The Broken Crown

Jorg's Story: Calling

He’d taken great care not to wake his wife, but he’d never been a stealthy man. She stirred as he slipped into bed and, half-asleep, mumbled “Tris is asleep?”

“Yeah. For now at least”, he replied, Settling down and putting an arm around Olwenn. His son was teething; a worse experience than usual for a baby who’s a quarter Orc. Exhausted, it took no time at all to drift into a deep slumber.

He stood atop a cliff. A stiff winter breeze cut through his clothes, but he didn’t notice the cold: his eyes were drawn to the sky as if by some other-worldly force. He couldn’t look away, he couldn’t blink, he couldn’t move a muscle in his body.

The pale winter sun crossed the sky, slowly at first. An eternity seemed to pass watching that first day crawl by, and when night fell the sight of the moon was a welcome respite.

The second day passed more quickly, the third quicker still. The hundredth day lasted only minutes, the thousandth day lasted seconds. He’d started to see patterns in the movements of the sun, the moon, and the stars – they were courting each other in a great dance across the heavens.

After ten thousand days he lost count. It didn’t matter any more, the movements of the sky were a blur and he struggled to know whether it was night or day; by the time you decided which it was, another week might have passed.

Then in an instant, the dance slowed almost to a halt. His body crumpled to the floor, no longer held in place by the sky, and he breathed his first breath in several centuries. He gasped and spluttered, glad to feel the cold frosty earth in his hands.

He dared to glance back up.

A new step in the dance. The winter sun hung low in the sky, the moon poised beside it and moving to embrace its partner. He watched intently as one great orb crossed the other, dimming the light until the inky blackness of night swept over the land around him. Dread took over, he struggled again to breathe, choking back terror as the sky was overtaken by a white burning ring.

He turned away and faced a different scene, transported to his home city of Engrel. Not a single person went about their business – they had all stopped to look at the sky. He watched helplessly as dark shadows everywhere coalesced into physical forms. He tried to shout out, to alert the townsfolk, but his warnings fell on deaf ears.

The dark figures worked quickly, drawing the life from all those that he cared about. Sweeping through the streets methodically, creating yet more shadows from the fallen. His perspective switched suddenly and he saw the nine kingdoms, each of them in ruin, flooded by a swirling mass of living shadow. He cursed and cried and pleaded but he was being pulled backwards now, into the sky and away from the world, ascending into a black, silent void. He closed his eyes and tried to cast aside all that he’d seen.

“Jorg Grønnfjell”, a booming voice echoed around him. It was not his name, but he knew he was being addressed.

“Jorg, do you know who I am?”, the voice asked.

Jorg opened his eyes. He was kneeling in a wooden hall, a room that was both cavernous and small, opulent yet humble. A roaring fire burned in a hearth that was both next to him and a thousand leagues away. In this place, the lines between Jorg’s senses were blurred: he tasted the glory of battle; he touched the sound of a war horn and let it trickle through his fingers like water; he heard the delicious sweet flavour of mead, a sound more beautiful than any symphony.

Jorg looked up and met the eyes of his companion. The being standing before him was a man, muscular yet lithe, a body perfectly honed for combat; they were a woman standing over the bodies of her would-be captors; they were a young child with a blackened eye, defiantly standing up to an abusive parent; they were a sailor at the bow of their ship, laughing in the face of the storm that might capsize them; they were an explorer, pulling themselves up a rugged cliff face, surviving against the odds.

“I know who you are”, Jorg struggled to utter the words. Standing, he replied: “You are The Storm Lord, The Brawler, The God of Thunder, The Iron Bull, The Lord of Righteous Battle. You are Kord.” A pause. “Is… is this real?”

Kord smiled. “What do you think, Jorg?”

“That’s not…”, Jorg began

“It is your name, Jorg Grønnfjell. It’s your name because I have given it to you, and it is a truer name than any mortal could bestow.”

Jorg looked cowed, and nodded his head in assent.

Kord’s smile faded slightly and his brow furrowed, “There is not much time, you are waking. We have more to speak of than names, though I wish it were not so.”

Kord looked down at the floor and, for a split second, looked defeated. “What I showed you will come to pass. I’ve seen it. We’ve all seen it”

“It can’t! My family… everyone…”, Jorg’s protest tailed off with a glance from the god standing before him.

“It can. It likely will. The others will be plotting and scheming, Jorg, but I prefer a direct approach.” Kord said, placing a hand paternally on Jorg’s shoulder. “You must help stem the tide, Jorg Grønnfjell. You must be my champion, my second.”

“But…”, stuttered Jorg.

“Why you?”, Kord cut across him. “Because it is what I’ve decided and that’s all you need to know.”

The great hall began to fade, blackness creeping in at the edge of Jorg’s vision. He had so many questions. “Wait, how do I…”

“The cult of the sealed god. Find them. Stop them. Can you do this for me?”, Kord’s many faces were now looking deep into Jorg’s eyes, into his soul.

“I… Yes.”

Jorg woke with a start.

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