Thursday, August 17, 2023

RESURRECTION– The Complete Story

The tale of Korak the Grim and his quest to restore his master, the Necromancer Lord Nieman Kimmel, whose soul was lost during the End Times.  This post collects all six chapters of the Resurrection narrative, along with the origin lore for the Congregation of the Crimson Shroud, which I have included as a prologue.




Korak remembered the sky turning to blood, the ground roiling like the sea. He had flown to the top of the citadel, which –somehow– still stood amid the crashing waves of carnage. At the tower's parapet he found his master, Nieman Kimmel. The necromancer was gesturing wildly to the air, saying something that Korak couldn't quite make out over the cacophony of the world ending. At first, Korak had thought that Kimmel was invoking an incantation that might stop the Storm of Chaos, but he soon realized that the necromancer was simply pointing to the sky where the warp moon used to be... and laughing. 



Time had little meaning to Korak the Grim. The wraith was beyond death... The past, the future, it was all the same to him. His years as a mortal man were but a drop in an endless ocean of eternity. Eons in the void passed without measure, every moment focused on his burning hatred of the living. 



After experiencing nothing for so long, Korak experienced... something. Like a shipwrecked sailor washing ashore, he was brought to the sands of Shyish on the wave of death magic that was released by the great necroquake. Souls were everywhere in this new realm, and with the Crimson Reapers again by his side, Korak began the grim task of harvesting them. Some souls he recognized from a time long ago, and he still held dominion over them– Banshees and other wraiths. Korak assigned them as jailors and lieutenants to oversee his growing congregation. One soul in particular was absent, however– that of his former master. If Nieman Kimmel's immortal soul had survived beyond the void, Korak would find it.



I. The Simulacrum



Despite his best efforts, the legend of Korak the Grim and his Congregation of the Crimson Shroud spread throughout the Realm of Shyish. The Red-Hooded Wraith was attempting to keep his ghastly procession's size and exploits from growing too large in order to avoid the attention of Nagash and his Mortarchs, lest he and his minions be subjugated into one of Lady Olynder's ongoing campaigns. Korak had no desire for drawn-out engagements, and he kept his bloody harvest constantly moving from region to region.



The nomadic nature of the Congregation of the Crimson Shroud might have made little sense to their victims, who experienced them as a passing terror –striking without warning and then gone, leaving more than enough survivors to tell the tale– but to a keen observer, the pattern of attacks resembled that of an archaeological search grid. Korak was methodically scouring the realm, seeking the soul of his former master, the Necromancer Lord Nieman Kimmel.



Many of the spirits under Korak's command have been tethered to him since his time in the World That Was –The Crimson Reapers, even the Banshee Queen Olivia and her Choir of Death– for the wraith himself had bound them to his will, but he and Kimmel shared no such link. The necromancer had always allowed Korak his autonomy, but now, without those connective bindings, Korak found himself in a potentially never-ending search for one particular soul among millions.

After years of searching without success, Korak turned to a different tactic– If he could replicate the magical artifacts that Nieman Kimmel remembered from his life, and provide a suitable vessel for him to inhabit, perhaps there was a way to make the necromancer's soul come to



With the aid of his guardians of souls, Korak fabricated a simulacrum, a formless body that a soul could enter and configure into a suitable likeness. Once that body was infused with enough dark energy, and surrounded by Kimmel's artifacts, its magical aura would shine like a beacon to attract his soul like a moth to a flame.



The spirit torment Zeracon the Soul Hunter bound the simulacrum with a shacklegheist chain which could house Nieman Kimmel's soul if it were to arrive before enough magical energy had been accumulated. Korak's plan was set in motion...




II. The Mortician



In order for Korak's resurrection scheme to succeed, the simulacrum needed to be infused with enough magical energy to exude an aura sufficient to attract Nieman Kimmel's soul from across the realm, and to serve as a worthy host body capable of sustaining the necromancer lord. The high levels of energy required for such a task could not be generated by the wraith's small cabal of death wizards; only a black coach was capable of harvesting that much power.

Korak was more than familiar with the capabilities of a black coach, for the Von Koss vampires had used them on many occasions to rejuvenate their kin who had fallen in battle. 


Such a coach was summoned to the bidding of Korak's Congregation. Banshees swirled about the foul machine as its creaking wooden frame trundled out of the mist. Concealed under his heavy black cloak, Stavros the Mortician descended from the driver's station, ready to carry whatever precious cargo the Crimson Shroud required.



In life, the Mortician was tasked with chauffeuring caskets to their final resting places and interning them in vaulted crypts. His passengers never rested peacefully, however, for he always looted the corpses of wealthy citizens, relieving them of any gold and jewelry they were to buried with. Even if those he interned did not have any riches to carry into the afterlife, Stavros was able to make further coin by allowing necromancers and other foul denizens access to the crypts to steal their bodies for further desecration.


