Bretonnians & Orcs

A History of... The Tempestrians and The Orcs of Gaping Jaw


The First of the Line

The d’Astatic family cannot trace their lineage back to the glorious exploits of the Grail Companions and Gilles Le Breton who fought long and hard to clear Bretonia of the Orc and Goblin menaces. They did not begin as a family of noble blood. Quite the opposite…
Between the years of 1110 and 1115 (in the Imperial calendar), the black plague spread through the lands of the Empire and into Bretonia, slaying tens of thousands of innocents and threatening to wipe out all humankind. Eventually it came to an end shy of total devastation but it had another impact beyond the actual deaths incurred. Because of the loss of life, the human nations in the old world were hideously weakened, suddenly easy prey for the myriad enemies watching from the dense shadowy forests and the brooding storm-wracked mountains.
The Empire was invaded by ravening hordes of Skaven and was almost overrun, but it wasn’t until the year 1142 that the realm of Bretonia came under siege. The Orcs and Goblins swept down from the Grey Mountains, setting fire to villages and slaughtering the inhabitants. An army of knights was mustered but they were spread thin fighting against the horde and though they started to batter back the tide it was going to leave huge swathes of the country devastated.
It was when the Orcs reached Astatic, a small town on the borders of Athel Loren, the great forest, that a new hero arose to defend the weak. A young serf named Santiago, orphaned son of a travelling Tilean merchant, stood against the horde, rallying the other servants in his ageing master’s home to mount a credible defence. Furniture was broken up and the parts sharpened to make walls of defensive stakes. Doors and windows were barricaded shut. When the Orcs arrived, Santiago fought hand to hand with only garden tools, using quick wits and traps he had prepared to delay them long enough for reinforcements to arrive.
The knightly host that arrived was commanded by none other than King Guillaume and so impressed was he by the courage and resourcefulness of the young man he immediately enlisted him into his force. Due to the great lack of fighting men and Santiago’s continuing heroism, the king allowed him to take on an increasingly front line and commanding role in the battles against the Orcs until finally Santiago single-handedly slew twenty three Orcs and forty eight goblins at the battle of Amandur that ended the war.
With the Orc forces routed and fleeing, King Guillaume recognised how pivotal Santiago’s efforts had been. He was only a commoner but he had displayed the valour of a lord. The king ordered him to return to the capital and there knighted him Sir Santiago d’Astatic.
Santiago d’Astatic had no province to rule but he joined the king’s army and served to the end of his life as a great and respected warrior.

The Founding of Tempest Falls

Over three hundred years later a huge host of knights set forth from Brettonia to take part in the crusades of Araby, only to be slowed by coming into conflict with vast horde of Orcs and Goblins. By the time the Orc army had been dealt the knights learned that the crusades were over however some of them chose to remain in the Border Princes and clear the region of the green-skinned menace. Gerard d’Astatic, descendant of Santiago, was one of these knights.
The wars against the Orcs dragged on for years. The area was simply too heavily infested and the terrain too inhospitable to mount an organised campaign of methodical extermination, but Gerard refused to give in and return to Brettonia. Needing some kind of defendable base, Gerard searched for the perfect location to use as a staging post for his raids. After a year and a half, he found it.
In the eastern reaches of the Border Princes, close to the World’s Edge Mountains, stood a tall stack of rock in the centre of a plain. Incredible pressure from underground forced torrents of water up from a subterranean river to the very top of the stack. This water erupted from the centre of the plateau and tumbled over the cliff to form a mighty tempest in the over-ground river below. The only route up to the top of the plateau was an easily defendable path only wide enough for a single cart. It was perfect. Gerard d’Astatic set up camp immediately on the summit of the plateau and named this new settlement after the great waterfall beside it: Tempest Falls.
The year was 1475.

Over the following years, Gerard and his fellow knights continued to fight against the Orcs and Goblins overrunning the land, fighting valiantly but never managing to eradicate them completely. And all the while Tempest Falls continued to grow. Refugees from the outlying lands who had lost their homes flocked there and became its first citizens. As Gerard grew older and his son Henri took on the greater portion of his responsibility for hunting greenskins, he dedicated more of his time to building Tempest Falls. Work began on a mighty fortress of stone and a flourishing village formed on top of the plateau. Gerard was highly respected and proved to be a great leader. Soon he became the overall leader of the knights of the Border Princes. Further, the peasants of Tempest Falls and its neighbouring regions, looked to him to provide beneficial rule.
The building of Tempest Falls was too grand a plan to be completed within a single generation. It wasn’t until Gerard’s great grandson was an old man that work was finished and by now Tempest Falls was an incredible place.
On top of the grand plateau, where the water rushed up from underground into the Fountain Pool, stood a grand fortress. This functioned as the home of the knights and as a defensive refuge for the citizens to flee to in the event of attack. Outside the walls of the castle, the plateau was covered in little village houses, forming the village of Upper Falls. At the foot of the rocky stack was a second village, Lower Falls, spreading out around the base of the towering edifice. At the outer reaches of this stood a strong stone wall to protect against raiding Orcs. The greater portion of the cliffs was inaccessible but over the decades, villagers had found ways to construct hanging dwellings on the outer cliff walls. These looked out over the lawless Border Princes, offering some of the most staggering views in the Old World.
It was a time of relative prosperity amid the ongoing turmoil in the Border Princes.

