PRELUDE Arvatroth Malshur turned the corner, passing large obsidian pillars decorated with disassembled pieces of once magnificent crowns. Their pieces now fortified the construction of his fortress, bearing the weight of the ceiling
ArvatrothMalshur turned the corner, passing large obsidian pillars decorated with disassembled pieces of once magnificent crowns. Their pieces now fortified the construction of his fortress, bearing the weight of the ceiling above, cast within the stone for thousands of years. Their gems glistened in the torch light which illuminated in row after row, as far as the eye could see down the vast hall.These treasures now garnishing his fortress, were seized from defeated kings and monarchs during the course of countless battles, and all out wars, standing as a testament to his might. “Their owners were weak, frail, and pathetic men. Each pleading for an end to their suffering, although this was a fetal wish, a hope of the destitute.” Malshur thought with contempt.His lavish, black cloak streamed behind him like black flames scurrying through a field, its fabric emblazoned with coats of arms; some he remembered, others he wished to forget and those for which his memory had faded from view. His possessive shadow struck against the stone, piercing through the torchlight, then beating against the walls with skeletal forms sunken within black marbled stone. The stronghold itself was built upon them and it grew larger still, with each lost soul, a new layer was formed. Iron, stone, and men made up the structure of this enormous fortress, standing like a beacon of despair amongst an ocean of fire, and molten rock spanding in hundreds of miles in each direction.The figures’ mouths left open in everlasting screams, as they were melded within the rock. The souls, neither dead nor living, trapped within. Their groans of pain, their suffering, their cries giving him power; as he fed upon them with glee, his appetite persistently growing. How long had it been, a thousand years, a million? That, he did not know. Time moved slowly here, one day seemed like the last, and his only true companion was his never-ceasing hunger, a craving that neither food nor drink could quench. The hands of these lost creatures, protruding from the walls, as if reaching for the hope that would not be granted; not that Malshur did not have the strength to do so, but why would he?Gleaming glyphs of gold and silver ran along the walls, they moved between forms like a serpent wrapping its prey; glowing with each step he took, their enchantments confining the souls within. With a thought, his will projected a mass of screams, which ungelated through him like a jolt of adrenaline. Breathing in their pain, white strands of light flowed into him – filling his lungs, coursed through his veins, his very being; he felt their pain, and it was good, it satisfied his hunger, however brief it may be. His eyes glowed opaque with the power he consumed, the thrill surging through his body, in such a manner that he nearly felt human again, at least for the moment. But no, never again, that time had long passed; only shadow was left, and a yearning; a desire for more.In this purgatorial state, Malshur could feed as often as he liked. These lost souls were servants to his will, his anger, and his malice; and why shouldn’t they?They dishonored their oaths, betrayed their companions, they were putride creatures that deserved no-less than the fate they were given.Turning the corner, Malshur walked through the intricately engraved entrance of the summoning tower; complex designs carved into the stone frame with expert precision, their meanings lost, although their magic not lacking in substance, it held power that even he did not fully understand; a slow drawing heat turning to a sharp pain drew up his spine as he walked through the entrance, this happened each time, a draining of his powers, each time he must give a sacrifice to enter. Entering the circular room, the summoning tower, with large pits of fire set into rows throughout its high walls; surrounded by more golden and silver glyphs running along the stone. Large curls of smoke rose a hundred feet to an eye shaped opening, letting in the fiery light of the moon, Orcus, known to most as the Bringer of Death, and by some the Desolation of Worlds—both names well deservant.Drops of sweat trickled down his brow, even after all these millennia one did not simply become acclimated to the heat of this place; its blistering fires never ceased, they did not sleep or rest—an unimaginable heat of nightmares.Striding through the room, as he had done countless times before, he passed gold cloaked seers, who chanted rhythmically, hands raised and heads bowed. Their eyes glowed, letting out a vibrant white light, as they looked into the future, or at least the future that they were allowed to see. As most creatures in this place their will was not their own, a matter Malshur knew all too well, for like him they had given their souls and once given there is no going back, and once a creature is without a soul their body is not their own.Malshur reached the pinnacle of the room, a magnificent throne made of the finest metals and most exostic bones of animal and men alike from the far reaches of existence. The back crest meshed together with metal, leather, and furs. The armrest laden with silk, which tied finger bones in slated rows down the