The Lance of Marduk
Bjorn Torgnür is an avenger of the Raven Queen from the Dwarven city of Dawn in the Dawnforge mountains that form the eastern border of the Nentir Vale. While meditating and gazing at the heart of the DawnForge (a rite of passage among the Dwarves of Dawn), he was pushed into a subterranean river that runs around part of the city and was swept southward, to the swamps of Fustercluck. Before he was pushed, he was granted a vision of himself kneeling before the Raven Queen in her throne room. His vision has not yet come to pass, and he has little insight as to the true meaning of the premonition.
After pulling himself out of the river in the swamps, he was found by a group of followers of the Raven Queen. Knowing that the Dwarves of Dawn were prone to exile those who travelled to the surface world, he had no home to return to and no friends to ask for aid. He joined them and was accepted into their order, becoming an avenger dedicated to the goddess of death. He had been travelling with them for some time before misfortune befell them and all save Bjorn were killed. He began to realize that his life was fated to be one of pain and suffering.
Following his time in Fustercluck, Bjorn travelled west, toward the Vale proper. While travelling, he passed through the town of Valenwold and met a Halfling named Vairis, and the two eventually took to each other. In time Bjorn left Valenwold and headed north and west to the town of Winterhaven, where he had been told that a death cult had been operating.
Association with The Lance of Marduk
The first interaction that Bjorn had with the group that would later become the The Lance of Marduk proved to be a result of unfortunate events. The Lance had picked up Vairis upon leaving Fallcrest, though not on the best of terms. Vairis had been travelling north to meet Bjorn in Winterhaven, but had gotten himself into a bit of trouble in Fallcrest (a direct result of his penchant for theivery). The city officials had allowed his release from prison on the grounds that he assist Aryawwn Thetryn and her party in ending the threat to Winterhaven. During the journey north the group was ambushed by Kobold raiders, and Vairis was surrounded before he could react. He was attacked by several of them and knocked unconscious, but was killed by the pyromancer Mikhail as collateral damage from one of the wizard’s blasts of flame. The Lance sought out Bjorn to tell him of his lover’s death and deliver a note that Vairis had been carrying. Upon learning the news, he attacked the wizard and delivered a brutal strike that ensured that his line would be extinguished entirely.
Once he recovered, Bjorn realized that he had the same objectives as the Lance, and decided to join their effort to eradicate the cult operating in the area. Following Mikhail’s attempt to escape from prison in Winterhaven, which resulted in the death of two of the town’s guards, the wizard was sentenced to death. Relations between Bjorn and the other members of the group were strengthened when Bjorn was requested to carry out the sentence, an offer he was more than willing to accept. In Shadowfell Keep, Bjorn proved to be a valuable ally and a capable combatant, although his dedication to the Raven Queen caused some complications. Most notably when the group discovered the tomb of Ser Keegan, when it became obvious that the knight wished to talk to the group before fighting them, even to avoid combat if possible. Despite this, Bjorn’s aversion to the undead drove him to attack Keegan at every opportunity, and Phalanx was forced to knock him unconscious to avoid a potentially dangerous situation.
Torgnür proved to be a valuable asset to the Lance throughout Shadowfell Keep, and while the entire group called themselves the ‘Lance of Marduk,’ none was more an instrument of wrath embodied than the dwarf. Foes disintegrated under the weight of Boop as they did not before any other weapon.
Under the city of Cadrin, Bjorn’s ties to the Raven Queen were tested and proven. Following a battle with a den of Kenku assassins, the Black Lady spoke to him and, judging him worthy, imbued Boop with a portion of her own power. Under the city, the open dialogue between the two continued, allowing the Raven Queen to learn of the temple of Nerull nearly firsthand.
Deep in the temple, Born and the others encountered Nevah, a deva who had spent centuries beneath the city guarding a dark secret: the dread weapon Lifecutter, a scythe so sharp it could rend the very souls of its victims. When the Lance attempted to delve deeper into the complex, the Raven Queen – informed of the discovery by Bjorn – hijacked the portal the adventurers were using and rerouted them to her own domain. In the Shadowfell, the Raven Queen attempted to acquire the weapon and use it to end her war against the Demon Lord Orcus once and for all, however the goddess Ioun intervened. Torn between the options of handing over the scythe or attempting to destroy it themselves (as Ioun desired), the group exchanged Lifecutter for its replica and deceived the Black Lady, concealing the true artifact as they were ripped from the plane and sent onward to their original destination.