Jordan’s Betrayal

Over the centuries the purges of the Orcs and Goblins continued as the growing population of knights within Tempest Forth, now known as Tempestrians, sallied forth to drive them out. The difficult terrain still slowed progress but the dedication of the knights came closer and closer to finally winning the day. Trading links were established between Tempest Falls and the Empire-affiliated towns of Malko and Aldium and the far off Dwarven fortress of Karak Hirn. Working together, the evil forces were driven back further than they ever had been before. For the first time it looked like the Border Princes could finally become a relatively safe realm for mankind.
Then a calamity occurred that changed the destiny of Tempest Falls completely.
The reigning lord of Tempest Falls was Grégoire d’Astatic, a fair-minded and brave, but elderly knight. He had started to rely more and more on his children Jordan and Rachel to support him in his endeavours and Rachel in particular proved to be a capable leader, even though she lacked martial prowess. Jordan, on the other hand, was a weak and cowardly braggart who through little effort of his own had managed to curry his father’s favour, mainly due to the courage of the knights under his command.
Jordan was unhappy living within the walls of Tempest Falls under his father’s watchful eye, knowing that eventually his father would recognise his ineptitude. He demanded that his father set him up in his own holding, and loving his son dearly, Grégoire acceded to his request. On the far western edge of the Border Princes was an old castle named Gaping Jaw that had recently been liberated from Orc infestation. Grégoire granted this site to his son on the proviso that Jordan continue to fight the good fight from there. To honour this moment, Grégoire also gifted his own sword to his son. Jubilant, Jordan agreed, but instead, he and his handpicked cronies, began a life of debauchery and excess within the walls of Gaping Jaw.
As the parties continued, the spread of the Orcs was left unchecked and soon a vast army was forming on the edge of the badlands to the south that might otherwise have been spotted and dealt with by scouts. Believing Jordan could be trusted to keep watch in the south, the knights of Tempest Falls were completely unaware of this encroaching danger.
As the winter broke, the Orcs swept up from the southeast, ransacking villages and slaughtering every non-greenskin they found. Word reached Tempest Falls and the knights rode forth to stop them but because they had split their forces to allow Jordan to take a sizeable army they lacked the strength to apply the hammer blow required.
Unable to provide much in the way of physical aid, Rachel left her husband and child behind and leapt on the city’s fastest horse. She raced across country toward Gaping Jaw to beseech her brother for help but when she arrived, Jordan, in the middle of a huge party, refused to help. He did not recognise the huge favour his father had granted in giving him the castle as a boon and claimed that they had given him nothing. Rachel begged for his help but he would not. Unable to convince him or any of his lackeys to help, Rachel could do nothing but race back east in the hopes of lending whatever aid she could. Before she left however, she stole back her father’s sword, the only thing of strength within those walls.
Confident his son would bring aid, Grégoire d’Astatic led his army against the Orc and Goblin horde at the walls of Lower Falls alongside Barnarde, Rachel’s husband. It was a massacre on both sides. The fighting continued solidly for three days, the brave Tempestrians refusing to back down, and though they lost much of their strength, the brunt of the Orc stampede was blunted.
It was a disaster. When Rachel arrived she found her father alive, though grievously wounded and nevermore able to ride a horse or hold a sword. Her husband lay dead amid the carnage, a great hero for the death he had inflicted but now just another corpse. The army of Tempest Falls was devastated, the lands ransacked and razed, crops and buildings burned to the ground. And worst of all, Rachel’s two year old son had been murdered, the victim of a goblin raid. His blood-soaked body lay battered and broken on the rocks at the foot of the plateau on which Tempest Falls stood, a victim of the capricious evil of the greenskins.

Rachel’s Revenge

Rachel quite literally saw red. She had never once shown a talent for the mystic arts but her rage tapped into something deep within her. There was a deep vein of Chaos buried far beneath the Border Princes. The raw magic latched onto Rachel’s anger, becoming amplified by it and forever altering her in some fundamental way. It burst forth, shaped by her frustration and hatred, becoming a powerful rage-fuelled curse.
Her brother Jordan had betrayed his family, seeking only self-gratification. He and all his cronies were no better than orcs themselves! They might as well have been Orcs!
The curse went out, fuelled by Chaos and riding the winds of magic. It reached to the far side of the Border Princes, surging into Gaping Jaw where Jordan and his lackeys lay drunk and bloated on food. Every soul in the castle was suddenly surrounded in dark energy, crumpling to the floor in terror and agony. Screams filled the castle as a hideous transformation overcame every knight, every servant and Jordan himself. Long minutes went by and finally the inhabitants of Gaping Jaw fell still.
When they picked themselves up they were devastated to realise their predicament. Every single person allied to the vile and selfish Jordan had been transfigured into the shape of a loathsome greenskin. Jordan himself became a hulking troll; his knights and men at arms were Orcs; and the servants and citizens who had followed him to join in his debauchery had become Common Goblins. Every woman in the castle, including Jordan’s beautiful young wife, were transformed into Night Goblins, skulking, hooded creatures who fled from the light.
Most horrifying of all was that the transformation was not merely physical. The former humans found themselves driven by the same urges as real greenskins, becoming almost animalistic in their lust for carnage and brutality, with no longer any thought for their hygiene or normal human comforts. This new Orc and Goblin horde immediately set forth to raid neighbouring settlements. They mingled with other natural Orcs, unable to stop themselves. But after every battle, when the moans of the slaughter were dying away, every Orc and Goblin that had once been human would remember what they had lost and weep for it.
As for Jordan, he had become the most bloodthirsty Troll that ever lived, slaughtering every human he caught sight of and wishing now, only for vengeance against his sister, the woman he knew somehow, deep down, was responsible for what had happened to him. The name Jordan d’Astatic no longer suited him. For now and forevermore he would be known as Bull Rogue. 

And far to the east, in the burned out ruins of Lower Falls at the foot of the great plateau of Tempest Falls, Rachel d’Astatic picked herself up, not fully comprehending what had happened or how it had occurred. She knew that her brother still lived but that somehow he had been monstrously cursed. She too vowed to seek vengeance against her sibling and began training immediately to hone her martial skills for the day she knew she would have to face him.
But the effects of her curse were more far-reaching than she imagined. Something had changed in Rachel’s body that would not be noticed for years yet to come, but she had been transformed as well, in a way that would bring both great power and great suffering.
And furthermore, the display of might had not gone unnoticed. The Dark Powers of Ravenloft had witnessed the outburst and their hooded eyes turned slowly to gaze at the Old World, at Tempest Falls and at Rachel herself.

The Demiplane of Dread

One moonless night, chill mists rose up from the ground in a circle one mile around the border walls of Tempest Falls. The mist became a thick fog, growing denser and higher until the entire plateau was obscured. For seven nights the fog obscured Tempest Falls so thickly that no egress was possible for fear of plummeting from the steep and narrow path that wound up the mountain. When the fog did finally lift the inhabitants looked out in horror. No more was the familiar landscape of the Border Princes before them but a new dark and frightening land they had never seen before. The entire city had been transported somewhere else!
Grégoire d’Astatic, now very old and weak, immediately sent Rachel forth to investigate what had happened. It took weeks to find satisfactory answers and during that time it became clear to the inhabitants of Tempest Falls that this new realm was a place even more dangerous than the Border Princes. When Rachel finally returned she bore new scars and carried bitter stories.
The entire city of Tempest Falls had been drawn into Ravenloft, the Demiplane of Dread, a terrible realm made of a composite of other places drawn together to form a new unholy realm. It was a place where night stretched over double the length of the day and where creatures of the night ran free and rampant. For whatever mysterious reasons they had, the Dark Powers of Ravenloft had chosen to make Tempest Falls a part of this realm and there was nothing they or anyone could do to send them back.  With most of their army gone there was precious little defence for them. Within the first few days of their new existence, over a dozen villagers were dragged away into the night by unknown lurkers at the threshold. Not only was the Border Princes now left without a defending force but Tempest Falls itself was deeply at risk from being overrun. Unless a hero could be found from somewhere then all was lost.


