Pillars of War
Long ago, in a forgotten era, a band of warlords of different cultures grouped together in an attempt to create an army of unstoppable force. These warlords came from all over the world, bringing with them the tactics and methods of all nations, to provide the proper military response to any conflict. This organization grew very quickly, filled with exceptional individuals who cared only for martial matters.
They started off as a roving band, under the banner of the Ragged King, a man of unparalleled might and tactical genius. The Ragged King received this name because he took rags of the enemy flags he conquered and stitched them together in a cape, a magnificent display of his conquests. The Pillars of War, as was the name the company, took advantage of a conflict between warlords of the east, conquering a keep that once belonged to the Marayati riders, taken during the war with the Z’ver.
There, the Pillars of War established a small city state, and since they didn’t expand beyond the deserts surrounding the keep, both Z’ver and Marayat kept out of their way, busy at each other’s throats. One day, the Ragged King received a visitor, an old woman, who predicted his rise to greater power. She said that she say it in the reflection of the moon, The Ragged King, with a cloak so large that it could have only mean one thing, he conquered all the nations and brought them under his ragged flag.
However, the old woman said that there was one requirement to ensure his success. She gave him a stone mask, and she said that the only way he would ever be able to unite all nations under his ragged flag was to win his next battle under the moonlight. The Ragged King smiled at the thought, he took the mask and wore its frightening visage with pride.
During the next battle, a nightly raid to expand his territory, the Ragged King fought ferociously, taking the front lines, thinking himself immortal because of the old woman’s prediction. He was like an unstoppable wave, cutting a bloody swathe through his enemies, feeling himself grow stronger with each new victim.
The mask was reacting to the violence, digging itself into the flesh of the Ragged King as he slew his enemies, making him stronger, more bloodthirsty. After the battle was over, the mask started to feel painful, and the Ragged King pried it off, howling in pain and breaking the mask with his bare hands. The king was changed, his eyes glowed a bright yellow, his nails were longer, like claws, and from his forehead jutted three small horns. A crown of bones, befitting a brutal king like himself. But there was something else, he felt a burning thirst that no wine or water could quench.
Days passed, the thirst grew more present and the Ragged King started to become easily irritable by little things, barking at his subordinates over nothing and constantly complaining about the desert sun, an especially curious fact considering his Marayati origin. There came a day when a servant came with his meal, the king grew irritated with something, and grabbed the servant’s throat, easily lifting him from the ground with one hand. As his nails sunk into his skin he could feel his burning thirst be quenched, the king felt bliss and relief like nothing he had ever felt.
After he was through with the boy, the king disposed of his body, and then searched for the old lady, but she had long gone. That didn’t matter for him however, he began to understand his new body, and in his new understanding he began to see what the old lady had truly give him. He experimented, purposefully gorging, then purposefully starving himself for days on end. He came to understand his condition as a new strain of vampirism, but it didn’t quite follow the norms of the Noctians or the Blood Court.
He discovered that he could feast discretely, through blood vessels under his nails if he held his hand around someone’s neck. He could still bite his prey, but he found it less effective during open combat. The blood he feasted upon healed his body and restored his livelihood, allowing him to even walk unhindered under the sun for some time. He also discovered that those he drank did not turn into vampires like himself, but if he allowed others to drink his blood then they turned into creatures like himself, but of lesser power. Slowly but surely he turned his troops, those who did not become like him became cattle, serving as food for the perfect soldiers.
He expanded his territory freely, both Z’ver and Marayat could not hope to stop this juggernaut that knew war better than anyone else. Fortunately for them, the reign of the Ragged King would soon come to an end. A silver elven woman, no one knows if she was already part of his court, or someone who came to him after finding a stone mask of her own. She had horns like his, and she was followed by ten warriors who also wore horns on their foreheads.
They cut a bloody swathe through the army of the Ragged King, especially after convincing them that the king was holding out on his power, that they too could achieve their horns through a method that she convinced them that he kept a secret. The King saw his dream crumble before him, and as his Ragged Cloak passed to the woman, his skull served as her wine goblet for many years to come. Time passed and the Silver Queen was dethroned, the Ragged Cloak passing to another, and another, and yet another.
Today there are sparse rumors of the Pillars of War, some say they disbanded, each one going their separate way to increase their individual power and skill. Others say that the company turned nomad, and appears in times of crisis to sell their services as invencible mercenaries. One thing is sure however, their keep might have been abandoned a hundred years ago, but the Ragged Cloak was seen in the past years, in any and all great conflicts that plagued Entheria.