The tale of Prince Halmadir.
Once upon a time, in the land of Sanctuary there was a elven prince. Like all other elves he was handsome, lithe, a expert with a bow and quite arrogant towards the mortal races. While the other elves kept their distance from the mortal races, preferring to stay in their woodland realms, Halmadir was the more adventurous sort. As a young elf he went out and had many adventures alongside two of his mortal friends. One was Tungdil, a gnome from the Mushroom Leapers, and Thorgal the human wizard.
The three were best friends and complimented each other perfectly. Thorgal was the mind, his level head and knowledge of the arcane saved the trio from numerous threats. Halmadir was the mouth, his smooth tongue talked them out of as many threats and gained them entry into hideouts. Tungdil was the heart, his down to earth spirit and honesty and friendship kept the friends together battle after battle, both against enemies and each other when Halmadir had seduced another married wife and the party had to flee the village during the night, chased by a angry mob.
Halmadir and his friends had many adventures in Sanctuary. They stopped a band of Goblin thieves from setting up shop, fought off a Orcish warband, played a card game with a Marsh prince, convinced a giant to become the protector of a human village and so many more.
But as Halmadir's father had warned him, mortals were not the best of playmates for sooner or later, they had to grow up. Thorgal fell in love with elven Woodland bard named Kalestria, whom he met on one of Halmadir's birthday parties, as she was singing about their adventures. They were seen wed, had a child and settled down in the elven village of Widegrove. Despite the fact he was a human, the elves did not mind the more magicly inclined humans and even the younger elves who had seen more summers than the human often wend to him for advice as Kalestria sang in the background.
Tungdil also found love when the trio on their last adventure found a dwarven female being assaulted by bandits (or rather found the dwarf beating seven shades of purple out of the bandit) and like Thorgal wed her. In time he became mayor of the Mushroom Leapers and had children and grandchildren.
Both Thorgal and Tungdil were busy with their charges as advisors and parents so it was often that Halmadir would only see them once a year for his birthday.
"We're getting a bit old for this adventuring aren't we?" Thorgal said over a glass of wine.
"Aye." Tungdil admitted." Feelin' the ache in my bones every passing day now. It was time we were done with that adventurous crap."
But Halmadir however, did not move on with his life. As a prince he had many duties but he barely bothered with them. He still had adventures by himself, often leaving the forest for many months, but it was nothing like the old days. He often went to visit his old friends and had nice chats with them but when he saw them with their wives or children, a cold, green jealously fell over the young elf.
Wanting to feel the same love his friends had, the prince went out into the world and began to woo more women than before. It was around that time he sired many bastard children. Several humans, gnomes, orc desert maidens and even troll serpent charmers claim to have descended from the prince.
But eventually even Halmadir began to grow up and much to his father's delight, began doing his duty as grand protector of Sanctuary and the surrounding woodland realms.
Our tale begins in earnest on the prince's 874th birthday. Like other birthdays it was celebrated with a hunt and once more the three friends met and went to hunt stag like the good old days.
However that year there was scarcely any game and when they did finally find a stag, it was a very sickly one with greened fur and twisted antlers. Even when cooked it's meat smelled awfull and none dared to eat it, not even Tungdil.
As they ate their rations, they were visited by a elven woman. However this one was not as kind as Kalestria or sang them any songs. This was a dark forest witch, a evil hermit who lived in the darker reaches of the woods who dined on lost human children. Both Tungdil and Thorgal wanted her to leave but Halmadir loved all of his people, even those as dark as the witch.
"Please come dine with us, my lady." he said sweetly." We have plenty of rations and stories to share around this campfire"
"Oh thank you, your majesty." she bowed before she took her seat at the campfire and ate from their food." I have not eaten for many days."
"Ran out gingerbread to lure more children?" Tungdil growled.
The witch laughed." No, my dear gnome. I only eat children once in a while to replenish my magic." she gave the gnome a wink." I need normal food as well to survive. Sadly there is no much down south."
"How so?" Thorgal inquired.
