The Ruins of Chokath

A great doom had descended upon Chokath — the Twisted One had come, and the gates of the city had been sealed shut against his unbearable presence. He sought their extinction, for they would not join him, they would not give away the hidden hordes of the earth-men secreted away in the tunnels and catacombs beneath their city.

They were the Pyreen, and the Betrayer had come to claim their lands. Some few of them had fled to hide in the wilds, but the last of their great culture was here, the last of their shining Temples of the Way, the last of their erudite tomes and psionic machines, the last of their great artisans and philosophers, and the last of their ancestors’ bones.

Chokath was the last stronghold of their people, and so they went out to fight, to battle with the mad armies of the Twisted One–Rajaat the War-Bringer–who had come across the Vanished Sea, the Sea of Dust. He had raised the tribes of men against those they had once seen as gods and spirits, as sacred guardians of the earth, as teachers and protectors; for wrath and hatred, jealously and greed were powerful forces in his hands.

Slowly the tribes of men had turned, and those who would not turn had been slain, or were huddled now along the walls in the last city of the Pyreen, praying for the protection of the last of their glorified saviors. The warring men rode upon twisted beasts, great reptiles of thick scale and horn that brothe forth gouts of fire and flame, turning stone to slag and men to ash.

Even the might of the Pyreen was not enough to keep the Warbringer’s armies from breaching the walls, to keep the foul sorcery of Rajaat from raping the land and turning their fields to empty, infertile dust…but in the end they had saved the dwarves at the cost of every living thing in Chokath.

And though Rajaat’s armies learned through threat and torture from a weak-willed man where the earth-men were hidden, and flooded the catacombs to drive them out, slaying and murdering, cleansing the city of the last of them, deep below in the black and lightless depths others had fled when the armies had first come. These were saved.

They had found their way through secret ways long hidden or forgotten, through twisting tunnels and down lightless stairwells centuries thick with dust, across chasms torn in the ancient rock by the hands of unseen power, and through tunnels too narrow for men to follow, built ages before the Rebirth.

The surviving dwarves lived on in the lightless depths, and as they lay dying weeks later, still hidden from the armies above, they prayed to their ancestors for salvation, to the bones of the earth…and the bones of the earth awakened…

Charnel Dwarves

The charnel dwarves are the descendants of Athasian dwarves who hid in the dark abysses of the earth beneath the city of Chokath and in the endless catacombs and connecting tunnels built to house the dead of the city since the time of the Blue Age.

They are necromancers and corpse-eaters, blood-drinkers who wield bone and stone crafted from the abundant materials of catacombs and the remains they house. They worship undead spirits, but they are not evil, for necromancy and bone-work are simply a way of life, a way of survival.

Charnel dwarves are dark eyed and sickly white, with thin, gray, wispy hair on their pates and chin. They subsist on metal, rock and bone, leeching minerals and subsistence from the ground: a gift given to them by the undead spirits they follow.

Their necromancy has even awakened or given un-life to ancient life-shaped items found in the deepest tunnels and chambers, and they have made these a part of their lives, though there are few of them.

The charnel dwarves have no tools with which to mine or dig. They are no great masons of stone any longer, but they can tell where the earth or construction is unstable, and tell direction and elevation without sight. It is said they never become lost in the twisting passages under the earth and always know the way of what paths they have traveled.

They shun the surface world as dangerous and deadly, their reasons for fleeing into the depths long since turned to myth and legend.

Raider Tribes

These men are the descendants of the Twisted One’s armies, still waging his holy war against the Unclean Ones: the other races of the Rebirth. But the tribes have fractured and split, begun warring with one another, each trying to drive one another to extinction, calling each other unclean as well as the Unclean. A number of tribes still haunt the ruins of Chokath, fighting for territory and control of the long-fallen buildings and buried streets.

Rajaat’s Children

These are sorcerers (defilers) who walk with the Raider Tribes. They have a long history and solidarity. Their magic is a sacred gift from the “god” Rajaat, the War-bringer, and its knowledge is guarded jealously. They believe that only when they have rid the glorious universe of the evil of the cursed hell-lands they inhabit, and turned to them utterly to ash through war, will the great Rebirth come and the god Rajaat return to bring them all out of an emptied hell and into paradise.

copyright (c)2005-2009 Raven Daegmorgan
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