SHARE
TWEET

Untitled

a guest Mar 20th, 2017 68 Never
Not a member of Pastebin yet? Sign Up, it unlocks many cool features!
  1. The northern wall of Bard’s Gate looks out over a vast river valley
  2. disappearing into purple hills in the hazy distance. The mighty gates
  3. fi xed in that wall rarely open anymore. On the few occasions when
  4. the north gates do open to allow entrance to the occasional merchant
  5. caravan or especially daring traveler, they reveal a wide road, paved
  6. with great stone fl ags forming a smooth and level traveling surface
  7. striking due north for the hills. However, closer inspection reveals
  8. the signs of a lack of maintenance, and after a few miles the road
  9. deteriorates into little more than a wide dirt track, overgrown with
  10. weeds and with only the occasional stone paver visible in the hard
  11. soil. It obviously sees little travel and even less care.
  12. Few stand atop Bard’s Gate’s north wall and gaze out upon that hazy
  13. vista or care to think about what lies beyond those distant highlands.
  14. Fewer still are brave or foolish enough to make the journey in that
  15. direction. Bard’s Gate relies on its commerce from other roads in other
  16. directions and pays no mind to the north, for to the north, beyond
  17. the village of Taverlan and the distant purple hills and across many
  18. leagues, lies the reminder of one of the most tragic moments in the history
  19. of the civilized kingdoms. To those who even care to remember,
  20. the north gate leads only to bad memories or mournful legend. To the
  21. rest it leads to where only madmen would dare to go—the ruined city
  22. of Tsar and the great Desolation that surrounds it.
  23. Tsar, the great temple-city to the Demon Prince of the Undead,
  24. stood for centuries as a bastion of evil and hate. Foul beings
  25. of all kinds flocked to its mighty walls and found succor and
  26. purpose within. At its heart stood the great Citadel of Orcus,
  27. the black heart of Orcus worship on earth. Countless evils were
  28. perpetuated in those corrupt precincts, and equally countless
  29. wicked plots were hatched and carried out therein.
  30. Finally the goodly kingdoms could stand the presence of this
  31. festering boil in their midst no longer. The churches of Thyr
  32. and Muir led a delegation of good and neutral faiths to Graeltor,
  33. the last overking. Only with the backing of the nations’ secular
  34. armies would the holy churches be able to erase such a blight. In
  35. his last major pronouncement before the overthrow and fracturing
  36. of the kingdoms into the independent nations they are today,
  37. Overking Graeltor called for a mighty crusade to tear down the
  38. walls of Tsar and forever end the presence of Orcus worship in
  39. the world.
  40. This crusader army, raised from all nations and almost every
  41. non-evil faith, became known as the Army of Light and marched
  42. for Tsar. In command of this army Graeltor placed his most
  43. trusted advisor, the archmage Zelkor. Supported by innumerable
  44. knight commanders, wizards, church patriarchs and scores of heroes
  45. of renown, Zelkor quickly advanced his army from its staging
  46. ground of Bard’s Gate, through Tsar’s outermost defensive
  47. positions and into the great plain that surrounded the temple-city
  48. itself. Flush with their many quick victories, the Army of Light
  49. suddenly found arrayed against itself seemingly endless legions
  50. of every sort of vile warrior-race and fell outsider imaginable
  51. called up from all over the multiverse and lining the battlements
  52. and fields before their redoubt—one of the greatest fortresses
  53. and citadels ever erected in that time. The beginnings of doubt
  54. seeped into the ranks of the Army of Light.
  55. However, hope was not lost as the heavens opened up and
  56. flight upon flight of angels and celestial beings descended from
  57. on high to swell the ranks of the Army of Light. With grim determination
  58. in both camps, battle was joined on the plain before
  59. the gates of Tsar. The war raged for over a year, the Army of
  60. Light advancing to the very foot of the walls and then being
  61. pushed back by a new surge of demonic power. The disciples of
  62. Orcus led by the Grand Cornu, Orcus’s single highest-ranking
  63. priest on the mortal planes, threw every vile attack they could
  64. at the Army of Light in defense of their city. Rains of horrific
  65. fire and acid fell from the skies or belched from fissures in the
  66. ground, great constructs crushed their foes before them, terrible
  67. clouds of poisonous gas choked entire regiments, and heretofore
  68. unknown plagues swept through the troops causing thousands
  69. of horrible deaths among the Army of Light. Nevertheless the
  70. forces of good persevered and fought on.
  71. Finally, though the battle seemed no closer to victory, the fates
  72. seemed to smile on the Army of Light. Unexpectedly the city
  73. fell. In a single night the entire city virtually emptied of defenders
  74. as they all were magically transported to a point several
  75. miles outside the city’s walls, complete with baggage train and
  76. mounts for many. The magical expenditure necessary to complete
  77. this miraculous maneuver cost the Grand Cornu his very
  78. life in sacrifice to Orcus, but the legions of the demon prince had
  79. broken free from the Army of Light’s cordon. They immediately
  80. took flight before the stunned Army of Light, heading south.
