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Gazetteer of the Grey: The Fifth Stag

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A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; A base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave

- William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of King Lear

Legend says that four great stags browse the leaves of Yggdrasil, the World Ash. Once however, there were five such beasts. The fifth lost its footing (some say on account of demonic intervention, some say it was tripped by Loki), and plunged down onto the Grey Waste, where it impacted with a sickening thump onto Niflheim. Dead, the creature froze in the chill mists. And there it lay until it was discovered by a pack of hordlings, who burrowed into the corpse for warmth and sustenance, hollowing out passageways and chambers in the immensity of frozen flesh.

Some time later, a covey of night hags found the corpse and tried to claim it. The current inhabitants of course objected and a protracted war ensued. Eventually the hordlings were driven deep into the hollow spaces of the great corpse and the grey sisters set up a community (in reality several tiny hamlets) nestled against its massive body. Now the hags and a smattering of planar residents sell meat and offal to passing traders (and provisioners from Blood War armies) and distil potions and potent liquor from the divine beast’s frozen blood. Great sections of the corpse have been ‘mined’ by its new owners, although the cyclopean body has considerable meat yet left on its bones. Hordlings still infest the deep recesses however, a constant threat to excavators.

CHARACTER: Life at the Fifth Stag revolves around profiting from the dead – plundering a corpse for personal gain. Greed sends ‘flesh miners’ ever-deeper into the corpse, while hordelings viciously defend their prize, murdering anyone they can catch. Life is cheap – but even a cheap commodity is worth something.

RULER: A covey of unusual night hags rule the Stag Towns, each claiming a different portion of the beast as their own but working together well (by Waste standards) when necessary. Each also has a wild barbarous streak and a love of chaotic battle, so the trio has been named ‘the storm hags’ by locals. One-Eyed Bruje is their formal ‘leader’ by virtue of superior charm and organisational skills, but she rules the area with her sisters Silverfang and Cackling Mab.  Bruje owns Jaw Hall, the most prestigious ‘town’ at the Stag. A former ‘adviser’ to Blood War forces, her left eye is missing and her right is swollen, white, and blind. She uses a Gem of Seeing thrust into her empty socket, to see well enough. Bruje still enjoys a fight and those who displease her usually end up battling for her amusement in the Jaw Hall’s main ‘entertainment’ - a gladiatorial pit dug directly into the frozen soil.

BEHIND THE THRONE: The Planar Trade Consortium also has its talons into the Stag, in the form of dead-eyed Merkhant fighter Soulless Finn and his mercenary guards. They provide security for the butchers, tanners, and traders but do not yet have a monopoly on trade itself, nor are they quite ready to move directly against Bruje and her sisters.

Hordelings are another threat to everyone who lives and works around the body. They lair deep inside the Great Stag and in the hard earth beneath it, and patrol the caverns of frozen flesh in search of intruders. Occasionally they venture forth in numbers to attack the towns (especially Rumpside), and in return Bruje and the PTC mercenaries mount expeditions into the interior to eradicate them. The cycle continues without any sign of an end.

DESCRIPTION: The faint stink of rotting flesh is the first sign of the Fifth Stag a traveller is likely to encounter, growing stronger as they approach its dark silhouette in the mist. The beast is truly massive, enough to be mistaken for a range of low hills in the fog, but despite the cold its stench is unmistakable.

Of the four hamlets that make up the Stag, Jaw Hall is the most prominent and home to self-proclaimed ruler, Bruje. She dwells in a feasting hall whose roof is made from the stag’s upper jaw. A fence of teeth strung with rusty, icicle-hung barbed wire surrounds her ‘estate’, which also has a few additional huts, shops, and warehouses. Jaw Hall serves as the site’s only serviceable inn and source of decent entertainments, and also contains the main entrance to the depths of the stag - straight down the creature’s titanic gullet, a passageway propped open like a mine-shaft.

