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Labyrinthe Forum > Campaigns > It's about time
One moment there was an empty, rolling plain...verdant and full of the tranquil noises of life in the myriad forms that inhabit such an area. An unremarkable, unfrequented stretch of land in the Western Heartlands, less than a days travel north-east from Bildteve. Few had reason to pass that way, and apart from the animals and suchlike that called this place home none were there to witness the change that was to come.

For without fanfare, a heat shimmer momentarily formed a dome across this area. Lasting only a matter of moments, yet when the shimmer faded the scene was changed drastically. A fortress now stood on the center of this plain, an impressive monument to the arts of war. It bore the marks of countless assaults, and stood positioned in such a way as to suggest it had always been there.

Astonishingly, the entire area was transformed too. Bulwarks, trenches, barricades and a variety of structures dotted the landscape all around. It looked like an army had been given years to make the area defensible, and provided with a great deal of building equipment. And they had made full use of the time and opportunity provided. The citadel itself was constructed from obsidian, onyx and othersuch stone, and was undeniably ancient, an entirely different feel to the protections surrounding it. And the chill; the bone numbing, terror inducing aura radiating forth was enough to cause every living creature within a mile to panic and flee.

But it was already too late, for a green toxic fog burst from this bastion of darkness and quickly, unbelievably quickly it spread out to a radius of about a mile. And every living creature it touched, died. Mercifully the deaths were swift, and within but a matter of moments, utter silence ruled over the area. Deathly silence.

Some hours later, two figures appeared. A dark knight, garbed in full plate armour, sword sheathed at his side, and an obsidian shield carried with practised ease. In his other hand he, rather incongruously, clutched a banner. Seemingly woven with many tribal sigils, furs and other such devices.

His companion wore simple clothing, a black hooded cloak obscured his features and he observed the area calmly, carefully for a few moments. A quick exchange of glances between the two, some muttered incantations and they seemed content, visibly relaxing.

The banner was planted firmly into an earthen rampant deep within the fog, and the pair joined hands and began to chant. As they did so the fog became laced with tendrils of darkness, writhing about the banner and spreading across the countryside. As their unholy ritual reached its conclusion, the fog had thickened and darkened to such an extent that it now obscured everything, normal vision could no longer pierce the veil it had drawn across the land, and the silence was no more, for the very air sizzled and burned.

And then, with a word, the pair were gone...
Petyr and Willow crouched low, hidden behind a bluff, a league or so from the site of the deadly fog that now covered the entirety of the plains ahead of them.

They were amongst the best scouts and trailbreakers the 13th had to offer. And they knew better than to disobey orders from Milly. So this was as close as they were going to get. They were there to watch, to observe and to report back, that's all. Not that they had needed telling twice.

Nobody could see that green fog, streaked with lines of black, and want to get any closer! Never mind the barely visible outlines of the top of the fortress within, its crown of parapets just about emerging above the fogbank, but that was more than enough to fill the most stalwart heart with dread. The longer they stared at it, the more their imaginations began to imagine it was...staring right back.

There had been little to witness so far. But something had alerted them that was about to change. So they crouched low, and nervously scanned the billowing cloud of fog. Within they could suddenly hear the sound of...battle? To the untrained ear perhaps, scouts they may be, but after life in the 13th they knew the sounds of the training grounds all too well. There were troops, heavily armoured troops by the sounds of it, training deep within the mists.

The two scouts exchanged a glance, and without need for words remained where they were. It was something, but hardly a surprise and not enough to depart and report.

A few hours passed, they had moved apart slightly, but the tension in both their frames bore witness to their readiness, be it to fight or flee.

The sounds of fighting had faded, but now something else was happening. The sky was beginning to darken with the onset of evening, and accompanying this change a distant droning could be heard. Then from hidden caves all about the area, nightmarish creatures rose into the skies. They looked like humanoid insects, a variety of bugs but many with arms, or faces that seemed human. As if that wasn't bad enough, even from a distance it was obvious they were dead. Rotten, vestigial wings that should not have been capable of flight...maggots writhed about their forms, and a stench drifted to the two scouts...faint, but the distance was considerable.

