Thursday, March 26

A touch of Fan Fiction

While checking some lore archives, I came across this bit of old fan-fiction I wrote during my first time in Telon.
It involves several members of our Guild at the time, the ill fated Ahgram Foreign Legion.
Enjoy if you will:

Geoffrey Heartsworn, son and heir to the Heartsworn line, no longer has it in him to believe in glory this morning.

As the sun of Telon makes its first tentative foray over the mountain peaks to the east, Geoffrey surveys the field of carnage before him. Nothing stirs below him except the occasional torn forlorn Legionnaire banner. The pass before him has turned into a lake of Death. Most of the night, it'd been one of Undeath. Within that Lake of Death three little islands littered with red-uniformed corpses stick out as a kind of inverted whirlpools which would not pull you down to Death, but up to it instead.

They'd come in relentless hordes all through the long night, the undead and worse, the Shinak Agents who appear out of thin air to slay, and to revive. Undead as well as other vile greenskin creatures of the Gulgrethor clan. Ah! He'd been so proud but one evening ago, or was it a lifetime? The fight, nay the slaughter felt like it took an age to resolve. If it hadn't been for those, those mercenaries, they'd all be dead now. Each and every glorious Paladin and Cleric of the Heartsworn household troops would have been dead and gone. And the heartlands open to the teeming hordes of the undead. His gaze goes over the ludicrous diamond shaped bulwarks almost but not quite blocking the pass, a mere three hundred yards from the fortress gates.

It had been those hastily erected bulwarks of nothing more advanced than earth and wooden pikes that had saved them during the night. Them and the men women and, creatures, of The Legion who'd given their lives manning those pitiful bulwarks.

Ah, the arguments the disposition of troops had caused in the days before. The raging fit his father had thrown when their liege, King Targonor, had transgressed against tradition and custom. On the say so of a foreign ruler he put the commander of that rag tag group of ruffians, scoundrels and Necromancers! in a position of authority. Under the leadership of a woman to boot! It had been impressive to see that clash, on the one side dominant, angry Lord Heartsworn gesticulating widely in front of his hearth as he berated the commander for her insane plan, and on the other hand that diminutive, quiet woman, name of Secura, who'd born that onslaught with quiet yet determined grace. She'd let the Lord vent his rage, then simply ignored him thereafter and implemented her 'insane' strategy, the three diamond bulwarks in the pass. Geoffrey would soon need to face the consequences of the apoplexy his father had suffered.
For now, his attention is riveted onto the evidence of the heroic tragedy before him.

The three earthen bulwarks had looked so fragile, presumptuous even, in the late afternoon light the previous day. But rather than be overwhelmed within moments by the vanguard of the hordes as the Heartsworn had expected, they'd actually functioned as a funnel, slowing down and compressing the enemy into a tight mob. Making the enemy's momentum work against it rather than for them. With manic glee and delight in their eyes, the Legion's Sorcerers and Druids had made the most of the tightly packed targets, or so it had looked to Geoffrey who'd never seen this strategy applied before. But he'd read about it in a tomb of foreign warfare which somehow failed to fully describe the level of carnage involved. But brilliant as the strategy was, that alone would not have stemmed the tides of undead who were just to many to defeat with conventional warfare. If it hadn't been for the Legion's Necromancers. Oh how that smarted. Still does in a way, to allow such vile creatures amongst the ranks. It had been through the intervention of those Necromancers that each of the seven or so times during the night when the diamonds had become all but overrun by the teeming hordes and all seemed lost, that the Legion as a whole had persevered. This use of conventionally Evil beings more than anything had been at the core of contention between the Ahgram Foreign Legion on loan from, and apparently paid for by the Sultan of Ahgramun and the Heartsworn of the Thestran Watch.

"We do not fight for glory or for what is Good. We fight to win and for what is right!" Secura had said to her troops in that soft but carrying voice of hers. "We will use all that is available to us, any advantage we can use. Our Chaplain, Tyrannon calls this Total War. It may not be pretty or glorious", here she'd almost spat, "but it gets the job done. Thestran Heartsworn! You're all set to bravely and heroically die in a glorious manner, and in vain. We may expect not to survive either, but by Ghalnn, if we have to die, it'll be with victory in our grasp and spiteful vengeance in our eye!"

And she'd been right. Both in that they'd not survive and that they'd win. The Legionnaires were veterans of many battles each and all. Even though they appeared a motley crew at first glance, it was this diversity that had saved the night. The Necromancers, reanimating the bodies of their fallen comrades even as they fell, preventing the Shinaik Death Agents from raising them instead. Which would have forced living soldiers to slay the corpses of their own former comrades over and over again. The reserve of maniacal Gnome Berserkers, now gone to the last man, throwing themselves and sometimes each other into the thickest sections of the fray again and again. It'd been the Legion's Psionists, another school of magic often frowned upon by the Thestran Watch, who'd been instrumental in staying the Shinaik Death Agents. Though all but invisible and invincible slayers they were nevertheless were detected by and thereby made vulnerable to the mental powers of these powerful sages.