  81. Zelkor and his fellow commanders were immediately suspicious
  82. of this sudden retreat but could not afford to allow the
  83. combined followers of Orcus concentrated in one place to escape
  84. and spread their insidious evil again. A cursory sweep of
  85. the city by scouts proved that the withdrawal was no ruse, so
  86. Zelkor left one of his most powerful knights, the paladin Lord
  87. Bishu, with a company of knights to secure the citadel and hold
  88. it until the Army of Light could return and properly destroy it.
  89. Then, still with a seed of doubt niggling in his mind, Zelkor ordered
  90. the Army of Light in pursuit of the fleeing legions.
  91. The tale of that long pursuit is an epic in and of itself. Finally
  92. the Army of Light cornered the forces of darkness in a
  93. forest near a rugged coastline. In anticipation of a great
  94. victory, the forest was prematurely named the Forest of Hope.
  95. The naming proved to be a cruel irony, for in the forest the followers
  96. of Orcus had been preparing a great trap for years in case
  97. just such an occasion ever arose. Both armies disappeared into
  98. the forest. Neither ever emerged. The Army of Light was lost to
  99. a man.
  100. The shock of the loss of so many heroes, nobles, and leaders
  101. of renown reverberated throughout the kingdoms. The overking
  102. was overthrown in the unrest that followed. Minor wars erupted
  103. as new factions took over old power bases bereft of their leadership.
  104. When all was done and a semblance of peace returned,
  105. the lands looked much more like they do today. Some said the
  106. loss of so many was worth it for the eradication of the foul
  107. cult of Orcus. Others said it had been a scheme concocted by the
  108. demon prince all along to destroy his most powerful enemies
  109. and sow hate and dissension throughout the civilized nations.
  110. Years later when a terrible graveyard and thriving dungeon complex
  111. devoted to Orcus was discovered in the Forest of Hope,
  112. popular opinion agreed with the latter theory. It seemed Orcus
  113. had not been eradicated after all, just relocated, and once again
  114. his insidious evil began to spread throughout the lands.
  115. For the past century some attention has been turned to delving
  116. into the so-called Dungeon of Graves and rooting out the evil
  117. now entrenched there. That complex is detailed in the Necromancer
  118. Games adventure Rappan Athuk Reloaded. However,
  119. what remained of the temple-city of Tsar was a vast, abandoned
  120. ruin surrounded by miles and miles of poisoned and scarred
  121. wasteland left behind by the battling armies. It was all but
  122. forgotten as a bad memory of despair with no value save as an
  123. eyesore and wilderness home for strange and fearsome beasts
  124. that moved into the desolate area. The knights of Lord Bishu,
  125. left behind at Tsar, were likewise forgotten as they, too, were
  126. never heard from again. In the wake of the great tragedy at the
  127. Forest of Hope, no one thought to check into the ruins themselves,
  128. and all who knew about this relatively small group that
  129. had been sent to the city had perished in Orcus’s trap. The people
  130. of the civilized nations went on with their lives with, perhaps,
  131. a little less hope and optimism than before. Tsar was forgotten,
  132. and the land around it shunned and remembered only as the
  133. Desolation.
  134. While the rest of the world looked southwards for the future,
  135. some few remembered the distant exotic markets of the far north.
  136. Those brave or foolish enough to try reopened the trade road
  137. that passed through the Desolation to once again reach those
  138. far lands. Those that survived such treks and were able to trade
  139. the rare items they brought back made fortunes, but most who
  140. attempted the dangerous passage died—lost to the hazards of the
  141. Desolation. Eventually a small settlement of cutthroats and the
  142. worst kind of profiteering entrepreneurs sprang up on the southern
  143. fringe of the Desolation. This hole-in-the-wall known simply
  144. as the Camp serves as a staging ground for travelers to hire
  145. mercenary guards or fast mounts for the perilous run through the
  146. Desolation. Likewise it serves as a point of relative safety for
  147. those few managing to make it through from the north with or
  148. without goods in tow, often with denizens of the Desolation in
  149. hot pursuit. There is little to this unruly, fringe settlement, and
  150. many meet their fates on its dirty streets without ever making it
  151. to the Desolation. Regardless, it manages to just barely eke out
  152. an existence serving as a stopping point for those few travelers
  153. who dare to make the run.
  154. Now no one but these miscreants and fortune-seekers pay any
  155. attention to the area and then only so they can pass through the
  156. Desolation as quickly and safely as possible. The temple-city’s
  157. ruins are universally avoided and little thought of. Why would
  158. anyone wish to go to almost certain death? What could still exist
  159. in the unknown holes and broken towers of Orcus’s greatest
  160. earthly bastion? What could lie undisturbed, awaiting some
  161. possibly preordained time to awake in the ruins of slumbering
  162. Tsar?
RAW Paste Data
Top