Sitting around a polished oaken table, an assortment of well-dressed individuals act locked in place upon simple chairs. Only when one shadowy figure emerged into dim lamplight do the other figures seem to respond. A woman clad in red finery more suited to a special gathering or wedding emerges forward, the wrinkles on her face accentuated through her sneering expression.
“I’ve long awaited this gathering here. Influences of the supernatural want to have their way with the villages, precious cities, establishments of higher learning. Such things are abominations that attack Reason itself. Despite my origins elsewhere, you know my dedication to Lamordia. My aspirations of Ludendorf Academy of Science cannot occur without your aid, even with its rivals. While nestled in a quiet land, the school would bring enlightenment to those who seek it.”
She glances around, none of the other members of this meeting look in particular disagreement or contradiction. One figure arises to meet her gaze, raising from his chair. His garb is far less ornate, but still of quality and professionalism.
“It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Natalya Bogdanoff, former headmistress of Kantora University. Fear not L’Académie des Sciences of Dementlieu either. We are researching them as we speak… But, where are my manners? We welcome you to our organization and acknowledge your concerns wholeheartedly. You are a friend here in Lamordia, and a friend of the Syndicate of Enlightened Citizens. The Academy has had our backing since its announcement. Should you be concerned about suspicious influences among staff and students, say no more. We’re happy to provide you assistance. And everyone else in attendance, let us please applaud our newest member. No longer are you merely a guest of honor.”
The gathered company arise to clap for Natalya, who clasps her hands and twists her face into a devilish smirk. After an appreciative nod, everyone returns to their seats. Natalya unveils documents from a case, one of which entailing plans for the Academy of Science. Passing the documents around, the members of the syndicate nod and chatter with each other in excitement. As the papers make their way back to their owner, the mood turns from welcoming excitement to a sinister cabal of shadowy plots.
Author’s Note: 4 posts in a row? I guess my disappointment and frustration is a good motivator after all. Not a long-term one, but I’ve certainly felt pretty damn creative. But in all seriousness, I’ve been more motivated to read the books I do like and it has inspired me. Also, let me bring in some more Dawnsveil content from my prior DM’s Guild version. And on a final note, let’s explore some of the motivations behind past weirdness, shall we?
Falknovnia is MINE!
Vlad Drakov epitomizes the horrors and deeply seeded flaws of the lands of the Falcon. And by all means, he is the Horrors of Man rather than the Horrors in the Shadows. It is a heavily oppressed place where even the deeply weighed down commoners find themselves succumbing to the poisons of heavily entrenched racism. However, they maintain feeble ties of national pride, as they know little else. Lekar itself as a bastion of sorts, a central location for military operations. It’s also the setting of a failed magical assassination. And given the general distaste towards the arcane, it’s a miracle that the mage in question got as far as domain borders. However, said mage wasn’t acting alone and was the patsy to a larger plan. The cabal that said assassin was employed under had simple ambitions, obtaining a piece of Vlad, even some strands of hair and some hacked flesh from a dagger. Amidst the confusion of the attempted murder, the cabal retrieved their sample and got to work in neighboring Darkon. Their creation was the masterpiece of a mad plan, one confused and unbeknownst to anyone else… including Vlad, a clone. It is unknown if this experiment was sanctioned under Azalin Rex, but it is more than likely he approved it in secret. The laboratory of the cabal, situated deeply in a hidden alcove off the Jagged Coast, is where the mad experiments were feverishly conducted for days, weeks and into months.
