It was as if mother nature herself knew of the tempest that was about to unfold. The clouds hung heavy and dark in the skies, and a brisk wind dotted the seas with foam.
The song of the wind was accompanied by the creaking of wood and the sounds of thousands of oars being rowed as fleets of galleys closed on each other.
The fleet coming out of the north was of dozens of long, low open-air gallies with Cobra-headed prows. Each ship bore 40 pairs of oars, and each oar pulled by two stout warriors bearing the ornate leather armor and skullcaps of the Aldruku empire.
Standing at the prow of each ship was the distinct figure of an Aldruku Shaman, painted with chalk and charcoal to resemble a grinning skeleton. Each grasped an unusually long wand with the color of dried blood. Around their necks hung necklaces of shrunken heads and other unsavory talismans.
Arrayed against them was the Nyoran armada. Their ships were also galleys, huge well-built triremes with massive, totem-pole like prows adorned with dozens of scowling demon-heads.
The main decks of the Nyoran ships were crowded by marines, some in metal armor, and many armed with powerful bone and horn shortbows.
The Nyoran fleet outnumbered the Aldruku fleet and to the Nyoran commanders, the outcome of this battle was a forgone conclusions. Finally the foul Aldruku was meeting them in a proper sea battle! Finally they would no longer raid their lands!
They were right, but not in the way that they hoped.
As the two fleets closed to bow range, the Aldruku shamans began to chant, and from their lead vessels, beams of sickly yellow light erupted and played across the vanguard of the Nyoran fleet. Over the tops of the affected ships could be seen puffs of what appeared to be black smoke.
As each ship was caught, any and all who were struck by the yellow beam was thrown to the deck, contorting in pain. A moment later their spirit was torn from their body, emerging from their mouths and eyes as black smoke and flew upwards.
Had the Nyorans themselves been any less foul a people then the Aldruku the outcome may have been different, but they were, and so the torn, shattered souls which drifted in the sky over the massacre below, began to combine. The mass of dark souls combined and bound themselves into the turbulent skies above. Even in their torn state, however, one emotion served to unite them, to form into a single, malevolent group mind. Hate.
The slaughter continued - those Nyoran ships which saw the oars of the lead ships suddenly cease after the beams struck quickly understood that they meant death, and so the fleet fell into disorder, as the individual Captains attempting to flee. The confusion led to collisions and the Aldruku fleet pressed forward, their shamans slaying all ships whose oars moved.
One Nyoran ship carried on through and delivered the only answering blow of the battle.
The Lykhan , the Nyoran fleet flagship, was rowed by several hundred undead, and those already dead were not subject to the soul-rendering magic of the Aldruku. This ship, its human crew lost to soul-rending, carried on it's course and this brought it into the Aldruku fleet, where it rammed and sunk one of their small galleys.
The Lykhan carried on and out to open sea, never to be seen again.
Once the Nyorans were all slain, the Aldruku ships began to come along side the now silent Nyoran ships, to take possession and loot them. The sky above hung ominously, but the greed of the Aldruku overrode any concerns they might have had about the weather.
The wind then picked up and acquired an unusually cold, disquieting edge to it, and as it gained strength, some of the Aldruku said it sounded like voices. The wind grew from strong gusts to a full blown gale and the Aldruku became alarmed - never had they seen weather change so suddenly!
Frantically they began to re-board their own ships - they could not hope to properly navigate the Nyoran ships, so much larger and being of an unfamiliar design. The winds grew still stronger and colder and the Aldruku fleet was thrown into turmoil.
Finally the storm reached its full power and the winds blew with hurricane force, causing the low Aldruku vessels to flounder. Worse still then the power of the winds, was the unearthly cold touch that the winds brought. Sailors frantically tried to row their ships but found their hands numbed and their muscles failed. Those in the water perished quickly, either to drowning, being dashed by ship and debris, or the killing cold which stopped their hearts.
None of the Aldruku ships survived the destruction the storm brought.
The storm, now guided by a faint intelligence, realized that it had no further victims. Still bound by hate, it knew where the lands of it's enemy was, and so moved up the coast to the Aldruku homeland.
Where ever the storm made landfall, any not protected by four good stone walls and a sturdy roof, perished. Plant, animal,insect and man all died as the dreadful storm carried on.
The Aldruku capital and many of its other principle cities fell into the storms paths, and were destroyed more completely then even the upcoming atrocities of the Dire Wars.
The Gods of the Aldruku were shocked by the destruction being vested upon their peoples, and strove to stop this destruction. For without their people, their power would be diminished.
Even the power of the weakened pantheon was unable to destroy this storm, now termed Nethernimbus by the few survivors, but they were able to direct the storm to an isolated island several days sail west of the devastated Aldruku coastline. There the storm was bound by the gods, held in place by a set of powerfully enchanted ward-stones. The storm remains there still - a manifestation of hate and of man's inhumanity to man. None who have approached the island have returned, for the winds have lost none of their power, and these winds have the touch of wraiths!
