Wednesday, March 6, 2013

HUSK: History of a Hollow World Part IV

There's a whole bunch of references here to races and whatnot. I'm sure not all of it will make sense (I mean it does to me, but I wrote the thing) but check out the previous entries on the people of Husk over here (Part I) and here (Part II).

And for the previous posts on the History,

c 2,600 YEARS AGO

The first signs of the Plague appeared in Bekhatar and Culchiss, neighbouring lands but separated by a wide sea. The symptoms of the Plague manifested within two days and the victim lasted at best for a week before dying of massive internal trauma. Inflicted by madness that caused them to babble incessantly and suffer terrible dancing fits, death usually came much earlier as they literally tore themselves apart. They expressed no violence towards any save themselves, and even restraining them proved little use as they tore their limbs for their sockets in their gibbering. The Gibbering Plague was incredibly contagious and spared no species, and within two years had spread across the Orb. One in four victims managed to survive the ordeal, but it is postulated that between half and two thirds of the population was wiped out before a cure was found - a cure that came from the most unlikely of places.

It was at the end of the second year of the Gibbering Plague’s spread that the dreaded Carcassanc, most terrible of the Sevenbred, arose from its hidden lair in the Rhindelands of Eredreem and began its long journey to Serpentia on the far side of the Orb. Those that could fled in terror, but it slaked its thirst for blood on the dismembered bodies of the Plague’s victims. It made its way through Sinvashi and crossed the ocean to Pushpanoi, and then to Barambay, and never once did its head disappear beneath the waves, even as its clawed feet carved trenches at the bottom of the sea. Fearing that Vinvasleen had sent one of the Sevenbred to attack her, Calishe stormed the Mogramid there and slew its Bhulkulb guardians. She smashed the seals that had disabled the Mogramid’s Wrack capabilities, and once again she unleashed its power. To her dismay, it had little affect on the Carcassanc, which ignored her assaults as it continued westwards into Djakarshi. Again it was attacked at the warplains of Vlata Yhom, but it slew all that opposed it and it turned towards Serpentia. Realising that the Carcassanc was headed for the Imperial Capital, the Six Narghwan Queens ceased hostilities and joined one another to defend Serpentia. They struck first, while the Carcassanc strode the plains before the Gates of the City, bombarding it with the collective arsenal of weapons they had amassed during one thousand years of fighting, but to no avail. The Carcassanc made short work of all that came to slay it. By nightfall the combined armies of the Nargwhans were scattered, and the Carcassanc came forth to the gates of the City - but to the surprise of the Narghwans the creature spoke, saying it had come to help the Narghwans, not fight them.

The Carcassanc held audience with the Narghwan Queens throughout the night, surprising them as it spoke with eloquence and intelligence. It reasoned that the Gibbering Plague would be the death knell for the Viperium, for it was destroying their Children and robbing them of their food, without which the Queens would have no sustenance and would surely starve. It also noted that the Plague had begun infecting the Narghwans themselves, and that it was not inconceivable that the Queens might well become infected. The Carcassanc had a purpose to this meeting, however, and finally at dawn it proposed a possible cure for the Plague. The Carcassanc revealed that it was created with death in mind, and was perfect in its fashioning, for it claimed mastery over death – the death of itself and for all those who fought it. It argued that if a portion of its flesh was ingested, it would fight the Gibbering Plague in the bodies of those who were inflicted, and if devoured by the healthy, it would guard them from the Plague’s depredations. Only one mouthful of flesh was necessary - indeed more than that would likely kill the greedy, for the Carcassanc’s blood was poison. If the Narghwans followed his instructions precisely, their empire would be saved. This, said the Carcassanc, was a gift worthy enough to repay its creators for the gift of its own existence.

The Narghwan Queens agreed. Under the midday sun they began the slaughter, instructing their minions to dismember and dissect the body of the Carcassanc - no mean feat for a creature of such colossal proportions. The grim work took several months to complete, using machines of war to butcher the Carcassanc’s body. When, after four months of carnage the beast’s head was severed from its body, the Captain of the war machine that had dealt the blow loudly proclaimed that he had triumphed over the Carcassanc. At which point the creature’s head rolled to one side towards the braggart and said: “Through my death I find immortality. I shall live far longer than you.” The Carcassanc then unfurled it massive tongue and crushed the captain in its grip.

With this act the Carcassanc ensured its place in the Narghwan’s polytheistic religion. Worship of the Carcassanc began almost immediately, as recovering victims of the Plague gave thanks to the creature’s sacrifice.

