Prologue

When the techo-sages of the Ark were told to welcome a new Ascended into their plane of existence, they expected a mighty warrior with whom they shall forge a new army to stand against the rising might of Regulos.

But a mighty warrior did not appear, and in his place, the lowly, female Ethian peasant who stood dumbstruck at the porticulum looked more at home in the confines of her own home, than stand with mace and shield against the ravenous astral beings who seek to defile our lands.

They called her a "Lamb to the Slaughter", and the more raucous of the locals spread word of a certain "Virgin Sacrifice".

But innocent as she looked, they did not know that twenty years into the future, Aishlaya of the Amudosa tribe in Sanjar Valley was credited to have single-handedly wore down an invading regiment of Regulos's forces by tricking them into following her into the precarious goat trails and arid mountain passes of her rugged homeland. They say Death Magic is most lethal to groups in confined spaces... though verifiable details of the incident are scarce and all the counterattacking Defiant forces found in Sanjar Valley after the incident was just a massive smoking crater in a mountainside.

A hundred surviving villagers from the area then converged on the patrol to offer many variations of a " first hand account" of the girl shepherd now known as the Angel of Sanjar Valley, and about two dozen of these "eyewitnesses" claimed to be her father, mother, brother, sister or long lost cousin.

Defiant scribes pieced together what they could as the forces of Regulos summarily overran all of Telara. Surviving males (and some women) under Abyssal rule, or enslavement likely still hope for mythical sheep herders turned warrior women saving them from a dark and torturous existence.

Moral of the story? Appearances (and Defiant propaganda) can be deceiving, indeed, especially when one is dealing with the hallowed Ascended.

Also, the uploader of this Mythbusters' style writeup somewhere in the INTERplanar Communications NETwork, also known as the "Internet", is probably dead.

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Confronting Death, Exploding Sheep


Aishlaya tightened the sling across her body causing the leather pack of poles and sticks on her back to rattle lightly amongst themselves as she surveyed the near-vertical cliff face. Around her were a dozen hardy mountain sheep, braying discontentedly in unison as though questioning her motives. She shivered involuntarily, her legs weakening somewhat, as her eyes became fixtated on a swirling, broiling mass of Darkness that had all but blotted out the sky, a fitting backdrop to the black hosts annihilation that are even now, descending upon the inhabitants of the Sanjar Valley thousands of feet below, from which rising air currents bring with it the sounds of panic and deathly wails emanating from bands of villagers coalescing together while tendrils of darkness, slithered and curled tentacle-like around them before closing in fist-like leaving naught but barren soil in their wake.

The waves of terror swept across the valley, their movements strangely captivating, otherworldly as they ripped and tore at the very fabric of the land, the essence of creation coming undone before the might of a thousand nightmares. She stared at this destructive union of life and death for a while, the wave of nearly silent destruction only punctuated by flashes of light and the sounds of rolling thunder echoing back and forth several seconds later, as the engines of the few magitech constructs used for agricultural work released their stored energy in deadly blasts of their own. Blasts, she noted, virtually annihilated parts of that sea of unstoppable destruction still flowing undeterred down the mountainside.

"Aish! Aiiish! Come back!" The faint calls of her name snapped her out of her trance. She glared at the source of the callings as her black robes whipped around in a bone-chilling wind that caused the sheep to bunch tightly, reassuringly against her lower legs. About a half mile distant, a small party of Ethian girls were trying to keep pace with her, stumbling as they climbed with hands and feet over jagged knife-edged boulders. She easily recognized them as her sisters, desperately calling her name, begging her to come back.

Fools, she thought, why can't they leave me alone? They mocked me since I was a child, branded me a witch and condemned me to live with the livestock. Why would they want me back? Why would I ever go back? I would rather dance with Death. I will go where none of them can. What none of them dare to do. What none of them can do. She narrowed her eyes as she leaped forward into a headlong dash, faintly muscled legs straining as she started to bound up the mountainside to where the unyielding vertical face of the cliff stood.

Death thundered in reply, streaks of dark lightning pummelling the ground not far from where she stood, their concussions reverberating around in her chest. Sharp pain shot through her body as deadly fragments of rock easily sliced through her thin garments and her slender, tightly-wound form below. But whatever injuries they caused, Aish and her sheep didn't appear to notice as they started the trot up the cliff face itself at a pace none but the most experienced of shepherds could ever hope to match.

The ancient goat trail wasn't wider than a foot and traced a near-impossible route a thousand feet up into Darkness above. On one side was the cliff face towering over the young woman and her animal companions, on the other side was a near vertical drop to the barren rocks below. One false step could send them plummeting to their doom, but none of them appeared to take notice as they trotted up ever steeper and narrow switchbacks until they were nearly out of sight, masked by that all-encompassing cloud of pure darkness.

Today, the imam of the one surviving village would tell a tale of the lone shepherd girl ascending the cliff face to confront Death itself in their hour of need, her loyal mountain sheep bounding along with impossible agility up the rocky path. Before them, bulky assortment of sticks and poles bound to the shepherd's back appeared to be of little hindrance to her progress.

