Allegiance in Blood Prologue: Purifying the Deceiver
Written by Aaron Brosman
The Warlocks were to blame for the riots in Westlock. She should have known. Such blasphemers. Even now they hide in a church. They are as craven as the demons they serve, thought Dvora.
After days of tireless effort, she had found the source of the perverted “prophets.” A small monastery in the foothills near Victoria. Like a rotten apple, the building hid a poison inside. She signaled her knights. With practiced alacrity they swooped toward the monastery, quickly forcing open each door.
There is no exit for these heathens. They will see how pale the fire of damnation is to the light of Asyra!
Asyran defenders quickly secured the upper floors. There was no resistance. The halls had been cleared of inhabitants. Dvora summoned her most stalwart knights of Westlock to accompany her into the depths of the cellar.
Dvora illuminated the cellar with a pale light, her retinue of knights cautiously advancing with her.
Brimstone, the smell of demons…
There was rolling smoke across the floor.
“I see now what Westlock hospitality is like.” A voice echoed.
“No,” said Dvora, “You will see what Westlock justice is like!”
The smoke billowed, then dissipated revealing a Warlock with eyes like burnt coals and a small demon with a sinister smile.
Her knights charged. The Warlock summoned a massive firestorm. The entire cellar ignited, and two knights died, incinerated by flame.
“Not even your sorcery will stop the faithful!” Dvora screamed.
She knelt down and touched one of the fallen knights. Asyra’s bright light shown from his body. He stood again, resurrected. Dvora’s presence emboldened the knights, and they charged forward. Each landing a massive blow on the Warlock. Fire still burned in his eyes even as he bled onto the floor.
“Adramelech must know of your failure,” the demon said.
“You cannot leave me now, Sersiryx!” cried the Warlock, his fire extinguished.
“I am summoned by a greater master,” said the imp, and he disappeared.
“You will learn nothing from me Priestess!’ said the Warlock. As he turned his fire on himself, and consumed his tongue.
Allegiance in Blood Chapter One: The Rite of Visions
Written by Thomas Allen
Two grizzled orc women covered in mounds of unwashed furs stood over a palanquin in the center of the Blade Crag Clan’s encampment. The last drops of an inky black syrup dripped into the throat of a young sleeping orc from a bone horn held by the larger woman. They stood in silence. The orc convulsed violently for several minutes and became calm. For all the guards wandering the encampment, none dared approach the two women. The young Warlord had asked for the shamans’ blessing to clarify his muddled visions.
The wind howled throughout the Bloodwall Mountains causing hundreds of horde campfires to flicker madly. For a hundred years the clans stayed separate vying for power and territory. Many had answered the call of the Blade Crag Clan and now thousands of orcs waited for the fulfillment of prophesies.
Cherma, the Blade Crag Shaman, raised her hands to the sky and stared down at the drugged orc on the palanquin before her. Her sister, Grimalda, waved the sage smudge stick over him, then locked eyes with the elder shaman.
“The blessing is complete. I have doubts. Is such a placid creature a true spirit animal? He will need great strength to fight the Chieftain.”
“You shared the vision sister. You know it’s true. Bring forth the sacrifice!”
A massive orc approached, dragging an enormous mountain ram in a headlock. The ram spat, lashed out with its horns, and bleated in defiance of its capture. The orc positioned the animal near the top of the palanquin.
“See, Grimalda, how the creature struggles to survive, and fights death with its last breath. This Challenger shares those qualities, and they will lead him to victory in the challenge. ”
Cherma hefted a great double-headed axe and brought it down in one savage swing. The axe drove through the ram’s neck, decapitating the struggling beast. Cherma grasped the head, and let the blood drip down onto the sleeping Challenger’s armor.
“Trokoth, embrace the gift of your spirit animal. Lead us to our destiny,” she whispered.
Allegiance in Blood Chapter Two: The Ascension of Trokoth the First
Written by Thomas Allen
The Bloodwave has never cared for legitimate rites of succession. Trokoth knew that the current Great Chieftain of the Clans had used words and threats too often when action was required. Many clans had started to ignore his call. Trokoth knew if he was to strike now, he would only face a few clans to destroy the existing leadership. Prophesy had foretold that upon the advent of a new leader, the horde would be reborn through a trial of blood. Honor demanded that it be their greatest foe and so they marched east. This would the time of the Ram. Days of marching and fighting had led him to this moment.
