The Razor's Edge
Crom is a large, extremely muscular male with a broad, square face. He usually has a neutral expression, though his eyes convey great depth that belies his flat affect. His strongest reaction to most things that amuse, puzzle, or annoy him is a simple raising of a single eyebrow. If in a position required of an agreement, he will most often slightly tilt his head. When Crom does show emotion, it’s usually very intense, whether it’s a withering glare or a wide grin.
Crom wears simple hide and fur armor, but with his physique they appear to only cover the important areas, while still somehow offering protection. He carries a large club in lieu of steel or a sword and carries a large heavy wooden shield made of darkwood normally strapped to his back.
Two traits are most prominent in Crom’s character.
The first is his independence of thought. Crom is not one to accept circumstances without question or to submit to others. It was this quality that led him to his standing as High King of the Gatekeepers. Taken slave for a short time, he gained such a taste for freedom that he would unhesitatingly die rather than submit to another being again. His thirst for freedom was such that Crom united the small Tribes in the area to survive the wild.
The second trait that defines Crom is his altruism. Though he will not meekly submit to domination, he will dedicate himself to a higher cause. His first such cause was refusing to attack helpless denizens of the woods as other barbaric Tribes did. When Crom realized these were not a benevolent actions he devoted himself to curbing as much unnecessary strife excesses as he could. This was a particularly painful time for Crom, committing atrocities in the name of a better life but knowing that many more pains would be endured without a change, would only make matters worse.
Crom’s altruism has put him in difficult places from time to time. Though he felt a duty to unite his people, he also struggled with some actions that caused harm to those around him, including his brother. He resolved this conflict by taking the risk of forever imprisoning himself in hopes to completely seal off the Changegate. This sacrifice secluded him from the rest of the world for nearly a century, alone.
Though Crom is laconic and typically restrained in his expression of emotion (traits mostly gained with an eternity of pain and endurance alone), he is in fact a very passionate man, a living example of the old adage that “still waters run deep.” He often communicates his feelings with his physical presence as much as his speech and can often intimidate people with nothing more than a glare and a raised eyebrow.
“Another day, walking in circles. Haunted by memories, I push on this wheel.”
—Crom, High Chief of The Gatekeepers
A strong stoic druid of an ancient order. Little is known about this silent behemoth of a man, but that is not because of a lack of actions. A few breathings souls can say they have experienced more or sacrificed as much as Crom himself.
Over a hundred years ago, the area that is now Valkurl was once covered in large trees. The Asnath Copse, Ironwood, as well as both Dapplewood Forests were all one large woodland region known simply to those who lived there, as home.
Man lived more peacefully with nature in the years of old, however there was still occasional strife within the two. The people came together looking for leadership to lead the path and provide protection from outside tribes and beasts when it was needed. The Tribe looked to Old Tree Genesis. Genesis was a sentient tree, believed to be creator of the woodlands. He was wise and well versed with the laws of nature. But unfortunately, this knowledge came at a a steep disconnect to the ways and feelings of man. Nature is an unforgiving mistress, and the Tribe wanted someone closer to the emotions of man to guide and better prepare them for growth. They needed a strong, younger, warrior to aid in their protection and fulfill their desires. That man was Crom.
Only 20 years of age, Crom knew a lot about the world around him. Survival, animal patterns, husbandry, botany, magic, and battle. Together, with the knowledge of Genesis and the might of Crom, they formed a diarchy and Crom was titled High Chief.
“Crush your enemies,
See them driven before you,
And hear the lamentation of the women!"
The stoic nature of Crom was more lacking during this time. Much was enjoyed during his time of leadership. Sadly, it would not last but four years. An ancient relic known as the Changegate started pulsating with magic. Unaware of what this ring was before it was too late, the stone portal opened and through it came unnatural horrors. A gateway to another place of evil, death, and abominations swept out and killed those within the his protection. The Tribe was able to fight them back and close the gate with the assistance of a number of enemy tribes, but only after many lives were lost.
After the new enemy, a truce of the Tribes were made. Crom’s remaining clan would not be attacked, but would now be tasked to secure the gate from further attacks. The Tribe became known as The Gatekeepers. Attempts to destroy the Changegate failed and so a plan was laid out to have guards and magic seals placed on it. The Gatekeepers rotated in teams of 9 taking watch. Not eight months passed since the first wave, when the seals failed and another wave came to massacre the watch team. Again, Crom led his Tribe to victory and push the invaders back and sealed the gate. This time, Crom lost his younger brother and took the death personally. Feeling responsible the High Chief laid out a new plan to defend the gate.
Symbol of the Gatekeeper Tribe. Two snakes securing the Changegate.
- Also, Crom’s Divine Focus.
Seals were placed again, but this time attached to a device which became known as, The Wheel of Pain. This wooded structure would have to be rotated many times to give the warding seals a fresh charge; however this totaled about 10 hours a day.
The Gatekeepers performed a ritual which amassed a large magical dome around the Changegate, providing all nourishments to those who were inside. The dome also provided protection from outside elements, would allow nothing to pass, and dramatically slowed down the aging process of those inside. After deliberate delegations, it was finally decided by Genesis and Crom, that the only way to protect the Tribe was if Crom and Crom alone entered and carried out the task.
About 10 hours a day, Crom pushed on the wheel. Tiring, but not falling, constantly keeping the seals active and strong. Many times the gate would hum and vibrate with energy, and whatever was being done, Crom would run and push the wheel faster.
The planned worked flawlessly for nearly a century when a sudden flash of a bursting light as bright of the sun blinded Crom and him flying back into the dome. Trying to regain his stance, Crom felt the world crumble onto him, the pressure overwhelming, he succumbed and blacked out. Waking up sometime after, the Changegate was gone as well as the protective dome. Terrified he ran back to his grove and the Tribe was gone, except Old Tree. Crom demanded answers and the whereabouts of the Gatekeeps, but Genesis did not respond. Either Old Tree decided not to or he was no longer able to, but no plead was answered.
Crom had to readjust to eating, hunting, drinking, and to just plain live again. All the while searching for signs of his old Tribe and the Changegate, but never to any avail.
That is, until he saw a fiery winged creature killing animals in the area…
Sidenote: Even though it’s unlikely anyone knows of Crom’s history, there are Barbarian tribes and Druid circles that worship Crom as a god of nature and protection today. He is revered and portrayed as a grim, gloomy, and unforgiving deity because of an alleged past tribulations so which man doesn’t have to endure. He represents the harshness and the unbiased prejudice of nature. Crom is depicted to value courage, tenacity and self-sacrifice in mortals.
The God Crom’s symbol: