From the personal files of emissary Corwin ‘ja Salton
These were the first words spoken by the skald of the Frozen Flames to emissary Corwin ‘ja Salton upon his arrival at the Iron Forge Gates.
O! emissary of a far-off king. We welcome you with the flame and the fist and the axe. We welcome you from across the sheets of ice. We welcome you here before these thousand-year gates of iron, which were handed down to our forefathers by Goliat, the Smelter. May the driven snow and the north winds hasten you back to whatever fat, plentiful lands you come from.
Rest assured your families will be safe from the slaughter, your homes from the torch, and your riches from plunder — so long as you stay far away from ours.
Begone — back to your soft and fruited plains. Begone — take your stinking perfumes with you. Begone — and speak no more of your fake and profane gods, for we worship the hard, the cruel, the fair gods of ice and rock and flame.
Yet think not that we are poor hosts. Though you are not a friend, we gladly send you away with these gifts: We shall not bind you in cold iron chains. We shall not sacrifice you upon the pyre to the long night. We shall not dice and serve you to our dogs, that they might thrive during the months of hoary death.
Thank us for these gifts. Thank us with those golden trinkets you wear so gaudily. Thank us with your voices, croaking forth from chapped lips.
And before you go, join us as we sing the glories of King Magdus, the Elected and Feared. He who won the hearts and fists of the twenty tribes. He who kindled the flame of the long night. He who lights the wombs of the twenty queens. He who strikes fair death. He who shares fairly won gold. Judge of all acts and banisher of the cold. Bow down before him and kiss his mud-caked boots, which have known the miles of all the icebound lands. King of the Frozen Flames!
Although ‘ja Salton and two attendants were allowed to depart unharmed, their accompanying battalion was chained, living, to the boulders that line the pass. The soldiers froze to death that night. The emissary and his companions recount spending those dark hours in a well-heated lodge of hide and timber, drinking from horns, eating a spicy stew, and pretending not to hear the screams.