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The Tale of the Twisted Oak The forests of the Harrowmark are endless, though the touch of human change can be seen here and there. The woods are pockmarked with villages and levelled where meagre farms scratch out a living. Evil and monstrous creatures thrive in such a place, lurking underneath the forest’s canopy. Wolves, ghouls, bandits, and worse. There is a sense of horror there, or more accurately, a sense of encroaching dreadful melancholy, an all-consuming sense of loneliness. A perpetual Autumn settled across the region, so long ago that not even the Graveroot Sylvaneth could remember when the woods were young. For time immemorial, the trees stood not growing nor dying and not a single sapling could be seen by those brave or foolish enough to venture deep in the woods. But then, the Necroquake came and in its wake the raging wild magic of the Arcanum Optimar. Weather- and battle-worn Spellhunters came, hunting for rogue Endless Spells. Few returned from the deepest woods. But those that did, reported things unheard-of in the Shyishian underworld of the Harrowmark. They claimed that somewhere deep in the abyssal woodland of dead trees and tangled undergrowth, a Tree is born and growing, feeding on a knot of sorcerous energy seeping up from the soil below. On flying ships and through Realmgates, the rumour is spreading and both the learned and the fool, from far and wide, speculate on the origin of such energy. Some say it leaks from the hundreds of graves that permeate the Shyishian soil, thousands of souls flowing into the Tree’s heartwood. Others claim it comes from a hidden Stormvault, long forgotten beneath the dead forests. Yet others claim the Tree is twisted and corrupted by Chaos magic and is attracting all manner of dark creatures, who venerate and worship it as an altar to the Dark Gods. Some even theorise that the energy of the Necroquake itself is trapped forever in the dead wood. The servants of Nurgle whisper the Tree is one of Horticulus Slimux’s dreaded Black Oaks. When it will bear fruit, they say, Rotigus Rainfather will come back to aid Nurgle’s favoured Gardener in his feud with the Lord of Death. Then there are those telling that the Tree grows over the burial site of a great Spellhunter, his weapons and arcane devices poking out of the twisted wood. For others, a powerful sorceress was cursed and turned into the Tree, her soul-stuff raging to be free. As the rumours spread, the mad and the brave once again dare sailing the stormy skies above the Harrowmark and tread its abyssal gloom. Who can say what they want and what they will find? How many of them will be lost forever? ~ 🕱 ~ We are planning to embark on a new adventure in the Harrowmark. Warbands will venture into the unknown, yet familiar, dark of the endless forests. We will be using Warcry this time, with a few house rules - mostly around Campaign Quests that will be tailored for warbands exploring the Harrowmark, instead of the Bloodwind Spoil.
"Beneath the waves, an evil lies, And in strange aeons it too shall rise." - The Tenebranomicon ~~~ One wintery day amongst the trees and underbrush of a quaint woodland, I, by chance, happened upon a strange and pagan altar, upon which rested an idol that would befoul e’en the most hallowed of places. The place was in a state of disrepair, having, I find myself doubting not at all, lied in that woodland for many years without the touch of man. Two tall totems, upon which hung necklaces of feathers and the skulls of small mammals and birds, stood at a man’s height as the temple’s entrance. Having walked through the unholy entrance, I came upon a small building. Like a staired pyramid in form, the temple was roughly three metres tall. There was a doorway, made of the same stone- the stone! The stone out of which this tetrahedral temple was carved was not of this earth, no. It was a musty, ancient yellow (although whether this was the product of age I am unsure) and hard, yet, upon closer inspection, seemed to be made up of fine grains of sand. At first I thought it sandstone, yet there was an un-named, un-nameable attribute of this sandstone that was simply unearthly. Alas, I digress. The doorway, made of that same extra-phenomenal stone, hung ajar. And good luck too, for if it were closed then I doubt I would be able to open it: it was perhaps half a metre thick. The inside was small, but large enough to hold the altar itself and a maximum of three other people. Along the walls, torches hung, full of ash. In the winter, as it was now, and at night, this temple must’ve got frightfully cold; although, I doubt that those frequenting this hellish place gave much regard to such mortal matters as heat. In the centre of the temple lay the altar around which the rest was built: shaped like a goblet, the altar was built to contain a liquid. I was, as one will no doubt imagine, shocked, to find that within this altar there was, still, a liquid. Grown stagnant over countless years, dead leaves and roots, and the corpses of insects and flies, floated in the thick, grey sludge. T’was so foul, indeed, that I was abhorred to touch it, for I felt that some… cosmic malignancy dwelt in that liquid. I was not far off; above me, even as I knelt over to gaze at the sludge, there hung the idol of which I have been so terrified. It hung, suspended from the arms by two thin metal chains, from the pyramidic ceiling. It was roughly humanoid in figure, but with a strange and disgusting taint upon its head. For instead of the roughly circular and cerebral head of a man, it bore the head of some, gross mulloscoid. Its mouth was a writhing mass of tentacles and feelers, and the back of the head was distortedly oblong. It was wearing metal armour that was ornate yet looked cruel in design: the armour’s shoulders ended in sharp let elegant spikes, as did the elbows, greaves and kneecaps. Around the abomination’s waste there was tied a leather belt, and a sword, curved and serrated, like the teeth of a deep sea