The Adventurer's Guild
Mouthpiece of the Living Runes
Gunrud appears as an absolutely decrepit old crone with withered skin and sunken bones. She has lost all of her teeth and hair, and her white eyes stare blindly at the world. She can still see, however, though few mortals would recognize her vision.
She has long since renounced her remaining humanity and now serves only as a mouthpiece for the Living Runes. She will continue to play her part until the story concludes and Ragnarok claims them all.
Some claim that Gunrud Stigandsdottir has been alive for one hundred and fifty years. Of course, they are wrong. She is much, much older. Centuries ago, Gunrud was a fair and beautiful maiden. Her flowing blond hair sparkled like sunlight on the water and her eyes gleamed as blue as the summer sky. Everyone she met became instantly enchanted with her. Every woman wanted to be her friend and every man wanted be her husband. She was amused and a little embarrassed by the attention she drew, and never took it seriously. That is, until she met a spirited young artist named Fornuft. It was love at first sight for both of them, and their affection became as passionate as it was unwavering. In no time, Fornuft’s paintings focused on Gunrud, the centre of his world. He drew his inspiration from her, and she fuelled him to new heights of creativity.
In their time together, they had only one argument. Gunrud decided that she did not deserve such regard and that Fornuft would do better painting something else. He said that she was the only thing in the world worth his devotion or skills. Her hasty response had dire repercussions for both of them. She told him if he could not paint anything else, he was no true artist. If she was the only thing in the world he could depict, then he should look to the heavens. She pointed to the sun and said that she would only sit for him again if he could capture its beauty. Hurt and enraged, Fornuft tried to meet her demand. He eventually succeeded, but went blind from the effort.
Saddened by the extremity to which her words had driven Fornuft, Gunrud made a vow to the almighty Grey Wanderer. She declared she would always be her lover’s helper and would aid him until he died. Little did she know the full ramifications of her promise.
The two eventually married and, to everyone’s surprise, Fornuft continued his painting, although he no longer focused on Gunrud. He received an epiphany, which he referred to as “divine inspiration,” and crafted scenes of great heroes and a horrible creature from one of the outer realms. Many years later, when the Great Wyrm appeared, his portrayals were finally recognized as the agent of prophecy. He went as an emissary to a meeting of all the Vesten tribes to try and stop the monster’s reign of terror.
When Fornuft became one of the Living Runes, he gained a measure of divinity. No longer would he age and never again would he be sick. Unfortunately for Gunrud, the same did not hold true for her. Over the years, she grew old and feeble, but her vow kept her alive. She would always serve as her lover’s helper and would aid him until he died. Because of their bond, Gunrud assumed some of Fornuft’s powers. She developed the ability to see a person’s past and glimpses of their future. Other Vesten soon recognized her talent, and she became a seer and soothsayer for all her people.
When Krieg the Inhuman and the other Living Runes were killed, Fornuft went into hiding and Gunrud assumed a new role. Fornuft communicated to her through their shared gift, and she became the mouthpiece of the gods. This brought her even more attention than her ability as a fortune teller.
At last, she retreated from her people, taking refuge in a cave that overlooked the small community of her birth. She could see its future, and morosely watched it come to pass. First, it grew into the town of Kirkjubæjarklauster. Then it swelled and bloated into the modern city of Kirk.
The years between saw her story pass into popular legend. People who faced difficult decisions or needed answers to their lives’ questions would brave her mountains, many never to return. She saw it all. Those who found her cave were usually too stunned by her decrepit appearance to voice their concerns. She would just give a withered smile and crackle out their needed answers, offering a bowl of stew before her company left. She was never surprised at their refusals or their decisions not to heed her words.
Gunrud still watches the city below. She knew the Vendel would send a team of men to confirm whether or not she existed. She also knew that the truth she had for them would render them deaf, blind, and mute. When they appeared, she told them what they wanted to know — and her cackling laughter followed them as they fled in horror back to Kirk. She saw it all centuries before and waited diligently for the time to come.
Now she is expecting her next guest. Driven by the spirits of his ancestors, Gjæving Asbjornsson will soon stagger into her cave. She will deliver a well-rehearsed speech and, when she is finished, he will agree with everything she says. Unlike everyone else, he will stay and share a bowl of stew with her. Unfortunately, she does not believe he will follow the final bit of her advice until it is too late.