Berserk is Vulcan Studios’ strategic blockchain trading card game, set in the same ancient Greco-Roman world as VulcanVerse. In canon, Berserk is the game that the people of VulcanVerse play in taverns and inns, its themes recalling ancient battles and events from years past. The 4th season of Berserk is upon us, named The Winds of War, season 4 recalls the memory of the deadly Amazon Wars in VulcanVerse’s Boreas.
An Introduction to Winds of War
Some stories stand the test of time and come to us both orally, through folk memory, or from the pages of ancient texts. Those of us lucky enough to discover them, or at least the few among us who care enough for the history of a place and the lineage of its people, learn fascinating facts and secrets of bygone times. One such tale tells of ancient war high in the Mountains of Boreas, a harsh landscape of craggy peaks and plateaus, where pine forests met the barren steppe, where frozen waterfalls hung like magnificent white marble columns, almost reminiscent of the famous portico of the Vulcan temple in the central city of VulcanVerse.
Friends And Enemies, Boreas Had It All
Boreas of old was not for the faint hearted. Here, bands of roaming Amazons, a ruthless female warrior race native to the Desert of Notus but nomadic in nature, would track migrating herds. They would also, whenever the fancy took them, take slaves – usually of the male or bestial kind. Hidden in mountain passes and sacred grottos and caves were nymphs; Oreads – who would only be seen if they wished a traveler to see them. Living high up in a near impenetrable fortress between two of the most prominent landmark mountains, Mount Othri and Mount Helikon, lived the Halizons, at one time said to be one with the Amazons but later their sworn enemy. There were many other inhabitants of Boreas in these far off times. Minotaurs, Smilodons, Harpies. The peaceful Sarpedons, the Nyx worshiping xenophobic Gargareans, the bovine Bosgyns. And, living in caves and tunnels just below the surface and in the cavernous hollows among the roots of mountains were the Kobaloi. These were grotesque goblin-like creatures, capable of shapeshifting, mischievous, cunning and known as master thieves.
Our story takes us to a time when the Amazons were led by Queen Xanthe, an indomitable warrior queen held in the highest regard by her subjects and greatly feared by her enemies – of which there were many. The Amazons, although nomadic, would set up camps and timber fortifications. Year on year they would return to the same locations as they tracked herds of mammoths and wild cattle on their migration route. Although the Amazons were feared by the people of Boreas’ towns and villages, they were often the least of concern when compared to the other beasts and creatures who cared little for the structured societies and feelings of humans. And, the people of Boreas reasoned that if they stayed within the walls of their towns they had little reason to cross the path of the tribe and risk being taken as a slave. They also knew that this same certainty did not exist with the non-human creatures of Boreas, those that, as luck would have it, the Amazons hunted for food and for sport. So maligned (and not without reason) were many of the beasts of Boreas – and those that showed sympathy towards what they considered the unjust plight of these often dangerous creatures that the intelligent among them formed a coalition.
The Horned Lodge
The Horned Lodge was an often uneasy coalition between beasts, hybrids and humans of a more criminal nature, outcasts and those lacking a moral code. To Boreas’ townsfolk, often any dangerous creature or unsavory character was thought of as belonging to The Horned Lodge, even if it wasn’t necessarily the case. The Horned Lodge is passed down as a mystery; not much is known of its origins, size, membership and in some cases its true goals, but it is known that those affiliated to the Lodge regularly raided and attacked peaceful people and creatures throughout the Mountains of Boreas at the time of Amazon Queen Xanthe’s reign.
The Periphery of Society
The Horned Lodge were believed to reside away from areas of civilization, most often thought to meet in deep pine forests, caves and mountain valleys, planning their own brand of warfare. No known location of any certainty has been passed down through history to us, such was the peripheral position of the unsavory characters making up the Lodge. That they “planned” was possibly a human invention – there’s no doubt that the Kobaloi and human outcasts or criminals were capable of planning, but Harpies were often instinct driven, Cyclops weren’t ones for reasoning and the intelligence of Minotaurs varied greatly. Where the cleverest were capable of plotting and ambush, some were simply brutes of immense power with little thought other than anger at where their next meal may come from.
Our story focuses on a time when the Kobaloi, known for being impudent mischievous thieves, rose to prominence among The Horned Lodge, chiefly through the cunning and ingenuity of one known as Tomyios the Unsurpassed. Tomyios was capable of great trickery, renowned among not just the Kobaloi but throughout Boreas as a hero to his fellow goblin and an enemy to all that is good. Standing with Tomyios were a horde of Kobaloi, the worst of the worst. Lewd, grotesque and each selfish to the point that they’d steal from each other in an instant if it were not for fear of Tomyios, the Kobaloi had at this time become maligned for their particular brand of mischief, directed by Tomyios and very much a problem to all mortals of Boreas.
