For the Glory of the Black Dragon

Lord Chardun

Lord Chardun I seek your guidance. I fear that my pack has lost there faith. They seem to revere life over service to you. We spent a fortune raising a fallen warrior like a Corean follower. We took a great fighter that you chose to call to service. I pray you help guide me to better serve you and help purge this sickness. I pray in your name Lord Chardun and seek penance for the dishonor that we have shown your.your humble servant Sir Cody

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The Royal Summons... The Hunt Begins...

A Royal proclamation – Enkilot the first, 151 AV

- By the Black Dragon, King Virduk of Calastia:

Priests, clerics, unholy knights and other soldiers of the faith: By royal decree I, King Virduk, charge thee to undergo a pilgrimage most devout and patriotic; Ye shall travel to a Calastian seat of ducal power, whereupon Charday the twenty-second day of Belot, ye shall present thyself and thine arms and might to the largest house of servitude to our Glorious General, Chardun. Here ye shall receive divine blessings and guidance and find sanction by the church and by myself, your King, to participate in a quest of the most substantial magnitude.
The greater might and expansion of thine kingdom may well lie within your trusted hands.
By my command, ye shall hear and obey.

The Black Dragon, King Virduk of Calastia

The day approaches…

For weeks now there has been a buzz among the people of Drehl, a quiet curiosity on the lips of peasants and nobles alike that has slowly been building into a rising clamor. Soldiers are coming! Men of war, ladies of battle, mercenaries, soldiers, champions of the divine, knights of the realm and most of these will say little as to their business in Drehl, though rumors are taking shape.

A column, almost twenty strong, of the faith’s Raven knights have recently arrived, and like the others, their focus seems to be upon Fiendsthrone, the great temple to Chardun found within the ducal seat’s very heart. The awe-inspiring, General’s Square, which spreads out before the temple in authoritarian grandeur, has received its fair share of visitors as though soldiers were making a pilgrimage to this holy site that sits in the shadow of the imposing temple itself. Great plinths of polished white granite dominate the square, each one as big as a house and each topped with statuary of dark iron figures denoting the greatness of Chardun’s mortal servants. Beside an armored statue of a knight mounted and alert, stands an ever-present vigil of at least two Raven knights, looking over the square at all times, their dark, shadowy dread ravens perched upon the blade of the statue’s up-raised sword.

Opposite this mounted statue, upon an identical plinth of granite crouches a Calastian scout, his knee pinned to the back of a prone and shackled slave who had failed in a bid for escape; great fiendish hunting hounds, carved from the same black iron as soldier and slave, stand guard over the stalwart scout. In the shadow of this honorary statue can be seen an occasional manacle-carrying and scepter wielding member of Chardun’s Order of the Blackthorn, these dedicated trackers and hunters often accompanied by a wolf or hound. More than any others, these hooded bounty hunters of the faith avoid others and speak little to those who seek answers as to why they are here.

At the base of a third plinth stands a pavilion of black and gray silk, its stout support posts, unable to be secured in the square’s stone floor, are held aloft in the bone hands of a skeletal host; each armored skeleton gripping its post with both hands with a hold firm enough that the pavilion’s only movement is caused by the rippling of wind or rain over the drawn silk. No mortal person or entity has yet to take residence beneath this pavilion, but whispers abound that speak of an aged and twisted battle-mage who situated the skeletal guardians and claimed the location beneath this statue that depicts a robed and hooded figure standing over the courtyard gazing down, a skeletal hand hewed from cold, black iron, emerges from the billowing robe’s sleeve to point in judgement down at the mortals who walk below.

The final plinth depicts a a bare-chested and hairless male, his sinewy arms raised aloft as in victory, his hands closed in iron fists, his head lifted to the sky while thick manacles grasp those wrists and barbed chains connect from manacle to manacle and twine over the shoulders and down the back of this monk like vines upon a tree. At the base of this plinth sits two lone souls, each manacled and chained like the massive statue towering over them. These two have sat in silence, through weather fair or foul for almost six days now, without speaking, without taking nourishment and without acknowledging that another soul exists in this world – they sit facing the great temple of Fiendsthrone as if awaiting a sign from within that unholy building.

