Tales of Twilight: Shadovar’s Heart

September 15, 2007

In ages past, the beastmen were brought forth to serve the dreadful Oni in their war to end the world. Corrupted from simple animals and other lesser beings, they were malformed creatures whose twisted bodies knew pain with every step – and hatred as well, for all goodly beings, and a hunger to inflict suffering upon any who felt the touch of joy or hope or light. 

Many of the Oni Lords selected lieutenants from among their ranks, and gave them powers both mighty and terrible, so that they could lead their lesser brethren against the angelic host that stood against them, and strike down the armies of man that fought to defend the world.

Shadovar was one such chosen. His lord, whose name I shall not dare utter, held domain over darkness, despair, and death. Shadovar was a snakelike being, with shining emerald scales, narrow and cunning eyes, no legs but a powerful slithering tail, and four clawed arms to rend his foes. Unto him his lord gave black armor of petrified wood, a helmet formed from a forest lord’s skull, and a slender sword forged in the cold of the endless dark.

The armor would draw light in upon itself, and in addition to turning aside the blades of foes, it would cloud their sight and let Shadovar creep through their ranks undetected. The skull would radiate terror upon the battlefield, draining the will of his enemies and leaving them crippled and cowering before him. And the blade itself could drink their life – a solid strike would draw away all warmth and emotion within them until they only a hollow and empty shell remained. Dreadful tools, in the service of a monstrous cause. They would be of great use to Shadovar on the battlefield – and off it, as well.

For, as mentioned before, all the beastmen spent their days in pain, for they were imperfect and unnatural beings. Most sated their pain by harming others, and giving free reign to their rage and hatred of the light. But Shadovar tried to eliminate his, instead, to focus his will into becoming a creature of the void, free of earthly concerns such as twisted bones and straining muscles.

And he discovered his sword could help. The lightest slice across his skin would not end his life – but would provide a soothing darkness instead. A removal of the pains of daily life. A dulling of the anger, and the rage, and the hunger. On the battlefield he remained a terrible figure – even more so, perhaps, for the absent and callous way in which he fought. But in between the fighting he let his life slowly be drained away, until only a cold hard nothingness remained.

Then came a day when his army lost. The forces of light worked a powerful magic, the Great Binding that imprisoned the Oni Lords beneath the earth. And their mortal allies struck down the beastmen and their kin, and a warrior garbed in silver drove a spear of fire into him, and his flesh burnt away into ash, and to the ground fell his armor, and his helm, and his sword.

And time passed. Light overcame darkness. The war came to an end. And for many years his armaments lay upon the battlefield… until something roused them once more, some memory of what they once contained. For in his rejection of the trappings of life, Shadovar’s heart had ceased to be powered by blood long before his death. The cold and darkness of the void sustained it, and no flame exists that can extinguish that. Slumber though it might, eventually Shadovar’s Heart roused itself – and though no figure could be seen to wear them, his armor rose up into the air, with a dreadful skull helm for a face, and with a vile black blade hovering beside it.

Shadovar’s Heart left the battlefield, and though it bore no anger or hatred towards men and their ways, it remembered its mission and purpose. And when it came upon a wandering band of men, it struck them down with its fell sword, unheeding of their cries, untouched by their blows.

Time has passed, and the world has become a civilized place, and men have grown strong and secure in their power, and all the lesser children of the endless dark have been driven into the far reaches of the world… but there they have made their home.

And Shadovar’s Heart, that cold hard nothingness, that dreadful memory of the Great War, yet remains among them still.

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