Apr 14

World of Witch Hunter Weekly #3: The Midwinter Invasion

WOWHW

With Witch Hunter: the dramatized audiobook in the making, we felt it would be a good idea to introduce the lore of the world with a weekly nugget of information that brings to life the universe inhabited by Ludlov and Samina, bit by bit. In this third installment, we learn about the fall of the city that would eventually become Sevenpeaks…

When he was 221 years old, king Wolfen decided to arrange everything in Ivennenborgh to prepare for his death. Since he had no progeny, the royal bloodline would die with him. Wolfen decreed there would be no more king to follow him. Instead, the powers of Ivennenborgh would be divided among the wise. Wolfen handed over most of his secular authority to his trusted knight, Sir Ulric One-Eye. Ulric was now granted the title of mayor of Ivennenborgh. The Church would be reorganised as well. At its head would be a Cardinal, and for this position Wolfen chose Clevic I. Several young orders of monks and sisters received much support from Wolfen in order to continue after his death. The orders were kept free to organise according to their own beliefs, as long as they remained true to their mandate.

The grand reorganisation of Ivennenborgh would be put in effect right after Wolfen’s death.

It was a beautiful summer evening in 221 HTC when Wolfen died. Afterwards, there were some who claimed that on his deathbed Wolfen had predicted the fall of Ivennenborgh, but officials vehemently denied those rumours.

Ivennenborgh developed into a great civilisation, second only to Urba Classica in the far south. Meanwhile, in the north, the Low-Thots and various other tribes united under an ambitious emperor named Untron, a descendant of Erold. The Untronian Empire was not as advanced as Ivennenborgh and those among the Untronians who had visited the city by the river spoke highly of Wolfen’s legacy. This made Untron jealous, especially when it came to Ivennenborgh’s magic.

He sent out his son, Troth, to establish contact with the Hornfolk. “Hornfolk” was a collective name for a varied group of tribes that dwelled in the snowy mountains of the far north. The Hornfolk tribes were often at war with each other but their reputation as savage and vicious barbarians intrigued Untron. If they could be united under his banner, they would be a powerful ally.

For centuries, the Hornfolk had hunted giant wolves, a species that was slowly dying. There were so few giant wolves left that the Hornfolk tribes were forced to migrate south, which made it easier for Troth to find these elusive barbarians.

In the mountains, Troth met with a charismatic figure known as Odar the Bear, leader of the most successful tribe of hunters among the Hornfolk.
If anyone could unite them, it would be Odar, Troth knew. That would be exactly what Troth’s father wished. Untron’s plan was to sack Ivennenborgh with the combined might of his empire and the Hornfolk, plundering it and breaking its power once and for all.

Odar agreed, under once condition; he wanted to learn the secret of the Ivennenborghian magic.

Troth promised him this secret would be found in the city, more precisely hidden somewhere in the Cathedral.

And so it happened that on the coldest midwinter Ivennenborgh had ever known, the city was suddenly attacked. Ivennenborgh’s army was utterly unprepared and quickly fell to the overwhelming forces. Large parts of the city were burned and the Cathedral was pillaged empty.

Ivennenborgh’s magic was steeped in a tradition of gentleness and turned out to be defenseless. All the priests and priestesses could do was heal the injured and even that did not suffice to save thousands of lives. Midwinter of the year 222 would be remembered as the darkest day in Ivennenborgh history.

Troth had fought savagely by the Hornfolk’s side and savoured his victory. After the pillaging, the barbarians immediately made ready to return to the mountains. Odar thought he had found the secret of the magic when among the spoils of war, he had found a painting that emanated a great and terrible power. Troth had seen the painting as well, and the eyes of the demon it depicted had mesmerised him. On the eve of the barbarians’ return to the north, Troth snuck into Odar’s tent and slit his throat. Then he stole the painting. He took it aboard a sailing ship and travelled up the Ivennen towards Untron. Before he could go far, he was cornered by Ivennenborgh troops. Fearing capture and execution, Troth made a terrible decision. Having seen the unknown demon in the painting, he decided he would contact it. He used the rituals of summoning known among his people to speak to that demon and succeeded. And so he learned that the demon’s name was Lucchus and that he was the greatest of all demons. Troth asked Lucchus to save him and Lucchus said: “I will give you immortality but first you must vow to serve me forever.” Troth believed this to be a fair bargain. Once he had made the promise to serve Lucchus forever with all his heart, and spilt his own blood to swear it, he threw the portrait into the river. The Ivennenborghians had almost captured Troth’s ship when the entire stream turned black as tar. Out of the water appeared a towering claw that destroyed all of the ships, including Troth’s. Then it took hold of the murderous prince and dragged him down into the water. The next morning, the river was clear once more.