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Undead Lore

Drauga, Gauri, Haroun, Humans, Undead, Shadow: Units
Fri Jul 11, 2014 9:35 am

  • Description

    Like an infection spreading across the face of Khaldun, where the Undead walk, more of the Soulless spring forth. Born of Humans’ dark desire for immortality, the Soulless have escaped both death and life alike, and are cursed to the twilight existence that is neither. They hunger simultaneously for either release, and seek in the flesh and blood of the living both the warmth and pleasures they once knew, and the death of those who yet have what the Soulless now lack. Because of their loathing for the natural order of Khaldun and their slaughtering of the other mortal races, the Undead have forever been used as pawns by the Ceyah to achieve their purposes.


    What words can describe the horror that even now festers in my mind? Surely no common tongue of Khaldun is sufficient to the task. Perhaps somewhere, in some musty Kohan library, buried beneath the dust of Ages, is a secret language made for secret evils. Perhaps that language could convey a fraction of the darkness in me. Perhaps if I found that scroll and deciphered its ways, and wrote those glyphs now upon this page, you, reading it, would feel the cold work slithering through your spine, the clammy hands pawing at your heart. And then you, too, would sip the bitter draught of hemlock and hebonna, and pray that your death would be final, and safe from the obscenity I recounted.

    But that language I do not have, nor do I have the time for the telling of the entire horror. Even now my fingers begin to grow numb, the stylus trembles in my palsied fingers, and the sweet release from memory flows toward my heart.

    Before death claims me, and may it never let me go, I will recount this brief tale.

    There were six of us who set forth from this great university in the Gauri citadel of Channak. Tales had come to us from beyond the High Reaches, from the savage land called the Waste. These tales had corresponded to certain ancient texts, and certain intuitions we had all shared. And we were desperate men, desperate for the sort of discovery that makes a name last past death. In an Age of heroes, scholars are the authors of history, not its subjects, but scholars, no less than heroes, long for immortality. An escape from death's oblivion.

    So we set forth. Monies were allocated from our stipends, students and apprentices gathered the necessary supplies and hired mercenary escorts, and we set forth into the Waste, determined to find there the mysteries of the Pool.

    Six left, and the Waste itself claimed three. For there the sun scorches without mercy, the wind clots all orifices with sand and grit, and creatures matched to the savage land prey upon the weak. Our escorts abandoned us. Our packbeasts bolted. Left without supplies, we wandered.

    Of the things we saw in that bleak land, I could say much -- but I have not the heart for it. We followed the only path that we could find: the path of corruption. Each of had at times delved into lore best left unknown -- who has not? -- and each of us knew arts that were more potent in the Waste. We lost a forth, and so we were only two, but from his flesh we found our way further into madness, closer to the Pool.

    Oh how we hungered for it, with the longing of the diseased for death.

    We found the Poll and it is here that words escape me. Its surface reflects nothing, and everything -- inky black, but darker than ink, darker than the void between stars, darker than the ignorance of the damned. In that black surface we saw ourselves, what we had become, what we would become. We saw there the doom of all mortals, even the Immortals, with Shadow washing over the world and choking the sun, festering its way into the marrow of Khaldun until the very magma choked on its own dying ash.

    As we stared into the Pool, we could feel it stare back into us, omniscient, but hateful of knowledge, undying, but hateful of all life, beautiful in its stark purity, but hateful of all that is beautiful and pure.

    My last companion killed himself then, plunging his stylus into both eyes before burying it in his throat.

    The Poll accepted the blood that flowed from his punctured neck without so much as a ripple.

    And then he moved. A shiver. I thought he lived. I rushed to his side, cradled his head, but it was lifeless and gray. Beyond lifeless. Already the skin had begun to pucker, the flesh soften and putrefy. Maggots roiled his corpse and I hurled it aside, even his body ruptured, spewing forth a host of such things I cannot dare describe. Though I looked away, the image of that corruption was burned forever in my eyes.

    He moved again. At the edge of my vision I could see him tremble. Could see his fingers splay and clench. His arms quiver. His body turn over and then prop itself upon its knees. By the Creator, how I longed to flee! But my body was as frozen as his was animated.

    Now he stood, his black, empty eyes staring at me with such a hatred as I had only known in the comfort of my most secret resentments. His rotten hand unfurled. His fingers beckoned. Against my will, I stepped closer.

    Behind him, on the surface of the Poll, danced once more the vision of the future, of the revenant dead flooding forth from this forsaken place, rending life's fragile web with their very existence. I saw myself reflected there, saw my flesh ooze from my bones and my eyes burn with accursed fire.

    At last my body obeyed my mind, for my fear was so great it broke even the Pool's sorcery. I fled. I escaped. Borne by the speed of my terror, I outpaced even the unnatural predators of the Waste. I returned to Channak, to the halls of my university, told lies to the Masters, faced down my students, invented tales of man-eating Drauga barbarians, and whispered sweet falsehood to my beloved wife. Wrapped in my own mendacity and bolstered by the strongest of Gauri drink, for that one glorious day I half-convinced myself that there had been no Pool, no living corpse, no future written upon black water.

    And then, the nightmares came to me.

    For the past five days I have endured, each hour slipping further into the madness I foolishly thought I had escaped. I could see in the faces of my colleagues, my students, my wife, that the madness was claiming me. I could see in the cruel face of the mirror what ravages had already been worked on my flesh. The decay was upon me. The eyes in the mirror were burning dark.

    So I came here, to this forgotten corner of the university's library. To sip poison and write my last words, and pray that some living eyes read them, Ages from now; that some young student laughs at my folly, imagining it a fantasy spun to scare children at night. I pray that the vision I have seen is my private madness, and not all Khaldun's to share.
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