(Champion Spotlight) New Champions (10.10.2019)
After their defeat at the hands of the Elves and the nascent Human Kingdoms, the Orcs fled eastwards, fracturing into warring clans and tribes. Much like the surviving Barbarian cultures, these do not form a unified society. Some Orcs are merciless raiders, all too happy to prey on the week. Others strive to follow the ancient codes of honour and desire to rebuild the legacy of their people. Teela - who was yet to earn her monicker ‘Goremane’ - had been born into the former kind of clan.
Life in the den of raiders and slavers is often brutal and short, and Teela had to learn to survive from the moment she took her first steps. Where more fortunate warriors were pampered and trained, she had to fight for scraps, steal, nurse her wounds with what meagre supplies she had. It was a hard life. But it made Teela strong. Strong and vicious enough to put down warriors twice her size and earn her place at the head of countless raiding parties.
Her reputation grew with every successful foray, but it was a stroke of strange luck that had truly thrust the Orc warrior to glory. Her raiding party came across a caravan transporting a scholar from Aravia and overwhelmed the guards without trouble. When the terrified elf pleaded for his life he mentioned a weapon of great importance, something that had apparently set out to find in the first place. Though not usually one to show mercy, Teela agreed to release the scholar in exchange for everything he knew. It was thus she had learned about the Hexdrinker Scimitar - an ancient weapon buried somewhere within the far western reaches of the Deadlands.
Chancing that the scholar’s information was true, Teela led her raiders on a long march across the dunes. The map recovered from the caravan guided them to a burrow that predated even the Barbarian tribes that controlled the area. It had not been left unguarded, of course, and the attempt to breach it called several scores of skeletal warriors to life. Teela and her fellow Orcs fought tooth and nail and even pushed the Undead back into the burrow. It was then a Revenant spirit burst from its sarcophagus, cutting down several brutish Orc warriors with contemptuous ease. It would have continued its rampage were it not for Teela’s ferocious counterattack.
She charged the Revenant, overwhelming it with a barrage of slashes and cuts. Though she herself had been wounded, pain would not keep her away from the foe. Teela and the Undead warrior exchanged blow for blow, neither finding a critical advantage until the Orc lost her weapon and was forced to fight like a cornered animal. Fortunately, she was good at that.
Throwing herself at the Undead, Teela managed to snap its ancient bones and wrest the scimitar from its deathly grip. It was only with the slash of its shadow-cloaked blade that the spirit was finally struck down and dissipated into nothing with one final howl of fury. Teela stood over nothing but scattered ashes, her hair had gone white as snow, save from her own blood staining the ends. No matter how she tried, that dirty crimson never faded away. But it was a small price to pay for her trophy, for the Scimitar possessed many powerful enchantments and allowed her to weaken her foes and even allow her allies to feed on the life force stolen away by the blade. With such a mighty weapon in hand, the legend of Teela Goremane had truly begun.
Grohak the Bloodied hails from a time of legends and tragedies long removed from Teleria’s current war. Back then, the Orcish civilization had been at the peak of its power and threatened to overturn the might of the Elven Kingdom. All it would have taken was a single leader to unite the fractured clans, and the tide of savage steel would have swept away all in its path until it crashed against the very gates of the Palace of Aravia.
Becoming that leader had been the goal of Grohak’s life ever since he first tasted victory and heard the bellowing cries of his clansmen calling out his name. He sought out challenges worthy of a warrior of legend, learned to fight the hated Elves in a way that deprived them of their advantages. Indeed, Grohak - or most Orcs for that matter - would often struggle to match the speed and sheer dexterity of their foes. But the young warchief perfected fighting techniques that would cripple and slow down Elven warriors, making them easy prey for his unbound fury.
Perhaps, he would have seen his dream realized eventually - or died gloriously in battle - were it not for the machinations of Siroth and the interference of the Arbiter. Just as the conflict between the High Elves and the Orcs reached its bloody crescendo, the dark legions of Siroth tore through the veil between realms. They invaded Teleria in force, massacring or subjugating anyone who dared to resist. It was then the Arbiter sought to recruit the mightiest mortal warriors, and Grohak had been one of the heroes to be called upon.