Trokoth strode across the field, the Ram’s blood from the prior night’s ritual still moist upon his armor. He lifted up his War Sledge, and flicked it to get rid of gore from the last orc’s skull it had caved in. He saw two goblins aiming an Akiro’s Hammer directly at his position. He called upon his training at the hands of the Warmasters of Grangdul. Through his magical prowess, a boulder rose into the air and flung itself at the siege machine. It slammed into the wooden restraints, causing the machine to tear itself apart.
After hours of Trokoth’s clan pressing the fight towards the encampment of the Warlord of the Clans, he came upon the Great Chieftain of the Clans. Grimalk was fighting back to back with Thorg, his chief bodyguard. Trokoth pointed his sledge before him and stepped towards the two combatants.
“So, the whelp finally faces me. I have killed more than you can count, and you will be just another notch on my warhammer.”
Trokoth smiled and lowered the Sledge. “Your time is past. I have mastered weapons you cannot imagine. Your name will never be uttered after today.” He gestured to the bodyguard. “Thorg, honor your chieftain.”
The bodyguard shoved his sword into the startled Chieftain. “Thorg serve true leader.” Standing upon the fallen Chieftain, Trokoth pointed his sledge to the East, towards Westlock. “Hear me warriors! Our destiny now lies beyond the Bloodwall Mountains! The rites of vision have shown me this.”
The assembled orcs raised their weapons high, and began chanting the name, “Trokoth!” And Trokoth knew his greater vision would come to pass.
Allegiance in Blood Chapter Three: Small Minds Laid Waste
Written by Thomas Allen
The Valley of the Golden Sun has always been a winter refuge for the Asyran Army of the Western March. Harsh winds and driving snows would pass over the valley leaving those within unscathed. This winter had been particularly long, and the troops had grown sluggish. As one young squire looked to the West he thought a glint appeared on a distant ridge, but then it was gone and he thought nothing more of it.
A goblin engineer peered through a spyglass towards the armed camp spread across the plains below. He focused on a tent decorated with pennants of both Westlock and the Church of Asyra. In front of the tent stood a winged woman armed with a glowing sword.
“An angel. Powerful magic.”
“Yes.” A second Goblin said, counting beads on his abacus. “Do we leave?”
“No, the Chieftain wants it all. We must know about them.”
“I see.” The second Goblin glanced down and saw his dagger vibrating against its sheath. The dagger leapt and flew from the belt stabbing the goblin in the throat. It then moved to the left drawing a jagged, bloody gash across his neck. The engineer reached for one of his bombs, but felt himself being lifted off the ground by an invisible force. His eyes widened as a pale human woman in a purple cloak floated out from behind a rock outcropping. The Forcemaster smiled cruelly, waved her hand and slammed the Goblin into the rocks.
“That was my request for cooperation. Now, will you tell me why you are spying on that encampment, or shall I peel your mind like an onion?”
Allegiance in Blood Chapter Four: Truth Like Blood
Written by William Niebling
The journey to the Southern Coast from the Valley of the Golden Sun should have taken weeks. This Forcemaster knew magics well beyond a goblin and through a delirious haze the captured goblin found himself before the one place no goblin would willingly travel without an army.
Fitzrok struggled mightily, but despite his efforts he found himself stumbling into Victoria, Capital of Westlock, more marionette than goblin, his body no longer his to control. Behind him the Forcemaster, Melathia, strode with confidence. The clerics and archers parted way before her. Even the armored knights would not halt her passage. Soon, Melathia and her prisoner stood before the throne of the High Priestess of the Guard, Dvorah.
“What is the meaning of this?” she demanded imperiously.
“Fret not, your Holiness,” Melathia replied. “I come as a friend, not a challenger. This one has a message you should hear for yourself.”
Fitrok strained against the magical compulsion, willing with all his might to keep his jaw clenched, his lips from moving. But it was in vain. Despite himself, he blurted out:
“The Blood Wave is called to Westlock! War is upon you! All falls before Trokoth!”
