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2015 Edit

12/29/2015 Edit

They found it. After several long months within the accursed Chaos Wastes, the Star Killers had found their prey. Finally, they could come to terms with the great beast. Finally, they could go home.

The beast was massive. It was to the Hive as the Hive was to a man. An entity of such colossal proportions as to almost seem unreal. The Star Killers lashed out at the great Ursine beast, and it in turn lashed out at them.

Staccato bursts of weapons fire peppered its hide. But the beast was ancient, and its hide was as unyielding as a mountain. The Star Killers darted amongst the desolate landscape, hoping to best the beast's might with guile and deceit. But the beast was wise, its cold eyes saw through every trick and illusion cast its way. The Forsaken locked shields to defend themselves. But metal and wood could not stand against claws taller than a man.

The Ursa Major reaped a horrific tally on the Star Killers within the opening moments of the fighting. Nearly half their numbers lay scattered across the frost fields, the ruination of their bodies turned snow to reddish slush. The Star Killers pulled back to the coastline, desperation lending their limbs strength and speed.

Ruven heard, rather than saw, Silvia's death. The remnants of her claw were the rear guard, and as such suffered the worst of the great beast's wrath. Ruven heard the distinct sound of Silvia's siren call, sonorous and piercing in equal measures. Against a normal foe, Silvia's expanded lungs and vocal chords would have been more than enough to burst ear drums and hemorrhage brains. But the Ursa Major was far and above the most alien and abnormal beast any of the Star Killers had seen. Silvia's siren call ended in an abrupt screech and a tremor within the earth.

As the Star Killers fanned out across the frozen bay, Ruven bore witness to the death of the twins. Ripper had brought up the rear of their claw, and turning found himself in the direct path of the rampaging beast. Serrated sword in hand, he leapt at the beast's leg, burying the sword up to the hilt in its unnatural hide. The Ursa Major roared its hate, clamping down on Ripper's lower half with teeth the length of swords. Gnasher, seeing his brother's plight, rushed to lend his assistance. He was halfway to his brother, when the beast jerked its head to the side, sending Ripper's upper half spattering into his brother. The remaining twin recovered a hairs breadth too late, and disappeared beneath the full weight of the beast's paw.

Ruven and Uzas regrouped with the remnants of Bjorn's claw. Seeing an opening as the Beast tore through an isolated pocket of resistance, the beleaguered Star Killers launched their attack at its flank. Between radlock rounds and the accursed Fellblades Bjorn and Ruven carried, they rejoiced in seeing wounds that did not heal. That elation died at a back sweep of the Ursa Major's mighty paw, along with most of Bjorn's claw.

As the beast swung its head about, it clamped down on Bjorn's side with a sickening squelch. Bjorn 'The Mountain' Bjornsson did not scream in pain as his lower half disappeared down the beast's throat. His scream was one of rage, as he plunged his Fellbladed sword deep into the Beast's eye socket. Bjorn's final words were heard across the ice fields, even over the Ursa Major's hellish roar.

'CHOKE ON ME, YOU FURRY BASTARD!!!' Bjorn roared before the Beast consumed him utterly.

Seeing what they believed to be an opening, Ruven and Uzas did not hesitate to close with the beast's flank. They managed to carve a bloody ruin of its right leg before the Ursa Major retaliated. With the force of a landslide, the Beast's great paw smashed through Ruven and Uzas's hasty defenses, sending the two warriors sailing across the ice fields.

When Ruven did wake, his world was ice and pain. Half submerged in the icy waters at the coast, it was everything Ruven could do to haul his ruined body out of the water. A cursory glance at Uzas told him everything he needed to know. No one could live with their neck twisted at that odd angle.

Ruven tried to stand, but the shattered bones within his right leg refused to support his weight. When he inhaled, it was through shattered ribs and blood filled lungs. With failing strength, Ruven dipped his hand into the salty water and wrapped his fingers around the broken haft of his Fellblade. He held aloft the blade as the Ursa Major turned its attention to the last surviving member of the Star Killers. As the beast roared its fury, Ruven smirked to himself. If he was going to greet his Gods, he might as well do it laughing. He filled his lungs with air and roared back:

'It doesn't matter how salty it is!! It's going in your ass!!!'

The Beast charged, and Ruven laughed. The Beast raised its claw, and Ruven raised his blade at a fight that he had no hopes of winning. As the claw descended, Ruven smiled. He was going to meet his Gods. He was going home.

On that day, in that barren no mans land, Ruven Von Regulus, so titled 'Raven Mocker', redeemed himself in the eyes of his Gods.

12/25/2015 Edit

Nighttime in the Chaos Wastes. Snow fell with such intensity as to blind one's view beyond a mere fifteen feet. Gale force winds screamed across the frost lands, throwing up great whirling clouds of snow and micro shards of ice. Yet despite the unforgiving elements, loosing their fury across the barren wasteland, life persisted. Given proper time, resources, and no small amount of luck, life would always find a way to survive in the face of such inhospitable odds.

This life. This defiant spark in the midst of a sea of darkness. This was the Star Killers. Such a motley crew they were, as they huddled together in an ever so fortuitously placed cavern. It would almost appear such a shelter was carved for their very use by the capricious Gods, gazing down from their Halls of Twilight.

Fires burned, crackling away at the driftwood fuel, meticulously sheltered from the elements for this very purpose. Forsaken laughed and joked as they enjoyed their dwindling supply of rationed meats and cheeses. By the most peculiar twist of fate, a rather rare and valuable resource survived the hellish journey the Star Killers had undergone thus far. Wrapped thrice in seal-beast skins, and buried with meticulous care within Uzas's rucksack, was a coffee can. Carried within this can, hidden from the world until the time was perfect, was cocoa powder. Bartered from a Southlands merchant and kept watch over with almost obsessive avarice. It was when the Star Killers made camp in the gift-cavern, that Uzas brought his treasured stash forward.

Now, several fires bore great pots full of snowmelt water and cocoa powder. Forsaken happily drank the hot cocoa either straight, or added a little alcoholic flare to further warm their stomachs. Ruven sat amongst his Vylas, sipping spiked hot cocoa from a tin mug characterized by countless dents and scratches. He closed his eyes, listening to Silvia's sonorous singing, feeling the warmth in the air, and enjoying the break from the hunt. For maybe the first time in years, Ruven could not find one reason to hate. He knew it wouldn't last, but even the inevitability of the final hunt could not diminish his festive holiday spirits.

At the sound of his name, Ruven looked up from his almost childlike revere. Ripper and Gnasher were waving their Claw Leader over to a battered old radio transmitter. As if fate herself were smiling down on the Forsaken, of all the equipment lost in front of the Hive; the radio was not counted among them. Now, after a great deal of trial and error, several Forsaken had managed to strengthen the transmitter signal enough to theoretically contact the mainland. The Vylas were taking turns sending messages to their respective homes or campaign sites. Some sent messages to their claw mates. Others, to their family and loved ones. Most all of the messages carried wishes of happy holidays to their recipients.