"A terrible curse is haunting the land." she explained." It causes the trees to wither, animals to flee and gives even my kind terrible dreams."
"What kind of curse?" the prince asked.
The witch merely gave him a knowing smile and changed the subject to something more mundane.
As the night wore on, the witch went to leave but offered something in return for her host's kindness.
"I will read your futures out to you. Merely give me your hand and I will take only a bit of blood out of you with a knife of your choosing."
Tungdil immediately refused." I want no part of blood magic and if either of you are smart, neither should you. Come get me when this is over." And the gnome left.
"I will stay with you, my friend." Thorgal put his hand on Halmadir' shoulder." Were it not for you, I would have never met my wife and I love you as much I would a brother of my own blood." He pulled the prince in closer." And I would like to observe her spell so I could share my findings with my peers."
Halmadir smiled and excused for Tungdil." Forgive my friend, he is married to a dwarf you see and her stubbornness must've rubbed off on her like a bad fungus."
It is true gnomes are cousins of the dwarves and their stubbornness does arise from time to time. Later it would be said that Tungdil was the wisest of the three for the future was not as bright for either the prince or the wizard.
Halmadir went first. He took out one of his arrows and took a bit of blood from his fingers and gave it to the witch. She drank it and closed her eyes.
"I see many things in your future, your majesty." she said.
"Will I be king? As respected as my father?" asked the prince.
"King you will be and your name will be remembered across all of Alundria as that of a great hero. But it will be at a terrible cost and your reign will end at the hands of one of your own blood."
Halmadir blinked confused." How do you mean?"
The witch held up her hand." My magic has spoken, there is no more to tell."
Now the wizard stepped up. He offered his own blood with his hunting knife.
He keenly observed the ritual as the witch made her prophecy.
"Your future is short, wizard. I see not much but I can tell you from your line will come a half-elf of great magical power who can either rebuild the world...or burn it to a crisp." The last she added with a cackle.
The witch made her goodbye's and left. The two friends looked at each other and laughed the dark future away and went off to get their friend.
The party made their way back to the Palace the next day.
Dark Garden was a great elven hall that housed the elven monarchy. It was a majestic palace made out of wood and magic, carefully constructed over a span of hundreds of years.
It was shaped with majestic curved arches and the feeling when one entered the palace was that of peace and safety.
The court cheered at the return of their prince and the old king held his son while both Thorgal and Tungdil went back to their spouses. Despite his father's praises for all Halmadir had done to protect the realm that year, the prince grew evermore jealous at his friends and quickly scanned the palace.
His eyes fell on a human woman, a Cyclops Priestess who was send to the party as a envoy along with some swordsmen by King Leopold of Gryphons Crown. She was beautiful. Long auburn hair in a bun, eyes as blue as the sky, her robe that matched her figure and her hips were very wide.
His father suggested Halmadir would meet some of the elven princesses from other parts of the realm but the prince muttered some excuse and immediately went to meet with the human.
"Greetings, my name is Sister Adellia." she bowed.
"Please do not bow, my fair lady." Halmadir ushered her to stand.
She blinked." I am sorry, your majesty. I assumed it was the custom."
"It is...but not for beautiful women such as yourself." He gave her w wolfish grin which reddened her cheeks.
For much of the party, Halmadir spend his time with her as he seduced her with his wit, looks and clever tongue. At one time Thorgal came to him.
"My friend, my wards have picked up something at Smithswell, I must return home with Kalestria. It is probably nothing serious but Kalestria's peer are summoning both her and me."
A true friend would've gone with him to make sure he was alright but Halmadir did not." Alright, go off then." he said and returned his attention to Adellia.
Thorgal merely shook his head with amusement and left the hall with Kalestria.
After he finished dancing with the priestess, Halmadir was filling in some wine for both of them when one of the guard came. He was half-elven and most importantly, one of Halmadir's bastard children. A sense of dread fell over the prince, if the priestess knew this man was his son it could ruin his chances.
"Your majesty." the guard said." One of the eagle scouts returned with a urgent report."
"I will deal with it later." Halmadir waved him off." You may go, captain."