Most poignant, and bizarre had been to witness how after the gate of the Fortress had been blown apart by a Gulgrethor Sorcerer, it was replaced by the shimmering blue aura of a Vulmane Shaman's magic. The Legion's Shaman standing alone atop the portcullis for the better part of the night, clearly visible against the backlight of his own defensive ritual. Braving bot missile and spell to keep up the most incredible display of defensive magic Geoffrey had ever witnessed until the sheer power he'd been channeling consumed his mortal frame in a conflagration of pink fire, a mere hour before the dawn. Geoffrey had trouble believing it but several Guards swore they saw a fiery bird take off from that spot where nothing now remained but a dark smudge. They'd not had time to investigate this fully as that time had been the first and only time the Heartsworn were called upon to draw blade themselves. By this time they'd been so humbled by the Ahgram Foreign Legion's display of sheer stubborn perseverance that they'd set to with a vengeance and managed to keep clear the gates till dawn.

So many representatives of the races and classes frowned upon as Evi! Or at the least not deemed benign by Thestran morals, yet they had given their lives this night. Without gloryor honor they'd fought. but their dieing in droves on foreign soil, fighting to protect a people who for the most part had trouble distinguishing them from a horde of invaders, they'd shown a kind of loyalty and nobility that is truly rare. From this day on Geoffrey would never judge a person on reputation alone, but by their actions he'd witness himself. Or so he swore to himself

As the sun finally overcomes its bashfulness and leaps into the sky in full, movement stirs amongst the heaps of dead. Immediately Geoffrey's gaze is drawn to the center most diamond, the one that'd been nearest the fortress, yet hit the hardest of all for that. The movement could really mean only one thing, undead rising! But no, the shapes while covered in grime and gore as they are, stagger in a way that isn't the shuffling gait of the poorly controlled zombie. instead it's the stagger of being beyond exhaustion as one experiences only in moments such as this. When one has passed beyond the point where sheer exhaustion should have been enough to kill. From between the piles of dead stir the veterans of the Legion. Sergeant major Secura of the quiet strength, Chaplain Tyrannon, pecked by those who know as one who will go far within the Legion, Shinta Gubglub, the Goblin Shaman who will perish decades from now while ensuring the freedom of her descendants by forcing a Gulgrethor slave ship to ground on the rocks of northern Martok.
Precious few of the Necromancers and Psionists who'd turned the tide remain. No patriots them, no glory hounds. You'd insult them if you called them heroes or tried to stick a medal on them. Loyal only to each other and whatever cause their mysterious 'Marshal' chooses to serve, they nevertheless fight Evil with a vengeance. They may not be Good, but they fight for what's right, and how!


  1. That was a great read Lani, of course it helped that it appealed to my necromantic ways. If I was still on an RP server I would plagiarise that piece to create my back story.

    Really enjoyed it and so much more that could be expanded on, who was that mage that sacrificed himself to create the magical gate and was his sacrifice really final ?

    A good story leaves you wanting more and imagining the rest, it did both for me, nice :)

  2. I think the brief dark glimpse of the mercenary necromancer and how their presence is felt really appeals to the dark and mysterious presence that I always felt should represent the necromancer, the outsider, a user of rites and rituals that most would see as dark and subversive, only to be called on by the good and righteous at times of war and extreme need. I dont think my vision would see any necromancer have any allegiance even with their own kind unless that provided something that the necromancer wants or really needs, after all the dead are both his/her friend and fighter what would he/she want from mere humans? Human companionship for the necromancer would be far too much of a distraction from finding that inner dark, cold place from where their power comes...

  3. Wow, that has been a while. Indeed a great story. Still as great as when you first wrote it. There is actually still a lot of great lore to be read on the defunct AFL site (here). I have no idea why Alora's stories have moved from there to the AMP site.

    And Seradon is still the RP server of choice in Vanguard. Except it is not marked as such, and there are just not that many RP players around. But we are all invited to join the Rift Runners. They are a couple of nice RP-players left over from the AFL and Darkenstone days. But they are (still) very small, and US based. So it would basically mean we would join an empty guild for most of the time.

  4. Aye, that's where I found my story as well :-)
    I think you submitted Alora's story for a contest at Amp, as I later did with a Telon-themed Christmas tale.
    That or it's because you started out being the SM for VG AMP and Alora pre-dates our time on Seradon. I did notice a Soeni's tale on the AFL pages.

    If we want to, we could join either Darkenstone, or Riftrunners or The Platinum Order. The first is small and so is the second. The latter is largish but has more folks in our time-slot(s).

    Some interesting things about this story. It was written shortly after the Ahgram Foreign Legion was formed by disaffected members of another guild called the Spellblades. That Guild's rather unrealistic emphasis on playing 'Good' characters and overall crappy leadership had a bunch of us form the Legion, which was to be firmly Neutral aligned with inspiration taken from the Black Company of Glen Cook, Steven Erkison's work on the Malazan tales of the Fallen and the real life French Foreign legion.
    Many of the names used in the story are long-living members of the Legion. Including that shaman. I forget who he was though.

    And yes, Necormancers never did strike me as the light of the party at social gatherings either :-) In fact, putting a Necromancer and a Paladin in the same group can be a lot of fun if they both know how to Roleplay well. As opposed to Roleplaying badly which would result in a player to player fight. Background-story wise I can see a necromancer fighting for a good cause, maybe even an honorable one. But I sure as hell don't see him giving quarter or fighting in a way even approximating the concept of fair.

  5. Alora's stories are still on guildportal they just magically moved over to Well, maybe not so magical since I cancelled being member or afl.guildportal and joined amp.guildportal.

    On the guild thing, I don't want to join Darkenstone. Too much old issues to be fun. And I promised Sindon I wouldn't :) I don't know anybody in the Platinum Order. Do they have a website, or do you know anybody amongst them? I would definitely like to join a (largish) guild. But I would hate to join a group of elitists, or worse a ding-gratz guild.