Darkness RisingAuthor: Excelsior Entertainment © 2003
The emblem from
the Devouts The Four Prophets were banished to the corners of Chronopia. There, in their ever-twisting malice for the One King, they made diabolical pacts with unearthly evil. The deadliest threats ever to face the beleaguered populace of Chronopia, the Devout were originally Firstborn, but their worship of the Dark One has twisted them beyond all imaginings. Now they are more like the demons they fight alongside than their Firstborn origins.
Led by the Dark Prophets, the Devout will rest only when the whole world bows down to the Dark Lord and the rivers and seas run red with the blood of their enemies. The names of the Infernal Four as they are referred to now are synonymous with the darkest of curses for all that breathe. Negralís beginnings as a Firstborn rebel fleeing from the vile Elven Courts are a long forgotten dream. The once divinely beautiful Aleha, whose dusky skin was said to have driven men to untold acts of heroism, is now corrupt beyond all ken. Nemeth, son of a slave girl, notorious for the butchery of his half-kin bears little resemblance to his past. Finally there is Lokoth, kinsmen to Kronos AíKallach himself although his ancient kin would spit in his face if they saw the twisted and deviant monstrosity he has become. These Four Prophets plan the destruction of the whole world from their dark sanctums and have created and summoned a host of demonic minions to aid them in the schemes.
In their sinister palaces the Dark Prophets conduct ritual sacrifices and other unspeakable atrocities to appease their Dark Lord and slate his thirsts. In return, the Dark One, whose name shall not be uttered, has granted the Prophets incredible powers, and with his aid they allied themselves with the Keepers of the seven gates of Hell and drew from their ranks legions of undead. Pouring over the forgotten scripts of the Nethim, an ancient civilization that predates recorded history, the Dark Prophets uncovered the most dangerous of secrets, a secret so terrifying that the races of Chronopia quake with fear at it- the secret of undoing creation itself.
With this forsaken knowledge the Dark Prophets constructed the Great Horns of Summoning made from the fused skeletal remains of their countless victims. The Prophets blew the horns in accordance with the eldritch rituals, and the Demon Lords of the Dusk Realms answered that call. The Great Vortexes were then created at the citadels of the Four Prophets linking the world of Chronopia to that of the Dusk Realms. Vast cohorts of demonic warriors and a plethora of perverted creatures crossed the planes and swelled the ranks of Devoutís followers.
In the West, Nemethís hordes have recently taken Gar Gled from the Clan of the Horned Ones, and he continues an incessant war of attrition against them. To the North, his forces battle with the Untamed and the Firstborn. The Great Wall of the Sons of Kronos is but a shattered remnant before the might of Nemethís followers. The Devout of Nemeth have also taken the Firstborn city of Cardiler and put its inhabitants to the sword in honor of their Dark Lord and their great victory.
Negral sent forth an armada from the Isle of the Dead, across the Frozen Sea, to seize vast tracks of the Dreadlands from the Blackbloods, crushing Nizarís forces at Malika pass and killing his brother Burbaal who now serves the Dark Prophet as his greatest champion. He destroyed the fragile alliance of the Firstborn, Dwarfs and Elves at Versurvia, razing the city to the ground and killing all those who opposed him harming any future alliance between the mentioned races. His land army marches further into the northern reaches of the Firstborn Kingdom, and his Black Feet has sailed down the Great Gorge to raid the cities of the Inner Sea.
Alehaīs forces have marched from the steaming jungles of Jebel and sacked the Elven merchant city of Myrema. Her armies have clashed with the Dwarf legions of the Dark-Tusks and the Horned Ones. Sinister rumors are circulating that her emissaries have been seen courting the Overlord of the Vultures and that her dark forces are poised to invade the island homeland of The Horned Ones.
Lokothīs armies battle against the Wolf Clan Dwarves in the high mountainous plateaus and valleys. All along the Dwarf border, fires burn in the aftermath of the battles between the two forces, but the armies of the Dark Prophet are inexorably pushing the Wolves back, deep into their own territories. In contrast to the slow stranglehold of the Wolf Clan, the Blood-Bones, allied with the House of Helios, are successfully defending their eastern border, though Lokothís dark legions still threaten the shores of the Elven lands. The Nameless have set up a new citadel in Keraak Ket, on the ruins of the old Jackal Ringhold, from which they assail their sworn foes.
The Devout impose an ever tightening noose around the lands of the Inner Sea, and if the mortal races remain divided, the balance will be firmly tipped in the Dark Lordís favor.
Military and MagicIt is impossible to separate sorcery from the Devoutís military for both are part of the same thing. The most common element in the Devout forces are the Followers. These Devout are mortal humans who have joined the ranks of the undead legion following in the foot steps of the people who fled Chronopia in the mass exodus after the expulsion of the Prophets. Their full helms are embossed with the Dark Lordís symbol. They favor garments of red and white embroidered with symbols of the Dark Lord, wearing long, flowing robes and carrying shields and powerful swords. They are fanatical and truly "Devout", content in the knowledge that after their death they will still serve in the ranks of their masterís army.