In the filthiest hovel of Lower Falls was a pig farmer: a weak-minded and hygienically-challenged buffoon. Of all the tasks in the village, only tending to the pigs was deemed worthy of his limited intellect and aspirations. His assistant was called Spheric.
Spheric was not allowed to tend the pigs unsupervised. It had been decided when he was only a scrap of a boy that this task required a level of concentration and expertise that was beyond him.
No one can say now what occurred to transform this witless boy into the man he became but he was one of the villagers dragged off into the night by unseen forces in the dead of night. For four years, nothing was heard of him.
Over this time, Rachel worked hard to rebuild the strength of the Tempestrians. Of whatever mystical changes she had undergone in the wake of her terrible curse, there was no sign and she dedicated herself to honing her martial skills, wielding the sword her father could no longer bear. The defences of Lower Falls were boosted and more knights were trained, utilizing manpower from the best warriors of the lower orders. An sliding equilibrium of sorts was reached but still more souls were carried off from Tempest Falls than were born each year. The population was dwindling.
The first sign that Spheric would soon return was so vague and oblique as to be unrecognizable. The Demiplane of Dread was made of over a dozen realms, each controlled by a powerful and evil lord. The borders of each realm could be closed through the great magical willpower of each lord and it was their presence that kept the realm functioning, stamping their character into the very stones of the earth. Tempest Falls was situated now within the greatest of these realms, Darkon, controlled by the arch-lich Azalin but the original and most famous of the realms was Barovia, controlled in turn by the vampire Count Strahd von Zarovich.
It started with a rumour and quickly became a fact. The entire realm of Barovia had ceased to exist. It simply wasn’t there anymore. The entire demiplane floated freely within the astral plane but where Barovia had once been there was now only an endlessly stretching chasm of ether. Fearing for the continuing safety of Tempest Falls, Rachel again travelled away from the castle seeking answers and soon found the only conclusion that could be reached. For a realm to disappear so, the lord of that realm, the great willpower keeping it in existence, had to have been extinguished. Strahd von Zarovich had been killed and the realm of Barovia, with no replacement lord, had been swallowed up.
There was a lot of fearful talk in Tempest Falls but nothing could be done. In many ways  the destruction of Barovia had been a good thing insomuch as the villainy of its vampire lord had been ended.
And then, over the course of several months, a second realm vanished, its lord presumably eliminated; and a third; and a fourth… and still no sign of how nor why.

The Return of Spheric

Then one night, from out of the wastes surrounding Tempest Falls, a vast horde of unholy daemonic creatures assaulted the gates of Lower Falls. Archers took to the walls of Lower Falls firing salvo after salvo of flaming arrows into the approaching ranks. Rachel stood on the battlements watching the slavering horde’s approach and went to gesture to send out the Tempestrian knights but hesitated. There were so many daemons. She was afraid that outside the walls they would simply be swallowed up. The narrow track leading up the side of the mountain was perhaps a far better option to make a stand. The villagers of Lower Falls had already been evacuated to the plateau of Upper Falls. Maybe sacrificing the foot of Tempest Falls was the best option. In a moment of panic she realized she couldn’t decide! The decision was simply too big to make! The sun set over the towering edifice of Tempest Falls, cloaking the valley in darkness. The end was coming.

Then several hundred yards away over the heads of the onrushing horde, half a dozen daemons flew up into the air, tumbled like broken straw dolls and fell into their own ranks. Then a dozen more flew up; and ten more. Something was battering them aside, attacking the rear of the daemonic army!
The horde fell into disarray, sections of it trying to turn to face this new aggressor and though Rachel could see who or what was helping them she ordered the archers to open fire. She called for the gates to be opened and ordered the knights out who smashed into the floundering ranks of the daemons, their lances skewering the unholy flesh. Rachel herself peered out across the sea of pulsing daemonic flesh, trying to make out what was helping them but she could not make it out beyond the desiccated daemonic corpses being flung into the air.
The daemonic army was dwindling. The immense pressure being brought down upon them from the knights in front and this unseen benefactor behind was too much and their unnatural instability was causing them to dematerialize rapidly. The knights went on fighting, pushing their steeds into the evaporating lines of the daemons; dismembered limbs went hacking up into the air; but still Rachel couldn’t see who was helping them.
Then the last of the daemons started to dematerialize, screaming in unending torment but before it could its head was lopped from its shoulders by a tall man striding out of the mists who bore the longest and most frightening sword that Rachel had ever seen. The knights were all around him suddenly, blocking her view, giving thanks for his aid and praising his martial prowess, drawing him closer to the gates to join them in celebrating their victory and finally, as he stepped through the gates with them, Rachel got a proper view of the man who had come to save them.
Spheric was no longer the boy he had been. He was tall and muscular with a wide-brimmed hat and a cloak that covered comfortable travelling clothes. On his back was a scabbard of suitable length for the great sword he carried, which, at the feast, the amiable and genial man said was named Plague. He smiled as he said it as though he were sharing a joke with himself. He was well-liked and respected and Rachel found him… interesting.
Of the missing years – because he revealed early on that he had once made his home in Lower Falls – Spheric revealed little. Of the origin of his unearthly newfound strength and the source of this obviously incredibly powerful sword, he would not speak. He only graciously and gently led the conversation elsewhere, perhaps onto the knights own ability and renown.
Spheric spent several days in Tempest Falls, speaking with the knights, discussing strategy and tactics. He met with Grégoire d’Astatic and discussed the intricacies of politics and ruling. He visited the pig farmer, his former mentor, and talked about the difficulties of milking swine. And he spent time also with Rachel, walking the rim of the plateau, looking out across the dark lands of Ravenloft.
Spheric had travelled far. He had seen many things. Dark things. He described them and his travels to Rachel, his confrontations with many a dark lord and the destruction of each realm as he beheaded its ruler. In every case, Spheric had succeeded in escaping the destruction of each realm, moving on toward the next, battling evil wherever he found it. Rachel recognized quickly that this man was the great hero they needed. He was the a good man with power enough to protect Tempest Falls and destroy their enemies. And she also recognized that she was falling in love with him.
Rachel asked Spheric if he would stay but it was not meant to be. His destiny led him elsewhere. There were still far too many dark lords who needed beheading. He did however promise to look in from time to time. If trouble came to Tempest Falls he would not be far away.
However he had a counter-proposal… Rachel had expressed a desire to expand on her fighting skills. What if she accompanied him?
Rachel considered this. Her father was still more than capable of ruling their small province, especially since, now they had been transported to Ravenloft, their goals lay mostly in defence rather than carving out any kind of extensive domain. The Tempestrians did not need her to help them to provide that defence.
There was nothing to stop her.
The Years of Adventure
For the next few years, Rachel d’Astatic and Spheric travelled the lands of the Demiplane of Dread, battling evil, exterminating monsters, and helping those in need (while amassing a fairly substantial wodge of hard currency on the side in the form of dragon’s treasure and the hordes taken by orcs and goblins). With Rachel’s help, Spheric managed to dispatch several more dark lords of Ravenloft, each time fleeing the domain before it dissolved back into the mists.
Rachel developed her martial prowess, becoming exceptionally skilled with a sword but at times she felt some other swell of power within her bosom; something difficult to understand. Nothing overt happened but she remembered the dark day of her brother Jordan’s betrayal and the majestic power of the curse that she issued. Still, nothing became of it.
Spheric’s power was obviously greater than that of a normal man but he continued to be elusive about its origins and respecting his good deeds, Rachel learned not to press; but she continued to wonder. At different times she heard rumours and guesses from those they came in contact with – that he was an angel or a god or some kind of saint – but there was nothing solid that she could be sure of. That his powers were supernatural in origin it was certain. Some even whispered that his abilities came from darker regions, that he was one of the dreader vampires; but though his powers could have been explained that way he showed no aversion to sunlight or garlic; not weakness from silver or running water or any other traditional vampiric fault.
And then they were attacked by a man named Merrick Undine.
Merrick had access to strange technologies that gave him an edge on Spheric but despite several long battles, Spheric managed to defeat his opponent, striking his head from his shoulders and knocking him back into a ravine. However not before Merrick made an outrageous claim. He stated well within earshot of Rachel that he had been chosen as a messiah to bring the realm of Ravenloft out of darkness and furthermore that Spheric was the very antithesis of this. Merrick claimed that he was pure evil.