He resisted, at first, crying out against the Arbiter’s will as his destiny was snatched away from his very grasp. Eventually, however, Grohak accepted his new role and led countless Champions to do battle against Demonspawn hordes. He had triumphed in countless duels before the invasion was thwarted, laying many a demon low and surviving grievous wounds. Some of them could not be healed in full even by the Arbiter’s power, thus Grohak emerged from this victory scarred and forever marked by the crimson colour of his skin - a colour he had gladly embraced and brought to display on his armour.
It is no secret that true legends often rise as a beacon of hope when the hour is darkest. And so it was now. When the Orcs invaded the Kingdom of Aravia, scattered its army, and burned many of its fortresses, it was the ruler of the High Elves, Basileus Roanas who rose up to rally his people against the savages that sought to destroy everything they held dear.
A marksman without peer during his life, he led the Elven armies in a daring counteroffensive that broke the back of the horde and drove the invaders back to the very borders of the Kingdom. Roanas was credited with personally slaying a score of Orcish warlords and chieftains in the course of that campaign, for his arrows never missed their mark. Be it a black heart, a chink in the armour, or an exposed throat of a towering Ogryn.
Roanas’ army was poised to meet the newly-gathered Orc forces under Grohak the Bloodied in a battle that would have become the stuff of legends for generations to come, yet fate had different plans. The great White Eagle - the Arbiter’s own messenger - arrived on the eve of that fateful clash, bearing dread news from the east. Siroth’s demons, the missive said, were invading Teleria and their numbers were legion. The Arbiter implored the mortal armies to stay their hand and reach a temporary truce. Though it pained him to do so, the Basileus of the High Elves knew the worth of the Arbiter’s words and ordered his forces to withdraw from battle.
Soon after, the Arbiter arrived in person. She had already spoken to the Orc warlord and bound him to her will. But, unlike Grohak, Roanas did not require threats or force to make his decision. He bowed his head in acceptance and reached out to take the Shard that would bind his soul forevermore.
From thereon he fought for Lumaya’s Light through the ages, first joining his rival - Grohak - in thwarting the Demon invasion that threatened Teleria, then answering the summons from the Arbiter and those appointed by her to face a myriad of foes and dangers. As ever, the Basileus’ arrows strike swift and true, and woe betide those who stand against him.
Long before the rise of Kaerok, many self-proclaimed kings ruled the lands, though few of them were more than tyrannical warlords and slavers. It was an age when the strong thrived and exploited the weak without mercy and with no law to stop them. Yet it was also the age when Mankind forged its own destiny in the fires of battle, and the foundations of civilisation were laid by the heroes and visionaries.
Born into one of the ancient clans, Skarg had to learn the craft of battle from an early age. His kin were humble hunters, yet theirs was an inhospitable land in the north. Battling the elements, the beasts, and slavers, the clan had become strong and respected. They sought to maintain their own ancestral lands and cared little for the squabbles of others around them. Alas, that made them undesirable to the would-be rulers of the land.
Skarg had barely come of age when his village was razed to the ground by the bloodthirsty berserkers of King Rakran - an upstart warlord with the ambition of building a kingdom to rival that of the Elves. With many of their kin slain or captured, the ragtag band of survivors had no choice but to retreat into the dark mountain forests. There, Skarg led them on a campaign of vengeance that lasted many months and saw Rakran’s minions diminished by constant guerilla attacks. Finally, enraged by his warriors’ inability to crush a handful of stubborn fools, Rakran took to the field himself. Unfortunately for him, this was exactly what Skarg and his band of fighters were waiting for. They ambushed Rakran, vanquished his guard, and the would-be King himself fell to Skarg’s spear.