After much mad craft, the final product was readied towards the end of 758 BC. The end result was a small army lead by a clone of Vlad Drakov. However, some error in the experiments resulted in the clone being a woman. Thus, she was dubbed Vladeska by the sages. She was informed that she is the direct descendant of the Kingfuhrer and that he has long since over-extended his welcome, resulting in her exile into Darkon. As for her army, it is composed of several other arcane experiments; Falkovnian expatriates who volunteered for the effort to strike against their former home, brainwashed soldiers and local denizens, undead sculpted/disguised to come across as living warriors and helpings of extra clones trained to fight alongside their leader. And thus, the Talons of the Vengeful Eagle were assembled, in parody of the Falkovnian army’s elite forces. But, after the clone was prepared in the ways of her “father”, she quickly took over the operation. While inheriting the intimidating presence, forceful charisma and ruthlessness; the mages somehow instilled more careful wisdom when it came to military strategy. And worse for her enemies, she lacks the curse of her unwitting donor. After moving the clone in and out of Darkonese borders, to prevent memory loss, she was prepared to start her campaign. Her first act? Slaying the very mages who “imprisoned her” away from her “true home”. Only two of this cabal managed to escape with some strand of life, doing all in their power to inform the Wizard-King Azalin of their issues.
Vladeska’s attention quickly moved to Falkovnia, as away her forces went. The miniature army was then deployed across the northern parts of the uneven Crumbling Hills, running afoul of patrolmen on the way from Stangengrad. At first, they were confused as to why a relative of the supreme leader would face exile, but came to the conclusion that a daughter would have no right to rule. She branded them traitors and had them slain by her army, taking her imposed role very seriously. A base camp was set up upon the mountainside shortly after, as less combative subordinates were sent to nearby Stangengrad to spark sedition and questioning. Disguised as the patrolmen, they garnered clearance over a few days to leave notes, subvert propaganda and spread subtle chaos. Upon being found out, they declared themselves independent Darkonese spies, which is ironically true even if they don’t believe it. However, their own propaganda revolving a Vladeska maintained, despite attempts by the Ministry of Information’s attempts to quell it. This new figure, this hidden daughter, became a subject of taboo curiosity.
Within 2 weeks of her arrival, the Darklord himself took notice of the competition. By his knowledge, he had no recollection of a daughter that he exiled to the east… no less into the territory of his deepest enemy. To him, this mystery woman must be a fake and thus must be put down before sullying his name further. He had sent small troops to deal with the threat, undermining his rival based on his own biased and preconceived notions. But, they were defeated as the rival military suffered far fewer losses. Initial violence upon the northeastern part of the domain was welcomed by villagers looking for liberation. Word of this further infuriated the tactical might of Vlad, who had made plans to quickly seize the land back. For a brief moment, the Order alongside Gondegal moved to this occupied zone in search of aid against Drakov. What was found shocked him and the Order, causing them to immediately break off and ready for yet another foe. In the end, the brief occupations of Stangengrad and nearby villages were just as oppressive and brutal. Vladeska was perhaps more fanatical and loathing, feeling that since she is rightful heir, she can knock down or claw at whoever she wants to get her prize. A personally selected group of Talons accompanied the Kingfuhrer as he realized that his own armies weren’t enough for this mirror menace, he’d have to visit and see for himself.
The two met on the field of battle, honorably bound to discuss matters before launching into battle. However, upon noticing his adversary had indeed recruited Darkonese mages, he was filled with utmost disgust. These fields of discourse were a camp site stationed not far from a more dried up portion of the Drogach River. As a threatening statement, several traitorous villagers and captured spies were impaled around the meeting grounds, something the mysterious rival took a macabre comfort in. This fascinated the darklord, baffled by how such a woman could exist and how dare she try to wrestle power that is rightfully is. Ultimately, the conversation degenerated into fuming and arguments before both sides respectively broke off and prepared for battle. The battles by the edges of Scythe’s Crescent mostly succeeding in razing countless land for agriculture and damaging Morfenzi, as well as depleting both sides of the armies. However, Vlad had other plans readied, as a surprise flank was brought in to not only take the distracted Stangengard, but also catch Vladeska’s Eagle troops off-guard. And from the south, loaned troops from Invidia and Feuers likewise made their way to flank and push the invader forces. The maneuver worked and all hope would have been lost for the clone if the real Darkonese plan wasn’t enacted.
