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The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow. Everyone in Helgen knew the story of Brosca’s Point. To get to Brosca’s Point, you had to take the narrow path, the one that led away from the back door of the inn, and towards the slopes of the mountains. Because it was not a well-used path, the going was rough, cutting across stones and dirt and grass, and the occasional straggler-tree. There was an easier shortcut, if you cut through the rolling meadows where the goats fed and locked horns. Either way, the path led you up into the tree line, and onwards, through the pines, until you reached the cluster of rocks, crazed with cracks. You could make your ascent carefully, using the cracks to negotiate your way up to the top of the rock cluster, and then up a steep slope, to an outcropping in the side of the mountain. There, a lone pine jutted out at an angle, branches bare and denuded, blackened and split as though from a direct strike of lightning. Some of the braver ones—or the more foolish ones, and sometimes, there is really no difference at all—would scurry along the pine, wincing as it creaked precariously. But if you reached the end of the lightning-struck pine, there was a view unmatched among most views: of the mountain slopes below, and far below, enough that it looked like a child’s scrawling—the village of Helgen. There was a story to the lightning-struck pine, to Brosca’s Point. Everyone in Helgen knew that story. It was the story of a channeler—no one was very clear if this was before or after the Breaking, before the tainting of saidin, or after. The version of the story you were likely to hear depended: some spoke of a battle fought against impossible odds, fire scarring the pines as the channeler called down lightning and fire from the heavens to battle Trollocs. Others scoffed and spoke of a quarrel over a lost love, with the channeler going mad from the taint, with the lightning-struck pine marking the site of his last stand before Helgen took care of its own, for once and for all. The watcher was not certain which version of the story he preferred. But he liked the view. The fog was beginning to creep in, rolling across the swaying tips of the sea of pine trees. It washed across the rocks, softening their hard edges. It brushed past the grass and moss, blanketing it entirely. From this high, it looked as though the fog would swallow even Helgen, for good. Movement from the corner of his eye drew his gaze. He turned, and frowned as a raven hopped across the rocks, black beady eyes staring knowingly at him. He stared back at it. The raven abruptly took flight, in a scattering of dark feathers, and he drew back, burying his face in the crook of his elbow. All he could hear was the harsh, mocking laughter of the raven. The watchman’s bell tolled the hour. In the grey light of the morning, it seemed to echo, again and again, though there was no reply. Wyden had been up for hours before the bell, tidying and doing the various chores that needed doing. There seemed to be no end to the small tasks needed to keep the Tree in good shape, even when the last of his regulars had departed after the midnight bell. Yawning, he dragged his coat on and then headed out through the front door, wincing at the bracing rush of the cool morning air that greeted him, brushing past the hanging sign that read: T ree Firs. When Wyden had taken over the inn, the sign had already been in disrepair, with the last h faded into illegibility. He’d meant to take the time to have the sign repainted, but he’d never had the time, and in any case, he supposed that changing the situation now would be too confusing. To everyone in Helgen, the inn was named the Tree, and had always been. It was a grey morning, seemingly unremarkable, and Wyden was already counting in his head the tasks that needed to be done for today—he’d to see to the horses; there was a traveling scholar from Cairhien, who refused all questions and laughed everytime someone asked about what she was doing in somewhere like Helgen. “Collecting stories,” she said. A few days later, a soldier had come in, said he was returning home from time on the Blightborder. Wyden was certain he had the hard gaze of a man used to killing, but he didn’t walk like a soldier. He walked with a cat’s lethal grace, and maintained a careful distance from the scholar. Wyden was used to watching people. As an innkeeper, you noticed things. People didn’t always expect you to. But the scholar and the soldier paid well, and Wyden supposed it was none of his business. And then his day took a sudden turn for the worse as he approached the horse trough. “Blood and bloody ashes,” Wyden whispered. A body sprawled gracelessly in the horse trough. He knew the man—Gamen, an incorrigible drunkard and gambler, hadn’t even quite settled his tab yet. Gamen was very dead, mouth gaping in a silent scream, with a snarled tracery of