Now it was Ruven's turn. He strolled over just in time to hear the tail end of Bjorn Bjornsson's message. He smiled to himself as Bjorn wished his little 'night terror' a happy solstice, and reminded her to keep her skinning blade sharp. As Ruven sat down, he automatically began adjusting the transmitter dials. He knew his home frequency well enough to tune the transmitter to its signal without too much trouble. The black eyed claw leader paused for a moment, uncertain of just what to say. Finally, he cleared his throat, and let the thoughts flow unhindered from his lips.

'From your friend, the Ravenmocker, in this frozen hell. I hope you're hearing this, and I hope you're well.

To the 137th, with your great human might. To the Carnies who stalk the depths of the night. To the squatters residing, in old Family Grounds. To the Family itself, who left with no sound.

To Dive and the shop keeps, counting your wares. To the soldiers of fortune, who I forgot were there. To my friends: Terror, Nora, and Momo the renegades. To Logan's roughnecks, and the fortunes you've made.

To my Vylas at home, I thank you my kin. For culling the weak, and taking their skin. Don't worry, I'm still alive and still well. From Ravenmocker, happy holidays, Greyfell.'

12/11/2015 Edit

Snow fell, drifting to the ground in cascading white sheets. The wind howled across the desolate landscape, catching the flitting snow in great whirling updrafts of frozen air. The occasional ice formation or jagged earth scar broke up the expansive nothingness of the wasteland; outlandish tombstones pockmarking an otherworldly hellscape.

Snow crunched under worn boot. Wind lashed against weather worn skin, white as the snow collecting on tattered furs and matted manes of hair. Freezing air stung cold eyes as they surveyed the desolate horizon. As the hunters stalked across the wasteland, their senses were stretched to their limits. They were well out of the territory of the former ghoul collectives, deep into lands that no sane creature had any business trekking. Through patches of open sky in the grey storm clouds above, the hunters could see the swirling lights of the Divine. Streams of ever changing vibrant aether drifted above the mortal world, the Gods' silent watchers as mesmerizing as they were terrifying. The hunters made signs of devotion and whispered prayers to their Gods before pressing on. If they were to succeed, they'd need all the help the Gods could give them. Because their prey wasn't mortal. The hunters were sent to kill a god. Their Dark Gods sent them to snuff out a wayward star. So the Gods commanded, so it would be done.

Ruven's cold, black eyes scanned the horizon warily as several others scanned the ground for signs of their prey's tracks. Several times, Ruven's eyes thought they'd seen some formless beast moving in the middle distance. Each time, the silhouette was gone with a blink clearing of Ruven's sight. Snow hissed as it evaporated against Ruven's unsheathed Fellblade, the unnatural radiation providing small respite from the biting northern air. One of the other hunters moved to join Ruven on his watch, her own black eyes flitting across the vista of snow and ice.

'It's out there.' Silvia's voice misted in the air before her face wrappings. 'Keep your eyes open.'

'An understatement worthy of note in the sagas.' Ruven's eyes didn't leave the horizon as his voice ran thick with sarcasm. 'Here I was thinking Ursa Major decided to leave its hunting grounds... Take a kip in the Southlands where the False Light always shines, and everyone shares everything they have with each other.'

'... You're an ass...' Silvia muttered flatly.

'And you're wasting valuable air with this trivial banter.' Ruven's lips twitched into an ugly half grin. 'So, unless you plan to impress me with some grandiose plan for finding and KILLING our prey... I'd suggest you go back to looking for tracks.'

'I'm not your underling.' Silvia lashed back, her own eyes never leaving the horizon either. 'If you intend to talk to another Claw leader like that... You should know it'll lead to blood.'

'And I remain unimpressed...' Ruven's bored tone only sought to further aggravate his fellow Claw leader.

'You're just upset that you haven't figured out how to kill it.' Ruven's equal spat back. 'Some disciple of the Void... Can't even figure out how to kill an oversized bear.'

'With such amazing perception and flawless wisdom, I'm amazed you aren't a chosen of the Void yet yourself, Silvia.' Ruven chuckled to himself through a cloud of smoke. He was just about to fire off a witty retort humiliating Silvia for the nature of her banishment, when the ground trembled slightly.

The hunters all froze in place, weapons held at the ready, eyes intensely scanning the horizon. The ground shook again, and the hunters pinpointed the source direction of the movement. The ground shook again, and the hunters were off. No further banter. No hesitation. Just single minded determination driving a pack of wolves to the hunt.


The ground shook, and the Star Killers smiled. The hunt was on, and the Star Killers were dead set on living up to their name.

12/04/2015 Edit

'What is it?'

'Hell if I know... What do you think it is?'

'Looks like a glaive.'

'... Really? A glaive? I would have never guessed... Why is it glowing, jackass?'

'Oh... Right... that... I have no idea.'

'You're useless... no wonder the Council banished you...'

'You were banished, too! Not my fault you asked me a stupid question.'

'The question wasn't stupid... your answer was stupid... Just like you. Obviously it's a glaive. What I want to know is what it's made of, why it's glowing like radstone, and how it could possibly melt rune plate. That's what I want to know.'

'Oh... Yeah... I have no idea...'

The twins, Ripper and Gnasher, continued their idiotic banter in this manner for several long minutes. Uzas occupied himself with flaying one of the last living members of Winter's Wrath within The Hive. The twitching mass of muscle tissue had stopped screaming well over an hour ago. In its ruined state, all the hapless ghoul could manage was a low rasp of pained air every few seconds. Uzas, for his part, was bored beyond belief. He cut deeper into his specimen, hoping his plaything had a little fight left in it. If for nothing else, he wished it would start screaming again. Anything to drown out the idiotic exchange taking place not ten paces behind him.

Ruven sat by himself in the corner, his head lolling between his hands as he fought against the whispers in his head. He'd been away from proper treatment for so long, and the Larua Nox had done so much damage. Every day, He felt the voices clawing at his mind from the lowest depths of his subconscious. It was a fight to keep the voices at bay, to sort out what thoughts were his... and what thoughts were theirs. The last few days in The Hive were a blur to Ruven. He remembered the siege. He remembered the press into The Hive. He even remembered starting a skinning pit with several other Vylas. After that, his mind began rebelling against every memory that flitted across its surface. Real or imagined... It could not tell, and it did not care.

As Ruven twitched and muttered to himself, his eyes fell once again on the source of the twins' debate. A short hafted glaive of a curiously archaic design. Crackling with the occasional vein of black lightning, the blade of the weapon radiated a sickly green light. It reminded Ruven, in between bouts of maddening visions, of the nighttime glow of prewar city ruins... Radiation. So heavy its concentration as to invite death to any not already among Grandfather's Strigoi... Ruven stared at the unnatural blade with such intensity that, for the briefest of moments, the voices stopped their whispering. The attention of every entity inhabiting the Ravenmocker's psyche was focused upon that eery blade radiating unlife.

(Pick it up!) One voice whispered.

(Don't pick it up!) Another cautioned.

(Tread lightly upon this fell path.) Yet another spoke up.

(Do it!) (Don't do it!) (Yes!) (No!) (YES!) (NO!!!) (YES!!!!)

'SILENCE!' Ruven screamed aloud. Ripper and Gnasher jumped at the noise, falling silent mid syllable. Uzas started, cutting too deep into his victim's neck, and cursed silently as the wretch exsanguinated beneath his cold gaze. Not a soul stirred in that room. All watched as Ruven stood on shaking legs and pointed at the hellish weapon lying between the twins.

