They marched from beyond the world’s edge, from across the glacial plains where the White Wastes stretch without end.
To the northern borders of the farthest kingdom, the invaders came fast and silent, as if they’d been a part of the gathering mist. We’d almost no word of their advance before they surrounded the hallowed walls of Hammerhall.
Knowing not the identity of our enemy but only that a spread of legions upon our borders boded no good, our armies charged to greet them.
We were not prepared for the horror that we would find.
From forgotten armies of ages past, the Piper raised his abominations.
Some more dreadful than others.
The worst were those of our warriors who fell before the fury of the opposition–and rose to join the ranks of the living dead. None of us took well to facing the resurrected remains of our brothers-in-arms, brothers who should have found their way to Valhalla, carried in honor upon their shields and lamented by their kin.
Champions appeared on the field. Whereas the common rank and file of the Dread Lord’s legions possessed no mind or will of their own, we spied the officers of the undead controlling their lines. The undead did not speak, they did not cry out, and they had no concern for their lives or flesh.
Our Field Marshal rode out for parley when our enemy raised the flag of truce.
He never returned.
And our enemy mocked us.
My master, the Tree General, led a valiant assault at the heart of the opposition.
His walking forest wrought more destruction than could be done by a score of trebuchet.
But we were overwhelmed.
In the battle, the Empire’s most revered wizard was vanquished. There wasn’t enough left of him to bury.
I assembled the last of the Tree General’s Hedge Men. We charged for redemption, a final bid to avenge our beloved master.
We rode right into it.
There was no turning back.
To a man, we burned. The Hedge Men died in that conflagration.
Even I died. Though I yet draw breath.
In shame, I continue, living without honor. My blade has no purpose. I atone by looking after my master’s widow. Every tear her Romani pride keeps from falling, I cry for her. But I am only half a man. I am not the warrior I was. Hammerhall is taken. The north is conquered. The living dead have claimed their territory.
The signs are certain. As Tsura has foretold in her witching ways, the Awakened march again. Soon, they shall be at our gates.
And they shall bring him to us.
Living or dead … he comes for all of us.
As sure as winter brings the cold, the Piper comes.
– Sargent Harbin Herzog, Last of the Tree General’s Hedge Men –
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