These abominations gathered into a massive cloud, the droning noise increasing with every passing moment, and then as one the cloud rose high into the air and moved at speed, off to the north-east. Fortunately away from the relieved scouts, who this time decided that was quite enough and moved off at speed themselves, eager to report to Milly and then grab an ale...several ales in fact.

Not easily shaken, but they knew full well they would have been swiftly spotted from the air if the cloud of insects had moved towards them...towards Bildteve. And heavens help the town if that should happen.

As they fled the area Willow glanced back one last time. A gasp was all she managed, but it was enough for Petyr to turn too, and seemingly witness their doom. For another creature had taken to the air, a skeletal dragon if their eyes could be believed. And atop it rode a figure, garbed in green and white armour, with what looked to be a burning sword held aloft that flickered purple then white alternately. Streaks of light shot from its hands, the plasma streak spell her mind professionally analysed, even as she pondered her demise. But instead of striking the two scouts down, three bolts of purest energy burst the tree a few yards to their left into cindered ruin. And with a nonchalant wave, the figure and its dread steed descended once more into the fog, and was gone.

Soon after the scouts reported back to Milly, another report landed upon her desk, but with new meaning now. For this report matched several reports that had been received over the past couple of months, farmlands were being devastated and crops destroyed across the heartlands. But no subtlety now, no single attacks, this time horrific tales came in from numerous sites of a cloud of insect-men that were devastating farmlands across the region. And not just the crops now, but the people suffered...stripped to nothing but bones in a matter of seconds, and not even the bones were left behind.
The troops of the Empire were on the move. En masse, legions poured into the heartlands. Disciplined, the bulk of the legions set up several staging posts whilst mobile units of scouts spread out across the farming heartland of the Empire.

Destruction greeted them, but just in the form of scars across an otherwise healthy, vibrant landscape. Should they hold, and the attacks cease, the food reserves of the Empire were deplenished but would suffice and recover, given time.

A healthy distance was kept between the gathering army, and the newly established fortress that more and more were beginning to call...Shadowholme.
The divinations had begun, but it was not an auspicious start...

As you ask your question, you receive a vision of unending darkness. And a sense that within that eternal emptiness, impossibly, something moves and becomes aware of you.

Then your vision is wrenched away, and you are granted another vision, of a fey lass, silver and gold in colour, staring back at you with her hands on her hips and a frown on her face.

"Are you mad!? You cant just go poking Shadowholme! If he wakes up he'll lash out, and if he cant find you, others will suffer. DONT...POKE...THE...UNDEAD...GODSPAWN!"

"Now don't worry, Trixie is on the case! I've got a plan. You, and the other bigguns like you, aint gonna like it, but its a great plan! I promise!! I've walked the halls of Shadowholme before, I've seen all the armies, heroes and even gods that fell and died trying to destroy it, but they didn't have...ME!"

"It will all be ok, I'll fill in the lovely furry people that need a bath, several baths actually, cos they really smell bad. What was I saying? Oh yes, I'll fill them in on all the details...soon as I put the finishing touches to my plan, and they can let you all know what to do. General Trixie is on it! Yay!!"

And the vision fades away. You didn't sense any deceit, though are unused to your divinations being quite so rudely interfered with...
Battle rages across the Heartlands.

It began an hour or so ago. The troops that were in position across the farming heart of the Empire seemed already to be on heightened alert. With nervous sentries eyeing the fertile land all around with an untrusting eye.

And it proved wise that they were doing so, for the attack began with large tunnels suddenly appearing all around a large encampment of the 101st. The troops of the Empire were all well armed and armoured, and as a strange droning song emerged from the tunnels, the legions commanders shouted "NOW!"

