1 NEW HORDE UNLOCKED
*Please note that we have to playtest these thoroughly, so they might change a bit.
Below are the stories written by fellow rebels, to continue the tale of Kha’al, Syndra, Baranth, Kyushi and Ronja. Click on the name to read their contribution to the Lore of Azuhl. Please keep writing this story with us!
Deep in the Howling White a crack in the seal holding back chaos allows a chaos priest to squirm forth from its realm, performing the ancient rites. While chaos warriors can wreak havoc a priest unopposed can cause whole realms to die. Calling forth a cold blast that freezes the camping heroes with horror. The ice below and around the island illuminates and even though the ice is a 100+ feet thick the Uprising can clearly see hundreds of thousands of souls screaming and swarming to the surface. Those that were killed when the blast from the shockwave rocked Azuhl when the gate was sealed had been stuck below the ice never moving on. The faces, some recognizable as members of the different tribes of Azuhl while others were simply skulls trailing a ghostly illuminated glow, were driving to the surface and escaping the ice. Circling the camp looking like a horrifying aurora of souls. A disturbance in the magnetosphere caused by the chaos priest as he called forth the souls to feed his master. The wind howled and it was answered a new chaos horde had come to prey upon Azuhl and it’s inhabitants. It was Ye’wande and her horrendous offspring of abominations.
The mother has returned and she feasted on the souls called forth by the priest. A mountainous form surrounded by lesser monstrosities that dragged themselves towards the camp, with corrupted distorted limbs hungry for souls. There are glimpses of uncorropted Azuhl features, some of the choas corrupted had cloven hooves like the last herd or feline features like the Hokqan.
As this great beast consumes souls, her giant maw always open sucking in souls as they rise from the dead, she twists and distorts features and births the Tainted.
The Tainted horde floods the battlefield and overwhelms armies. On the battlefield every death caused by the Tainted adds to it’s forces as the soul is consumed by Ye’wande and a new Tainted is birthed. Ye’wande herself is vulnerable to physical attacks but her army of Tainted feed her. The more souls she consumes the more chaos can spread.
Our heroes now faced with this new chaos horde realise that their fallen brothers are powering their enemy and they hatch a plan. First they are going to create time and space by defeating the initial wave with ranged attacks. The Hokqan archers will lead a united effort to rain down death with wave after wave of arrow shafts piercing the horde.
Kha’al, Baranth and Mjor will use the war elephants to drive a wedge through the Tainted to Ye’wande and kill the mother who births this chaos. If the wedge can cut through to the heart of this new horde then by steel and not magic the chaos will be defeated
The encroaching darkness which drifts towards them from what once was the mainland eclipses what little light was able to pierce the thick blanket of clouds that were laden with heavy snow. The distant skies ablaze with crackles of lightning colouring purple and green, heavy with the promise of magic. And from it comes a being unlike none they had seen before…
Our friends gaze at the onslaught before them. They shall rise, or fall together… They are the wall that stands between life and death.
Enul’Zarath – The Banished Overlord
Enul’Zarath was once one with his ancient brethren and sisters at the dawn of time. As time went on, a rift grew between him and the other Ancient Gods who favoured beings of mere flesh and bone. Weak creatures which he would consider not worth a glance but for to destroy them as a means of amusement… He had had enough of this folly, he would destroy what they held dear and claim his rightful place as supreme Overlord to lead his kin into a world more fitting of their station. For eons the ancients struggled and fought with Enul’Zarath in desperate attempts to save the world and the creatures they had sculpted from the fabric of their collective minds. The battle was long and bloody. The world became pockmarked by deep craters where fallen ancients fell to their death at the hands of this tyrant. The others were fools, if they did not bend to his will, he would make them. And thus, he began doing more than slaying his family, he started to devour them… absorbing their magical power.
Enul’Zarath became the Banished Overlord. His visage warped in an angry scowl which howls in silent agony for his bleached skin is forever covered by rupturing boils that ooze a thick teal essence that is raw magic that clotted and festered inside of his own body. Purple veins are visible through his white, seemingly translucent complexion.
