The past several days have been very difficult. I’ve kept up a stoic appearance for Ban’s sake, we saw the surviving researchers off towards Mir while we continued to Bastion Keep. My sister set off to do this so I’m going to finish it for her sake. I’ve not set foot here before. This keep is the empires line in the sand against the abominations from the wastes, similar to our own forest wall, but they are taking the brunt, we only get the odd small pack, this is outright war here.
On the trip there Ramas and I spoke a bit about what had happened back at the camp. He really wants to go back and get Anabelle’s body to burn. I’ve seen what the undead do first hand, and I know he’s not likely to find much of anything if he’s lucky. I did promise to go with him later though, I have magic which I think will let us locate any bits of her which are left. I just need to come up with a plan to keep myself safe in case he goes over the top of the tree and loses his temper over what he finds. If our home wasn’t, well, gone, I would have liked to bring her back, but what’s the point now?
The land around Bastion Keep is in terrible condition. Some leeching effects from the scar. The odd bit of scrub brush is all there is around it. What a miserable place to have to live. Although I guess that’s not really an issue any longer.
Bastion Keep itself was as impressive as any other ugly stone fortification I’ve seen in the empire. I was rather surprised at the number of civilians living within the walls, there was a whole city operating within the outer ring. Obinorcle and Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale explained that they had to bring in all kinds of workers from around the empire, specialists for various projects and even just regular upkeep, and naturally they’d want their families with them. That sounded awfully dangerous to me especially when you’re constantly battling, but I think I can relate.
The inner keep had its own wall as well. But even more impressive was off in the distance a far more massive wall served to hold back the monsters from the wastes, although there were quite visible breaks in it, probably from years of pounding. If this wand could stop the creatures in their tracks and let all of these people live safely maybe… I guess if Ban knew I can understand why she thought it was so importa did what she did.
Once we arrived inside the keep with the wand, Obinorcle and Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale brought us to their commanding officer. He was exactly what this place did not need. I don’t like to belittle people, but this man was clearly not cut out for the job. He was practically begging someone to step in and fix the situation for him, even going so far as to suggest that we march immediately into the heart of the wastes and end that threat once and for all.
Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale relieved him of duty, for which I expect he will be eternally grateful, and took over command of the army. Obi proceeded to arrange to have the wand installed atop the battlements. Ramas and I basically stood around, totally out of our elements. There were some other officers the two were familiar with who were in and out and who were sharing information to Obinorcle and Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale.
There was talk about a massive push coming towards the far wall and they didn’t think they were going to be able to hold. I could tell Ramas had volunteered to help before they even asked, and I wasn’t about the let this whole fiasco amount to nothing. And, for a brief moment, I thought I might get to join her in a way that wouldn’t throw her sacrifice back in face, then I’d get to be with everyone again…
I had to stop myself there. If she could have heard me… hoo boy. I could see her staring me down right now. No, I wasn’t going to die there. These monsters have to be stopped, then Mara has to be stopped… somehow. For now I will have to settle for make them proud of me. If I’m to be the last then I’m going to make sure we go out with a bang!
Distracted with my thoughts I didn’t hear what was going on, but when I started paying attention again I found I was apparently being volunteered to lead men into battle. That caught me… a little off guard to say the least. I had no idea how to lead men in battle. Grandpa Aegnor would have been perfect for the job, he lead elves during the lich wars after all. Banori would have been a good choice too, she’s lead other rangers in the field. Me? I’ve had enough trouble in the past with keeping packs of conjured rabbits under heel, much to Arbol’s amusement.
I quickly turned it down. I was sure the soldiers there were very well trained and courageous enough, the keep had stood assaults for years and years and years, and that wouldn’t be the case if the soldiers were brittle kindling. Even if I had experience doing this they don’t fight the same way we do. I wouldn’t know what they can and can’t do. And besides, what are these soldiers going to think of a girl from a foreign kingdom that they’ve never seen just showing up and ordering them around?
I took up position with a small group of swordsmen on the north side of the keep near one of the breaks in the wall. A few bowmen were backing us up from the rear as well. Ramas was on the south side of the keep and Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale was getting ready to lead a charge with some calvary. Obinorcle was up on the ramparts with the wand.
Outside of the few we ran into up in the Grand Northern Forest I haven’t actually seen any of these beasts up close. I’ve seen drawings and heard stories about them, but I really was not expecting the giant … thing when it made its appearance.
It was massive. I threw up a defensive spell over myself and the nearby troops who steeled themselves as it came nearer and nearer. Then, everything just lit up. It had fired some beam towards us. The next thing I knew I was waking up with a cleric working some magic on me. I thanked her but shooed her to go help some of the others and looked around. That thing was still moving closer to the walls the keep and looked like it had been doing some damage to the walls. I started rushing around trying to help the injured soldiers while keeping an eye on that beast in case it came back to try and finish everyone. And then everything went white again.