The Merchant Queen

Rachel felt disillusioned and full of doubt. The honour of the man she had fought alongside for so long and respected as no other had been suddenly brought into question and in that moment she could no longer be sure of him. She was unsure suddenly whether she wished to continue travelling with him. But before a decision could come to her it was taken from her hands.
When she and Spheric reached Il Aluk, the capital of Darkon, Rachel found a message waiting for her. Her father, Grégoire d’Astatic, was dead.
Rachel was furious. If Spheric hadn’t kept her away then she could have been there to support her father in his last hours. She knew that was irrational but she felt it nonetheless and this anger led them into conflict. She raged at him, throwing accusations based on her own grief as well as on the fear and doubt she had felt since she’d heard Merrick Undine’s incriminations. Telling Spheric she never wanted to see him again, she left his side immediately and rushed back to Tempest Falls. Her father had been dead for three weeks by the time she managed to get home and again her heart hardened toward her former companion.
Her people greeted her back with great relief. The Tempestrians had continued to protect Tempest Falls in her absence but they needed a ruler. Rachel took one hour to mourn her father, standing alone in the crypt beneath the chapel and then went back outside and declared that she would not leave Tempest Falls again. Furthermore, she recognized that her home needed stability and a greater identity and it needed to stop being so inward-looking. From that day forth, she declared Tempest Falls a kingdom and herself as its queen.
Rachel threw herself into her new rule, leaving behind her sword and her armour and taking on the traditional raiment of a cultured and beautiful noblewoman. There were pockets of civilization all across Ravenloft, though contact was minimal between them because of the dangerous wandering creatures. Rachel decided that the time for living in fear was over. Using strategic lessons she had learned on her travels with Spheric she organized the knights to begin clearing out the area surrounding Tempest Falls of predators. Further, she established trading routes with towns at ever increasing distances with caravans guarded by columns of Tempestrians. Within months, a budding trading network was established and Rachel started to make a name for herself as the merchant queen.

She had left behind her life with Spheric completely but there was one element she couldn’t walk away from. Rachel was pregnant with Spheric’s child.
Within the year she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who she named Virtue. As she lay in her four poster bed that night, nursing the child, she looked up to see Spheric standing in the window.
Spheric took Virtue in his arms and smiled, gentle tears trickling down his cheeks. He softly apologized for not being there for her and for not being open with her all along. He said if she would have her back then he would tell her everything. But though her heart cried out for him, Rachel’s rage consumed her. It was too late! She didn’t want to hear excuses or anymore lies! She couldn’t trust him and she had never been able to! She turned her back on him, issuing the bitter whisper, “Just leave.”
Spheric didn’t reply and Rachel slowly came to realize that she’d been very wrong to say those things but when she turned back to face him he was gone. The window was empty.


Five years passed and no direct word of Spheric was heard, though reports of realm after realm becoming absorbed back into the mists of Ravenloft implied that his efforts to eliminate the dark lords were proceeding with more aggression than ever before.
Virtue had became a precocious and strong-willed young girl, very much like her mother and Rachel’s renown and success as the Merchant Queen of Tempest Falls continued to spread. As never before, despite the constant dangers of life in the Demiplane of Dread, this became the golden age of Tempest Falls. No more was this exemplified than in Methuselah, greatest of the knights of Tempest Falls.
Methuselah was a native of Darkon from before Tempest Falls was drawn into Ravenloft and had presented himself to Rachel’s father, Grégoire d’Astatic while she had been travelling. He had quickly proven himself the most able warrior; the noblest leader, and taken up position as the captain of the knights. Methuselah led the knights on purge after purge of the monsters lurking in the forests close to Tempest Falls. He organized better defences than ever before for the trading caravans. He was brave and selfless, and as Rachel found herself increasingly noticing, extremely handsome.
Riding in the deep forest, Rachel was startled by the roaring screech of a gigantic beast. A huge hippogriff swept down from the treetops, its rear quarters those of a horse, its forelegs and head that of a mighty eagle. She had no way of escaping from it – its speed far exceeded that of her warhorse – but she fled anyway. Long were past the days when she had been at her physical peak and even then she would never have been able to fight of such a monstrosity single-handed. One gigantic claw brought the horse down from under her and Rachel tumbled into the brush.
The hippogriff roared above her, rearing up, and inside her breast Rachel felt something she hadn’t felt for many years, since she’d uttered the curse against her scheming brother. Her fingertips tingled with power and her hair caught an unseen wind as lights started to spark in the clearing around her.
Then from out of nowhere, Methuselah leapt into the fray, his sword held two-handed, pointing down. He slashed into the Hippogriff, slicing it down its flank and parried the return blow from its gigantic claw. The strange power that had been generated dissipated instantly and Rachel leapt for cover as the hippogriff span round, searching for Methuselah’s leaping form.
Methuselah finished the hippogriff off and helped Rachel up, and from that moment a special bond was formed between them; a bond far different than that she had shared with Spheric.