His consuming of his brethren became his own downfall, by taking their power and magic within himself as a vessel, his body grew unstable, tormented by visions and spasms. Raw magic would burst out uncontrollably when he tried to use it… the magic wreaked havoc within him, granting the few ancients who remained defiant a glimpse of hope, a chance to imprison him within the rifts of time and space…
Iroldak The Fearfeaster
From the corners of your own mind comes a being made of the essence of shadows which swirl and shift, the figure inside reaches out to you with inhumanly long clawlike fingers. 2 rows of emerald eyes take you in and reach your deepest thoughts. Cold sweat drips down your back. You lose track of what is real and what is part of your living nightmare. Beware where you swing your weapon, you might hit an ally!
Xor, Prince of Death
From within the Fracture, raised a dark fog, the Black Curse, killing everything on its path and raising the deads. Xor, First Emperor of the Drakorean, betrayed by his people, swore vengeance on all living things. Now called the Prince of Death, Xor roams the lands, collecting souls into his mighty army, growing more and more powerful as factions kill each other, feeding his legions.
Nourrished by the inner demons of the Hero, this specter take the form of the Hero’s deepest fears, a living nightmare that only the Hero is capable of fighting. The fate of his people is within his/her hands.
What was on the other side of the Howling White was a beast that was far worse than anyone of this world had ever seen or encountered. The beast known to other worlds, other worlds no longer alive, came through the rift in the early years unnoticed and began its process of growing and corruption.
The Devourer begins its process of spreading and then festering throughout worlds. Typically by the time the inhabitants realize what is happening it is too late. It consumes all life and resources a world has to offer to the point of making the world a desolate wasteland. Once the world has been consumed The Devourer creates a new rift to travel to the next planet to consume. What most people of Azuhl do not realize is the thing they call the curse, is actually an extension of this beast.
The Devourer is a large beast with rotting flesh all over its body, giving off the most repulsing stench. The layers of rotting skin make it hard for weapons to penetrate. The cursed locations work similar as worshipers do for the old gods. The more curses that are spread throughout the land the stronger and larger The Devourer gets. The ground around The Devourer rots and shrivels up as if the very life was being squeezed from all that surrounded it. No world has ever been able to unite in time to defeat this monstrosity.
Try as they might, none of the Adventurers are able to identify the cause of the disquiet that is settling on them like a heavy pack. And the Howling White seems quite content to add to the difficulty. Blowing snows reduced visibility substantially, most of the Last Herd is hidden by the white-out. Shrieking winds make any sound quieter than a shout inaudible, and the foul scent of Corruption permeates everything, covering even the musky odor of the Herd’s animals.
In the hour before the sun sets, Mjor rides an outrun around the herd, driving the animals closer to the island. He circles the camp with the larger, heartier animals then guides the rest into the makeshift pen. Within the fence of large bodies the wind and snow die down and the biting cold eases slightly. A large bonfire is built in the center of camp from the carcasses of dead trees too close the frozen shore. Our heroes try to discuss strategies for the crossing of the Howling White, but the conversation keeps turning to the oppressive feeling of anxiety they share. Eventually they decide to get some rest. Hopefully the dawning of a new day will help them shake off their apprehension.
Sleep won’t come to Kha’al. Subconsciously his body is gearing up for battle, his heart is beating faster than normal and his hands kept twitching, wanting to feel the hilt of sword or axe. Just when he is contemplating giving up and offering to take someone else’s watch, he hears the wind pick up again. It starts as a low keening, but builds to a loud, high-pitched shriek, eventually tapering off into an almost human wail. Suddenly a great cacophony of bellowing and loaming brakes out among the animals of The Herd. Jumping up from his bedroll, Kha’al grabs his sword and throws open the flap of his tent dashing towards the commotion.
Dodging panicking boars and fleeing creatures Kha’al makes his way to the source of the din. Stopping short he rubs a hand across his eyes. Blinking and looking again he can see, even in this darkness that the Howling White is now smeared red. Stepping closer his foot slips and he nearly tumbles into a pile of offal. With his eyes he follows a long, snaking cord coming from the mound of gore and sees the remains of a massive tusker, its entrails still steaming in the frigid air where its belly was ripped open. The beast is trying to stand, kicking its legs pathetically as it lies on its side, squealing. Looking past the boar, he sees a similar scene repeated a half dozen times, the animals still alive and writhing in agony. A howl of rage and sadness makes Kha’al whip around. Mjor is running forward, his great curved blade in hand. He dashes past the Krowh warrior and falls to his knees beside the great boar. The shoulders of the large Herder rise and fall with a shudder as he reaches out to caress the wounded animal, murmuring under his breath. Kha’al can’t hear what’s being said, but shortly after Mjor bows his head, then quickly sinks the edge of his blade into the neck of the screeching animal, and tugs it across, the silence of the dying boar replaced by the enraged bellow of the Herder. It’s then that realization hits and Kha’al recalls that this was the Tricerahog Mjor had been riding ever since the Adventurers first saw him arrive at the Netherwood.
