Shemnath by DocBad
Centuries ago, the city of Torudan stood as a bastion of knowledge and progress, a triumph of mortal kind. The magisters and scholars of the city mastered many studies, and their thirst for knowledge was unquenchable.
None, however, were as voracious for hidden and forbidden secrets as Shemnath, the Headmistress of the Arcane Academy. She guided her students in their pursuits but harbored a dark secret she could confess to no one. In her studies, Shemnath had discovered hints and whispers of dark entities that existed in the cosmos, beings of indescribable power who rivaled even the goddess Lumaya. At first distressed by this discovery, the headmistress soon became enthralled by it and launched an unceasing campaign to find more, tearing through the academy’s vast archives in search of a way to contact these dark and shadowed beings.
After decades of tirelessly seeking, Shemnath had finally found the knowledge she sought: a ritual to speak to the exiled cosmic gods. Wasting no time, she hurried to the temple at the very pinnacle of the city, blazing torchlight sending her shadow flickering against the fluted columns and huge marble altar. The headmistress prepared her forbidden ritual, painting the altar with her own sacrificial blood, and began to summon a window into the occult blackness.
At first, the inky portal seemed to connect to nowhere, and Shemnath wondered if something had gone awry. But then, out of the shadow, a being slowly emerged whose shape was indescribable, whose form and presence defied any logic or explanation. Shemnath quavered in its presence, horrified, humbled and broken by terror at what she had done.
A long moment passed before a foreign thought invaded her mind, tearing through her own unstable stream of thought, and a terrible voiced asked, “What is it you want from the cosmos, seeker of the forbidden?”
Trembling, Shemnath fell to her knees before the ebbing portal and struggled to answer. She had come so far and sacrificed so much of her life for this very moment, but now, faced by the cosmic horror before her, her thoughts were muddled, if even her own. Finally, a single word pierced the panic in her mind, and as bloody tears streaked down her face, she managed simply to say, “Eternity.”
“Very well,” the thunderous voice tore through her mind again, and a long, snaking tendril crept out from the blackness beyond the portal toward her. Too terrified to move, Shemnath could only watch as the tip of the tendril moved forward and gently kissed her forehead.
Shemnath looked down and watched as her flesh was petrified, turning in searing pain into stone. She leaped to her feat to flee, as if her fate could be outrun, but before she could reach the entrance of the temple she had desecrated, Shemnath was had solidified, leaving her frozen, looking down at the city below. But the curse did not stop there. It spread out, far and wide, consuming every living being in the city, converting anything of flesh and bone instead to the same marble the city had been hewn from. As soon as it was done, a scoffing laugh pierced Shemnath’s mind and the arcane portal behind her slowly shrunk to nothingness. She didn’t know who or what it was she had spoken to, only that now, she was frozen in place, yet her mind still her own.
Hundreds of years passed, and the city fell to ruin. Any living creature that tread into the city befell the same fate as its inhabitants, leaving the bastion of Torudon cursed and abandoned.
Abandoned… until the fateful coming of Wurlim Frostking, when the traitorous monarch lead his revenant army into the abandoned city. Their cursed flesh was untouched by blight that had ruined the city, and when Wurlim mounted the city temple and found Shemnath, he used the corrupted strength gifted him by Siroth to reanimate the caryatid. Though still wrought from stone, Shemnath once again could move and speak, and finding herself with no other choice, she told the Frostking what had befallen the city of Torudan. Intrigued, Wurlim offered her a place in his army of Knights Revenant in exchange for the forbidden knowledge she had unearthed.
Shemnath knew well the tale of the Arbiter and Wurlim Frostking, of the Font of Lumaya and its mystical healing properties. She knows that the corruption of the Font is his ultimate goal, but if they can find a way to break the magical ice encasing it, Shemnath’s loyalty to the Frostking — and hopefully so too her curse of stone — may very well come to an end.