I finished healing up the wounded troops along with the cleric and they took up position along the hole in the wall, their earlier grim looks immediately changing after seeing that bolt. We were able to hold off further attempts with ease. Ramas and Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale had been rather successful as well and at the end of the day the attack was repulsed, and the wand was incredibly effective wiping out the forces at long range.
We regrouped in the keep leaving a watch at the walls. The discussion turned to what to do. There was a force some distance out from the wall that was up to something, and by all accounts it was fairly large group. We decided to go out ourselves as a small group and take a look. If it was bad it would be easier for the few of us to get back to the keep. The wand would also slow us so rather than risk it falling into their hands we left it with the keep.
We left shortly after and made haste to where the mass had been seen. What we found was rather disturbing. There were a number of creatures working on a binding spell on a great massive beast they had summoned. Carts full of objects that look to have been drained to power a spell (likely the summoning I expect) were sitting around, one of these creatures loomed over the others and seemed to be directing things. And some distance from them were thousands and thousands of troops. But the beast was clearly the more pressing matter.
We found a giant worm like creature, it was beyond huge and nothing I recognized as natural. If they got control of it there was no way we were going to be able to hold it and their army off, Obinorcle was only able to charge the wand so much, and there weren’t many others around who could help with the task so we wouldn’t be able to rely on it to solve all of our problems.
We decided to try and stop their binding spell and set the beast loose, hoping it would take any anger over what they were doing out on the masses. Launching a surprise attack we started with the arcane users who were working the spells, and one by one they fell until there were not enough left to control the worm and it dove into the massive horde.
Finishing off the arcane users we turned to their leader. We had him quickly outmatched, he had a few spells up his sleeve but nothing we couldn’t deal with. Before we could end him however he activated some magical ring and disappeared from view, either teleporting away or turning invisible. We turned our attention to the worm.
There was no way we were going to stop that thing. On the plus side it was doing a great job of ending the threat from those monsters. On the down side it was entirely out of control. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves on its receiving end as well. We had started making a run for it, I had switched to dinosaur mode for some extra speed to get back to camp when it decided I looked like a delicious bite sized treat. Well nibble size maybe, I don’t think I’m qualify as a bite.
It burst from the ground swallowing Ramas, Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale, and myself. Gnomes always surprise me with how nimble they can be! It was gross. Slimy muscles contracted moving me further into the creature. Almost immediately I lost site of the two of them as everything went very dark. I snapped at the innards with my teeth but I couldn’t get a good grip on anything with it pinning me so tightly. Acids were slowly burning me and I was getting desperate. I could see Banori looking down shaking her head at me. Death by worm. There was no way I was going to let that happen.
“Really, Ineis? A worm? You know it took an entire army of undead headed by one of the dreaded Lich Lords to stop me, and you got eaten by a worm?” I’d never hear the end of it!
I needed space, I had to get some bearing on where I was heading and what was around. I decided to create a wall of wind inside the beast, see if I could at the vest least get myself a temporary reprieve from his grip, or loosen it a bit. Maybe even shred some of his muscles and stop it all together.
What I got was… less than dignified. The wind was able to actually push me quickly out the side of the beast handing in a discarded mixture of mud and rock (and who knows what else). The force had me tumbling for a short distance and it hurt but I was alive, and not worm food! I lay there for a moment taking in what had just happened and gave myself an inner shout of “Yes!”, got up, looked for the worm and he was burrowing underground. I switched to my dinosaur form again and was back on my way to the keep. I caught sight of Obinorcle but I didn’t see Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale and Ramas until sometime later, they had fortunately found… other… exits from the beast.
There was some panic at Bastion Keep when we returned, they could see the worm thrashing about, and it seemed likely it was going to make its way to their walls. A messenger from Galinios had also arrived, it seems that the emperor of the Halcyon Empire was calling all the troops to the capital, Mara had appeared there and was demanding his surrender. I was quite taken at how quickly she and her army had moved.
Obinorcle talked with the other wizard and they worked out a way to move some resources to the capital immediately including the wand. The four of us were going to take the troops and begin a march to Mir. Well, the three of them can handle stuff in Mir, I’m sure there’s a few trees that need some tending outside of it.
While making preparations to leave the beast hit. The worm brought down the great wall and soon after reached the outer walls of Bastion Keep. It was a frenzied evacuation, the worm chewing giant holes in the ground, swallowing up homes and people. We got everyone out that we could. I have no idea what we can do about this creature right now, maybe the magic used to summon it will fade, maybe we can banish it. But there was a more pressing matter, if Galinios and the empire falls, I’m sure the Verdant Kingdom won’t be far behind it.
