Istivin : City of Shadows.
Horn Of Valhalla
“The last of our band drew back against the ruined pillar. The
Ghouls closed in, gurgling their odd cackiling chant, their bloated
priest-king urging them on from a safe distance. With bloodstained hands and what
felt like my final breath, I sounded the trusty horn of my father. As
I crumpled to my knees, I saw before me the misty shapes of warriors
of the old clans, formed up in ranks, and I would swear my father
was among them. With a bestial roar, the berserkers lept into the
fray, the ghouls cut down like wheat before them.
“They saved us all, child. And we live in honor, that one day we
may join them.”
—Toli Lastsinger, Skald of Jol
Since the first warrior picked up sword and shield, the horn
has been the traditional herald of his coming. Whether
sounding the hunt or rallying soldiers in the thick of
battle, the horn holds a special place in heroic epics, and no
horn is more legendary than the horn of Valhalla.
A horn of Valhalla can be wood or metal, but is most
commonly a hollowed-out animal horn banded in metal. The
more powerful the horn, the stronger the bands must be to
survive its sounding. When the horn is sounded, it summons
a band of fierce barbarians.
Most horns of Valhalla are named for great warriors,
mighty lords, and sites of epic battles. Usually this is done
posthumously, though occasionally a horn is crafted in honor
of a still-living hero or ruler.The barbarians
are literally dead warriors pulled from their
reward in Valhalla; in almost all respects they appear quite
alive, and may resemble specific historical warriors from the
region of the horn’s origin. In such cases, a summoned warrior
might recognize an old shield-brother, but memories from the
warrior’s past life remain hazy and unreliable. The warriors of
a horn of Valhalla do not dwell on the past, instead speaking of
the glories and eternal rewards of warriors who dive into the
thick of battle and live forever in the feasthalls of Valhalla.
A typical horn of Valhalla is 18 inches long and carved from a
hollowed-out bull’s horn. Two broad metal bands encircle it, one
near the bell and one at the mouthpiece. They may be crafted
from any horn of 9 inches or longer, including those from rams,
dragons, and even fiends.
Some horns of Valhalla, particularly the
bronze and iron varieties, have between 3 and 5 finger-holes and
play a wider range of notes. Most are blown from the narrow end,
but the largest are played from a hole cut into the side. Horns are
often decorated with carvings or inlay depicting the deeds and
name of a great hero, and almost never painted.