Hi all, here's a little preview of the next None so Vile product available later this month. This is the short fiction piece that opens the product, along with one of the illustration by Jesse Mohn. The other titles in this series can be had here: None so Vile
From the journal of Odennar Brighthammer,
Faithful servant of Illumar the Lightbearer
For months the Blackbite gnolls had plagued our lands, raiding at their whim, and destroying utterly any opposition gathered to thwart them. Their leader, Myrgle, a huge and battle-scarred cleric, led each raiding party, and the tales that trickled back to us regarding his prowess and evil were truly horrifying. But Illumar teaches us that his light protects us from evil, and as we rode out to eradicate the gnoll menace, I was filled with the joyful exultation of the righteous.
We had called for aid from our sister church in Reevingdale, and they had responded with alacrity and grace, sending us the much-heralded paladin Nerrod Blightsunder and his retainers. In total, we were a group of fifteen, which included eight clerics, myself among them, two paladins, and five noble warriors who served our cause. We were a mighty force, and perhaps we had fallen prey to the sin of pride, believing that no evil could oppose us.
To this day, I cannot believe how foolish we were.
We came upon the gnolls in their warren, deep beneath the Ironspar Hills. Our intent was to wipe them from the face of the earth, to purge their evil from our lands; but in our foolishness, we had entered a place where the gods could not see, and only darkness and blasphemy held sway.
Two sentries guarded their lair, a paltry opposition that fell quickly beneath our blades, fueling our desire for yet more righteous slaughter. What I remember most about that abominable hole in the earth was the smell – a choking miasma of beast and blood that left no doubt as to the manner of evil that existed there. I still catch a whiff of that horrid aroma in my dreams; and it is the stench that fills the sweat-soaked nightmares that haunt me still.
We found Myrgle and the majority of his followers in a massive cavern, a hellish abyss that served as a crude temple for their vile god, an entity known as Hazag the Manslayer. They were waiting for us, and it was Nerrod Blightsunder, fearless in his devotion, that led us into the trap. The paladin’s confidence was like an infectious disease that gripped every one of us, filled our hearts with courage…and ultimately led us to destruction.
We charged the gnolls, howling praise to Illumar, and crashed into their line with furious abandon. My mace crushed limbs and skulls, as I, enraptured with battle frenzy, smote the foes around me. I saw Nerrod’s famed sword Nightrender suddenly bloom with holy radiance as he slashed his way through the throng to reach Myrgle, who stood still and grinning before his bloodstained altar. I screamed the paladin’s name, urging the favored son of Illumar to bring our lord's ruin upon evil’s champion.
We were winning, and the gnolls began to fall back. We pressed our advantage, and just as it seemed we would snatch an easy victory from the very maw of evil, Myrgle Blackbite began to chant.
In all my years I have never heard such an outpouring of purest evil. It assailed our ears like the hammer of doom, and I saw a few of our men sink to their knees, weapons forgotten, covering their ears to ward off Myrgle’s terrible voice. We fell back, the black jaws of hell gnawing at our souls, and the gnolls, seemingly heartened by Myrgle’s horrid paean, renewed their attack with ferocious vigor.
Myrgle himself entered the fray then, calling upon his vile god, he smote Nerrod with a column of black flame. I have seen paladins such as Nerrod shake off enemy spells that would annihilate a score of lesser man, but Myrgle’s shadowy conflagration scorched the paladin to the bone. When the flames cleared, all that was left of our noble champion was a pile of scorched steel and ash.
With Nerrod gone, it became a slaughter, and my brethren fell beneath the axes and spells of Myrgle and his gnolls, until finally, only I was left standing. I prepared myself for death at that moment, eager to give my life for Illumar and the cause of light and good, but this was not to be my fate.
With a guttural bark, Myrgle commanded his gnolls to fall back and form a loose circle around me. He then stepped through the ranks of his followers and stood before me, leaning casually upon his great, black halberd. I attacked him immediately, vowing to die in the attempt to rid the world of his evil. With paltry ease the monster’s weapon flashed out and knocked the mace from my hands. I attacked still, flailing with my fists, and again, Myrgle’s halberd struck, denting my breastplate and slamming me breathless to the ground. I was done then, all strength and faith had left me, and death would have been a welcome relief.
Myrgle bent over me, the stink of his body and the palpable aura of his evil overwhelming every particle of my being. He spoke then, his voice a sepulcher grating that drove ice into my spine and turned my bowels to water.
“I spare you, holy man, to bear my message,” Myrgle said, his fanged jaws pronouncing the common tongue with a perfection that rivaled my own. “You will tell them that in three years Myrgle will come, and the Lanterns of Illumar will be no more. These are my lands now, and the lands of Hazag Manslayer.” He gestured behind him where an abominable statue of his fiendish lord lurked like a vast, abyssal shadow.
I should have died there, pressing the attack until Myrgle was forced to kill me, but Illumar forgive me, I was weak and filled with fear. I fled that awful cavern as if the fires of hell burned at my back, and upon my return, I relayed Myrgle’s message to the church elders. I was largely ignored, and was demoted for my cowardice. If only they had listened and marshaled the forces of the church...
This will be my last entry in this journal, for as I write, I stand upon the parapets of Castle Illumanni, the last remaining bastion of our faith. Beyond these walls awaits an army of darkness such as this land has never seen. Twenty thousand gnolls, orcs, hobgoblins, and other evil creatures, all united beneath the standard of the demon god Hazag. And there, standing at the fore of his army, is the figure that has haunted my dreams for three years.
Myrgle leans casually upon his halberd as he did years ago in the cavern under the Ironspar Hills. His army, eager and bloodthirsty, awaits his command to rip our walls down and slaughter us all. The great gnoll opens his mouth now, and the chanting begins.
Illumar, I pray, let my death be quick.