The Ironleaf tree has been pruned again. My vision has come to pass, I was powerless to stop it, and I fear I even triggered it. Banori, my sister, the last of my family and friends. I think I understand what she felt now, a burning hatred for those walking corpses. I know they don’t feel anything, at least most of them. I have to be strong for Ban’s sake though, 10 days, there’s no one else for her. Maras will pay. I don’t care how powerful she is. I don’t care how many leaders tremble at her name. I don’t care what title she presumes to put before her name. I will sever whatever spells keeps her miserable soul tangled to the world and coming back for more. Her decrepit body will be torn to pieces and I will demand justice from the gods themselves on her wretched soul, if it even still exists.
Anabelle came to me last night, she had a missive she snagged from the personal desk of the director apparently, the letter mentioned on the decoded message that assassin had carried on his person. It was powerfully spelled, and it seemed to be hiding, or maybe protecting the text. The wizards were busy so she had come to me, this isn’t really my domain but I gave it a shot. I attempted to unravel the spells on it and for my efforts the spells obscuring the letter unleashed dark magic upon the two of us.
She looked terrible afterwards, as if she had aged some… well I guess, 30 years? Maybe 40? Human’s rate of ageing is odd, it doesn’t happen at the same rates as it does for us. She did not seem impressed with my failed effort, especially less so when she noticed the missive had been reduced to ashes. She accused me of not properly setting the azimuth on the fourth trigger line, something I obviously did, that’s basic spell weaving. We exchanged a few more angry words and she ended up storming off in a huff, something I am sorry for now as this was to be our final conversation. As off-putting her efforts to make everyone around her be as uncomfortable as possible were she was a very reliable ally. Poor Ramas…
Some hours later I awoke from my nightly trance and went outside to see how things were going. It was just past midnight when I strolled outside and noticed it had gotten a rather foggy out, but just outside the encampment oddly enough. Banori was already up and talking away with Maethic so I went over and joined them. Apparently it had rolled up and just stopped outside. She had tried to shake me from my trance but but found she couldn’t and figured I was really tired and shaken after the undead. She didn’t pry aside from ask if I was okay, but I felt a little guilty not telling her. They had cooked up some breakfast, something about having had enough berries to last them a lifetime, so I had some as well as they discussed the issue at hand.Banori was very on the edge, and rightly so. She didn’t like the air which struck me as odd, aside from it not reaching into the camp where they are doing some magical experimentation which would explain the fog stopping there didn’t seem to be anything odd about it. She decided to go scout around the immediate area, I asked if she wanted me to come but she passed me up and told me to stay with Maethic. I wrinkled my nose a bit, and it sounded a lot like an order, but I guess I really would just slow her down. Still, however, I wish I had ignored that and went with her, I would give anything to have had a little more time with her. It feels so unfair…
So I waited with Maethic. I politely listened as he went on about why dwarven society is superior to all others and how he would see to correcting it and showing us how to be properly civilized. I agreed with every one of his points and from time to time I would interject and show him other ways dwarves were superior to us all! He seemed very happy to see that someone was coming around, as if he had finally convinced one of us of the value of his words. I don’t think he ever understood I was playing with him, but I guess that means he may have gone off to the next world thinking he had done some good, so I’m glad I was able to possibly help in that small way. This was to be the last conversation I had with him.
About an hour or so later Banori returned, running backwards and firing arrows into the fog. Alarmed I looked out but I couldn’t make anything out. She clearly saw something, or several something’s as she kept firing. She said the undead were advancing and to sound the alarm! We sent the guards to the barracks and housing to rouse everyone and before long the front “gate” was full of half-dressed groggy soldiers wondering just what was going on. Before long however the first shapes started to appear from the fog.
Dozens’s of skeletons and zombies rushed onto us, I was forced back into supporting everyone, it seems Project Lantern did not warrant anything but foot soldiers. But despite that they performed admirably, although there were some losses, the undead force was quickly and sounded defeated. Ban looked ready to dive right into the fog, I had to plead with her not to and to come back inside. I was really worried for it, I know she wants revenge, but it was scaring me how little regard she gave to her own life when the chance came.
It did not take long before we could all see the forms appearing in the fog. They had surrounded the entire encampment and there was no telling at the time just how deep their numbers were but it was safe to say they were in the thousands. The similarities to 12 years ago were not lost on me, was this the same source that cased the destruction of Esa’Mylntanali? I looked around at the soldiers and our group and quickly realized we were in a great deal of trouble. Maybe if the old wizard had his weapon ready we might be able to cut a hole in the mass of undead and run for it, but there were so many wounded here from the attack that would have to be sacrificed. I know I could dig a tunnel, it wouldn’t be big but it should be big enough that I could bring my sister with me. Maybe one or two others at most. And really would she even go with me if I suggested it? I had my doubts.
Interrupting my planning something unexpected happened. From the shadows came a Palanquin carried by a number of skeletons. Oh this was very different from back home. It approached our gate and then stopped. We waited with baited breath as a figure emerged. Panicked whispers from behind said it was a Lich Lord, a few gave her the name of Maras.
