A Tale of Two Kings
On the last day of his mortal life, Hannes IV of the House of Harsinos, King of Ardoussarlis, lay bleeding upon the stone plaza before the ancient Mausoleum of the Gods, at the centre of his city, surrounded by enemy soldiers. All around them, King Geddorah’s men slaughtered all who came before them and burned every building that would catch. The put their blades to the guilty and the innocent alike, for they saw no distinction in those terms. And King Geddorah himself was there, too, mere moments away from the completion of his life’s work.
Hannes had known Geddorah in his youth, and could see his true feelings. This man was not evil. He abhorred this slaughter, but there was some greater cause that drove him on like a demon horseman, goading his steed into the grave. Hannes knew then that he was the last of his line. His children were dead, his brothers and cousins and uncles and all their children were dead. He could see that King Geddorah would commit any act in order to achieve his ends, including the destruction of his entire kingdom.
But when the gates of the mausoleum — unmoved for a thousand years — were at last cracked open, King Geddorah faltered. He knew what was inside. He had seen the giant mass or purple crystal in his visions many times. He knew what horror it contained. But when he set the vision of his eyes upon this heliotropic fortress directly, a doubt emerged. He wove his spells as he had planned, directed his alchemists and sorcerers as they had been instructed, and smashed this castle of violet glass to pieces.
King Hannes IV, last of his line, and the last Ardoussarlian king to rule in the city of Ardoussarlis, died before that work was done. He did not see the end. When the purple magic revived his flesh and caused his heart to beat once more, King Geddorah’s flight was already well underway. The Creeping Death had already left the mausoleum where the first king of Ardoussarlis had imprisoned it, and the gemstone shards of its bindings lay scattered all about, glowing in a soft magenta hue. The city lay about him in ruins. Everyone who had not fled had died, save him. Or so he thought, but no. He had died as well.
One can assume, based on the surviving evidence, that King Geddorah had discovered the Creeping Death — a black cloud full of ghosts — held within the purple crystal structure that was entombed inside the Mausoleum of the Gods. He sought to destroy it, perhaps, or even harness its power beneath the yoke of his will. Whatever his intentions, it was not to be. Once unleashed, the Creeping Death could not be tamed, or stopped, or removed from this world. Even the land around the city died, and now these Zakhab Wastes are home to orks and goblins.