The March of the Shadowwald was not, always, a pleasant one. Goren, resolute in his purpose, took them through many hardships - splitting his growing army between wondering if this was a test from the God, with the rest questioning their decision to follow a mad man who spoke no words. When creatures attacked, Goren confidently walked forward, letting his immaculate blade weave through foe after foe. Still, he gave no orders, he spoke no words of inspiration. Others did that for him. Many different groups formed within the army, some praising him as a religious figure, others hailing him as a budding strategist, and others still formed their own opinion.
One such group characterized themselves the Shield of Goren Joquinal, and it was made up of some of the most devote believers in his cause. Each wielded their weapons with levels denoting masters of their craft. Roving bands of rogues, orcs, and other unsavory creatures had difficult times getting past this united front. They worked together with tactical precision, spreading out in a half moon formation to protect his front and the sides. At night, they would huddle closer to him, warming their bodies in the heat of the flames he roused from the tinder brought for him. Nary a word was spoken from him to them.
One such creature would become known as the Sword of Goren, for battle brought forth something of a vicious nature to the follower of Andomanderis. He did not wield a sword or axe, nor mace or bow, but a thick coil of chain often wrapped around either hand to strengthen what blows he delivered. Few knew his real name after a while, referring to him solely as the Sword of Goren, or as whispered when he was not in earshot, the Vessel of Andomanderis.
The ever expansive walls of Heaven had never seemed so closed off, for many moons had passed since the God's were able to interact with the world below, though they could see what all transpired below. They were very much real, and yet bound by Faith. While many who prayed to them did not take them for actual figures, but manifestations of desire and will, that could not have been further from the truth. Each God existed as the humans did, except on a higher plane and infinitely more powerful. Yet, they were bound to their followers faith, causing their power to swell the more they were believed in. Currently, they were at their weakest, faith had been stamped out by the Apotheoses in quick order. It was something that could have been prevented, but with their lofty status, came arrogance. They had failed.
While there were still a surplus of believers, they had lost their will to pray, for they did not understand that God's worked off the power of Prayer, of Faith, and well, the words of the Apotheoses played off this lack of knowledge. If they are truly real, then why did they let you suffer so. When you are ill, you do not pray to the God's, you find a healer; when your crops grow bountiful, it is not the hands of the Gods that ache and blister, but your own.
Many took these words to heart and began to question the existence of the Gods, and so, as more and more began to follow, the God's became ever locked in heaven, forced to pool what faith was still active for short bursts into the Allarian World, and only to whomever they were answering.
Recently, this had the worst effect on the God of the Humans, Michael, who was looked at as something of their leader; his martial.prowess was said to be unparalleled, even in face of the supremely powerful, Andomanderis. He had fallen into something of a sulking mess, unmoving, unspeaking. The God's busied themselves around him, occasionally attempting to rouse him to no avail. He had been stricken with self pity and doubt, and this was what the Apotheoses had counted on.
Lloth and Ouroboros, the Goddess and God of the Drow and Dragoniod respectively had sequestered themselves away from the rest, using what magical ability they had to conjure up a means to locate the Chained God, Mobius. He was a God that no longer has a race, for they had been all but wiped out or converted to followers of Andomanderis, referring to him as 'Alpha Wolven'.
Before his stupor, Michael had seen to it that the Chained God was bound, by enlisting Abbathor, God of Dwarves, to craft him chains of unusual make. With these, Michael fought Mobius and eventually managed to trap him deep within a forgotten forest, where magic from ancient sources, when the God's were but infants, would hide him for eternity. It was not known what sort of magic Lloth and Ouroboros had access to that allowed them to find Mobius, but they had. In exchange for his help, they promised him a release, for which be vowed to exterminate as many humans as possible.
Seated now at the table, Reincarnation looked upon Michael, his baleful eyes full of sadness and regret, contemplated attempting to speak to the towering God, but thought better against it. For while the race of Goblins was relatively new, Reincarnation was newer still to the pantheon of God's.
Luckily, Abbathor entered the room, followed his his gruff voice aimed at Michael. Ye, humans, 'ack the skin of steel ye should 'old. Yer feelin's are far too unprotected, and this be the result. How many moons have passed since ye rose to yer feet and let words Cascade from yonder maw?'
Michael did not budge.
