The Shadow Legion

Out of the ashes of Tau, at the dawn of this new age birthed in fire and chaos a warrior arose and brought forth a new era in warfare throughout Gaia.

The annals record Rocheval the Red, once personal friend and confidante to General Tiberius breaking through the chaos siege of Tau with a few dedicated men and seeking aid to bring back a force to attempt to break the siege.
Rocheval did not return. Tau was raised and General Tiberius disappeared without a trace.

The few survivors of Tau tell of the betrayal of Tiberius and Rocheval in their hour of need, but Rocheval did return to the ashes with a handful of good men, all that was left after fighting his way back through the Vale of Osria.

With the great walled city of Tau destroyed the Chaos forces dispersed into the countryside and their tyrant – the bitch queen Tanjha was never seen again. Without leadership the looting chaos hordes ravaging the countryside were easy prey for an organised defence and counter strike which Rocheval immediately recognised and organised. The black and red banner was raised and the sons of men gathered under it. Using unconventional guerrilla tactics, traps and surprises Rocheval led the resistance and systematically eradicated pockets of Chaos spawn. Caught like a headless beast without direction the scourge was wiped from the north.

Once again the banner was raised and the Shadow Legion was born. Many warriors gathered to join the quickly growing (in fame and size) legion, mostly people who had nothing to lose, who had lost families to the war or those who had scores to settle.

With it’s numbers swelled the legion spread forth and grew from strength to strength, becoming the most feared and revered mercenary company on Gaia.

Their fame grew and spread far and wide, as Chaos retreated and man’s greed flourished the legion had many employers and has struck fear into the hearts of many a general and king who have found themselves on the wrong side facing the legion.

The Rievers of the shadows, the Harbringers of doom, the Black death, the legion has had many a name which they have earned over and over. Rigorous training and standards make the legion what it is as well as the unconventional tactics envisioned by Rocheval. Generals have been surprised to find unarmoured charcoal smeared warriors appearing behind their lines; viscous ambushes and traps as well as “dummy” warriors and armies. The legion has always stayed one step ahead and has changed the way Gaian generals see a battlefield and a foe.

Now the legion has upwards of a thousand elite warriors including five hundred heavy cavalry and many skilled archers. Although the legion accepts men and women with no questions asked about history, any prospective legionnaire must prove their skills in rigorous testing and combat trials.

“Strike like a daemon, fade like a shadow” ~ legion motto.

This article was originally published X December MMII

Black Wurt

Notes on the Black Wurt weed found in Northern Gaia.
Also known as: Orc Weed (Slang), Djudidench (Slavinian), Ggnurt (Northice Orcish) or G’nash (Orcish slang).

A tough scraggy plant found abundantly on rock faces in the colder regions of Northern Gaia. This resilient weed has thick moist leaves which, when crushed exude a powerful smelling black ichor, the stench of which is enough to turn the stomach of even the most iron-gutted horticultural enthusiast.

Although widely regarded as a weed in civilised (and barbarian) society, the plant seems to have acquired a special place in northern orcish (and some primitive clans) herb lore. The ichor exuded has the special property similar to the insulating property of oils and fats. Many northern orcs use the foul smelling ichor to protect themselves against the cold if caught outside in winter months, possibly being the “root” cause of the perceived noxious odour of the species. This cultural practice may be what has led to the speciest prejudice against foul smelling ‘orrible orcs.

Although the root has been used by orcish raiders as camouflage in the past, its properties as a concealing agent are (according to orcish legend) usually countered by it’s foul stench. (Leading to many a human joke of smelling the raiders way before you can see them).

Another interesting property of the oily ichor is its uses as a lubricant for weapons and armour maintenance. Although the oil protects and insulates against rust and weathering the ichor also has a slight acidic quality when dry, possibly leading to the unexplained disintegration (and perceived lower quality) of orcish arms and armour. Many a looter has been found gnashing their teeth (or being gnashed) when seemingly fine looted orcish armaments suddenly weaken and rust. For this reason the plant must be applied often and kept moist (or washed off in limewater) to remain effective.

“The Extended Tome of Applied Herbology”
Orpheus, Scribe.