Rise of the Sorceress

From that day on, Rachel and Methuselah spent a lot of time together. They found the abandoned nest of the hippogriff and the litter of younglings it had left and Methuselah took them in, caring for them and rearing them as his own personal steeds.
Rachel was curious about the build-up of power that Methuselah’s appearance had interrupted. Clearly something had changed within her and there was a resource into which she could tap if only she could determine how. Methuselah encouraged this and she studied the old books to find answers. Since long before the original departure from Bretonnia, the Tempestrians had been served by the noble, but mysterious, Damsels of the Lady, seers and magic users who communed with the ancient Bretonnian goddess. Rachel spent increasing time with them, particularly with Sarah, a beautiful young seer of potent talent, listening to their teachings and learning, through meditation, to tap into the potential within her.
It rapidly became clear that over all the years, Rachel had long held the capacity for wielding enormous magical energies and the more she practiced, the greater her control of these powers became. Soon she surpassed the other damsels; even Sarah, creating a new pathway of discovery and investigation before her.
Soon however, Rachel came to realize that there were indications that her power came from a darker place. The Tempestrians were well aware of the danger and lure of Chaos but the benefits she was gaining for her people were clear. She considered the alleged darkness in Spheric’s past and the good that he had done and used that as justification for the continuation of her studies, feeling the old stirrings of yearning for him and pushing them away.
Within two years of beginning her path, Rachel took on the mantle of Prophetess of the Lady, the damsel Sarah at her side. What threat of darkness there might otherwise have been was kept in check, for now, by the honour and purity of her devotion to the Lady.

Declaration of Truth

Throughout this time there was little or no overt sign of Spheric but it was clear that he keep watch of Tempest Falls. At times, a gargantuan beat might be found slaughtered close by the walls of Lower Falls, or some insidious necromancer’s  bower would be found smashed and emptied, the vile sorcerer eviscerated. But, honouring Rachel’s request, he stayed away from the court and allowed none to see him. Still, he preyed on Rachel’s mind. She and Methuselah had become incredibly close but she had always kept him at arm’s length, not ready to give herself to him completely.
It came to a head one autumn night when the waning moon was barely a liver in the sky and every gust of wind was bloated with tumbling leaves. Methuselah came to Rachel. He brought with him a single long-stemmed rose that he had plucked himself from the highest peak on the back of one of his hippogriff’s, now fully grown.
He opened the passage between his lips and his heart and revealed everything he had felt for her since the day they had met. He loved her as he had loved no other. He wanted her to be his wife and he wanted to serve her as he would serve the people of Tempest Falls as their king.
Rachel took his hands, brimming with emotion, her eyes twinkling and moist and she told him that she was sorry… so sorry…  but she could never be with him. She couldn’t be with anyone but Spheric. It wasn’t until then that she realized what she had so foolishly turned her back on. She thanked Methuselah from the depth of her heart for his friendship and his caring; for his bravery and kindness – but she had to go to Spheric now. She had to find him.
Methuselah gave her a sad smile. “I wanted so much for things to be different,” he said. Then he struck her hard with the back of his fist.
Rachel felt to the floor of the tower chamber, startled, but Methuselah pummeled her again and again. She couldn’t steady her mind long enough to prepare a spell to protect herself and she didn’t have the strength in her limbs to equal his. He lifted her up by her necklace and smashed her face into the stone wall, stunning her into a daze, then carried her over to the open window, looking out over the edge of the plateau, hundreds of feet to the streets of Lower Falls below.
“From the moment I infiltrated the shabby security of this kingdom of yours, I knew the day might come when you would turn against me,” he said. “You have no conception of the distaste I’ve had to endure to continue the sham of my role her in your self-proclaimed kingdom! When I arranged for you to be attacked by the hippogriff I half hoped that it would take you. If I hadn’t needed you alive then I would have stood back and watched as it tore you apart.”
Rachel was hardly conscious but her mind reeled at these revelations.
“You don’t know the role this realm of yours plays in the greater plan,” snapped Methuselah. “You have no conception of its importance and how vital it is that Spheric be eliminated. He may have murdered the original messiah but he has no idea that there was a second, that I was sent here to destroy him. And though I would have liked to claim the kingdom at your side, I will instead have to satisfy myself with watching it all burn as your broken body relinquishes its blood on the cobbles below. Goodbye my sweet Rachel,” he whispered, and threw her from the window.
He sneered in triumph, but her falling body swung round and then back up, flying past him and back into the room. Startled, Methuselah watched her land safely on her bed, then snapped his head back round to the window, straight into Spheric’s mighty fist.
Methuselah staggered backwards as Spheric hauled himself up from the brickwork that he’d been climbing. He grinned and strode forward. Methuselah smashed into the stonework at the rear of the chamber, crumbled onto his knees then flew back up into the ceiling as Spheric kicked him hard under the chin. He crumpled back down again and Spheric unsheathed Plague from his back-scabbard. He brought it up above his head, the unearthly metal singing in readiness then sliced down at Methuselah’s neck.
Methuselah parried the blow just barely, his sword shattering as Plague connected with it. He screamed in agony but kicked out at Spheric’s ankle, bringing him down. Methuselah got to his feet, panting and holding his bleeding face then ran to the window, let out a shrill whistle, and leapt out.
There was a terrible squawk and then his hippogriff snatched him from the air and carried him away.
Crossing to the bed, Spheric gently turned Rachel’s bruised face on the pillow and through the blood and the tears she smiled at him then let him bury her face in his chest, his arms wrapped around her.

