Jaru the Corrupted Disciple and I ducked and scurried toward an outcropping of volcanic rock to avoid being trampled by the Rampage-like Hunter and Rift Arachna as they tore at each other.
My eye was drawn once again to the blackness of the Great Rift, which seemed to have grown in the brief time since Jaru brought me there. At first I thought the shape emerging from the darkness was another tentacle, but it was white and, when I squinted to gain detail, braided. It lashed into Newerth and disappeared back into the Rift. Continue reading The Rift Wars 2 – Hunter Swiftblade vs. Rift Predator
Three more spider legs emerged and pulled a face clustered with glowing purple eyes into our world. Its chelicerae and fangs were as tall as my legs. The rest of the legs and abdomen tore through the portal. Three giant, rolling eyes bulged from its back, and above them segmented tentacles tipped with blade-like claws were poised to strike. The creature stayed on the verge of the Rift, crouched and coiled, all of its eyes busy.
I found my voice: “The Rift has giant spiders?”
“I assume so,” the Corrupted Disciple said. “But this monstrosity used to be one of Arachna’s spiderlings.”
“All grown up now, with spiderlings of its own. I’d hate to see what kind of carnage their bites cause.”
The Riftspawn took a step forward, its claws scarring the volcanic rock. Continue reading The Rift Wars 1 – Hunter Rampage vs. Rift Arachna
The Legion Command sent me to the meeting in a blackened carriage. The door was locked from the outside, the windows shrouded with thick canvas. It was a most secret palaver, the details of which I read from a sealed parchment, opened only when I was away from the eyes and ears of The Capital. As King Jeraziah’s Anointed Conciliator, I had expected to find orders that sent me to some childish disagreement between egotistic generals, squabbling over who got the honor of dying first.
Instead, I read by the light of a shaking candle that I was being taken to meet with the Hellbourne. This, to put it politely, was a shock that made my bowels quake. When I read why the meeting was necessary, I began to pray.
The sun was above the horizon when I finally emerged from the carriage. We were in a dark wood near an overgrown stone ruin that had once been a grand keep. Two royal guardsmen led me to a doorway clogged with vines and dead leaves. One of them went inside while the other stayed with me. The first returned and tilted his head, indicating I should enter. He seemed shaken. Continue reading The Rift Wars – Prologue
Writ by the hand of Abbot Sinclar, for the records of King Jeraziah, Queen Ophelia, and Arasunia.
On this day Sol’s blessed sun shone brightly above the Damwell Riparian Estate, a series of mud and stick beavrel lodges and dams along a tributary of the Istros River, which feeds the great Inner Sea. It was to be a day of celebration, with the young warrior Terrowin knighted and brought into the Lancer Brotherhood (Brotherhood seems a bit excessive for a group of two, but the name is not for me to choose).
It was also set to be a historic day, for Terrowin would be the first Lancer who was not a beavrel. It does not take more than a glance to establish this fact. With his green skin, burly shape, and large nose and ears, it is obvious Terrowin was born—and always will be—a goblin. There is no law against a goblin joining the Brotherhood, though this may be due to the fact that no being other than a beavrel has attempted to become a Lancer. Continue reading Sir Benzington Damwell III, Commander of the Lancer Brotherhood
The soldier was going to die, and he knew it. We made him as comfortable as we could, piling blankets for him next to our fire. I tried to help ease him to the ground.
“Don’t touch me,” he warned. “And burn my body in these blankets when I’m dead.”
We would. Even without his orders, we would. The growths on his face and arms made sure of that. He had stumbled into our outpost on the border between Death’s Cradle and the Forest of Caldavar, exhausted and repeating the same phrase: “Jin Chan is here.”
After a quarter hour near the fire, his breath seemed more labored than when he’d arrived.
“Wine,” he said. “Throw it, don’t come close.” Continue reading Jin Chan and the Curse of the Rulian Marsh
To let you know who the Black Legion is, I will first tell you who I am. As a youth in the Scout village of Seclu, I was faster and better with a blade than any of the Pathfinders, those of us training to become Scouts. I hold the village record for the youngest daemon kill, at the age of ten. I slit the creature’s throat without it seeing my face—an honorable Scout kill. Continue reading The Black Legion
Ferl the gaoler staggered into my tavern stinking of the dungeons, ripe enough that even the Blacksmith playing pegs near the door caught a whiff through his greasy mustache. Ferl left the door open to the cold night winds cutting through the streets of The Capital, earning a scowl from the Blacksmith that died against the gaoler’s back. It was nice to have some fresh air to move the smell of him around, but I gave a tilt of my head to the Smith, who kicked the door shut with a grumble.
When Ferl was on the other side of the oaken slab—shaped by my own hands, thank you—I had to step back to keep my eyes from burning. The smell was unlike anything I’d experienced. If I hadn’t known every face in my tavern that night, I would have sworn on the Codex there was a daemon present. Ferl stared at something between us only he could see, the eyes of a haunted man. Continue reading The Redemption of Prisoner 945, Brutavious, and Baaracko
The chiprel named Beebo had barely survived the battle between Maliken and the Sins. His time tethered to that seething brute Wrath by the power of the Grimoire seemed like a fever dream in which he became a different animal, unable to control his behavior.
But it was worth it. It let him feel the power of the book. He had followed that feeling of power to the dark storage room, risking capture or worse from the inhabitants of Hell’s Keep, and found the tome on the floor next to an empty sandstone sarcophagus. He strapped the Grimoire to his back and peeked into the corridor just as Maliken stormed around the far corner. Beebo scurried beneath a pile of monk’s robes stained with crusted blood. Continue reading Dr. Beebo and Loofy
From the Journal of the Grenyew Antling Camp, Day 7 of the Splinter Moon:
The Red Cedar Camp was raided yet again, our brothers and sisters used as fodder in this endless war that draws us in against our wishes. We know not who the raiders were—those who appointed themselves Legion or the aptly-named Hellbourne. For us, they are all a scourge. Visit the fresh mounds in the Spirit Glade as proof.
Our Antlore Healer has seen enough death. In his long, honorable life, he has mended countless Antlings who have fallen from trees, been swept downriver in a flood, even tussled too long with a Vagabond. But what he has faced in the years since war came to the forest—the amputations, the mercy killings, and most of all by far, the burials—have taken a toll on him. He is gone for stretches of time that grow longer, sometimes not returning until the moon has swelled twice. Continue reading Rise of the Neutrals