It was said that the Kobaloi at this time “held more wealth in their caverns than Vulcan’s treasury in Vulcan City” – and not without reason; the Kobalos is capable of shapeshifting and was able to find its way into the home of many a being, lightening the coin purses of merchants and paupers alike. Tomyios’ reign did not stop at thievery and mischief however. Among the Kobaloi loyal to him were warriors and, if the texts are correct, a shaman.
The Winds of War
In general, the Amazons did not concern themselves with tales of the Horned Lodge; they lived by their own rules, following their time honored traditions – yes, they took male slaves but this was generally a means to an end, for how else would the next generation of Amazons be born? This was soon to change. The Amazons were despised by those of the Horned Lodge, principally because they were often hunted by Amazonian warriors, but also because they lived and died abiding by their strict code of honor, something that even the more organized denizens of the Horned Lodge were not capable of. Occasional skirmishes between Kobaloi and Amazons began when the Kobaloi of the Lodge encroached on the land of the Amazons, raising tensions, but this was nothing compared to what was to come. A band of Kobaloi snuck into an Amazon camp under the cloak of night while the majority of the warrior women were taking part in an evening hunting party.
It is said that the Kobaloi pillaged the camp, toppling a torch and setting alight a yurt and unwittingly causing the deaths of an Amazonian elder who was burned to death in the fire and of a child, who in an attempt to escape the fire fell from a clifftop palisade to her death. For Queen Xanthe and the Amazons, there was only one response to this heinous crime. All out war against the Kobaloi and anyone thought to belong to the Horned Lodge.
Battles and Alliances
The touchpaper had been lit and within days the Winds of War swept across Boreas as companies of Amazons clashed with the Horned Lodge in battles that inevitably involved the majority of the inhabitants of Boreas, allies from the neighboring quadrants and even the usually neutral Vulcan City itself. Notable battles were won by Aella, Queen Xanthe’s trusted advisor and formidable warrior such as the battle at a narrow pass below the Hippogriff’s Eyrie near the Sacred Way, that was called from that day on Aella’s Pass. Queen Xanthe alongside Aella and her trusted quartermaster Eriboa, were said to have tracked the locations of the Horned Lodge through scouts and infiltrated the group, but history tells us little more than this. The Horned Lodge claimed many victories of their own and, if history is to be believed, found allies among the intolerant Gargareans – though the exchange of silver and gold was said to have been tantamount to a tentative alliance there.
The Icy Winds of War Blew
Several years of bloodshed followed, there was no peace, no treaty – the Amazons, forever vengeful, would not allow it, the Horned Lodge, underhanded, always moving in the shadows, would never entertain it – it was simply not in their nature. The snow was all too often colored crimson, new snowfall on blood but for this to be despoiled, snow on blood, blood on snow, day followed by week followed by month followed by year. So perpetual was war in those times that the ordinary men and women forgot what peace felt like, children were born knowing only war, the sounding of horns warning of raids from the Horned Lodge, the thundering of hooves at dawn as the beautifully fierce Amazonian hippeis, warriors on horseback, rode past town palisades on a raid.
Ending the War
It is written that the Amazons sought Tomyios, that war would end when they had him, or, more correctly his severed head impaled on a doru – a long spear – at the entrance to the rebuilt camp that he and his band had burned down. It is not known for certain whether Tomyios was caught – sources friendly to the Amazons announce that he was found in a cave, brutalized by Asteria, an Amazon Chieftess and her company, his feet bound, Tomyios was said to have been dragged by horse through the worst of Boreas’ terrain before his head was removed and what remained of his battered body was tossed into the Great Sinkhole. In contrast, whispers among those that venerated Tomyios and his band of Kobaloi maintained that he lived on, simply shapeshifting to avoid the hunting parties and continuing his mischief and trickery from bases in the tunnels and caves of Boreas – as he did before the Horned Lodge. Maybe the truth will never be known, but the winds of war were said to have slowly died down, warriors on both sides decimated, the population of Boreas more than halved.
Aftermath of the Winds of War
Even today, on a slight thaw, the bodies of warriors from both sides can be found, frozen in time, faces distorted in their death glare, terrible reminders of when Boreas saw its most deadly war.
Today, you can relive the Amazon Wars through the popular card game, as played in taverns and inns throughout VulcanVerse – Berserk Season 4, the Winds of War, allows you to take part in these ancient battles – who will you side with – the Amazon warriors? The Horned Lodge? Take your place among the honored warriors of old and fight for control of the Mountains of Boreas!