Nethernimbus is a vast, semi-intelligent hurricane with black and sickly yellow-streaked clouds.
Nethernimbus has acquired somewhat greater intellect over time - it is not fully conscious yet and should it do so, it may in fact manifest itself as a deity. It rages continuously against the magical chains that bind it, chains which are maintained only by the continued existence of a handful of Aldruku shamans revering the old Aldruku gods.
This is a tenuous existence, as the few Aldruku shamans are old and constantly hunted by a few remains of the Nyoran people, a feud which has existed now for millennia.
If released, Nethernimbus will find few Aldruku to destroy and will likely being to ravage other enemies.
This is not a subtle addition to a campaign. To deal with it effectively would require Divine level power.
This storm, if released, can be used to completely change entire nations, ala the Black Plague.
The size of this storm should be tailored to the desired intent. Perhaps it is never released, but the PC's need to act to stop a doomsday group that may choose to.
One possibility is that so long as any of the Wands of Soul Rending (The devices used by the Aldruku Shamans) still exist, then the storm will persist. If all of the Wands are destroyed, then the storm will dissipate and the spirits released.
This quest is Unique Lifeforms, jadies and lentilmen. I'm sure somewhere, in some world, you've got a creature that is the only one of it's kind. It's freak convention time! You'll get ten extra shiny XP for submitting, plus a shot at the coveted Strolen Medal of Honor.
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? Responses (17)
Interesting, a storm of souls.Could a necromancer talk to them?
Good luck getting close enough to do so :). The winds are hurricane force and debris could smack you necromancer before getting close enough. The souls are also damaged and individually incoherent, the effects of the Soul Rending wands used against them.
Hmmm... A storm of wraiths.
Even so, they might be chained to the cycles of the weather, able only to manifest when the conditions are right: Dissipating when the storm's energy is spent, then reforming to again ravage the land in search of their ancient enemies, accursed and unable to rest until they have taken the soul from the last of their people's foes.
Yes, I like it.
It could be limited by powerful, probably artifical, weather conditions. The strength of this composite being is such that conditions which normally control hurricane movement (water temprature for one) do not have a great effect. It will not stray too far inland, but since so much of humanity generally lives on the sea, this still provides ample opportunity for destruction.
Pretty damn good.
What Cap said
An intersting concept.
I found the historical explanation almost too long and in the end fairly pointless. Sure if gives some back story, but that means you need to incorporate those countries (and there is little to generate the analogs) and sky barges into your world. So what it comes down to: flying warships, evil wizardly country vs others, in a mass battle that ended. A quicker summation might of been more useful.
You can set this farther back in time, so the world has been living with this storm since time remembered. Thus there could be a long standing quest to find the last of the cursed items that caused it. Or the secret to destroying the thing could be 'lost to time'.
Of course all of this requires sky ships to be in your campaign. And that can make life difficult and change the entire complexion of the world. Well you can get around the Sky Barges:
The storms probably hunts them down. No more great ariel battles. Where once the world thrived via flying trade, all the air ships are now grounded. Thus the world begins to fall apart as cities that depended on trade (and were easily accessible by airship, but not so by the ground) are begining to falter and die off.
I don't read any mention of these being flying ships of any sort. The line open-air gallies seems to indicate an open top ship rather akin to the Viking longship, as opposed to a closed in ship with a deck...rather than an actualy flying ship.
I did not mention sky ships - it was a pure blue-water battle.
and yes, the Aldruku ships are a minor variant on a longboat. They were a lower tech level then the Nyoran fleet - more tribal vs the greek/romanesque.
And to be honest, I had more fun writing the naval battle over the storm. Think I'll need to add toit sometime. Sigh. I keep saying that :)
Edit: Adjusted names of races.
Not bad, the story is good but it does overshadow the actual storm itself, which should really be the superstar of the submission.
This is quite a good alternative to the usual Inexplicable Maelstrom that seems to crop up from time to time in fantasy worlds. It certainly, in my opinion, beats the 'giant beast in the ocean' origin of such storms.
The only thing that aggravates me is the Ku! thing. I understand why, more or less, but... It annoys me, regardless. A minor gripe on an otherwise quite interesting sub.
What specifically with the Ku!?
The exclamation point. I get the reason, more or less, for it.
It's just an irrational dislike of exclamations in strange places. I've spent too many years on the internet, that's all.
The ! is supposed to be a click sound. There is a lingistic term that escapes me at the moment for it.
Aha. A glottal stop.
In light of that bit of information, while the symbol itself still nags the automatic English-teacher-tormented part of my mind, it becomes perfectly clear and logical.
I retract my objection.