She did not speak long and offered us a choice, not much of one really however. Surrender and join her undead ranks, or be killed and join her undead ranks. She gave us a day to make our decision. Immediately there was mass panic in the camp. She must be worried about the wand I figured, maybe she isn’t sure if it is really a threat to her or not. But it was time I needed.
She went back into her Palanquin and returned to the fog and shadows going out of site. In her place a skull of a large dragon engulfed in flames flew into our camp. No one seemed to have any idea of what to do in those first few minutes, no that that is except Ramas, he seemed to have already come up with a plan after much thought. Not a great plan however…
His maul came down with a mighty crunch on the skull. It didn’t seem to really phase it at all, and then a terrible battle began with it. Quickly it was apparent we were outclassed by this one creature alone. I caused it some harm with my magic while keeping out of its range as best I could but it was for naught.
Maethic was the first to fall. I was struggling to keep myself conscious when it happened. A ball of fire erupted on him and some of the camps soldiers killing them all. Using it’s magic (or so I assume) the skull lifted his body over the makeshift walls. I never saw him again but I am all too familiar with the outcome.
Struggling to hold our own Anabelle and myself found ourselves the last ones standing against it, Ramas had disappeared as had my sister. I had taken on of form of an allosaurus, its speed was required to even try and keep ahead of the creature. I had just picked up Anabelle to see if we could wage a running battle against it but a powerful bolt of lightning from it ended our attempt. We were knocked back, I fell back into my normal form and I felt pain all over. I looked around quickly and saw Anabelle, she wasn’t moving and her breathing looked strained.
I pulled myself up to my knees. For a moment I reached for my bow but quickly stopped. Even if I could hit it from this far it was just going to strike me down with more of its magic. I pulled myself up to my feet turn again into an Allosaurus I started running for the shelter of some buildings where I figured if it followed it might have to at least come down closer to the ground where I might have a chance.
While running I made an awkward grab for Anabelle but I wasn’t able to pick her up. With the skull closing in I knew I had no chance of escape if I circled around and made a second grab. I had to leave her. As I ran past I looked back. Her body was floating up into the air, just as poor Maethics had. She disappeared over the wall and that was the last I saw of her.
I made it to cover and waited for the end to come. I heard a few thunking sounds, figuring it must be Ban I came out to help but instead saw a large bolt sticking out of the skull, not her arrows. Another one came from one of the upper floor windows but went wide. Having had enough the skull flew back into the fog as well. Ramas, it would appear, had driven it off with some strange ballista contraption he had found and actually managed to assemble and fire. If not for everything that was going on I think I would have been rather impressed at the time.
Ramas came down and met me in the courtyard. Only the two of us seemed to be left. He seemed rather pleased with himself, but I don’t think he knew what had happened to his sister and in my form I was in no position to tell him yet. Banori soon joined us as well. She had caught site of someone lurking around in the shadows, maybe using this monster as a cover. Or possibly one of the researchers hiding, but she didn’t think so. She did not find him, but she had gotten a number of the researchers to safety while looking for him.
Pondering our next move a massive dragon born, he had to be 10 feet tall, emerged from Fleischer’s tower with a gnome in tow. They took in the devastation for a moment and came over to greet us. Apparantly the gnome, Obinorcle, had come from Mir to assist Fletcher with the wand, and this giant dragonborn, Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale, was here to offer any assistance he could. Ramas and Banori gave them the run down and after being satisfied they were not whom Ban had seen she went back in search of the shadow.
Obinorcle wanted to talk more, and he wasn’t getting what he wanted from Ramas so he started hounding me to switch back, I really did not want to, especially since it did appear there was an assassin around (maybe the one from earlier), I was pretty beat up and did not relish the idea of dropping my last bit of protection but these two seemed capable of handling anything that showed up, and my sister was hunting for him too so I relented.
I answered his questions about what had happened and what was going on as best I could. Obi decided to try and hook up with the wand to see if it was finished. He put a helmet on his head which was connected to the wand with some wires, it was all rather odd looking to me. But he made it move, so it looks like it works. Or at least that part of it works. While he was doing this I broke the news to Ramas about his sister, but I think he already knew.
Obi decided he wanted to try the wand out on the army. Clearly I had not properly explained to him the magnitude of the number of undead that were here. Asking for better ideas I explained my earlier idea to tunnel myself and Banori out. With a day of time and enough people to move dirt and put in some simple supports to the tunnel walls we might just be able to get away. Fortunately I was able to convince him this was the better option. We got the researchers and surviving soldiers, I turned into a giant badger after getting some rest and got to work. We started digging from inside one of the buildings in order to hide what we were doing as best we could.
