Copy #5, to be stored in the Priory Archives in Lornar’s Pass.
On the origins of Rodgort – A dragon weapon?
By Scholar Georg Nazarius – Penned in the year of 1317 AE
The purpose of the Durmand Priory is to scour the knowledge of lost civilisations in an effort to discover how they, in their time, defeated the Elder Dragons that now plague Tyria and the world beyond. Being a mere Scholar, I do not doubt Steward Gixx’s decision on the matter, but I also propose that we examine the actions of the dragons themselves, as well as their servants, in order to better understand their capabilities and intentions.
To this end, I write this piece on an artifact with possible draconic origins. A weapon that, should the stories hold true, has a connection with Primordus, the Elder Dragon that drove the asura from their homes and set the dwarves on the path to their civilisations end. The weapon known in stories as Rodgort, also sometimes called the Brand or Flame of Rodgort.
All dates are given according to the Mouvelian calendar, according to both common practice and Priory standards.
Stories attribute the creation of Rodgort to 2 people; the norn Bjorn Duganson, later known as Bjorn Brandheart and hailing from what eventually became Afgar’s Steading, and the charr Bronsan Yellowpaw, of the Paw Warband, Iron Legion. Bronsan was a charr gifted both with great understanding of the use of fire elemental magic, as well as how to craft unconventional weapons, an undervalued talent among the warlike people. Bjorn was, previously to the events that would shape his legend, a traveller and explorer. Unbeknownst to most, if not all, of the storytellers who share his tales around the Shiverpeaks, he was part of the expedition into Ascalon that uncovered the works of the ascalonian elementalist Rodgort Harding, known for his fiery invocations. As one of his few rewards, he brought back a scroll detailing 2 of Rodgort’s more well-known spells, namely the Mark of Rodgort and Rodgort’s Invocation. It should be noted that, while these are commonplace amongst learned elementalists now, most of Rodgort’s spells had been thought lost since the Foefire. Bjorn’s style of fighting was, according to the journal of one Lars Horacesson, like the guardians of today, but with very little emphasis on the defensive aspect, and many elements reminiscent of the Zealot-school of guardian magic, using conjured flames and blistering attacks to burn away his opponents rather than the highly supportive magic we know of from other known people from his time. Available records suggest Bronsan was born around 1230 AE, and the Paw Warband was one of the warbands whose destruction has been attributed to High Legion’s siege of Ebonhawke between 1270-1280.
Bjorn was born to, by norn standards, unremarkable parents in late in the winter of 1222, and, according to his legend, died in 1277, as will be detailed further on.
After Bjorns less-than-celebrated expedition between 1250 to 1252, he returned to Hoelbrak where he served primarily in defense of the city against servants of Jormag, where he could use his fiery battle style to great effect. After a decade of this, he must evidently have grown restless from staying in one place for so long, as he took his leave from the militia and travelled east, arriving in charr-controlled Ascalon about a year later. Because of the war, I have no access to any existing charr documents on the matter, so his movements for the following 2 years are barely, if at all, known.
Then, in 1265, he arrived in the Black Citadel with a purpose. His style had evolved to such an extent that he would need a potent channelling device for his magic to avoid damaging himself or his armour when fighting without restraint. To this end he attempted to commission numerous charr smiths and craftsmen, but his ideas must have been too outlandish for them to cease their contributions to the charr war machine, even for the promise of gold. Eventually he must have met Bronsan, who, seeing an opportunity, agreed to the commission if his payment could include the 2 Rodgort-scrolls Bjorn still kept. Bjorn countered that the device would have to be truly formidable then, for the scrolls were not easily replaceable, being recovered from the northern parts of ghost-infested Ascalon. Since Bronsan did not know that the spells detailed in the scrolls were in fact already returning to common use among the forces of the Seraph and Ebonhawke, Bronsan agreed to find a way to make the device one of a kind, and knew just how to begin. Bronsan reasoned to his warband and superiors that both the 2 powerful fire spells, as well as the large sum of gold Bjorn was promising upon completion, would prove useful in their war against the ghosts, as well as in the siege of Ebonhawke.
Permissions must have been granted, for within the year, the warband with Bjorn in tow had completed an expedition into the old dwarven caves beneath the Shiverpeaks, into a cave system that is otherwise recorded nowhere in either human, norn or dwarven documents concerning the Shiverpeaks bordering the southern Ascalon. It is reasonable to assume that the rise of several Elder Dragons since the relevant documents were established. Among other spoils, the group retrieved a small red crystal, described by contemporary norn witnesses, as being the colour of fresh blood. Upon their return to the Black Citadel, Bronsan immediately set about preparing for the completion of the device, but on Bjorn’s insistence, completion was delayed until 1266’s winter solstice.