Standing up heavily Mjor looks towards the other crying beasts, but before he can take a step towards them a sound freezes him in place. That same moaning was building up on the wind again and to accompany it, the darkened ground was beginning to lighten with a pale blue glow. Both Kha’al and Mjor begin to turn slowly as the sound on the wind starts to pick up in volume and intensity. Looking back towards the camp, Kha’al can see the others outside their tents, armed, but unsure of what is happening. His eyes are quickly dragged away from his companions and to the darkling sky as he sees the source of the feeble illumination. Diving straight towards him, its shriek picking up intensity as it comes, is a Banshee surrounded by a horde of apparitions. Kha’al throws himself to the ground just as the screaming ghost flashes by, a tug at his clothes and an intense cold signs of how near he came to death. Her cry has him pressing his hands to his ears, but it doesn’t do much to block out the sound. After missing her first target, the Banshee adjusts course, hurtling towards Mjor, her spectral entourage breaking off to attack more of the flock.
Mjor braces himself for the onrushing manifestation of Chaos. Raising his blade high he side steps at the last moment and slashes down, hoping to cleave the creature in two as it passes. As the cold iron of the Herder’s blade passes through the form of the Banshee her wail turns into a deafening scream and she tears away racing into the sky, her shrill yell fading away behind her. The other ghosts follow, but seem reluctant to leave the fresh blood they’ve spilled. Mjor raises his arm in the air, brandishing his sickle sword with a triumphant shout. However his celebration is short-lived, as his blade falls from numb fingers. Gritting his teeth he pulls his arm against his body with a grunt. It feels as though it’s on fire, but is absolutely freezing to the touch and the tips of his fingers are starting to turn black.
“What in Azuhl was that?!” Ronja yells, her ears still ringing.
Baranth and Syndra answer at the same time: “Bean-si” says the Duerkhar while Syndra says “Banshee”.
“What’s a Bean… Ban… one of those!?” asks the Mohyar loudly.
“Shhh” the Druwhn puts her finger to her lips to try and quiet Ronja. “Banshee are said to herald death. Those who hear the cry are supposed to lose someone they’re close to within a day. Though…” Syndra looks to the sky in the direction the Banshee fled, “that particular Banshee looks like it wants to do more than just announce a death.”
“You can say that again” says Kha’al, walking up to the gathering with Mjor, the large Herder grunting in pain as he cradles his arm.
Syndra looks concerned. “Were you touched? Either of you?”
“Nearly” says Kha’al. “I barely escaped with the skin on my back.”
“It did not touch me, but as my blade passed through it my arm went numb.” Confesses Mjor.
“Let me see.” Syndra looks over the arm and sucks in a breath. She holds her hand over it and can feel the cold coming from it without touching it. “Someone heat water, and we’ll need salt, a good amount.”
“Salt?” asks Ronja. “There isn’t anyone to trade with out here for potions or healing herbs.”
“It’s not for trade. Salt purifies. It may counteract what is happening to Mjor. If we don’t act quickly he will either lose the arm, or the corruption will spread through his whole body.”
As preparations are being made the party discusses this new foe. The reason for killing the Herd’s animals seems to be two fold. The fresh blood would incite the ghosts that follow the Banshee to violence, inducing them to kill whatever they could. It also worked well to draw out more substantial victims for the Banshee herself, they were proof of that. With information distilled from myth and legend they conclude that the Banshee is acting as a Herald of Death for the Hordes of Chaos. It may be harmed by iron, but the only true way to destroy it would be to use salt in combination with damaging attacks.
As the warm salt-water is poured over Mjor’s arm, the blackness starts to recede and eventually he is able to flex his fingers again. His arm will be weak for some time, but the Corruption seems to have been removed. This, as well as the loss of his close friend and mount, sends him into a spiraling depression. Is the cry of the Banshee really a portent of Death? If so, hopefully it would be his.