As fate would have it, Vladeska’s true purpose was accidentally revealed. Hordes of Darkonese forces, living and undead, funneled through the entryway Vladeska had carved. Thanks to the aid of magic, well armed soldiers and living dead flowed into the makeshift war field. And behind them, teams of readied mages. Magic was twisted and undone, as the Darkonese and undead loaned to Vladeska returned to service of Azalin. Betrayed and discovering her true nature, she found herself in a losing battle royale. But, more than knowing how Vlad worked, she began to focus fire with her remaining troops against Azalin’s. All the while, she appealed to Vlad’s mutual hatred as well as his own policies. By some miracle, both of them worked together to overpower the greater army out of national borders. But, before Vlad could turn his attention back to his rival, she was gone. Considering her personality eerily similar to his and mutual dislike of Azalin, he kept guessing as to who she was. He would never come to the conclusion that she was a clone created by a Darkonese cabal. However, this interaction has stricken genuine fear into him. Everything about Vladeska confuses him and challenges what he knows, filling him with unanswered questions and rage. As for Vladeska? She appeared during “The Daughter’s War” of 758 BC; a name that Vlad himself refuses to use and those around him would be wise to do the same. For a while, she would not return. But in later 759, she and her ragtag team would strike again, emerging from The Mists. Acts of guerilla warfare prove effective, to the horror of Vlad Drakov. But, just as quick as he is to act, all traces of her allegiance vanish. This continues a few times into 760. Her name is all but unknown to those who clash with her, calling her “The Phantasmal Commander”. Into the future, her “hauntings” become less frequent. Her final one occurs as Markov’s land is ruined by a vengeful Lamordia in 775, where her entourage emerges near his escaping fleets for one final battle. Given the mysterious fate of Vlad as well, the outcome of this fight is uncertain.
The Sins and Agonies of Dawnsveil
The colony of Dawnsveil is already a place overrun and dragged down by paranoia. But, its list of foul deeds goes far beyond the creation of The Dark Witch. Even in 710 BC, it’s christening years were rife with hardship and a distrust of the natives. Both only grew worse through the leadership of the second and final governor of the colony. Among the natives of the land, hopes for good relations were dashed by ignorance, greed and fear. The Pale Gliders had attempted numerous acts of compromise long before making threats against the colony, which were mostly ignored or handled with minimal activity. 722 was the last straw, as First Town was built partially over a sacred ground, due to its reliable proximity to a fishing area, as well as opportune coastal trading space. Attempts at peace only grew worse once Brandson was forced to leave the colony. Escalation lead to the sacking of First Town and later the death of Chief Cracking Branch of the Pale Gliders. While the tribe continues in the lands of the Mists, the people are forever locked in an endless cycle of decline, stagnation and revenge.
And after their tragedy, new targets came in the form of a group of strange female practitioners of alchemy and magic. Rumors spread about witches, but few took matters seriously. In fact, many visited the women in secret for their knowledge of healing magics and helpful arts. The Church of Guiding Light, alongside various crafters and physicians, form plans to suppress and overthrow the visiting wise-women. For a while, there were no plans of execution. The visitors are soon branded as witches and captured for crimes of church and state. This grows worse after retaliation goes too far and they doom First Town forever. The last victim of Orvird’s sanctioned hangings was merely a frightened girl, horrified that her friends were all executed on pretenses. As young Marie tries to use protection magic to save herself from the execution, Orvird himself stabs her with a poisoned dagger. This was the act of damnation to claim the colony itself. However, the dooming action was advised thanks to Garrick Phillips, Orvird’s most trusted ally. It was for that reason that the scheming subordinate was cursed into a wereweasel.
