The Lore of Rivenstone Short Story: Crossing the Craglands

The Lore of Rivenstone Short Story: Crossing the Craglands

Rivenstone is more than just a game, it’s a massive fantasy setting that we, here at Broken Anvil, have been populating with ideas for months and months. We wanted to take a quick break from our normal rules blog and welcome you to sit down, and listen to a quick tale spun within the world of Venn: a little ditty we call “Crossing the Craglands.”

Before we get started, we have to give a quick reminder that the Kickstarter for Rivenstone is live right now! If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, now’s the perfect opportunity to take a look at how you can get started with your own Rivenstone adventures.

View Rivenstone Kickstarter Page

Crossing the Craglands

The rippling ocean of grass-covered hills stretched in every direction for miles upon miles. Eddies of wind moved over the golden hills, carving rune-like forms on the tips of the swaying grass.

Trinner rode up to Kailon’s side at a trot, his longhoof snarling as its rider yanked on the reins to stop it. Trinner greeted the caravan boss with a touch of his hat’s brim, saying, “The witch reckons we’ve got a smallstorm comin’.”

Kailon pushed the lump of willow bark he was chewing to one side, spat, and replied. “Aye. The sky is inclined to agree.”

Overhead, the blue-black clouds moved low, creating a ceiling to the wide and hungry sky. Where the winds blew them against the distant Ivory Peaks to the east they rolled back, somehow angrier than before. Sparks of purple fire popped in the eastern sky, snaps of wild magic that backlit unsettling shapes in the deeper clouds.

Trinner cleared his throat. “Witch says it’ll be bad.”

The caravan boss kept his eyes on the clouds. The distant rumble of thunder to the east had an almost human voice, ominous and angry, as it whispered from far away.

“It always is,” Kailon answered.

The caravan pushed on through the Craglands, along the rough trail between the settlement of Netherdale and the dwarf enclave on the bank of the Stosslin River. Shaggy oxen pulled the enclosed wagons over the hills and through the valleys of the rolling landscape. Kailon and his fellow outriders kept a loose perimeter around the wagons, heads on swivels for any danger.

Kolbini scavengers dwelled among the hills of the Craglands, as well as hives of prairie devils, exiled ‘Walders, and worse. Kailon knew that his crew could handle almost anything on two, four, or six legs that would come sniffing out easy prey of the caravaneers, but the storms?

The sound of their wheelguns couldn’t scare a storm off, could they?

The caravan was still days away from Stosslin, and the hills offered little shelter against the promised weather. Kailon knew that they didn’t have a choice — they had to keep moving, as steady as they could, and hope that a few of them would make it to their destination.

Those were the thoughts he struggled with when he heard an alarmed cry from the back of the caravan. Biting his willow bark, Kailon whistled a signal to his crew and guided his mount toward the commotion. He and two others rode back along the rolling village to one of the oversized wagons taking up the rear. It was stopped on the road, and a potbellied, red-nosed Strostlander glass merchant was berating his wagon crew in a thick accent.

Kailon addressed the man, “What’s the problem, traveler?”

The man was condescending as he replied, “You will call me Ter Wiljen. These muddke say an axle is broken.”

The wagon’s crew looked at Kailon with expressions that were both tired of their employer’s berating and, understandably, afraid. The storm grumbled overhead. Its voice said “soon.”

“Leave it then,” Kailon said. “Is your family aboard?”

Nja,” Ter Wiljen said, “No family. An apprentice, but we cannot leave it. I have twenty talents of pure glass aboard headed for the dwarf traders. It is worth more than—”

“More than your life?” Kailon asked, “because that’s what you’re bargaining with. Cut your oxen free and hope another wagon is willing to take you aboard. We’re moving in a quarter of an hour. I’m giving you that time to figure out what’s worth more to you.”

The caravan boss wheeled his longhoof around and put his spurs into its flanks. As he rode back to the head of the column, he called out in a loud voice, “Anyone not moving in fifteen minutes is on their own.” Kailon didn’t bother to learn which choice the glass merchant made.

The caravan boss never expected to outride the storm. He only hoped that they’d had been closer to the dwarf city when it struck.

It began like any prairie storm, with a crack of thunder and strobing lightning followed by a sudden curtain of rain. The Cragland’s valleys turned into shallow rapids in moments. But this was no summer storm.

It was an echo, an aftershock, of the arcane storms that had once ravaged the world. Streaks of purple electricity stabbed out of the clouds and moved in impossible ways, backtracking and fishhooking on their way to the ground. Kailon’s grandmother told him stories about what those fingers of purple lightning sought, and what stirred where they touched the ground.

To the riders left and right of the column, he shouted back, “Get the travelers inside their wagons! One driver per bench, with a backup inside! Keep your wheelguns free and ready, and if you see the stone growing along the path, call it out!”

The riders moved to follow his instructions. Kailon stayed at the head of the column, pulling his firearm free of the holster and slipping the knotted cord on its handle around his neck. As he rode he scanned the hills for any sign of rivenstone, any dormant patch of trouble the storm would unleash upon them.

He didn’t have to wait long.

As the winds tore at him, as the thunder spoke ominous words in the old tongue, he caught sight of the first shards of the stone on a not-too-distant hilltop to the west. It was a new bloom, he reckoned, no older than a few weeks. But it was enough.

Before he could signal the danger to his fellow riders, a bolt of storm lightning flashed down into the cluster of purple crystals. The brilliant light blinded him momentarily, and his vision swarmed with gray spots as it cleared.

Where the rivenstone bloom once stood, the ground was a scorched ruin. Cracks ran through the hilltop, and ribbons of poison light spilled out of the fissures. The soil heaved, broke open, and shapes began to emerge from where the storm struck.

Kailon raised his wheelgun at the newborn things crawling out of the hillside, and called out to the other riders. “Fiends!”

We hope you’ve enjoyed this tale within the realm of Rivenstone. Join us next time for another exciting blog.