In death, Stavros continued to operate a funerary carriage, but instead of profiting off the misfortune of others, his entire being has been dedicated to harvesting souls for the benefit of the occupant within his black coach. It is the Mortician's penance for a lifetime of treachery– Shackled and forced to drive his team ever onward, never resting, while his undead passenger grows ever stronger. Such is Nagash's cruel sense of irony. 



The simulacrum was entrusted to the Mortician's custody, and carefully loaded aboard the black coach. Before its departure, however, Korak needed to attend to a few other matters...




III. The Librarian



Long ago, Scriptor Mortis Omentet was an archivist for the Mortuary Cult of the Nehekaran city of Baltizzar, his tenure dating as far back as Nagash's reign. Ohmentet's eidetic memory served him well, as he was able to recall every detail of ritual and text recorded in their great libraries, and he was often called upon to restore scrolls that were lost or damaged over the centuries.



He participated in countless rituals of awakening, summoning and sustaining entire legions of skeletal warriors, eventually ascending to the rank of chief hierophant for Tomb King Ptahkhan-Hur. When Nagash at long last returned, Omentet witnessed the ultimate destruction of Nehekara and, indeed, the entire world. From beyond the void, Omentet's soul was selected by Nagash to serve as one of his many historians– rewriting history as the Great Necromancer saw fit.



Omentet's library is but a fraction of the size it used to be –a single grain of sand from what was once a vast desert– but he works tirelessly to rebuild it, recording word and deed, transcribing, from memory, texts that have long since perished from the world. 



His mind contained the collected writings of entire kingdoms. He has looked upon the Nine Books of Nagash. But it was the Scriptor's knowledge of the Cursed Book of Har-Ak-Iman that most interested Korak the Grim, for Omentet was one of the few to have read the book in its entirety and survived to tell of it. 



For as long as Korak had known Nieman Kimmel, the Cursed Book was always in the necromancer's possession. The Wraith tasked Scriptor Omentet with recreating the deadly tome, just one of the treasured relics Korak would bestow upon his master at the time of his resurrection.


IV. The Artificer



The final task in Korak's plan to resurrect his master led him to seek out the artificer Darklon. This Krulghast Cruciator was rumored to dwell in a set of abandoned catacombs where he practiced his ghastly art.

As is often the case with restless spirits, Darklon's life had met a tragic end– A blacksmith renowned for producing some of the finest steel, Darklon was responsible for forging weapons and armor in one of the many now-forgotten kingdoms of men. His duty was to serve only the royal armory, but the master forger could not resist the temptation of gold, and sold his wares to those outside the kingdom. When it was revealed that he had sold weapons to the king's enemies, Darklon was tortured and put to death.

The Krulghast has not forgotten his craft and he continues to toil over his forge and anvil, constructing deadly instruments of war, but the walls of his lair are lined with wracks and gibbets that speak to his new trade.

Subjects brought down into the catacombs experience an unimaginable horror as Darklon uses his implements of torture to inflict what feels like a lifetime of pain and suffering in a matter of days. As his victims finally expire, he extracts every ounce of their woeful lifeforce and imbues it into dark artifacts of immense power.



As Korak descended into the Artificer's lair, he sensed that the remains of Darklon's victims were nothing but empty husks. His techniques extracted everything from his victims, leaving not even the slightest spark of a soul to harvest.



Darklon did not like having his work disturbed, but the casket of shadeglass that Korak brought was more than enough to purchase a moment of his time. Korak's spectral attendant presented a wooden rod, cut from one of the haunted trees at the heart of the Mordant Wood to use as the basis for a new staff. 



The ritual of forging was a sight to behold– As per Korak's description, Darklon constructed an iron crossbar atop the staff. Then, from one of his cages, the Artificer produced a subject and began his grisly work. Korak couldn't remember how long the process had lasted, but in the end, the victim's skull blazed with hellfire which Darklon further infused with his own dark magic. 



This infernal skull was set atop the crossbar as the rest of the skeletal remains clattered to the stone floor. Nieman Kimmel's staff looked exactly as Korak remembered– The chattering skull glowing with an eternal flame; Kimmel's staff of office and emblem of the Legion of the Infernal Skull. Soon, Korak thought, his master would wield it once again.



V. The Hellriders


With all of the components in place, Korak's plan to resurrect his master could proceed to its final phase. Nieman Kimmel's artifacts had been meticulously crafted, including a recreation of the necromancer's ceremonial mitre hat. Each of these precious relics was entrusted to a spirit bearer to carry alongside the simulacrum bound within the black coach. Their combined magic, along with the death energy yet to be accumulated by the coach, would surely draw Kimmel's soul to its new vessel.