beast, hung upon it. Soon I continued looking around this quaint temple. It felt like merely a few minutes that I stayed in that abode; in fact, it was several hours. After what must have been half an hour of searching (although it felt like nought but a few seconds), I came upon a strange tome that was kept in a wooden chest. Bound by a leather rope clockwise, this book seemed to contain a lexicographer’s (amongst whose ranks I count myself) treasure trove of forbidden lore. The writing on the front was in some alien text, the like of which I have never seen in all my years. It was in a deeply dark crimson, and, although I had neither means nor opportunity to even attempt to decipher it, I somehow knew what it said. Like a hark-back to a strange primeval language to which all mortals are heir to, I knew what the writing said deep within my subconscious. As soon as I glanced at it, I read it as if it were my own native tongue. It said: THE TENEBRANOMICON Which was followed, immediately and unexplainedly, by this strange couplet: BENEATH THE WAVES AN EVIL LIES AND IN STRANGE AEONS IT TOO SHALL RISE What struck me first was that the couplet rhymed. I felt sure, now, that this script was an ancient and primordial tongue, and I have little doubt that in whatever language one happened to speak, the writing upon this accursed book would be the same. Upon dwelling on this message, I felt myself irrationally terrified beyond comprehension. At once, I felt both horrified and eager. I suddenly found myself unwinding the leather cover. As if moved by an otherworldly presence, my hand moved and unwound the rope that bound the book; yet, even as I did so, I became so spiritually scared that I began to cry and scream in sheer terror! And even so, I unbound the leather cover and opened THE TENEBRANOMICON. As soon as I gazed upon those ancient pages (which were, as one has no doubt guessed, written in the same script as the cover), however, I was eager and ravished for the forbidden and heathen knowledge within. The book spoke of many things. It spoke of the strange anthropoid that hung from the ceiling above me. It spoke of their entrance to this realm, and their dreadful birth; of how they were extracted from a captured god by a judgemental saviour, who discarded them once he saw their true fate. It spoke of their escape to the deeps. It spoke of their endless search for souls, to fill their soulless hearts. It spoke of the dreadful cults that worship them, and how they exist in every city in every kingdom in the cosmos. It spoke of the goal of their endless conquest for souls, and of the dark and majestic fate they had in store for all of life. At this I shut the haunted and perverted and cast it out from my hand. Yet, when I dropped that dust-encrusted book, my mind was filled with images which were not my own. As the TENEBRANOMICON slipped from my hand, I barrage of visions swarmed my head like a tide. I saw, at first, nothing but darkness. I saw the cosmos being born into existence, I saw the creation of stars, and the birth of creatures of enormous size. I saw, through eyes that were not my own, rituals carried out by barbaric cults, ranging from the sacrifice of lambs and sheep, to the consummation of human flesh. One particularly savage ritual, whose image will remain with me for all of time, was as followed. About an altar, not unlike the one I was in, a group of men gathered. They wore dark clothes, and their pale flesh was tattooed beyond recognition. The tattoos wound up and down their flesh like serpents, until they reached their eyes, where they circled. And their eyes… their eyes! Their eyes were but bloody holes, as if their eyes had been plucked out in some gruesome ritual not unlike the one I gazed at now. The cultists danced around the altar in some savage dance, twirling their blades in unison with one another, surrounding the altar. Standing atop the altar there was a creature, similar to the abhorrent creature depicted in the idle hanging above me. He was holding a quill and a piece of parchment, and seemed to be simultaneously writing, and reading out scripture from the parchment as if in prayer. The strangest thing about him (or it) was the animal by his side: an octopus-like creature hovered beside him. This priest and his octopoid familiar seemed to be the centre of the cultist’s attention. Suddenly, the mollusc let out a cry, a call so horrifying that I can scarcely recall it. At this sound, the cultists screamed in exultation. The night sky behind the ritual lit into flame and destruction, and a huge, whispering creature appeared from the darkness behind them: as I watched from my unusual vantage point, I began to scream as I realised, in horror, that the monster before me was the creature from the idol, clothed in the same ornate armour, and riding atop a beast, whose claws, teeth and horns glistened in the firelight. In a strange moment of gross realisation, I discovered that the cultists surrounding the monster were chanting a name: “Thoth-Gorgoroth, Thoth-Gorgoroth, Thoth Gorgoroth! Hail and revere the Whispers from a Darkness!” ~~~ This is the start of my Idoneth Deepkin army: an army that lurks in the deeps and, yep, you guessed it, whispers from a darkness. I recently read a collection of H.P.Lovecraft's short stories, and found myself wondering how cool an Idoneth Deepkin army would look if they were inspired by The Great Cthulhu. So, here goes. My gaming club does primarily 500 point narrative games [my favourite :)], so the first goal is to buiuld up to that level. Conversion wise, the modelling will be simple: using Genestealer Cult heads, I'll convert every akhelian model to have a cthonic, be-tentacled head, while every namarti model will be modelled as one of the cultists. As of now, I have bought and painted Lotann, with the cthonic head to come soon: I hope you enjoy; please leave a comment and follow! Sam P.S. Thanks to @Melcavuk for inspiring the concept with his multitude of amazing projects and to @KnaveOfScribes for inspiring the format!