Death Knight: Warrior Eternal
When the blood rage abates, his desiccated mind asks again: Who were you? How many battles? When will it end? The answers mattered once, before the blessing of the seethe-monks relieved him of mortality, long before the Trespasser debased his master and took her Dire Orb for himself. The tungsten “heart” that pumps molten lead through his veins serves as a constant reminder of his plea to the Great Black Goat a dozen centuries ago—the only plea he has ever made: “Let me be forever at war.”
He styles himself a warrior-king, slayer without equal, conqueror even of death. He had a name, once. I do not speak it, and it matters not. It is merely what he was, not what he is. Even then, he loved only carnage, struck down any living thing in mindless fugues of fury, in endless raids and upon the fields of countless battles. But then, at least, he was mortal as other men. Would that he had died thus. Before the Whispering Tor and the Black Goat. All I speak now I know to be true, for I was there.
In Duflyn, a great town of the Celtic Isles where the dragon-prowed longboats sought plunder and prey, did they battle against woad-painted defenders. Many who passed the morning with their feet in the sod and the soil feasted that eve in Valhalla. But he who was chief among the raiders, whom even the man that would become the Death Knight revered, was slain by no warrior but by a stealthy madman with a rusty blade. Then, cackling, did the lunatic elect to perish without struggle at the Death Knight’s hand, and the Knight assume the dead man’s place as chieftain.
“Then was the Death Knight determined that this would be no simple raid, but he would ravage the isle entire. Briefly did his men halt their campaign, that they might return to their families with the news. None but I know specifically what befell between the Death Knight and the wife who awaited him at home, but many heard their shouts. That she, with child, needed him by her side. That he, at the thought of being homebound, raged at her—and at phantasms only he could hear.”
The hut grew silent. Around it the nervous villagers gathered, anxious and unsure. Then footsteps, heavy, house-shaking. The Death Knight, white-eyed, threw wide the door. Illuminated from behind, he sheathed his weighty sword. Looking neither right nor left, he stepped slowly from the threshold in a daze and walked forward. As he passed they saw his lips moving, mouthing some eldritch private litany. The Death Knight returned to the dragon-prowed boats, and not a one of his village dared raise a fist or speak a word in protest.
“West and west across the isle did the Death Knight lead his marauders. Against them stood, at first, painted warriors of great skill and berserk ferocity, who called upon foreign gods. Lugh. Ogma. Morrigu. Then the townships grew sparser, the people more pallid and wide of gaze, and their gods boasted names scarce few could pronounce, as though formed for lips and tongues unlike those of men. Smoke-drunk druids shouted gibberish at the invaders, or called for the vengeance of the Loam-Clad God, whom they called the Speaker Under the Soil.”
On the outskirts of one distant township, within a cave of twisting branches and greenery that dangled in decay, the marauders found a circle of stones about an altar of cracking granite. On it lay an empty shroud sized for a young child. Here had gathered the village entire. Against the Death Knight they raised that shroud as a shield, and chanted the name Galena, but whatever power it held availed them little. Only a scant few survived the slaughter to follow, including a watching girl of perhaps eight winters, and a priestess who cackled madly as her people fell.
”Speak to me of the future,”” the Death Knight demanded. “”Of the visions which grant you such mirth as your kin die, and perhaps I may continue to spare you.”” The priestess cackled harder still, and told the slayer that upon him fell the many eyes of the Loam-Clad God, and the Black Goat from which He’d sprung. But only when the Death Knight heard His secrets spoken by the Gnarled Tongue of the Whispering Tor, the god’s own cairn, would he understand. In the Death Knight’s head that diseased laughter echoed, never ceasing, until it occupied his every dream.”
“Westward they continued still, and the Death Knight’s mind fractured ever more. The laughter in his dreams turned to distant voices, beckoning and whispering, and they were dream-confined no longer but ever present. Brothers-in-arms called his name, enemies screamed their fury on the field, and he heard them not. Until, amidst the incomprehensible murmurs he began to understand a word here, a phrase there. They directed, and he followed, breaking away one night from camp. And after many a mile lost in darkness, he came upon an unnatural rise, from which protruded a tree of yew, twisted and sickly.”
“From this tree, the Gnarled Tongue, he took knowledge poisonous to his mind, and discolored fruits poisonous to his flesh. Swearing himself to the Black Goat of the Woods, he swallowed them whole. They tore at him, growing through his flesh, and he fell into ensorcelled slumber.Even then, after all he had done, I would have saved him. I would have embraced him and with my own hands torn the alien growths from his body. But soon he was gone, taken from this world even as he passed into new unholy life. And I am alone.”
Voice Over Lines
- Those that fall by my sword find themselves in the Ash Wastelands.
- Suffering is only the beginning.
Rise and slay!
- Feel the flames of rage!
- Your life is but moment.
- How sad, that you will be remembered for how you died and not how you lived.
- Taste my wrath.
- This is what I live for.
- Crush them into ashes!
- Behold, I sit on a throne of your rotting corpses.
- Your cries only feed my bloodlust.
- How beautiful this great mass of death.
- Taste the hatred and bitterness of a thousand life times of war and death.
- Your screams fill me with life.
- Feel the pain of a thousand deaths.
- Few can withstand my wrath.
- My strength grows.
- I truly have the blessings of the old ones.
- Et illud esse.
- Consider this your baptism by fire.
- Death in fire is all you have now.
- Cower before my might.
- I have fought on more battlefields than there are stars in the sky.
- The old ones have blessed me. They have promised me eternal war, and fire, and blood shed.
- I still hear voices from the past. Some are mine, most are not.
- When your lungs are ash and your eyes are only embers, you know you have faced me.
- I’ve only begun to fight.
- The rivers will run with the blood of my foes and fire of my rage.
- My fire will find you.
- I was born of fire and blood. You will not defeat me.
- I have seen the abyss. It is but endless oceans of grey.
- The Sea of Dead awaits you. I will take you to it.
- More, more! Let’s fight!
- Don’t wait for me! Kill, kill, kill!
- This battle has proved disappointing.
- One thousand lifetimes has come to this?
- I have no time for this pettiness.
- There are few worse battles I remember.
- I tire of this.
- Parasite! Vermin!
- From the ashes, I will rise again.
- My fire…fades.
- What are these ghosts I see?
- I anxiously await the next battle.
- I yearn to face the carnage of war again.
- No matter how many battles you’ve encountered, never stop fighting!
- Go forth and conquer.
- Rip them to shreds.
- Don’t run, we’ve only begun.
- I’ll burn off their eyes, and then I’ll burn off their souls.
- Suffer and die!
- To me comrades!
- I need assistance.
- I am not long for this place.
- My life is fading.
- My power is failing me.
- Death comes for me again.
- Huh, well done.
- Dies Irae.
- You are but a nuisance.
- Yes, learn to embrace your true nature.