Nemesis, p.1
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       Nemesis, p.1

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  By Keegan and Tristen Kozinski

  Cover by Keegan Kozinski

  copyright 2017

  Even before their ascension, the Andaar Kings were dark men. Their history was one of witchcraft and necromancy, of avarice and wanton violence. The Andaar bloodline was a bastard of the old blood, carrying a diminished power but all the lusts. Always, their minds suffered within the confines of unreasoning desire merged with the desperate need to ascend, to surpass their lofty ancestors and attain true glory. Then, in the year 2560, the first Andaar king reached an unmatched pinnacle of power among the eastern families and judged the hour right for his ascension. A shadow old as the age came before him whispering of a power so vast all eastern lands would bow in terror. This evil was Taelan Muntalabac, the Hate Monger.

  High upon the many stark towers of the Andaar palace, Rastuuri Andaar defied Taelan Muntalabac, declaring that he needed no aide in bringing the East to heel. Laughing, the Hate-Monger vanished into the night, leaving Rastuuri Andaar's soul irreversibly darkened with hate. Thus, brought to insanity by the dark poison in his soul, Rastuuri Andaar promised war on the entire east and hurled forth his legions on a path of conquest.

  Rastuuri Andaar had many rivals however, and all of them powerful, paranoid lords desperate to keep their affluence. So, with the Andaar king marching to war, Taelan Muntalabac gathered these rivals in darkness. He preyed upon their fears and hungers, speaking to them of Rastuuri Andaar's voracious thirst for power. There, amidst Taelan Muntalabac's woven shadows, the rivals fell under his sway, lost in his words. Driven by fear, they set aside their hatred to join against Rastuuri Andaar who, oblivious to his rivals' unity, marched blindly into war and was crushed. Amidst the dying screams, of his host and the burning ruins of his palace, Rastuuri Andaar fled. He found refuge in the wild eastern mountains and it was there that Taelan Muntalabac came to him anew.

  Huddled in a decrepit cave within the mountains that were his sanctuary and prison, Rastuuri Andaar spoke anew with Taelan Muntalabac. His broken means and insatiable hunger made him weak, strengthening his latent madness and sparking his desires to a fevered pitch. Taelan Muntalabac offered Rastuuri all he desired; the destruction of his foes, a host to conquer the East, unholy power and true immortality. Lost in the spell of the Dread Lord's words, Rastuuri Andaar accepted the pact. Swelling with carnal malice, Taelan Muntalabac took four things from the Andaar king: three as a price and the fourth as services rendered. He took Rastuuri Andaar's sanity; he took Rastuuri Andaar's light, he took Rastuuri Andaar's right to death, and lastly, he took any change of redemption from the Andaar bloodline, forever damning them to darkness. Thus, in the year 2568, Andaur the empire of the Andaar Kings, the Mad Kings, was born.

  Rastuuri Andaar unleashed four decades of bloodshed, war, and witchcraft upon the East. His powerful rivals were slaughtered with their bones and souls taken to be used as mortar in the new Andaar stronghold. The fortress grew with every conquest, the walls deepening and growing more numerous. Then for the final touch, a tower was added for every noble house Rastuuri Andaar enslaved. When his empire stretched from the Rhawn Mountains to the southern wastes and from the ocean to the Annuir'Hyme, over a thousand towers adorned his palace. Bloated on the death of millions, Rastuuri Andaar took his throne of skulls and christened his stronghold Karos'Myyr: Well of Misery. Throughout of all this, Taelan Muntalabac lingered in the shadows, burrowing deep into the rock beneath Karos'Myyr, growing vast on the hate of Rastuuri Andaar and his sons.

  The Andaar tyranny reigned uncontested for over a millennia. In that time, the rain came as blood, and a black mist rose that even the sun could not dissipate. Always, Karos'Myyr grew fatter and fatter on the misery of its subjects and always Taelan Muntalabac burrowed deeper into the earth, poisoning the East to its core. Thirteen Andaar kings, mad kings all, came to sit upon the ever-growing skull throne. Each, like Rastuuri, was undying. Their bodies did not age, or their minds wither beneath the weight of years, but any injury dealt to their flesh persisted, heedless of any contrivance or magic they worked upon it, allowing each new king to ascend the throne by destroying the bodies of his father and siblings. Their souls, however, lingered on undiminished by the destruction of their mortal vessels. And so, with each new generation, the new king would dig a cairn larger than a city and lock both his father and his rivals away with a thousand wretched slaves and ten thousand soldiers. These tombs became the Burrows of the Mad Kings. This darkness thrived for centuries until, in the spring of the year 3730, the light of a star pierced the black mist and all knew that the Andaar reign was ending. This day held the birth of Maevos Avenar.