The guard raised a brow." Your majesty, it is quite -"
"You may go, captain." Halmadir added with stress and went to Adellia with a glass of wine for both.
It was later in the evening when Halmadir had won the chase and consummated the priestesses' love on his father's bed. He had slept with many human women before and this one was no different. The jealousy he felt earlier had ebbed away as he held the priestess in his arms. He knew it was temporary but for now he was sated. The next time his father would suggest marriage he would remember this insult.
As she slept, he quickly dressed and went outside for a walk. Outside he found Tungdil still up despite the fact the moon was high in the sky. The gnome was speaking to one of his own but stopped when the prince arrived.
"Thank the wilds you are here!" Tungdil exclaimed." My scouts found Immortals down south near Smithswell!"
"Immortals?" Halmadir blinked." What are they doing here this far south?"
The gnome shrugged." I don't know but if they are close to Smithswell, it cant be any good. I was about to send word to my village and send my granddaughter Mara to seek help from the dwarves up north."
The prince laughed." A handful of undead are hardly worthy of any attention let alone asking the dwarves for help. I have men stationed in Winter Garden, they can handle it. I'll deal with it first thing in the morning."
Once more the stubbornness of the dwarves prevailed. As the prince left, Tungdil took his messenger by the shoulder and whispered." Go to the captain of the guard and tell him his father, the prince, needs a escort for my granddaughter to Coolcraig. Quickly now!"
The messenger nodded and ran for the captain. When the messenger heard the news, he immediately send some runners along with the young Mara of the Mushroom Leapers north.
After the king heard about the insult committed on his bed, he called the prince in private. The old king was a kind ruler, to kind one would say, and he treasured his son above all else.
"Son, I know you are reluctant to marry but for the love of the wilds do not perpetrate any more transgressions like this! She is a emissary of the human king, everything you do reflects on us. This can't be like the other bastards I have taken into my household. I can't keep protecting you."
This angered the young prince." I am of age father, and I am your son. I can do whatever I like."
"Not while I am still king and not while you are under my roof, boy!" the king replied harshly.
Halmadir stomped his foot on the ground and walked out of the room.
He spoke with Adellia in private and said harsh things about his father, his friends and his station as prince.
"I just want to be free, do whatever I like. I am the prince!" he exclaimed.
Adellia smiled." Halmadir, it is normal to feel this way but you are now of age to take responsibility for your actions."
The prince scoffed." You sound like my father now."
In reply the priestess kissed the prince deeply and guided him to her bed." I shall have to entice you then" she added with a smirk.
The prince eagerly agreed.
However it was all to late.
That night the prince dreamed of death. A elven corpse waddled over the corpses of the dead and the dying. Rotting ents smashed elven fighters to mush as the immortals ate the corpses. The Immortal waddled towards a mana spring and knelt down. Halmadir could hear it's thoughts, much like a hivemind.
"Drink." the voices said." Drink and bring death to the world."
The elven dead obeyed and drank from the mana pool. The moment his rotting hand touched the water, it dissipated. The mana went down his throat as a bright light went up from the well into the night sky. The immortal cried out as he transformed. The fire inside burned as it changed him, the mana filling him with divine painfull purpose.
When the immortal opened his eyes, he knew his new role. He was a Nightmare Lord and he would shower fear into the world.
Halmadir sat up straight which awoke his lover. Before she could speak, a bright flash lit up the night sky as a pillar of blue light went skyward.
The elven prince went pale when he realized where the light came from. Smithswell, it had fallen.
His first thought went to his people. He immediately got dressed, Adellia assisting him, and ran for the Eagle Scouts. He rallied the Woodland realms to go to war. Every Archer, every Woodland assassin, every Tree friend had to be mobilised.
As Adellia assisted him with his armour, a thought went to him. His friend Thorgall went back home to Widegrove, which was in spitting distance of the now Blighted well!
