Of Words and Deeds...




This is the introduction to the story of Krogarth. More will soon come!


Another day and life groaned on in Paragon. The suns rays hurled themselves upon the living in impotent fury. They hammered themselves upon concrete, hid themselves within asphalt, avenged themselves upon the living, and diffused themselves through the trees. Its fury spent, benevolent light threaded its way though the thick canopy to gently alight itself upon the forest floor. The whimsical hit and miss of the ambiance created a paradoxical patchwork, a playful realm of light and shadow that warped reality in a way few mortals would ever be aware of.

It was an unseasonably warm spring, more akin to mid-summer, but that was to be expected after a record winter. Mori’ira smiled to himself; the powers were indeed drifting at their ebb and flow this cycle. He could see it, could feel it about him. The balance was unraveled; here heat, there shade, here light, there shadow, even the Rikti had played perfectly into the order, providing along with the heroes who strived unto death to counter them, the last contrast necessary to strain the other. The universe usually existed upon a grey scale, an area created between two dim poles—the very few good and the very few evil—as they strived to cancel one another. Recent events however, had flared the intensity of the two poles, and as their light raced towards each other, the mingled grey was nearly extinguished. Their buffer removed, the light and dark tore and rended one another, exposing rents in physical reality that one could exploit if one knew how. Mori’ira was certain he knew how; after all, a lifetime of study in the heretical scripts had to be worth something. The peace and quiet of Perez Park was disturbed only by birdsong and the rustle of wind through leaf. Mori’ira again smiled to himself, even his present circumstances contrasted with his ambitions. The ceremony would do well.

Mori’ira made his way through the park paths in full ceremonial regalia, his blood-red robe of office tugging this way and that in the breeze, its golden runic embroidery waving as a standard. As he approached the clearing, Mori’ira clutched his scepter of power to his chest in traditional processionary form. He paused at the tree break running his fingers over the hard wood staff and its forbidden engravings as he watched his underlings assemble. They had, as instructed, procured a victim for the ritual. The woman was young and athletic, clad in running shorts and a T-shirt; she had obviously been abducted from the park itself. She was gagged and bound and had been forced into a kneeling position. Her arms and legs had been tied to an adjacent stake in such a way as to thrust out her chest and rear back her head, brazenly the colorful university logo upon her shirt and exposing her throat. Mori’ira’s acolytes surrounded her, their plain, black robes and chilling silence an antithesis to her vibrant pageantry and desperate struggles. They awaited their master’s approached.

Mori’ira entered the clearing, his presence thrusting his acolytes to the ground, and all began a quiet monotonous chant, their tongues wrapping themselves about an unnatural, guttural language not meant for any human utterance—it’s every syllable a ringing death toll for the hapless mortals who defied the abyss this eve. As the tongue of hell rolled over the landscape, the wind died, the birds were silenced, and even the pretty bauble’s pitiful moans lapsed into silence. Mori’ira strode towards the circle, the hem of his robe and the shaft in his hands glowing almost imperceptivity as the runes gathered power. He reached the circle and intoned the few fateful syllables he had first read so long ago. “Arhis’tomae’zal’tak.” Immediately the chanting ceased, and a black puddle spread from Mori’ira’s feet, wilting the grass and charring the newly exposed earth to resemble the after effects of a lava flow. As Mori’ira stepped into the circle, the dark pool wrapped itself about the victim's body in bands, crumbling the rope and stake to dust and incinerating her clothes. As her skin cracked and reddened under the band’s evanescent touch, the victim tried to rise, but the bands held her firmly in place. As her proud features became marred by fear, the victim began to weep with panic. Her gag was gone, but she was so terrified she could voice not but hiccupping sobs. The darkness continued to corrode her flesh, turning her tears blood, that flowed and congealed around her visage, but far worse was the damage to her soul. She could feel things, horrible things, crawling about her brain. They were carapaced and thorny, and as they wriggled their segmented bodies about the soft tissue, their mandibles ravaged her memories; consuming her—her very essence—and leaving only blind horror. Mori’ira grasped the victim by the chin, and as he stared deep into her eyes he watched her mind collapse. When she was gone, leaving her adrenaline seeping corpse for madness, Mori’ira drew his face to within a breath of hers.

