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Tale of the DeathKnight

No name strikes more fear into the hearts of the people of Elatreus than the first, and the most terrible DeathKnight of them all, Shazn’Oegtol, the Slayer of Kings. While his reign of destruction was finally stooped by a united army led by the Holy Paragon,  over 1000 years ago, his legend lives on – and his name is used nowadays from anything to frighten small children into behaving themselves to a metaphor for evil incarnate..

Born Zorander Krauss in the Kingdom of Thane, his childhood was brutal and abhorrent even by Thanish standards. At age 2 his alcoholic father murdered his mother in a violent rage, and his large family of 9 was split up. Only he and his older sister were spared being sold immediately into slavery and raised by his wicked Uncle, a retired soldier who would beat Zorander daily and drilled him in harsh military exercises until he would pass out, and then beat him to within an inch of his life, permanently damaging his left leg so that by age 4 he walked with a limp. And his weakness just made the beatings even worse..

On his twelfth birthday, his sister was traded to a slaver for a keg of ale, and a violent argument ended with his Uncle dead at his feet.. His first kill, and a most satisfying one, he went in search of his sister and learned she had committed suicide after only one day, and that she had been sold because she had stolen eggs from the pantry to make her brother a cake.

With nowhere to go, he did what most young Thanes do, and joined the army. His limp and his relatively small size due to extreme malnutrition during his early childhood made him a target of the officers and the other men. But having grown accustomed to pain, he endured anything the senior officers would throw at him, and at every chance against men the same rank as himself, he gave as good as he received.  In due course he soon received a reputation as a spiteful and dangerous fighter – turning one soldier 6 years his senior into a simpleton by beating him with a wooden chair in a mess hall brawl until the older mans skull split open, and distinguishing himself on the battlefield with his ruthlessness and lack of fear..

In short order, he rose through the ranks and was promoted to the Royal Bodyguard, and assigned to serve the Princess Armenia of Acraedeggon, who was as wicked as she was beautiful. The princess briefly found the young brooding Zorander amusing, and for a short time he was her plaything, but she soon tired of him..

Unfortunately, while it meant nothing to her, this short liaison had a profound effect on the young warrior, and he found himself unable to think of anything but the Princess, something that was not lost on one as used to men throwing themselves at her.. In turn, the Princess made a cruel game of it, leading the love struck Zorander into a series of serious breaches of his duty that ended in his dishonorable discharge and total humiliation at the hands of her main suitor, General Mace Cromwell.

Dishonored and ashamed, still with the ringing laughter of the Princess in his ears and the feeling of the Generals heavy boot up his backside, the broken hearted and tortured young warrior set off into the wilds, determined to find a way to again distinguish himself and win the Princesses love, so much was he blinded by his desire for her. Cold, alone, and with growing unquenchable thirst for revenge on all humanity, Zorander sought out the deserted temple of the Fallen one, Shemhazai, and with an offering of his own blood, swore eternal servitude if only the Princess would love him as he loved her, and he could kill his rival, General Cromwell. Kill anyone who had ever wronged him. Kill them all. Kill every living thing..

No answer came, so Zorander wandered away from the temple, his face distorted with frustration and a pall of darkness enveloped his heart. In a dream he saw her face again. laughing at him with Cromwell by her side, and when he awoke his heart was black as the darkest night.

He did not know what it was, but he felt a purpose unlike any other, and onward he went, not realizing that he was unconsciously heading back to the capital. His dreams became darker every night, filled with visions of hell, of rivers of blood, and the screams of the dead and the dying. But he did not fear these dreams, instead, his twisting soul delighted in them.

And it was then, in an empty field on a strange day when the light of the sky seemed distorted and foreboding, strange orange balls of light appeared to rise from the ground and dance about him, leading him forward. Onward he went, his eyes drawn to a shard of pure blackness stuck into the ground in the fields. As he approached it, his eyes began to glow with a faint green light, and he heard a whispering, hissing voice in his head telling him “I will make your dreams of revenge come true. I am here to answer your darkest prayers and desires. We will make the world feel your pain. We will make the world tremble at your name”..

The moment he touched the hilt of this wicked blade,pain like a thousand stinging scorpions shot up his arm and he screamed silently as he felt his skin turning inside out and like a thousand thorns piercing his body, his flesh began to transform into a suit of sinister plate armor, impenetrable to any sword, his face disappeared into the shadow of his helmet, and all that remained were his burning, green eyes.

Zorander was dead.

And in his place, the DeathKnight, Shazn’Oegtol, the Slayer of Kings, marched directly for the capital, holding in his hands the most powerful magical sword of Darkness that the world had ever seen. The Sword that contained the very essence of the Dark Lord himself. The Brand of the Fallen..

RISE TO POWER

With the Brand of the Fallen entwined into his very soul and without uttering but a single word, the DeathKnight approached the capital. Under the rule of the mad dynasty of Drakkar, it was not unusual to see sinister looking black clad warriors entering the city, this was Thane after all. But everyone who saw him knew that this was something very different..

And that something very, very bad was about to happen..

Challenged at the gates to the city by the watch, with but a wave of his hand the guards dropped stone cold dead at his feet. Raising his armored fist like a claw, the black sword throbbed once with necromatic power and the dead men promptly, like puppets, stood up and began mindlessly following him.

They stood against him again at the gates of the palace,but the Brand of the Fallen sang its dark song of death and destruction, leaving 100 soldiers dead and mutilated, rising again as they fell, but this time turning on his enemies.It was a horrific sight, a true visage of hell, as the dead men rose up and turned on their comrades, many missing missing limbs, bleeding from mortal wounds or even headless corpses swung their blades aimlessly, the heads themselves laughing sardonically in pools of blood on the cobblestones.With a casual swing of the Brand of the Fallen, the massive gates exploded open and the DeathKnight stormed the castle in a murderous rage with his undead servants falling upon any living thing in an orgy of killing. With delight, Shazn’Oegtol spotted General Cromwell, donning his armor, and with a gesture lifted him off his feet with eldritch power from the Brand and stabbed him into his stomach and out the other side. With a whispered prayer to the evil one, the Brand turned Cromwells skin black and he screamed silently, spinning with arms flailing and dying again and again but finding no release..

It was then he spotted the outline of a figure hiding behind the curtains, and – casually dispatching a brace of armored knights who stormed into the chambers, turned the curtain to ash and revealed the terrified princess Armenia, who fell to her knees and begged for her life.

You do not remember me do you?” he hissed.

“Please, don’t kill me” the princess begged.

The DeathKnights green eyes narrowed. “Kill you?” he mused. “No, I have not come here to kill you. I am here to make you mine, as you always should have been”.

Paralyzed with fear, the princess did not move when his cold gauntlet touched her face, and he realized at this point that, removed as he had become from the mortal world, that he could never consummate his love for her. Snarling with rage, black tendrils of power snaked into her eyes and tore out her soul..

Storming through the castle, with the dead princess now nothing more than a shade following obediently behind him. he sought out the King and the crown prince and beheaded them both as they tried to scramble away from him in terror. Summoning the priesthood, he delivered his ultimatum. Crown him King of Thane or he would decimate the city.

The nobility and the gentry stalled and did all they could to try and bring him down. Wizards and warriors came from all over Elatreus, but none could do a thing against the seemingly invincible DeathKnight. And so it came to pass that, left with no choice, Shazn’Oegtol, the Slayer of Kings, was crowned King of all Thane, consolidated his power, and in due course his armies began a war against all that would only end when the DeathKnight had the whole of Elarteus under his iron heel.

The New Thanish Army on the Warpath

The Tale Continues with the Tale of the War of the Catalysmic Wars…

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