The Old Ones
The Lay of the Gestatae
In ages past, innumerable cults flourished on the edge of civilization. For each holy spire rising to extol the virtues of goodness and law, there was an infernal reflection, offering mankind material power and wealth in exchange for cruel acts and bloody sacrifice. Many a prince and peon sold his soul in exchange for power over his foeman. But as Vornish civilization endured, uniting tribes into clans and clans into kingdoms, slowly the light of law beat back the chaos.
These lands themselves felt the mailed fist of modernity, dragging them bloodily kicking and screaming from their pagan past. But like any willful child, some resisted. The Norskan Gestatae tribe, from across the frozen sea, set aside its usual squabbling and internal bloody strife to unite into a mighty warband, intent on reclaiming these lands from the light of Vorn. Two brothers, Molangsk and Felan, were the mighty champions of such a host, sacrificing much of their humanity to dark gods in exchange for power and influence. They found an ally in a recalcitrant marcher lord, his name forgotten to history, who allowed this Norskan cult to flourish on his lands. They raided, reaved, raped, and ravaged, and melted away into the wilderness of his lands when mounted hosts went to meet them. Through dark magic they twisted their captives into monstrous form, each a physical reflection of their own bestial desires.The situation did not last forever. Where the Empire failed, the Auxilia succeeded. The ranks of the Legion were opened to barbarian tribes, most notably the Cimbrianni, whose own swift-striking horsemen and battle hardened rage-berserkers harried the Gestatae and slaughtered them wherever they were found.
Finally the remnants of the Northern horde retreated into their ally’s keep, where the chieftain of the Cimbrianni, Gothard, dealt Felan the Defiler a mortal blow. Realizing that his own end was near, Molangsk retreated deep below the corrupted bastion. While his followers fought and died, he hid his brother in a secret tomb, promising on all that is unholy to avenge him. As the Cimbrianni Auxilia laid waste to the keep, Molangsk finally gave up his mortal shell, commending his damned soul into the writhing limbs of the Outsider gods. He made only one request – when ages passed and the last line of the great Cimbrianni chieftain was sacrificed in his name, he would return to lay waste to all the enemies of his benefactor.
The Cimbrianni tribe were fearsome respected warriors, and it was to be their undoing. The majority of their men were lost at sea in an ill-fated military expedition to the Black Pyramid of Abasinia. While they were gone, the Elector Count of Stirland seized the moment and had the remaining women, children, and greybeards forced off of his fertile lands under charges of Druidism, where they diminished and dwindled in the cold mountains until this day, when few remain.
Zaetus the Necromancer has the children, and he has taken them here. Norskan skalds sing the tale that the remainder of the Gestatae tribe mutter wistfully in their frozen stinking walrus-hide tents, remembering fondly the glorious days of blood, slaughter, and power under their Warlord. They wait to hear again his monstrous clarion call. It is said that upon his resurrection the paltry crops in their lands will wither and die in a cataclysmic frost, signalling their time to gird their ships with the patchwork human-skin sails of their forefathers, and reave and pillage the south again.