front. Finally, gilded skulls strewn along a gothic designed wreath made of the finest metals. In front of the throne a radiant golden altar, which was elevated in the center with elaborate lines scored in the metal, which flowed into large troughs below, leaking through into its bowels. Along either side, white cloaked leecherius prepared their final unspoiled sacrifice. Their knoblike fingers tied the girl, a young woman that Malshur would have thought beautiful when he was human, to the golden surface in the center of the altar. Ripping her clothing, exposing her body to the relentlessly hot air. Her skin prickled with beads of sweat as it touched hot metal.The leecherius tied straps to her feet and hands, pulling the leather tight to hooks fixed around the altar. The girl weeped with desperate attempts to free herself, pulling only inches off the metal surface. Her eyes widing as she spotted the the tools of torture shelved along the walls, the realization of her apparent fate flashing in her eyes. Her body trembled as the leecherius began the process. Opening their cloaks their boiled, scarred and obese bodies dripped of grease licked sweat and puss spewn boils as they violated her purity, their tendrils sinking into her flesh, gorging their lust with each plunge, pulling from her her innocence. She deserves her fate.She will betray, hurt, sin. Malshur thought with contempt, his grin grew beneath his hooked nose, a vile smile, black lips, formed a thin line across his burnt, and boiled face. He sat back in against the metal chair, his obsidian eyes glowing brightly with the light of the fires surrounding them. The leecherius laughed as they drank wine, gorging on meat shoveling the meat into their mouths, the blood and bones smothering in their face and skin. stacked high around them, gold coins clattered on the floor as they pulled the girls arms, digging into crevesius or making ones where they saw fit. their lust for gluttonous satisfaction was The girl’s tears and pain only fueled their hatred and lust. After the cravings of beasts was fulfilled, blood was poured on the body and then cleansed with acids, bubbling on the skin, causing it to boil and split. She screamed, a piercing shrill cry. The glyphs running up the walls of the high tower glowed more brightly with each welp. Their knives tore into skin, seared fat and dug against bone. This made the glyphs dance frantically off the walls; a primal dance older than any creature in this room. The glyphs became ribbons of luminescent light, which flowed into the air above them. The symbols whispered an old chant, which had once been unnerving to him, however now he savored the sound. Finally, the leecherious, with their cruel manners, and oblonged faces hovering over scarred obese bodies, swelled as they lashed the girl’s flesh; hot leather splitting the skin, welts festering with each hit. “Enough!” Malshur rumbled, the sound trembling the floor, as the room became silent, and darkness fell around them; the firepits snuffed, and only the glyphs which he had no power over, hung suspended in the air around them left. “Say the words!” Malshur bellowed in resolve. With this, the figures around the room, possibly fifty in all, began to chant “Schanatchi Fornusi Tremuchis da hornus” the chant unlocking the fire gate below; as they spoke, flames creeping up the walls around them. A bellowing rumble emanated from the fiery pit, as Malshur raised a golden blade above the girl splayed out in front of him. Soft whimpering coming from her, no doubt longing for an end to her suffering. Her eyes faint yet focused on the light of Orcus. The demon moon called to her, and Malshur knew – it was captivating. Come to me it said, I will stop your pain, I will put your suffering on to me and you will feel no more.Malshur then began to carve; the symbol he had made many times before while performing the summoning ritual; into her exposed chest, first cutting through the muscle and fat in her breast. He absolutely hated women’s breasts! Disgusting odd shaped, foul things, but this was unfortunately necessary. Finishing the last part of the glyph symbol, the girl convulsing, in shock from the pain. Weak. Then he thrust the blade down, twisting, cracking, and splitting the bone, as he pried the ribs apart, and pulled the heart from her. Raising it above his head, streaming blood flowing through his hands, dripping onto his face; looking up the blood dripping into his mouth and down his chin. He tossed it into the fiery pit, below, and the process was complete. A translucent light rose from the girl, and Malshur fought to keep from sucking in the sweet warmth of her. The light flowed up, the glyphs tearing pieces as it rose until it vanished through the eye above.In that moment, a crash from below sent screams shooting through the air toward Orcus. White opaque spirits glided through the air around them. The moon captured each in turn; its demands met, one hundred untainted souls would satisfy its desires, and allow the bridge to form. Just then vine-like obsidian tendrils launched from the bowels underneath their feet, intertwining forming bonds as they came together, the glyphs which a moment before danced in the air, attached to the stone tendrils, binding the gaps and constricting around the base. Their stone manufacturing would endure the long forthcoming journey, its bond forming an army birthed from the depths of Arvatroth.