Even the horrors of slavery are not unknown to the demiplane of dread, but they were a part of the colony’s doom. Johnathan Elwynn came to the colony after turning on his druidic heritage, taking up slave trade as it followed into other colonies of Grandglen. To him, he is an entrepreneur expanding the “Open Labor Market” to an emerging colony. But in secret, he still carries many druidic powers and employs them when no one notices. He has used a corruption of them to help brainwash those in his circle even. Since its fall into The Mists, he has found himself unable to expand… that was until he used some of his fortune to make nice with the law enforcement of the colony. Those arrested under particularly wretched crimes found themselves turned into “prisoners with jobs”. Many of these brutes were awful matches with the enslaved brought into the colony, often harassing to outright torturing them. At first, Elwynn was disturbed, but plotted to use them as a means of keeping other slaves in line. The criminals in his service even got sentences alleviated for ensuring that no other slave acts out of line, including fellow prisoners who were less thuggish. Springsthaw is the agricultural center for Elwynn’s activities, mostly centered on sprawling plantation plots. To quell revolution, Elwynn made a means of buying oneself out of slavery. But, revolution proves inevitable. While actively suppressed by guards and other forces in the colony, many meet in secrets for ways to earn their freedom in other way.
A cold and fearful outlook against outsiders has been a massive issue for countless years, but those who are too culturally different face intensive cruelty. Even adventurers and outsiders from somewhat similar cultures have been ostracized. This was quite apparent in the case of Marcos Ferreira, an out-lander from the Savage Coast region of Mystara. The former caravan guard was always inquisitive in regards to secrets. He dove too deep when it came to the strange machinations of the mental hospital of Dawnsveil. Even the Wandering Bard has had a rather grim experience within Dawnsveil, but his willingness to aid against the Witch set him apart from countless other victims. In the end, he was one of many who ended finding another cursed aspect of the domain, The Cabin Within the Woods. While not quite an outsider realm, the story of the cabin sends chills down the spines of the residents.
Hardship goes further than xenophobia and abuse. Even in the beginning, the colony has met countless toil. This was no more apparent than the Starving Season. Plants failed to yield any crops, animals were succumbing to strange new disease and the water proved dangerous. Come winter, stockpiles rapidly depleted as many died in weakened, diseased and starved states. A few went mad though, turning to cannibalism in secret. Something in them changed, only for it to be revealed once remains were found. What were once villagers had changed into horrible creatures heard about in natives’ tales, Wendigo. These warped flesh-eating monsters were purged from the town, costing many along the way. The creatures themselves fled into a nearby cave system, now known as the Howlers’ Caves because of the dreadful noises they make deep within. They’ve only become stronger in the lands of the Mists. Few fools even trespass on such area.
Even places built on good intentions were tainted by hidden evil. Susan, the wife of Aaron Orvird, founded the Women’s Congregational Charity of Dawnsveil. This organization was made for the well-being and general aid of the populace. However, they competed with the witches. It was likely by Susan’s influence that the witch hunts even started. Even the rangers station of Outpost Nephi has found itself corrupted. While the rangers of the outpost still help keep the tide of supernatural horrors in the woods, they’ve taken to a new pursuit as a means of funding their cause. Outlanders who make their way into the domain risk being captured and interogated by the rangers. Should they not find the new guests palatable to their needs, they’ll beat upon them until unconscious. Several of Johnathan Elwynn’s minions are stationed at the Outpost for this occasion. They’ll pay the rangers off, as they take new slaves back to Springsthaw.
The Unsolved Death of Garvin Gilbury
The Appleklein Mountains are sweeping slopes bereft of opportunity or hope. Poverty, isolation and alienation are defining plights of the region. Cut off from many neighbors, a xenophobic culture has fostered as well as one of poor widespread trade. Any hope of order is often maintained by community, as proper constabulary is seen from outskirts villages at the edge of the mountain. As such, proper order is slow and everything else depends on the community. This leads to things being ripe for exploitation by the wrong hands. Several petty crimes can only be exacerbated if committed by particularly unpopular residents. One case of a sheep thief resulted in the culprit thrown off a cliff, due to their history of trouble around many villages. Another notorious incident was a manipulator who weaseled into power between villages, only to get away with countless tax funds. He was ultimately hung from the roof of a mayor’s office. But, one story stands out above all. One remains particularly infamous, with no one talking about the full truth. This one case was recent, but will continue to haunt the land for ages to come. And more strangely, the Strings Player had nothing to do with it. One tale of terror within the mountainside was the mysterious murder of Garvin Gilbury, the Bully of Brookhurst.
