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The Story of the Warshrikes

In the days before recorded time, there was a small order of monks and nuns devoted to the peaceful teachings of Akai-Kurushi. He taught them benevolence and tranquillity of the Soul. For many years, the monks prospered under His teachings, their numbers growing daily. It was not until the Old Ones came forth upon the earth and threatened all who dwelt there that the story of the Warshrikes begins.

In the beginning, no one realized that the Old Ones had escaped from their other-dimensional prison. In scattered settlements across the face of Xyllomer, the Humans, Dwarves, and Elves were all puzzled and horrified by the carnage that took place in the outposts of their empires. It had begun in a very small, very remote Human village with only 5 Human inhabitants. It was some time before the grisly discovery was made. Since that time many months ago, the death toll had increased incredibly and larger communities were being destroyed by these unknown raiders. Towns and villages were burnt to the ground, all their inhabitants slaughtered. The dead were all torn to pieces; in some cases, they were missing altogether. Strange symbols and runes adorned everything.

War parties went out in search of pirates or raiders; no one suspected that the killings were supernatural in nature. Everyone had just assumed that some twisted Mortal mind was behind it all. The people were very afraid, but still convinced that some sort of mortal outcasts group was responsible. The Old Ones were moving across the countryside destroying villages, killing the inhabitants, and performing their alien rites to raise the recently deceased spirits for their unholy army. It had been aeons since the scourge of the Old Ones had brought the world to its knees.

Little is known about their original transgressions. There are many versions of the story, and none who know the true story care to tell it. It is generally agreed upon that the Old Ones once walked the face of Xyllomer as the warlords of a feared demon race. Eventually, power and black magic caused their already black hearts to disappear altogether. To fill the swirling void in their demonic chests, they began stealing the souls of the dead for nourishment. When they ran out of dead, they embarked upon a mission to slaughter the weaker races for their souls.

Legend has it that mighty Rokoon, annoyed by the trouble caused by the Old Ones, helped imprison them in a time-trap, forcing them to exist outside of our own place and time for aeons. However, after a millennium, all had forgotten about the Old Ones and the signs of their passing. Their kind had been extinct on the face of Xyllomer for far longer than any mortal's life span. In many cases, they were older than the Immortal-Gods themselves. The alien magic of the Old Ones was purely evil in nature. The rites they performed were an abomination; life meant nothing to them. Death, undeath, destruction, chaos, and evil were the only things that truly intrigued them. Of course, all this is just a little known legend.

Sadly, the Old Ones were loosed upon the world again. Frightened mayors hired heavily armoured mercenaries to protect the villages from enemy armies. Kings and queens suspected enemy armies and diplomatic tempers flared. Still, no one had any inkling that there was a far greater evil behind this than they had suspected. Nation-races stood on the brink of war and armies stood in defiance of one another across vast plains. A race war was inevitable.

One late evening, when the moon was covered by storm clouds, a lone figure appeared at the entrance to the clerical guildhall in Padorn. The figure went inside and spoke with the first priest he came across. He warned the priest that things were not as they seemed. That the menace was not mortal in nature and that it was an evil much, much older than anyone suspected. He directed the priest to look for instances of the name "Old Ones" in the clerical library and plan to meet with the leaders of the races to stop them from engaging in a futile war.

The cleric, amazed that his Lord Rokoon would address him directly, did exactly as he was told. After a week of searching the tomes and with little or no sleep, he found the story of the Old Ones. He then met with the leaders of all the Races and warned that the danger was supernatural, not mortal, and that if not stopped, all the world would fall under its horrid hold. So impassioned was the cleric's plea, that the kings and queens knew immediately that there was nothing but purity and truth in his heart. The armies turned from one another and began trekking across the land in search of this nebulous menace. More than one battle group soon found the Old Ones and fell like wheat before a scythe. The unholy army of the Old Ones continued to grow in strength. Soon, they were able to crush any man-at-arms the races could throw at them.

Once word got out that might could not overcome the Old Ones, frightened hamlets expelled their mercenaries and enlisted the aid of priests and priestesses from a myriad of religions, in vain attempt to try to protect them from the evil scouring the land. Feeling duty bound to warn the populace, most of the religious orders sent messengers out to all the known settlements warning of their impending doom.

