The realm of Aqshy can be a desolate one, especially toward the dangerous outer edges. Deep in the north of the realm lies a vast ash desert within which a pocket of civilization exists. An assortment of settlements that lie in the shape of an 8 pointed star with a large and imposing city that stands at the centre of this empire. The Ashen City itself is built atop a long dormant underground volcanic network, dead for millennia and now turned into a large mining network to obtain the valuable ores, rocks and realmstone that lie within. The empire of the Ashes is known to be a settlement of chaos, but contrary to what some may believe it is not a savage backwater full of unwashed barbarians but rather a powerful kingdom filled with learning, wealth, enlightenment and most importantly faith. Many reasons could draw followers to the gods of chaos, and not all based upon violence or anger. The gods can bestow many gifts for those willing to spread their will and this faith and willingness created a strong unity that allowed such a monumental city to rise up from the ashes.
The Ashen City is a wealthy nation, sitting atop a mine network that allows them to bring trade to many parts of Aqshy. They are not fussed whom they trade with whether tribes of chaos, order, destruction or death they always seek to find a good deal and of course a way to subtly spread their corruption to these settlements, their movements have angered the Stormcast Eternals who have had to put down more than one corrupted settlement that once belonged to the alliance of order but they know that the Ashen city is well defended and has built allies that would come to their aid. The trade caravans of the Ashen city are usually large, colourful and opulent whilst their chaos warriors march alongside as guards, their metallic blue armour glittering in the sun like the carapace of desert beetles warning off any who might think the caravan could be easy pickings.
Beneath the fields of ash lies a rather unique type of chaos tainted stone, one that can wreak corruption upon any who touch it. Many are destroyed or driven mad by it but the scholars and sorcerers of the city have found a way to implant it into those who can withstand its corruption, allowing them to gain supernatural strength and power at the cost of their humanity, but for warriors of the chaos gods such is a small price to pay. Those enhanced by the redstone find their negative emotions boosted and their minds twisted by the power, their rage and hatred grow whilst their grasp on reality falters, hallucinations and paranoia plague them but during the rage of battle their minds clear to a supernatural focus as their bodies crackle with a red energy arcing between the stones that protrude from their armour and flesh. Unknown to many of those implanted with the redstone is the fact that they are easily swayed or manipulated by the sorcerers who created them, their paranoia and hallucinations twisted to the desires of those mages to help point them in the right direction or even have them destroy a rival sorcerer for them. The redstone has quickly become but another powerful piece in the politics of the Ashen city and one that people will quite quickly kill over.
At the head of this empire lies a single figure, a rather unassuming woman by most accounts but one who stands with an unshakeable confidence able to stare down even the largest of warriors, and for good reason too. She has ruled over the city since its founding and bears a kill count larger than most within the empire, the reasoning for this is simple: appearances are deceptive. The Emberqueen is not a mere mortal, or at least is no longer just one for long ago she was possessed during a ritual and formed a symbiosis with the demon trapped inside her, her willpower proving enough to avoid losing herself completely but over time the symbiosis and exposure to redstone has merged the minds of the two beings into one creating a formidable leader skilled and deadly in both mind and body. When the Emberqueen takes to the field she does so atop a great chariot that truly displays the wealth and power of her empire whilst carrying a deadly redstone axe capable of mutating her foes with but a small scratch. It is when she is one the field that the demon inside her begins to affect her physiology, creating a terrifying hybrid creature that revels in the bloodshed and carnage around her. Whilst the merging of mind and body has strengthened the Emberqueen it has been noticed that flaws have slowly crept in over time, whether due to the failings of a mortal body that has stayed unchanged for far longer than it ever should have existed or whether due to the corruption if redstone over the years the Emberqueen's mind is not all that it should be, some of her human traits have begun to reemerge during her quieter moments plaguing her mind with guilt for all the monstrous things she has done whilst hallucinations of those she has cared for and lost in her long life haunt her waking and sleeping hours, only when she is locked in the thrill of battled warriors on the field or politicians in the courts does the demon side of her repress these human traits and allow her to swagger confidently as she dispatches all of her foes with her sharp blades and even sharper tongue but once everything has quietened again and she finds herself alone those unwanted feelings begin creeping back, joined by a chorus of voices in her head, voices that make her doubt all she has achieved. She doesn't fully understand why she has been unable to shed her mortal side, nor why she is not a remorseless monster like many under her command but she fears that these weaknesses will be her undoing and cause her to lose all she has built and she would rather see it burnt to the ground than to be ruled by anyone but her. So she keeps up the act of confidence and strength, and keeps her most loyal of lords close at hand at all times, should she need to be rid of someone who sees through her lies.
The Ashen Horde:
The Ashen Horde is the name given to all the warriors of the Emberqueen and her empire, made up of various mortals from all over the mortal realms who have joined her services for varying reasons but all have found reason to stay and pledge loyalty, even if for some of them that loyalty is only intended to last until they can usurp her. These warriors work as both the armies and the guards for the cities and generally it is proven best to stay well out of their way lest you wish to become but a stain upon an alley wall.
These are some rather basic first draft ideas and lore musings for my slaves to darkness army, everything could be subject to change but I wanted to get the ideas I had written down just so they wouldn't get lost in my head. I wanted to make my faction leader to have some more human traits as well as the usual chaos because I feel narratively having that duality and those flaws 1 fits the whole two souls one body theme well and if I were to write fiction for her would allow the character to have those moments of more relateability and really allow me to explore themes of how people might cope with the horrors of living with chaos in spite of what they can gain from it. Whilst the general theme of chaos mortals being all lacking conscious and super evil is great it's also fun to subvert that theme sometimes, and also makes a great flaw that could really rally others to stage a coup against her. After all who wants to follow a queen that can't handle the price of power?