The Priestess concealed a mix of surprise and concern beneath years of political experience. The Bloodwave? They had been defeated long ago. And who was this Trokoth?
“I believe that we can be of assistance to each other,” the Forcemaster continued. “My people may require your assistance in rebuilding our nation, and you need to know everything that this one knows.”
Dvorah did not speak for a long moment. “Perhaps so.”
Allegiance in Blood Chapter Five: Enemies Without and Within
Written by William Niebling
It is commonly said among merchants and traders in the Empire, that the Asyrans would build a temple to building temples if they felt called to do so. And so the horizon of Victoria is punctuated by spires of gold and silver piercing the sky throughout the great city. From the outside the temples appear serene and calm, but that is an appearance only.
Deep inside the Grand Temple of the West March, four remained at the war council. Siegfried, Paladin of the West March, was agitated:
“I still cannot trust a goblin.”
“I assure you, he told the truth as he sees it,” the Forcemaster Melathia replied, wearily. “As I explained before…”
“We understand how you came about your information, Forcemaster,” the Priestess Dvorah interrupted, “We do not doubt you. General Aralt, we cannot repel the Bloodwave, they are too many. Perhaps a small force can prevail where an army cannot. If we neutralize this Warlord, Trokoth, I think the horde will fall apart, like it did following the defeat of its Warlord four hundred years ago.”
The General frowned but did not respond. Dvorah turned to the Forcemaster.
“There is one thing that concerns me: first that Warlock, now the Bloodwave. I do not believe that events occur by coincidence. There is one more thing you must do before Westlock will consent to aid you.”
“And that is?”
“Can you do to a Mage what you did to that goblin? Force him to speak all he knows.”
Melathia nodded. “It is difficult. I must enter the Garden of his Mind and defeat him there.”
“Then it can be done.”
Allegiance in Blood Chapter 6: Inquisition of the Mind
Written by William Niebling
Melathia had never before seen a Warlock, much less faced one in battle. Her mission had been to acquire the aid of Westlock, a tenuous ally of old. Her own country, the Pellian City States, had been decimated by a war on two fronts. Where Ivarium had showered her homeland in blood, Westlock had been content to deal strategically sound blows. This was a more than a century ago and she hoped to play off some latent guilt of the Empire of Westlock. This High Priestess’ request posed more of a danger to herself than she had gambled for, but her purpose required it. The Pellian City States would have their pawn.
Deep inside Victoria’s prison, the Warlock’s chains fell to the floor. Suspicious, he stood and rubbed his wrists. A figure emerged from the shadows: the Forcemaster, Melathia. She snapped her fingers, and to the Warlock’s surprise, he felt his burnt tongue made whole.
“Surrender to me, and this will be painless. Resist, and…”
“You are a fool to restore my power!” the Warlock roared. Speaking blasphemous words, he unleashed a torrent of hellfire toward the other Mage and struck nothing. Like a wisp, the Forcemaster was gone. The Warlock’s eyes narrowed as he summoned the tools of his trade. Instantly, his Lash of Hellfire appeared in his hand.
From behind him, Melathia’s voice: “Your spells cannot aid you here.” Then the Warlock was hurled towards the bars of the cell, which had disappeared. Instead, he crashed into the tumbled tombstones of the graveyard where he first signed the vile pacts that were the source of his power.
“What…” Again and again, he was smashed against the sepulchers of his own past. Finally, realization flashed into his consciousness.
“ENOUGH!” Calling on all his will, he repulsed the Forcemaster’s next attack. “You have made a grave error, mind-bender. You think to best me within my own mind?”
Allegiance in Blood Chapter 7: A Paladin’s Virtue
Written by Aaron Brosman
Clouds gathered over the Holy Empire of Westlock. High Priests of Asyra sequestrated themselves to determine the fate of the Cult of Malakai. Refugees were already fleeing deeper into the empire. Orcs were standing on Westlock soil. The Bloodwave had returned under a new flag. Old enemies from the East had turned up just when needed to offer the hand of friendship. These were dark clouds indeed.