One dark and cloudy night when a single messenger-pilgrim of Akai-Kurushi travelling from ancient Silverlining to the legendary fairy isle of Avalon, accidentally stumbled into the foul midst of the Old Ones slaughtering a village of Dwarves. The terrified pilgrim turned and fled into the forest from the horrors before him. The pilgrim had only enough time to hide and complete a prayer of Salvation from True Evil before he was found and torn limb from limb. The prayer went out over the Divine Pathway and fell upon the immortal ears of Akai-Kurushi. He had been made aware of the strange goings on by his Jitsua (Spiritual Leader of Akai-Kurushi's monastic order). Akai-Kurushi had tried vainly to communicate with Rokoon about the nature of the beasts, but to no avail.

Rokoon was an old God, far less involved in the affairs of mortals than one such as Akai-Kurushi, a young Immortal-God. Akai-Kurushi, being a deity devoted to peace and harmony, came to investigate such a strange prayer from one of his followers. He was steeled to find the supernatural menace and was not disappointed. Upon arrival, Akai-Kurushi found the burned out village with all its inhabitants slaughtered mercilessly. After a small search, he found his pilgrim lying in a small pile of rent limbs at the center of a small clearing.

All about the body, strange symbols of alien power had been burned into the ground by unknown hands. Half-eaten carcasses of animals and hominids were strewn all about, their blood soaking and mingling with their mother earth. The stink of death clung to the clearing, mixed with smoke from the burned out dwarven village. Akai-Kurushi's delicate nose also detected the hint of strange, dark magic.

"This place has the stink of Evil," Akai-Kurushi muttered to himself.

He began to search the clearing, trying to find some indication of the raiders nature, their habits, their mode of travel, and their departure direction. During the search, he accidentally stepped into the center of one of the power symbols. A sharp crack echoed around him. Suddenly, a shimmering illusionary face of a hellion-demon-thing formed before him. A voice ripe with scorn spoke from disembodied lips.

"Greetings.. You are not a normal catch, my pretty. You are one of those Immortal-Gods are you not? Hmm.. yes, and a young one at that. I hope you do not find our display distasteful, but you see, we hungered. It has been so very long. We simply cannot help ourselves."
The demonic face split hideously into an obvious toothy smile.
"Evil One," Akai-Kurushi answered warily. "I may be a younger God, but I am dedicated to peace and harmony. I do not take kindly to the desecration of my followers, nor to the destruction of life on this world."
"I am very unhappy with this intrusion into this world and command you to come forth to answer my questions. Show your carrion ridden self to pay for your crimes against this land."
The demonic image sneered at him, "As you command Immortal.." the voice said, dripping with hate.

Suddenly, the stink of decaying flesh came to the Immortal-God's nostrils like a fetid blast from a freshly opened grave. Bile rose in Akai-Kurushi's throat. All around him, dark shapes began to take form and move. The symbols burned into the ground started glowing with a sickly green color. Magical energy crackled and jumped from symbol to symbol, like small strokes of lightning, energy crackled around the ankles of Akai-Kurushi. It licked at his knees and fear rose in his chest. A heavy, low mist rolled in from the forest like a flood of grey rats, and the heavy storm clouds that had been threatening all evening, finally obscured the pale light of the moon.

The pure Evil of the Old Ones surrounded Akai-Kurushi, and terror he had never felt the likes of before went straight to his soul. With it, however, went the mettle, the sheer determination to triumph in the face of adversity would later prove so valuable. Various nameless forms of horrors gibbered and cackled from a hundred misshapen throats. Slowly, the circle tightened in on him and the din from the creatures increased.

"STOP!" ordered Akai-Kurushi. "What are you? From whence do you come and for what foul purpose?"
A tall demon stepped forward from the ranks and eyed the Immortal, "We are the Morin-Ak-Fazeel, the Old Ones. We have been freed from our other-dimensional prison by one named Bhaal and our purpose is to re-conquer this pitiful world."
The circle giggled and snickered at this.

