Sunday, March 27, 2011

Beyond the Wall

In 5880, prior to visiting Staark, writer and Great War veteran, Geoffersen Turck, stopped in the Lluddish Isles. What follows is adapted from Turck’s journals...


Around midnight, a soldier shakes me awake and points out over the parapet. The sluagh are massing; there are at least a hundred, maybe more. They moan wordlessly and stagger like drunks, but they move with purpose toward this old, stone wall we stand on. It’s seventy miles long, twenty feet tall, and about fifteen feet thick, and its the only thing holding back the hordes of reanimated dead ridden by alien creatures out destroy the world.

Some of the Queen’s Albanish soldiers have captured one of the slaugh so I can see what they’re up against. It’s a man--or was. They restrain it, and tell me to watch. When it's decapitated, and the body's stopped writhing, something even stranger happens. The thing’s jaw moves like its pushed open from the inside.  First there's a shimmering like heat haze, then it resolves into a fat, crawling thing that might be a toad, if toads were translucent to the point of near invisibility, and their bodies and organs were trace with red neon.

The army wizard, wearing gauntlets of cold iron, scoops it up awkwardly like he's wrestling with angry jam, and stuffs it, squirming, into a thick-walled glass jar inscribed with runes. He fusses over the jar, whispering harsh syllables that seem to vibrate in the night air like a taut metal line, plucked. The thing's the size of a bowling ball, but just like it fit inside the dead man’s skull, it fits in the jar, and stares at us with vacant malevolence.

The wizard says it's a soldier, too, one of thousands, part of an advanced force from a plane of unformed chaos. They’re irritable things, affronted by the constraints of physical laws, and appalled by the solidity of physical matter.  They've been here for a while, waging a guerilla war against reality, inciting witches and would-be diabolists, exchanging inhuman knowledge for transgression.  The thinning of the walls between worlds caused by the Great War allowed them to bring over a larger force. “They all volunteered for a suicide mission,” the wizard says. “They had to take form to come here, now they can never go home.  They're only chance is to break down the whole material plane and return everything to primal formlessness.”

I think they sound pretty unified for a bunch devoted to pure chaos, and say so.  The wizard just scowls, and tells me it's getting late.  I decide he's right, and so I go to bed, secure in the knowledge that the material world will be here in the morning.


BUFONOIDS FROM BEYOND (low caste)
HD 3 AC 6 Attacks: 1 (bite 1d4 plus save or be paralyzed for 1d4 rounds); Save: M4 Special: Meld: may enter and animate dead bodies, which will function as zombies. May also enter the bodies of living humans. Humans so invaded must save or be dominated. They seldom stay in living humans long.). The bufonoid has knowledge of spells equivalent to a 4th level magic-user, but likely has access to specific spells not generally available.

11 comments:

Matt said...

Very evocative. Your setting just gets more and more interesting.

Johnathan Bingham said...

Awesome Trey. A hint of (or nod to) G.R.R.M.?

Trey said...

@Matt - Thanks!

@Johnathan - Possible, though not in a direct way. In simplied form (and this is probably more information than you wanted), the inspiration went like this: sluagh + Hadrian's Hall, by way of the Insects from Shaggai, Morrison's Sheeda, and the Slaad. Then all of that was done, I figured the wall needed to be suitably large. At that point I thought, "hey, this is a bit like ASoIF!" ;)

Chris said...

Oh, I had it down as French post-modernism meets the Slaadi.

They’re irritable things, affronted by the constraints of physical laws, and appalled by the solidity of physical matter. They've been here for a while, waging a guerilla war against reality...

Brain-squatting ectoplasmic Sartre.

Trey said...

Heh. Well, I'd think to a Scottish--er, Albanish soldier-mage there'd be very little difference between the two.

The Drune said...

Very cool. The Bufonoids are also not unlike the He'esa, "those who are seen yet unseen," from M.A.R. Barker's novel Man of Gold. The He'esa are inter-planar servitors of the Goddess of the Pale Bone with the ability to assume the forms of their murdered victims. When killed they dissolve into disgusting pools of slime.

Trey said...

@Drune - Thanks. It's been years since I read Man of Gold so I didn't recall the he'esa. Sounds like their a bit more like more oozey dopplegangers, though.

Needles said...

Nice use of the slaadi man! Very creepy & spine chilling. I love the this entry & the one on visiting Staark. Very evocative & cool!

Trey said...

Thanks, Needles. And thanks for stopping by.

NetherWerks said...

Gnostic Toads squirming in their brains, making people do impossible, unconscionable, unspeakable things...What Fun!

Trey said...

Indeed. ;)