A skull-helmed armored figure sat hunched by the flickering bonfire, silently observing at his warband scouring the battlefield for the spoils of war. Their laughters and joyful shouts whenever they managed to find something valuable brought back memories.
He was previously known as Lord Dresden Kell, a Knight of the Realm, and brother to Madrox Kell, the Baron of Schattenberg. It was a peaceful land; calm and serene. He was greatly respected and envied for his combat prowess in all of Schattenberg, a region in the dukedom of Parravon. For all his greatness however, not few despised him. In fact, he was rather notorious for his public declaration of loyalty to only the Land of Brettonia, and not towards the Lady of the Lake. That was, perhaps, the main factor for his fall from grace. Now, he’s only known as Dresden, a heretic, an exiled knight, the Skull Warrior.
He reminisced the events that lead to his downfall. It was not long ago when the stunted dwarves were a menace to Parravon. A neighbouring outmost region of Parravon, has suffered the biggest loss and therefore requested aid from Schattenberg to quell the menace. Madrox and eight other barons agreed to help, and to their surprise, the mysterious Asrai had agreed to help too.
Ten allied regions and one Asrai host however, were still not enough to repel the dwarven incursion. He still remembered clearly on the day when his brother announced that Shin, an avatar of Lady of the Lake, has answered his prayers and has bestowed upon him the blessings of the Lady. The announcement was greatly celebrated by the whole Schattenburg regiment. Being the atheist that he is, Dresden could care less about this. Suspicion did later grew when similar incidences were reported within the allies, but he was only focused on the war and for the glory of Brettonia. During the battle, Dresden noticed that his brother and eight other barons’ figures were gradually becoming more blur for each time they successfully slayed a dwarven Thane.
With blessings from the Lady, the allied forces were able to defeat the Dwarves but it was not without a cost; only one third of the Brettons survived and less than half of that were uninjured. To make matters worse, the alliance was broken immediately as the hail of arrows that rained upon the dwarves before, now rained at their direction. And he was pretty sure the trees were marching towards them too. Confusion was undeniably prominent within the ranks.
Suddenly, one of the barons led his force against the other nine and only then things became clear. There were nine avian-like armoured clad monsters in the place of where the barons used to be, and they were slaughtering the knights that used to be their allies and custodians. Numerous arrows punctured through their flesh and wings, yet they just shrugged them off and kept fighting. Realizing the impending danger that might befell him, Dresden shouted a battlecry and charged headlong towards the monsters. The rest of the army followed suit.
What happened later was blurry as Dresden was deep into battle frenzy. Only when his sword stabbed on the ridge between the eyes of his former brother did he regain full consciousness. As he looked around, the other former barons were either impaled by multiple swords and lances, or somehow magically laid beneath large trees. The losses were even greater than before, only less than a hundred Bretton still breathing in pain and agony. The Asrai have sheathed their bows and tend to the injured humans, while the mages tapped into their close link to nature to heal the mortal wounds whenever possible. A female elf offered his hand to Dresden, and spoke to him while she helped to lift him up to his feet,
“Beware of the Changer of Ways.”
And then she left into the forest along with the rest of her kinsfolk, leaving the healed survivors behind. The surviving baron gathered all that was left of his forces and marched straight towards Scarlag Castle, while the others marched back to their own respective regions. Dresden and the surviving Schattenberg knights stayed back for a while, only returning home after he set the former Baron of Schattenberg’s twisted body on a funeral pyre.
Two months passed. It was a typical rural morning; the bright yellow sun has just risen in the east, the pleasant smell of fresh morning air, the ebbing sound of the flowing river, birds chirping cheerfully in the trees. Alas, it was not to be.
Clatters of hooves and a loud ruckus broke the morning serenity. Schattenberg were invaded and citizens were driven out of their homes. Houses and fields were burnt to the ground, horses and livestocks confiscated. All of this horrific incident was personally witnessed by the Duke of Parravon, accompanied by his Grail Knights.
Dresden and all the remaining knights of Schattenberg were then stripped of their royalty and knighthood, while each and every citizen were branded as heretics; all this as a result of the aftermath following the Dwarven war. Schattenberg was completely burnt to the ground, erased from the map of Brettonia, and the citizens were exiled from the Land of Brettonia. Apparently, the other regions that participated in the war also had similar fate as they; man, women, children, the elderly, were all herded like cattles northwards towards the Empire of Sigmar and out of Brettonia.
Devoid of any possession, the former Brettons lived like beggars in the Empire. They did manage to settle down for a while before being driven out again after word circulating regarding the fate of their former barons. None would take them in anymore, and their former knights can only lead their people further up north. By this moment, the exiled ones has completely denounced the Lady of the Lake for condemning them to such fate. More people joined along the way, mostly are outcasts from the Empire, including Dresden’s current brother-in-arms, Matthias Nilstrom. The mix of people with different backgrounds brought new teachings and enlightenment to the group; thus the new-found faith they discover, the religion of Tchar. Dresden however, remained a non-believer.
The outcasts finally settled in a Norse territory, just north of the Empire city called Erengard. By some kind of weird luck, they found a settlement where the settlers also dedicated their faith to the religion of Tchar. Despite the unfriendly cold weathers, the outcasts lived in harmony with the Norse people, and defended their territory against soldiers from the Empire and beasts such as trolls. Finally, they have a place to call home and together, they prayed to Tchar and hope for a better life bestowed upon them.
Happiness again filled Dresden’s soul, knowing that his people were now much happier and safer from what was before. However, the knightly soul in him was rather unhappy on a settled life. He later join the local warband but soon discovered a huge obstacle; fighting on a frozen wasteland was totally a new experience for him compared to horseback battles. As a matter of fact, horses were quite uncommon in the current region he lives. Dresden lived up to the challenge, endured all the obstacles, and proved his worth. It was only a matter of time when the battle standard was trusted to him.
Another armored figure approached, hooded and carrying a staff, then sat next to te skull-helmed warrior. Matthias Nilstrom, the self proclaimed Shadowmage, joined the amusement of observing the scavenging hunt. Matthias has yet to cast a single successful spell despite the mage status that he claimed to be, and currently being the subject of ridicule by the other warriors in the warband. As a matter of fact, they were more respectful of his combat prowess rather than his magic ability, as he once managed to inflict a serious wound on an Empire general in a hand-to-hand combat.
Moments passed by, and then Matthias spoke.
“Rest easy, my brother. For tomorrow we shall beat down those Sigmar dogs back to where they came from.”