The Death of the Queen

At first it seemed that Rachel would recover from the wounds she had suffered from Methuselah but after two days in bed her condition started to decline. She was unable to get up and soon was barely conscious. Shortly after that she started a fever slipped into a deep coma.
The doctors could do nothing for her. Even the Damsels of the Lady, who stood long vigil at her bedside, could not drive away her frailty with their magics. The damsel Sarah was at her wits end, powerless to help her mistress. It was clear that something was broken inside her body, possibly even inside her brain. There was nothing that could be done. She was slipping away.

Spheric was in a fury. He stalked the corridors, eyes dark and brooding until in a moment of absolute rage he tore a pillar down and smashed it into dust. On his knees, he wept, then smashed his fists over and over again into the cobbles beneath him until deep holes were made.
The tears dried on his cheeks but he didn’t move. He didn’t move for several frightening minutes. Then suddenly he erupted into motion. He leapt up and stalked the corridors back to Rachel’s room. He demanded the Damsels leave; that the doctors leave; that everyone be cleared out of the entire tower. They stammered in alarm but Spheric roared at them to go. Then he slammed and locked the door to her chamber and nothing was heard anymore.
Until an unearthly scream shot forth.
All across the mount of Tempest Falls, every citizen heard Rachel’s agonized cry. It did not stop until all her breath was gone, hideously stretched out and pained. And then there was silence.
Nobody knew what action to take but though they respected him, all feared Spheric. Nevertheless, after long minutes, Rachel’s damsel, Sarah, tentatively approached her chamber door; but before she could push it open it dropped back by itself.
Standing in the doorway was Rachel, apparently in perfect health, Spheric at her arm.
Rachel smiled at Sarah, showing no sign of her wounds or her frailty. “Don’t worry,” she said. “Everything is going to be alright.”

The Last of the Dark Lords

From that day on there was no sign of illness in Rachel and no further aftereffects from her grievous injuries. There was talk of course – there is always talk when things that cannot happen still somehow come to pass – but it came to nothing. There was no change in Rachel’s personality or the benevolence of her reign and soon it became simply a story told by firelight that was no longer believed.
Now that Methuselah was gone, Spheric remained in Tempest Falls. He led the Tempestrians to battle, defending the walls and protecting the trade routes. The following summer, he and Rachel were wed and Spheric became the King of Tempest Falls at her side.
More than any other, this was the golden age for Tempest Falls. The people were united under their beloved rulers and the dark beast of Ravenloft had been cleared for hectares around. And Spheric had not given up his task of eliminating the Dark Lords of Ravenloft. One by one the remaining domains were decapitated, collapsing into the strange astral mists of the Demiplane of Dread. Only Darkon remained, the domain that housed Tempest Falls, ruled over by the most powerful lord of them all: Azalin.
Spheric and Azalin had come into conflict many times over the years but without resolution. Spheric had been unwilling to assassinate Azalin, for fear that Darkon would vanish and take Tempest Falls with it. What the fate of their fair realm would be then was an unknown.
Rachel and her damsels prayed to the Lady for guidance, entering a deep trance, fasting for hour after hour. After three days only Sarah and Rachel could maintain the trance. After a week, only Rachel had the strength to continue, her faith and piety, as well as, perhaps, her powerful new constitution, keeping her going.
After one month of constant fasting and prayer, Rachel emerged from her trance with the answer.
If Azalin was destroyed then Darkon would indeed crumble and the strongest remaining will in the domain would become the new dark lord.
It was at this moment that the call went out from the lookout on the tower: Tempest Falls was under attack!

Battle of the Damned

Rachel and Spheric rushed to the window and looked out across the plain. A vast undead army was funneling down the valley toward the walls of Lower Falls, a greater collection of undying warriors than either of them had ever seen. And at the head of the army, riding one of his hippogriffs, was Methuselah.
Spheric called to the knights, men-at-arms and archers of Tempest falls, ordering them to ready themselves then he leapt on Tklaine, his black unicorn, and rode down to face the army. Rachel summoned her damsels and bade them to prepare for war. Spheric didn’t wait for his army. He spurred Tklaine over the wall and charged straight into the army, heading directly toward Methuselah but his enemy stayed high, the great wings of the hippogriff carrying toward Upper Falls.
Caught in the surging throng of grasping arms, Spheric couldn’t easily withdraw. But hundreds of arrows sailed down into the damned creatures around him. The gates of Lower Falls crashed open and the Tempestrians rode out, men-at-arms following in behind to support them. Sweeping Plague round in a broad arc, Spheric disemboweled a dozen foul creatures then turned Tklaine and headed back toward the castle.
Methuselah closed on Upper Falls but Rachel and her damsels were ready for him. They let loose their powerful magics but Methuselah had powerful warding talismans given to him by the dread liche Azalin.
Down in the valley the army of Undeath was pushing toward the gates of Lower Falls but the knights were cutting them down faster than they could approach. It was an even battle, neither side able to fully wrest control of the battlefield. In order to win, the leaders of one army or the other needed to be taken down.
Methuselah landed, taking out two of the damsels with his sword. He leapt down from his hippogriff, unleashing it to tear into the guards who ran to prevent him getting to Rachel. He strode toward her and she faltered, unsure suddenly if she had the spirit to kill him after everything he’d meant to her, despite his betrayal.
Sarah ran forward to stop him, raising her hands to generate a mystical wind, but Methusalah batted her aside with the flat of his blade then raised his sword to behead his former love. Before him, Rachel trembled, unable to act.
Then Spheric roared into the courtyard atop Tklaine, the sword Plague held high in his hand. “Methuselah! Face me!”
The warrior sneered at Spheric and climbed back atop his hippogriff. Then he was away.
Spheric and Rachel watched him fly northwest, a silence between them; then Spheric rode back down to the battle and after a few moments of watching, Rachel followed.