Brookhurst was a community towards the bottom of the Appleklein Mountains, but it was equally lacking in prosperity as the rest of the land. Ignored by the colonists in the outside area and hardly helped by fellow mountainfolk, it suffered the same story as many others in the domain; another small community left to fend for itself. Law had mostly fled and sanity was fleeting, all at the hands of one man. The nefarious Garvin was a cruel madman who enjoyed intimidating and torturing the people of the village, which was growing into quite the town. Any attempts at summoning law were met with mockery at the hands of “the bully” or a long delayed message. In the case of the latter, any lawman that would show up would find themselves devoid of any evidence. The few allies that Garvin did have would find ways to defend him and help weave stories in his favor. Often, Gilbury would add to the tale of being the most hated man in town, due to his success in fur trades, rearing cattle and other tales from his “other” life of farming and trapping. In fairness, he was among the most well off of the town, but never invested in the rest of the neighborhood or its plights. In time, he took matters too far for those around him to simply endure.
He accused another hunter of stalking him and stealing his catches while both were on a main hunting trail. The opposing hunter, a middle-aged native resident by the name of Jonger Strauhm, tried to deflect the other man’s anger with reasonable responses intermingled with an apologetic tone. But, this wasn’t enough for Garvin. He continued to berate his subject before unloading two crossbow bolts into the man’s body. Strauhm survived thanks to immediate medical attention in a nearby settlement, but was too weak to take against against “The Bully”. However, lawmen were summoned from nearby to investigate the matter, as they have time and again. Prior to any sort of trial at Town Hall, he threatened a prominent preacher who was a childhood friend of Strauhm. Garvin brandished a knife and attempted to swat at the priest, who foresaw the attack and ducked away before running. None the less, none of Strauhm’s direct friends testified in his favor. After there was a testimony against Garvin, the few allies he bribed into his service made the wounded hunter out to be a fool who wanted to slander a well to do man. Garvin was still arrested on grounds of harassment and spent several days in a jail a few towns over, in order to “clear his head”. The people of Brookhurst felt cheated.
Through some sob story, while frightening others locked up, he got out after just a few days. His return was met with coldness from everyone except Garvin Gilbury. Even the Bully’s own ‘friends’ gave him a wide berth, lest they be part of what was to come. That day, after heading into a tavern for a drink, as many as 30 people waited to ambush the “Town Bully”. Garvin, none the wiser, tied his mount to a post and went in to indulge himself in a wide variety of drinks. An hour or so later, he left the small establishment, very drunk. While he saw a few assailants, he couldn’t have noticed the assembling mob. In brief seconds, they began peppering him with arrows and bolts. In some cases, imported firearms were used as well. When outside forces of law arrived many hours later, there was only an empty street and Garvin’s punctured corpse.
No one wished to testify and all accounts of the incident were contradictory. Not long after hauntings occurred in the town though, all religious forces did all in their power to banish the spirit. Before outside attention from other churches could intervene, religious charities from within the domain took care of all of it. Any and all traces of Garvin were effectively scrubbed out of the land, right down to the man’s wicked soul by some divine miracle. And thus, all truth regarding the Town Bully was squashed, a mystery that would die in a few generations. If pressed about it, older residents will weave some contradictory and fanciful tales, many of which having some moral bend to them. While these events took place in 750 BC, the unsolved mystery haunts the other lands of the Fell Crafts Cluster and beyond. Curiously, this was only 70 years after The Mists revealed this domain to the rest of the cluster.
