BLACKTHORN - Chronicles of the Dark Sword Book One


Three thousand years ago the world of man stood on the brink of destruction. An age of peace and prosperity had come to an abrupt end. For more than two hundred years war had ravaged the once fertile lands, laying waste to the great cities, and entire nations fell beneath the sword.

The last remnants of free men had assembled upon a plain of scorched earth. At their side were the immortals, the Tal’shear. The tall fey beings stood defiant, resplendent in golden armor and brightly colored tabards of blue and silver.

A lone Mountain loomed over the plain, its roots seated amid barren hills of broken rock and gaping black chasms that leaked poisonous vapors into the air. The Mountain’s ragged crown was lost in a billowing cloud of fire and smoke, obscuring the sun and casting the plain into darkness.

Along its flanks flowed thin ribbons of orange light, molten stone vomited up from the earth’s fiery depths. Flowing about an immense fortress built upon a high tor at the peaks base. The racing lava disappeared into deep crevices in the heat blasted rock.

The keep was offensive to the eye. A construct of dark stone, its crenellated walls surmounted by four high towers that resembled the jagged fangs of some wild beast. Three massive gates of iron were set into the thick walls, dark openings from which crept a foul mist reeking of death and decay.

Vi’Erud it was named, the keep of the damned. For more than two hundred years it had endured. Guarding the sole entrance to Sur’kar’s sanctum. Many times it had been attacked but the dark fortress had never fallen, and within its daunting ramparts lurked Sur’kar’s cursed horde.

Amid the host from the east upon a low hill, eight Tal’shear had gathered. They were unlike the others of their kind; each emanated an aura of power and wisdom. They were the warders, a group of powerful mages sworn to the protection of the two races.

Horns sounded and the black gates of Vi’Erud slowly swung open. From within the darkness a great host of Morne marched out onto the plain. They came by the tens of thousands, pouring forth as a dark tide that stained the land. Bearing before them crimson standards held aloft upon spears capped with the skulls of slain men.

From the fuming maw of Trothgar a great explosion of gas and fire erupted. Shaking the earth with its vehemence.

Drums pounded and out from the center gate advanced the giants. Huge one-eyed brutes that waded through the assembled Morne brandishing iron cudgels cruelly barbed with long spikes.

The Trolls towered over their allies; the rock trolls easily twice the height of a man while the Ice trolls stood even taller. They were massive beasts, cruel and wild. One Troll could instill terror in the heart of any man, but here there had gathered more than two thousand.

The drums grew silent as two riders left the keep. They rode upon reptilian creatures with horned crests that spewed fire from their nostrils. The figures wore armor of deepest black. Upon their great helms brass horns gleamed brightly in the deepening gloom. From within the dark visors an emerald fire burned, the feral glow filling the men with fear.

These were the Balhain, Sur’kar’s most powerful servants. Twisted by his might until all that remained was nothing more murderous spirits endowed with great power. Even the warders feared them, and with good reason, for the Balhain had once stood among their number.

The Morne continued to flow from the gates, the army swelling in size until its number became all but uncountable.

The warriors of the east knew that they were hopelessly outnumbered; their foe would easily overwhelm them. Fear spread through the ranks and many of the men felt despair darkening their hearts.

There were many heroes in those days, both Tal’shear and men of renown. Mighty warriors who bore enchanted weapons of great power. They gathered before the assembled men and rallied their spirits. Fire shone along their blades and they stood defiant before the enemy without fear.

Lightning flashed in the darkness overhead and resonating booms split the silence. A hot fetid wind blew down from the mountain reeking of sulfur.

Twice the horns of Vi’Erud called, the discordant sound reaching far across the plain. The Trolls lumbered forward, their long legs quickly outpacing the charging Morne. Shaking the plain with their great weight.

Sur’kar’s forces slammed into the eastern army. Swords flashed and the cries of the dying contested with the clash of steel blades.