At Stavros the Mortician's request, Korak drafted four spectral steeds from his Congregation's regiment of Hexwraiths. Chosen for their speed and ferocity in battle, this team of "nightmares" was hitched to the yoke of the coach. With Stavros in the driver's seat, the creaking wooden carriage rolled forth, ready to cut a bloody swathe across the realm.



Atop his own steed, Korak the Grim summoned the full might of the Congregation of the Crimson Shroud's shock forces. The time for subtlety was over; if the plan was successful, the magical energy surrounding the black coach would surely draw attention– that was, after all, it's intended purpose– and Korak would have difficulty concealing the Congregation's activity from Nagash and his Mortarchs.



As his newly formed Hellrider Brigade set out on its grim campaign, the Red-Hooded Wraith hoped they would be able to achieve their goal before Lady Olynder or one of her lieutenants took notice of the carnage that would ensue. If She were to intervene, Korak might lose this opportunity, and all of his effort would have been for nothing.



For months, the Hellriders blazed a trail of destruction across the realm of Shyish. In these attacks, Korak made sure there were no survivors; every living thing was to be consumed by the black coach to feed its gruesome cargo.

With every town they left in flames, the power of the coach grew stronger. The sub-commanders of Korak's Congregation started to become concerned with the wraith's obsession. There seemed to be no end to his blind crusade, even though the simulacrum within the coach had already accumulated more death energy than they had ever witnessed. The Banshee Queen Olivia, in particular, wondered when it would be enough...


VI. The Betrayal


For nearly a year, Korak the Grim and his Hellriders carved their way through the living civilizations of the realm of Shyish, driven by the wraith's obsession to locate the soul of his former master, the Necromancer Lord Nieman Kimmel. For all those who beheld it, the black coach at the head of the ghastly procession represented the end.

To the terrified citizenry, in the brief moments before they met their end, the coach merely appeared as a black carriage wreathed in shadowy mist. But those who could see beyond the veil of death perceived the coach's true nature– Its wooden frame was like a lantern, housing a blinding beacon of death magic that radiated from the sarcophagus at its center. 


Korak's lieutenants watched as the power of the coach grew beyond their ability to control. They had been content to indulge their master's ambitions as long as they enjoyed the relative autonomy that his Congregation of the Crimson Shroud afforded them.

But they had yet to discover any sign of the missing necromancer's soul, and so much unchecked power would not be allowed to remain in play forever. They suspected that Lady Olynder had already taken notice, and that it was only a matter of time before She enthralled all of them, bringing Korak's reign –indeed, the entire Congregation– to a swift end.

The Banshee Queen Olivia, however, saw this as the end to her servitude. Because she was bound to Korak, she could not openly defy the wraith, but her handmaidens ensured that her will was carried out. They were her eyes and ears, and they had been everywhere, at every step. 



Olivia had patiently watched as Korak and his cabal fabricated the simulacrum while her banshees delivered the coach that would bear it. It was no coincidence that the driver was one of the most treacherous morticians to have ever lived.

Because the necromancer's soul was apparently never going to be found, it made carrying out her plan that much easier. While Korak squabbled with his sub-commanders over the futility of his crusade, Olivia paid Stavros the Mortician the fee they had agreed upon. She drove off the relic bearers; Olivia had no use for another man's ancient trinkets. When Stavros expressed concern that he didn't want to be held responsible for the theft of the simulacrum, she had her handmaidens oblige him. Their spectral daggers tore the Mortician to shreds.



The Simulacrum had been bound with a shacklegheist chain that would capture any soul trying to inhabit the host body. Olivia was prepared for that– She summoned forth her Maidens of the Endless Elegy. As the Myrmourne Banshees were blindly drawn toward the magical aura of the simulacrum, they were consumed by the shacklegheist chain's ornate lock. One after the other, they were pulled in until the lock was full.



At last, with her plan at its end, the ritual of resurrection was performed. Awash in death magic, the Banshee Queen shaped the simulacrum to her likeness as her handmaidens brought forth her new raiment. Olivia's ethereal form discorporated as she arose in her new body, born again as the Vampire Queen Olivia von Koss!





The beacon was no more. The simulacrum was gone. Olivia was nowhere to be found; the link with her spirit had been severed and Korak could no longer summon her or even sense her. As the wraith pieced the clues together, his rage began to grow. He found the empty coach and the tattered remains of a black cloak. Korak detected the faintest shreds of the Mortician's spirit still clinging to the ethereal plane. He would have to reconstitute Stavros and deal with his failure later. At the moment, the wraith's attention was required elsewhere...



The End

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