Denizens of Ygg-Chall 11/04/2014 | 2468 comments

KasparWell met, my friends.

Yes, I’m sorry to say I still bear this rather ghoulish appearance. My attempts to fix my face with regenerative magic have been unsuccessful. I think it is Void magic unleashed during that ill-fated experiment that scarred my face, and it somehow negates all other forms of magic for the time being.

But enough about me. Since you’ve asked the Spy Master to tell Ivan a story about the Dark Elves and their Faceless allies, I’d better tell you a few things about the creatures that go bump in the dark.

1. Assassin

The Dark Elf Assassin is like the shadow of Malassa. Moving between shadows, Assasins have mastered the art of plunging a blade between their target’s shoulders.

Usually wearing black clothes, the Assassin's favourite weapons are a pair of sharp and serrated daggers. Some of them also have a fondness for poisons: their daggers are imbued with a mysterious kind of spiritual toxin that slowly erodes their victim's life force.

2. Shadow Lurker

The Shadow Lurker is a minor Spirit of Darkness in the shape of a floating orb of shadows with a single central purple and glowing eye and several eyestalks framing its body like tentacles, each ending in a smaller eye.

It is said these beings are born in Malassa’s dark wings, before detaching themselves to roam in the subterranean realms. Those unfortunate to cross their gaze see their worst nightmares reflected in the Lurker's unblinking eyes.

3. Skirmisher

Skirmishers are the dark reflections of the Sylvan Blade Dancers, who have developed their own form of Battle Dance, using a spear rather than twin blades. So well trained are they that they can charge and evade in the same strike, preventing their foes from reacting and retaliating before they are gone.

4. Troglodyte

Troglodytes are minor spirits of the Earth that were bound to the material plane millennia ago, and have been striving in the deepest bowels of Ashan’s underground world ever since. They are relentless diggers and burrowers, carving new caves and tunnels as if following some unknown design. Blind and possessing only basic intelligence, they can however become aggressive and dangerous when disturbed.

The Dark Elves have soon realized the usefulness of these creatures to expand their subterranean empire, and have been using magic to force Troglodytes to do their bidding.

5. Stalker

The Stalker is the typical Dark Elf whose words are soft as silk with a slight perfume of poison. Stalkers are fearless and fearsome, not known for long speeches but for expeditious action. Underground, the battlefield is too confined for the traditional Elven bows, so the Dark Elves have invented new weapons, specially designed for tunnel combat.

In the early decades of the War under the Mountains, Stalkers were known to bring chakrams to battle, but they now prefer using crossbows. After all, the Dark Elves have had plenty of painful opportunities to witness their deadly efficiency in the hands of the Dwarves.

6. Minotaur

Like the Harpies and Centaurs, the Minotaurs are Beastmen, created by the Wizards of the Seven Cities in the year 340 YSD. Half-human and half-bull, the Minotaur was meant to be the shock infantry to fight alongside the Centaur cavalry. A few centuries later, the Crimson Wizards of Al-Rubit, in a diplomatic gesture that surprised many and angered their neighbours in the Silver Cities, made a gift of one thousand loyal Minotaurs to the Dark Elves.

In a short period of time, the Minotaurs took oaths of loyalty to the Dark Elves and Malassa. Most Dark Elves appreciate the Minotaurs’ strength and reliability and consider them valuable allies. But a few clans, notably the Soulscars, tend to see them as little more than slaves.

7. Nightmare

Nightmares are unicorns that have changed over time due to their contact with Malassa. Their coat has become black like onyx, their muzzles skeletal and tortured, and their clear eyes deep black. Their horn, once a symbol of fertility, is the receptacle and the physical embodiment of the nightmares which these creatures are cursed to see and feel.

The thundering gallop of a Nightmare generates waves of horror that spread and propagate terror among enemy ranks. The horn of a Nightmare, when retrieved after combat, is a precious artefact. Crafted, shaped, and transformed, equipped with a hilt or shaft, it can become a sword or lance that carries and transmits the same nightmares that the beast itself collects.

8. Faceless

The Faceless are the children of Malassa. Masters of infiltration, spying, and stealth, the Faceless are the most mysterious and unknown of all the followers of the Dragon Gods. What little can be said of them is that they are clothed in shadow and mystery; if they are perceived at all it is a fleeting image from the corner of the eye, an odd moment of déjà vu, a strange sense that one is being watched...

The Faceless move in the shadows: they enter one shadow and leave from another. The Faceless don't need to speak, they can communicate by telepathy, from mind to mind. They are poorly trusted by their allies and greatly feared by their enemies.

9. Strider

While they are better practitioners of the Arcane Art, the Faceless do not possess the physical might and battle prowess of their archenemies, the Angels. To even the odds, and because ruse and deception are not always a viable option, the Faceless have created the Striders. These “living armours”, made of Shadowsteel (or, some would say, grown from the very blood of the Faceless), are not dissimilar, in principle, to Wizards’ constructs like Golems or Gargoyles.

Striders are possessed by the essence of a Faceless puppeteer, who controls it from the shadows. While capable of standing their own in a fight, their main role is actually to disrupt and negate the enemy’s magic. Not many people have encountered Striders and lived to tell the tale – therefore, I am unable to give you a reliable description of what the creature actually looks like! Most stories describe them as tall and gaunt, with long arms and legs, giving the Striders an almost insectile appearance. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination…

10. Medusa

The Dragon Gods have many faces, not all of them nice. Naga Priestesses who succumb to the madness of the depths are exiled from the Lotus Empire, and become known as Medusae. Most Medusae worship the Wrecker, the destructive aspect of the Dragon Goddess of Water, but some of them also turn to Malassa. After all, what lies in the deepest abysses of the ocean if not Darkness?

During their quest to find a way to bring back the Faceless Library from Sheogh and make it the centre of their new realm, the Dark Elves encountered a faction of renegade Nagas, led by Daimyo Oshiro the Accursed. These Nagas, involved in a failed coup against the Eternal Empress, had been literally forced to go underground. After being conquered, Oshiro’s people became part of the Dark Elf kingdom.

11. Manticore

The Manticore is a Magical Beast created during the Mythic Age. At that time, the surface of Ashan was irrigated by Dragon Veins. Beasts that drank these untamed rivers of Dragonblood were permanently altered by their powerful magic.

The Manticore seems to blend together the features of various animals: lion, bat, and scorpion, and is notorious for its venomous stinger.

12. Shadow Dragon

The Shadow Dragon is the avatar of Malassa, the Dragon Goddess of Darkness. They take the form of a dragon of onyx, with purple orbs embedded on their wings – these are the eyes of Malassa, capable of seeing any kind of shadows, literally or metaphorically. The Shadow Lurkers are said to be born from these glowing orbs.

The ultimate evolution of a Shadow Dragon is the legendary Black Dragon. On their wings, the eyes of Malassa are replaced by intricate patterns of light constantly dissolving, like galaxies being swallowed by the endless darkness of space.

13. Cave Hydra

Hydras are among the most formidable Magical Beasts to roam the lands of Ashan. These giant snakes, mutated by the raw magic unleashed during the Mythic Age, possess multiple heads, allowing them to attack several opponents at once. Their bite is nasty and, depending on the Dragon whose spilled blood was involved in the Hydra’s creation, it will have varying effects on the unfortunate victim.

There are as many types of Hydras as there are Dragon Gods. Some of them are purely serpentine, others have reptilian legs, and the exact number of heads varies from one species to the next. The Dark Elves have learned to tame the Cave Hydras dwelling in the bottomless Abyss.

[This is the actual Artwork for MM Heroes VII ;)]

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