I wanted Banori with me up front, just in case any undead happen to be able to burrow and I ran into them was my excuse, but really I didn’t want her out of my sight, but she was having none of that. I dug and dug and dug for hours, there were a few complications, I’d run into a large stone every now and that that would take too long to remove so I had to widen the passage to allow the wand through, but eventually felt I had gone far enough and starting digging a ramp up to the surface.
It looked to be about a mile or so out of town. I could see the undead swarming around outside the walls still. It worked, we were going to make it! I could hear the odd creaking and rumbling from inside. After a few minutes a shriek came from the undead undead and they started rushing into the camp. People were starting to come out of the hole, but they were slow and sluggish. I decided some inspiration was in order to get things going faster.
I’m really not sure what I was thinking, hours and hours of digging had dulled my thinking I’m sure, but I took out my bagpipes and started playing to try and inspire the people to move more quickly, a nice uplifting marching song. This seemed to work except of course the undead clearly heard it. I could see some bloated beast take to the skies coming in our direction. It didn’t take it too long to get here.
A diseased, bloated corpse of what I would have to say was a hydra splashed own atop us. Most of the people were through by this point and none too soon, we all heard a collapsing sound deep in the tunnel. With the help of Obinorcle and Kal we made short work of the beast. Once it fell some grotesque undead ripped its way from the hydra’s flesh, disgusting. These were quickly dispatched as well. A few of the researchers were injured, but most were safe.
It was then I looked around at everyone, panic started gripping me. I didn’t see Banori anywhere. I yelled at Kal asking where she was, they were the last two that were going to be coming in. He told me she hadn’t made it into the tunnel before it started to collapse. I couldn’t see straight and nearly fell down as what he said washed over me. I wanted to kill him, how dare he leave her behind! That was my emotions talking though I know. This was the fault of that lich…
Everyone was getting to move out, I just stared at the camp, undead were running rampant all over it. I knew there was no way she survived that. She died there, alone, just as I had seen so many years ago. I didn’t say anything, I was afraid to try and speak. I have to put on a strong face for 10 days until she passes over. I took half a step towards the camp when the others called me, they were starting to move out.
All my dreams of finding her and bringing her back home where we would rebuild our home were just crushed along with the only other person in the world. I couldn’t even make sure she didn’t die by herself. I filled in with the group and started walking.
Muranamu is one of the oldest creatures in the world, certainly the oldest in the Halcyon Empire. She has been part of Imperial history for so long, that she has taken just about every role in major historical events. She’s been an antagonist, a hero, an observer, but she’s always been present. Muranamu is an ancient dragon who has made her home in the Great Northern Forest. Deep in the heart of that forest, she sleeps. She sleeps now more than anything. Some say the great Muranamu is preparing to die.
Muranamu’s most notable achievement, the one that has sealed her fame in the empire is her defeat of one of the ten Lich Lords, Emeril the Vain. She had largely been an observer of the Lich Wars, staying on the sidelines and protecting her lair and horde, but Emeril the Vain somehow insulted her. Some say that the lich had offered to purchase one of her eggs. Some say that he tried to steal from her horde. All agree that his demise was spectacular.
Emeril had been leading an assault on Port Paiar, one of the Old Kingdom’s major shipping cities when Muranamu came swooping down. She laid waste to his entire army (and much of Port Paiar), then engaged the lich in single combat. The battle raged for three days, each combatant getting more and more injured until finally, Muranamu lured Emeril into a trap. The lich could not escape the dragon’s breath, now so poisonous that the lich’s very bones boiled and melted apart. The attack was so effective, that it melted Emeril’s phylactery into a puddle of viscous goo. The great dragon then took wing and flew back to her lair in the Great Northern Forest and has been inactive since then.
Many adventurers and would-be heroes have tried to slay Muranamu, but all have either turned away or died. Her lair is protected by devious traps and terrifying guardians, to say nothing of the great dragon herself. It is well known that as dragons age, they grow ever larger. It is said that Muranamu now resembles a large hill. Her pitted, worn talons are still sharp and strong enough to rend even the finest enchanted armor and her broken teeth are still sharp enough to bite through even the toughest hide. But it is her breath weapon that causes dragon hunters to shudder in fear and revulsion. It is common dragon lore that green dragons breathe noxious gas to subdue their prey. Muranamu’s poisonous breath has had centuries to mature into a vile mixture that is so caustic and lethal that it can warp steel and slough flesh from bone. It has been many generations since any adventurer was foolish enough to brave Muranamu’s wrath, even though her horde is one of legend.
Muranamu’s brood has spread over the face of the empire and has proven to be some of the hardiest and most successful dragons to live in the empire. They are more cunning and devious than the powerful reds, stronger and more vicious than the blacks, and more brutal than the blues. Her children, however, are not immune to the threat of dragon slayers and adventurers. Over the long years, her brood has been whittled down to a hardy few. These children are powerful dragons in their own right, though they live in constant paranoia of yet another adventuring party or hero who has come to kill them and–even worse–claim their hordes.