'Dibs.'

'What?' Gnasher asked incredulously. 'You can't call dibs on spooky glow-y slashers! Especially ones that might radiate you into a Strigoi!'

'I think I just did.' Ruven smiled smugly as he approached the weapon. With spasms running rampant through his arm and voices screaming in his head, he reached down and curled his hand around the haft of the weapon. Holding it aloft, Ruven could feel the unnatural warmth radiating from the black wrapped haft. As he tightened his grip, Ruven cried out in agony as tendrils of black lightning arced up the length of his arm to dance across his torso. Gritting his teeth against the pain, Ruven willed himself to hold the weapon tight, feeling the voices flicker and fade one by one as the backlash of radioactive unlife flowed through his grey matter. The voices continued to babble and chant as they died. All building up to one final word that they screamed into Ruven's psyche mere moments before they flickered out in an out of synch blast of silence.

When the silence faded, Ruven could feel the unnatural power of the weapon pulsing through his body. Looking down at his arm, the Claw leader smiled as he observed the changes he'd undergone. From the elbow down, Ruven's skin was sickly green, cracking and sloughing away in patches to reveal blackened meat underneath. It was surprisingly painless, Ruven thought to himself, for gripping a substance that was most likely weaponized solid state radioactive metal.

'Well, if you're going to go Strigoi on us... You might as well keep the damned blade.' Uzas grumbled in annoyance, still upset over the untimely demise of his subject. 'And you'll need to name it yourself... Stupid, greedy prick...'

'I don't think I have to worry about becoming Strigoi.' Ruven looked up from his arm and smiled at Uzas. The word that the now silenced voices screamed still seared in Ruven's mind, he held his new blade aloft. 'And the instrument of the Ursa Major's destruction needs no one to name it. For it already has a name.'

'Blood of the Father, you're a dramatic one...' Uzas rolled his eyes at his Claw leader. ' So, what's the special radiation blade's name anyway?'

'It is called...' Ruven paused, delighting in the silence within his head for the first time in months. 'The Fellblade.'

11/25/2015 Edit

The boy exhaled, slowly draining the air from his lungs as his father had taught him. His finger coiled delicately around the trigger, cautious as a museum caretaker. Feeling his heartbeat slow, the boy eased into the trigger with calm deliberation, finishing the action at the end of his breath.

The rifle cracked like a whip, the bullet flew straight and true, and struck the tin can from its perch 100 yards away. A rough hand reached down and tousled the boy's hair, the father admiring his son's handiwork.

'You're gettin' better an' better, Peter.' Philip, the father said proudly, meeting the grinning eyes of his freckle faced child. '10 years old and already a marksman to put me to shame... You'll make a fine hunter one day, mark my words.'

'We gon' fight, da?' Peter asked as he worked the bolt sled, watching the spent casing fall to the earth. 'We gon' have to fight the bad men?'

'Yes. We're going to fight the bad men.' Philip patted his son on the shoulder, his confident grin dispelling the doubt in his boy's eyes. 'Don't worry about a thing... Raiders ain't nothin' new. We've beaten them back dozens of times before... This time won't be no different... Mark my words, boy, your skill with that rifle will keep those bad men away... We've nothing to fear.'

Philip's conviction filled his son with determination, and as the boy set about retrieving the targets from down range, the grizzled old man thoughtfully scratched his stubble. He remembered the town meeting two weeks ago. Back when the news of some northern raiders scared up the local Legionnaires and set them about rounding up the nearby towns. According to the Legion representative, The Family and Legion were working together to evacuate the border provinces. Sending all the refugees to some holdings around Radio City. 'It's safer' The man said. 'It's more defensible' The man argued. When Philip and the other townsfolk insisted on staying, the Legionnaire cursed them all for fools. 'You don't know what you're dealing with!' He pleaded. 'They'll kill every last one of you, if you don't leave now!' The poor kid stammered against the jeers and backlash of the townsfolk.

When the Legion pulled out, they took refugees from three of the five nearby settlements. At night, the only lights one could see were those of Bradenburg to the East, and New Creeksville to the West. Philip cursed the refugees for cowards, damning them for leaving Nottersville and her sister settlements without support. Philip watched them go, his wife Isabella held tight to his side, and his children, Peter and Maria peering out from behind his back.

'Let them run away.' Philip said, shaking himself from the memory. 'Let some ragged pack of raiders scare them out of their homes while they cry to the Twins for sanctuary. But when they get back and find their stuff has changed residence, they only have themselves to blame... T'right, it is.' Philip looked up from his scheming to see his grinning son trotting across the field with an arm full of riddled tin cans. 'Let's get a move on, Peter... Yer ma an' sis will have supper ready within the hour.'

*******

One week later, the outlying farmsteads went silent. Nottersville had expected the farmers would have ample time to abandon their lands for the safety of the settlement. After several hours of failed attempts to contact the farmsteads, the radio operator finally got signal. His elation turned to gut twisting dread as every channel played the same transmission on repeat. Screaming. Crying. Pleas for mercy and the howls of unnatural things. An hour later, the shaken operator cut the link, cradled his head in his hands, and wept for hours.

One day after the fall of the farmsteads, lookouts reported movement in the tree line at the edge of the defensive perimeter. Shadows within shadows. Shapes that were both humanoid and somehow not. That night, the residents of Nottersville huddled fearfully within their homes as the shadows brayed and screamed for their blood. Still the lookouts held their posts, relieved when the sun rose and the sounds faded into the deep woods. The mood soured when Catherine Ellison noticed that the O'Daniels hadn't been seen all morning. When Philip and two other militia went to check on the family, they were greeted with silence and a locked door. After knocking and waiting for several minutes, Philip opted to kick the door in. When he stepped inside, the sight and smell of the interior sent his stomach lurching.

Strung up from the rafters, the entirety of the O'Daniel family dangled like masterless marionettes. Disemboweled and mutilated, their corpses had already began to succumb to decay. Bren and his wife Cecilia swayed, eyeless and blood drained, on either side of their twin daughters, Trina and Sable. Painted in blood on the wall behind the disfigured family, was an eight pointed star and a warning that shook the observers to their core:

Death to the servants of the False Light. We bring the Night.

When the sheriff later investigated the murder, he shakily informed Philip that there were no signs of forced entry. And that the door was locked from the inside. The following night, the townsfolk slept together in the town hall.

When the attack did come, it was three days later, and it came without warning. One moment, the lookouts were idly smoking on the ramparts, keeping a close eye on the tree line, the next a condor's scream turned their eyes to the sky. Swooping down amongst the defenders, avian mutants dove on black wings of feather and leather. Lashing out with blade and bullet, the airborne warriors slaughtered at will. Their preternatural quickness allowing them to dart amongst their prey, land a kill, and disappear into the night sky again without fear of retaliation. Within minutes, the ramparts were covered in the gore of fallen militiamen, and the wing-ed killers were opening the gatehouses.

'Reform! Reform, damn you!' Philip called out to the fleeing militia pouring passed him on the street. 'We can hold them here! Hold the damned line!'

