Men have much cause for hatred Yet I am not among them In seven hundred years Lord Arkanos has brought joy and prosperity Saving ten times the number he slaughtered He is a good man, the one who succeeded where Messiahs faltered. But I will kill him all the same The purest hatred has no cause It moves without reason and springs from blackest inception True hatred has no place in Hell It belongs to something greater On the thirteenth night of winter, the peasants of Misengrad Forest were witness to the first omen. The crow landed near the village well, and in its eyes were blood and noxious water. The children threw stones at it, while farmers screamed and barred their tools. But still the bird remained. It was a priest who first had the courage to strike at it, but though frighted the crow only moved to another part of the village. For forty nights it haunted them, driven off each time but returning with the dawn to resume its vigil. _____________________________ In Edowin City, the second omen was ignored. During the Feast of St Maritas a hermit arrived at the royal court. He had come in from the wasteland and proclaimed himself a servant of the Dark Moon. With eyes of eldritch fire he called upon the city to surrender its virgin daughters, as tribute to the approaching conquerors. He was laughed from the court and stoned to death in the streets. _____________________________ For forty days, over the waters of the Tyraen Sea, the third omen was seen. The moon ran red and from the skies rained acid blood. By the second week the sea was afloat with poisoned fish and shipwrecks borne to the surface by coagulate gore. Some were struck with horror and fled to the mountains, whilst others came from far and wide to view the curiosity. Wizards and clerics toiled to purify the waters. A witches coven was uncovered in the Wiljen Woods and seven women put to the torch. But by then it was too late and a darker shape had slipped in front of the blood moon. _____________________________ There was no fourth omen. Moridemus, Lord of the EverTorn and Champion of the Iniquitous, crashed down upon the pile of corpses, his feet drilling though seven layers of bone and snapping all asunder. The mound convulsed, like a single suffering creature, as it cushioned his descent. And all around him the black wisps of teleportation magic dissipated. Shadows fell away from his armour to reveal an infernal architecture of spikes and ridges. One hand came out to grip a spear that had impaled a fallen centaur. He steadied himself, then straightened up and beheld the Plains of Baraguld. Meteors were raining from the sky, each one dark and trailing tendrils of blackest witch-fire. His army was deploying across the plateau and within the cities that defended the plain, landing amidst the ranks of Elves, Men and Sylvans who had united against the invaders. In a dozen places the battle's horizon was broken by lumbering dragons and war-beasts, while the air criss-crossed with the exchange of artillery. He leapt from the mound, crashing down onto the shields of the city guard. His hellblade bristled and soon was caked in gore as he hacked left and right, felling whole ranks of the beleaguered defenders. Shields were cleaved, armour ripped, flesh and bone mashed into the carpet of the dead. Then he roared and from his lungs poured virulent fire, a green inferno that seared eyes and melted flesh. The guard were driven back into the ruins of their city and with beastmen and slavering minotaurs Moridemus pushed forward the assault. A swarm of harpies and gargoyles whipped around him, fuelled by his aura, then poured forth into the city to pluck women and children from the streets. He would drink his evening toast from the skulls of the city lords.