The device Bjorn and Bronsan had designed and created was a torch designed for a norn and built rather like a focus. The blood-red crystal, which I believe to be a shard of one of the legendary Bloodstones, formed the core, and Bronsan had weaved Rodgort’s spells into its construction as well. The legend refers to this initial form of Rodgort as ‘The Flame of Rodgort’, even though Bjorn himself referred to it as the Nornbrand.
Again Bjorn could not be still for long, and in early spring of 1267, Bjorn left Ascalon, and travelled back west. The events and stories that followed his return are, with one exception, not the subject of this piece, but his legend Bjorn of the Brandheart details them all with great detail, if varying degrees of restraint.
There is, however, one tale that is important in order to understand how Bjorn Duganson’s Flame of Rodgort underwent its final transformation.
In 1272, a norn shaman named Eatta Frellasdottir, also known as Eatta Rime-Ear, organised an expedition north from Hoelbrak that would explore a rumoured dwarf hold hidden in the snow drifts of the Snowden hills. She claimed to have been given a vision by the Spirits as to where they might find the Spirit of the Owl, the very Spirit that had stayed behind to give the Norn time to escape Jormag’s wrath. While the shamans of the other temples doubted her, claiming that if the Spirits would communicate such a grand message to anyone, surely it would be them. But a group of youngbloods from various homesteads around the Wayfarer Foothills and Lornar’s Pass had heard of her expedition, and volunteered, possibly hoping that even if the vision proved false, surviving the attempt could start them on the path to their own legends. Bjorn also joined, seeing a chance to propel his name up to the likes of Jora, Asgeir and other such grand legends of the norn. If the Spirit of the Owl was truly alive, getting it safe and sound to Hoelbrak would be a momentous deed.
After a week of travel, they arrived north of what is now Podaga Steading, intent on descending into the Glisterice caves, find the area from Eatta’s vision, and return to Hoelbrak. But the vision proved to be not only false.
It was a deception.
As they arrived at the mouth of the cave, arrows struck the party, and a group of Sons of Svanir erupted from the snowdrifts around them. Battle was quickly joined and the group held their ground thanks to Bjorn and Eatta’s combined efforts. But as soon as the Sons were beaten back, a swarm of icebrood hounds came from all sides, and several of the youngbloods who had not been slain in the assault were wracked with convulsions, dark-blue shining ice erupting from their bodies. Taking stock of their odds, Bjorn decided they should escape through the caves. On the fate of Eatta, the legend is vague. However, what is known is that she was never seen again, and because it is believed she was fooled by Jormag or one of his servants, she earned the nickname Rime-Ear.
Bjorn and the 2 youngbloods, a brother and sister, escaped the battle through the caves. Bjorn himself is said to never have spoken of the journey, but the youngbloods, recorded in the legend as Dufnall Vilgerdsson and Finna Vilgerdsdottir, spoke of it frequently. Their tales vary from each other on many points, such as who can lay claim to what deed, what Bjorn himself said and even what they saw, but on one section, they agreed on every detail.
A few days before they would leave the cave system, they fell upon the remains of a dwarf village, one that evidently had contact with the asuras, as a collapsed asuran portal dominated the central square. The dwellings glittered with decorations of gold and gems, but the party was more intent on escaping their situation than looting.
As they were halfway through the village, having found a road that would likely lead them out into the open air, the air in the cavern changed, becoming smoky and choking. Destroyers, Primordus’ relentless servants, rose up out of the ruins of the village. Both brother and sister were instantly preparing to flee back into the caves, but Bjorn insisted they go on, and force a path through the destroyers to the fresh air but a few days away. Destroyers, being creatures of fire and magma, should be immune to Bjorn’s fiery power, thus negating the groups most powerful weapon. But Bjorn was undeterred, and with a shout of battle that echoed throughout the cavern, he charged straight towards their proposed exit, mace held high. According to similar points of the twins’ stories, the reaction of the dragon-minions were unlike any response seen from their kind since the war against the Great Destroyer well over 100 years ago. Even as the massive norn was raising his mace to sweep the first opponent aside, the Destroyers kneeled, as though in supplication. Raising his weapon from the shattered remains of his intended target, even Bjorn was struck still by the sight. His torch blazed as brightly as it had ever done, as if in response to the presence of so many creatures of fire. Responding to the eerie sight with rage, Bjorn destroyed further minions, but still they kneeled as though beholding a king of their kind. In their own tales, the twins pretend bravado on their own part and fear on the part of their kin, but in both stories they urge Bjorn to move on and to use the Destroyer inactivity to their advantage. Thus, Bjorn and the Vilgerds escaped from the depths of the Shiverpeaks, and returned to Hoelbrak with nothing but a story of folly.