As the days pass and the 22nd day of Belot approaches, the local citizenry of Drehl has had their curiosity peaked and crowds begin teeming and amassing around the great General’s Square, their stink and squalor sullying the polished white stone that dominates the unholy site. Unable to be chased away by an insufficient number of city guards, the masses crowd the square and within days an almost festive atmosphere seems to grow. Street musicians, artists, peddlers, beggars and food vendors move in to make coin off of the curious crowd. In short time however, Duke Jandalorus puts a stop to this loitering, calling in a regiment of elite Dragon-knights who ride in, resplendent in their dark armor but almost overlooked due to the formidable appearance of their black-scaled, reptilian mounts. A venomous and acrid odor follows these bestial cavalry units and on more than one occasion a dragon has bellowed forth a cloud of misty venom leaving peasantry and onlookers unwilling to disperse blinded and wracked with pain so severe that they lay blinded and screaming until dragged away by city guard squads.

In short order General’s Square is cleared of the teeming masses, with only a select few individuals, generally soldiery or clergy, allowed passage through the ring of dragon knights and onto the temple grounds. This of course does not kill the rumors on the lips of the entire city; some claim that the king himself is coming to address his adoring citizens, others suggest that a divine ordinance will be revealed and a new war will be given birth here at Fiendsthrone, other, more paranoid voices are already preparing to flee the city, vowing that Chardun has found the people of Drehl unfit and has summoned forth His soldiers to sweep through the city and rain a culling of blood down upon the unfaithful and the blasphemous.

What the common citizen does not realize is that similar scenes are unfolding in every great Calastian city – soldiers, fighting men and adventuring clergy are being summoned and only those summoned and a few of the more well-connected nobility have an inkling as to the reasons why.
What even the nobility does not realize is that beyond the kingdom’s borders, in nations where the Overlord is revered and worshiped, men of action and faith are gathering before unholy sites, sharpening their swords, preparing their minds and souls to answer the bidding of their God and their sovereign.
Beyond the wall of bones in the great Temple-city of Dun in Dunahnae to the far reaches of Termana in the Land of Chains where the Charduni’s dark rule reigns supreme the arm of Chardun’s mortal might comes together on one day throughout the world, none knowing what they will hear, none knowing what they will see – only knowing that they will serve and obey.

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Night in the Fiendwood

It is the first hour after midnight, shortly after your leader has emerged from his cave transformed into a monster… You find yourself still shaking off the sleep you were so hastily awoken from, suddenly thrust beyond the safe walls of the cave, beyond the grotto and into the harsh darkness of the Fiendwood.

The forest is alive – night-hunting birds take wing overhead, gliding through the darkened canopy, screeching as they descend on prey. In the distance eerie howls sound out in lamentation or distress, or possibly signalling a hunt? Other sounds assault your ears – sinister growls, inhuman cries and hateful wails as if the forest were angered by your intrusion.

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The wind stirs the tree-cover overhead, leafs rustle and shake as if trembling, branches groan and bend, the entire leafy canopy seems to shift and quiver giving haunting images of cloud-shrouded moons overhead. The nameless orb, little more than a sliver of sinister, pale light, gleams as if a claw has torn through the curtain of night. Belsameth’s glowing orb hovers high above, full, fat and mocking your predicament as if that dark goddess knew that her lunar body had created the havoc that now surrounds you. In the distance, her moon’s light seems to illuminate the shapes of stalking beasts and ghastly figures – there one moment and gone with a shifting of the shadows that lurk so close that you can almost feel their chilled caress tingling over your flesh like a spider’s web.

It is hard to know what will become of this night; will the twisted, bestial monster that had once been Bogdan emerge from the darkness to rip the lifeblood from your veins? Will you stumble through the denseness of this forsaken forest into the waiting maw of something more deadly? Where are the others? Where are you? The world seems turned around and nature seems to have conspired to make certain that your eyes will never see daylight again.