As victorious cheers died down around him, the Skarg reached to pick up the fallen King’s sword and held it aloft, vowing that no more would tyrants and fools threaten his kin. Skarg meant every word of that mighty oath and lived by it ever since, leading his ever-growing army to do battle against the warlords who sought to subjugate them. Over the years, he had slain countless men who called themselves ‘King’ and brought freedom to the tribes they enslaved. Even in his elder years, Skarg had no match in battle. The thunderous clarion call that heralded his arrival had sent entire armies into a terrified flight, and neither human nor monster could harm him.
Alas, Skarg had made many enemies in his life. He would not engage in mindless slaughter of those who served the defeated kings, and many of those whose fortunes he had ruined now plotted his downfall. It was at the fortieth celebration of his victory over tyrant Rakran that they struck, poisoning Skarg and his bodyguards, then converging to finish him with daggers and short swords. With the words of curses on his lips, the Elder gave battle and laid his dastardly assassins low before dropping to one knee and staring at his own lifeblood slowly ebbing away. But the sound of footsteps forced Skarg to raise his gaze to behold a woman of unearthly beauty, clad in white and gold and walking towards him.
Skarg had assumed this to be a witch’s trickery and attempted to raise his sword with what little strength still remained in his body. Yet, the stranger did not attack. Instead, she introduced herself as the Arbiter - the living avatar of Lumaya’s will - and told him in no uncertain terms that he was going to die. There was, however, another way - bind his soul to the Champion Shard and live on eternally in service of Lumaya and Her Light. Though Skarg knew little of Lumaya, he could not deny the sheer aura of power that radiated from the Goddess’ servant. After a moment of deliberation, he chose to accept. In a single blinding instant, Skarg’s wounds had been healed and the deadly poison within his veins dissipated. He was whole once more, stronger than he felt in a good decade, and filled with a new sense of purpose. The Elder bowed in reverence and pledged his sword to the Arbiter - hers to command forevermore.
A born rider and a hawk-eyed archer, Maeve serves among her Clan’s most honoured warriors. The shamans claim that she is marked by the spirits, that her clarity of mind, her cunning, and her keen aim are truly enhanced by her long-dead kindred. As per the guidance of the Clan’s spiritual leaders, Maeve covers her body in ink and devotional warpaint in preparation for battle. When time allows, she communes with the Ancestors through inhaling sacred incense and meditation, seeking their strength to add to her own.
Though it is unclear exactly how much this communion helps, few can deny that Maeve has the uncanny instincts of a master huntress. Even if her arrows cannot slay the foe with a single fell stroke, the hapless target is often wrongfooted and dazed, while Maeve is all too quick to capitalize on her advantage.
What does seem odd, however, is her ability to cut the threads of fate that the enemy’s mages and healers follow to bring their fallen warriors from the brink of death. Perhaps, there is something of value in the shamans’ ramblings after all. Or a different kind of Providence guides Maeve’s hand for reasons unknown to a mortal mind.
Not much is known about the spear-wielding warrior who calls herself Suwai Firstborn. She hails from the far reaches of the Deadlands, where the merciless desert gives way to the whispering plains of the Savannah and, further to the north, resilient forests and treacherous swamps. Though rich in game and even offering swathes of arable lands, this area is dangerous to settle. Savage Lizardmen packs often roam the plains - and especially lands near their sacred swamps and lakes - killing outsiders at will.
Suwai sometimes speaks of growing up in constant hardship, of picking up the spear as soon as she was strong enough to train with one, and of the hated beasts that claimed the lives of many kindred. Most of all, she speaks of vengeance and debts paid in blood.
Indeed, Suwai Firstborn is a vicious warrior whose ire is dark and easy to raise. When she fights, she gives it her all, striking at her foes with ruthless grace and sending fountains of blood with ever swing or thrust of her spear. The death around her only seems to drive Suwai to greater feats of martial excellence, her attacks growing stronger and more precise as hapless foes tumble and fall to the ground.
She retains much of that demeanour even in the service of the Arbiter, though through the shrewd manipulation of Lumaya’s herald, Suwai’s focus had been shifted to matters of warrior’s honour in place of simple bloodshed and blind need for revenge.
