Who Are The Dredge?
"The dredge came from the icy steppes that we now call Valkajokull, and our kingdoms were the first on the butcher’s block." -- Ulfvalgr -- The Gift of Hadrborg
The story of dredge, as told by the skald Gansi:
Deep in the shadows of the Age of Myth, the Loom-Mother discovered how to weave life into her tapestry, the fabric of the universe. She created the beasts of land and sea, and wove the elements of reason into her creations of humans. All of these threads - some short, some long - had a beginning and an end.
Other gods attempted to mimic her, but lacked the skill or patience necessary to master the art. Some gods twisted beasts into new shapes and monsters. Others wove her creations together, making cross-breeds of human and animal, and so were created the varl and the horseborn. One spiteful god took the humans and twisted them wretchedly, hid them away in the depths of the earth, and they became the dredge.
With unending threads of life, the dredge numbers grew along with their need for more space and more food. Their god prodded the dredge into waging war against the other creations. The dredge became hated and feared among the mortals. Some believed them to be the dead returned to the world to punish the living. The dredge, it turned out, could be killed, but only through bloody battle.
Disgusted, the Loom-Mother punished the errant god, but in her anger accidentally killed him. Panic spread among the gods, and thus began the war among the gods which left every god unmade.
The mighty varl pushed away the legions of dredge, driving them farther and farther into the northern territories. As the tide turned, the varl began venturing into the deep north and slaughtering dredge settlements for sport. Eventually, the dredge retaliated with vengeance and hatred, ravaging human and varl lands in a bloody struggle that lasted nearly a decade. This conflict became known as the Second Great War. Ultimately, the Valka took up their enchanted spears and drove the dredge away to a mysterious fate.
As penance for their hubris, the varl established massive forts in the frozen north to remain vigilant against any future return of the dredge. Any re-emergence of the dredge was quickly stamped out, and over time they all but disappeared.
But, soon after the Sun mysteriously stopped in the sky, the dredge have suddenly reappeared, and are swarming the land from the mountains to the sea, threatening all in their path.
The story of the dredge is inspired by the Norse concept of draugr or haugbui: undead vikings that return to smite the living. This is what many mortals believe them to be. The more enlightened mortals, however, realize that there is much more to be learned.
The dredge have mastered the use of a volatile and explosive stone, which they fashion into weapons, and even into heavy armor which they permanently fuse onto their bodies.
Many dredge appear on the battlefield as colossal warriors, surpassing even the varl in Strength. These dredge include the Stoneguard, Scourge, Direguard, and Warden.
Acting as shock troops, Grunts rumble into battle and drive back their enemies. The stone armor of a Grunt is among the most volatile, and when struck tends to shatter and damage other nearby Grunts. The Slinger and Hurler provide ranged support with a variety of projectiles, some quite explosive. These dredge avoid mêlée confrontations and will back off quickly whenever threatened.
The dredge are often accompanied by a stealthy and terrible beast known as the Skulker. These creatures are known to hunt in packs, and are able to completely evade detection until they suddenly attack as a group. Their howling shriek haunts the dreams of many human children, not to mention adults.
The appearance of a Stonesinger upon the battlefield is a cause for great terror and alarm. These foes wield powerful magic, channeling the dark energy with their spear-like weapons which seem to function almost like tuning forks. Stonesinger strikes are known to spread a deadly disease to humans and varl, and they have exhibited the ability to explode the armor of other dredge units, sacrificing them and causing massive shrapnel damage to nearby enemies.
The most feared of the dredge are the legendary Sundr. The story of the Sundr will be told in an upcoming update, so please keep watching for that!
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