Akai-Kurushi's mind swam at the mention of the name 'Old Ones'. He searched the depths of time and space that passed for His memory for any indication of their name. He had only a vague notion of their existence.

"I am Farquahar." said the demon, introducing itself. "I'd like to thank you Immortal, for greeting us so. You see, we have been trapped for such a very long time. Plotting, raging, changing and growing more powerful."
"All that time, our hunger increased, some went mad from the hunger, and we had to eat them. At this point in time, our hunger is insatiable. We always search for a new source of nourishment, and we think you will make a nice meal indeed."

The Old Ones began cackling again. Akai-Kurushi's heart rose in his throat. The circle of the Old Ones began to tighten in on him again, their ranks babbling to each other in excited whispers. The group pressed in closer and closer. Foul hands began caressing Akai-Kurushi's flesh and mind.

"Peace demons! I want no trouble!" Akai-Kurushi said fearfully.

The face of Farquahar was suddenly very close to Akai-Kurushi's. Its foul breath stank of death and decay.

"Ooo-Hoo Immortal," purred Farquahar. "_YOU_ called us out into the open. Did you think yourself so righteous and benevolent that you could defeat us all by your lonesome? Have you changed your mind? So sorry Immortal, but it seems that your time is at an end!" "Rokoon! I ask for your aid!" shouted Akai-Kurushi across the Divine Pathway. "Rokoon?!?!?" cackled Farquahar. "He cannot help you now!"

The demon called Farquahar raised his gnarled talons into the air, weaved a complicated mystical pattern and chanted some unpronounceable runes in quick succession. Akai-Kurushi became aware of a draining sensation and his Immortal senses began to fade.

Jitsua Rohan was worried. He had been unable to communicate with his deity for quite some time, also, one of his messengers had disappeared. Rohan had no choice but to fear the worst. Weeks had passed since the last time he had communicated with his lord. All he could do was continue his prayers and hope for the best.

"Rohaaan.."
Rohan awoke with a start.
"Rooooohaaan.."
"YES MASTER?" Rohan answered across the Divine Pathway.
"Help me! Rohan, my son, I am noncorporeal! My essence was drained by the Morin-Ak-Fazeel, the Old Ones. If not for the intervention of the clerical god Rokoon, I would no longer exist at all."
"THE OLD ONES?? ARE THEY RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THIS?"
"Yes Rohan, they are responsible for many atrocities. They must be stopped at all costs. Rohan, my son, a terrible time is coming for our people, nay, for all the people of Xyllomer."
"I see darkness and chaos in the future, darkness unlike any of this world has ever seen before. A future that is very hard to avoid. I am afraid, Rohan. It is the dawn of a new era for our Order."
"MASTER? ARE YOU ABLE TO RETURN TO THIS WORLD? WHAT CAN I DO TO AID YOU MASTER?" replied Rohan worriedly. He had never heard his master speak of being afraid before."
"Rohan, my time is short. I know of no way from this place."
"WHAT PLACE IS IT MASTER?"
"I know not, my son. It is a cold, dark place. But I am 'alive' at the very least. A strange existence this is, I must try and conserve my already dwindling energy for a bit, Rohan. I need to contact Rokoon. Perhaps He knows of a way out. Please wait for me to contact you."
"OF COURSE MASTER! I EAGERLY AWAIT YOUR WORD! I ALSO WISH YOU LUCK!" Rohan said over the Divine Pathways with confidence. But he was not confident. He was gravely worried.

A week passed and Rohan had no word from Akai-Kurushi. He became distraught and stopped eating. He had meetings with leaders from all the religious orders. He warned them that the Old Ones had to be stopped at all costs. He spoke at great length with his brothers and sisters of the Order. They were all prepared to do whatever was necessary. Runners and messengers came in daily speaking of the devastating passage of the Old Ones. Late one evening, Rohan was up praying to Akai-Kurushi for guidance when he felt the touch of his God.

