Friday, February 12, 2016

Caster's Rock: Setting Details for a Laughing Moon Adventure

For decades this was a place of legendary dread amongst those in the arcane community. Built on an island in the center of a mountain lake, Caster’s Rock acted as both an asylum for those afflicted by chaos magic, and a prison for those openly embracing the forbidden power. In truth, however, the “Rock,” as it came to be known, housed dark secrets and even darker deeds.

Frightening stories circulated of the “hookmen” who would sneak about in the dark and capture the unwary with long poles equipped with nooses that negated spells. The hookmen would drag their prisoners back to Caster’s Rock and none would hear from the lost soul again. More disconcerting was the fact that it was believed the hookmen were not human, but servants to a long-forgotten god.

The structure itself was fortress-like, dour in its design and built to withstand a siege. Isolated upon the island, the only access point to the main gates was by a narrow bridge spanning three hundred feet to the shore. The water surrounding the island was home to dangerous creatures that ensured there would be no access by boat. But the true defense came in the form of the enchanted shield generated from deep within the fortress—the shield made the asylum impossible to detect by any magical means. Unless Caster’s Rock was physically discovered, neither Senduan Mystic nor Rogue Magician would be able to locate its whereabouts. 

Though many believed the Rock was a secret outpost of the Senduan, the Spire of Mystics denounced the methodology of the Caster’s Rock inhabitants, saying that their ungoverned abduction and imprisonment of cullothean-wielding magicians echoed the events of the Persecution.  In truth, many of their own members had gone missing while in search of the Rock’s location. The assumption, of course, was that they too had been captured and imprisoned.  None ever escaped the stone walls of that cold prison, and for decades those brought within lived and died as prisoners bound to the secrets within.

Perceived as fanatical Crusaders akin to those responsible for the atrocities of the Persecution, the hookmen of the Rock were incorrectly linked to those religious orders of the past. In truth, those affiliated with Caster’s Rock were followers of Ashyrdican, the “dragon-god of stolen secrets.” The hookmen, were in fact, not human, as the rumors had conveyed. Rather, they were a reptilian race known as the ah-teen. Standing on two legs, they were as tall as humans, but covered in scales with dragon-like snouts and thick tails. They disguised themselves in hooded black robes, and indeed captured their quarry with rope poles that instantly negated any magic, rendering their prisoners defenseless. 

Though the Spire of Mystics believed the minions of Caster’s Rock to crusade against magic and work for its eradication from the world of Mythren, they could not have been more wrong. Rather, the ah-teen captured powerful Rogue Magicians and imprisoned them within their fortress in an effort to steal their magic and harness their forbidden power. 

Greedy and covetous, Ashyrdican had Caster’s Rock built upon a specific location hidden in the Andron Mountains. Here, in the center of a small lake, is an island formed of stone unlike any found in the continent. Able to absorb magical elements and energy, the stone can be charged with stolen cullothean magic and used to enhance both arcane and divine abilities. 

With such a weapon in his clutches, Ashyrdican hoped to eventually capture the remaining hidden avatars of the gods and drain them of their immortal essence, thus granting unrivaled power to himself and his loyal ah-teen followers.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Magic of Mythren

The Senduan Mystics

For over a thousand years these magic-users have acted as keepers and protectors of the arcane. Rising from the ruin of the former age, the Senduan swore to maintain order and control over the world of magic. Stories told of how the forbidden magic, abused in the hands of mortal kings, led to the eventual destruction of the Age of Dominion. To prevent such a catastrophe from happening again, the Senduan vowed to shun this pure form of magic, and instead, adopted a strain of magic called sillothean. Those who embraced this magic were labeled as rogues and deemed renegades and threats to society. Knowledgeable of the hubris that brought down the Sorcerer Kings of old, the Senduan keep secret many truths of the ancient world. Still linked distantly to this fallen age, the Senduan Mystics have both a mystique  about them and a subtle elegance in their knowledge and use of the arcane. The Senduan Mystics use their powers to decipher prophecy, battle encroaching evil, and to keep the mystery of this magic from falling into the hands of the notorious Rogue Fold.

The Senduan are divided into three distinct groups called “Folds.”  The Silver Fold is devoted to maintaining order and balance while using their magic against threats of evil.  Members of the Copper Fold are collectors of history, secrets and information, and are interested in the patterns of lives as well as fate.  The Iron Fold strives for power and uses elements of prophecy to strengthen their position in the world. 

