This anthology will be an ongoing collection of vignettes and short stories, designed to flesh out the opposition in the realms.
As penned by Diritas.
(Warning, image size large.)
This anthology will be an ongoing collection of vignettes and short stories, designed to flesh out the opposition in the realms.
It appears to be an entry from a journal, written on tanned skin paper with what is hopefully just ox blood.Talos wrote: text version coming soon.
I have decided just this morning, as the sun rose and I lay my head to rest, I am leaving. I have to leave. If I don't, I will only ever be "the Count's Daughter", and I am better than that. I have been creating and manipulating the servants of this castle since I was truly a little girl, in my first life. That my father would not let me leave the castle until I had been a century dead already, coupled with my Embrace occurring while I was only barely more than a little girl, draw to reasoning that I am not an heir to him, nor am I to be an equal. I will appear as hardly more than a child for all eternity, because that is what the great Count desired. That is what he wants for his daughter,
a little girl. A doll for him to look at.
Mediocrity will not be my fate. My name will cal as much fear to heart as his own, but not here. I have found my way out. An old text in my father's library that discusses those who walk between planes as our prey steps through a doorway. My study has been taxing, but I have made a breakthrough and tonight will mark my departure from the prison that is my father's castle, and the beginning of my reign in a place called Faerun.
Oh but how I already ache with the thirst for the blood of new prey from a different realm. No matter, I'll know it's taste soon enough.
Well, the time is come. Goodbye Father, I have enjoyed playing at daughter, but I will enjoy being Queen all the more. With all the affection our blood allows, I do love you.
Ekaterina von Zarovich... Leaving Home
This world is amazing. Fresh flowers in bloom lending a sickly sweetness to the clean air. One thousand beating hearts pumped away near the clearing I had arrived in, begged to be opened. A deer was first. Such a common animal and yet the way its blood mingled with the air was intoxicating. Its blood was so red, the forest so green, it was as though light shown free while the dark was over-powered by it. So very different from home. Even magic seemed to flow with greater ease here. An ounce of blood was enough to raise the deer as a ghoul to send it hunting its fellows. A world begging to be conquered.
The city was interesting. So much prey, so close together. Other would-be predators as well. The first of these local vampires was as surprised to see me as I it, though on sight we could recognize one another. It was, for me, a meeting a creature more akin to a human than to what I have come to know a vampire to be. For it, I imagine it was a new experience to be hunted. Diablerie was certainly a new experience for me, the exhilaration as I finished draining her, the rush of knowledge her blood fed me. I chased that rush, preying upon some of that cabal for a time, each feeding me their ounce of power... and then He came to me.
My beloved Lord Velsharoon. His grin was so handsome, and standing next to him made me feel more powerful than I have in my entire life. He spoke such lovely words to me, words of power and praise, and in time He revealed that He was even less a mortal than I. He taught me things. Powerful magics that even my father could never have known. He also taught me about an enemy to both of us. Kelemvor the Usurper. Thankfully,
he is wise and knows how I may help Him, I need only find a mirrored shield of Tempus and a vial of Sharp's Elemental Darkness.
Ekaterina von Zarovich... Hand of Velsharoon
(ooc note: I like the way this one turned out post-photoshop more than the others. Well done Talos.)It isn't fair! They ruined everything! The mirror was so beautiful and they smashed it to pieces! It is all still a blur. The Black Mirror had been as perfect as my beloved Velsharoon had promised me, lifting corpses to their feet all across the region. A beautiful legion of the dead, my very own army lead eagerly after the Usurper's Forsaken Abbey... but it was as though all the world turned against us. Still! We came so close! My army had been crushing them all and depleting the abbey's defenses. I had turned the corpse of one of the Usurper's own against Him, creating a powerful Death Knight to lead the charge, but even as I finished the ritual I saw my new toy's form, a duplicate perhaps, charging from the gates of the abbey with a group of all the others who had fallen to my legion and back into the fight!
The battle was quick to turn then. They cut a swathe through my army, carving a path directly to my beautiful mirror and I. Feebov had not arrived, and alone against the group I did not have enough hands to stop them from smashing the mirror. What is worse, as the Mirror's Geas fell, and my army fell with it, I suffered the indignity of being forced to retreat from the mortals. They will be made to suffer for this travesty, I'll hunt them each with pleasure.
That wretched Feebov came to me a time later, asserting that the mirror somehow interfered with his own army. His failure cost us the plan, Lord Velsharoon's plan, but I don't have the time to look into it and know that while Feebov may have his faults, he would not risk the Lord of Liches' ire by lying. What worries me now is my dear Velsharoon's silence. He watches, I can feel it. He watches and he plans, but hasn't come to me.
Ekaterina von Zarovich...
Fleeing the Forsaken Abbey.
Another journal entry, this one visibly influenced by time spent in a plane of Shadows. A stain, spilled ink or blood, has ruined the bottom of the entry which in and of itself remains unfinished.
They were ready for me this time! Those mortal bastards attacked and yet again I was forced to flee from the paltry creatures I am meant to hunt.
Now I'm trapped here, in my mirror plane, pursued into a corner by them.
This has been my home away from home, a place where I should reign supreme and be well beyond their reach, and yet I felt them enter in pursuit.
They're destroying my guardians, smashing my statues and reliquaries,
and drawing closer with each passing moment. And myself? I feel two things I have not felt in over a century... terror and mortality. My enemies come to kill me, and I face the knowledge that I cannot stop them. Even now I feel them moving inside my realm, destroying my treasures as they approach in their hunt for me. Is that what I've become Father? Prey?