One by one, the militia began to rally, the gruff voice of one of their own holding the fear at bay long enough for them to form proper firing lines. They stretched their line across the breadth of the street, nearly 40 men and women with rifles held at the ready. Someone managed to get the town light generator up and running again, as street lights flickered on one by one.

With proper illumination, the militia set about putting fire into any of the wing-ed mutants that strayed too close to their line, sending the twisted creatures plummeting to earth. Philip noted with pride that his son was standing within the line, his rifle cracking steadily as he sighted on new targets. The sky-bound warriors' momentum lost, Philip dared to hope that they might hold out. He dared to believe the militia could win. His hope died when he heard the chanting.

From out of the darkness of the gatehouse, a thousand voices shook the earth with a prayer to gods that should not be named. Scores of pale skinned warriors strode into the streetlight, their shields interlocked and their blades shinning in the half light. Outnumbering the defenders by an unimaginable margin, their voices drowned out the sounds of gunfire and the screams of the dying. It was a sight that stole Philip's breath away. It was the moment he knew that this was more than just a raiding party. It was an invasion. A force gathered for the singular purpose of eradicating all life that stands in its way. Philip knew then that he should have listened to the Legion. The townsfolk doomed themselves with their own stubborn hubris.

'Rifles! On the street!' Philip bellowed, stealing himself against the fear gripping his chest. 'Sweep them from our town!'

Several defenders took flight, opting to die with their families than to face such hopeless odds. Most hurriedly switched their hapless fire into the ranks of the pale chanters. Bullets struck rune inscribed metal with the sound of hail on sheet metal. Several warriors fell, their armor riddled or felled by lucky shots through visor slits. The rest carried on, trampling their dead beneath their feet. From the back, a horn sounded, and with a warcry that seemed to shake reality itself, the pale warriors rushed forward.

The battle was pathetically short, despite seeming to last forever to Philip. Nearly half the militia line fell when the raiders smashed through their defenses. Several more of the pale skinned warriors fell, perforated by pointblank weapons fire as the militia attempted to hold back an ocean of bloodlust. A wayward shield edge knocked Philip to the ground, forcing him to roll aside of the melee for fear of being crushed. As he rose to his feet, the bloodied father turned just in time to see his son Peter stare down a metal clad behemoth with a sword the height of a man. Peter's fire did little to deter his assailant, and as the boy went to reload his rifle, the oversized raider lashed out with its sword. The first swipe split the rifle in two, taking most of Peter's left arm with it. The second caught the boy on his right shoulder, leaving his body with a sickening squelch just below his left hip. Peter was dead before his father's screams could reach his ears. While Philip cried out in anguish, a passing raider brought its axe down into the kneeling father's back.

His son's bisected remains were the last thing Philip saw before his world went cold and the darkness overtook him.

**********

The girl shuffled down the trail, tired legs working to keep her from falling over again. The bad men didn't like it when people fell over... They hurt people when they fell. The cold morning air numbed her feet and made her breath mist before her face. She sorely missed her blanket back home.

Looking back over her shoulder, the little girl paused to watch the smoke rising from Nottersville, and the stream of people trailing out of its gates. She didn't know where her mother was. The two of them got separated when the bad men broke into the town hall. Some of the grown-ups tried to fight them, but got knocked down and hit a lot... They didn't get up after that.

Hugging her teddy bear tight to her chest, the little girl struggled to fight back her tears. She was tired, hungry, and scared. She didn't know where the bad men were taking everyone. She wanted to go back home and be with her family again.

A passing grown-up bumped into her, accidentally knocking the teddy bear from her hand and breaking her revere. As the little bear bounced down the hillside, the girl rushed after it. She was halfway to it when a funny looking man picked it up.

She guessed the man to be taller than most grown-ups, but this was difficult to gauge under all his dirty robes and hood. He hunched slightly, even when he stood up to look at the teddy bear. She immediately stopped when she saw his pale, gaunt face. He was one of the bad men. He was going to punish her.

To the girl's surprise, the man knelt down, coaxing her forward with one long, crooked finger. As she approached, she fought back a cough at the smell of the man's robes. He smelled like the O'Daniels' house the night after they went missing... Like rotten meat. When she got within arms reach, the man reached out and handed the girl her teddy bear. As the little girl hugged the teddy bear to her chest, the pale man's bloodless lips twisted into a crooked, toothy smile. His eyes, devoid of white, were twin pools of midnight twinkling with a vulture's hunger.

'Don't want to forget our little friends, do we little one?' The man's voice was a rasp of wind through dead leaves on a cold winter's day. 'What's your friend's name, little one?'

'His name i-is... Barry.' The little girl stammered.

'Barry the bear? I like that name.' The pale man chuckled, the sound a breathy rattle in the back of his throat. 'And what's your name, little one?'

'M-Maria...' The girl hugged Barry to her chest. 'What's yours?'

'Maria? What a pretty name...' The man reached out one long, skeletal hand to pat Maria's head, watching her curly blonde hair wither and crack a little at his touch. 'My name is Llansahai, The Smiling One... Though you can call me Mr. Smiles... All my friends call me that.'

'You're going to be my friend?' Maria asked excitedly, the gloom and terror of the night before vanishing at the prospect of making a new friend.

'Yes, little Maria.' Llansahai's grin split the width of his face, hiding sinister intentions behind dirty serrated teeth. 'You and I will become the closest of friends.'

10/27/2015 Edit

One week of fighting. One long, grueling war of attrition against Winters Wrath. One way or the other, it would all be over soon. The Star Killers had finally pushed the accursed hordes back to their stronghold, a towering monolith of earth and ice known simply as: The Hive. Reaching nearly three stories into the snow wreathed sky and burrowing an unknowable distance below the frostline, The Hive was just as much awe inspiring as it was alien and abhorrent. Within its wretched confines, hundreds of ghouls of Winters Wrath gathered their strength to repel the wolves at their door. With their young and elderly sheltering behind their ranks, they knew they had to make this next fight count. The future of their civilization depended upon it.

The Star Killers deployed in much the same way as they always had. Fire support on the high ground, shields to the fore, raptors in the center, chosen in the rear. This set up had earned them victory after victory, accounting for hundreds of slain ghouls. All the while, The Star Killers had only given eight of their numbers the Father's send off. Thus, they deployed on the wide plains directly in front of the Hive, daring their opponents to come out and meet them. It was as sound a plan as ever, and as they watched the ghouls pour from their warrens within the Hive, the Star Killers confidently sang their praises to the Gods. Another line battle. Another easy victory.

The battle began with the familiar thunder of ordinance fire, plumes of snow and gore rising up out of the packed ghoul formations. As per doctrine, the automatic weapons opened up next, chewing bloody channels through the disparate mob. And, same as always, the ghouls slammed home against the front of the Star Killers' shields, with much the same effect as the countless battles beforehand. So sure were the warriors within the shield wall, that they absentmindedly placed bets while slaughtering the tide of flesh before their shields. The Star Killers were not found lacking in confidence that day.

And it was that very hubris that caused them to walk right into Winters Wrath's trap.

The first warning the Star Killers had was a slight tremor within the earth, growing in strength and intensity as it cracked the permafrost beneath their feet. Impetuous, The Star Killers fought on, not to be dissuaded by the tectonics of the Chaos Wastes. It wasn't until the earth to their flanks and rear exploded outward, that the Children of Father Night realized their mistake.