Not much is known of Muranamu’s mates, though scholars have theorized that there have been several of many different breeds; Muranamu’s brood has been known to have dark green scales and fiery breath, or to sport the horns and skeletal face of a black. She is always seen alone, though, so if she does mate, scholars believe that she must drive her lovers away after the act is done. Perhaps she has become so paranoid that she believes that all are out to get her. Perhaps she simply enjoys being a mother. Whatever the case, information about her mates is scarce.
Lord Veridian Plagueus is an adult dragon of some 250 years who has made his home in the Little Blackleaf Woods. He’s one of Muranamu’s youngest grandchildren. That doesn’t mean he’s young in human terms. He’s about 250 years old and a full-grown adult dragon. He’s a green dragon with some very unique abilities. His scales are harder than normal dragon scales, and seem to have been purposefully melted and combined with metal. His breath is not the standard poison gas breath, but a deadly mix of poison gas and caustic acid. In addition, he seems to have gathered a rather devoted group of kobolds around him. These kobolds aren’t like normal kobolds either. They’re fiercer and more organized.
Furthermore, Plagueus is a twisted genius. Bards whisper that he collects corpses of various animals and sets them all stewing at various places throughout the Little Blackleaf. This cultivates virulent diseases in these pools. Plagueus seems to enjoy experimenting on those he catches with these various diseases and is said to bathe in these pools, which gives him a dreadful smell in addition to the ability to carry a ton of diseases.
As for his weaknesses, the bards are pretty sure he doesn’t have any. They advise any potential dragonslayer to find a mighty magical weapon that can kill him from afar. The further the better. If that’s not possible, then try to ambush him while he’s asleep? They don’t know.
Lord Plagueus now looks very different than he did when he was a younger dragon. He is colored a sickly yellowish orange and his scales glisten with pus and the glint of the magic metal he bonded into them. He is one of the most deadly dragons in the empire, simply because of his own sick experiments on himself, and will be a true terror once he gains his full growth.
The line of Veridian Plagueus is as follows:
Perrath, Veridian’s younger brother, was a black dragon, killed by an elven paladin of Corellon Larethian wielding a lance of light known as Sariandi the Lightbringer. Hudraer, Lord Plagueus’s elder sister, and a green dragon of some fame, was killed by an unknown group of dwarven dragonslayers who managed to pin her down with an apparatus which hurled weighted chain nets made of adamantium. They then beat her to death as she lay trapped in their nets.
The above genealogy should not by any means be seen as complete. It is a work in progress and dragon families are not widely researched. The bloodline of Muranamu is long and tangled and the snippet which involves Lord Plagueus is only a small sampling of her exploits.
Baenia Daranna Araechnia was born under an ill sign. She was born an albino drow–a drow with maggot-white skin and black hair. She was to be put to death, but a sign from Lolth herself prevented her immediate sacrifice. A swarm of spiders engulfed the infant the moment she went under the knife; there has rarely been a clearer sign of Lolth’s favor. She was a child prodigy. She became a high priestess of Lolth for her House (House Araechnia) at the tender age of sixteen. She was the pride of the house, as aloof and cruel as any priestess of Lolth that had ever been born. She personally led her house to victory in the Game of Houses, elevating her house from twentieth in the city to fifth. She was the model of devotion to her psychotic deity, making the required sacrifices and performing rites and rituals with rarely seen zeal. Then, things went spectacularly wrong for Baenia. Lolth is a notoriously fickle and temperamental deity. Something she did must have displeased Lolth.
Her House fell from grace in spectacular fashion. Araechnia was attacked by two Houses at once. First, its magical protections were destroyed, then their priestesses were cut off from Lolth. Their warriors did not last much longer. Baenia escaped the final judgement by castigating herself in her House’s temple. She cast herself at the mercy of Lolth and the demented goddess gave her a price for her life: transformation into a drider. With enemies closing in on her from all sides and her life in the balance, Baenia accepted Lolth’s offer, transforming into a drider on the spot.
With her new form, she evaded her enemies and began to live a subsistence existence in the Feydark. It was in this state that Borcus, the Laughing Lich found her. He had been delving into the Feydark to bolster his armies with drow subjects–he found drow vampires to be excellent assassins. He encountered Baenia when he stumbled into her webs. He became entangled in the sticky webs, but instead of simply blasting them away, he waited for the predator he knew would arrive. He figured he could use this creature as yet another undead minion.
When Baenia arrived to devour her prey, Borcus immediately fell in love. The Laughing Lich had never felt such a pure and unfettered feeling. Of course, it warped in his blackened, twisted heart into a desire to possess. When Baenia discovered what she had caught, she thought that she was dead. She recognized Borcus’ power and knew that such a creature would have no trouble blasting her to dust. So it was with great surprise that she accepted his offer to become his companion. Borcus, gleeful with his newfound love, led them both out of the Feydark and into his castle deep in the Great North Woods.