The Narghwans turned once again to the Bhulkulbs to handle the distribution of the Carcassanc’s flesh to the farthest reaches of their empire. The Bhulkulbs had remained ever-faithful servants to the Viperium since laying down the Bhulkulb Accord, and had ensured the constant supply of souls for the Narghwan Queens to devour even during the worst fighting of the Thousand Year War. Once again the Narghwans gave the Bhulkulbs the means with which to control the Viperium, for they controlled the food supply, the Mogramids and now the vaccination against the Gibbering Plague. The Bhulkulbs had been greatly angered by the actions of Queen Calishe. During the Carcassanc’s Pilgrimage she had lead the slaughter of the Bhulkulbs guarding the Barambay Mogramid, but she had not been reprimanded by her sisters, who secretly feared that they too should reclaim the Mogramids for their own defense. It is little wonder then that the Bhulkulbs gave into their anger and succumbed to the temptation of such power – the power to rule the Viperium.

c 2,600 YEARS AGO

It was in the third year of the Gibbering Plague that the Bhulkulbs openly declared their intentions to seize control of the Viperium. At the Courts of Serpentia they publicly declared themselves the new rulers, and used the threat of the Mogramid’s Wrack weapons to bolster their claim. Chaos spread throughout the Viperium as food shipments were delayed, and deliveries of The Flesh withheld from regions where the Plague was most virulent. The Narghwan Queens had never considered the Bhulkulbs capable of such treason, and only now learned of their scale of their power. While the Narghwans had fought their Thousand Year War over the land and in the skies, the Bhulkulbs had slowly explored the lands beneath, fighting unknown wars against lightless enemies and conquering the great catacombs and caverns. From fissures in the ground they rose up to overthrow the decadent Viperium. The Narghwan Queens seethed with fury – with their slave stock rapidly diminishing and without the food to feed them, the Narghwans had little choice but to accept the Bhulkulbs’ demands. At least that is what the Bhulkulbs had expected. Instead the Narghwan Queens united in purpose – to cast down the traitorous Bhulkulbs and wipe them from the face of the Orb.

The Bhulkulbs believed that they were immune to the mind controlling powers of the Narghwans – and this was to be their undoing. In truth the Narghwans had chosen not to dominate them. Exactly why remains a mystery, but many theorise it was out of some deep seated respect for Bhulkulbs, a respect gained prior to the rise of the Viperium millennia ago. With that respect gone, the Narghwans attacked the Bhulkulbs why such ferocity that they were driven back to their underground cities. Narghwan Queen Calishe unleashed the power of the Mogramid she had seized during the Carcassanc’s pilgrimage, and struck down the Bhulkulb forces. The Bhulkulbs replied in kind, breaking the Bhulkulb Accord and using the Wrack on key targets across the Viperium. Yet the Narghwans fought their way to victory, for the combined forces of the Narghwan Queens’ armies was their to control. They were decimated during the rebellion, but their sheer size was enough to reclaim each Mogramid, one by one. Shipments of The Flesh were seized from the Bhulkulbs, and the slave network gradually wrested from them. The Narghwans would brook no equal, and their sheer determination to reclaim their empire drove them to succeed.

c 2,590 YEARS AGO     

The threat posed by the Bhulkulbs was neutered after a decade of fighting culminating in the Under War, which was to be the last engagement of the Thousand Year War. With the overthrow of the Bhulkulbs on the surface, the Narghwans pursued them beneath the surface. They ordered their armies underground, and many battles were fought in the narrow passages that riddle the earth outside the Orb. Expeditionary forces were lost in the labyrinthine network of vein-like tunnels that they uncovered, and the Bhulkulbs long held the advantage with their familiarity of the cavernous terrain. Yet the tenacity of the Narghwans and the sheer size of their armies overcame the Bhulkulbs’ defences, and skirmish by skirmish the Bhulkulbs were forced back to their underground strongholds. Eventually these bastions of Bhulkulb strength were breached, but the Narghwans were unable to complete their genocide, for even as they came to the last Bhulkulb refuge, their resources were utterly spent and they lacked the means to finish what they had began. Spared from extermination by simple logistics, the Bhulkulbs were left to recover in the furthest reaches of the darkness. Certain that the Bhulkulbs would never again test the might of the Narghwans, the Viperium withdrew its forces from the caverns to face more pressing concerns on the surface.

The Viperium was utterly drained by the Thousand Year War. Its population was reduced to one third of its former size, and much of its lands lay in ruin, decimated by the Wrack and other fiendish devices created for the conflict. Entire territories had been burned and despoiled, the empire’s food supplies destroyed by the retreating Bhulkulbs, and the renewed threat of the Mogramids loomed. Vast swathes of fertile land had been reduced to dust, jungles turned to stone, rivers bled til they ran dry, and the air sick with the poisons of industry. The ruinous scars of constant warfare had marked everything the Narghwans controlled, from their lands to their people. Starvation and disease plagued various cities across the Orb, and the Narghwans were finally forced to confront the incredible damage they had caused. Yet it was beyond their power to rectify the situation – for too long had the minds of the Narghwan Queens been focused upon the destruction of their sisters, and now when they realised that such desires would come at the cost of the demise of their own little empires, the Narghwan Queens were unable to conceive of appropriate measures to counter the downfall of the Viperium.

So exhausted were they that even the ability to wage war for the last of the available food stores was beyond the ability of the Narghwans. They were utterly paralysed, and worse, several of the Sevenbred rose from their slumber and began marauding the lands of Djunat, Gharda and Avrhusheen. The best that the Viperium could do to counter this threat was to evacuate the lands nearby and hope that the Sevenbred would eventually return to rest – a vain hope, for the Sevenbred terrorised these lands for nearly a century. Yet salvation came to the Narghwans in their darkest hour, though they least deserved it.

(Part V tomorrow!)

No comments:

Post a Comment