Rising out of newly dug tunnels within the earth, fresh hordes of yetis and ghouls streamed out onto the open plains, eager to come to grips with their hated foe. Armed and armored with gear pilfered from long dead interlopers, these ghouls were the true military might of Winters Wrath. Held in reserve until the time to strike presented itself. Surging forward like a tidal wave, they smashed into the hastily formed shield walls on the flanks and rear. Surrounded and out of position, the Star Killers' confidence sapped away like body heat in the cold northern air.

It was on the left flank that Ravenmocker found himself when Winters Wrath sprung its trap. Locking his shield tight against the ambushers, he lashed out relentlessly with his cleaver. Opting to use the back spike to reach over his well armored foes, Ravenmocker left a sizable number of punctured corpses at his feet. Yet for every foe his blade brought low, it seemed another two were always moving to take its place. Catching the briefest reprieve, Ravenmocker cast a glance toward the fire support teams. Surrounded, without support, and no proper defense against the horrendous strength of the pack of yetis encircling them, the desperate humans loosed one final point blank volley before the white furred giants tore them asunder.

As the horde forced the Children into an ever shrinking circle, Ravenmocker felt a sensation he hadn't felt in ages. He felt panic. He felt a moment's despair at the crushing finality of a foregone fight. Even the voices, always whispering their sinister words of treachery and bloodshed in his grey matter, called for him to flee. To forsake his vylas and flee into the frozen wastelands. Ravenmocker's mind was warring with itself when Bjorn's voice cut through the din of battle. Cold and clear, the impromptu leader of the Star Killers bellowed one simple command.

'Chosen... Make a hole!'

Acting with drilled precision, fifteen warriors sheltering within the center of the formation moved, as one, toward the front rank. Clad in thick, rune inscribed plate of the deepest reds, blues, and blacks; and wielding great weapons taller than a man. These favored of the Gods strode through the parted shields of the front rank and crashed into the ghoul line with a cry of rage and devotion on their lips.

Swinging their great weapons in wide arcs, the chosen of the Gods slew dozens of enemies with each sweep. Desperate, the ghoul line threw everything they had into bringing down the walking tanks within their midst. Spears snapped, arrows cracked, and swords and shields splintered against the near impenetrable plate of the Father's Children. All the while, the steel clad warriors chanted their praises to the Dark Gods, demoralizing Winters Wrath and inspiring the beleaguered Star Killers.

The effect of their counter charge was both devastating and instantaneous. The Winters Wrath ambush lost momentum, its warriors demoralized by the sight of so many of their kin fleeing the field. Meanwhile, the Star Killers' shield walls reformed, inspired by their chosen brethren and their words of devotion to the Gods. Slowly at first, but gaining momentum, the Star Killers pressed out, forcing the Winters Wrath lines back over mountains of dead Children, yetis, and ghouls.

Ravenmocker advanced, singing his praises to the Father as he went, his cleaver rising and falling with renewed vigor as the ghoul line crumbled before the Children's shield wall. He paused in his stride as a yeti, all white fur and rippling muscle, sent one of his vylas flying with a single swipe of its claw. As the yeti turned and bellowed at him, Ravenmocker nonchalantly drew his warplock and put a round through its left eye. Bits of grey matter and blue gore spattered the yeti's shaken comrades as it toppled to the ground, crushing several ghouls beneath its bulk. With a twitching grin, Ravenmocker holstered his pistol and pressed forward, eager to enact revenge for the losses the Star Killers had suffered.

All along the lines, Winters Wrath's retreat quickly turned into a rout as the Children of Father Night regained their footing and pressed the attack. Before they could reach the Hive, Bjorn called a halt and reform of the Star Killers. While Winters Wrath retreated into their warrens, the Star Killers set about collecting their fallen.

Within the hour, the Star Killers were back at camp, tending to wounds and awaiting the final death toll. When it arrived, the numbers sobered the hearts of even the most impetuous warriors.

Of the seventy-two warriors deployed at the start of the day, only forty warriors remained. The other thirty-two, including the entirety of the ten man fire support team, were sleeping on red snow. Even the estimate of nearly three hundred fallen ghouls and yetis could not dispel the gloom within the Star Killers' hearts.

Eating in silence, all of the Father's Children reflected on the day's events, and looked ahead to the future.

Winters Wrath had given them a bloody nose. And every forsaken warrior was dead set on returning the favor.

They would build a skinning pit. And Winters Wrath would fill it with every man, woman, and child.

So the Dark Gods willed it, so it would be done.

Ave. Dominus. Nox.

10/25/2015 Edit

By the Gods, it was cold. The Ravenmocker shivered as he pulled his fur trappings up tighter to his body. The wind howling across the deck of the ship made such a gesture almost futile, its icy touch chilling all above deck to the bone. The crew shrugged the weather off with a stoicism bred from a lifetime in the frozen north seas. The 400 forsaken arrayed into packs of 20 in the center of the deck? Not so much. Elements of the packs huddled together like penguins a blizzard. Others, more proud and stoic, stood apart and let the frostbite creep across their extremities. The Ravenmocker was highborn, his proud nature disallowing him to huddle like the common rabble. But as he stuck his hands into his fur trappings, he once again cursed his title and status. In an attempt to keep his mind off the spreading frostbite, Ravenmocker examined his surroundings. The ship. The crew. And his future claw mates.

The ship was a pre-war ice breaker, based on its size, Ravenmocker guessed it to be a polar exploratory vessel. With its original name lost to time, the ship was renamed The Aeternum Nox by The Children of Father Night. Gutted of any nonessential components, The Aeternum's sole purpose was the delivery and retrieval of Forsaken into the Chaos Wastes. As the ship broke through great sheets of ice, a single man stood atop a raised platform by the ship's edge, bellowing out orders to the assembled masses.

'Form up, you half-breed children of whores and cowards.' The man's voice carried easily over the groan of ice giving under the ship's prow, sharp and clear in the frozen northern air. 'You have the pleasure of being directed to your destination by myself, the great Charon. Lord of The Aeternum Nox and your only way back to your miserable existence back where ever you sorry lot call home.'

As Charon continued his tirade against the forsaken, Ravenmocker addressed the members of his claw around him.

'Names, all of you.' Ravenmocker stated simply. 'Let me know who I'll be bleeding with.'

'Uzas... formerly The Bloody Hand.' Spoke a scar faced warrior with an axe and short blade hanging from his hip.

'Ripper... Name and title.' A slender, unhinged looking man with a serrated sword grinned at Ravenmocker.

'Gnasher... Also name and title.' The man's mirror image stepped out behind him, jagged teeth peering out from cracked lips.

'Ah... twins... That won't get annoying fast.' Ravenmocker responded sarcastically. 'For what it's worth, I am Ruven Von Regulus.'

'Come a long way to die, pompous high born scum.' Another claw mate spoke up. Devoid of mutation, he hefted an oversized machine gun on his back. 'I am Exodus, and I...'

'Spare me your whining, child.' Ravenmocker spat. 'You won't last long enough for me to waste time remembering your name, anyway.'

