Battle Brothers Warriors Of The North-CODEX [PORTABLE]
Since the arrival of Ricco and Robbio to Cathay a mercantile quarter has flourished in Shang-Yang which is the westernmost of the Cathayan fortress towns on the Silk Road. This is the name by which the trade route to Cathay opened up by these Tilean merchants has become known. Trading caravans go along this route very rarely and only a few reach their destination due to the terrible hazards of the journey and the scourge of the Hobgoblin Khan and his great horde which, when all his loyal tribes are drawn up for battle, is said to extend from horizon to horizon. The mercenaries in Shang-Yang have become "guests" of the Dragon Emperor of Cathay and valued warriors in his service. The Celestial Dragon Emperor uses these troops to help defend his western frontier against the wrath of the Hobgoblin Khan. Of course by doing this, the Tileans serve their own interests by keeping open the Silk Road.[6c]
Battle Brothers Warriors of the North-CODEX
However, these accounts appear to have been forgotten, lost, or at least not widely known by 1699, since other Tilean traders didn't know what lay beyond the Worlds Edge Mountains and the Dark Lands. In that year, the brothers Ricco and Robbio, Tilean merchants in Karaz-a-Karak, bought a tattered but exceptionally fine silk banner from some Dwarf adventurers who had been far to the east. They claimed to have captured it from a band of Hobgoblins. The banner bore the symbol of a Dragon, and the Dwarfs, not bothered about keeping what they believed to be an Elf banner, were eager to sell it for gold. The significance of the banner was not lost on Ricco and Robbio. If it was an Elf banner captured by the Hobgoblins, it could be the answer to a question which had been vexing the minds of many Tilean merchants: was it possible to get to Ulthuan by going eastwards as an overland route instead of sailing westwards over the sea? If such a thing were possible, it could mean that Ulthuan was at the eastern end of the great Old World continent. It would also mean that the world was round and not flat as most people believed. Elf seafarers had never revealed much about Ulthuan. The Norse seemed to think it was an island. Marco Colombo in his writings speculated as to whether it was an island or a peninsula of a great northern continent attached to Lustria. He believed, as did many others, that only this could explain where the Dark Elves came from and why they fought against the High Elves. Ricco and Robbio suspected that if they journeyed far enough to the east they would either arrive in Ulthuan, or maybe even Lustria, or on the far coast of the Old World continent opposite Ulthuan. Unfortunately this coast might be held by Dark Elves. The fine workmanship of the silk banner and its Dragon motif suggested a High Elf origin, so perhaps it had been lost in battle with the Dark Elves and captured by Hobgoblin lackeys in their employ. Ricco and Robbio scoured the Dwarf strongholds of the Worlds Edge Mountains seeking more artefacts of Elven workmanship which had come out of the east. They acquired a small hoard of objects including scrolls bearing what appeared to be Elven writing, weapons, and silks which Dwarf traders were pleased to sell for gold.[6b]
Since that time a mercantile quarter has flourished in Shang-Yang which is the westernmost of the Cathayan fortress towns on the Silk Road. This is the name by which the trade route to Cathay, opened up by Ricco and Robbio has become known. Trading caravans go along this route very rarely and only a few reach their destination due to the terrible hazards of the journey and the scourge of the Hobgobla Khan and his great horde which, when all his loyal tribes are drawn up for battle, is said to extend from horizon to horizon. The mercenaries in Shang-Yang have become 'guests' of the Emperor of Cathay and valued warriors in his service. The Emperor uses these troops to help defend his western frontier against the wrath of Hobgobla Khan. Of course by doing this, the Tileans serve their own interests by keeping open the Silk Road.[6c]
But the armies of the Dragon Emperor also include more esoteric forces. During the Chaos invasion of Cathay in the year 1310, hordes of Chaos Warriors battled legions of terracotta automatons attempting to shore up the sundered Great Bastion with their own clay bodies, mutated War Mammoths gored and trampled whole regiments of one-horned Ogres, and in the skies above Daemon Princes duelled with bejewelled Gold Dragons.[16b] Some heroes ride Ki-rin, unicorn-like beasts that ride storms and sport lightning manes.[2a] Records of travellers tell of the mystic brotherhoods of monks who can kill you with a touch of their hand, and the strange monkey warriors living high in the Mountains of Heaven.[8a] There are also statues of living stone, similar to Nehekharan Ushabti, in the shape of guardian stone dogs and flying crow-men.[2b][18b] The Dragon Emperor is said to command water snakes of extraordinary speed as his pets.[29a]
The general plan of the Voluspo is fairly clear. Othin, chief of the gods, always conscious of impending disaster and eager for knowledge, calls on a certain "Volva," or wise-woman, presumably bidding her rise from the grave. She first tells him of the past, of the creation of the world, the beginning of years, the origin of the dwarfs (at this point there is a clearly interpolated catalogue of dwarfs' names, stanzas 10-16), of the first man and woman, of the world-ash Yggdrasil, and of the first war, between the gods and the Vanir, or, in Anglicized form, the Wanes. Then, in stanzas 27-29, as a further proof of her wisdom, she discloses some of Othin's own secrets and the details of his search for knowledge. Rewarded by Othin for what she has thus far told (stanza 30), she then turns to the real prophesy, the disclosure of the final destruction of the gods. This final battle, in which fire and flood overwhelm heaven and earth as the gods fight with their enemies, is the great fact in Norse mythology; the phrase describing it, ragna rök, "the fate of the gods," has become familiar, by confusion with the word rökkr, "twilight," in the German Göterdämmerung. The wise-woman tells of the Valkyries who bring the slain warriors to support Othin and the other gods in the battle, of the slaying of Baldr, best and fairest of the gods, through the wiles of Loki, of the enemies of the gods, of the summons to battle on both sides, and of the mighty struggle, till Othin is slain, and "fire leaps high
[31. Valkyries: these "Choosers of the Slain" (cf. stanza I, note) bring the bravest warriors killed in battle to Valhall, in order to re-enforce the gods for their final struggle. They are also called "Wish-Maidens," as the fulfillers of Othin's wishes. The conception of the supernatural warrior-maiden was presumably brought to Scandinavia in very early times from the South-Germanic races, and later it was interwoven with the likewise South-Germanic tradition of the swan-maiden. A third complication developed when the originally quite human women of the hero-legends were endowed with the qualities of both Valkyries and swan-maidens, as in the cases of Brynhild (cf. Gripisspo, introductory note), Svava (cf. Helgakvitha Hjorvarthssonar, prose after stanza 5 and note) and Sigrun (cf. Helgakvitha Hundingsbana I, 17 and note). The list of names here given may be an interpolation; a quite different list is given in Grimnismol, 36. Ranks of the gods: some editors regard the word thus translated as a specific place name. Herjan ("Leader of Hosts"): Othin. It is worth noting that the name Hild ("Warrior") is the basis of Bryn-hild ("Warrior in Mail Coat").