black thorns growing out through his skin, twining about his limbs, garrotting him about the throat in a macabre display. “Light shelter us,” Wyden croaked. His own throat had gone very dry. “It’s happening again.” He’d seen this, years ago. Someplace else. Didn’t want to think about it at all. Strange things happened in the Blight; sometimes, close to the Blightborder. But this was Helgen, and Helgen was some measure of distance from the Blightborder after all. Wyden startled as someone moved in past him. “Don’t do that,” he snapped, fighting down long-buried reflexes. He was in Helgen, he told himself, nails digging into the palms of his hand. He was in Helgen, and he counted off the list of tasks he had to do in his head. Roofing over the attic needed mending, he’d never quite had the time to get around to it… The soldier frowned down at the body. He didn’t look particularly surprised. “Dead,” he said, aloud. He bent forward and shifted the body calmly, inspecting the horse trough. “Wasn’t it a cold night?” “Yes?” Wyden said, and regretted that it’d come out as a question. The soldier looked over at him. “No ice,” he said. “Ah.” “Hell of a way to die,” the soldier said. “It’ll be all over Helgen within the hour. Did he have any family?” Wyden winced. Noticed that the soldier hadn’t even asked how Gamen had died either. “No,” he said. “Just him. Always paid his tab, though.” Which was a lie, but Wyden supposed he wasn’t one to speak ill of the dead. “Enemies?” asked the soldier, but Wyden shrugged helplessly. “This is Helgen,” he explained, for the soldier’s own sake. “Sure, Gamen had his share of quarrels, but this…” he looked at the corpse—at Gamen—again and shook his head. “No one in Helgen kills like that.” Not this distance from the Blightborder. Not if they weren’t sworn to the Shadow. The soldier smiled. It was a mirthless expression. It didn’t reach his pale eyes, which were flat; icy, even. “Someone did.” Those words sent a frisson of ice down Wyden’s spine, though he kept his expression still. Helgen was a quiet village, the sort of place where you grew up all your life and died and many in Helgen had barely strayed beyond the boundaries of the village. Everyone knew each other here, and strangers like the soldier and the scholar were often remarked upon. The idea of the Shadow’s reach extending even here, among them… Light shelter them, Wyden thought. All of a sudden, he felt strangely vulnerable, as though the Dark One’s own walked among them with impunity, and wished he could run right back into the inn right now and…and… “Be careful, innkeeper,” said the soldier, unconsciously echoing the direction of Wyden’s own thoughts. Wyden regarded him steadily. “The Shadow’s reach is long indeed.” Wyden looked at him, but the soldier pointed to the wall of the stables. It had been vandalised, with bloody letters splashed boldly on the weather surface of the wood. Wyden felt a hot flash of outrage. “My stables!” he snapped, and added yet another task to be done to the running list he kept going on in his head. It would be the work of at least a morning to remove the damage, repaint the wood, maybe sand it down a little, and it would be the talk of the village in the meanwhile. FOR THE GREAT LORD, AN OFFERING, read the letters, mocking him. Above, Wyden heard the rustling of dark wings, and a raven flapped off into the greylight. MR57: Helvegen Årle ell i dagars hell enn veit ravnen om eg fell —Helvegen, Wardruna The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow. The small village of Helgen is sheltered from the Blight by the mountains of Kandor and the swords of the Borderlanders. This is not your war: most of you have grown up in Helgen and will die there as well. That was until last morning. A grey morning, seemingly unremarkable. Then everything you knew shattered like the thin crust of ice in the horse trough. This was where they found the body. Someone had murdered Gamen, and left him in the horse trough, to be discovered by the innkeeper in the morning, a snarled tracery of black thorns growing out through his skin in a macabre display. “Light shelter us, it’s happening again,” Wyden mutters and then he clams up and refuses to say anything more. He glares daggers at the Dragon’s Fang scrawled on the inn door. An ill wind blows from the Blight, and the fog creeps in towards Helgen. Last night, one of Tema’s goats sickened and died. The stranger, Kaim, claims to have heard ravens calling at dusk. The Shadow, it seems, has fallen across even Helgen. Can you find the Darkfriends hidden in your midst before it is too late? Or will even Helgen be claimed by the Shadow? General Rules: Win Conditions: Roles: Dragon's Fang: Quick Links: Sign-ups are open now and will close on Saturday, 26th March 2022, at 0100hrs SGT (GMT +8). Rollovers will take place at the same time. The IM for the game is @Devotary of Spontaneity. Credit to @Araris Valerian for the idea behind the Dragon's Fang mechanic.