All three Folds convene in a tower of magic called the Spire of Mystics, located in the capital city, Delerion. A colossal structure towering over the city from the side of a central mountain, the Spire became the sole ruling source of arcane power throughout the lands from the earliest days of the Age of Prophecy. Housed within the vaults of the Spire of Mystics are countless artifacts, mysteries and secrets.  Legend states that in the deepest bowels of the tower lies a Deep Gate, a Fey Way, a master Runestone allowing teleportation throughout the world, and a circle of summoning stones said to draw spirits back from the dead.  Furthermore, the Master of the Spire has access to an enormous device called the Oculus, or the “God’s Eye.” Mounted to the wall of  a secret chamber, the Oculus has the power to peer into any corner of the world, bent by the will of the Master of the Spire.

Senduan Mystics often adventure abroad in an attempt to support their Fold, as well as their personal interests in matters of the arcane.  Power does not always come in the form of magical items or spells—for many, knowledge is the ultimate boon.

The worst fear of the Senduan Mystics is that the Rogue Fold—those devoted to using the forbidden magic—will unravel the ancient secrets of the arcane world and unleash the untamed magic on the lands. The Senduan know that this is the exact magic used by the Sorcerer Kings in the Age of Dominion...a power which led to their ultimate demise.

The Rogue Fold

The Rogue Fold is a secretive group of magicians who choose to embrace the forbidden magic called cullothean. This is a powerful form of magic long ago outlawed by the Spire of Mystics. Chaotic in nature, this forbidden power is rumored to be far greater than the ordained magic used by the Senduan Mystics. Due to this, the Rogue Fold represents the greatest threat to the careful balance of magic upheld by the Spire and regulated by the notorious reiners—men capable of drawing out the ability to use magic…forever. 

Those embracing the forbidden magic are not necessarily evil, nor do they oppose the Spire of Mystics—at least not as a general rule.  Those brave enough to summon the forbidden magic are merely ambitious.  There is ancient power interwoven into the chaotic patterns of cullothean magic.  Once, mortals knew the secret to controlling those powers.  The Rogue Fold seeks to rediscover those secrets and reclaim what was once the most potent force in the lands.  

Many have lost their minds and souls to the chaotic siren’s song of the forbidden magic, but there are those who have gained some mastery over its potential. Those few are privy to a world of magic and mystery, but know that such power comes at a price. Their use of the forbidden magic is careful, calculated, and used sparingly. Only with such discipline can a member of the secretive Rogue Fold hope to live with such unbridled magic.

Others will simply be burned by the fire they would hope to master. 

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tavaros, Kingdom of the Crossroads: Setting Details for a Laughing Moon Adventure

An otherwise forgettable location, Tavaros is notable only in its tragedy. Only a few historians know of this location, and this small lot continues to argue over what began the decline.  None, however, dispute the fact that its ultimate doom was brought on by the traveling circus that came to be known as the Jester’s Jubilee.

Situated in the northeast corner of Torith along the borders of Greyvanmoor and Brithanol, this town acted as a gateway. Travelers and merchants frequented the town, bringing with them a mix of exotic flair and personality. Taverns and inns gained in popularity, but Tavaros was never destined to become a metropolis like Watershire or distant Delerion. Not truly a kingdom at all, in fact not even a sizable city, the importance of Tavaros was inflated by the ego of its wealthy governor. Thandon Rol, a self-declared king, ruled the city like a tyrant. 

Calling himself King of the Crossroads, Thandon Rol had a small palace built in the center of the city. His greed was rivaled only by his possessive nature,  and he coveted his crown, his queen, and the illusion of power he wielded over the region. Under his reign the town suffered a great loss in commerce and trade as former travelers and merchants took more arduous roads around Tavaros to avoid heavy taxes or the heavy hand of the King's guard. Despite his unlikable nature, King Rol's court jester, a man named Rhezzun, became a popular attraction and a notable exception to the otherwise unfriendly demeanor of the town itself. His court performances combined with his surprise appearances at the local inn kept the commoners and outsiders entertained and distracted from the "King's" rule.

The laughter and antics of the jester, however, were not destined to last long, however. Chaos erupted in Tavaros when the the King’s captain of the guard discovered Rhezzun having an affair with Thandon Rol’s queen, Katarin. Outraged, King Rol had Rhezzun imprisoned, tortured, and sentenced for execution.

On the eve of his march to the gallows, Rhezzun was rescued by a traveling troupe of mimes known as the Unspeakables. Inspired by the jester’s past performances, the Unspeakables felt compelled to save their muse from certain death. Sneaking into the palace under the guise of a traveling act, the troupe murdered the dungeon guards holding Rhezzun captive and rode off with the jester into the night.