Abbathor took a seat next to the man, gigantic tool slung across his neck. It was a hammer on one end, connected by a massive treated leather strap, to a flat bottomed metal triangle, used to slam into material, and then beat on the back to force a split.
Elsewhere, Andomanderis, whose names were plenty sat in quiet contemplation. He was many creatures to the beast kin, a bull, a cobra, a lion fish, a pup, a kitten, and even a variety of insects. While Michael had taken their forced exile the hardest, Andomanderis used every chance to contact the world below, primarily focused on the growing sects who had differing opinions on his words.
Some believed that only the most dedicated to the base nature of his being would come to be blessed by him, while others believed that, in his path, they must assimilate some culture from the other races to better themselves. Those that lived as close to their animal kin as possible, he saw as naive, yet the most pure of them all. Those that believed that the Beastkin to be the true inheritors of the world were the ones he kept the closest eye on, for nature always prevails.
He knew what ached the heart of Michael, such emotional disarray was the way of the humans, it was a weakness he could not afford, especially if he planned to enact his own usurpation of Heaven.
His path was that of pet, believed to be lesser than the rest of the God's until the Rise of the Beastkin. From the murky depths of old magic, far older than the eldest of the God's, from lands they dared not flare their power, the Beastkin came. The first was he, Andomanderis, his form so long forgotten that not even those who followed his faith knew what came first. Then the rest came, from the land and the sea, taking to the wilds of the continent, the forest and mountains. They built their homes of natural elements, before being seduced by the throes of mankind. Still, their primal urge boiled beneath their surface, and in times of war, they showed their strength and ferocity. Soon,
the Great Beast murmured - his bellowing whisper echoing off the walls of seclusion. He had been entering the world, when prayers allowed, implanting portions of his scheme. The Beasts would rise again, razing the land of all manner of creature until only the Beastkin stood supreme.
Moving Camp - Northern Gate
Szazah swayed slightly, his drunkeness had reached new heights, later he would come to wonder how he made it this far without tripping and falling into an alcohol induced coma.
Before him, his charges had lain waste to those who sought to engage in combat, almost as effortlessly as one would draw a breath. It was a mess he would have to cover for them, though he minded little. They mission was more important, in his mind, than ruffians who would want to settle scores old and new. Still, their ferocity was one to behold, and their ability to come together fascinated him. He hated that this mission would be one he could not lead.
As the last of them fell, Szazah noticed that the Capykin had finally arrived, perhaps the most verbally eloquent of the bunch. With a shrug, he approached the group with no wounds to lick, and looked upon each of them. It is with a heavy heart, and scarred soul, that I must inform you all that I will no longer be able to attend you. The Tengu, I am told, will be arriving shortly and I cannot risk you all having not left with haste.
He turned his attention to the sky, if but for a moment. There was a soft pulse on his left arm, bringing him from his trance and back to the task at hand.
It seemed time was shorter than he imagined, his runes announced to him that he had received a message, no doubt that the Tengu was approaching at great haste. Still, it would be a little while still before the Warlord arrived. If there is nothing else, then you all have your quest. Worry not of these bodies, or,
he gestured softly back into the camp, the dead in my quarters, I shall take responsibility for these. Perhaps one remains breathing, and can be questioned later of their attempt on your lives.
It should take them just over a fortnight to reach the lands of snow and ice, the Frozen North that the Shadowwald had called home, according to Raithen. Close enough to reach with little issue, but far enough away that remain isolated was an easy task.
Szazah still did not move from his place, unlike before he would wait for any rebuttal to his position, though they could do little to change his mind. Perhaps he would be allowed later to venture out and join them, lest they be left to convince the notorious isolationists on their own. His hands shook, his mouth seemed slack with thirst - he wanted another mouthful of ale, though water would probably suit him better.
He knew not if the rain would come again, or if the skies would be kind for the next while - but he did know that should they return, it was little chance that they would be here. No, he would have to inform them later of the new point of contact. The winds, they blew ominous, as though the worst kind of news rode them like man and horse.
He feared the skies, land, and sea, the dragon, Chimera, and Levithan, Allarian Beasts of Old, once thought to be Gods now terrorized them. Would the cold North hold such a beast, or perhaps something more frightening - it was ill explored, what it held was scarcely known.
Perhaps he would say a prayer.