Next in size are Upper Hoof and Lower Hoof, hamlets sitting side by side on the slopping terrain, in the shadow of the beast’s bloated and frozen belly. The stench is particularly bad here, and the fog is usually tinged a sickly green. Both towns specialise in processing frozen meat, blood, and bones. Upper Hoof is more prestigious than its neighbour, mainly because the run off of its grotesque work is allowed to slide downhill into Lower Hoof, where it sits in half-frozen, greasy pools.  The Planar Trade Consortium has a strong presence here and provides the guards. They still have to answer to Lady Silverfang however, second of the hag triad who rules the stag.

Rumpside is the final hamlet of the Fifth Stag, little more than a sprawling camp. It’s an anarchic place, even rougher than the rest of the Stag Towns, and populated by criminals and freelance miners who try their luck harvesting the corpse and often as not end up killed by hordlings. It’s a despairing, lawless, and violent place – but it does contain another easy entrance to the depths of the Stag. Its governess is the final sister of the sisters’ covey, another warrior-hag called Cackling Mab, a scrawny but agile manic armed with a Dancing tall spear she calls Tumbletwig.

MILITIA: Head of the hags’ militia is Soulless Finn [pl/human fighter 6/NE] – a low level merkhant (and member of the Planar Trade Consortium) who’s determined to make a name for himself by taking over the Stag and wringing every last copper from its corpse. His militia are a pretty professional crew (being PTC mercenaries) but less expert on the Wastes than most locals, as the Consortium rotates them in and out of the area relatively often to avoid the Fade.

SERVICES: The Stag Towns produce meat; chopped, frozen, and shipped out to hungry armies. It also makes the best use of bones, fat, blood, and offal that it can; goods as varied as sputtering candles and carved augury bones can be purchased here. As well as these products, travellers can hook up with trade caravans and Blood War quartermasters.  


When the meat runs out, the towns will almost certainly die. Many a Blood War commander has its eye on the stag, waiting to swoop and pressgang its residents once the site stops being useful to them.

LOCAL NEWS: Despite constant efforts the hordelings continue to be a serious threat to flesh harvesters. There’s a standing bounty on hordeling heads at Jaw Hall, but this has so far failed to eradicate them. Rumour has it that Bruje’s enemies make sure the hordlings’ numbers are replenished after each attack.

Legend says that Loki placed a secret horde within the body of the stag, some secret weapon (or perhaps just gold) that he deliberately left in Niflheim within easy reach of his daughter Hel’s hall. Legend varies as to what exactly the treasure is, but chant persists that its something bound up with Ragnarok. There are a number of miner’s tales about the alleged hoard, and sometimes greedy fools try and find the treasure.



 


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"Gee... those Entropes

"Gee... those Entropes worked a lot better than I thought!" - One Doomguard to another, watching the Inner Planes dissolve into the Elemental Chaos

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Oops.. this didn't end up

Oops.. this didn't end up where I thought I would... darn Entropes! Puzzled

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Was it meant to go under

Was it meant to go under quotes or in a different thread?

Armoury99's picture
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Edited in some things that

Edited in some things that seem to have disapeared from the original submission (on the old site; could be my fault too). Hopefully this now makes a little more sense

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Hm - you may want to check

Hm - you may want to check it again for me? I just reloaded a bunch of cut off material from the old site.

Jem
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I like. (As I have liked

I like. (As I have liked many of the items in this series.) A few suggestions for making the most of the corpse? :^)

You briefly mention bones, including augury bones, and may I also suggest that the divine leather and hoof material could make interesting armor, especially for NE druids.

One scarce resource that might be worth some struggle are the two antlers. Doubtless quite enormous, their sharpened tips would not be so numerous, and the few of them that exist might have special properties as weaponry.

Since the stag browsed Yggdrasil, its stomach contents might still contain something with properties derived from the World Ash, perhaps even distilled to greater intensity. On the other hand, anything there might be locked in frozen digestive acid capable of breaking down divine wood, so it could well be a difficult environment to work in!

And no doubt rumors are constantly circulating that a force from Ysgard is getting posse'd up to reclaim the Stag and stop the descration of the corpse, with occasional sorties having been made in the past.

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Some great ideas, Jem. In

Some great ideas, Jem. In the mythical time when I actually have some time, I'll try to add in some of these - especially the stomach. That one is excellently gross  Cool

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