Harbingers of Ruin
The winds of the cold North flow into the valleys of the marches, chilling the mortals to their very bone. It is a warning. A prelude to what is to come. The dead stir as the barbarians march to war upon the civilized world. Demons are summoned in dark rituals within the very bastion of humanity itself, and old secrets that are better left undisturbed are re-awoken. Yet this is only the beginning. A prelude to the ruination of the world. For the time of growth has long since passed. It is the time of Kings and Heroes. The age of Ruin has come...
The tune of the Kaelic penny whistle flowed whimsically in contrast to the beat of the Bodhrán, setting a jaunty mood among the weary travelers. It was a fortnight through the wilderness from the closest city of Andred, and a trek through the mountains for hundreds of miles east or west from anywhere else. The music could be heard sloping down Umber's Cairn to newcomers, bringing a merry hope to their spirits.
"At last," many spoke as they halted, gazing up at the plateau that overlooked the Northern Marches. "Umber's Cairn!"
A rough bit of rocks that looked suspiciously like carved steps led upwards from the southern curve of the slope toward the Cairn proper. Mountains towered about them from left to right, and on a clear day with a keen eye, you could even see the Dragonback Mountains to the far north in the far distance. As of now, the day was bright but cloudy, with huge birds of prey lazily floating in the sky down the valley.
The music was lively and merry, being played by two common men with their rolled up sleeves. They wore green and blue tunics, stained from travel. All about, roughly hewed rocks and sturdy logs were set about for people to rest upon. In the center of the Cairn was a firepit that was unused as the day was still about noon. Contrasting the tales of the Marches' infamous cold, the sun gave a warmth to the outpost.
Still, despite the upbeat music and the sun's welcome face, many people about kept to themselves and their own groups. Three black leather Darkslayers discussed a matter among themselves near the peak of the rise while a scarred Drabarian Warrior of savage proportions strode into the clearing, looking about slowly as if it were a beast sniffing the air. Near the northern edge of the Cairn, merchants plied their wares.
A trapper sold furs and salted meat for travelers left of a burly tradesman who offered low price metal tools to wield or craft with. There was even a small bloomery and Anvil to repair your armor and equipment just right of the smith. To the east, a caramel skinned woman sat upon a bright red carpet and offered to read fortunes, as well as providing the answers to a traveler's mystical curiosities.
Opposite of her was a fair skinned lass with brown hair, tied in a tail that swept about her shoulder. She had on the robes of the Galena priesthood, with a sturdy belt of various enclosed flasks and sacks strapped to it. She prayed above a kneeling Knight, placing her hand upon his brow and blessing him to give peace to his troubled mind.
Near the firepit, two Dwarves sat and smoked pipes. They were curious looking fellows. One was bare chested and covered in blue woad tattoos, with a straw colored mohawk cresting his head. He only had one arm by the looks of it, and a mad look to his eye. The other Dwarf was tall and slim for one of his kind (though still far more short and burly than a man) wearing exquisite chainmail and sharpening a broadsword that looked like a twin bladed butcher's cleaver.
The wind picked up, flowing hair and clothing lightly as the clouds passed overhead in slow waves. The newest batch of travelers were just making their way up the carved steps at the base of the Cairn.