[[The Living World of Alekhaneros begins right after the events of the “Ardent” short story.]]

Despite the fires he fueled in the hearts of those who followed him to the Surface, Alekhaneros soon realized that patience was not among the virtues of his following and that his wish to change what it meant to be Dweghom would not be fast or easy. His decision to avoid constant confrontation with the humans and use the roads less travelled, led to challenges, which he swiftly and personally answered with prejudice. Still, to maintain some momentum he knew that he would have to provide some challenges to his army and turned north, following the shores in search of Nord raiders to interrogate about the Dragonblade.

His search yielded no results, save for the discovery of fishing villages with no warrior in sight to protect them. Not thinking them worthy of his army’s attention, but stirred by curiosity, he and the Mnemancer Rhuidh visited one of the villages on their own, while the army would keep marching. His youthful interest in the humans was soon cured, as the mere sight of two Dweghom sent the entire gathering in the village taphouse to a stunned panic. This impression was changed as the alarm sounded, calling for the villagers to arm themselves against Nord pirates. Intrigued by the sudden transformation of the villagers who rushed to the defense of their small village, Alekhaneros decided to join them. While the villagers successfully repelled the raiders with his help, without the support of his own troops, he failed to capture any Nord that would have information about the siege of the Hold or the Dragonblade. Instead, he was left with what the villagers knew: an army of Nords was about to sail to the shores of Riismark to the west. His decision to deviate from their original destination was yet again challenged, but the Fire Thane did not relent. Thus, Alekhaneros and his army would be trapped into the chaos that became known as the Riismark campaign – but the signs of displeasure among his army, and the Mnemancers, were increasing.

Upon entering the lands of Riismark, Alekhaneros decided to ignore reports about the W’adrhŭn and instead focus on the humans. To pacify his challengers, he attacked the city of Enderstradt and all but raised it to the ground, putting its warriors to the test and allowing those without weapons to flee. After interrogating prisoners, he learned that the Nords had attacked and taken the city of Angengrad. But while his destination was clear, the path remained perilous. As strong as his army was, being caught between the local king and the Nords could prove perilous. So he decided instead to draw the local king out and face him before he faced the Nords. Carving a path through Riismark, his plan worked and Fredrik met him on the field.

After failing to secure victory against Fredrik, the cracks in his army’s trust in him widened. To the quarrelling of his officers, he responded harshly, challenging their mindset and reminding them why they had left their Hold in the first place: to be free of all constraints, even the chains and measures that Aghm would put to their freedom. Stunned by his blunt and open challenge to the Dweghom ways, his officers watched him arrange a meeting with Fredrik. There, Alekhaneros allowed the king two weeks to bring him the Nord leader. After that, he would march and take him himself, not caring who stood in the way.

He never got the chance. During a heartfelt discussion – turned brawl – with his imprisoned same-blood Gheshvirbrod, the Mnemancer Rhuidh and Alekhaneros’ own officers came to declare him without Aghm. And just like that, his army abandoned him.

With only a handful of faithful followers by his side, including Gheshvirbrod, Alekhaneros declared that they would remain on the surface. Trusting his Kerawegh instinct, he proclaimed that a new path had opened for them: naming themselves Unworthy, they would join the wars of humans for provisions – and information. He then pledged to reclaim the lost Dragonblade himself and, once in his hands, he would have a discussion with the Mnemancers about Aghm.