And as one the troops inserted wax sealed earplugs into their ears. A couple were not quick enough, and warcries rang forth across the battlefield before all were protected.

Then creatures of horror emerged from the tunnels. Insectoid men, but rotten features and withered wings beating futilely, yet against all logic these undead abominations rose into the skies and soared towards the troops. Black, viscid liquid flew through the air, catching a handful of soldiers unaware and blinding them... but most were protected by closed helms.

And then all was chaos, the ebb and flow of battle, soldiers fought in seeming silence, unable to hear the death cries of their companions as they fall. For despite all their preparations, men of the legion are falling, giving their blood and lives for the Empire.

Crushing mandibles, foul touches and the taint of undeath wreaking havoc and devastation...yet the battle rages, and the fallen on both sides steadily increase.

Then others join the battle. Several of the Empire's legions converge, arriving en masse to come to the aid of their beleaguered comrades. And heroes of the land begin to appear...bolstering the troops further.

It is then that a single figure steps forth from the tunnel nearest the conflict. At first he is unnoticed in the heat of battle, but something draws the gazes of those nearest, and the ripple spreads and gathers pace as all turn to observe...conflict briefly forgotten.

A man, dressed in simple robes, skeletal features barely visible beneath a raised hood. All bar the strongest of will look aside, for power radiates from this figure.

Without instruction, without pause, the undead insects that still stand reach down and touch the nearest corpse to them, be it a fallen insectoid or an Imperial legionnaire, it doesn't seem to matter.

The man bows once, speaks a single word, his tone if anything resigned yet determined. And that swiftly, they are all gone, no trace they were ever there...apart from the trampled grass, the blood, the few fallen that remain, and an eerie silence as all take in what just happened...

((10-15 soldiers of the Empire have been taken. With just a handful more slain and left behind. The insects were close to being routed, it looked to be a smaller force than had been seen at Shadowholme. Anyone who would have shifted to the battle and has wanderers hunch or the ability to see across time, pls feel free to drop me a mail/pm))
Little evidence remains to suggest that Shadowholme, and the undead legion that defended it, were ever there. No bodies remain anywhere in the vicinity.

Scorch marks, copious amounts of arrows and othersuch signs of battle are all that remain. Along with the ruins of what might once have been a mighty fortress, but only if century after century had been allowed to ravage it and reduce it to little more than a derelict skeleton of what it might once have been.

Aside from a few imperials, nosing away amongst the ruins and the caves below, the scene is quiet, undisturbed. Primus has seen, and survived much worse, after all...


On another world, in a palace, two figures sit facing each other. Their skeletal features reveal little of their thoughts, but the mood is nonetheless somber.

"So, it is done, the sacrifice made?"

"Yes brother. There were nearly...unforeseen complications that could have made it all for nothing. The victory was only partial, the Empire's food source was not harmed. But it is done. His sacrifice will not be for nothing."

"So the fate stealer has returned it would seem. Whilst I would not have countenanced his intervention, without it I fear this would indeed have all been for nothing. But he has always walked his own path, we will need to tread warily until we know what he intends."

A silence falls, as both seem lost in thought. Then the figure whose only garb is simple, plain robes speaks again...

"So we wait, we wait for Shadowholme to be reborn. And we mourn the loss of one who's like may never be known again. Yet another sacrifice upon this long, weary road. Even now, I still feel, maybe only an echo of an echo of what his loss would once have meant to me, but nonetheless I feel. And I do not care for it. When his body is returned to us, make sure all know his final death was in service to our Lord. And let the realms mourn with us. The Empire shall know peace, for a while."

"It shall be as you say. But you know, the path we must now walk, the Commandant could never have countenanced it. He is best spared the pain of what we must do. And his men, when they return, will be forged anew, and without his example and leadership, much more malleable. It is a good start, and much was learnt."

"Indeed. Let us only hope it will be enough..."
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