Siegfried could not stay in the West March encampment. With the Crown so far away, the Army of the West was sluggish to ready itself. As a Paladin of the West March, Siegfried had no need to wait for the commands of the High Priests. The village of Red Hills lay between the Blood Wave and their intended destination. Those one hundred citizens of the empire would be slaughtered by the advancing horde. That is what took him north and west.
It was a tiny village, but it was in their way. Soon the Blood Wave would wash over the hamlet and leave only rubble and corpses. This was where he would make his stand. I will show them the honor of a Paladin of Malakai, he thought.
The people watched as he knelt and prayed, never moving. He could feel the ground tremble even now, and he knew of their approach.
“Leave now, and you may yet escape their torment,” he called to the townsfolk.
Only a few listened. He did not warn them again, soon he would not need to. By Malakai’s command and Asyra’s grace I will defend these people. The Church is considering the removal of Malakai’s teachings. If we are to be cast out then they will see what virtues they remove from the church.
Siegfried planted his sword firmly in the ground and knelt for a final prayer. Asyra, May one life be enough to protect these people.
Allegiance in Blood Chapter 8: Siegfried’s Challenge
Written by Aaron Brosman
Hills was the northwestern most village of the empire. Legend says that the hills surrounding the village were stained red from the last time the Bloodwave marched through the area. Local blacksmiths would tell a different story, but today they and all the citizens of Red Hill trembled behind boarded doors and windows or fled to the south. To the West a great red cloud rose from the horizon signaling the approach of thousands of orcs. The sun, shining
through the cloud, bathed the village in red light.
Siegfried strode out onto the plains before the village. Now, he could see the Blood Wave
approach, spanning the entire horizon. I pray that Malakai guide me, he thought. The orcs send a messenger out to speak with me, theirs is a cunning general for certain.
He knows of our customs and remembers the old ways. “Blood Wave, I am Siegfried, Honored of Asyra and Paladin of Malakai! Should you wish
to go forward, I challenge you to send forth your own champions to combat me!”
With that the messenger turned back toward the blood wave. From one of the forward units, Siegfried could see the first champion to accept his challenge. It was a large orc, scarred, and draped in the pelts of great beasts. His eyes held a primal ferocity.
“I am Korath!” he bellowed. “I bear the scars of many battles, but you are not worthy of my scars. You, I will grant a swift death.”
Good, we are starting small, thought Siegfried.
Korath sprinted with feral speed toward Siegfried, cutting great swaths with his axe. Siegfried blocked the wild blows with his shield. Korath was exhausted when Siegfried counterattacked. One mighty swing crippled the orc.
“You are mistaken,” said Siegfried, “I will grant you a swift death.” Siegfried summoned a pillar of holy light that consumed Korath. This is going to be a long day.
Allegiance in Blood Chapter 9: Honor Bought with Blood
Written by Aaron Brosman
Hours had passed since Siegfried issued his challenge, yet he fought on. A single Paladin was holding the Blood Wave army back. Siegfried felt his strength slipping. Exhaustion was overcoming him. Some of the villagers who had stayed behind left their boarded homes. They knelt in the grass between Siegfried and their beloved village and chanted the Hymns of Asyra.
He thought of the villagers, even as he dodged this orc’s axe. Each failed attack increased his opponent’s rage. The orc lunged at him with redoubled fury. Even exhausted, such wild attacks could not harm him.
“May Asyra judge you kinder than I do now.”
Searing light sprang from Siegfried’s fingers and killed the orc.
“Who challenges me? Have none of you the honor to meet me on the battlefield?” he bellowed.
First was silence, then a Warlord stepped forward. Siegfried acknowledged his opponent. This orc was different. There were no wild attacks or mistakes to exploit. Every motion was calculated, strong. The two exchanged mighty blows. Siegfried could feel his opponent’s strength growing, until finally the orc’s hammer landed a crushing blow. Siegfried coughed blood, his strength depleted.
“I am Trokoth of the Blood Wave. We honor your valor and
spare this village. I will grant you an honorable death, one in battle. Swing your sword, knowing that you have saved them, at the cost of your own life. Honor must always be bought with blood.”
Siegfried made one final swing, but Trokoth’s hammer landed first.