Uzas spoke up, deflating the tension between the two warriors.

'They're calling assignments, be ready to jump.'

'Wait... Jump?' Ravenmocker mirrored the confused looks on the other warriors' faces.

'Aye, how else will we get down into the wastes? You think they'll slow down for us and risk being dragged down by Kraken? Nah, the first culling will start soon enough.' Uzas licked his teeth with barely contained excitement. Charon continued to bellow orders to the claws, setting them in motion as the ship marginally slowed its course.

'Claws 1-3, responsible for the eradication of the Hidden Sun cult. Deploy in... 3... 2... 1... GO! GO! GO! Get stuck in there, lads!'

As one, 60 men threw themselves forward, leaping over the edge of the ship into the icy waters below. From the cries of agony that followed, Ravenmocker could guess that not everyone made it to the shore.

'Claws 4-8, tasked with the pacification of the Yeti hoards of the Eastern Chaos Wastes. Deploy in... 3... 2... 1... For The Father, lads! Happy hunting!'

The scene repeated itself. More men went over, more men were claimed by the frigid waters below. Ravenmocker took a deep breath, trying to calm his nerves. One of his claw mates handed him a worn, black ivory tobacco pipe. He took a long hit, letting the leaves calm his nerves. He nodded his thanks and passed it down the line.

'Claws 9-15, with the misfortune of going after Ursa Major. Prepare to drop in... 3... 2...1... Get out there! Good luck and die well, you poor unfortunate bastards!'

Fully 120 men rushed forward, leaping clean over the side with a cry of devotion on their lips. Ravenmocker crested the rail, dropped into the water, and felt his entire world go black.

In the unnaturally cold waters of the arctic circle, warriors' systems struggled to keep from going into shock. Ravenmocker fought against the cold, struggling to swim for the icy shoreline in a sea of struggling men and women. A member of another claw, in a panic, tried to push Ravenmocker down, desperate for air and safety. Without hesitation, The Ravenmocker buried his knife in the man's throat, letting the wash of warm blood offer a brief respite from the killing cold.

As the Ravenmocker reached the shoreline, he saw Exodus sinking below the surface, a desperate cry for help escaping his lips just before he dipped below the waterline. Between the weight of his weapon and the lack of adaptive mutation, Exodus was doomed to death the moment he hit the water.

'Filthy low born human.' Ravenmocker muttered to himself as he pulled free of the water, collapsing in relief on the shoreline. All along the shore, dozens of warriors pulled themselves free of the merciless arctic sea, swearing and shivering as they went.

Ravenmocker's claw, Claw 12, began to gather about 25 yards down the shoreline. With a labor of effort, he moved to join his comrades as a rat faced bastard in a fancy hat took roll call on the survivors.

'As the only officially titled leadership within the claw, I elect myself as leader of the operation.' Rat face sneered at the ragged claw huddled around him. 'Any objections will be met with...'

The man's head disintegrated in a welter of bone shards and grey matter. As the claw turned, Ravenmocker lowered his warplock pistol, smoke and steam rising from its barrel. Without a word, he bent over and picked up the corpse's hat, wiped a bit of scalp out of the interior lining, and placed it on his head.

'I'm the new commissar!' The Ravenmocker exclaimed. 'You follow me, because I don't trust anyone else to make intelligent decisions! Am I clear?'

A spattering of affirmatives trailed out of the beleaguered mob. Including the Ravenmocker, the number of warriors in 12th claw numbered 13 out of their original 20. With most of their heavy weapons at the bottom of the sea, and hypothermia already setting in, the forsaken were in no position to even feel like contesting the shift in power. So long as they could get warm and get fed soon, they'd all be happy.

The Ravenmocker sighed to himself, as his claw gathered their gear and advanced into the Chaos Wastes. Not quite the proud lot of grizzled veterans that he'd hoped for, but they should manage to survive the elements well enough if they worked together.

Surviving the Ursa Major, on the other hand? He didn't say it out loud, but the former resident of Greyfell's doubts more than outweighed his hopes.

He gathered his soaked furs around his body, picked up his pack, and joined the others in search of shelter. A single thought breathed through cold purpled lips.

'For the Father. Ave Dominus Nox.'

10/19/2015 Edit

One week in the Chaos Wastes. One week in the frozen hell they had been abandoned in. One week of banding together in a desperate attempt to survive the most hostile environment on the planet. Against all odds, the remnants of Claws 9-15, recently renamed 'The Star Killers', had survived weather conditions in a climate simply anathema to sentient life. Unfortunately for those beleaguered souls... They were not alone.

Deep within the Chaos Wastes, sentient life did find a way to survive... Albeit, in a twisted parody of the rest of the planet. There were no humans to provide the technological aid of electricity, so life grew adapted to seeing in the dark and weathering the killing cold. There were no mutants to provide a sense of progressive reasoning, so life resorted to feral animalistic instincts. There was no contact with the outside world, so life killed anyone and anything that life did not recognize. This life was a colony of feral ghouls, living in symbiosis with the native Yeti population. This life called itself 'Winters Wrath'. And it was very unhappy to see The Star Killers.

They poured from their hovels within the frozen earth like corruption from a lanced boil. Hundreds of bloodthirsty ghouls draped in the tattered skins of their victims, shambling forth with filth encrusted fingers wrapped around filth encrusted blades. They wailed their hunger to the frozen sky, vying for the blood of the interlopers within their sacred lands.

Their wails were answered by the howls of Father Night's children.

The battlefield was remarkably unremarkable. A wide swath of frozen flatlands, covered in three feet of snow and beset constantly by frozen gales. Icy water lapped against the shore on either side, making a natural choke point to be exploited. The only prominent landmark herein being a slight snow capped hillock, an elevation advantage that The Star Killers were quick to exploit. Ten humans, remarkably hardy for their kind, made up the fire support team that took ownership of the hilltop. They checked and rechecked their ammo loads, while the mortar crews kept snow out of their firing tubes.

Formed up below, fully seventy warriors formed a line, fifteen men abreast and nearly five ranks deep. Shields overlapping and blades white knuckled in frostbitten hands, The Star Killers' line waited with barely contained anticipation for Winters Wrath.

When Winters Wrath did crest the horizon, they were immediately greeted with the thunder of mortar fire and the lightning crack of high powered rifles. Dozens fell, their ruined forms trampled beneath the eager stride of their kinsmen, loss being an emotion too human to be retained by such feral creatures. The automatic weapons opened up next, sending streams of tracer fire ripping through the shambling horde. More fell. More were trampled. For every ghoul that fell, two more took its place. The Star Killers knew that the fight would be settled blade to blade, and they sang their praises to the Gods for this greatest of gifts.

When the ghoul horde smashed against the shield wall, it was with a peal of thunder that rang across the Chaos Wastes for miles. Hundreds of shambling monstrosities pressed bodily into the narrow stretch of land, desperate to get at the meat on the other side. But as a wave breaks against a cliff face, so too did the ghoulish charge break against the resolute wall of Father Night's warriors. Axes and swords rose and fell, almost mechanically, as they slew dozens of the disorganized natives. Try as they might, the untrained ghouls could not breach the shield wall, and as such were so much chaff for the scythe of their foes.