The Last Lord of Ravenloft

The moment the last of the undead army was cut down Spheric summoned the Tempestrians to him. They had fought a hard-won battle, he declared, but the time had come now to take that battle to their enemies in their lair. Too long had the dread liche lord Azalin sent his minions to wear them away. Too long had Methuselah’s betrayal gone unanswered. They would ride to Il Aluk, capital of Darkon, and destroy their enemies now!
He allowed them one night for rest, for time with their families and for preparation: Il Aluk was several days travel from Tempest Falls and provisions would be needed. Spheric spent that last night with Rachel. He sensed some doubt in her and that chilled his heart but he knew she loved him. All that was needed was for Azalin to be killed and the nightmare they had endured in Ravenloft would be over. Spheric would seize control of the Dark Powers of Ravenloft at last and he would use that power to return Tempest Falls to the Border Princes.
They were both afraid that some other terrible fate would overcome them all. When the last realm of Ravenloft dissolved, who could really be sure what would happen. Perhaps they would all be destroyed. But they couldn’t live forever in fear. They had to confront that which terrified them the most.
With only a small force of infantry left behind to guard the walls of Tempest Falls, the entire glorious army of the Tempestrians set off at dawn, riding as fast as they could, the knights to the fore, the men-at-arms and archers coming up behind packed into carts. Rachel and her damsels rode in the centre of the phalanx, stilling their minds ready for the coming ordeal. Azalin was all-powerful. His legions would be almost impossible to defeat.
And they had yet to discover his darkest secret – his secret power.
As they reached the crest of the valley overlooking Il Aluk and Azalin’s dark palace at the centre of the town, they realized the full significance of the challenge they were about to face. Azalin and Methuselah had known they were coming – might even have attacked Tempest Falls purely to lure them there – and their full dark legion was assembled, with a home ground advantage, to defend their realm.
Spheric reared up on Tklaine and called to his knights. “If we fall today, we fall! But we will fight until the battle is won!”
The knights roared their triumph and, en masse, the entire army swept down into the valley of Il Aluk.
The battle raged for hours, and the hours became days. It began on the plains and forests approaching the city but the Tempestrians kept pushing on. As they reached the outskirts of Il Aluk the battle became a bitter street fight. Archers took up position in the neglected hovels while the men-at-arms held position in the streets and plazas. The knights kept pushing onwards, smiting down the legions of undead, targeting their vampire masters and pressing closer to the palace. And at their head rode Spheric, cutting down dozens and dozens of zombies and ghouls with every minute that passed. Behind him rode Rachel and the damsels, throwing up protective shields and incinerating the shambling dead.

Ever onward, their only priority was to reach the palace and slay Azalin. When he was dead, the undead legion and the realm itself would disappear. But still there was no sign of the mighty Methuselah and as yet, his strength had not been tested against Spheric’s.
Spheric kicked the gate of the palace and it shattered to splinters from that single blow.
“I’m coming for you!” he roared.
The knights were fully engaged outside the palace battling the undead horde. The damsels remained with them, Sarah at their centre, providing magical support in attack and defence. Only Rachel accompanied Spheric inside.
There were minions still within the palace to defend it; Azalin’s elite guard; but Spheric didn’t even slow when he reached them. He dispatched them on the blade of his sword like they were insubstantial shadows. He and Rachel climbed floor after floor, rising ever closer to the throne room where Azalin awaited.
The room was still when he reached it. Spheric had faced Azalin before several times but he’d never reached this inner sanctum. Azalin lifted himself from his throne and smiled a brittle sepulchral smile, coming down the steps. “I see you have come for me at last,” he said.
Spheric hefted Plague and roared in anger, sprinting across the great hall. Azalin didn’t move or react in any way. He watched the warrior’s charge with complete disinterest. Spheric came closer and closer, raising Plague higher for the killing blow, then swung down hard at the liche lord’s head. The sword clanged in a shower of frustrated enchantment as it struck Methuselah’s shimmering blade.
The golden armoured villain stepped out from a curtained alcove into view and gave his sword a little jerk to push Spheric’s sword arm back. Both fighters smiled, their mutual hatred almost a form of camaraderie; then the battle began.
Each man slashed and parried, mercilessly clashing in almost berserk fury. Rachel threw up her arms and sent bolts of magical power cascading toward Azalin but the necromancer deflected the blasts and answered with his own. The duel expanded, growing in power and fury while Spheric and Methuselah battled on.
“You know that I am the messiah this world needs,” sneered Methuselah. “You know you are the Antithesis – that you are evil. You hide the truth from your woman but I can see its taint in her now too.”
Rachel hesitated when she heard this, almost losing her concentration and falling to Azalin’s power.
“A man is known by his actions,” replied Spheric, kicking Methuselah back. “I am a defender of my people, a husband and a father. I am a slayer of demons. What are you? Nothing but a traitor; allied to the darkest lord of Ravenloft.”
“You know nothing!” snapped Methuselah. “Only when you think you’ve won will you realize how deeply you have lost!” He lunged forward with his sword, striking for Spheric’s chest but Spheric batted it away, punched him hard in the chin, lifting him off the ground then knocked him hurtling to the floor.
“Let’s just see what happens now,” he said.
Rachel’s magical defence was crumbling. Azalin was too powerful – more powerful than he should have been – but Spheric strode into the epicenter of their conflagration. With a last glance back at his wife he lifted Plague and brought it down, slicing the dread lord Azalin in twain.
There was a roar of spectral rage; an explosion of something black and powerful escaping; and then there was silence. Even down in the city there was no motion as every single creature in the undead horde crumbled into dust.
Azalin was dead.
Spheric had become the last lord of Ravenloft.

