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Duel of Ludgera & Arnwulf

Foundational legend of the people of the Barony of Hohensten, which describes the epic duel for supremacy in the area between the Storm Giant, Ludgera and the Black Dragon Arnwulf.

Summary

Several hundred years before the beginning of the Settlement Era, the area of the Tafelland Valley was a regular migratory route for many groups of peoples, who used to follow the herds of animals back and forth up the valley to the area of the Kreis Plateau, deep in the heart of the Felsspitze Mountains. One of these people was a reclusive Storm Giant, called Ludgera, who took such a fancy to the area of the Valley which would hundreds of years later become the Barony of Hohensten, that she decided to live there permanently. As Ludgera was generally friendly to those that clearly could not, or did not threaten her, she became highly regarded amongst the tribes of nomads that moved up and down the Valley, and the area around where she had settled became a popular stop off point, as Ludgera was happy to protect those that paid homage to her, against the more unscrupulous and ferocious creatures that came down from the mountains.   One such creature that strayed down from one of the deepest, darkest, most remote parts of the Felsspitze Mountains was the the Black Dragon Arnwulf. Arnwulf was a cruel and fierce creature, who cared for nothing except filling his own belly, and he too was attracted to the area of the Tafelland Valley, not just to feed on the herd animals, but also on the nomadic tribes as well.   As Arnwulf’s shadow fell across the Kreis Plateau, right at the end of the Valley, the herds and tribes began to flee before him, desperate to not be devoured or immolated by the beast. As people and animals flooded through the area where Ludgera had settled, the nomadic tribes appealed to the Giantess to help them against the Dragon, lest they all be killed and the Valley turned into a desolate wasteland by Arnwulf’s hunger.   Seeing the unrelenting cruelness and ravenousness of the Dragon, Ludgera took up her club, and went to a high mountain at the edge of her lands, to challenge Arnwulf for supremacy in the area. Thinking that he could easily beat and eat the Giant, Arnwulf accepted, and the two of them became engaged in an exhaustive battle to the death. The duel tore apart the very mountain on which they fought, strewing rocks and rubble across the valley floor beneath. After days of fighting, Ludgera threw an enormous boulder at the Dragon, knocking Arnwulf out of the sky, and she was able to crush his skull with her club. However, Ludgera’s wounds were too great, and she too died upon the mountainside, shortly after Arnwulf had breathed his last.   The nomadic tribes who had watched the duel, ascended the devastated mountain, and with much toil brought Ludgera’s body back down to the Valley floor, and buried her beneath the soil she had loved so much. To honour her memory, many of the tribespeople vowed to settle in the area, to help preserve and protect the land that Ludgera had sacrificed herself for, and these people would become the ancestors of the people of the Barony of Hohensten. From that day forward, the mountain that Ludgera and Arnwulf had battled upon was known by the name of Broken Peak Mount.

Historical Basis

Although there is no definitive proof that the duel ever actually took place, there are a number of pieces of evidence that provide some grounding for the incident having happened.   To begin with, Giants and Dragons are both widely known to exist both on the continent of Turoza, and in the Felsspitze Mountains more specifically. Although they are not seen as regularly now, there are occasions where one or the other have been seen in the Tafelland Valley, with Dragon sightings leading to outright panic, and Giant sightings, especially where curious Giants come down into the valley itself to interact with the local populace, often result in impromptu feasts, providing the Giant doesn’t turn on the people of the Barony for any reason.   In addition, there is a physical site where the duel is said to have taken place, Broken Peak Mount. The topography of the mountain gives it the very distinct impression that it has suffered from an enormous amount of wear and tear, with the southern slope looking as if it has been hit by a huge explosion. This, coupled with the huge spread of debris that covers the floor of the Tafelland Valley for miles, has reinforced the idea that it must be the site of the Duel between the two combatants. Hohenites are even said to have found Black Dragon scales within the spread of debris, which when found are hurriedly taken to a temple of Ludgera to be dedicated to the Giant goddess.

Spread

Due to the overriding influence of the Pantheon of the North in the northern hemisphere of Turoza, the Myth of Ludgera & Arnwulf has not been able to spread particularly widely from beyond the confines of the mid-Tafelland Valley and the Barony of Hohensten. Those that live in the Earldom of Fürstenkreis and the Dukedom of Eisenbrook that border Hohensten are certainly aware of the myth, though in general few of their inhabitants hold the myth to heart as much as the Hohenites do.

Variations & Mutation

In the micro nations of the Mountain Principalities that surround the Barony of Hohensten the myth of Ludgera & Arnwulf has been altered so that Ludgera has been replaced by the deity Skaddi from the Pantheon of the North, who is said to have taken on the form of a Storm Giant to fight Arnwulf. This variation of the myth has clearly grown up to make it more palatable for decedents of the Pantheon of the North, especially as the Pantheon, and its leader the Grand Lector are ever on the watch for the emergence of beliefs and practices they look on as being heretical.

Cultural Reception

For the people of the Barony of Hohensten, the myth of Ludgera and Arnwulf is crucially important to their sense of cohesion, as it marks them out from the other micro nations of the Mountain Principalities that surround them.   For the peoples that live in the bordering nations of the Earldom of Fürstenkreis and the Dukedom of Eisenbrook, the myth is broadly accepted, if not as fact than as an accepted belief, however, this is not the case in the rest of the Mountain Principalities, or the rest of Turoza's north. With the Pantheon of the North being so keen to assert its supremacy in the region, belief in the verisimilitude of the myth is enough to be treated, in more pious circles, as a dangerous outsider.

In Art

Throughout the Barony of Hohensten there are numerous depictions of the Giantess Ludgera, who is often depicted in the form of statues that decorate village and town shrines to her across the Tafelland Valley. The most famous depiction of the myth is at the Temple of Ludgera in the baronial capital of Kleinhaupt. Here there is a monumental statue of Ludgera fighting Arnwulf within the temple itself. In the statue, Ludgera is represented grasping the neck of the Dragon Arnwulf, which sprouts down from the ceiling, all the while sheltering some smaller, allegorical humanoid figures behind her.   Outside of the Barony of Hohensten there are few representations of the myth, or of Ludgera in general, as she is not widely recognised as a deity beyond the confines of the Tafelland Valley and the Barony of Hohensten.

Date of Setting
-372N.E.
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Cover image: by Chris Pyrah

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