And with Strange Aeons …
Something strange has begun to occur deep within the Shadow Rift. Not even the nefarious Gwydion can stop it. An adventure party hired by Darkonese agents was sent to investigate. What they uncovered goes far beyond tales of The Shadow Fey. Only a few of the party returned to their employer with tales of eldritch horror, far detached from folklore on the fair folk. Something horribly wrong was happening within these sylvan courts, particularly unseelie. There were talks of dreams, even beyond Nova Vaasa’s fears of The Nightmare Court… something alien. Visions of The Nightmare Lands and even equally lost Bluetspur haunted their minds, preventing all rest. Some began to go mad and vanished. Ultimately, they would run afoul with the barely tolerated Zealot Sect of Ezra. The Zealots of Darkon used them as proof of their mad prophecy, as the more sane of the old party did their best to warn others. In their words, the Zealots are only interested in panic, the explorers wanted to protect the sanity of the lands, lest a dark secret rise to crush it.
Rumors state that corruption versions of these adventurers found themselves upon the borders of Tepest, Nova Vaasa, Falkovnia and Darkon in the time between 759 and 773 BC. They were rumored to be spearheading cults founded on alien blasphemies and wicked prophecy, ones that prove all too successful. Worse, many exhibited grotesque qualities that have grown more or more gruesome. By the time of 773 BC, it shall be revealed that they were hording monsters, many of which are the transformed remains of former human cultists. All of this is merely the means for a horror called, “Waking Nightmare”. The disgusting mutants would not survive, but their message only brought more like them… They can be handled for now. That is, until the real nightmare awakens late in the year. That day spells true doom for much of the Lands of the Mists. It cannot be contained, it cannot be stopped, it cannot be reasoned with. It is divine truth, it is that of distant dimensions, it is that of unspeakable reality.
The apocalypse will be furthered by their hands. But, another land has vanished from the Mists, due to the impossible damage they wrought upon it. The Vale of Nerath cluster was a series of domains hailing from the World Axis Prison sector of the Prime Material, alias Nerathspace. All of these domains fell for the propaganda of the mad Powers that resided over the worlds of that Crystal Sphere, complete with altered perceptions of the Planes. Talk and connection to a demiplane called “Far Realm” made their methods of corruption all the easier. A micro scale outbreak of something like the Night Terror tore the lands asunder. And even then, the Waking Nightmare is timeless, it can always influence things close to its grasp. One domain had not only been untouched, but splintered off as an Island of Terror. This is the town of Duponde, brought to ruin by the plane-walking wizard Evard and a native rival, Vontarin. By some act of the Dark Powers or something else, knowledge of the Cluster has been scrubbed away and most of the Mistways have been erased… save for a semi-reliable two way road that can lead to Darkon. The Darklord himself, Vontarin, is frustrated as he cannot remember why his expansive cabal of necromancers vanished. Somehow, the Night Terror cultists are still aware of Duponde, but don’t wish to corrupt it yet. Rather, they mislead an ally in a war against another enemy. They blame the loss on another land, a tainted land that should not be, Necropolis.
…. Even Death May Day
Forces of cosmic darkness have turned against the Blight of Darkon, but not to aid the Darklord. Death senses something wrong, aware something big is about to happen. And more so, he knows that the undead and his powers over the land are immune to the emerging Dark Dream. Infiltrators have leaked information to the emerging “Cults of the Nightmare Logic” that have begun to plague the borders near The Shadow Rift. Necropolis is a dreadful obstacle to their end plans, something that must be overturned in order to continue the endless desire to consume life. However, they’ve met an unwitting ally through their own maniacal plots, Azalin Rex the Darklord of Darkon. Many of those corrupted by the distant dreams of cosmic terrors are still somewhat loyal to the lich, even the legions who aren’t aware of Azalin’s secrets. However, they see the dawn of a new age emerging. In order to do so, any aid to their old master is temporary and part of the greater plan. But first, even Death may die!
