THE MYTH OF THORVAL IRONSKY AND THE BIRTH OF THORVALLA
The First Chief, god king, the sea thief, the founder of the Thorvallian city-states. In the rest of the world he is considered the Reaver, the Snowfist, Father of Dragons.
The people of Thorvalla believe that once all the world was green and lush, but it was ruled by monstrous snakes, and that they preyed on the men who cowered in all the low places in the world. With the coming of every new moon, men brought before them their newborn babes in swaddling, the third of their households, so that they could be consumed in tribute. And so the legend tells that upon the new moon of the fourth month, Thorval was laid up on the Bloodstone of Aing as a sacrifice.
And so there came first a young serpent, and it attempted to seize Thorval in his teeth, but his fangs snapped off as he tried to bite into the infant, and so was he thus repulsed.
Then came to the child another serpent even larger, and it too bit down upon the child’s stony flesh and broke it’s teeth, but still it held the child fast, hoping to drench him in it’s poisonous issue. But young Thorval merely laughed and drank down the serpent’s vile mile, and he in turn bit the snake back, and there it fell dead before the stone.
Enraged, the greatest of all snakes rose before Thorval and swallowed the child whole, and for a time all believed the wondrous event had come to a tragic end for the child. But the great serpent began to writhe and hiss, and the ground beneath its coils shook with it’s anguished fury. Blood boiled on its lips, and fire ignited from its mouth. Thunder came from it’s belly, a fearsome bellow the like of which had never been heard before, and at last the great serpent vomited out the child and fled into the Great Desert. And thus was Thorval spared of sacrifice, the rite of the thirdborn ended, and the close of the Scaleage begun.
As Thorval grew, he began to show astonishing abilities unlike any other man had ever had. When asked how he had come by these powers, he told them of his time in the belly of Ngvrr, the snake lord, and he had eaten the beast’s heart, and thus he’d come to know the wisdom of the world. And so it was that the men of the world began to hunt the serpents who had once hunted them. A new rite was established that a man was not a man until he’d slain a great serpent and mounted his fangs upon a helm.
And so it was that the Thorvallians began to wear the fanged helms for which they would become famous, adorned with prizes from their kills. But some men were envious of Thorval’s power and influence, and wished to have his power for their own. Thorval enjoined them that he alone had been blessed by the Skyfather to liberate his people from the Serpents, and that quest after snake hearts which they could consume would lead them surely to despair.
So it was that in time the great snakes began to fight back in ever greater numbers, their distant breeding grounds encroached upon by men in pursuit of their Helm Day (the day upon which they could celebrate their adulthood) or those who pursued their hearts. So horrible became their numbers that it is said that no twig, nor branch, nor shoot of grass could be seen for all the scales that descended upon Thorval and his host.
So great was this war that the ground began to burn and blacken under the spilled blood of the serpents so that where they had died no living thing could ever grow there again. For a time there was no ground upon which men could walk, but instead men would walk and fight upon writhing mounds of serpent scale and bone, and they would erect tents from the rib cages of their fallen foes. So great were the losses of the Thorvallians that some lost in faith in Thorval’s injunction, and they sought the hearts of great serpents to eat, and they bathed in their venom. And indeed those who did partake of the hearts of serpents grew strong and powerful, but they were unequal to the Halfarr — the demon spirit — contained within them. And so it was that they were transformed into the shadowy Myrkynd, who grew fangs and scales and tails like the serpents, and they quested now for the flesh of men which they could eat. And so now Thorvall’s people were forced back once more into desolation, squeezed between the dual horrors of the serpents and the ravening of the Myrkynd, and for a time it seemed that the flame of man would be extinguished forever.
In his tent, now built upon the great Bloodstone of Aing, Thorval prayed to the great Skyfather that a message be sent to him. And in a dream a flock of crows appeared before him and directed that he should pluck out one eye, and that he should gather the tears that fell in a great chalice. And he should then take this chalice and mix his tears with those of the orphans and widows who had lost loved one in the war against the serpents. And so upon waking he did as he was instructed, and he plucked from his skull his eye, vowing that even with the loss of his eye, he would have greater vision. And so he collected his tears in Uvar, the Chalice of Tears, and he then went from that place to collect those whose hearts had been broken in the terrible war. And once he had done what was asked, a crow came and sat upon his shoulder and instructed him to climb to the highest peak in all the lands, and that there he should drink from Uvar and then smite the ground with his fist, but know that in doing so his life would be lost even while the serpents would be driven from Thorvalla.
But Thorval had no thought but for his people, and so he once again did as he was told, and he struck the stones at his feet. Thereupon the ground cracked, and the ground rumbled, and snow began to fall from the sky in a growing blizzard that swept out from the mountain and across the valleys and fields. And for days and days and days the snow continued to fall, and the great serpents began to weaken and die. The greatest among them slithered to the mountaintop upon which Thorval waited, and for a week of days they battled until the very last only Thorval and the great serpent Ngvrr remained. And thus it was that Ngvrr’s crows relayed the message of the great serpent who begged Thorval to end his terrible spell and save the serpents from extinction. But Thorval explained the spell was not his but the will of the Skyfather, and the only escape from the frost would be for the serpent to take wing and fly away. And thus was Ngvrr greatly angered until Thorval explained that just as he had eaten the great serpents heart and gained his powers, so in eating the crows which were a gift from the Skyfather would the serpents be saved, and in so doing would become even greater creatures than they had been before, but they could never again live where man lived.
So it came to pass that for a day and a night Ngvrr feasted on crows, and when it seemed he could not eat a single more, Thorval told him that there was one morsel more, and that Ngvrr needed to take back the Halfarr which Thorval had so long ago taken. And in understanding what his old adversary said, the great serpent grew suspicious, and Thorval showed him that he was mortally wounded and would last not another day. And so it was he would give his life and the Halfarr back to Ngvrr in exchange for the Eternal Pact so that never again would the men of Thorvalla and the serpents of the sky war upon one another.
And so it was that Ngvrr’s suspicions were relieved, and once again he took Thorval whole into his belly. Thereupon Ngvrr roared and moaned and thrashed, and the ground shook as it only had upon the Day of Creation. And as Ngvrr writhed, a great pair of leathery wings erupted from his back, and horns arose from his head that mirrored the helms of the Thorvallians, and from his belly sprouted arms and legs which were taloned like birds but a thousand times more terrible and tipped with venom. And thus was Ngvrr transformed, and in his veins ran the blood of serpents, and men, and birds all intermingled in a rush. And so it was that the serpent’s fires of hate for man were banked, for Thorval’s heart now beat within his body, and the mind of his adversary opened a window on a new world. And spreading his wings, Ngvrr leapt from the mountain peak into the sky, and thus was the age of the men of Thorvalla truly begun.
I hope you enjoyed this little look into the history of the people of Thorvalla, which builds the foundation for our game.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, and thank you very much for your support!