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My altered introduction to the Red Hand of Doom adventure:


by Steven B Wilson

The deep forest glades danced with fire.

Throughout the heart of the wild forest the humans called the Dymrak, great bonfires had been kindled. There thousands of warriors had gathered - hobgoblins in armour dyed scarlet, thick-hewed bugbear berserkers, goblin wolf riders and skirmishers and archers, and giants as well, who towered over the rest. For so long they had fought each other, tribe against tribe, race against race, engaged in the endless test of battle, feud, and betrayal. But tonight...tonight they stood together, hated enemies shoulder-to-shoulder shouting together as brothers. And they saw that they were strong, and together they danced and sang and shook their blades at the smoke-hidden stars overhead.

"We are the Zhul Dymrak!" they shouted, and the trees shook with the thunder of their voices. "We are the Dymrak Dread! Uighulth na Hargai! None can stand before us!"

One by one the tribes fell silent. Armour creaked as thousands turned to look up to the Place of Speaking. There, a single champion emerged from the assemblage and slowly climbed the ancient stone stair cut into the side of the hill. A hundred bright yellow banners stood beneath them like a phalanx of spears, each marked with a great black eye. The warpriests holding the banners chanted battle-prayers in low voices as the champion ascended.

On the hundredth step, he stopped and turned to face the waiting warriors. He was tall and strong, a hobgoblin of immense size and stature. "I am the Avatar of the Horde!" he cried. "Hear me, warriors of the Dymrak Dread! Tomorrow we march to war!"

The warriors roared their approval, stamping their feet and clashing spear to shield. The leader waited, holding hands aloft until they quieted again. "The Witches of the Dymrak have shown us the way! They have taught us honour, discipline, obedience - and strength! No more will we waste our blood fighting each other. We will take the lands of the elf, the dwarf, and the human, and make them ours!"

The Avatar motioned to a pitiful human, beaten, bloodied, and chained to a stake near one of the huge bonfires. Nine withered figures slowly circled the old human, chanting and occasionally spitting on their prisoner. "We have blinded the eye of Zirchev and soon we will march to victory over the heart of Petra and cut off the arm of Halav! Remember that you stood here this night, warriors of the Dymrak Dread! For a hundred generations your sons and your sons' sons will sing of the blood spilled by your swords and the glory you win in the nights to come! Now, my brothers - TO WAR!"

The borders of the Dymrak were too small to hold the shout the Dymrak Dread gave in answer to their warlord's call.