Thandon Rol became obsessed with finding and killing Rhezzun, and placed an enormous bounty on his head. The queen, Katarin, was forbidden to see any living man and was held like a prisoner in the palace. Falling into a dark depression, she was incapable of being consoled and spiraled deeper into madness.

Rhezzun, meanwhile, knew that his only hope for survival was to hide. Rather than disappear, he and the Unspeakables joined with a vandi circus. Calling themselves the Jester’s Jubilee, Rhezzun disguised himself as a common clown and hid in plain sight. 

The circus had some of the best performances in decades—everything from animal trainers, acrobats, contortionists, illusionists, and a freak show that was talked about from one coast to another. The mimes drew a tremendous crowd and the antics of the Jolly Jester himself brought waves of laughter from the growing crowds. Over the next ten years, the Jubilee became a hugely successful and popular attraction all over the lands.

Years later, news of Queen Katarin’s failing health at last reached Rhezzun. Knowing that her death was imminent, and certain that his affair with her was the cause of her decline, Rhezzun, the Jolly Jester, steered the Jubilee back to Tavaros for one last performance.

At some point during the long journey, Rhezzun disappeared from the circus and slipped into the secretive pocket of the Andon Mountains known as the Dwimmer Vale. Here he uncovered an ancient entity trapped within a Fey Way and a deal was struck between the two. Armed now with a curse borne of dark fairy magic, Rhezzun prepared for his return home and his last act.

The attractions of the circus were so well-known that nearly the entirety of Tavaros came out to the outskirts of the town on the opening day of the Jester’s Jubilee. The King himself was in attendance, bringing his ailing Queen and seating her beside him on a raised platform at the main stage for the opening performance. 

It was the Jolly Jester who welcomed the guests that fateful night as the Laughing Moon rode the sky. Climbing to the highest perch of the trapeze, the Jolly Jester brought out each and every performer, giving them a grand introduction that was met with resounding applause from the crowd. Surrounded by the troupe of the Unspeakables as well as the motley collection of circus talen, the Jolly Jester climbed to the highest platform of the trapeze and here tore off his disguise. Rhezzun, at last revealed, gave a final bow to the awestruck crowd. The Queen, blinking through the madness that had plagued her for years, stood shakily from her seat and beheld the image of her true love.

None can say for sure what magic was granted by the evil spirit within the Fey Way, but amid the gasps and cries of the attendees, Rhezzun uttered the forbidden spell whispered to him by the creature trapped within the Dwimmer Vale as his troupe of clowns mimed their own deaths. What is known, however, is that Rhezzun leaped from the trapeze platform with a noose around his neck. As his body hung twitching in the heart of the big top tent, a curse was loosed upon all those gathered. The crowd fell into uncontrollable hysterics, suffocating from their own laughter. Before them, embraced by the black magic, the performers died one by one by their own hand--some impaling themselves upon flaming swords, others leaping from the trapeze, or allowing themselves to be killed by animals gone mad.  Like a great storm, death swept over the carnival and claimed all those trapped within.

Tavaros, emptied of his inhabitants, became a place known for its ghost stories as it slipped into decay. And remaining on the outskirts, rotting as the years passed by, sat the Jester’s Jubilee—a carnival in quiet ruin, but rumored still to hold remnants of the Jester’s curse carried on the echo of his last laugh.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

The Ridges: Setting Details for a Laughing Moon Adventure

Decades ago this quaint location was used by Delerion nobles as a place to discretely offer comfort and care to their “afflicted” children.  A collection of cottages constructed by a nearby lake would make for a serene sanctuary away from the harsh public eye, or so said the wealthy investors who commissioned the project. Here, tucked away in the Andron Mountains, those born into specific wealthy families with mental illness, disease, deformaties, or disciplinary issues were sent to the Ridges and kept under the watchful eye of the Sisters of the Hand—acolytes of Krymara, the Goddess of Healing.  

Though their hearts were pure, the Sisters were not true priestesses and lacked the divine gift of magical healing. They were caregivers and counselors, but ill-equipped to deal with the increasing number of residents or the multitude of afflictions they possessed.  Those sent to the Ridges were never cured, they were merely contained.  And in the pristine getaway of their mountain retreat, the outcast children of Delerion’s highborn became sullen, angry, and vengeful.