I should never have left you. So many plans... I was to be a queen,
and yet all I have now to think of is my coming final death. What will come for me? Nothing? Paradise? Velsharoon, why are you still so silent? Why do you not take me from here? Even Feebov would be preferable to dying alone.
Damnation! They're getting close! All but upon me now, and yet still no salvation. Left to die with nothing. Alone but for my journal. My father would call me pathetic, and he would be right to. What have I become?
This feeling... that's terror I feel. Gods, what have I become?
Velsharoon my love, please come! They're here! Please stop them! Please,
I don't want to die! Please don't let it be like this. You promised I would live forever, don't let that be a lie Father! Don't leave m---
I awoke to agony. My body was as a withered husk and the Thirst was so completely consuming it almost tore me into nothingness. Almost, but instead the frenzy overcame my being. It was a temple, I had realized, just as the Beast in me won over and began the slaughter. A score vampires and twice that many humans gave up their sanguinary quite unwillingly, and yet even as that sea of blood passed my lips, I could feel my Thirst only grow. My body swelled, recovering its proper form and then bloating until I felt the blood pour from my eyes, ears, and nose, even as I drained the last morsel foolish enough to linger. Their blood filled me as a bladder but did not sustain me. Did not slow the Thirst.
The pungent odour of blood-wine lead me to an altar to Velsharoon upon which a basin of it rested as an offering. The blood wine gave off a sickly grey light, but I could not wrest control back from the Beast until I drained the basin in full and then smashed the altar upon which it sat with a savagery I'd not known myself to be capable of. The sickly light had poured from the shattered altar and filled me as the blood had not. It softened the pain of the Thirst and when I looked about I realized that the glow clung to all of the iconography of the place, to the symbols hung from the necks of empty husks I'd left in my wake. I was quick to realize I could take the energy of that glow by destroying all it had seeped into. Only when a priest came running did I realize the source of this new energy. The divinity of faith, it seemed, is all the could slake my thirst; the priest glowed with it... and as I began to drain him of that divinity I realized its glow was upon me far more than anything else I saw.
That priest's last words trouble me as I sit in the Temple's rubble.
"He is gone."
I feel it.
Velsharoon is gone. And... yet I feel him inside me somewhere.
Ekaterina von Zarovich. Thirst for Divinity.
A journal entry written on a borrowed sheaf of papyrus.
Everything is different now. I carry the last free spark of my beloved Velsharoon held dear within my breast, feeding it carefully with what scraps of Divinity I may spare. In return, He sends me visions revealing old and powerful memories of rituals and research by his servants throughout history.
He feeds me knowledge and drives me to find Him a new form to adopt.
Shadows, necromantic energy, and the very souls of creatures touched by the faintest Celestial spark, these things have provided great insight into the secrets He has sought to whisper to me. I feel I stand at a precipice to the answer.
Those shadowy soul grinder prototypes have been a perfect distraction,
each one burning out quickly but not before their Aasimar forms confuse and upset my enemies into the wrong conclusions and not without each of them providing important data to help the next last a little longer still.
My enemies still think me dead, former allies as well, making it a simple matter to root out sects of the Cult of the Dragon's many hide-aways. Their research has propelled my own forward rapidly, and I have been able to supplement my advancements with their own. These recovered notes and journals have surprised me as well. Not simple ramblings but concise and well-reasoned evidence supporting a belief that a dracolich's form is best suited to powerful itself, and doing so efficiently, on captured souls. On the very soul grinding magic my research now focuses upon. My research will need to continue, but I sense I will soon be ready to give Velsharoon a new form.
I've stumbled upon writings about a dragon called "Thalthentoth", information about his habits and life. When I am ready, I will use these notes to find him.
Ekaterina von Zarovich, Harnessing Souls
It worked! Thalthentoth was foolhardy prey, easier for his being blind to the truth of what I am. It is equally convenient and frustrating to be underestimated but in this instance I suspect I should be somewhat grateful. Thalthentoth was an ancient creature, powerful and cunning. Had he bothered to prepare for me he would certainly have been a challenge; his foresight let him fall quickly to my magics, lacking as it was.
My magic left him a withered husk in death, but in unlife his form is far closer to that of a dracolich. Far different still however. My dear Neo-Thalthentoth devours souls for fuel, growing larger and more powerful with each mortal spark it adds to its reservoir. Progress began slowly, as with fire, devouring fuel faster and faster but needing more fuel to sustain it- fuel that takes more and more planning in order to sustain a supply that allows the rapid and continued growth that my Velsharoon demands. He grows tired and impatient of waiting. Pleased by Neo-Thalthentoth but annoyed that his new form is not ready.
Silverymoon, Waterdeep, even that forsaken abbey is warded from Neo-Thalthentoth's attacks, but Harrowdale and countless other settlements were not. So many sources for him to reap souls and yet it feels the rate of growth had begun to slow- until my most recent plan that is. The dead outnumber the living by a hundred-fold and more, so I sent him to reap the unprotected souls of the Fugue, then to assail the City of Judgement itself. The mirror wall repelled him, but preying upon souls in transit to and from, laying a sort of siege, has allowed him to grow to impossible size. He is almost ready.
As for myself, I've been researching a potential threat, something I need to find before entrusting Velsharoon to that Vessel. Something called the Earthsea Artifice.
Ekaterina von Zarovich, Reaper of Souls