Thread start copied from old CDO in order to preserve release history and presentation stories.
The tall host of Zhurem-Zhalkazinulbar marched out with heavy steps, hate and greed writ upon their bearded faces and devotional mysticism evident in their dark voices as they sang their hymns and dirges and recited their mantras and mouthed their fervent prayers.
The omens had been good, and due sacrifice in blood had been offered up to the altar fires. The fickle gods were now all on their side, and this true knowledge made every man beam with haughty pride and cruel confidence. Their demeanour was that of conquerors, and they wore their hammers and axes, their shields and blunderbusses, as a race of born rulers. All did so, except for the shamed warriors of the death’s mask. Pariahs and shunned outcasts, they were nought but slaves, and they made for a grim appearance on the battlefield as the great army deployed in deep formations.
On the other side stood the enemy, all filthy, lowly and inferior, a tribe of savages to be trampled underfoot. The warriors of the tall host knew this, for they relished in the slaughter to come.
And they raised their battlecry, with a roar alike thunder on high:
“Hat or die!”
“O great Overlord, the enemy host still defy our hats.”
“Then kill it with fire!”
The winds howled and whipped ashen clouds before them. Vultures flocked in the sky as the Third Great Army of Tjubba-Tjur deployed on a ridge to meet the onslaught of barbarian Orcs and Goblins. Such frothing maniacs and ravening hordes! That description was equally true for both sides in this conflict.
The leaders of Tjubba-Tjur watched haughtily as their infantry maniples deployed, shieldwalls and deadly blunderbusses promising steadfast resistance and shredding death to all comers. Their standard bearers and musicians signalled in ways too sophisticated for the dumb enemy brutes to fathom, and now yet deadlier forces marched up to take up position on the flanks.
Some of the youngest, yet most ambitious Tjubling leaders serving in the Temple Stud of the great city would take command of the combined arms at the flanks: Packs of whipped warhounds to halt foes and bog them down in a sea of fangs. Mobile Thunderhammer medium rocketry to blast apart enemy ranks and rattle their wits with the shriek of rockets whirling about, howling death. And the small but imposing squadrons of Tjubbutaurs, pride of the Temple Stud, fathers of thousands and bane of nations. For the Tjubbutaurs possessed power unrivalled in the eyes of devout Tjublings. Sacred creatures, they were. Their stampeding charge and ferocious swinging of great weapons would crush all under their cloven hooves.
Bazarku, ancient Great One and most revered of Tjubbutaurs, snorted and galloped to the fore of the right flank force. He trotted before his multitude of progeny, all strong and blessed by the Bull God, and silenced the yapping of the hounds with a voice thundering from out of the pits of hell:
“Today we crush bones! Today we maim bodies! Today we bring all the foes you see before us to the pyres as screaming offerings to Tjubshut! Slay! Let not a single craven escape our fuming wrath! Make them fall like the hat of Kebaznutjubbuk! Rrrraaaagh!”
At this signal, the packmasters unleashed their dogs. The rocketeers opened fire. And Bazarku the Lord of Skulls charged ahead of his numerous offspring, rapidly clearing the distance between himself and the enemy hordes with a drawn-out bellowing roar which seemed to rise from the depths of the earth and shake the heart of everyone who heard it.
He struck the enemy line alone, and all hell broke loose.
There is much, oh so much that the lesser races fear in this world.
They fear loss.
They fear death.
They fear pain.
They fear deprivation.
They fear tyranny.
They fear hell.
This is well, oh so well, for it allows us to forge all these fears into one potent symbol and strike it searing forever into the hearts of mortals.
For they will know true fear at last.
Fear of the big hat!
Beyond soaring mountains lie the vast Ashlands, a harsh patchwork of landscapes varying from steppe to lava pools and giant briar forests, cut through by dry wadies, gaping earthquake fissures and unclean streams alike, and dotted by oasises that are all too often toxic. Foreigners’ babbling rumours has it that this is nought but an empty desert - nay, it is hell on earth, a realm of smoke where daemons in towering headgear cavort in fields of fire!
Yet in these nightmarish environs, life is still to be found, far more plentiful and rich in shapes and species than one would expect of such inhospitable wastelands. These are all rugged lifeforms, made deadly or cunning or wretched to survive and prosper in such dangerous lands.
On the southern Bonefields, the fabled Bak-kak-ku bird hunt and breed, infamous for its aggressive temper and sought after as a monstrous mount by Tjubgob riders.
Dreaded Bonestingers skitters on the Bonefields among the graveyards of monsters, their bodies shaped like skulls, ever the main prey of the Bak-kak-ku.
Floating on hot streams of air are to be found the Yri-Moss-Han, great creatures resembling jellyfish with paralyzing tentacles, which Tjubgob shamans collect to chew on, in order to increase their magical potential and open up their minds.
The Wanderlust Fungus is an insidious horror of the Ashlands, for it infects living beings and alters their personalities until the host body is little more than an empty shell wandering about the wasteland, until they come across optimal conditions for founding a new colony of fungi.
All over the Ashlands can be found Trailers, slightly resembling armadillos and turtles. These tough scavengers are attracted to caravans, and will eat almost anything left over by the caravan. The longer a caravan has travelled, the more Trailers follow in its wake.
Not all life in the Ashlands has a beating pulse, nor even a breath. The winding way to the Plateau of Madness is guarded by the Watchers of Zhubb, groups of ancient stones shackled together, possessing eyes that strike terror into all wanderers. Few can gather the courage to approach them, and fewer still to meet their many-eyed gaze. These mysterious rocks are old beyond the reckoning of mortals, mute witnesses to forgotten secrets…
Such are some of the flora and fauna in the Ashlands.