The Black Gangrene

War, local skirmishes, and peasant revolts have scarred the people, the towns, and the landscape. They have left festering wounds that will never heal. Even all these long years later, the sores of blood feuds and political intrigue continue to disfigure the country. Looking back, however, this seems to be just the harmless mutual teasing of naughty brats compared to what was about to come.

You may have felt the ill-smelling mist creeping in from nearby wetlands and desolate forests. That moment when the romantic atmosphere of a sun-drenched autumn evening, the air filled with the scent of fallen apples, gets pushed aside by the morning haze, heavy with sludge gas and wet musk. And this sluggish, yet still dogged way was exactly how Rasgaroth crept into our lives. Tracing his footsteps, the earth began breathing out the magic of Faer, smothering our lives as sulphurous springs choke a remote desolate forest.

First biting a big toe, gangrene creeps to spread throughout the body. We may have believed or hoped for the infection to devour itself in the end. News coming from the borderlands seemed nothing more than distant blood-stained clashes at first. Yet, like a patient who denies the fact that it is already too late for amputation, Kladar awoke from its lethargy to find itself almost completely digested by Rasgaroth, dubbed the Black Gangrene shortly upon his arrival.

For a year or two the metastasis of the black sorcerer’s armies and henchmen ate its way through one domain after another. Knights, cravens, trained soldiers, or common peasants hired as mercenaries, all rose to defend the country from the festering glare advancing towards the heart of the land. What remained? Nothing more than dissolving bodies, howling in a ceaseless choir of souls violently torn from this world.

Out of sheer terror, but also out of opportunism, the majority of the aristocracy yielded to Rasgaroth’s reign. The remaining forces in opposition became finally united under the banner of Bolir Marathy, Lord of Pryskora and Golden Meadow. And not only did the allies manage to prevent Rasgaroth from further advance, they also destroyed one of the flanks of the tyrant’s army and conquered numerous castles and strongholds. But then came the Battle of Tarima, overseen from the promontory of the Varija Rock by the Black Gangrene himself. Even though his army was being forced deeper and deeper into a narrow gorge, his teeth could be seen glittering in a twisted smile under the shade of his hood. He knew that the troops at the rear of the allied army were actually made up of the Naruzil and Void families, turncoats who had been promised vast territories and would therefore not hesitate to stab their own people in the back. Taking this as their signal, the retreating opponents turned to massacre the allied frontlines. Yet, death was too ordinary for the sorcerer to cast upon the soldiers. As they panicked, terror-stricken in the jaws of the narrow rocks around them, Faer surged from the sandy soil under their feet, sinking its teeth into their souls, tearing them from their rib cages like stubborn weeds.

The Naruzil and Void families found their reward in Pryskora, where they gathered with their armies, drunk with victory. Within those walls sealed with sorcery, they burned along with all the residents. Rasgaroth had no more use for such betrayers. He himself returned to Arakius, the citadel of sorcery and death, which now spread the wings of its shadow all across the Kladar Plain.

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