Dark Mantle of D'Geen
The sound was most troublesome. Long have I been prisoner to Kormack and his evil designs, and the torturous sounds my heart has been cursed to endure has left me cold inside. I endure and ignore. Cold to the pain and the suffering of poor souls around me. Their Fate forsworn as soon as they enter His lair. But this, this atrocity has pierced my now icebound heart and cracked deep into my very soul. The children... The mewling babes that know nothing of their future, nothing of the joys of life. Innocent of horrors of the world and the dread future it holds. How short that future is. I can not get the sound of the mewling infants from my mind, it is seared into memory as a brand on an animals flank forever to remain. Some have even laughed right up till the end and nothing is more damaging to ones sanity than a broken childs laugh.
Master Blacksmith Heaf Astes
Part of this sub is tough content to read due to detailed descriptions. Reader discretion is advised.
These sleeveless, enveloping drapes are monstrous to behold when one knows what they truly are and where they came from. From a distance they appear to be nothing more than a sleeveless jacket of sorts of tanned hide from various animals, some with fur adorning the shoulders for an odd form of fashion trend while others are dotted with spots and dots that are far from uniform to show the tailors individual mind. However, none of these are the truth of their origin.
Sewn from the skin of newborn children, the patched cloak is varies shades if skin color. As no ethnicity is forgotten when creating these nightmare coverings. Patches of hair blot its covering, some with mottled skin of the freckles of youth. Each mantle is pieced together from various children's skin, some having as many as seven or eight different hides sewn together to complete the grisly garment.
When placed on the undead it grants them a lingering form of almost life. The magick of the patched skin melds to the undeads' flesh giving them the appearance of life. Color returns to their body, flesh is made to cover and heal over, and a slight form of intelligence returns to their eyes. This is not a simple superficial appearance. To the touch they seem flesh and blood, perhaps a bit to rigid and clammy, but alive still. The smell of death also does not linger around them. They can not speak but their deathly wails, moans, and screams are sated. They appear to answer questions with a nod of the head or a incidental wave of their hand but it is more from the magick infused into the mantle not any super intelligence granted to the undead. They pass as the living but close scrutiny would reveal something is amiss. Failing to answer a guards questions would result in further scrutiny, and while they still appear to the naked eye alive, something would inherently seem wrong. However, until the creature was killed or those knowing how to remove the garment take them off they will remain looking as if alive.
Where animals fear or shy from the undead, they normally stare at them unaware of what they are. A walking void they can not track. Unaware of their truth they are usually ignored as being not there. Their eyes are the closest thing to betray their falsehood. While it grants the appearance of intelligence and cognitive behavior, their eyes still hold the vacancy of the dead. Just more of an appearance of near exhaustion and no recognition of any kind to close inspection.
The mantles seem to only work on non-intelligent animations of the dead, those with even a glimmer of intelligence and free thought simply appear as if they are wearing a coat or jacket of hairy skin granting them no benefits from donning the item. It is simply a garment that can be worn by the dead, taken off and given to another animation when the current corpse that is wearing it becomes to decayed to be of any use.
Kormack sought out a hermit in her dung covered thatched hut, far from normal civilized lands. Rumor found its way to him that a crazy witch had brought back her dead husband and children from beyond deaths door and had them functioning as if their daily lives were uninterrupted by deaths kiss. Always wishing to learn more of the dead arts, he sought her out. When he found witch D'Geen, he was shocked and pleased at his discovery. Not only had she minor ability in the necromantic arts, she had a skill Kormack did not. She was able to make the dead appear alive. It was not perfect by any means but it was a beginning.
The hermit witch D'Geen had, in her apparent insanity, dug up her deceased family who had died of a random sickness that swept through during a wet season. She brought them home where he used her minor magick ability to breath a form of life into them. More of a simple motor function than life. She had them return to their daily chores as if nothing had passed unusually. A close encounter with a farmer far removed from an average sized village ran them back to her hovel. She had not accounted for their dead appearance or smell.
By infusing the skin or hide covering with the spirit of the recently deceased, the dead who wore the mantle took on a life like appearance. D'Geen's skills were prevalent but her method was flawed. Where she had used the spirits of traveling brothers, older in their years so their spirits were tough and unwilling to cooperate at times. This was seen when Kormack spied the witch and her undead family. Occasionally they tried to flee from her or refused to do a task by walking away, yet using her limited gifts she was able to overwhelm their thoughts of defiance. Kormack saw this and then knew the path he would choose, children. Their innocent spirits malleable beyond measure, the perfect solution to this flaw. Their tiny souls were unable to fight back against his will as they knew nothing of defiance yet.
Kormack began whispering in her crusted ears on how he could bring her and her beloved ones back together truly, if only she taught him her magicks. He learned all he could from her, all the while bringing her back to his labyrinth of necromantic power. When he had mastered her talent, and improved upon it he gave her what he promised.
'Now I shall give you what I promised my lady. You shall reunite with your fallen loved ones, forever together.' He brought her to the Chamber of Shivenhusk where He awaited her. 'I am Shivenhusk the Unliving Refuse! Your soul shall never inherit the after world and will forever feed Me.' Her scream was near silent as He bent down and took hold of her, pulling her head from her decrepit shoulders and inhaled her spirit as if breathing a scent of blooming flowers. The image of her face tried to pulled from his shoulder but He laughed and it sank back into his not dead flesh but still pressing the edge, lingering in silent pain.