With his father's blessing, the Prince led a army of elves and a handful of gnomes and humans towards the south with Adellia and Tungdil at his side. For three days and nights they marched with barely a few hours of rest. The more south they marched the worse the trees were. The leaves had fallen despite it being summer, the woods were deathly silent, not a single squirrel stirred. It was not long before the first dead appeared. The elven dead were still as nimble in the woods as their living counterparts were and already the Woodland assassins were fighting a war in the treetops. The gnomes assisted them but were more keen to fight the human undead alongside their living peers on the ground, who proved to more easier sport despite their huge numbers.
Halmadir realized what a mistake he had made for not doing his duty. As he raised his bow and called for his archers to knock their arrows, he knew he had to double his efforts to make up for his mistakes.
Under his command, the archers found their mark and dozens of the dead fell never to rise again. Adellia had blessed the men under his charge and for every elf that fell to defend the wilds, they did not rise.
They fought for many days until they reached the besieged town of Widegrove.
A massive horde was stood in front of the town and guessing by the state of the village and the fact only one Ent and a handful of elven defenders were left, it stood no chance to survive.
The prince called for the beacon of life to order the survivors to join them as he ran off to find his friend.
He saw from the fact that none of the dead moved that Thorgal's magic still lasted. With a cry he urged the elven host to help the survivors and looked for Thorgal.
The prince, Tungdil and Adellia found the wizard's place to be trashed. The garden was torn apart as if a massive battle took place, the laboratory was destroyed and the swing set outside was burning. Halmadir went inside to find a horrible sight.
Thorgal was on the ground, bleeding, as he held out his hand towards Kalestria. Tungdil was to ask what happened when Halmadir pointed to the former elven bard. She had joined the ranks of the dead and worse, was struggling to get to her and Thorgal' son who was screaming behind the large chair.
Thorgal' spell was the only thing keeping her from killing him and their son. The glowing blue eyes he was famous for having was slowly dimming. He was dying.
Halmadir did his duty as a prince and a friend and put a arrow in Kalestria' skull and picked up the boy.
Adellia rushed to Thorgal but saw from the stab wound in his belly he would not last.
"The witch was right...." Thorgal sighed." There is no future for me..."
Halmadir held his friend's hand." No, you will life my friend."
"It's to late, now go my prince..." with that the human wizard was gone.
It took Halmadir every vibre of his being not to cry as he held Tungdil back from charging outside to avenge his friend. When Adellia was able to bless Thorgal so he would not rise as one of the dead,
Thorgal's death had killed Halmadir as well that day. The boy was gone, Prince Halmadir was gone. He was now King Halmadir on whose crown was rested on a concerned brow.
He eventually won the war thanks to King Freya, who was warned by Mara of the Mushroom Leapers, and King Leopold who was on his part persuaded by the Holy Church when one of their own had powerfull connections to the elven monarchy.
Prince Halmadir was fighting a losing battle, barely able to give his people time to hold off the dead so the villagers could run to safety. But after Buffs Wood that all changed. Together with the dwarves and humans the elves took back their forests and cleansed it with magic, steel and elven fury.
As the prince himself once said "Never anger a elf or your body will hang from the tallest tree with your skin missing". Needless to say a lot of dead, including the Nightmare Lord, ended up swinging from the treetops.
In the following years when the old king had passed away, Halmadir ruled Sanctuary as benevolently as his father had. He never married but he had one official mistress in his early years, a human priestess with whom he had three more bastard children of which the eldest was next in line to the throne (much to the anger of the guard captain). The day she died of old age was one of the saddest days of Halmadir's life, and another reason why his father was so concerned about his son. Tungdil retired as mayor in favour of his granddaughter who brought Gnomes and Dwarves closer together as both Mayor of the Mushroom Leapers and a lady of House Axehamerer.
Thorgal and Kalestria' son would go on and become a High elf, his human father and mother's elven magic making him one of the most powerful spellcasters in Alundrian history. In time he became one of King Halmadir's court advisors on all things arcane. But the events of that day left a scar on the half-elf' soul, one that could turn any man into a dangerous individual, the magic making him even more dangerous.
And thus ends our tale of Prince Halmadir.
The prophecy of the witch would come true but that is a story for another time.