EnderRakst by Riley McGee

At the beginning of time there were Seven Aldstes. These Seven Fathers, as we now call them, were sent by the Gods to our world which was then called EnderRakst or The Unity. Struggling to survive, the fathers quickly banded together to survive the harsh winter. But the whirling storms had nearly brought the Seven Aldstes to death. The Seven knew they wouldn’t be able to survive on their own, so they prayed to the gods for survival. The God’s spoke to each of the Seven granting them a gift, Rowan the strongest of the Seven met Fenrir who gave Rowan the ability to survive immense cold, to turn into a werewolf by command, and immense strength. Kelee the wisest of the Seven was met by Huginn and Muninn who taught Kelee the art of Seior, or magic as we now call it. Argyle, the most agile of the Seven was met by Loki who taught him the art of Coiseachd Sgail, or shadow walking as we now call it, this allowed him to turn himself invisible and cast spells of illusion. Arturi was met by the Goddess Eir who taught him how to heal wounds with magical spells and tinctures. Baird was met by Ratatoskr who gave him the sap of Yggdrasil which gave him a deep connection to the forest, this allowed him to control the forest and the animals inside, or even become them. Daraugh was met by Odin himself who gave Daraugh the mantle of responsibility. This crown named Daraugh as the leader of the Seven and also gave him foresight allowing him to see into the future. Elok never met his God but saw a fiery hellscape where he heard a woman screaming begging to be let out. This vision traumatized Elok and left him powerless unlike his brothers. With their visions they were all each given an Abbess, or mother, who they were to take care of, and love.

With their companions the seven Aldstes decided to each divide and create a village. Rowan moved to the northern mountains. Rowan and his Vikings idolized the mighty beast Fenrir, so it was in the mountains he created the Skadavlag village or House of the Wolf. Kelee moved to the western plains to master Seior as an apprentice to the All fathers’ ravens, Huginn and Muninn, it was in those same plains he would create the Klok village or the House of Raven. Argyle moved to the swampy southwest where he studied the art of Coiseachd Sgail more closely and created the village of Orm or the House of the Serpent.

Arturi built his village in the center of EnderRakst where there were many plants and herbs for him to study Slanachadhr (medicine) and it was there he built the Cridhe village or House of Eir. Baird wanted to bring the sap of Yggdrasil to be held by the great tree itself, so he built in the east woodlands. In the forest Baird returned the sap to the World Tree Yggdrasil, seeking to appreciate the tree’s beauty he sang and danced in front of the tree for many days which continued to bless his village with the power of the forest. To shapeshift into creatures, to sing to the animals in the forest and command their will making them powerful druids. And it was in the forest Baird made the village of Coille, or the House of the Trees. Daraugh moved just north of Arturi so he could be the closest to all the villages. He did this to trade, and to help out his fellow Aldstes as even though they split up, he still viewed them as brothers. It was here Daraugh made the village of Coibhneil or the House of Companions.
And then there was Elok. All Seven Aldstes were able to sense a strange power in the southern barrens. This power frightened the other 6 Aldstes. But Elok viewed it as an opportunity, and thus seeked to harness its power as Elok was the weakest of the Seven and envied their talents. It was in these barren lands Elok found a civilization of Dwarves. The Dwarves did not fear Elok until they saw a purplish black mark on his chest. They were terrified of Elok and it was in that fear he named himself king of the dwarves building the village of Durachd or the House of Dwarves. This was the beginning of the Seven Rioghachds or the Seven Kingdoms.

The Seven kingdoms continued to prosper in peace, trading, learning, and growing. They adapted new technologies to craft better weapons, tools, and better houses. The House of the Wolf learned how to tame animals and to survive the harsh winters, they used pelts to keep warm and wielded mighty battleaxes. The House of Raven became experts in the art of Seior, and learned how to cast many spells and enchantments, they also quickly learned the importance of education valuing intelligence above all else. The House of the Serpent encountered many difficulties as the swamp was tainting its inhabitants, turning them into Draugr upon death giving them inhuman strength. For there was an ancient force alive in the swamps, a goddess of destruction named Scylla, she was poisoning the water she inhabited, killing most of the House of the Serpent. Daraugh foresaw a way to help the House by building tree houses where they could live above the water and not be forced to leave their home, but this only solved so much. So, the House of the Serpent built houses in the decrepit trees, clinging to the shadows as it was the only way their dead could rest in peace and the living did not have to die until they could find a better way.
The House of Eir became a hot spot, as it was the only kingdom to study medicine, and many of the other kingdoms encountered great losses because they did not know how to treat their wounded. So, the House of Eir trained and treated many people from every kingdom. The House of the Trees lived ever so peacefully in the forest, singing, dancing, and shapeshifting to better understand and appreciate nature. Even though the Druids that lived within the forest did not have healing powers themselves, they drew from the power of the forest to heal one another. They appreciated the forest as it gave them everything they needed to live. The House of Companions learned the technique of speechcraft and bartering, trading and gathering, they earned their living by being the center of all commerce in EnderRakst. But they also worshiped the gods who created them. This created the Church of Aotrom (light). This Church became a mighty house within itself, with the Paladins as their soldiers, they were immensely challenging to defeat.

The House of Dwarves was the most technologically advanced of the Seven houses as the barrens had many valuable metals, and resources for them to melt into tools, and deadly weapons. Elok ruled the dwarves with an iron fist, as he was led by nothing other than his own greed and hatred for his brothers. Infuriated, half of the Dwarves created their own house, the House of Fafnir who idolized the mighty dragon who exhaled the flames that powered their forges. The House of Fafnir was still motivated by wealth and minerals but were willing to trade with the other villages as they sought to grow with other kingdoms.
Elok had stewed in his hatred for many years as the other kingdoms prospered, and his own kind betrayed him. So, he found it time to investigate the power of the south. He prepared his mighty army of Dwarves and headed southward. But as he got closer he realized the power was not a what, but a being. It was none other than the head of Jormungandr the World Serpent. His army fought the mighty beast but they were quickly vanquished leaving none but a few alive.

“You fool! You led your army to their death. Why?” Jormungandr bellowed, shaking the ground with his mighty voice.

“Because…(coughs up blood) I seek your power.”

“This power is not for you to possess. I am Jormungandr the World Serpent, I am the only thing holding this land together, if it was not for I, your kingdoms would be divided by great oceans.”

“What makes you think… I want these lands together in the first place?”

“Because the splitting of this land would be the downfall of your kind!”

“And in that downfall… I shall become king.” Elok says, trying to get back on his feet.

“You will be the king of nothing!”

Elok sees that fiery hellscape yet again, and sees the screaming woman approach him.

“Get up, my son.”

“It’s… it’s you isn’t it.”

“Yes, it is, I am Hel the Goddess of Death.”

“Then why did you betray me! Why did you leave? Why did you leave me with this horrible voice in my head!”

“I was locked away, I wanted to reach out to you but I was imprisoned, but I am here my boy.”

“Why do you call me your boy?”

“For you are my son, and I am your mother. And as for that gift you wanted to receive, you already have it. It is in your blood. Now rise my son, and vanquish this beast and claim waste to this land.”

Summoning the dark power residing in his veins, Elok raised from the ground glowing dark purple, healing his wounds and gaining immense power. Channeling her dark magic, he reanimated his entire army and grew powerful enough to slay the World Serpent. The other kingdoms were oblivious to what was happening, until they all felt the ground beneath them rumble… To Be Continued