7: Krall

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Krall is a 25 year old Djenndan who stands a massive 8′ 1″ tall and weighs 325 lbs. Krall is known by some in Northern Hinn as having an uncanny ability to speak to animals and command their respect. Having spent many years in the wilds of the northern tundra, Krall has become deeply attuned to nature, surviving and thriving in harsh, cold climates, and relying on animals as his only kinfolk and companions. Krall has a striking countenance, with bright, ice blue, and beady eyes that somehow command attention with their focus and intensity. Krall is soft spoken and knows little of the common tongue. Even in his primary language, Ommultic, Krall has a limited vocabulary due to his isolation from society beginning at age thirteen. There is a deep kindness in Krall, but also a fierceness that can emerge, a testament to the wilds that have been his home. After encountering a comforting trinket lodged in the trunk of a rotting Bekwood tree, Krall suddenly found himself standing in a civilized locale for the first time since leaving his home. Taking it as a sign, Krall decided that he had isolated himself from civilization long enough, and that it was time to learn more about the powerful substance he had found in the north.

Background

Krall’s family were refugees from the western wilds. When Krall was only two, his father, mother, and two brothers carried him east into Ommultic country during the Kimenian wars that displaced so many Djenndan settlements near the Great Giants, the mountains that span the distance between the wilds and the Protectorate province beyond. The small family found a new home in the breathtakingly beautiful spruce forests south of the Ommultic Sea and immediately felt connected to the landscape. They put roots down in a meager hamlet called Pictafinat, a settlement of loggers and fishers who make a living providing milled lumber to King Tannith’s army in the western front. It was a close-knit community and a generous group of people–one of the only settlements along Bright River willing to take in the Djenndan refugees. Pictafinat with its thick, spruce-covered landscape became their home–the only one that Krall had ever known.

Krall’s mother, Nak-Khaline, was a skilled fisher, and so she provided the primary contributions from their family to the community of Pictafinat, both for tribute to their territorial Duke and for trade among the members of the hamlet. This left Gur’hagon, Krall’s father, to care for his children, which he did by honoring the old traditions of the west, spending days on end in the deep forests between Pictafinat and the Sea teaching the three siblings how to forage and hunt for foods, follow the scents of the forests, hear the wind, and track the creatures that inhabit the surroundings. In the Northern Wilds, hunting and foraging was a right, part of the circle of natural life; no one had a say in how anyone else honored their traditions. In the Ommultic spruces, hunting was restricted only to the privileged, and many of their trips were interrupted by uncouth patrols whose only job it seemed was to wander the lands under the Duke’s control and harass people who were not explicitly laboring for the interests of the nobility.

On many of their week-long treks into the spruce forests, Gur’hagon would tell Krall and his two brothers, Hakan and Grodja, the story of Lost Lake. Gur’hagon spoke of a lush and surprisingly temperate realm surrounding a great body of water hidden deep within the mountains to the north. Outside those tall and dense mountains was nothing but frozen tundra, but deep within the high mountains there is a secret landscape blessed by the gods with warm pools, and its own natural order. The creatures who live within all thrive in abundance, and the circle of life is unchallenged by the laws of the civilized world. Gur’hagon would always tell his children that when they were all old enough and strong enough, they would leave Pictafinat and travel north into the frozen mountains to seek out Lost Lake where they could live out their days freely. On many occasions Gur’hagon would seem genuinely sad that their small family did not know any other Djenndan who would be able to join them on the journey, as if he wanted to foster a community of families who could live wild in that secret kingdom for generations.

When returning from a forest hunt the month after Krall celebrated his thirteenth birthday, Krall was away from the group gathering a cluster of mushrooms to share with his family for the evening meal. In the distance he heard Gur’hagon bark–it was a call he knew well, and it meant “danger” and “stay away.” Thinking one of his brothers was in trouble, Krall rushed toward the sounds and then saw them in a small clearing in the distance. Gur’hagon and Grodja were bound around their necks with several ropes, each tugged by one of the Duke’s patrol. Hakan was no where to be seen. Krall’s keen eyes could make out his father’s snout–Gur’hagon was sniffing the air knowingly. He barked the warning call once again, and Krall knew his father wanted him to stay back. Krall made his way around the commotion and fled back to Pictafinat.