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The Tale of Sir Cody

CHAPTER 1 the beginning of service

I came to Veruba to return the glory of a broken squad devoid of good leadership and of honorable Calastians. Upon my arrival met my new squad mates Sir Bogden a man who exemplifies true meaning of soldier. Chul a Charduni Dwarf who has honored us by enlisting in the Kings Army. Then there was Lord Grievous the sole survivor of a squad that turned on there lieutenant and slaughtered squad members as well as the leader of the town they were supposed to protect.
Though Grievous has to live with the stigma of being apart of this grievous act I met a fellow dukes son as committed to our nation as any of us.
Our first mission to legeni to guard magic weapons headed for outpost Elra was met by magic sucking mist that consumed the magic embedded in the weapons. Upon reaching the outpost we were then given a most rude welcome by the dragoons of Legeni. I find it almost comical that our vessel nation’s security force treat Calastian soldiers with such disdain. What should I expect from a group having so much trouble removing the Hodge podge,makeshift military of Durover.
The earl’s people treated us far better though they kept with the dragoons wishes to keep us under guard and away from the tower of battle mages that also seemed to be treated as a hostile invading force rather than allies there to help. The dragoons possibly coming to there senses allowed us to investigate and eliminate this threat.
Led by Sir Bogden I blazed a trail through the Kelder foothills and discovered the epicenter of the disturbance. A ruin from a titan long since beaten. During the searching of this ruin we were beset by gargoyles Mormo bent on tossing the entire group into a well with no visible bottom. During the combat I bravely threw myself at the enemy in the clash I was rushed into the well finding myself cutoff from the rest of the squad. Found alone in a dark abbis I lift the cover from my everburning torch and quickly gain my bearings. Knowing that my comrades would return to continue our quest I turned my attention to finding a good place to hold up until there arrival. There is no good place by yourself in a dank hole the best you can do is fall back on your training,wits and will to live to do Charduns and Calastias will. This is when I figured out that Chardun has plans for me that my ideas and ambitions are Charduns will.
In the dark I ran into a creature large and slimy who proposed a bargain. If me and our squad would retrieve some magical robes that he couldn’t retrieve himself he would show us the way out. We agreed to these terms and set off too do that and destroy whatever was sapping the magic. He showed us a door which I made quick work of it’s lock. Upon entering we were trapped behind a portcalis and attacked by mormo followers darken. We dispatch the creatures and escaped the trap proceeded down a narrow hall way dispatching more of these creatures. We entered a cavern that not only was the footing treacherous with jagged rocks jutting from the floor but also the mist seemed to be emanating from this cavern. I trudged forward with hampered movement when I was attacked by creatures not of our plane of existence. The creatures had the robes embedded in there backs. For as long as I could muster I fought these creatures until my squad mates could reach me and finish what I had started. We dug the robes from there backs and the mist was gone taking care of both quests but our work was not done. We found while exploring more of the ratmen as well as a small community they had built well hidden and easily defended. Myself and Sir Bogden watched the opening to there village as our comrades finish there tasks when a couple of the ratmen made there way to us.I convinced Sir Bogden that he and I could fell these two without having to interrupt the rest of the squad we did just that they didn’t see it coming a lunge of his sword and a swipe of my axe and the ratmen were no more.

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The Road to Redemtion
Letter to the Purifier

(Appropriately addressed to the Purifier who came to see me, don’t have notes in front of me)

“And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed thyself to Chardun by thine own blood, and sacrifice.” -Verse 83:265 of the Iron Litany, a canon of the Church of Chardun.

“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for Chardun, thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest, hence it is thou who should command fear.”
- Verse 63:11 of the Iron Litany, a canon of the Church of Chardun.

" For whether we live, we live unto Chardun; and whether we die, we die unto Chardun: whether we live therefore, or die, we are Chardun’s"
-Verse 18:12 of the Iron Litany, a canon of the Church of Chardun.

" – And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell, for He is our Master, and we his Servants, and so it shall be."
-Verse 3:676 of the Iron Litany, a canon of the Church of Chardun.

It is to these passages within the Great Book that I am, as of late, continually drawn. Why have I let fear control me? What is there to fear in the grand scheme of things? I have shamed myself in an attempt to cercumvent shame. An illogical frame of mind that, were I back among my fellow monks, would have ended in punishment.

Instead now I have found myself in another situation I don’t see a easy answer to. I am about to have my service in the military extended, but I must seek atonement. If I had done so when it first was needed, I certainly wouldn’t find myself in my current situation, but I am here now and must face and conquer the tasks before me.

It is to that end that I write to you, Purifier. I seek your wisdom, and your council. I do more disservice to my lord should I depart without leave, disobeying orders from my superiors, but we both know putting off my atonement ever longer will not do.

I have asked for a leave of absence, and been denied. When my service is extended ( a situation beyond my control) I will seek another leave of absence. However, I would hope that your recommendation accompanying my request, would perhaps be persuasive enough to accomplish this task.

