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An Ominous Portent

Throughout the Basin of Life dark omens appeared, ranging from the superstitious Serenwilde to the fastidious and intellectual Hallifax and everyone of all faiths between. Lorrie of Magnagora was the first to hear tell of the dark days to come, and it was fitting – for Magnagora was the first to suffer. Snaikka i’Xiia cried out for help, and as Donovain n’Lochli arrived her assailant slipped away. The usually steady scientist was disconcerted, however, for the questioning that had been put to her before she became suspicious. Why did this old hag draped in black ask so many questions about her work with flesh and the dead? The same question would be asked later, when the same occurred with Tunika d’Murani. However it was not flesh and dead things that concerned her then, but Necromancy and the art of controlling that which animated the living dead. Books were stolen before the nihilist penitent Phudmog arrived, the crone fleeing to the rooftop. As more came, they noticed her fleeing in the distance, leaping skillfully from rooftop to rooftop and then out of sight. Questions became asked, though no answers were given. Then the fog came.

Black and seething, it twisted down the city streets and towards the heart of the tainted city. Red eyes formed in the fog and from it came the Dominators, returned to the Basin of Life. The Shock Troops of the Time Dames attacked time and time again, blood-curdling screams rising up as the raid continued. The towers of the noble households were raided, as was the Silent Cathedral and Atropos Square. It was Solanis of the Serenguard who, having came to aid Magnagora, came to find the massive cluster of Dominators hiding in the Boneyard. Too late they were, though, as Seritul d’Venacu shouted his surrender. As Magnagora realized it was Seritul who had been screaming all along they broke into the crypts, finding the triumphant Dame of Destruction, Stepasha, leaving with her prize in hand. Heresiarch Nymerya demanded explanations, as did ardent defender of the city Marcella. Seritul told them of her prize – the knowledge of utilizing the essence of spectres and undead.

Riding upon the chine of her great scythe, Stepasha, Dame of Destruction was seen descending upon Spectre’s Isle. Swarms of Dominators scoured the once island nation, harvesting the essence of the spectres there for their mistress. Hallifax, Serenwilde, even Glomdoring and New Celest came to fight their mutual enemies. Svana of Gaudiguch charging about murmuring and chanting about blood and strange insanities, eventually herself downed by the powerful and destructive Dame. Though they fought off hordes of Dominators, Stepasha was gaining ground – and Magnagora turned to hunt the spectres, seeking to deny Stepasha their essence. Nothing left, Stepasha departed into the skies, leaving the cities and communes to clean up the remnants of her forces. She had what she came for – but to what purpose? Rumours abounded – New Celest fears the memories of the spectres shall be drawn out, to seek artifacts long since abandoned. Magnagora fears the Time Dames shall create a Necromentate of their own. Serenwilde quivers at the dark words of Chuchip, and wonder what it means for their forest.

It was in Glomdoring, however, where tension hung highest. Mother Night had warned them, and they knew the risks were high. Tacita, Dark Regent of the Merciless Forest, sought the company of the Voice of Mahalla. For nearly a day she stood guard, when finally her fears for the Voice were beginning to abate. Just as she turned to leave, however, Mahalla’s Voice began to quiver and wail, her keening cry one of fear and ill portent. “She is here! She is coming!” the Voice cried, and just then a black mist rolled down the hills at the southeastern corner of the Glomdoring Forest. The zombies and puppetmasters that made it their home were the first to fall, dragged away by the dominators before an alarm was raised. The abominations crawled into the forest, penetrating the tunnels and pushing past the trees, though the forest itself rose to fight against them. Queen Celina Nightshade charged into their midst, Xenthos An’Ryshe right behind her. The Glomdoring heard the call of war, and everyone answered its call.

As the dominators breached deeper into the tunnels, Rowena Nightshade called out of their approach. She joined the fight herself, stalking alongside those of the commune fighting, casting dark spells and curses of Mother Night, immediately earning the respect of those who fought alongside her as she scourged and howled her way through the deadly onslaught. It was then the fight expanded deeper into the forest, then into the Black Tower itself. Joining the charge Rowena cut into the tower alongside Xenthos, Tacita, Celina, Malarious and more, spreading out to cull scores of abominations. Separated from the others Rowena Nightshade slowly found herself being pushed back to the peak of the Black Tower, ultimately surrounded by thirty and more abominations, their numbers rapidly growing. Shouting curses at them, Rowena held them as she could, though her commune mates could not fight their way to her. The numbers of the abominations doubled and more, pressing in on the once Queen of the Night. Many grabbed at her, clawing, attempting to bind her and drag her away. As they pressed in, she had little recourse but escape.

She was not without her tricks, however. More than two hundred years serving Mother Night did not leave Rowena without recourse – and summoning up the shadows of the Glomdoring that paid homage to none but Mother Night, Rowena unleashed a cataclysmic explosion, eradicating all that surrounded her in a devastating explosion of dark energy, leaving nothing in her wake, not even herself.

Glomdoring had no time to mourn their lose nor succumb to the overwhelming shock of the attack. More of the shock troops of Stepasha, Dame of Destruction poured into the Glomdoring, and Brennan Stormcrow would not allow Rowena to go down whilst he remained at the Master Ravenwood. Abominations pressed their attack across the forest – the Spider’s Larder, the Wyrdling, the putrefied glen in which the Master Ravenwood makes its home. Brennan and the Glomdoring met them at each and dispatched them, until none could find a dominator left in the forest. Brennan transformed himself into a mangy crow, flying above the eaves and treetops of the Glomdoring, where waited Stepasha, patient yet predatory. Though power was on her side, Brennan had cunning, guile and dexterity – though ultimately it would not prove enough, as Stepasha downed him and chased him into the treetops of the forest. Finally acting, the Great Spirit Crow lashed out at Stepasha, pecking and clawing and driving her back from where Brennan fell. It was a skillful swing of her scythe that knocked Crow from the sky – battering him with its snath, Stepasha pursued him, only to find Brennan renewed. An undead elfen once more he leapt from the treetops to bite and claw and scratch and shriek, howling and tearing at the Time Dame with a frenzied display of violence while Crow disappeared quickly into the treetops.

Stepasha had little of it – catching Brennan Stormcrow by the neck, she gloated of her victory, proclaiming him and the essence within him hers. She mocked his Great Spirit as her next target, threatening to consume him as well, all in the name of the Undying One. It was then that Celina Nightshade, Queen of the Night, called out to her Great Spirit. Be it but providence or Mother Night’s answer, a great blast of shadows slammed into Stepasha, knocking her away from Brennan. Reaching into the shadows, Brennan pulled free Rowena, briefly thought dead, and yanked her down into the eaves of the Glomdoring Forest, where Stepasha would linger just beyond before she surrendered her chase.

Though her reasons for ceasing are as clear as her strange obsession with the walking dead, one thing was certain. She would return, and she promised that should would claim Brennan, Rowena, and Spirit Crow for her purposes.

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