Like the Followers, the Cursed began as living flesh before selling their soul to the Darkness. These are followers who have killed untold numbers of those who have opposed the Prophets and as a result their malice has twisted them and is slowly changing them physically into misshapen monstrosities. The Cursed can be seen at the front of any attack wielding their mighty battle-axes, cutting down the unbelievers before them with impunity.
The Dark Prophets have chosen warriors from the ranks of the Blood Knights, elite units of the Followers, to lead their armies in their name. Sent out as the lieutenants of the forces of Hell, they ride out of their vast black obelisks to do the Dark Lords bidding. These poor wretches are known only as the Nameless, corrupt beyond all ken, tools used to fashion the world in their masterīs own image. The people have long ago forgotten the names of these poor wretches though they are feared by all.
The Lords of the Seven Gates of Hell granted the Necromancers, trusted advisors to the Dark Prophets, special powers that allow them to reanimate the dead. During engagements with the enemy, the Necromancers can be seen roaming the battlefield with their ravenous carrion-beasts, monsters that consume the flesh of the dead and turn them into the skeletons that their masters can reanimate. Some say that the Necromancers were once human, though this is hard to believe when their tall, wizened frames are seen beckoning the dead to the kill the living. They wear horned skulls on their heads and filthy garments upon their withered frames. They are bent crooked and lean heavily on their staffs of power, twisted lengths of backbone fused together and imbued with hell-spawned might. The Dark Power has corrupted these once men and sent them down a path of death and decay that they are more than eager to share with the rest of the world.
The reanimated dead are called the Risen and these skeletons form the backbone of many of the Devout armies. They take the form of most of the races on Chronopia; even the Stygian are not immune to the touch of the Dark Lord. These ghastly nightmares are used with incredible effect, their slow almost mechanical gait merely enhancing the terror that destroys the morale of troops who oppose them.
Alongside the Necromancers and the Risen are an ungodly host of demons dragged from Hell itself by the prayers and sacrifices of the Dark Prophets. The pride of the Devout armies is its Warped Lords. Granted great gifts of power and knowledge before the fall, these former Cardinals of the Firstborn became the exact opposite of what they were in life, evil twisting their minds and disfiguring their bodies. Forever after they would become known as the Warped Lords because of their radically diametric transformation. Masks wrought in the fire of Hell itself hide the twisted mockeries of their once-Firstborn faces. They are the Protectors of the Horns and sound them as their kin go into battle; that deadly wail casting a creeping unease throughout the enemy troops.
The Demons from the Dusk Realms take a variety of forms, each one ghastly and all of them deadly. The first soldiers to cross through the Vortexes into the world of Chronopia were the Dusk Realm Warriors. Though they are broad and squat, they are capable of surprising speed and unrelenting fury. These Demons favor large, cruelly shaped swords and shields with heavily embellished armor. They are often used as shock troops as their favorite tactic is to ram the enemy with such ferocity that they are knocked down. They then set about their disordered foes with their weapons, slaughtering with great relish.
Demons of the Twilight are humanoid creatures summoned by the Warped Lords from the Twilight places beyond the Dusk Realms. Though they come in various sizes, all seem to share large claws and long tapering skulls. They can only be summoned into the world of Chronopia for short periods of time and require a Warped Lord to maintain their material form on this plane. They have an insatiable appetite for mortal flesh, which they rend with their razor-like claws.
Legend has it that the Damned were the first race to sell their souls to the Dark One and judging from their infernal appearance, it is not a hard legend to believe. The Damned wield mighty flails and are deceptively agile. They roam across the battlefields, crushing and splintering mortal flesh beneath their armored hooves.
The Tormented by contrast are mysterious demons that have had their lowers torsosí torn from their bodies, their entrails spilling out behind them, the power of the Dark One keeping them painfully alive. Whatever crime they committed to have earned such treatment, their current and only aim is to bring an end to their eternal suffering and pain through the sweet embrace of death. They pull themselves along by their muscular arms and throw themselves onto the enemy ranks goring and savaging them with their shark-like teeth and horned heads.
The Harbinger is a huge hunched demon that strides across the battlefield destroying everything in its path. Dark Wings, those small and viciously fanged demons that hang from a Harbingerís undersides and chest, fly off in tight swarms to plague those who oppose the Harbinger.
The larger Demon Wings hover over the field of battle, swooping down on unfortunates and stabbing them with their long spears.
The most fearsome of the entire humanoid demonic host are the Darkeye warriors. Tall and powerful these are the elite soldiers of the Dark Lordís horde. They wear intricately carved, full-faced helmets each featuring a luminous blood-red gem and no eye slits, since they are blind to normal vision. The thoughts and fears emanating from their foes guide their eyeless forms. They carry swords, and despite their blindness are unerringly accurate.
All these creatures and more can be found in the fetid ranks of the Devout as the Dark Prophets seek vengeance on those they regard as the Betrayers, the other races who refuse to kneel before the Dark Lord and exiled them from kingdoms they consider theirs by divine right. The catalog of creatures summoned by the Dark Prophets is swelling with each passing season and it is feared that given time, the abominations they are able to create will fill a tome larger than the Chronomicon.
With more demons appearing in the Devoutís ranks every battle, it is hard for the other races not to look into their hearts and consider themselves doomed.
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