Over time, the inhabitants of the Ridges grew older, and despite promises made by the Delerion nobles to provide money for supplies, additional shelter and general care, soon the flow of gold into the quiet camp ceased all together.  With many of the Sisters abandoning the camp, unrest began to stir amongst the inhabitants as the Ridges turned from a place of comfort into a hidden asylum with increasingly dangerous denizens.

The first known murder was committed by a boy of sixteen named Joachim. Sister Tyrell had never been known as a tender heart,  but what set the brutal act off remains a mystery. She was killed just outside the perimeter of the Ridges, bludgeoned to death with a stone, and perhaps out of fear of being caught, Joachim attempted to hide her body in a nearby cave.  Deep within the dark confines, he found the perfect location to conceal his crime: an ancient archway that outlined a yawning abyss.  How could the boy have known about Fey Ways or the myths and legends surrounding them?

How could he have understood the sacrifice he was offering?

The body was thrown in, and a devilish fey entity was awakened.  When Joachim left the cave he carried more than a murderer’s guilt—he carried the spirit of an evil monstrosity hungry for mortal blood.
Madness erupted shortly thereafter and the inhabitants of the Ridges fell victim to the murderous will of the possessed Joachim. Death claimed uncounted victims, and those that escaped did so screaming into the surrounding woods.

From the open Fey Way, additional creatures slipped out like sinuous shadows to occupy the cabins and cottages once held by the “afflicted.” Here they fed off of the residual anger and trauma that lingered from years of abandonment and neglect. They took the tangible form of the most horrifying thoughts long kept hidden in the inarticulate vaults of the inhabitants’ minds. Murder and madness bred and gave birth to new terror.

Soon the Ridges fell quiet and time slipped by. Some say the former denizens still wander the wooded region, lost in a perpetual nightmare or perhaps possessed like Joachim. The cabins and cottages still stand, though time and elements have been cruel. Within, the gloom conceals the atrocities of yesterday as sleeping monsters drift ever closer to waking. 

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Monday, June 2, 2014

The Rise of the Ancient World: Setting Details for a Laughing Moon Adventure

The Age of Prophecy has been an era of fear and waiting.

Born from the ashes of the Age of Dominion, those who rose to power in the new age did so in the wake of loss and utter catastrophe. Tales spoke of Sorcerer-kings and angels in rebellion. Legend whispered of a wrathful Oracle. Prophets warned that the ancient world would rise again.
Artwork by Ethan Scott

For more than a thousand years this warning has hung like a shadow over the lands. The keepers of magic guard against the return of ancient powers and seek to hide the truth of what lies buried or lost between the pages of history and the legends of old.

Yet nothing remains buried forever. Prophecy, whether self-fulfilled or by destiny, has come to pass. And secrets long hidden or forgotten have once again found their way back to the world beneath the Laughing Moon.

The village of Kiano Tol, long used as a cover to house relics of the ancient world, has been breached and its age-old secrets have at last been unleashed on an unsuspecting population. The forgotten demi-gods, absent from Mythren for thousands of years, escape their prison of obscurity. Among them: Ashyrdican, dragon god of greed and stolen luck, Murkel, worshiped by orlocks, gand and scads, Harrow, the doom bringer, and Shikal, called the wolf-mother.

Artwork by Chris Wood
The surviving ilvastu, the titans that once ruled the lands as earth-bound gods, have also been revealed--many of whom have been hiding in plain sight for generations. The returned include Dercilean, the Hammer, forger and smithy of the immortals, Bendahal once worshiped by the vandi before her immortal song was stolen, Chorrt, the Carrion King of the Twilight Kingdom, and Rhaen, whose power and legacy has been inherited by a character called the Burned Man.

But most disconcerting of all is that a new titan has risen. Crawling from the black water of the Dim, a corrupted and forsaken fey realm, is something called Almyn. The living embodiment of the curse once held in the Key of Almyn, this titan holds power unlike any before. The Key once had the power to resurrect the dead--but at the cost of some future disaster centered around the returned. Now the Almyn titan spreads this curse like a plague, returning life to the dead, and charging each of those returned with the power to bring doom and destruction to all around them. At her side is the vastral, Cezares. She was once the first vastral created by the titan Jezaphar--a noble lioness imbued with divine breath. Later she was stripped of her power, but not of her immortality. Desperate and vengeful, Cezares has now sided with the Almyn, obsessed with regaining the power she once knew.

Ancient powers have risen and war threatens the lands as these forgotten gods seek to reclaim what was so long ago lost.