Beneath Cadrin once more, the Lance found themselves at the great doors to the temple sanctuary. They burst through to find transmutation circles meant to kill and reanimate the entire population of the city in the final stages of completion. Wasting no time, they quickly dispatched the cultists carving the circles and were moments from killing their overseer when he activated two smaller circles, summoning a pair of lesser demons. The Lance eliminated these threats as well, only to learn that the true mastermind behind the operation was none other than Vairis of Valenwold, Bjorn’s lover and associate of Aryawwn before his untimely immolation. In the ensuing skirmish, Vairis was critically wounded and attempted to flee back through the portal.
While Aryawwn stopped to aid Trestin, who had been taken prisoner by Vairis’ agents, Bjorn and Phenex pursued Vairis to the surface, where he commandeered a horse and fled from the city and across the plains to the east. Bjorn, blinded by anguish, continued to chase him, and eventually succeeded in catching up by the intervention of Aryawwn, who used her new-found royal status to acquire an airship to assist in the apprehension of Vairis.
On the flight back to Cadrin, the ship was visited by the Raven Queen, furious at the Lance’s earlier deception. Through a mixture of resolve and sheer defiance, the group succeeded in convincing her to allow them to destroy the scythe, and decided to make their attempt at the Dawnforge in the dwarven realms. In the following days, Bjorn attempted to drown the anguish of the events beneath the city in alcohol, regaining purpose only after being visited again by his (none too happy) deity. He left Cadrin well in advance of his compatriots, desiring the opportunity for a few days of travel in solitude.
Upon reaching the outskirts of the Dawn Holds, Bjorn acquired some bulk goods and a wagon and reinstated his merchant’s license, allowing him a reason to enter the xenophobic dwarven realms (accompanied by the remainder of the Lance). As fortune would have it, the Dawn Holds were in the opening stages of a moot to determine their next ruler, after a declaration of impotency directed at Hinger Tinger-Torgen, the sitting king and Bjorn’s cousin. On behalf of Hingur, Birgit Mulonth, and other members of the Moot, Bjorn and the Lance retrieved important documents legitimizing a hardline conservative candidate for the throne, which inadvertently allowed Mulonth to make a bid for the queenship as well.
In the midst of the moot, a delegation from the duergar city of Njarovik arrived in Stahlberg, carrying with them a missive from Bjorn himself promising military aid on behalf of the (now sitting-duck) king. After some debate, Hingur decided to make good on his cousin’s promise and sent a troop of dwarven soldiers to assist the duergar. Shortly after reaching the city, however, the dwarves were betrayed and cut down by the very duergar that requested their aid in the first place. Bjorn attempted to save a small group of the soldiers who had been taken hostage in their barracks, and succeeded in doing so, at the cost of his own life.
Bjorn was romantically involved with the Halfling Vairis before Vairis’ death at the hands of the pyromancer Mikhail. The two met when Bjorn was travelling through the town of Valenwold after the events in Fustercluck, and hit it off quickly. News of Vairis’ death affected Bjorn greatly, and his animosity toward the traitorous wizard was only slaked by his execution. When the spy Ninarin raised Mikhal’s corpse in an attempt to eliminate the Lance, it was only poetic justice that Bjorn, the avenger of the Raven Queen and lover of the man Mikhail had killed, was on hand to kill him again.
Bjorn’s equipment is fairly simple and utilitarian. The most defining pieces of his equipment are a human-sized cloak, which often seems comically large on his stout frame; and a horned helm taken from Kalarel following the battle under Shadowfell Keep. His signature (and in fact, only) weapon is a Dwarven maul, Boop. The hammer is a large stone head on a moderately long wooden haft, with symbols of the Raven Queen carved into the sides of the hammer’s head. Originally a mundane weapon, Boop was blessed by the Raven Queen in the city of Cadrin, empowering the maul further.
Death and Beyond
In the duergar city of Njarovik, Bjorn Torgnür was cut down by a hellhound while attempting to rescue a number of captive dwarven soldiers. He had run ahead of Phalanx and Phenex in an attempt to reach their position, and the exhausted Aryawwn proved to be insufficient backup. By the time the other two arrived, Bjorn had been brought to the brink of death and was unconscious and bleeding heavily. Phenex and Phalanx rushed to help, straight into a storm of fire from the hound. When the flames cleared, Bjorn was beyond help.
In death, Bjorn fulfilled his adolescent vision of kneeling before the throne of the Raven Queen. However, she was not to be finished with him that easily – such is the cost of serving the patron of the dead. He continued to assist the living members of the Lance from beyond death, investigating the reason for Njarovik’s betrayal of Dawn. He discovered that the Jarl of Njarovik had been killed and was being impersonated by a shapeshifter. He relayed this information to Aryawwn Casalee, and (through a series of somewhat chaotic events) the group succeeded in exposing the Jarl as an incubus.