By the year of 1276, Bjorn had become known as Bjorn Brandheart throughout the Shiverpeaks as well as in Ascalon and the easternmost regions of Kryta. While not as celebrated as Jora and Asgeir Dragonrender, his legend was nevertheless on the rise, and rumours were abound that he would soon attempt the Trial of the Serpent’s Fang in Hoelbrak. But before he could confirm the rumours and travel to Hoelbrak, the southern Shiverpeaks suffered a series of icebrood attacks, which a warrior of Bjorn’s stature could not ignore. Well into 1277 he defended homesteads and garrisons throughout the south, his name growing in renown and his legend growing in length.
I am ashamed to admit that it took me over a month of researching his final tale before I thought to confer with the source, with the skalds at Kyesjard. Up until then, every version had wildly varying details, so the following section is not based on multiple sources, but instead entirely on The Spirit of Fire, the song written by Kitta Kyesdottir who was present at Bjorn’s death.
In the early winter of 1277, Bjorn’s group was ambushed by a herd of crazed ice-corrupted animals north of Kyesjard, at that time a much smaller steading with only a few families and almost no hunters in residence. Only Bjorn survived until the men of Kyesjard could bring him to the homestead and for a week the weather around Kyesjard worsened until even the hardy norn could not leave their communal hall. it was evident that a decisive attack by the servants of Jormag was imminent, but the warriors of the stead were powerless to act against them, as the storm outside could kill a norn in minutes. Finally, as dawn broke on the 8th day, the stead was surrounded by icebrood and corrupted Sons of Svanir. Bjorn, rising from his sickbed, asked to be armed and armoured and let out of the hall. Deciding to hold inside their hall, but unable to sway Bjorn, they accepted his request, arming him with a battle-axe and his signature torch, but would not lend their own aid. As Bjorn entered the blizzard, The Flame of Rodgort blazed, igniting the grand bonfire in the middle of the yard, creating a 2-meter pillar of flame. Snow melted around his body, never touching neither him nor his armour. All of Kyesjard was watching through the door and windows of the hall, but only Kitta was keen enough to later spin the events into song.
The stead was surrounded by over a hundred servants of Jormag, but there was only one real entrance into the yard, a 2-norn wide gate that had been smashed open by the Sons of Svanir.
With a roar to the Spirits, Bjorn charged the gap, and within a heartbeat, the Sons were pushed back, leaving Bjorn as an obstacle the icebrood would have to destroy in order to gain access to the homestead. Other warriors from the hall moved to help, but with the presence of the icebrood, the storm had grown unnaturally cold, and only Bjorn seemed able to withstand the magical blizzard.
Until dawn the next day he fought the Sons of Svanir and the icebrood, killing them with blows from his axe and massive jets of flame from his torch. The song says that, during the fight, the torch changed. In the blink of an eye, the head morphed to resemble that of a fire-breathing dragon, it began glowing red-hot with heat even where Bjorn held it, but if it burned him, he gave no sign. It gained a life of its own, killing several icebrood that Bjorn would not otherwise have stopped with his axe. As the sun rose in the east, the last of the colossal icebrood leading the horde had been killed, and the blizzard had abated.
But Bjorn Duganson, Bjorn Brandheart, was dead.
Still wounded from the ambush 9 days ago, Bjorn was now covered head to toe in fresh cuts, he had several broken ribs and the spear-like arm of one of the icebrood colossi had impaled him. In the final acts of the song, the onlookers finally left the hall, and went to secure the area and find more warriors to defend the stead before they could give Bjorn a proper burial. As the first warrior neared Bjorn, however, his torch, which now seemed as alive as any serpent, hissed, emitting a gout of flame. Before the astonished onlookers, a pillar of lava rose out of the ground beneath Rodgort, and when the lava had gone and the steam of the cooked snow had vanished, so had the torch.
Our understanding of draconian magic is too lacking for me to deliver any decisive conclusions before more data is obtained, but it is my belief that Bjorn’s encounter with the Destroyers provides at least circumstantial evidence that the torch is imbued with some measure of the power behind the Destroyers. If this was accidental or a design of the Dragon, I do not know, but I urge the Explorers to look into the matter of Rodgort. Should I be correct, and if it is a weapon for the Destroyers, its fate should be ascertained, lest it is used against us.
( Stored in the Archives, unless otherwise noted )
- Bjorn of the Brandheart, norn legend
- Wonders of the North, travel journal of the Far Shiverpeaks, by Eshael Solomon
- The Vilgerdsson Travels, by Dufnall Vilgerdsson
- The Vilgerdsdottir Travels, by Finna Vilgerdsdottir
- Grid-Map 23E , by Bofgar Steelquill
- Ebonhawke Battle Records 1250-1260-1270-1280-1290-1300, by *name obscured by the sigil of Ebonhawke*
The Spirit of Fire, song passed down through the Kyesjard homestead, originally attributed to Kitta Kyesdottir, also known as Kitta Flaptongue. Unable to obtain written record, but any skald hailing from Kyesjard will recount the song at the asking.