The Laughing Moon RPG setting updates pull heavily from situations, events and conflicts found in the Laughing Moon Chronicles fiction as well as from actual games that occur around the RPG table.  For more detailed back story be sure to check out the books and graphic novels, or join the Laughing Moon crew at a gaming convention!

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Laughing Moon Fiction: On Raven Wing

She had been born into a family of nomadic vandi in a day when the ashes of the former age had only just settled.  In present day, bards sing of heroes from that era and storytellers paint a picture of high adventure in the dawning of a new age.  But in truth, it was a terrifying period of history.  Expansive dragon wings darkened the light of day and their fire illuminated the night. The clash of battling gods rose above the diminishing echo of all who had perished in the Dominion holocaust. Wars ravaged the lands and most who were caught up in the fighting had no idea if it were a god, warlord, tyrant or king for whom they fought.  Famine and plague swept the lands like nesting crows.  Death was not an idea but a brooding entity, watchful and waiting.
In those days she had been named Cerelia.  It was the name of her father’s grandmother, a beautiful valla vakra—one chosen to slip into a Fey Way and channel the bandu wind of fate and fortune.
This same woman, so long buried now, had spoken of a prophecy that her father was convinced his own Cerelia had been born to fulfill. The words of the prophecy, however, had been lost, and so Cerelia lived as an abstract answer to a forgotten riddle.
The very idea of the fey realms held her in thrall.  Commoners and peasants took the stories of fey folk as fairy tales, but the vandi knew differently.  Within the enchanted Fey Ways existed worlds of mystery, beauty and terror.  To be a valla vakra meant you were all at once a part of each and every realm, a living extension of bandu as it shaped the world abroad. If only for a fleeting moment, that moment stretched to infinity within the Fey Way.
Growing up she had waited for the bandu wind to carry her off to some greater destiny, granting her wings like a majestic bird.  She, however, was not the valla vakra of old, and what descended was neither majestic nor gentle.  Terror rode the night, and if the bandu wind stirred it was done so by the cruel wings of a carrion bird of prey.
At the age of eighteen, Cerelia begged her parents to bring her to a Fey Way.  She desired nothing more than to peer within, lean near and see if perhaps the forgotten prophecy would find its way to her ear. Often her father traded with fey races or those dwelling around the Ways, but up until now she had been forbidden to interact with them or even see one of the mysterious gateways for herself.  As a merchant and trader of magical weapons and wares, her father knew the worth of such rare items, as well as the potential danger housed around the Ways. 
The location—a vast valley stretching out upon the hot deadpan—was filled with tents and wagons and a collection of races that dizzied her mind.  The Fey Way itself was smaller than she had imagined, lying upon the ground with stones built up to disguise it as a well.  Within was a shimmering pool of blue that at first glance appeared to be water, but was in fact the thin veil separating this world from countless others.  She gazed within, losing herself to the magical possibilities and wondering, even as terror edged nearer, what the valla vakra who shared her name had seen, and what secrets she had known.
Leaning nearer, Cerelia listened for the distant whisper, pressing closer and closer.  Around her came the sound of horns splitting the air and the cry of alarm being raised.  Arrows tore through the sky and the sun glinted off of raised weapons. Amazement turned to horror, and in her surprise she fell headlong into the well.  Catching herself on the ledge, she peered out into the camp, not aware that the tenuous membrane shimmering below had been breached, turning from an ocean blue to a deep shade of crimson.
Screams filled the air as serrated steel found flesh.  Marauders by the dozens descended from the mountains, faces painted and helms forged into the likeness of jackals or boars.  Warm blood splashed over her face and only later did she realize it had been her father’s. Horrified, she saw her father split open by a horseman’s ax, his eyes mirrors of her own panic. 
It was a quick and merciful death, compared to what she witnessed happen to her mother and sisters.  Cerelia wept soundlessly from the well, helpless and terrified.  Below, just beneath the shimmering veil, a face appeared and for a moment all of the chaos around her diminished to a dull drone.  It was not a beautiful gypsy girl who peered up from whatever fey realm existed below.  From a mask of death she saw two burning eyes beneath an ivory crown.  The face pressed against the crimson membrane that separated this world from the next and his words seeped through like slow moving poison.
“The shadow grants you wings, for the raven flies in death’s dream kingdom,” spoke the shimmering figure.
A hand extended and touched her forehead.
“Join me in twilight....”