There, he transformed Baenia into a lich so that they might share an eternity together. The transformation from drider to lich was an awakening for Baenia. She finally felt free of Lolth and took the title the Spider Queen as an ironic jab at her former goddess. She fell in love with Borcus and they lived together the Great North Woods–keeping well clear of Muranamu–for half a millenium. They spent their time studying magic and the science of necromancy. Baenia discovered a method to siphon divine power from Lolth and use her old powers as a high priestess without paying obeisance to the goddess. When the Cloud Queen approached them with her plan to transform the world into undead, they decided to join her out of simple existential boredom.
It is said that, when the Thri-Kreen weaponmaster Brak-Thek defeated her, she finally died with a smile on her lips. It was said that, of all the Lich Lords, only Baenia was basically indifferent to their goal. She had grown bored with her existence. Life–or unlife–had lost its flavor for her. She no longer felt the joy of discovery; she no longer felt the thrill of the kill. Her body continued to live, but her will was decidedly gone. Brak-Thek fought his way past her guards, his force of Thri-Kreen warriors dying all around him. When he finally met Baenia, the tales say that she only fought with the bare minimum effort. Even her bare minimum effort was enough to unmake Brak-Thek. Wounded unto death, his final blow to her heart–where she had stored her phylactery–was a weak one and one that the Spider Queen fell into.
Lich Lord Quietus, He Who Never Sleeps, was once the Terror of Berr Dornat, the Black Fang. He was a ferocious and deadly adult black dragon who deeply enjoyed lurking through the dwarven tunnels and devouring dwarves. He was unusual for a black dragon, as most of his kind prefer to live in swamps and bogs, but the Black Fang was fond of the cold darkness of the caverns and tunnels of the mountains. He was a silent killer who never announced his presence as he swept down upon a dwarven town, utterly destroying it with his acid breath. He would pick through the remains of the melted dwarves and crunch on their bones like a fair-goer eating nuts, then he would gather up what trinkets survived and squirrel them away in his growing hoard.
It was during one of these raids that he made his first mistake. He attacked a town in Stonehammer territory. When the thane of the Stonehammers, Thane Burza Stonehammer, learned of this, (the great grandfather of Durnin Stonehammer), he set to work creating a weapon that could shatter the bones of mountains so that he might once and for all eliminate the menace of the Black Fang from Berr Dornat forever. Burza created the Stonehammer, a massive dwarven maul imbued with the might of Moradin to defeat the Black Fang. He named it after his clan, knowing that it could receive no better name to ensure its strength.
For a fortnight, Burza stalked through long-abandoned tunnels deep beneath the civilized caverns of Stonehammer lands, hunting the Black Fang. Finally, he found the black dragon, sleeping in his cavern, atop his glittering hoard. In complete darkness, Burza struck at the dragon and they battled for three long hours. Burza’s armor had been blessed by priests of Moradin to resist the Black Fang’s acid breath and the Stonehammer was a mighty weapon indeed. Though Burza was struck a mortal blow–a sucking chest wound inflicted by the Black Fang’s barbed tail–it was not before the Thane of the Stonehammer clan dealt the dragon an equally mortal blow, crushing its chest in with a truly awesome final blow. The dragon did not die immediately. It lived on, hate giving it an awful will to live just a little longer.
The Black Fang persisted, dying by inches over days. He saw his mortal enemy carried away by his kin. He saw the hated Stonehammer reverentially taken from the place it had fallen. He saw his hoard carted off by crowds of dwarves. The Black Fang was powerless to stop them. His hatred was so black and foul, that it forced him to draw breath through his ruined chest. His torn heart continued to beat, weaker and weaker. And that was when the Cloud Queen came.
Actual historical data is very vague on what happened next, but scholars surmise that the Cloud Queen was looking for something that had been hidden in the dragon’s hoard. When she found the hoard pilfered and the great dragon himself dying, she must have offered him undeath. Instead of becoming a mere undead minion for her to command, however, the Black Fang’s hatred and his inherently magical draconian nature transformed the spells and rituals, empowering them. As his heart shuddered its last beat, he felt a cold, deathly power infuse his body and he became a dracolich. Of course, the Black Fang immediately tried to kill the upstart woman who had given him this gift, but to his surprise, she was by far the stronger.
She mastered him as much as she could, naming him Lord Quietus, He Who Never Sleeps, and gave him a new purpose. He would help spread death to the entire empire, releasing mortals from the shackles of death, even as he luxuriated in death’s cold embrace. Lord Quietus took to his new calling with a will. Over a few short years, he had all but forgotten about the dwarves in their cold caverns as his tattered wings felt the kiss of sun-blessed lands and he heard the screams and cries of top-dwellers. He alone of the Lords of Death did not dwell in the Cloud Keep, preferring instead to keep terrestrial lairs. It was to be his undoing.
