Continuing our #My30DayWorld challenge, today Æsc talks about the creatures called the mourne. The Legacy of Ash began as a role-playing setting for us, slowly evolving into fantasy fiction as the characters and cultures we created began to take on lives of their own. We hope you’ll follow us over the next few weeks as we reveal a little more about our world and the characters who bring it to life.
This post will cover day 21. We’re doing them all on our Legacy of Ash Facebook page as well, so head over and give us like.
4/8: Are There Evil Races in Your Realm, Such as Drow?
As we have mentioned previously, evil is relative. While there are no races or beings in the Legacy that are inherently evil, some may be perceived that way due to their nature or appearance.
The mourne of the Kujas Evarh are such beings.
A place of golden grass and meandering river valleys, the windswept steppes of the Kujas Evarh are claimed by the nomadic Arrehan tribesfolk.
Descendants of Corlaian necromancers, the horselords are sworn to the Gods-in-Iron, fierce tribal sword spirits. Those who die with a weapon in hand (preferably blooded), become known as the Pledged, and the Arrehan honour them above all others. It is told by the urlochs – the tribal shamans – that Unpledged dead go to dwell in Daramnash, the Cold Lands From Which None Shall Rise.
But the ultimate reward, reserved for the mightiest of the Pledged, is to be raised by the urlochs as a mourne – a fallen warrior called back from death to guide their people and lead them in battle. Each Arrehan tribe, or dain, is led by one of these mourne – unliving warriors with wisdom and prowess acquired over the centuries. Known as najrac in the Arrehan tongue, these deathless chieftains are revered as the bridge between the horsefolk’s legendary past and their people’s future glory.
But even such fearsome beings are not without enemies.
“Bring forth the abomination!”
Killcrane lashed out, but his wrists and ankles were bound with rawhide. Pounding drums echoed among the trees. In the spill of firelight naked figures leaped and danced. Stretched on a frame behind them a tanned deerskin bore the curled, segmented image of Ul Sagaoth, the Graveworm.
The dancers stopped as the captive was led into the clearing. They pointed and howled.
Shadowy figures encircled a massive halved log into which a man sized basin had been hollowed, then filled with water. As Killcrane watched, a pair of men at the fire used branches to dig a head-sized stone from the coals. Balancing it on the branches, they bore the stone to the hollow log and tipped it into the water. Red hot, it vanished beneath the surface with a crack and hiss.
One of the men leading the captive strumbled. Killcrane struck, the bare bone of his elbow crushing the man’s nose. But others rushed forward, beating him down with maces and staves. As he raised his arms to shield his head, cudgels smashed against his unguarded torso. Though he still wore a leather cuirass sewn with iron rings, several ribs snapped under the force of the blows. Someone cut the laces on Killcrane’s cuirass and stripped it from him, revealing sunken skin –traced with ancient tattoos – drawn tight over his bones.
He was lifted, carried above their heads. Then, in a rush of bubbles and muffled shouts, plunged beneath the steaming water.
Struggling, he tore at their hands with sharp fingertips. But they pressed him down then with the butts of spears and staves.
He screamed when the first hot rock dropped on top of him, but only a few bubbles emerged from his mouth. The red hot stone burned through his leggings and seared the flesh of his thighs. A few minutes later another stone pinned his shoulder down. A succession of rocks then, with the cooled stones being hauled out to be reheated. As the water began to boil, Kilcrane felt the dried leather strap of his tongue swelling, the remaining screams in his throat clotted behind it.
Eventually all of the rocks were lifted away. Hooks caught at Killcrane’s shoulders and hauled him into a sitting position. Boiling water sluiced from his holes and hollows. The world was raw, red pain.
“The Graveworm will have his due, Arrehan!” The priest’s voice again. “Your denial will be scourged as His hunger is sated.”
With hooks they dragged him from the water. Killcrane felt heavy, his limbs loose and unresponsive. He heard rather than felt himself being thrown down upon a hard, flat surface. He realized dully he could no longer see.
“The grave devours!” A roar from the figures surrounding him. “The grave consumes!” Hands grasped Killcrane’s limbs and began to tug. Wet ripping sounds and eager chewing. “We gift you the peace of death denied you by your own people.”
Killcrane screamed as dozens of mouths descended upon him.
The Challenge will Continue…
Thanks for reading about the world of Celduras. We’ve fallen a bit behind in the questions, but we will answer them all and we’ll post more about the Legacy of Ash and the continents that make up the world. There is a always more to reveal. Artefacts, maps, oceans, and gods. This has been day 21, but look out for our next set of questions.