The End

The silence continued. The only movement was the gentle falling of the dust the battle had thrown up. And then laughter sounded; broad hearty laughter.
Both Spheric and Rachel turned. Methuselah was climbing to his feet, resting on the hilt of his sword. “You fool!” he cried. “You fool!”
“Come over here and my blade will show you what a fool I am,” murmured Spheric.
“You’re a pawn Spheric; always just a pawn. You have acted exactly as we wished at every turn; exactly as we’ve always planned. And now you’ll see why I am the messiah and you the Antithesis.”
“What are you blabbering about?”
“It has been you that has slain each dark lord in turn, unknowingly preparing  for this moment; concentrating the remaining power so that it could now linger, ready to be snatched. You have slain Azalin but in doing so all you have done is release him.”
“Release him from what?” asked Rachel.
“Azalin was just a name,” said Methuselah, “a shell from which my real master could gather power for himself while his spirit was trapped here in its weakened state, drawn by the Dread Powers of Ravenloft. His real name has been all but forgotten but he harks from the same world as you and your precious Tempest Falls. He has lived for millennia. He created all knowledge of the dark arts of necromancy. He is the destined ruler of all the Old World. He is Nagash!”
The name struck a chord in both Spheric and Rachel, a whispered spectre from dark half-remembered legends of an ancient evil fro a dark time.
“You have released him from his prison of flesh,” said Methuselah, “and even now his spirit returns to its true body in the Land of the Dead. The realm of Ravenloft has finally been disrupted, and though you think this is victory, you know nothing. In moments the entire realm will dissolve and fall under the power of its new lord. Not you! Me!”
“It’s a lie!” cried Rachel but Spheric retained his stony silence.
“For months Nagash has been preparing me for this moment,” spat Methuselah, “and when the realm dissolves I will be granted full power to remake it as I wish.” He grinned. “Tempest Falls will be transported back to its rightful place within the Border Princes in the Old World but I will be its lord, beloved ruler and king and you, my dear Rachel, will be my loving queen.”
“You will have no choice. You will love me as you have never loved another. You will adore me and service me at my whim.” He laughed. “As for you Spheric, my old enemy. It would be a shame to waste your talents. You, I think will be a willing general to lead the uncounted hordes that Nagash will send north from the Land of the Dead – nothing more than a lackey!”
“You’re crazy,” said Spheric.
“But I’m not,” leered Methuselah. “I’m not at all. I will rule Tempest Falls, giving a pretence of defending the Empire of man but when the dread legions of undeath are in position, my Tempestrians will show their true allegiance and I and my men will lead the undead horde to victory in the north, eliminating all mankind and destroying the Empire, Bretonia and every civilization of the world!”
“Not…” said Spheric. “Not if I kill you first.”
The hall was still for a moment. From outside and all across the realm came a building murmur as the land itself started to destabilize, ready to collapse and become only a figment of Methuselah’s imagination. Then Spheric sprang into action.
He was across the hall in an instant, hacking with Plague at Methuselah’s instant defence. Methuselah laughed, backing away. “I don’t have to beat you! I only have to stay alive until the land dissolves. Then I will have complete power to return my new kingdom to its rightful and you will be  a mere servant of Nagash! Only moments, and you will lose everything forever! And the Old World will be poised on the brink of destruction!”
“You talk to much,” said Spheric, smashing his opponent hard in the chest with the hilt of his sword, forcing him further back.
Rachel got into position to lend support, lifting her hands and starting an incantation but a roaring screech turned her aside just n time to avoid the incoming blow of Methuselah’s mighty hippogriff, poised silhouette in the light from the window. She threw up a barrier of defence as it attacked again and gasped, looking past it at the dark mists coming in that were tearing up the realm of Darkon and destroying everything. There were only minutes left before everything was going to be gone!
The hippogriff attacked again but Rachel remained still beneath her protective shield, whispering an entreaty to the magic of the heavens, a wry smile playing on her lips. The hippogriff roared, raising both claws to smash her shield aside and destroy her. Then a massive comet thirty feet across sailed down from the sky and crushed it into mulch.
Rachel took a second to enjoy her victory then looked out the window fully. The earth was visibly quaking. Fissures were opening to vent strange gases. Trees and boulders wer floating into the air and vanishing. Houses were breaking down into their constituent components and being sucked into the earth. People were screaming and then simply blinking out of existence.
“We have to end this now!” she screamed to Spheric. “He has to die!”
“Very soon you’ll be my wife,” said Methuselah, parrying another one of Spheric’s blows. “Then you’ll speak differently. You’ll dance to my every whim!” He chuckled.
“I said you talk too much,” said Spheric, smashing his fist into Methuselah’s nose and crushing the bone. He kicked Methuselah’s knee, snapping it backwards then beat in the back of his head as he rocked forward.
“You can’t win,” cried Methuselah.
“Watch me,” said Spheric, chopping first one then another arm from the other man’s shoulders.
Methuselah screamed in agony but Spheric wasn’t finished. Spheris lifted him up, ripping his helmet off and carried him to the window.
Almost all of Darkon was gone – obliterated in the oncoming dissolution of the realm. Tempest Falls, many leagues distant was long gone. “You can’t rewrite all this if you’re dead,” said Spheric. “But I can do it for you.” He smiled and tossed Methuselah’s dismembered body over the ledge.
Methuselah plummeted toward the ground as Spheric and Rachel took hold of one another’s hand. There were only seconds left now. Outside the window, all was white. Methuselah plunged into the whiteness and seconds later Spheric and Rachel vanished too.

A Bright New Day

Queen Rachel d’Astatic opened her eyes, stretched and smiled, knowing at once that everything was alright. The sun was coming through the window. She was back in her chamber in her tower room in Tempest Falls. Everything was going to be fine after all!
She climbed out of bed and looked out the window. The bustling town of Upper Falls gave way to the plateau edge and out beyond it she saw the dark splendour of the Border Princes. They were home. No more would they be trapped in the dismal Demiplane of Dread.
She ran back over to the bed and leapt in, throwing her arms around her husband and kissing him passionately. “We’re home my love!” she cried. “We’re home my darling Methuselah!”
The covers fell back and Methuselah sat up, wiping the sleepiness from his eyes. “Yes we are home,” he said. He smiled, his eyes glinting darkly. “We are home my love. Together. Exactly as it should be.” He took her hand. “And together we’ll make Tempest Falls the greatest realm the old world has ever known.”
And hundreds of miles to the south in the Land of the Dead, the dread arch-necromancer Nagash roared in triumph as a vast horde of undead warriors stretched out before him. It was almost time to strike and soon the Border Princes and then the Empire would fall before his might. After thousands of years of waiting he would have his revenge!
At the head of his army his general reached for his great black horned helmet, pulling it down over his face, covering it from sight. He would lead the armies forth, vanquishing all those who lay before them. He was the Lord of the Dead. He was the right hand of Nagash; loyal and cruel beyond measure.
He… was Spheric.

The last Chance War

Tempest Falls had been returned to its rightful place in the Border Princes where it had once stood. Methuselah’s plunging form had still lived long enough to take control of the dark powers as Darkon was destroyed. Now reality was rewritten in his image. But life was not perfect, even for him.
Over the following weeks it became clear that the Border Princes was every bit as wild and unruly as it had been before Tempest Falls had been founded. Orcs and Goblins, Skaven and Ogres ran rampant, covering the entire region. In Gaping Jaw, Rachel’s brother Jordan, the warboss known as Bull Rogue, had consolidated his power, dominating the west under a brutal and unrelenting fist.
Worse, the first stirrings of an attack from the south were heard from scouts. The Undead Nation were moving steadily north on a collision course with the Empire; the Border Princes on a crossing point.
Propagating his part of the dark plan, Methuselah roused the Tempestrians to combat them. He would fight; they all would; all the while working behind the scenes to aid the undead advance; but at the critical point, just as it looked like the undead might be driven back, Methuselah would reveal his true nature and the real battle would begin… as the Border Princes and then the Empire were bathed in blood and then utterly destroyed.
Nothing could prevent that now and the one man who might have been able to lead the righteous to victory had become the willing slave of mankind’s arch enemy.