The DespoilerThe Shattered WasteChapter Two | A Coming Storm
“I am many things, I have been many things. Young and strong, old and gray, devastated and dying. Now I am alive again, but I fear my new children imitate the old ones. Some claim prowess in battle or sorcery; others seek strength in the darkness. They begin to mistrust and prepare for war.
Still… I love them as only a mother can.. and now I fear for them. I feel the winds of change begin to blow, and this time it may be an all-out storm. I hope that my children will be able to weather this tempest.
...for nothing is immortal...and one day, they may have to survive without me."
The vilespawn at the center of the cave dreamed of blood, death, and war, civilizations torn down and entire populations glutted upon by the children of the Ancient Ones. Flames and the coming of the Long Night consumed it's every thought-- the order of the Eastlands overturned and the rule of the gods from The Beyond absolute. It's massive; bent form shifted position, it's clawed webbed feet undulating the rock as though it sat upon glistening mud. Spiked curling horns sprouted from the sides of its gray skull, protruding from a ripped and stained metal and bone mask that hid most of its entire face covering its many bulbous eyes. Dark midnight metal encased most of the vile creature's body save its long sinewy arms, and a circle of bleached white skulls hung from its waist like macabre decorations.
The monster clutched a gnarled, twisted iron staff-- the head of which had adorned upon it twin bladed prongs.-- Which it clutched in one pale fist, its substance slithering with a dark mist that was seemingly insubstantial, as though the beast's flesh merged with the jet black iron. It traced patterns and lines in the fluid matter of the cavern floor, ever more disordered and irregular as they overlapped and spiraled.
Clouds of clawing vapor gusted from its lipless mouth and exposed skin, twisting and rolling in the air before being absorbed by the walls. The rock glistened with a wet dew of moisture, dancing visions of war and death burning in its depths, reflections of the twisted perceptions of the Vilespawn that drooled thick ropes of greenish saliva. The men of the Westlands called it The Despoiler, while the Antediluvians had known it as Nguarsk and in the Empire, it was called the name of Rorretog, the Sower of Fear.
The fires of war burned in its mind and it could feel the approach of its kindred, the real inheritors of Ethica. The children of the Ancient Ones that would replace all that remained of the Architects creations. It could sense the breath of entropy within them, the boon of corruption and mutation that identified them out as the chosen of the Ancient Ones. Three came, the mightiest vilespawn of their tribes, fierce and proud, filled with power and drawn towards this dark, cold cave to seek approval from the Ancient Ones from Beyond that theirs was the right to rule this gathering of vilespawn.
It turned a lazy head towards the cave mouth as the weak spring light was blocked off by the three supplicants. It saw they were towering and broad, with high, corded muscles beneath dark, twisted scales, each the master of a great vileswarm. All three carried crude weapons: heavy bronze battle-axes or numerous, blade-studded clubs, though in truth anyone of them could fight as well with horn, maw, or claw. One stood on thick, goat-like legs, its shaggy head crowned with a mass of bronze-tipped antlers and a thick mane of bright orange fur.
Another stamped iron-tipped talons, its rump elongated like that of a horse, though with scaled flesh and bronze like an enormous reptile. Dark spikes grew from its back and an extra set of arms sprouted from beneath its armpits. But most fearsome of all the vilespawn heralds was a massive, iron horned creature with dark, bloodstained metal covered muscles, its iron hide scarred by decades of killing and battle. Thick, hooked chains looped across its metal chest plate, and it wore spiked shoulder guards crudely fashioned to resemble jutting spine like quills. It carried a large, double-headed ax, its blades rusted, but with a strong mystic aura surrounding them. The vile Archspawn in the cave let out a single growl, guttural and wet, and the three supplicants advanced towards it, their steps halting and unsure, though none wished to show weakness before the others. To do so would be to invite death.
The Despoiler felt the breath of the Ancient Ones channeling through its body in a flood of power and exhaled it as a toxic cloud of dark, writhing mist. The mist pulsed with the essence of the Disjunction, growing and surging outwards to envelop the three who had come to stand in its presence. The great cloud carried within it a married of twisting aspects that cast anguished faces.
Instantaneously, the creature with bronzed antlers collapsed, roaring in agony as its body became host to many dark spirits from Beyond. The countless new souls within it were suddenly fighting for dominance resulting in a sudden change that caused thrashing limbs and grasping thorned pseudopods to erupt from its thick flesh. Eye stalks seemed to melt from its head and hide randomly as it gained to much power for it to hold. The other two backed away from the howling creature spawned from The Despoiler's gifts and awaited their fate at the hands of the tainted magical mist.
Both became enveloped by the miasmic cloud of sorcerous power, and The Despoiler felt their will and ambition war with the power of numerous new spirits that seared through their veins. The bronze-scaled centaur creature reared up on its hind claws, the dark spines on its back mutating into rippling tentacles with snapping jaws, as eyes peeked through the needle sharp fangs. It lunged towards The Despoiler with a shriek of savage fury, but a massive, clawed hand dragged it back by its tail, the gigantic ironclad monster slashing its ax through the twisting creature’s midsection. Dark ichor sprayed from the wound, hot and stinking, and the vilespawn herald hissed in anger as its exposed dark flesh burned where the blood spattered then ran in rivulets down its fanged, masked features, scarring dark grooves on its face.
Its flesh paled, taking on the gray hue of The Despoiler it had just killed for, and its breath smoked with the heat of a furnace. It let out a mighty roar, the very walls of the cave cracking at its cry, and The Despoiler nodded in acceptance as the writhing black mist dispersed and faded from sight. The large vilespawn let out a great, grunting breath, its exposed hide now gray and scaled, its horned head beneath its metal mask was scarred and burnt, but a flickering, multi-colored glow beneath its veil shone with power. It raised its ax in a brief salute to the bent, horned creature at the center of the cave and ripped one of the chains from its armor, plunging a barbed hook into the screaming flesh of the thrashing creature that had first succumbed to The Despoiler's magic.
It then turned to the mouth of the cave and marched forward with lumbering, meaningful steps dragging the twisted creature behind it. Into the light it walked, stepping onto a mound of stone that rose forward like a horn of rock. Upon this overlooking position, it came into full few of the gathered vilespawn below. The gnawing, biting, and fighting below ceased for a moment as the horde took note of the emerging vilespawn lord.
The vilespawn took in the vast gathering that easily counted in the tens of thousands and apprehended its purpose as it felt the stirring will of the Ancient Ones. The Djaam had finally been laid low, their eyes forced to look elsewhere. Now was the time of Azueral's choosing,
They would march north then east and reap the fertile and weak lands of the eastern realms. A storm was brewing.