The tips of the poles seemed to glow as she entered the cloud of darkness. They marked her progress, her movements, in that vile, lingering mass of nothingness that relentlessly sucked up the light of day. But just then, in that impenetrable darkness there came light. Bright points of light, arcing through the air, erupting with sharp reports as they hit their marks. Highlighting for a lingering moment of time, towering, grotesque creatues of the nether planes brought to this plane to kill, defile, consume all life. Creatures of nightmares that milled around, confused, as the herd, eyes glowing bright blue with supernatural presence, ran amongst their ranks, setting them in disarray.

Tracing the arcs of several more magical missiles, observers would notice, trembling in fear, as the very air itself was torn apart to reveal a brighty glowing point in the sky that turned darkness into day - a Rift that let down terrible tentacles of titanic proportions seeking to grasp and maim anything below. They tried to destroy the dimunitive intruders below in unison with whatever terrible monsters that could be summoned in its defence. The mountain sheep proved too small, and too quick-footed to catch, but the girl was not so fortunate.

Torn remains of her robes flew in the wind as deviously barbed claws and razor sharp fangs defiled her youthful body, with all its taut muscles strained to the breaking point and battered to submission. She howled in agony as they grappled her and raked her as they pinned her and sought to rend her from limb to limb. Yet she did not stop fighting, managing to somehow break free and wield one of her assailant's weapons against its former owner, and made her last stand surrounded, sweeping a dark staff with a glowing tip in a mighty circle. And when that broke she drew from her tattered raiments a little wand even as an arrow to the knee shattered that crucial joint and ended any hope of resistance. Just then, a tall, slender woman with deathly pale skin materialized in thin air out of the Rift, her body seductively clad in a dark corset and a long skirt slit nearly to the hips.

She took one look at the small Ethian girl taller than she was, her body lacerated, broken and yet still defiant, and laughed her lungs out mocking her defiled beauty, her minions having taken every last shred of innocence from her in mere minutes.

Looking down, she kicked at one of the furious sheep that backed up slowly and then ineffectually tried to ram her, easily impaling its skull with a dagger-like five inch heel. It would prove to be her undoing, for as she once again mocked the shepherd girl's tiny, last remaining weapon, the sheep all drove towards her all at once, sending her to the ground and stampeding her fallen form.

The Abyssal Mistress's last memory was that of the Ethian girl holding that little wand before her and exerting force with all her remaining might into it, her sinewy, tanned, blood-streaked arms straining as she howled with effort to control supernatural forces her youthful mind could barely hope to comprehend.

She watched wide-eyed as dark waters swept across the barren soil, grasping and binding her in place as they slithered around her form as the enraged, possessed sheep trod on her chest as she lay helpless. Distorted shadows flitted around, tackling several of the stunned demonic warriors still poised with weapons raised above Aish's defeated, kneeling form as the sheep, evidently possessed by some form of ancient death magic, started to glow with vile power in response to a crackling sigil of ionized air that the girl drew before her.

The shepherd's wince of incomprehensible agony gave way to a cold, ruthless smile, making eye contact with the feared Mistress of Grim Reaping moments before one of the abyssal warriors impaled her on his mighty lance through her midriff, ending her existence for good. But the works of Aish's magic was not done, for the energy in those possessed animals of hers grew in an unstoppable cascade.

Try as they might to escape destruction by hurling themselves off the cliff face before them, little to no trace of the Abyssals, nor the unlikely heroine were ever found, for the resulting detonation was sufficient to not only close that foul Rift of Nightmares, but virtually annihilate much of the surrounding mountainside with explosive power rivaling that of the Guardians' fabled Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

Nothing was ever found, save for a few of the carpal bones from her palms that had turned into crystal from the intense heat of the augmented thermonuclear blast from ten enraged Tactical Nuclear Sheep at once. One of those unique artifacts proudly adorns Aish's clavicles on a necklace made of thirteen intertwined threads. Threads that represented the Thirteen united Tribes of Eth.

In the time of our survey of Telara, she owns a small farm in the Sanjar valley of the remote Droughtlands somewhere in the south eastern portion of the Mathosian Continent of Telara, and often leads her mountain sheep up the treacherous ancient trails widely regarded as impassable.

At night, neighbours often complain of foul gases and observe flickering ghostly lights emanating from her residence. She lives alone but is rumoured to have affairs with harem girls and female entertainers, because why not?

The End


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OOC:


Dozens of nightmares, several spiritual encounters, decades of racial and gender discrimination and about a decade of wargaming, plus taking care of a real lamb, makes for an insane combination of fantasy RPG puns and nuclear-capable magical exploding battle sheep.

It is also inspired by stories of brave Kurdish Peshmerga women soldiers fighting confronting impossible odds and fanatical, drugged-up opposition as they lead the ground war against ISIL in Iraq. Some of which are known to fight to last round of ammunition, which they save for themselves.

Also based on in-game roleplaying events sponsored by newbie-friendly casual RP guild Absolom on Faeblight Server or organized by fellow new players of the realm, and basic background written as per (failed) application form to Blackwood Company.