As Ravenmocker lashed out with his blade, burying it deep in a club wielding ghoul's collarbone, he briefly turned his attention to the formation center. There, stood atop two shields within the second rank, Bjorn 'The Mountain' Bjornsson lashed out with his long axe. Each swing tore another foe asunder, all the while he belted out a poem from the earliest of Children memories.

'Up onto the overturned keel,

Clamber with a heart of steel!

Cold is the ocean's spray,

And your death is on its way!

With maidens, you have had your way...'

'Each must die someday!' The final line of the poem was shouted in unison by all the Father's children. The cadence gave strength to their limbs, and conviction to their hearts. They pressed forward, moving across the brackish slush and ruined bodies with contemptuous ease. The ghoul line faltered and started falling back in quick succession, desperate to get away from the advancing shield wall.

'Raptors!' Bjorn bellowed, pointing at the scattering horde with his long axe. Reacting instantly, the second and third ranks brought their shields up flat over their heads. The third rank knelt down, while the second rank remained standing, creating a tiering of shields from back to front. The fourth rank, all twin blades with no shields among them, sprang into action. Vaulting the third rank, and spring-boarding the second rank, they flew clear over the first rank and smashed into the panicking ghouls. Loping across the snow like a pack of tundra wolves, they claimed a horrific tally on the fleeing ghoul horde. Within minutes, the raptors had quit the chase on their fleeing foes, and grinning rejoined the formation.

As one, the formation about faced and marched over the fifty meter long stretch of gore soaked frost lands. Blood soaked and ragged of breath, they tended to aching muscles as they marched, ignorant of the countless dead they squelched beneath their boots.

While the ghouls regrouped across the flatlands, The Star Killers broke for lunch. Casually passing baskets of rations and flasks of contraband mead around. The telltale puffs of smoke from the assembled masses spoke of several lighting pipes, enjoying the tobacco alongside their midday meal.

Less than half an hour later, Winters Wrath returned, the uncountable numbers of ghouls inspired by blind fanaticism and sheer stupidity to launch yet another attack. This time however, the towering shapes of white furred yetis could be seen looming in their midst.

'Won't they give up?' Asked one warrior.

'Seriously... I just lit this!' Another warrior grumbled, knocking the burning leaves from his pipe. 'Waste of perfectly good leaf!'

'Alright, lads. Once more into the breach.' Bjorn stated with all the energy of a man counting his flock. 'Here's hoping they don't run too quickly this time... Heavies! Whenever you're ready, tell them 'Welcome Back.'

Ravenmocker settled into his position in the shield wall, listening to the ordinance screaming overhead, and sighed as the ghouls drew closer.

It was going to be a very long day.

10/14/2015 Edit

By the Gods, it was cold. The Ravenmocker shivered as he pulled his fur trappings up tighter to his body. The wind howling across the deck of the ship made such a gesture almost futile, its icy touch chilling all above deck to the bone. The crew shrugged the weather off with a stoicism bred from a lifetime in the frozen north seas. The 400 forsaken arrayed into packs of 20 in the center of the deck? Not so much. Elements of the packs huddled together like penguins a blizzard. Others, more proud and stoic, stood apart and let the frostbite creep across their extremities. The Ravenmocker was highborn, his proud nature disallowing him to huddle like the common rabble. But as he stuck his hands into his fur trappings, he once again cursed his title and status. In an attempt to keep his mind off the spreading frostbite, Ravenmocker examined his surroundings. The ship. The crew. And his future claw mates.

The ship was a pre-war ice breaker, based on its size, Ravenmocker guessed it to be a polar exploratory vessel. With its original name lost to time, the ship was renamed The Aeternum Nox by The Children of Father Night. Gutted of any nonessential components, The Aeternum's sole purpose was the delivery and retrieval of Forsaken into the Chaos Wastes. As the ship broke through great sheets of ice, a single man stood atop a raised platform by the ship's edge, bellowing out orders to the assembled masses.

'Form up, you half-breed children of whores and cowards.' The man's voice carried easily over the groan of ice giving under the ship's prow, sharp and clear in the frozen northern air. 'You have the pleasure of being directed to your destination by myself, the great Charon. Lord of The Aeternum Nox and your only way back to your miserable existence back where ever you sorry lot call home.'

As Charon continued his tirade against the forsaken, Ravenmocker addressed the members of his claw around him.

'Names, all of you.' Ravenmocker stated simply. 'Let me know who I'll be bleeding with.'

'Uzas... formerly The Bloody Hand.' Spoke a scar faced warrior with an axe and short blade hanging from his hip.

'Ripper... Name and title.' A slender, unhinged looking man with a serrated sword grinned at Ravenmocker.

'Gnasher... Also name and title.' The man's mirror image stepped out behind him, jagged teeth peering out from cracked lips.

'Ah... twins... That won't get annoying fast.' Ravenmocker responded sarcastically. 'For what it's worth, I am Ruven Von Regulus.'

'Come a long way to die, pompous high born scum.' Another claw mate spoke up. Devoid of mutation, he hefted an oversized machine gun on his back. 'I am Exodus, and I...'

'Spare me your whining, child.' Ravenmocker spat. 'You won't last long enough for me to waste time remembering your name, anyway.'

Uzas spoke up, deflating the tension between the two warriors.

'They're calling assignments, be ready to jump.'

'Wait... Jump?' Ravenmocker mirrored the confused looks on the other warriors' faces.

'Aye, how else will we get down into the wastes? You think they'll slow down for us and risk being dragged down by Kraken? Nah, the first culling will start soon enough.' Uzas licked his teeth with barely contained excitement. Charon continued to bellow orders to the claws, setting them in motion as the ship marginally slowed its course.

'Claws 1-3, responsible for the eradication of the Hidden Sun cult. Deploy in... 3... 2... 1... GO! GO! GO! Get stuck in there, lads!'

As one, 60 men threw themselves forward, leaping over the edge of the ship into the icy waters below. From the cries of agony that followed, Ravenmocker could guess that not everyone made it to the shore.

'Claws 4-8, tasked with the pacification of the Yeti hoards of the Eastern Chaos Wastes. Deploy in... 3... 2... 1... For The Father, lads! Happy hunting!'

The scene repeated itself. More men went over, more men were claimed by the frigid waters below. Ravenmocker took a deep breath, trying to calm his nerves. One of his claw mates handed him a worn, black ivory tobacco pipe. He took a long hit, letting the leaves calm his nerves. He nodded his thanks and passed it down the line.

'Claws 9-15, with the misfortune of going after Ursa Major. Prepare to drop in... 3... 2...1... Get out there! Good luck and die well, you poor unfortunate bastards!'

Fully 120 men rushed forward, leaping clean over the side with a cry of devotion on their lips. Ravenmocker crested the rail, dropped into the water, and felt his entire world go black.

In the unnaturally cold waters of the arctic circle, warriors' systems struggled to keep from going into shock. Ravenmocker fought against the cold, struggling to swim for the icy shoreline in a sea of struggling men and women. A member of another claw, in a panic, tried to push Ravenmocker down, desperate for air and safety. Without hesitation, The Ravenmocker buried his knife in the man's throat, letting the wash of warm blood offer a brief respite from the killing cold.