The temptation of power and immortality has always been strong, and many mages find it far too difficult to resist. Many had fallen over the millennia. Some met their doom, consumed by their hubris or slain by the Champions who brought their dark schemes low. Others, however, have endured through a mixture of cunning, luck, and sheer talent. These ancient beings cheat death in a variety of ways, though none of those can offer true salvation. The best they can hope for is the wretched existence of the Undead. Albeit for some of them, even that is enough.
Far into the dark heartlands of Stormwind Plains, a grand Mausoleum yet stands among the jagged cliffs, though many of its towers and walls have long collapsed into dust. Once a grand palace built by a civilization long gone, it now serves a far more sinister purpose. A coven of dark mages, brought back to life by the Necromancer Bad-el-Kazar, has made the Mausoleum into its stronghold. Headed by one known as Gorgorab, these sorcerers seek to delve into forbidden lore and perform vile rituals that will further their Masters’ designs across Teleria.
Despite the seeming frailty of their rotting bodies, Mausoleum Mages are not to be underestimated. Though hardly keen on engaging they adversaries head-on in fair battle, the necromancers are powerful magicians indeed, capable of crippling their foes and boosting their minions.
An unseen terror stalks the streets of Arnoc, killing at night and draining the lifeblood of its victims. Bands of militia and city guard scoured the slums countless times, yet failed to deliver any results. Dozens of them had been found dead on several occasions, slain by this mysterious murderer with horrifying ease. It had not taken long for the rumours to spread through the city, and terrified citizens to speak of a demon whose eternal hunger drives it to kill and feast on the souls of those it kills.
The truth is only marginally less terrifying. The culprit is no demon, but a master assassin who had been hanged in the city square several years ago. Whether by the hand of a dark mage or his own enduring hatred and the will of Siroth, this merciless warrior burst forth from his grave and now endures in Undeath.
Apparently the execution has not dulled his murderous talents either, it merely gave the assassin a thirst for the blood of the living. Thus armed with his own skills and the vile predatory instincts of a vampire, he roams Arnoc and metes out misguided vengeance against all who cross his path.
Though a monster without any doubt, the Defiled Sinner is also a very capable warrior, and his talents enable him to battle numerous enemies at once with shocking efficiency. Some less scrupulous heralds of the Arbiter may wish to bind him to their will rather than send him back to the grave.
Foul-mouthed, violent, and extremely good at punching faces - assuming she can reach them, but if not, guts and groins will do - Gala Longbraids is truly an epitome of a proper Dwarven Lady (according to her own words, anyway). Indeed, many surface-dwellers would be shocked to realize that Gala is, in fact, part of the nobility, a daughter of a respected Jarl and the heir to an ancient bloodline. The slack-jawed shock of that realization evident on their faces has never failed to amuse Gala thus far.
Though she struggled with her overbearing and overprotective father in her childhood, Gala’s particular talents did not go to waste. After watching his daughter getting into far too many brawls with her coevals, the old Jarl had begrudgingly allowed her to be trained in the various arts of the warrior. This had proven to be a wise decision when the legions of Siroth invaded, besieging the Jarl’s fortress and very nearly bringing it to ruin.
Never one to entertain the thought of being a damsel in distress, Gala seized one of the ornate hammers from the castle’s armoury and joined the fray. Even grizzled soldiers of the Jarl’s Honour Guard could not help but let their jaws drop for just a moment upon seeing Gala smash into the screeching mass of claws, fangs, and horns that swept through the fortress. It was not just breathtaking talent, but also her fearlessness, and the sheer aggression of her technique. Gala fought like an enraged she-bear, and no armour, enchanted or not, could save the demon scum from her wrath. Emboldened, the Jarl’s guards pushed onwards with bellowing warcries and broke the spine of the demon army within a day of vicious fighting.
When the battle was done, even Gala’s father stood in awe. This, the old man said, must have been the proudest moment of his life - fighting side by side with his daughter and securing a victory worthy of their great ancestors. Of course, he still grumbled and cursed when the Kingdom was safe and Gala’s lust for adventure led her to join the King’s expedition to the Surface. But never again did he let himself get in the way of his child’s destiny.
