Commons stories of the unholy from the various lands and bloodlines
The northern wilds have always been untamed, but never more so than after the fall.
Dense brooding forests, mountains and rushing rivers create a landscape of breath-taking beauty and equal hardship.
In the years after the scourging the Northern lands were initially quiet, lacking the marching armies and crushing force of the unholy in the south or west – many warriors travelled to fight the unholy in other lands.
Gradually the land itself darkened, and the gentle woodland Fae, and diverse flora and fauna was corrupted and danger crept inch by inch into the wild.
Now the nights are long, and darkness forces even the hardiest of war bands to the edge of the forests, as a wild hunt seeks prey.
Even other unholy forces flinch from the Forests lest its savage fury seek them out and return them to cycle.
The forces of the unholy in the north are comprised of corrupted fae, wild beasts and savage hunters. Those not so bestial they turn on each other from instinct form savage packs or bands to pursue prey and attack settlements.
The War-bands of the North have long been hunted and tempered in blood by the howling of the wilds around the last bastions of civilisation.
The Grass Sea – East
The war on the grass sea was an intricate dance, the ever mobile nomadic tribes and huge expanses of terrain made the invasion of the unholy difficult.
Thus it came to pass the east was the last to truly fall, the cunning and mobility of the tribes pragmatic in warfare and quick to adapt to the tactics of their foes.
After much concerted effort finally the great tribes were all but defeated and the landscape left littered with signposts to the lands of the dead.
While the forces of the unholy are more scarce now, the steppe is hunted by those who could not travel the road of the dead.
The east is infrequently hunted by a mix of unholy forces, sometimes seen to war with each other as well as the remaining tribes.
The war-bands of the east are also troubled by the returned, those who could not find the markers to the road of the dead and return to haunt the living.
The Fallen Dominion – South
Once the height of civilised power in the known world, the Dominion brought structure and enlightenment to its many lands.
Such was its power, that it looked for a time like it could resist the scourging by force of arms – though in the end its mighty legions were eroded away.
The hammer fell hardest here, and the most disciplined forces of the unholy were sent to slowly extinguish enlightenment.
Now the once proud Dominion is reduced down to scattered survivors hiding from the forces that inhabit their shattered homelands.
The southern lands are occupied by the Legions of Dispater. These forces subjugate or destroy at their unholy masters whim.
The once proud legions of the Dominion are reduced to disparate bands seeking a restoration of a once glorious nation.
Even in the darkest of days, the lost lore of the Dominion occasionally surfaces to provide hope and knowledge of times past.
The Kingdoms of Sand – The West
Once rich deltas over rolling dunes and pockets of opulent civilisation, the unholy struck here with tenacity and ferocity in equal measure.
The hostile landscape hindered both information and aid allowing many of the great oasis settlements to be overrun.
Lacking the centralised power structure of the South, relying instead on ancient traditions of diplomacy and hospitality many of the Powerful tribes and families were vulnerable and slow to react to the threat.
The banners of the flayed seek no solace from the burning sun – though they no longer seem to be the ravening horde of old, the wise know that if a caravan stops too long, or a settlement lets its guard down these sun scorched horrors will emerge from the sandstorms to sweep it away.
Many of the war-bands of the west will have encountered the Banners of the Flayed. Once a mighty army, they now form smaller war-bands roaming and hunting for offerings to the unholy.
Smoke and Mirrors – Dwarfs
Durstan sat by the low fire watching his uncle take his ease, the band they were travelling with seemed kind and capable. “Not long now lad, we can’t be too far from this holy land they speak of” his uncle grumbled.
Durstan blew on a hot piece of meat, pondering that even if they didn’t find some sort of safe place things hadn’t seemed so bad recently.
“Now lad” his uncle started while filling a pipe and tamping it; “a tale of our people, a tale that shouldn’t be forgot”.
Durstan nodded “is this about mother?” His uncle shook his head sadly “No lad, she was fine and brave, and fierce, she loved you something powerful, but this tale is not about her.”
“In the time before lived an artisan called Moradavar – old he was, and many things he knew for our heritage ran strong within his blood.
He crafted a great mirror though the tales do not say why and this mirror though plain to look at, contained the same magic that lights the stars in the night sky.
This mirror was to be our people’s downfall.
If he crafted it thus, or if it was taken and corrupted, I cannot say but the mirror formed a link to the seat of gods and if gazed into, the mirror showed the gods and its owner could speak with any as they pleased.”
The older dwarf coughed noticing more people had drawn close to listen. He adjusted his scarf to cover the metallic scales on his neck, nodding as someone passed him a drink he continued.
“The mirror was used to perform terrible blasphemies, its power twisted so it would seek the essence bound within all touched by magic.
Many Caers fell and many were sacrificed to the mirror and as it gleaned every scrap of magic from them, the unholy turned all the dead into the flayed legion.
It came to pass in our darkest days the mirror was smashed, in a last stand at our Caer and it was so bloated with wicked power that its destruction cast shards to every corner of the land.
It is these shards the unholy now use to power dark magics when they hunt us, but our stand slowed them enough.
It gave our people their best chance of survival.”
Faith and Fury – Orcs
Camilla stretched and tried to release some of the tension in her shoulders, she stared at her battered lorica searching for a flaw or weakness that would betray her. She had looted it years ago when she was barely a woman, she was shocked when she found it fit as if made for her.
Camilla had fled the south once tales of safer lands had reached her, joining more refugees on the road she had become their unspoken leader. Camilla “the strong” they called her, though most days she was “the lucky” – people said she must be descended from the great orc legionaries that held the unholy back in the south.
Shaking off the reverie she unsheathed her blade wiping it down with a rag and donned her armour, this had been her morning ritual now for as long as she could remember.
She moved swiftly around the camp ensuring all the people were prepared, nodding at them and encouraging them. They had not journeyed far when she spotted a humanoid shape against the horizon, swearing quietly she broke away from the column and stood a little distance away watching to see if it was a threat.
The creature was joined by a couple more, “Infernals” she called to the other warriors in the column a few of them moved to stand with her “they probably won’t attack until dark”. As if they had heard, the creatures broke suddenly into a loping sprint straight for the gathered warriors “stand to!” Camilla roared unsheathing her blade.
These infernals were usually stupid and weak used only for scouting but these ones seemed driven and dangerous, their prey however was used to fighting for survival and the air filled with the clash of weapons and howls of pain. Dispatching the creature she engaged and hearing a cry from the retreating column, Camilla spotted a Morax stalking them, larger and much more dangerous than the smaller infernals she could see its powerful muscles and claws as it prepared to charge.
Sprinting to intercept she roared a challenge, aware of her folly having never faced an unholy this powerful alone. The creature attacked its first blow sending her arm numb with the force as she parried and the second nearly eviscerating her as she struggled to keep her footing.
She cautiously attempted to buy time but the creature uttered something profane before mounting another savage offensive this time knocking her blade aside and sinking its claw deep into her chest, Camilla was thrown down her blood running freely as pain coursed through her – she knew immediately she was dying.
The Morax moved to engage the remaining warriors as they called in vain to Camilla her body was heavy and the sun hot and spitting out her blood she called forth “Aethezon blessed am I to bleed in your name, with this last surge of my breath let me strike for freedom and with the last spark in my eyes let me see hope for our kingdom” The sun seemed so intense her flesh would burn but the pain in her body lessened as she found herself on her feet swinging her sword.
She remembered little after, only falling across her dead foe and the call for a healer