The invention of the mantle is a huge step in Kormacks' plans in beginning his assault against the Church of his Gods' Aunt, the Goddess Earina, the Goddess of the frenzied carnage of battle, the prophecy of death, and the slaughter of innocents and take Her place in the Celestial Order. With the ability to hide his armies of undead in the guise of the living, Kormack can implant them into cities he intends to assault with ease and subterfuge.
- The party is rushing to a city they have never been to to warn them of an undead army that is hiding in their city walls that look like the normal populace. Whether the city guard arrests them for trying to incite a riot or they are sent away with laughs and insults. How do they get the warning to the people in time.
- The party, knowing how to distinguish the undead who are wearing the mantles, begin to attack and slaughter what appear to be innocent people walking into a city or in a crowded marketplace. The horror at what the civilians are watching alert the city guards who see the party killing innocent people. The guards begin attacking the party with little or no quarter. How do they show the guards the falsehood of the undead before the guards overwhelm them?
- The party is inside the walls of a city under siege and were able to convince the ruling leaders of the impending doom. They are manning one of the walls when Kormack arrives at the front of his undead army demanding for the gates to be opened and to be let into the city where it will willingly fall under his control or he will unleash his army on the poor population. The undead who are wearing the mantles are a new kind of undead of Kormacks design, an undead filled with a form of Greek Fire. If they are set off in a group near a city wall, the explosion that follows will breach one of the walls of the city allowing for the horde of undead to swarm into the breached wall with little opposition.
This time of year often brings the summer doldrums to the Citadel. A time of slow updates and intermittent submissions. We may have passed the worst but until the summer ends, the weather changes and school starts again we may not have the action we sometimes have.
Because of that, we are holding the Doldrum Quest. I wanted it to be pretty open to most anything so we will attach it to the Guild quests again to allow people to branch out how they want. This also adds some incentive to join and progress in the Guilds. So go join a Guild now and if your submission goes towards your Guild accomplishments, it can go towards this quest as well.
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? Responses (9)
It fuses with their skin. So it can't be removed once an undead dons it? I would say that sounds more like a ritual than an item. And where did the witch get all those infants without arousing outrage? Maybe she was a midwife and told the mothers their babies were stillborn or something, after covertly killing them as they came out.
It gives the appearance of cognitive function, but what if you have a zombie don it, will it still go around moaning and what not? Will it protect a vampire from daylight?
Answered the first two questions. Honestly something I had completely ignored and over looked.
The definition of undead by each individual is different. For instance, I look on 'zombies' as you put them as just an animated corpse. The same as a walking 'skeleton'. Both are animated in the same way for the same purpose. The 'zombie' is fresher, more human looking, and due to its limited degeneration and decay is more formidable. Stronger, quicker, and a more feared form of undead than a simple 'skeleton' who I see as a cheap form of undead minion and front line shock troops. Easy to raise and once fallen, easy to fix and replace.
A 'vampire', as you put it, I personally do not see as being undead. At least not in the same sense as animated undead, i.e. skeletons, zombies, etc. They have no soul true, but willingly gave up their spirit and possible eternal damnation for power and eternal life. If they an survive that is. An agreement between the Gods (Demon, Old One, whatever your choice) grants them their powers at the cost of the soul. In my chosen use of vampires, every one of them is a fallen priest from a church of light willingly giving their soul to a darker purpose. By doing so they are granted what most would classify as vampiric abilities and powers. But to me they are not undead. Good question however.
I reread your comment Goss and am amazed I missed the complexity of the midwife part. I may alter it some and add that to it.
I would make this item a central part of a campaign arc. It would be a very effective way to set the darkness of the tone and really motivate heroic PCs to action, especially if they can track down the creator of these mantles.
I could see all of the plots and more thrown together in a single event. Pcs find out about the concealed undead armband try to warn a larger pulled city with little to no success. Then get caught attacking them a day or two later in the open streets and must defend against the city guard until their intentions are proven to be just. Then the culmination with them sitting atop the battlements awaiting the attack while half the group searches for any hidden concealed undead waiting to blow a wall or a gate open.
Being the sadistic bastard that I am, I'd rather drag it out with a slow reveal. Let the PCs face a few of these undead before they learn how the mantle is created. Once it sinks in to them just how many infants have been sacrificed, and how oblivious they have been to the whole thing, they should be nice and motivated. Especially if they come across the discarded remains when trying to track down the culprit. Even better when they know that the longer they take, the more infants that will be sacrificed.
The 'Uncanny edge' is the term used for the 'off' feeling you get when you spot something which closely mimics life, but isn't quite there - you get it a lot in robotics lately, apparently. That is likely how it would feel spotting an undead wearing this mantle.
If it were me, id have the party learn of the mantle's power, but not the makeup. Then have them go hunting to Kormack's lair (as a dungeon) and at the end of it, have them hear the cried of children like the blacksmith did, and burst in on him creating one of these! Only then is the true horror revealed, and the motivation for killing Kormack enhanced.
gruesome and kinda neat!
Also, it amuses me how the Shivenhusk blatantly introduces itself :p
I like your description of the Uncanny Edge. That's how I foresee it. As for meeting Kormack like that, I had plans for more of his plans befalling the party before they meet him, in person that is. Perhaps during one such event or assault on a city they will see him from afar but never can quite get close to him.
It will culminate into a much grander plot but only after Shivenhusk can gather enough resources to fully be a physical issue and a full assault on his aunts power will be under way and at that point He will not need Kormack to further his plans.
Disturbing and imaginative, the exact kind of treasure to reward the greedy grave robber with or apply to an otherwise run of the mill bandit. Nicely done!