  Born to the DawnHold with its unceasing fey twilight and high walls, Maevos Avenar never walked the outside world in the beginning years of his life. His father kept him hidden from everyone, even the nation's officials. Only a few ever knew of his existence. Outside of the DawnHold and its scions, only Tiberius Wyite knew of Maevos Avenar, and he lingered high up in Apelium. Maevos was held closer to the heart of his family than most of his predecessors for he was born mute when every Avenar Prince before him was born perfect.

  Fearing that his disability signified he was cursed, Maevos's family waited until his fifth summer to take him beyond the DawnHold's walls. Even then, it was more at the command of the other Avenar Princes. Maevos accompanied his father and Tiberius Wyite to the coast where a vessel waited to carry them all out to sea. They were a peacekeeping delegation, intent on unifying the various neutral island states in the western ocean. After less than an hour at sea, the once clear skies grew dark with a broiling maelstrom that crackled with black electricity.

  Crying out in a voice louder than the thunder, Tiberius Wyite called for the delegations three vessels to turn back. With a cold shadow over his heart, Maevos's father knew it was already too late. Taking his son by the hand, he pushed him below deck warning him to stay there until called for. Then he turned to confront the darkness surrounding them, his blade singing from its sheath. A dozen bestial shrieks rent the storm, and Taelan Muntalabac descended from the corrupted heavens flanked by eleven twisted beasts and their howling masters. Wreathed in black fire and storm clouds, the Dread Lord landed opposite the Avenar Prince, a crimson blade held aloft in his hand. The attending guards and sailors swarmed him and were slaughtered; their bodies shattered beneath the weight of their own fear. Swelling wrathfully, the ocean lashed against the ships and lashed the heavens. The sky cracked with thunder, and the heavens opened war on the ocean, savaging the doomed mortals caught between. Amidst the all chaos, the Dread Lord and the Avenar Prince warred as their families had warred for millennium.

  Of the three ships they sailed, one succumbed to the ocean, the second held fast under the protection of Tiberius Wyite, and the third w shattered beneath the conflict of the Dread Lord and the Avenar Prince. In the end, there could be only one survivor: bleeding from a mortal injury, the Avenar Prince struck his foe, hurling Taelan Muntalabac into the water where the ocean waves destroyed him. Collapsing to his knees, the Avenar Prince wept as the ship split in twain condemning his son to the merciless water.

  The ocean, however, did not kill Maevos Avenar. It carried him from the battle on northern tides, far from the West to where the storm clouds never lifted: to the Northern Ocean. It deposited him there upon the banks unharmed but without his memories. A Borluce found him there, his body warm despite the frigid water temperature, and took him deeper into The North to his people. They adopted him into the Borluce race.

  The evil that was Taelan Muntalabac persisted. Even as the vengeful water rent his body, his immortality sundered by the lethal blow dealt him by the Avenar Prince, the Dread Lord’s terrible soul still endured. Shielded by ancient, dark spells, his soul discarded the useless corp
se and returned east where his sons lingered. They stood as the tremors of his half death reached across the world and knew the hour of their reaping had come. He chose the eldest this time, the one with the most harvested power. Laughing with glee, Taelan Muntalabac wrenched his child's soul from the body and devoured it, leaving the mortal vessel vacant and ready to house his own terrible essence. Now, sensing their doom, the two lesser sons attacked their father. They knew he had no more use for them, for only one child of a brood could be marked, and there could not be two broods with one father. They were but infants compared to their sire however, and he devoured both of them easily, clearing the way for a new brood even as their souls augmented his already vast power.

  An uneasy peace fell over the world. Maribor Andaar sat high upon his skull throne, gnashing his teeth and raging in the collar that held him bound to the Dread Lord. He lusted after the western lands, but Taelan Muntalabac contained him in the East, waiting for his new Brood to mature. The West gathered its legions, forming alliances between lords and kings. It feared open war with Andaur,
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