ffThe dwarves in the Blackheath Clan, in the Blackheath Mountains, were simple miners who avoided conflict and contact with other species of animals and societies. They also strove to keep a balance within mining and preserving nature. Kind hearted and deep were the relationships they formed, always willing to help a friend or anyone in need. The Blackheath Mountains were named for the dark, thorny shrubs that dominated the massive and jagged mountainside.
Korvin was born into this clan; he lived in a midsized cavern with his parents. When he was an infant his father died in a tragic mining accident. Korvin’s mother was stricken with a deathly illness because of the grief from the loss of her husband. At the age of fifteen his mother finally died and he was left alone to fend for himself, he didn’t feel much sorrow at his mother’s passing, for she was a burden to him and he had only vague memories of his mother when she was active because she had been immobile most of Korvin’s life. His whole life Korvin was forced to do everything in his power to sustain his mother and himself. Stealing and swindling from others was not an uncommon practice for him as he was not taken seriously, his young age, harsh demeanor and the fact he was an orphan made searching for honest work within the clan impossible. Korvin was fascinated by the properties of magic and was seeking to learn more about them. This frightened his clan because they focused on the natural properties of the earth and magic was an unnatural power, interest in magic made him more of an outcast.
Although the clan was generally kind and forgiving, they viewed Korvin as a trouble maker and a thief and only used him if they were desperate for workers in the mines. Having to deal with this left him jaded and he would often leave the underground village to take walks, trying to get away from his situation.
One night after a particularly violent argument over the theft of some silver, Korvin left the cave uttering a rather harsh curse as he left; wishing, rather loudly, that the miners would all die. He stayed out all night cursing and sobbing on a rock finally he cried himself to sleep. Dreams flooded his mind that a giant rotting skull within the mountainside had awoken, and that everyone in the cave had been eaten by it.
When he awoke the memory of the dream brought a secret pleasure. Begrudgingly he sauntered over in the direction of the cavern entrance. As he approached the cave, however, he saw a multitude of his clan gathered at the entrance, talking nervously amongst themselves. He managed to catch part of one of the many conversations in the group: “...they killed almost everyone in the mines…” His pounding heart leapt to his throat. He moved into the cave with morbid curiosity to see what had happened, disregarding the warnings of the others.
Inside the cavern there were bodies everywhere. Some were rotting human corpses whose clothes looked centuries old while some humans were freshly killed clothed in the dark iridescent robes of a necromantic cult, but most were dwarves Korvin recognized. The carnage and smell grew stronger as Korvin quietly moved deeper into mines. Apparently the miners had uncovered a dark and ancient tunnel. As he entered this space, he felt the chill of evil pierce his bones, unlike he had ever felt before. He stopped; not out of fear, but the overwhelming evil presence filled his body with a lust for the power of evil and death at work in this tunnel. After the deafening silence of this evil power flooded through him he became aware of fighting deeper within the catacombs, and moved to investigate. He followed the sounds of battle through the winding tunnels until he came to the source: the final battle between the last living necromancer with a small army of the undead, and the only remaining defender of the clan. This great hall where so many bodies lay had many trap doors, and at the far end of the hall was an evil shrine dedicated to an evil deity unknown by Korvin. Directly above the shrine was a giant black tapestry with what appeared to Korvin as a giant sickle and an enormous fleshy rotting skull embroidered on it. A strange and dark feeling washed over him, as this was the same skull from his dream.
The battle was going poorly for lone dwarven defender, as he was greatly out numbered by the necromancer and his army of undead soldiers. As the dwarf desperately hacked through waves of the undead sending limbs and bodies flying in the air, the decaying bodies landed at Korvin’s feet. The necromancer was preparing to cast a spell just as the dwarf had him within range of his axe. Then it happened. The dark purple energy flowed from the Necromancer’s fingertips, and almost as gently as a loving hand the fingerlike tendril caressed the face of the dwarf, as he let out a deafening cry. He was disintegrating – no – rotting like a corpse before Korvin’s eyes! With the last of his strength, the defender threw the axe through the heart of the dark necromancer, before falling to dust at the necromancer’s feet.
With no energy left to sustain his army, the remnants of the ghouls and zombies collapsed like rag dolls to the floor. The necromancer fell to his knees and saw Korvin through the darkness, he smiled an ominous smile blood flowing from his mouth.
“I know of your dreams,” he said, wheezing with every breath.
“Varthas wants… you to be what you were born to be.”
He then reached into the blackness of his robes and pulled out a white object. He tried to throw the object in Korvin’s direction, but before he could the necromancer fell and died in a pool of his own blood. The item fell from his hand, spinning on the ground rolling as if it had power of its own to Korvin’s feet.
The tapestry of Varthas the god of death and evil stared at him almost telling him to pick up the amulet. Korvin saw the power the Necromancer had, he wanted it, he had to have it, more than he had ever needed anything before. He vowed to himself that he would possess that power no matter the cost. He picked up the amulet and held it closer to the torch that was on the wall. It was made from the skull of some small creature, or a shrunken human skull. When he touched it, it filled him with a chill and lust for power, the same lust he felt as he had entered the cavern. He had been so busy studying the artifact that he didn’t hear the sounds of dwarven footsteps in the hall where he stood.
“Drop that cursed necklace, Korvin”, Growled one of dwarven elders. “Never.” Korvin’s eyes gleamed with a determination that he had never shown before and a dark tone in his voice that seemed to not be his own. “This is grounds for expulsion from the clan. That item you carry is heresy and unnatural! Drop it or we will be forced to remove you from the clan, and to banish you from these lands!” yelled the elder. Korvin snarled with the voice of those who had possessed the power of Varthas before. “You’ll take this item from me when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers!”
The next few seconds were a blur, as he was hit with something hard and cold over the head. The next thing Korvin knew, he was being bound and tied to the corpse of the necromancer. They dragged Korvin over the rocky terrain and through the rugged spiny bushes with the fresh corpse on top of him for what seemed like many hours and tied him to a tree away from any roads. The Elder then placed the amulet around Korvin’s neck.
“You chose this amulet and this life over your clan. I hope it gives you the comfort and peace you were hoping for.” The Elder then spit in his face and the clan left him there to die, with the corpse of the necromancer for company. He awoke the next morning, rope and necromancer gone. Confused, he looked about the landscape, an outcast, a loner, and out to fend for himself, after all of what happened nothing really changed.
As time passed, he learned what little he could about Varthas in textbooks, and even met a few clerics of Varthas that were able to teach him basic skills and spells, and became a mercenary out to earn easy gold, and to find out more about this god who could give him the power he craves…
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