Your wisdom in this manner would be much appreciated.

Lord Vash Ourven, Ascendant of the Church of Chardun

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To the Dutchess of Turrows,

I write to inform you that I was killed in battle, and then resurrected. I fell in battle against cutthroats operating in the Kender mountains. They were defeated and I was able to play a useful part in their defeat, up until I rushed ahead in battle and was killed. My fellow soldiers made sure they did all they could to raise me, as they are loyal and fine examples for Chardun.

In order to facilitate this, I have given my word to marry the youngest daughter of Marquise Bolat Gulnak when she comes of age. I agreed, and plan on keeping my word. I hope this is a suitable arrangement for our family. I trust that once I am married to Paja Gulnak, the Marquise’s thirty miles or so of land will be easily, and quietly acquired as part of Calastia.

I have heard rumors of this child’s cruelty, and other more sinister aspect of this family. I am rather certain I can put these familial tendencies to good use in the name of Chardun. I do wish, however to ask, if you have any information you are willing to share about this family, and any considerations or advice you might have in acquiring their lands and titles.

This would all be many years away, as my betrothed is merely a child, but I hope to mold her mind towards Chardun’s will.

My death, and the vauge impressions of what lies beyond have left me with a defined sense of self and my place in Chardun’s plans. My time in the military is drawing to a close, and I feel pursuits outside of military life might be worth consideration. I wish to find a place for my fellow soldiers of the Landshark Squad. Each is a loyal servant to our king, and each worthy of a chance to bring glory to Chardun’s name.

Bogdan Novasad has proven himself repeatedly in battle and in daily life that his loyalty to our God, our King and to our own family is above reproach. I know he has his own selfish motives for pushing beyond what is required of him time and time again, but those motives are selfish only in the sense that he seeks to make himself better, to make himself more.

Chul, our Charduni Dwarf, and Sargent, has proven himself a patient and resourceful leader. Willing to make the tough calls to win the day. He is willing to take advice and listen to other suggestions, until the time comes for the choice to be made, then he does not hesitate to make it. He is not looking to make friends, to rise above his station, or to gain politically. He believes himself above such concerns, but loyalty and doing what is right by Chardun is of utmost importance to him.

Sir Cody Golhest is a fine ranger, and tracker. His loayalty to Chardun is without question. He seems far too eager for battle at times, but who can argue that earnest attitude to destroy Chardun’s enemies? He escorted my body on its journey for resurrection. Watched over me and made sure I was brought back correctly. A debt of gratitude I owe him to be sure.

These men have fought by my side and have saved my life as I have saved theirs on countless occasions, and I respect them and trust them, and I believe they have earned a place at my side when we leave the military.

What we will do, I am not yet sure. We, as nobles are above petty swords for hire, and I know we all wish to continue to serve Chardun and our King. The question has become, how?

I hope all is well with you, and that once my service is done, if time permits you, that I should see your face once again.

Regards,
Your son, Vash Ourven, Dread Father Of Chardun, Grevious Khan of the Dominion, and Soldier of the Landshark Squad.

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To the Dutchess of Turrows

To Duchess Mavia Ouvren, Of Turrows

Mother, I hope this letter finds you well, and that Chardun’s Favor continues to shine upon you.

I wish to update you on my service to Chardun, and to Calastia. I have been promoted to Chaplin of my squadron, a Dread Father to the soldiers of the Landsharks Squadron. Their spiritual well being has given me renewed focus on my tasks and goals.

I have also been entrusted with the training and molding of a young man who will one day wear the cloth of Chardun. He is a troubled young man, quite taken with women. I seek to appeal to his spirit, or to break it, to Chardun’s will. He is far less trouble than I image I was, and I am reminded to thank you for your clear minded wisdom in your dealings with me.

I am curious on the well being and current situations of my siblings, how is Ulfr? I had heard that Lady Sisenna is married to Ranths’s son. If so I am happy to hear it.

Is it true Justus has been knighted? It has been so long, I can bearly believe it. He reminded me most of father, though, so I should not be surprised. He would be a truly noble knight.

I have heard little about Korbl. Just that he married in the last few years.
Finally I wish to know of Camellias. She turned 18 recently, and I have always felt protective of her, as my little sister. I have not seen her in, well too long. I imagine she has had many suitors seeking her if she still has your family face.

I have learned in my training, to not give the past too much weight nor to give the future too much space, however I do often think of all of you, and thank Chardun for you.

