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Greatmace. That’s what they called him now. Like it was a surname. Like he was born with it.

‘Greatmace’; like something out of a song the bards would sing. But no, this wasn’t a story. Not a
story anyone would know that’s for sure. This wasn’t something anyone would speak of. Nobody
would mention how Elysian Greatmace died here.

Died alone. Cold. lips blue and whole body quaking with the cold. Shivering and shaking, his body
struggling to stay warm. No. This isn’t a story anyone would know; because he would never return to
tell it. His story would be one of greatness, of conquest and victory. And then; of nothing. Of a
disappearance into the night, into the snow to never return.

I suppose after a time folk would question if he ever lived. If it was truly history or a myth? Was he a
human or a god? A man or a figure of someone’s imagination?

Looking at him now you’d struggle to link him to the stories. The man who could turn back the dark,
call lightning and spit fire. No. This couldn’t be Elysian Greatmace. This was an old man. Alone,
shivering, waiting to die.

His white hair and white beard matched the snow so perfectly you could hardly see the frost clinging
to it. His dark cloak blinded white with the snow being whipped in the air. His heavy trousers sodden
with snow melt and sweat. No weapon hung at his side; Just a stick in his hand to drive into the snow
to help keep his footing. A loose brown burlap sack hung at his back holding what few possessions he
had left with him. What hadn’t been bartered or traded away on the road.

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Elysian shoved one gloved hand into his pocket and pulled out a lump of something hard he had
sitting there. Peering down at it through his iced up eyelashes he recognised it as the little cube of
cheese he had picked up in Brelar before starting this journey north. He rolled it into the palm of his
hand and fought against his tight wet clothing to bring his hand up to his mouth. Plopping the frozen
cheese into his mouth. He crunched down hard grinding it up and melting it. Smiling then. Savouring
the taste.

Blinking some of the snow out of his eyes he looked around. Looked back, peering through the white
storm whipping up around him. His footprints already disappeared in the snow. The snowy tops of
what the Rhyn call the Far North towered up above him from behind. Their rocky outcrops
protruding through the snowy ground like spikes in a trap. Before him the mammoth base of
FrostKlime shadowed over him. They say the snow never melts here. Nothing sees sun in the shadow
of FrostKlime and from what he could workout. It was one of the few myths about this place that
appeared to be true.

With his new found energy Elysian began to make progress once more. Heavy sodden feet raising
and falling in the deep snow as he crept unsteadily down the hillside in the direction of the craggy
cliffs of FrostKlime.

Perhaps he wouldn’t die just yet.

You see Elysian had seen a great many things in his life, he had climbed mountains, captained ships,
led great armies into battle. All brave, all heroic. All meaningless if he couldn’t save his kingdom
now.

The great threat to Rhyndlyr was different this time. It wasn’t something you could stop with a sharp
blade or a wall of men, strong of arm. No. What was coming now was very different. It seeped into
the minds of men. It dripped like a thick viscous fluid down a man’s veins. It was the darkness inside
all of us. The lust for power, the greed of gold. That tiny seedling of jealousy that we ought never let
grow roots; for fear it bind us entirely in its thick branches.

Elysian wasn’t escaping from any unstoppable foe. He was escaping from himself. From his own
success. From his own story. They say that man can do all that he sets his mind too, that we are
unstoppable if we truly wish it. But what if we wish for things we should never have? What if we
dream of power over men? Of bounty and feast not for our people but for ourselves; and ourselves
alone?

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In Rhyndlyr there are three great paths spoken of. The path of Arm, the ability to fight, to hunt, track
and kill. A worthy path, but one which must be treated with respect. Respect for all things living. A
respect that can only come from being the decision maker. Playing god. Deciding what lives and what
dies. It is not an easy path, certainly not one for anyone weak of mind or of poor character.

There is the path of the mind. The route you take to greater understanding. Alchemy, Engineering,
Physical Magics. The path that drives you to Enlightenment or to madness. Worthy of study, they say
the path of the mind is one of true power. The power to command the elements, to call forth water,
fire, earth and wind. Not everyone can handle that power, some succeed. Some break under the
strain and are left hollow, their minds buried below the earth, drowned by the water, blown away by
the wind or burned by the fire they try to control. It is a dangerous path, but one which grants great
strength to those who can wield it.

Finally there is the path of the Shield. The great protectorate. Those who learn that above all else life
is sacred, and must be defended at all cost. The shield is a path of great honour and respect. It’s
followers historically escalated to the heights of society. Rulers, Lord Protectors, Knights and
Captains. It is the path entrusted to those who would do right, even if it meant their own life was
sacrifice.

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Dark thoughts did not bother Elysian now. Nor thoughts of power, strength or knowledge. Now he
was consumed by one thing. Survival. He pushed on, foot over foot. Whilst the world around Elysian
was already grey in the vast shadow of Frostklime now too the few remaining warm orange beams
creeping round the mountains edges were beginning to disappear. After not too long the dark would
be here in its entirety and with it the last of any remaining warmth would be snuffed out.

His eyes darting around. Peering deep through the snow as it whipped around him. A patch of furry
darkness was visible high into the sky on his right. He made straight for it. Whilst its form was almost
shapeless in the growing dark, its smell and sappy touch was unmistakable. This was a conifer tree.
It’s boughs thick with green needles had collected the snow and made an icy canopy under which
the snow had not quite crept into fully. Elysian wrestled off his near-empty pack and slid it down into
the recess below the tree hastily climbing in after it.

The wind howled and whipped at the branches but tucked below the snow line Elysian sat content
now. He had collected what fallen branches and needles lay on the floor into a loose bed and was
quickly beginning to warm up again. Peeling off one of his wet leather gloves he buried his hand
deep into his pack, rummaging around for a minute before grunting in a sort of positive acceptance
that he had found what he was looking for.

Pulling his hand out he gripped a small brown leather sack. He loosened the twine around the top
and shook out the Crystallin from inside. Even in the dark the crystallin glowed a bright, warm red. It
lit up the snow around him. A piece this size was worth a small fortune. Nobody truly understood
how or why, but we know that the crystallin is the source of magic. Magic exists only in its presence.
The more of it nearby, the more power that can be commanded.

Few had the wealth to carry it raw, as a stone on their persons. Even fewer were strong enough to
control so much of it without being torn apart by its sheer power. Most who could afford it had
crystallin dust mixed in with their armour, or with the steel of their sword. The very rich perhaps
could have a small stone in the pommel of a sword but here was Elysian. A stone as big as an apple
sitting on his lap. Like it’s no better than a flaming torch for seeing in the dark.

It shone there, Illuminating the snow with its blood-red light. He punched a hand out into the snow
with his thick gloved hand making a head-height cubby and he sat the Crystallin deep into it. The
cubby now warmly lit he curled up on the bed of fir boughs, wrapped his cloak tightly around him
and slipped off into a deep and dreamless sleep.

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