May the saints preserve your flesh! Not many come this way, not since the Tragedy. Have you come to bring light into the darkness that shrouds this place! Or hope? If so, your work is cut out for you. A great evil festers here, strong enough to blight the earth and spread a dark pall across the very skies. The dead walk these blasted hills, driven to evil by a powerful minion of the Void, the Dark that Hungers. Lord Charne has called all manner of evil things to himself, and the Brotherhood of the Shroud has come to pay their homage to him. If you doubt your courage or your strength, then come no further, for the Undead Legion will steal your very soul! But if you have the courage to match them, then go forth with the blessings of Saint Wend, and send the foul things back to their tombs!
- What is this Tragedy? Who is Lord Charne?
- Who are you, anyway?
- What is the Brotherhood of the Shroud?
What is this Tragedy? Who is Lord Charne?
Lord Fellgrim Charne was once a loyal servant of the High King Cambruin, and was granted lordship over these lands at the end of the Age of Kings. He rode forth with Cambruin's hosts at the end of the War of Tears, that final dreadful battle that resulted in the Turning. It took Charne years to make his way home from that battlefield, and when he finally did come home, he found only terror.
In the Dark Years after the Turning, many who died rose again as foul undead, their flesh stirred to mayhem by the dark, hateful power of the Void. This province was ravaged by plague in the wake of the Turning, and when Charne finally returned, he found that his wife and children had all died, risen again in undeath, and been destroyed by the Holy Order of Saint Wend. Already half-mad from the horrors of war, Charne flew into a rage, slew the Prelate who watched over his lands, and turned his back on the paths of goodness forever. He sought out dark lore and ancient secrets, and called out into the Void. The Void answered.
Charne offered up his soul to the Black outside to have his family returned to him from beyond the veil of death. The powers of the Void exact a heavy price: now Charne is a Vampire, a pawn of darkness, and must serve the Void before his reward is finally granted. Charne's foul necromancies undid all the good we Undead Hunters had done here, and now the angry dead swarm again. The land and skies are blighted, and soon Charne and the accursed cultists of the Shroud will try to engineer some great evil. My order does not have the strength to move against him, but you may be able to strike to the heart of this dark realm, storm his keep and slay him. It would be a serviced to all the live if Charne should fall.
Who are you, anyway?
I am an Undead Hunter, of the Holy Order of Saint Wend, the Defender. For centuries we have waited, studying the ancient texts, gathering the proper weapons, fearing that the Shadow would fall again, as it did in Ardan of old. At the Turning the dead arose again, as Alaric had foretold, and we were ready. Our order, once a tiny part of the Holy Church, is vital and growing again. We stemmed the tide in the Dark Years with holy water, cold iron and weirwood stakes, but our work was not done. Our order has not the resources to mount a proper crusade against the evils lurking in these hills, but hopefully you can provide the strength we lack.
Would you join us in our fight? Seek out Malrazor, an ancient veteran of our order. If he deems you worthy, we would be honored to have you join us.
What is the Brotherhood of the Shroud?
Speak not that name too loudly! Of all the perfidious heresies that fester in this blighted age, the so-colled *shroudborne* surely cling to the vilest of all. They are the followers of Katullus, the Doomed Prophet of Ardan. A fallen Healer, Katullus was the first and only Shade ever to become a Prelate of the Church of the All-Father. Katullus' admission in the ranks of the Holy Church was an attempt to bring the newfound race of Shades into the fold of the All-Father's Children. Alas, the attempt failed. Katullus was posted in Holy City of Dalgoth, where he worked as a scribe and copyist of holy tomes. The young Prelate crept into the Patriarch's most sacred libraries by night, and read many ancient tomes denounced or prescribed by the Holy Church. None can say what Katullus found within the ancient books, but the knowledge seems to have driven him mad. The Shade Prelate became wild and erratic, and Katullus was promptly excommunicated from the Holy Church, and the Patriarch himself issued a ban on Sades serving in the clergy.
In the long years since, a mysterious cult, the Brotherhood of the Shroud, has grown up around Katullus' teachings. The Brothers are fanatical followers of Ardan, the fallen king of the Titans and Ferryman of the Dead, and they believe that Katullus is the Grey Lord's chosen prophet. It is whispered that Katullus still bears ancient scrolls from the lost realm of Ardan, stolen from the Patriarch's libraries. The cult exhorts the World to prepare itself for the great change that is approaching -- the Turning, they say, is but Dusk, and soon Night will fall. Death will return to the shattered World with a vengeance, and all who live will be consumed by the shadow to come. The Brotherhood exults in Human sacrifice, cannibalism, and a host of other depraved crimes. They are thick in this blighted Place, giving dark worship to the Vampire Lord.