11: The Swarm
The origins of the Dark Swarm are a matter of great conjecture.
The wisest alchemists, philosophers, and magicians of Midgard have speculated as to the seismic, spiritual, and ethereal origins.
All we know is that some dread corruption had brewed deep below the surface of Midgard for some time.
This unnatural tumor grew with each year and this only escalated as the ground above became saturated in civil blood.
We know that the Dark Swarm thrives on the blood of they that dwell above.
Perhaps those dark forces were merely biding their time, waiting for the right moment to emerge from their supposed slumber.
Perhaps the years of war woke them.
Perhaps they knew the time was right, that the foolish mortals above were too busy killing each other to defend against the Swarm.
Whatever the origins and whatever the time, the Swarm came, erupting from the summit of Mount Cormast. The first day after Astrell fell, the Alliance collected his body and washed it.
As Gregor washed his fallen brother’s face, he smelled the stale almond odor of hemlock and knew his brother was betrayed.
On the second day, his brave brother Gregor made to Ofren’s hall and announced to the Orc that the Alliance had no intention of surrender.
After a long struggle, Ofren took the defiant shorseman’s head. Necatus, always wary of the foolhardy revels of the savage Orc, returned to the plains.
On the third day, Elghinn set his two brothers’ bodies on a funeral pyre, the whole of the Alliance watching in full battle regalia.
But before the pyre could be lit, a rumbling came from below their feet. Looking to Mount Cormast, the grieving Alliance saw the summit crack and four beasts, serpentine and fierce, emerge from the gaping abrasion.
These were the four dragons of the Swarm, vanguards guiding the way for the perverse fiends that were to emerge behind them.
There was a dragon of pestilence; one of flame, one of ice, and one of sand and rock. Each had with it a cohort of golems, which waited on it.
As they descended the mount, the full force of the Swarm appeared behind them.
Orcs, trolls and goblins gamboled down the incline, hooting at the wind and bashing at anything in their path.
These orcs were not like those who lived in the lower caves of the mountain.
They were mad, frothing berserkers, loyal to not master but chaos. Pestilent larvae spread along the ground, and vicious razor-talon gallouses erupted into the sky, obliterating the sun.
Men who seemed to be half-pig and others who seemed to be half-wolf made their way to the plains, where they set up camp and prepared to stalk their human prey.
Most terrifying of all, though, was the military retinue that formed ranks behind each dragon and its attending golems.
This was the army of the Swarm, dread warriors of sickly blue complexion without an iota of mercy in their being.
Heedless of their own demise these mercenaries would prove loyal to the point of foolhardiness in the defense of their dragon lord.
These dragons, their golems, and their regiments of Dread Warriors, made each their several ways to the four corners of Midgard.
Ice remained on the mountain; Fire went to the Shore. Pestilence went down into the plains, and dragon of sand and rock traveled into the dunes.
Even now, dear adventurers, these serpent kings lie in wait.
But I have digressed. Let me speak of the horrors that befell Midgard as the Dark Swarm swept our land… (to be continued)