Galena: Unholy Paladin
She was 4 years old when given as an offering to the Celebrants of Volkerh. The talon-priests weaned her on ash-milk and consulted the Gaunt Shepherd to learn her fate. She would live as we do, it whispered, and in so doing would shape herself by the gloaming will of He Who Walks In Blood. Like all children, she watched and imitated. She learned that crying and laughing were no different, so she stopped. She learned that blood is judgment and penance is sacrament. She has grown powerful and grateful. She does not dream of her mother’s world.
“From the account of T’zik Oor, acolyte of the Gaunt Shepherd: When the days of the Twelve Thousandth Harvest began, she was presented to Those Who Attend. Her terrified begetters, like so many before, came believing that through this innocent offering their own lives would be protected. Prolonged. And like so many before, they did not understand that such an offering—the whelp taking her first timid steps towards the waiting Talon Priests—could be accepted only as a solemn promise of their own destruction! Her kin destroyed! Her village destroyed! Each and every connection she had to her world, destroyed!”
“From The Song of Those Who Attend: “And lo, the terrible power already nascent in the one named Galena, in honor of the golden champion of old. Many would stumble on the path to serve Volkerh. Many brutally die in the quest to know the Whispering Walker. But not this one. Not Galena! Even at an age where most played idly, unaware of the storied agonies to come, her eyes struck fear in others! Her words rang with authority! And when the time came for Galena to tread the Path of Pain, even her attendants knelt, transfixed.””
The Seventh Book of the Old Kingdom made it clear what would be required of her. With her genuflecting, hooded attendants receding, this mortal girl—still a stripling!—was sent away to face He Who Walks in Blood, banished to the hissing realms where unspeakable things await any who stray from the cohort that protects them. And yet, Galena did not question this. Alone, she walked. Alone, and with no runes to protect her! She did not yet know that only by surviving would the black magic be revealed and granted to her at last.
And which of the scenes from the Unholy Tapestry would become Galena’s legend? Perhaps when she traversed the Swamp of the Never-Born, where fetal abominations devour each other endlessly. Or that when battling the Molten One, she did not retreat, even when the One melted into two, then three, enshrouding her in smoke and ash. Even with those terrors conquered, Galena—bloodied but unbowed—had yet to face the Shriek-Tutors of K’lor! Yet when she called on her own dark might, Galena was their equal, striking fear into those from whom fear is born!
“From The Song of Those Who Attend: “I, Myong, greeted her in the name of the Gaunt Shepherd when she returned. None believed she would return alive! But she walked into the Circle, the flames turning brilliant and smoky as she approached. And I went to Galena, her body lashed with deep wounds that should have drained her of blood. No part of her skin untouched. And as her eyes looked to me, I saw that the girl we had attended was no longer there. And I whispered a reverent prayer of thanks to Volkerh.”
And when Galena came of age, her Summoning still to come, all her fearsome power had to be tamed. Her eyes revealed that she no longer clung to the feeble morality of her birth-world—only to power, strength, brutal survival. Now she would be called by an Ichor Mage to learn the Lesson of Lessons. But all who saw her, frightened by her wild might, wondered: Could even a deathless Ichor Mage bring her power to heel? If not, what fate would He Who Walks in Blood choose for her? We could only wait as the ink-ice formed in our throats.
All the creatures of the Lambent Realm fell silent and motionless that day, awaiting the exquisite battle between master and acolyte. The Ash-Swimmers claimed the battle itself would be less a test than a demonstration of the Ichor Mage’s dark prowess. But Galena had learned much, discarded much. Tears and smiles mattered not. Wounds counted for nothing. Fear had been banished. Now, there was merely this last challenge: to defeat the Mage. Could even the great Volkerh not be gripped, held by the horror and wonder of the battle to come?
The Ichor Mage lay still. Galena had won. Whispers came first, then chants, laughter, even screams. Let the Summoning begin!, as the Attendants’ voices also joined, until the cries became a roar that could be heard even to the Pool of Night. Galena then began the final journey: to stand alone before the shattering abyssal power of Volkerh! Could she return alive? Could she return sane? So many others had walked the Path only to join the creatures of the pit, once powerful, now trapped in the agonizing slaughter-mire of the ancients.
No one witnessed. No words were recorded. But the Gaunt Shepherd himself awoke from his slumber that night. Only visions, some might say. But the Shepherd saw that Volkerh had appeared—that the tatters and claws of the Ineffable One had encloaked Galena! That she raised her weapon to taste the power of the ancient god, to make her rise above all who would soon kneel in obeisance to her! At dreams’ end, in this realm of secrets and scythe-blades, Galena had met the call, had been embraced by He Who Walks in Blood, and had become Volkerh’s unholy paladin!
Voice Over Lines
- You will know the peace of the gods by force, if needed.
- Kneel and beg for forgiveness.
Kill the unbelievers.
- You are unworthy.
- I will purge you from this world.
- I will harvest your soul.
- I will free you from your shame.
- I will sever you from this world.
- You should’ve run when you had the chance.
- The gods do not smile upon you.
- Too easy.
- You should not have entered this domain.
- I was going to kill you last. I changed my mind.
- Your gods do not favor you.
- I have ended your suffering.
- You fought well, but not well enough.
- Your suffering is finally at an end.
- So it will be, for all our enemies.
- Let the culling begin.
- For the Order.
- Death to the unbelievers, is a mercy to them.
- My powers make me unstoppable.
- I will purge my enemies from all the worlds.
- You are the dregs of all creatures.
- Run, you dogs.
- Repent, or die.
- Behold and despair.
- Your suffering is at an end.
- My power grows.
- Rest in pieces.
- Strike down the unbelievers.
- This fight is mine.
- My enemies will fall at my feet.
- Are there any more of you?
- Don’t worry your friends will soon join you.
- Even the Devil fears me.
- Don’t worry your friends will soon join you in death.
- This battle was ours.
- We will drive all infidels before us.
- Strike them from this life.
- Bring them to their knees.
- I’m starting to get angry.
- Stop wasting my time.
- We need to regroup.
- Fall back!
- This wasn’t how I saw this going.
- We’re falling behind!
- Pick up the pace!
- Is that all you got?
- This is going to be a problem.
- I will strike you down.
- Be healed!
- My life sustains you!
- Do not die yet!
- Death is the only release, I will not grant you that privilege.
- May the power heal you.
- Bea healed in the power of the ancients.
- Health totem initiated.
- I am not long for this world.
- Guard me acolytes.
- Give me cover.
- I’m wounded.
- Need help.
- I need healing.
- What is this sorcery?
- Do not defile me with your filth.
- Ugh, such shameful tactics.