It was as though a crawling darkness spilled into her being at the cold touch. Screaming, she was suddenly aware of other figures around her, pulling her roughly from the well in the midst of cries and chaos.  Reeling and numb, Cerelia was hardly aware of the marauder’s presence or their savage gazes made ravenous in the wake of brutality. With calloused hands, red with her family’s blood, the men had their way.  When finished, they tied her to a pyre and set fire at her feet, the mutilated bodies of her sisters thrown like kindling before her. It was then the darkness that had settled within seemed to spread all at once like an overwhelming virus and Cerelia’s mind was lost.
The heat of the pyre overwhelmed her, but before the flames found flesh, armor-clad knights rode in and cut the marauders limb from limb and riddled those that ran with silver-feathered arrows. 
Cerelia cried for them to let her burn. It wasn’t fear that embraced her as the flames climbed higher.  It was relief. The fire was the only thing that would cleanse the visions from her mind and silence the echoes of her mother’s screams.  Within the flames she saw shadowed images and knew that what lay within was this dream kingdom of death.  Somewhere between the light and the dark, where twilight stretched eternal lay her destiny. But the knights would not heed her wishes.  Instead, they cut her bonds and carried her limp, bloodied body from the massacre even as she cursed each and every silver-clad knight in the ancient vandish tongue mingled with words from beyond the Fey Way which she neither understood or could recall.  
Under the light of the Laughing Moon Cerelia cried, then swore oaths to any god, qualen or titan that would bring pain to those who had made hers endure.  The name Cerelia was buried with her parents and the last remnants of her sanity passed with the midnight breeze.
Through a haze of tears and rage she watched as the king rejoined his knights on the field of victory.  Here they began work on what would become their city.  At a crossroads doused in gypsy blood the seeds of Delerion were planted.
For two years she dwelt among the knights, watching as the city grew.  She was a shadow amongst them, just another displaced soul along their righteous warpath. Upon each man she sought for signs of her curse, hoping that as she awoke nightly from the nightmare of her family’s murder that the gypsy hex edged nearer.  Time passed, but if there was dark magic descending upon the knights, its subtle workings were lost to her.
Fate, once more, had abandoned her to her own devices. 
By the age of thirty she was known as Chaseris and had exchanged the vestiges of her gypsy life for that of a courtier in the court of the first High King. She had used her time among the knights well, learning not only their names but their histories, alliances, enemies, dalliances, and illicit affairs.  Bribes and blackmails had made for an elegant lifestyle that knew no bounds of gold or silver.  Her exotic beauty was rivaled only by the queen’s, and jealously flowed like wine among many soon-to-be noble wives.
Their jealousy was not unfounded, and Chaseris wove a web of seduction as neatly as any black widow spider.  She sowed distrust and chaos amongst them, but never enough to satisfy what crawled within. These small miseries were trifles. She longed for more, and beseeched the dark to quench the thirst that seemed a living thing inside  Nightly she found her family’s gravesite lost among the inner core of the growing city.  And nightly she wept for them as she knelt upon the cold cobblestone that now covered the unmarked graves. 
It was here that Chaseris was at last found.  But if it was a bandu wind that blew that night, it was a cruel and chill whisper that lifted from the grave itself—that place where the shadow falls between the essence and the descent. A figure emerged from the long shadows expanding from the buildings as twilight edged toward dark.  Twin ravens perched upon the figure’s shoulders and as he extended his hand down to a trembling Chaseris, the birds took flight leaving black feathers to drift down at her feet. She lifted one, transfixed by its ebony sheen, recalling whispered words from a fated well years ago.
Burning eyes in a mask of bone gazed down at her, but Chaseris felt no fear. This man was the physical embodiment to a prophecy uttered two generations ago. Destiny had at last found her.
Atop his head rested a horned crown set with three pale jewels.  An ivory scepter was held in his extended hand, and in the other a black stone that cast no reflection.  She knew his name, though the man did not speak it.  At the feet of the Carrion King, Chaseris knelt.
A cloak of rat hide scuttled in a trail behind him and in the gloom from which he had emerged additional shapes leered and mingled.  She could feel the weight of expectancy blanket this forgotten alley, punctuated by the red gleam of the Carrion King’s watchful court.
What happened next is cast in darkness where no light under the Laughing Moon shines.  What is known is that Chaseris bid farewell to the city of Delerion, to her mortal bonds, and to the ghosts of her family, abandoning this place for a realm forever caught between light and dark.  Here, in the Twilight Kingdom ruled by the Carrion King, Chaseris adopted a new name.
Filled with the breath of evernight, the Raven Duchess was born. 

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