Back home Krall discovered that Nak-Khaline had also been arrested by the Duke’s men. Several of Krall’s neighbors told him that she had been taken on suspicion of poaching the Duke’s game, a crime punishable by imprisonment. This was the first he had heard of such strict rules, and the neighbors suggested in might have to do with King Tannith’s growing need to provide food for troops in the western front. Krall knew the Duke was an unreasonable man, so he went back out into the wilds to search for Hakan. After weeks of searching and working to avoid the Duke’s patrols, Krall still could not locate his brother, and he felt that if he were to approach the Duke’s keep that he, too, would be imprisoned. Krall was alone, with no one to turn to. He said a final goodbye to his generous neighbors in Pictafinat, and then disappeared into the spruces.

Krall remained in the wilds of the spruces for over a decade with only the animals to keep him company. He would recall the stories of his father, cook the recipes of his mother, and describe the shape and smell of his brothers each day before slumber and each morning during the early forage. Once he wandered very close to the western front where he could hear the voices of men beyond the trees, and he thought he smelled his brother, Hakan. He ventured as close as he dared, but could not see any Djenndan among the human soldiers, so he moved away to resume his place in the wilds. He found over time that animals had a deep respect for him and he spent many of his days traveling and eating with various beasts. He gave his companions their own name and considered them friends.

In a spruce thicket one brisk afternoon the birds ceased their singing as Krall approached an ancient tree. Gur’hagon once spoke of these great trees, calling them Bekwoods, trees that are said to spring forth from ancient waterways and streams. Some believe Bekwood trees are magical, that drinking their sap can cure ailments and poisons. Cutting a Bekwood tree is thought to be bad luck. This particular tree looked as if it had occupied the ground for millennia, but its days were growing to an end. The air around the tree was thick, the branches wilting, the leaves brown and withered. The once great trunk of the tree was rotting into a pulp upon which many diverse mushrooms grew. Krall began to gather the mushrooms for use in a broth for his evening meal. The trunk pulped away from the mushrooms like dried, crumbled dirt, revealing a strange, spherical trinket. Krall felt drawn to the trinket, and setting his mushrooms aside, he tore it from the trunk. As he did he felt cool as if enveloped in spring rain, and his eyes slipped out of focus and into darkness like a long, slow blink.

He opened his eyes tripping over something that seemed like stone, and then felt himself falling until he crashed through a cart of fish with a percussive crack. An entire crowd of people gasped and began talking loudly, speaking a strange language unfamiliar to Krall. Looking around to get his bearings, he noticed that he was standing in a large market square, and people gathered around to see the great Djenndan who had just appeared out of thin air. Many in the crowd were clapping their hands together and smiling in a ritual that Krall had never seen. An olive-skinned human smiled and extended a hand to help him stand to his feet. It took the rest of the day for Krall to find someone who spoke Ommultic, and there he learned he was in a settlement in Northern Hinn. Somehow this trinket had connected Krall back to civilization after twelve years alone in the wilds.

Spending several weeks in civilization, Krall began to regain his confidence that he could interact with people, and after conversations with local makers and artisans in Northern Hinn, Krall developed a hope that he might be capable of discovering what became of his family in Ommultic Country. And one day, Krall hopes to fulfill his father’s dream of bringing a trustworthy group of people to Lost Lake where they could live in true freedom connected to the natural circle of life.

007-Krall

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Fractalform is the gaming handle of Bret Woods--ethnomediologist, author, and lead developer of Augur's Lore RPGs. Bret is Thing 1 at http://descrypt-studios.com.

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