As the Ravenmocker reached the shoreline, he saw Exodus sinking below the surface, a desperate cry for help escaping his lips just before he dipped below the waterline. Between the weight of his weapon and the lack of adaptive mutation, Exodus was doomed to death the moment he hit the water.

'Filthy low born human.' Ravenmocker muttered to himself as he pulled free of the water, collapsing in relief on the shoreline. All along the shore, dozens of warriors pulled themselves free of the merciless arctic sea, swearing and shivering as they went.

Ravenmocker's claw, Claw 12, began to gather about 25 yards down the shoreline. With a labor of effort, he moved to join his comrades as a rat faced bastard in a fancy hat took roll call on the survivors.

'As the only officially titled leadership within the claw, I elect myself as leader of the operation.' Rat face sneered at the ragged claw huddled around him. 'Any objections will be met with...'

The man's head disintegrated in a welter of bone shards and grey matter. As the claw turned, Ravenmocker lowered his warplock pistol, smoke and steam rising from its barrel. Without a word, he bent over and picked up the corpse's hat, wiped a bit of scalp out of the interior lining, and placed it on his head.

'I'm the new commissar!' The Ravenmocker exclaimed. 'You follow me, because I don't trust anyone else to make intelligent decisions! Am I clear?'

A spattering of affirmatives trailed out of the beleaguered mob. Including the Ravenmocker, the number of warriors in 12th claw numbered 13 out of their original 20. With most of their heavy weapons at the bottom of the sea, and hypothermia already setting in, the forsaken were in no position to even feel like contesting the shift in power. So long as they could get warm and get fed soon, they'd all be happy.

The Ravenmocker sighed to himself, as his claw gathered their gear and advanced into the Chaos Wastes. Not quite the proud lot of grizzled veterans that he'd hoped for, but they should manage to survive the elements well enough if they worked together.

Surviving the Ursa Major, on the other hand? He didn't say it out loud, but the former resident of Greyfell's doubts more than outweighed his hopes.

He gathered his soaked furs around his body, picked up his pack, and joined the others in search of shelter. A single thought breathed through cold purpled lips.

'For the Father. Ave Dominus Nox.'

10/05/2015 Edit

From the desk of Romulus 'Skin Walker' Von Regulus:

'For the crime of allying with servants of the False Light. For the transgressions against the Council of Night by continuing to allow unbelievers into your lands. For failure to prosecute war against Greyfell's resident False Light worshippers. For all the above and numerous unmentioned acts of incompetence against Father Night and the Dark Gods. We, The Eyes of Night, label you, Ruven Von Regulus, so titled: Raven Mocker, a heretic and dissident against the Children of Father Night. You are sentenced to serve on a Foresaken Claw in the Chaos Wastes tasked with the destruction of the great Aurora Beast Ursa Major. Should you survive your trials, the Council of Night will consider reinstating your position as Huntsmaster of the Greyfell campaign. This notice is effective immediately, and cannot be overruled or delayed. Pack your belongings, bid your Vylas good bye, and muster at the Damned Peaks in one week's time.

Oh, and one more thing... Happy hunting... Little brother.'

09/09/2015 Edit

The Raven Mocker perched on his preferred cliff side, his cold eyes glaring out at Greyfell through the sockets of an archaic mask. Smooth white bone with arcing crests rising from its crown. The mask was a... gift of sorts... from The Prince of Crows. Larua Nox was its name. And it bore a curse no sane man would wish to bear. The Raven might have once been sane... but each time he slipped the mask on, the sites he saw, the things he heard... the incomprehensible nature of the abyss he stared into... Flayed his mind more and more... Dragging him further into madness.

Through the eyes of the Larua Nox, The Raven Mocker saw the life force of every resident of Greyfell. To clarify, he did not see physical entities, he saw life in its most primordial state. Brilliant flashes of spectacularly hued light betraying the thoughts and emotions of all who fell under The Raven's gaze.

It was in this state that the Raven Mocker witnessed the mass exodus from Family territory. Vibrant streams of light gave away convoys of refugees, spilling from the cold darkness of the old territory like bio-luminescent blood from an aurora beast. The Raven's vision swam as he willed the mask to focus on individual motes of light, flitting through surface thoughts with the slightest effort. All were despondent... there was sorrow... doubt... fear... Such a pitiful sight...

The Raven homed in on two very distinct life sparks. At the head of the caravan, the all too familiar embers of Nix and Reaper flared intimately close to one another. A lovers' embrace as they rode from their home into the unknown. The masked watcher pried his way through their thoughts with contemptuous ease. A wicked tongue darted across dirty teeth as the Raven Mocker savored the aura of sorrow radiating from the bonded souls. He dug deeper... searching for the fear... thirsting for the sensation... He frowned behind his mask... Where is it?... Deeper... Where is the fear?... Deeper still, he finds something... not fear... Hope? Is that it? Yes. Hope and determination... A curious defiance of the darkness creeping through their psyches... Hope against hope, when all lights have gone out... The light of humanity's determination and persistence... The Raven's lip curled into an ugly snarl at such an improbable emotion.

'Well... That's admirable...' The Raven said to no one in particular. He giggled absentmindedly to himself, mania never too far from the surface of his sourceless mirth. 'In a singularly obnoxious manner... I do believe I've lost my appetite... spoiled on such sweet goodness...' He wretched at the last words, shuddering beneath his tattered fur cloak. Though, as much as he hated to admit it... The Raven Mocker was loath to see the lights go. A void seemed to form in the pit of his stomach, as dark and empty as the rapidly depopulated Family Camps... Why is that? He wondered to himself... Why care for these nonbelievers? They hadn't seen the glories of the Dark Gods... They never joined him in his nightly gazes into the Void... They should mean nothing to him... but yet, the emptiness remained... Curious... He giggled to himself again... the edges of his consciousness frayed slightly.

'Good bye, Little King and Small Sun Lover!' The Raven called across the cliffside, dropping into a mock bow of respect. 'Parting is such sweet... sweet... Sorrow...' More giggling.

With an effort of will, The Raven Mocker removed the Larua Nox from his face. His vision returned to normal, the voices drifted into the nothingness... the giggling stopped. He cradled his head in his hands, droplets of blood dripping between his fingers. Bleeding eyes? He thought to himself... It's getting worse... At least the incessant laughter stopped... For now.

From the shadows, The Wendigo seemed to materialize from nothingness. As the Raven Mocker looked upon the chosen of The Father, he could pick out a lingering aura flickering around his Vylas's armored figure. Black as the deepest night... Ominous.

The Wendigo said nothing as he held his closed fist out, opening it to drop a lone trinket to the ground. The Raven knew what it was without looking at it... Another sun and hammer icon... Another of the False Light fallen to Wendigo's blade... But more would come... This was a portent of wars not yet fought...

The Raven stood on shaking legs and addressed his sinister ally.

'One distraction down...' His lips twitched into a mirthless smile. 'Let's gather the others... We have a war to win.'

As the Wendigo turned to leave, The Raven stifled a manic giggle, hoping his Vylas did not notice his degradation. The voices flittered at the edge of his mind again... The mask's effects were lingering... The Raven's mind shuddered with a brief flash of fear.

Not much longer now... Not much longer, indeed...

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