Lord Quietus was finally defeated by a warforged binder called The Chanter. The dracolich had just finished transforming a new batch of prisoners into willing undead soldiers when this unassuming mechanical man simply walked into his lair. The binder simply ignored the dracolich’s necromancy and his terrible acid breath, laying down binding after binding, stripping away Lord Quietus’ power one layer at a time until the dracolich was a loosely held-together, quivering pile of rotten tissues. The Chanter then systematically wiped out all of the undead in the lair and destroyed Lord Quietus’ phylactery. Once Lord Quietus’ phylactery had been destroyed, the Chanter laid down one last binding, dissipating the magical energies enervating the dragon’s corpse into the ether. The Chanter then walked out of Lord Quietus’ lair, never to be heard from or seen again.
Laria the Cloud Queen is the Lich Lord who brought forth the Ten Lords of the Dead. She is remembered primarily for constructing the Cloud Keep, an enormous flying fortress from which the Lich Lords planned their assaults and rained death upon the empire. She was once widely regarded as the most beautiful woman in the empire and a kind and generous philanthropist as well. She was an accomplished wizard by the time most apprentices are casting their first light spell and was a brilliant theoretical magician, creating many new spells designed to help those who could not help themselves.
She became interested in the fuzzy dividing line between divine miracles and arcane magic when she took a lover–a paladin of the Raven Queen whose name has been lost to time (or perhaps deliberately scrubbed from records). Laria and her lover would spend hours talking about the faith which enabled miracles and the logic and mathematics that enabled Laria to create spells. Perhaps these conversations would have led Laria to create more spells to help people, if only her lover had not died. As her lover was a paladin, she was charged with the protection and safety of the people in her flock. She was given a mission by her church to put down a cult of demon worshipers who were summoning demons and commanding them to attack innocents. It was a dangerous mission, but the paladin was, by all surviving accounts, a talented and gifted warrior. Her talent for battle could not save her and she ended up dying defending the innocents.
Laria was overcome with grief. For months, she shut herself in her tower, refusing to speak to anyone. Day and night, strange lights and even stranger sounds emanated from her laboratory at the top of her tower and Laria’s friends grew worried for her safety. Finally, after five months being shut in her tower, the lights and strange sounds stopped. Believing that she had at last worn herself into exhaustion, her friends broke into her tower to try and save Laria, only to find her transfigured.
Where once, Laria had been vibrant and beautiful, wholly alive, now she was a mere shell of a person. Her wild pink hair had been bleached white as bone. Her skin was waxy and stretched over her bones. Her beautiful green eyes had sunken in and had a strange, alarming glow to them. She looked dead, yet she walked. She spoke. She spoke at great length to her friends.
What she said first alarmed them, then terrified them. She spoke of the blurred line of divine and arcane magic. She spoke of the secrets of life and death. She said that she had ‘solved the problem of death’ and could grant anyone who desired it immortality. Finally, Laria revealed what she had been shut away in her tower doing all these months. Laria’s lover, the paladin, walked out of a side room, as graceful and alien as any fey creature. An aura of death surrounded the paladin. Her eyes were dead and staring. She did not speak. Instead, she attacked Laria’s friends, killing most of them as Laria looked on and laughed, clearly mad.
One of those friends escaped. Her name was Brianna Dawnsinger, a paladin of Pelor. She saw the madness in the once-great wizard’s eyes and the horror of the abomination she had created–what she had become. Dawnsinger gathered a group of priests and paladins and came back to Laria’s tower, but too late. Laria had left with her former lover.
Ten years later, Laria returned, at the head of a truly terrible group of fiends who called themselves the Lords of Death. Their stated mission was to end death by transitioning all through death’s door and then guiding them back, changed for the better. In actual practice, the Lords of Death began a campaign to turn all people into undead. They believed that only through this process could paradise be obtained. Laria now styled herself the Cloud Queen and no longer made any pretense at life. Her skin was cold and deathly blue. Her hair was white and her eyes burned with a dread light. She retained much of the beauty she had in life, but now it inspired dread instead of admiration. Her words fell like dead leaves where once it sang and lilted. All compassion was gone, replaced by this one burning obsession. Her lover was still at her side, now called the Bleak Knight.
The Lords of Death laid waste to the empire for ten years, turning their dead against them. Dawnsinger was the one who struck the final blow against the Cloud Queen, sending the Cloud Keep crashing down as circles of wizards opened the earth to accept its unquiet dead. They could not close the enormous grave–the Cloud Queen’s magic was yet too strong–and it became the Scar, poisoning the land around for miles and continuing to birth monstrosities. Though she did not exist long as a lich, the Cloud Queen’s influence has been felt for 200 years and it will be another 200 years at least before the empire is back to its former glory.