. Still, mindflayers are psionic, and the abominations detected the Utgardians. This, to save words, resulted in a fierce battle with dark elves and Utgardians on one side, and mindflayers on the other, culminating with the defeat of the mindflayers and destruction of the colony. As the Utgardian forces witnessed mindflayer culture during the destruction, they became convinced that Utgardr was in danger.
    On their return to the surface, the Children of Winter marched to the capital city, with Beira leading them, and confronted the Queen with their discovery. Skadi replied that she would allow them to question her advisor, but said advisor was nowhere to be found. Through it all, Beira sensed that Skadi was not bothered about this apparent upheaval in her life. And the reason was quickly determined: the next day was the day an Aspect of Winter was to maintain the shielding wards. While the Children of Winter took custody of the royal city and handed power to the council of advisors, Beira went to prepare herself for the next day, her last day. She was sure that, in her absence, Skadi would eventually, by hook or crook, reinstate herself as ruler of Utgardr, which was the reason for the queen’s calmness. But Skadi wasn’t her enemy. Beira could not help but fear that a greater threat lay undisclosed, one that no one could foresee. All her desire was for Utgardr to be safe, but would it be? With such heavy thoughts, the Aspect of Winter drifted into a disturbed but deep sleep.
    Beira awoke the next morning to find herself tied to an altar in the catacombs beneath the Temple of Winter, with mindflayers surrounding her and engaged in a ritual. Breaking free, she killed them and raced into the temple, conscious of the fact that the capital city was in the throes of war. The gem that sustained the shielding wards, the Heart of Winter, was all but empty, and seeing mindflayers and dark elves attacking the Utgardian forces, Beira quickly attempted to revive the shielding wards, knowing that the numbers of enemy forces could not have been able to come in such large numbers from underground, but had amassed above ground and marched into Utgardr. Which meant that the frost giants would be aware of the fall of the shielding wards. Unfortunately, too late did Beira realize that whatever the mindflayers in the catacombs had done to her had worked: she had absorbed energies from the plane of Death, and her ice was now corrupted. As the corrupted ice energies came in contact with the Heart of Winter, it shattered, in the presence of Skadi, Queen of Utgardr and a battalion of mindflayers and dark elves. It was then the mindflayers revealed how they and the dark elves had been in consonance all along. They had contacted Skadi, and helped her remove all obstructions to the throne, the former king and queen included. All along, the elves had acted as though they were fighting against the mindflayers, when they were subservient to them. Aelyd, who had been Beira’s mentor, was in on the whole plot, and had lied to Beira; it was Aeyld herself that had killed Hodr. Skadi was then slain, and Beira flung herself madly into battle, fighting as one who had lost it all. Eventually, though, a mindflayer cast a powerful spell on her that dislodged her mind from her body. For an extremely long, indeterminate time, Beira’s mind floated in indescribable voids, until she was able to regain her will eventually, discovering that her body was kept safe, while a mindflayer god, Uaggool, attempted to devour her will and thus take control over her body. The taint in her magic turned its designs upon itself, and Beira vanquished it and assimilated its power, awakening her body thousands, maybe millions, of years and miles away from Utgardr, in a strange land called Pergrande. She was able to escape, and using the powers she had acquired from Uaggool, teleported herself away to a random location, geographically as far away as possible.
    The heat of this new land called Fiore was initially difficult to adjust to, but Beira eventually found her way up the slopes of a tall, inhospitable mountain called Hakobe. The weather was cold enough, and Beira, for some reason she could not determine, felt she was heading the right way. Her steps brought her to the demesne of the dark guild, Errings Rising, and while she was not standard dark mage material, she gladly joined the guild, eager to be free and allowed to do whatever she desired, while avoiding the smothering reach of the laws of Fiore, of which she was convinced in no small measure, of their numbers and their unreasonableness.
    Still there is something that keeps persuading Beira that her coming to Errings Rising was for a greater purpose than just running away from the stringent rules that she had to abide by as an Utgardian native. And whatever the purpose, Beira feels deep down that when the time comes, she will know.

    Beira didn't know how long she had been writing, but time hardly mattered when one was in the Librarium Obscuri. She closed the book and placed it into one of the empty spaces on a nondescript shelf. She wouldn't need to find the book if she needed it. It would present itself to her, when she needed it, seeing as the whole Librarium was under her control. A portal to Earthland opened up, and Beira headed towards it, drawn by the prospects of food and rest. Maybe one day, someone would get to read about her tale. Maybe one day.

    WC: 8797/8000


      Current date/time is 4th March 2024, 1:31 am