This article was first published I July MMIII

The Jahmori Gecko Clan

“The path of the Gecko ” – A guide to the Jahmori Gecko clan inhabiting a remote jungle basin in south central Vasniss.

The Jahmori Gecko clan inhabits an extremely rich and fertile jungle basin known as “the crater of plenty” which is near the source of the Ssaliktor River, overlooked by the peaks of Sas-Ketah. The jungle basin itself is a source of many tropical fauna and flora as well as jade and many other gemstone deposits.

The Jahmori have inhabited this area for as long as any race can remember and their existence in this area is a mystery to most races as the human populations on this continent are made up of only immigrants. The Jahmori have explained this in their myths which revolve around their primary deity – Llahgorah (The divine lizard – a god of temperance and fertility). The myths are passed down by word of mouth through generations and start with Llahgorah carrying his people away on his back from a great cataclysm across the sea. The elders say that Llahgorah swam across the great ocean and up to the source of the great Ssaliktor River to deposit his people where they would be safe – always. He guided them to settle in the Crater of Plenty and the Jahmori have flourished ever since. The clan now numbers upwards of 500 members.

The people of the Jahmori Gecko clan lead a secluded, highly traditional lifestyle based stringently on what they call ” The path of the Gecko “. This revolves mainly around how chieftains are selected. When the current chieftain is nearing the end of his 100 moon rulership period all young men must leave the tribe for a full 20 moons and quest to find any knowledge and resources to help the clan prosper. Upon returning to the clan the candidates gather the following spring and are judged by the elders of the clan according the gifts they bring back, this is viewed as a rite of passage and also serves to determine future status in the clan. Only the best candidates are then selected to face Llahgorah’s challenge :- The candidates must head into the dark heart of the crater and find the egg of the Gorah lizard (An extremely rare species of lizard only living in the crater about the size of the komodo dragon, many Jahmori believe this creature to be the incarnation of Llahgorah). This is an extremely dangerous quest as the dark heart of the crater is inhabited by many species of poisonous reptile as well as many much feared mutant lizard men.

Once an egg has been found it must be taken back to the clan and preparations for the Great Gorah’aan festival begin. The festival is the conclusion of the current chieftainship, the beginning of a new clan leadership era and fertility ceremony all in one, and is the most holy festival of all for the Jahmori.
The Gorah’aan festival is a ten day long festival where the gorah egg is slowly heated over a fire in the great chamber for the duration of the celebrations until the climax when the gorah hatches. All prospective chieftains line the walls of the great chamber waiting for the hatching and may not move until the newly hatched gorah lizard has touched one of them, who then becomes the next chieftain. This symbolises the “shedding of skin” for the tribe and is believed amongst the Jahmori that this ceremony is how Llahgorah selects the next king.

The old chieftain must then take the hatchling back to the dark heart. Llahgorah then passes judgement on the ex-chieftain through his gorah lizards – if the chieftain has ruled justly they leave him alone (possibly only marking him as blessed) or if his reign was unjust or evil they will devour him to punish him for his actions. This symbolises the tribe “losing its tail” and serves as a deterrent to unjust rule. This is the path of the gecko and is how it has always been.

The tribes people live according to rules governed by the path and have many smaller cultural traditions all linked to the “divine lizard”. The gorah lizards seem to have a mutualistic relationship with the Jahmori as its eggs require fire to hatch and due to its rarity and very prolonged mating rituals and gestation periods this leads to a small sustainable population of gorahs in the crater. (Coming soon stats for the gorah and mutant lizardmen of the crater of plenty).

As to the history and politics of the Jahmori nation, the Jahmori are a peaceful nation who have had only minor contact to the outside world and only ever clashed with the snake-people of Vasniss. The coming of the Onyx Empire to Vasniss found the Jahmori in a perfect place to trade with the Giss and due to their bias towards all things lizardly the Jahmori immediately made peace and accepted protection from the Onyx Empire. With the lucrative gemstones, jade and medicinal herbs trade heading up-river into the empire, Jahmori – Onyx relations are on an all time high and the Jahmori have of late experienced a huge boom in technology and knowledge. They are up to date the only human population to have herds of war trained land dragons and now even have an elite unit of mounted warriors working within the emperors legions.

This article was initially published XX November MMII