“So pretty.” He whispered, and he kissed her deeply. The kiss went on an unnaturally long time, and quickly moved from a lover’s embrace to a voracious feeding. Mori’ira felt her ethemeral substance flow into him, and in one languid motion he broke the kiss and slit her throat with a bejeweled dagger secreted within his robes. As the victim’s body slowly liquefied within the spreading pool, her gaping throat wept blood in fat drops. When the drops hit the pool, there came a ghastly shrieking as the drops changed into the chitinous horrors of the victim’s mind. They raced towards the acolytes as Mori’ira turned and screamed. His cry was not mortal, it was an unholy marriage of conflicting harmonies—basso and soprano, dulcet and baritone—that tore the other as they sounded. The hellish beetles reached the acolytes and began consuming their flesh. Even the acolyte’s cultish discipline could no longer hold, and as Mori’ira’s unnatural chorus caught in his throat, the acolytes broke and ran. Mori’ira fell upon all fours, heaving. He felt an impossible pain reaving its way up through his bowels, and a moment later he vomited a great cloud of thorny horrors. Out they came in a continuous river for several minutes, taking immediately to the air, blotting the sky for nearly a mile overhead. They flew in a great circle, like a tempest from the very depths of hell, then as one they flew straight into the pool about Mori’ira’s body. The pool began to vibrate violently, shattering the burnt and darkened earth. Finally, there was a terrible flash, an outpouring of raw power that traveled as a shockwave over the land of the living, consuming everything in its path. The fleeing cultists flesh was vaporized, instantly, and a heartbeat later their bleached skeletons fell to the earth, fracturing to dust. Moments later, all was quiet.

Mori’ira looked around nervously. He was fortunate that the portals backlash had not traveled beyond the clearing. He did not want to attract any more attention. The clearing was utterly lifeless. Not a thing was left standing. The portal had obviously opened, but where was Mori’ira’s prize? A bestial grunt belatedly alerted Mori’ira to a presence at this back. “That’s odd, I should be able to feel it…” he thought as he turned to behold his creature.

The thing was massive, towering almost twice Mori’ira’s height and massing easily three times his weight. Its features were uniformly black with a midnight touch of blue in faint bands here and there. Surreal blackness massed in a wriggling cloud all about the thing, emanating twisted, discordant tones as tendrils of liquid smoke reached out to grasp anything that approached within a meter. Mori’ira peered through the shroud; he could make out a body as of stone, thickly muscled, yet fluid, topped by a vaguely carapaced head. The only indication of eyes were two pits atop its skull, their presence betrayed by a stark white glow that penetrated even their master’s gloom. Then, as Mori’ira watched, the thing sprouted an arsenal of spines in the blink of an eye. There was a sickening sucking and splattering noise, and an impossible array of bone spears, yellowed and glistening, adorning its back, many the length of a man’s leg. As mori’ira watched both terrified and fascinated, the thing surged forward in a blur, and there was only pain.

Krogarth was greatly confused. He had been sucked away from his home and his duties in the abyss to this place, this place so…green. He sniffed, he could smell some elements of home here, pain and strife high among them, but the place also reeked of…good, of life, and well, not-fear was the only term he could apply. This angered Krogarth and perhaps frightened him as well. Annoyed, he took in his immediate surroundings. No stones, no lava flows, no pits teeming with the damned crying the weakness for all of Hell to hear. What was this horrid place?

A man-thing before him turned to face him, its eyes staring at his in defiance, and it did not reek of fear! Enraged, Krogarth rushed forth and impaled the thing on his right arm, hoisting it into the air. The gratifying fear-scent bathed his nostrils, and for a moment, Krogarth was happy. But it did not last, for the man-thing soon stopped moving and the fear faded. Krogarth brought the thing’s face to his and roared his vehemence, gratified by its echo through this most strange of lands of lands; but the thing did not stir. Frothingly violent, Krogarth bit a ragged chunk from the thing’s face….nothing. Krogarth grasped the thing’s head in his hands and twisted, reveling in the satisfying crick-crack that ensued many times over, but still nothing. Normally Krogarth could maul and savage these beings for centuries, and the exquisite fear would always flow, but this one must be broken. Bored now, Krogarth flung the bit of refuse aside, its body snapping on the tall green stones in half on impact, and began to leave. He had best find more worthy souls to torture, lest the Baators find him. Krogarth smelled his own fear at this prospect, and quickened his pace into the trees.