To The End,
Your Son,
Dread Father Ourven

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To the Duchess of Turrows,
Dear Mother

I hope time has softened our mutual frustrations with life. That the loss of husband and father has given us both the chance to reevaluate our surroundings, our relationships, and our place in them. I hope all has been well with you. I can not say all has been well for me. I also can not say I regret or resent my situation these past years. Chardun has seen fit to take my natural tendency towards brutality and playful maiming, and direct it, hone it, to his service. I seek to harness my faith, and share it with those around me, to be a priest of the faith, and one of its warriors. Much has happened, just in this last few months. Much more will I am sure in the coming year.

I have pledged myself into military service, seeking a way to put forth the word and ideas of Chardun. Already Chardun’s favor is with me. My unit, a dedicated and skilled lot, is the finest I could hope to serve with. A Hardcastle is our Dark Father, our Priest. I could not hope for a finer, more dedicated man than one of my blood. It is for this reason that I find myself writing you, when I thought I would never darken your doorstep again. A Countess seeks to betray the throne, and we are unsure how many are with her.

(Letter goes on to detail all Vash ‘Grevous’ Ourven knows of the Countess’s plot)

I hope that the information makes it into the Kings hands before it is too late.

I thank you for you patience, and faith mother. I do not believe I would have accomplished anything in my life were it not for you.

I have one other request, one I feel shamed in even bringing to you, as a common begger with his hand out. I have need of a servant, one well versed in the art or combat and war. A slave, one broken and ready to be molded back into whatever form we choose. I am able to pay for his extended services, or possibly buy him right out,

I await a response, humbled by the memories of you.

Your dearest, and darkest son,

Lord Vash Ourven

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You're in the Army Now

While I’m more than happy to do well by my God and country, I have to admit I wasn’t really looking forward to military service. Somehow being surrounded by sweaty, lesser men with nary a marriage prospect amongst them did not appeal to a Lady, let alone a noble-born daughter of House Adler of the Royal Court. However, the Divine Tyrant chose to associate me with rather interesting company. First, our leader is a man of dark faith. Courtier whispers did not do justice to meeting a Hardcastle in person. Such words as “cruel but just” come to mind. Next, we have two ascetics: one high born, the other not. Now, a woman is as welcome in the cloister as she is lucky on a ship full of old salts; but I really appreciate their ability to reap righteous destruction with only what the Gods gave them. Next, we have the “beasts”: an Halfling and Half Orc, respectively. They really remind of my puppy, Brutus, always ready to tear at the throat of some infidel or another – such a good boy. It also seems they work together well as a team. The Halfling found a pleasant, mountain cave for a rest from our journeys and the Half Orc suggested I talk a bath in a clear underground pool. My faithful eagle and lookout didn’t detect anything, but I still swear that there was some funny business going on as I disrobed. Speaking of underground, I do seem to have the knack for finding my way around caves and such. Maybe it is all the time I used to play around dungeons of the capital as a little girl. Another reminder of those salad days came the other day when we saw a caravan preceded by a procession of slaves. Oh, how I remember how when my daddy got me my first slave after weeks of cajoling. I was so excited when he was bad. Nothing can replace the feeling of the first time my scourge bit into his willing flesh. In conclusion, I don’t want to salute forever, but it’ll certainly do for now.

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Glory to Chardun
He who boasts

Blessed be to Chardun, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; he is my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me. My God, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow. Oh Chardun, bless us and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke! Flash forth the lightning and scatter them, the unwashed sons of man who chatter heresy; send out your arrows and rout them! Stretch out your hand and smite those whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood. We give you praise, praise for making us your instruments, for guiding us to victory, for bestowing us the might to crush your enemies and bring your wisdom and order to the world.

Death marks us all, but for some, Chardun is not yet ready for their souls. Those of us still standing are indeed blessed.

After much meditation, and penitence, I wonder, would we have been harsher or less concerned than the captain if it was one of our men stepping outside of protocol? I don’t have an answer for that.

The halfling broke military law and was punished for, regardless of his reasons. We broke military law, and were punished for it, regardless of our reasons.

I’d like to think we would have rewarded such an action if we pursued the reason behind it, but again, I’m not sure.

In the end, it is behind us, we came out far better than when we went in, and I believe a closer, more battle tested squad.

Praise to Chardun!

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