Ogryns are often not the smartest creatures, but there are many tasks and duties where brawn matters more than brains. Arguably, the position of a jailer does require some intellect - lest some dashing rogue tricks them into handing over the keys - but no one can deny the gravity of the intimidation factor that a warden of this sort (and size!) brings to the table.
As if that was not enough, this particular Ogryn had been given the means of handling prisoners who either have a talent for magic or are in possession of magical artifacts. The runes carved into his flesh are terrible to behold, but they let this morose creature syphon the magic from his charges. And, sometimes, even turn it to strengthen himself.
While some Undead retain their skills and even a large part of their personality, there are also those who are left as little more than shambling puppets dancing to the Necromancer’s tune. The truth becomes all the more apparent as soon as one lays eyes on this ghoul.
Though tattered and rotten, his clothes still retain a glint of past splendour. His cracked bow remains murderously efficient, and that may not be just due to foul magic sustaining it, but also due to the masterful craft of the weapon itself. It would not be a stretch to assume that once, a long, long time ago, this wretched creature had been a powerful Barbarian, perhaps even a warlord, whose skill with the bow earned him honour and riches. But now little remains of that proud warrior, only anger and razor-sharp arrows directed by a malicious will.
The High Elves of Aravia have accumulated a great many relics over the long centuries of their dominance in Teleria. Some of these are dark, accursed things, tainted by forbidden magic or, worse, by the touch of Siroth’s evil. But for every item of dark lore, there is its polar opposite - an artifact steeped in benevolent energies of Lumaya’s Light, or simply grand nexuses of raw magic.
To be a caretaker of these ancient reliquaries is a rare honour indeed, and only mages whose heart is pure beyond question are granted this responsibility. It is not often they see battle, but if they do, the Reliquary Tenders bring forth the full might of their knowledge to empower their allies or heal their wounds. Some of the items in their possession even have the power to bring the dead back to life, and that is a power that can turn the tides of battle in an instant.
When the threats in the tunnels connecting Dwarven towns and fortresses become too dire for the Militia alone to face, sworn men of the Jarls are sent out to reinforce them. These men-at-arms clear away any beasts and foes infesting the vital transport arteries that keep commerce in the Kingdom running, but they also have a place in the Dwarven Armies marching to war.
Armed with powerful crossbows, Perforators excel at slaying large armoured beasts that dwell beneath the Mountains of Despair. They equally excel at handling heavily armoured foes thanks to the ingenious design of their weapons. And even if they fail to slay the target, wounds their quivers inflict are often more than enough to make a hasty retreat seem like the best possible option.
Wealthy heirs of Barbarian Clans are often among the first ranks of any raiding or invading force. They adorn themselves with bright colours and garishly decorated outfits, screaming their defiance and competing between themselves in bravery and martial skill. Sometimes, these competitions turn quite macabre and involve tallying the heads of slain enemies to determine the most prospective young warrior. One thing is certain, anyone would be wise to remain cautious when dealing with wild and eager fighters like that!
Vilespawn are half-demon, half-mortal creatures, exhibiting the traits of both. It is often hard or even impossible to predict whether their demonic nature will prevail and turn them to evil. However, as the name suggests, Vilespawn are rarely welcome among the superstitious folk of great Telerian kingdoms.
Often driven to a life of crime or even striking dark pacts with the very creatures that sired them, Vilespawn are often not distinguished from Siroth’s own minions by the commoners. However, the powers of their blood are not necessarily used in malice. Indeed, some of them can heal as well as harm living flesh. It all depends on how the Vilespawn is willing to use their talents.
Lurkers are initiate scouts in the service of Dark Elf noble houses. Be they too young or too destitute to afford proper equipment, their patrons equip these expendable soldiers with a short bow, what little leather armour can be spared, and poison for their arrows. They are rarely meant to engage the threat directly and often either observe enemy movements or support much stronger warriors from a safe distance.