Within Darkon, Azalin has mobilized work on a new doomsday device, one to harness Necropolis itself into a weapon. While other efforts exist to rip the city apart from the inside, only a chosen cabal of the Darklord is in on this project. However, he does have spies from within the eldritch cult, who are all too eager to help him succeed. While enemies have become familiar with the Mist Gates, and later their “failure”, this is one work of the maddened lich that won’t fail. In fact, the end of Bluetspur, The Shadow Rift and The Nightmare Lands will very much be his fault too. The Death Machine’s functions are simple, extract all energy from Necropolis, destroy it and capture Death. After Gwydion is to fall, the Death Machine will activate and drain Death of all power. And from there, an incredible beam of black energy will funnel onto target… In this case, the gate that would have held the Darklord of the Shadow Rift. However, upon doing so, the calamity that leads to the Waking Nightmare begins. His success is not his own and all has gone according to plan. The distant masters may now awaken, in the year 774 of the Barovian Calendar.
The Traveling Groundskeeper
There is said to be a rather grim character who oversees cemeteries. It doesn’t matter which domain has them, he is said to mysteriously materialize all the same. This is the Traveling Groundskeeper. While not a Darklord, he is forever doomed to oversee and wander cemeteries to ensure that they have a guardian all their own. There are signs of his arrival, slow and scraping footsteps against the ground are usually the first. A low muttering follows soon after. And then, the figure himself will visualize. While not entirely a phantom, his appearance is sudden and shocking. However, he is typically non-violent. If left to his devices, he will inspect the grounds of a graveyard and aimlessly meander to make sure nothing is wrong. This usually occurs during sundown and right before sunup. As the sun’s rays begin to pierce through the gardens of stone, the groundskeeper seems to vanish. But, if he isn’t a ghost, what is he? In his past life, he was both a warrior and leader of great repute. But, that is hardly his full tale.
His story takes place far away in the Prime Material, the same world as Ne’ur Maise and Phyresha. However, the Kingdom of Almandien was on another continent entirely, and in a different time. This humble man was once a king, a mighty leader of his kingdom. However, he ultimately believed in little beyond himself and was quite cowardly in the face of danger. A great war had claimed a far away kingdom some years before, splintering it into warring factions. But in time, the conflict spilled over upon other lands. The invasive conflict found itself upon Almandieni doors. The knights were not readied for battle, as they were too busy indulging the king’s fancies. To make up for this, civilians were “evacuated” into safety. By this, they were put out into the open to slow the armies down in hopes the ill trained knights would have an easier time. While the tactics were successful, the warriors in command to the land were appalled, turning against their nation after the invaders were successfully fought back. The king, whose name was not yet lost to time, did all in his power to escape punishment. He fled to the courtyard, where strange mists gathered.
As Mists began to clear, he found himself with a test. The courtyard within his castle had suddenly grown to extreme length. However, there was an added macabre detail… The courtyard was filled with tombstones, more than enough to represent the kingdom he ruined. The ghosts of the dead materialized, demanding him pay. He broke down, babbling madly. He asked to repent and would seek to protect the dead for his crimes against the living. The broken king was huddled, his head crouched between his legs. But, after he made his demands, the sounds ended. He looked up, now seeing a graveyard and a simple shack not far away. His kingdom and his castle were gone. His clothes were not those of grand royalty, but simple work garb. He instinctively took to the shack, discovering a small abode as well as supplies to start his nightly duties. And for the first time, he found himself wandering tired around these new grounds. As he found something off or some plot in need of care, he fearfully tended to it. At first, he did so out of guilt and duty. Over time, his endless work would be second nature. It was his punishment and his sacred duty, his final test that lead him to avoid becoming a Darklord in his own right. His tireless march leads him ever onward, on his search to protect all lands of the dead and his search for redemption. Some suspect that this is a Pocket Domain, but he is no Darklord. Unlike others, he does tirelessly work in hopes that his repentance will one day be enough. However, he remains a broken man. He does not wish to socialize or interact with the living, only do his duty to the dead. But, should one try to cross or confront him, he remains just as capable at defending himself.
IMAGE SOURCE: Cecily/groovy mashed potatoes – Fairmont Banff Springs; Theodor Aman – The Battle with Torches; Joseph E Baker – Witch Trials; Carl Gritchlow – Cateran Persuader; Dan Scott – Foul Emissary; Jason Chan – Phyrexian Unlife; Viktor Vasnetsov – Grave Digger