"Rohan...."
"MASTER!"
"Rohan, My son.."
Rohan could feel the great sadness coming from his master. "I must leave here. I _MUST_ stop the Old Ones, or I must meet my end trying. I must!"
"MASTER, WHAT CAN I DO TO AID YOU? HAVE YOU FOUND A WAY TO ESCAPE FROM YOUR PRISON?"
"I have, My son. But I do not wish to do it. Unfortunately, I see no alternative. Rohan, I have spoken with Rokoon. He advised me that the only way he sees that I can return, is to inhabit a Mortal body."
"A MORTAL BODY? YOU MAY USE MINE MASTER!"
"It is not that simple Rohan. When my spirit enters, the mortal's must flee. Where I do not know. I also do not know if the spirit may return. For all I know, it may mean The Void; oblivion forever. I cannot ask you to make that sacrifice. I love you too much my son."
"MASTER, IT IS THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE. I FREELY GIVE MY HEART, MIND, BODY, AND SOUL FOR THE GREATER GOOD. _YOU_ HAVE TAUGHT ME WELL. PLEASE MASTER! WHAT CHOICE IS THERE? THE OLD ONES MUST BE STOPPED AT ALL COSTS."
"Rohan, I do even know if I will succeed. I do not know if I can defeat the Old Ones, or if the Order must move into the new era; It means great change. Greater than you can imagine, for you to make the ultimate sacrifice. They will speak your name with reverence for an eternity."
"THANK YOU AKAI-KURUSHI. PLEASE, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE. I AM READY TO DIE NOW."
"Jitsua Rohan, Son and Mouth of Akai-Kurushi, I wish you and your spirit an eternity of peace. May it travel to the ends of time. I will miss you more than you will ever know. Steel yourself Rohan, it begins now."

Rohan could feel the great sorrow from his master as he sat at the edge of his bed within his chamber. With tears in his eyes, he called in his Sensos and told them that he was not to be disturbed. When they expressed their concern for him, he told them that soon the Master would be amongst them. He explained that when they next see him, they would understand. He did not tell them that he would never see them again.

He sat down in the lotus position and began to pray for his spirit. The Sensos left him alone in his chamber. Soon he felt a slight tug at some intangible part of him. The force of the pulling sensation grew over time. He opened his eyes and was amazed to find that his vision was clearer than it had ever been. A strange sense of euphoria seeped in and the pulling sensation grew.

He began going over the fine details of his life, as if he were living it again. He laughed and cried as he relived all the happy and bitter moments in the space of an hour, all the while, the pulling at his spirit growing in force. Suddenly, he cried out in pain, pain unlike anything he had ever felt before. His spirit cried out, the scream coming from his mouth. Pounding on the door of his chamber. Voices. Calling. Calling and screaming.

He got up suddenly from the lotus position and immediately falls to the floor. The pressure on his spirit is intense. Pain, sorrow, though not his own, sorrow from somewhere else. It was the sorrow of Akai-Kurushi. A scream escaped his lips and suddenly it was over. His body slumped to the side. A single tear rolled from his open eye to the floor.

Somewhere, the spirit of Rohan soared. Akai-Kurushi was suddenly there. He stands, stretches and his heart was filled with pain. He turned and strode to the chamber door. With a thought, he turned the door to dust. Frightened Sensos stared at him then suddenly, they fell to the floor genuflecting.

"Master! You have come to lead us!" the prone Sensos chanted. "Arise my children! We are in a new age. No longer are we dedicated to peace and benevolence. We are now at war!"

In the following days, there was much commotion amongst the Order. Training and practice, weapons and armour being fitted, cleaned, and strengthened. Stores deep in the Chapterhouses giving up their secrets with a touch from the master's hand. On the seventh day, the master disappeared into a cave beneath the Silverlining Chapterhouse.

He emerged a day later carrying 2 swords. One called Hellraiser, one called Heaven's Fury. Whenever they were unsheathed, they spoke to him. The unmistakable gleam of revenge glittered in his grey eyes. A day passed and he disappeared again. After a week, his Sensos began to worry. Late that evening, he appeared at the gates of the Silverlining Chapterhouse with a huge army of warriors at his heels.

Akai-Kurushi had made a pact with 4 other Immortals, together they would move to defeat the Old Ones.

The Order of Warshrikes was born!

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