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Valley of the Skeletal Kings

by Håvard

Part 1: The Black Jarls of Fimbulvale

These legends go back to a time when the Pharaohs of Nithia were still on the rise. Back in those days the Northmen called themselves Antalians, descendants of the Skandaharians of Blackmoor's Age. At first, contact between the two ancient cultures of the Antalians and the Nithians was peaceful. But as the Pharaohs grew more greedy, they sought to make the free Northmen their slaves. The Antalians were powerful warriors, but the Nithians had power in the form of magic. This was a power the Antalians both hated and feared. Few Northmen sought to learn to use these powers themselves, because using magic was seen by most as a shameful, cowardly form of power.

There was one group of Antalians however who practised these forbidden arts in secret. They had no care for the codes of honour among their own people. All they cared for was power which they became obsessed with. As their power grew, these Antalian Mages became known as the Black Jarls. The Black Jarls knew that the true masters of Arcane Power on Mystara in this age were the builders of the Pyramids. And they coveted the secret knowledge that the Nithians posessed. So they made a plan. Their plan was simple: sneak into the Nithian Tombs and steal the most powerful scrolls in the Pharaohs collection. It was a dangerous plan, but they succeeded. And the Black Jarls got away with more than they had hoped for. They found magical lore so powerful they believed they could unlock the most powerful magic imaginable, though it would take years of study to master it.

Escaping the Nithian Cities they fled far away to distant Hyborean Wastes, in the valley of Fimbuldale. There they built their fortress and spent years studying the old scrolls. They believed that they had found the secrets to Immortality itself. Though their magic made them powerful and gave them the eternal life they had desired so much, this magic was twisted and dark and their eternal lives was instead that of eternal undead lichdom. Ages passed. Ancient Nithia passed out of memory. The Skeletal Kings who were once the Black Jarls were also forgotten by most, but they were still there in their fortress, waking from their slumber every century or so to study their scrolls and learn more magic. And as long as they are there, the Valley of Fimbuldale remains cursed.

Behind the Scenes: What's this?

The Valley of the Skeletal Kings is a location I am currently developing for Mystara. It is actually based on some concepts from a campaign that I was a player in, but the backstory presented here is my invention. The valley is located in Hyborea though the cursed magic of the Skeletal Kings keeps the valley to a temperate climate.