Previous Update: Argyre
by Junpei Tenmyouji, Naggarok, and Wexiomatic (revised and expanded by CupcakeTrap)
From the second round of island explorations.
6 November, 24 CLE—Having gained the right to explore the Nyrothian mainland, the Shadow Isles have decided to undertake an expedition to Korag, a lifeless land filled with cold and emptiness—perfect for them, some might quip. For two days, the undead scouts travel inland seeking any signs or life or death, but find only more barren wasteland. On the third day, they come upon a strange sight that finally breaks the monotonous landscape. Magenta crystals, casting their vibrant light upon the snow, dot the landscape. They range in size from tiny shards to massive geodes, woven into the earth in a crystalline lattice. Getting close to the crystals nearly kills one of the living Summoner allies of the Shadow Isles, and even the mindless undead who retrieve him seem to wilt and slow in the presence of their toxic energies, with one skeleton dissolving entirely into dust. Whatever force or substance may be common to both the living and the animated undead, this is anathema to it.
The phenomenon reaches its apex in a field of crystals in the center of the region, surrounded by ruined factories. The metal should have rusted to nothing centuries ago, but the factories appear intact. The central crystal field itself is too thaumatoxic to approach, but two of the factories are far enough away to be safely investigated. The northern factory has rails running to it from the crystal field. It seems that over many years the crystals have crept forward along these rails, and now encase nearly half of it. Ambient thaumatoxicity is higher there than in the eastern factory, which is apparently untouched by the crystalline growth, but both are safe enough for a brief investigation. An initial survey of the northern factory by a handful of Summoners soon results in the loud crash of combat invocations, as they flee slinging spells at crystalline crab-like creatures that pursue them to the edges of the factory.
(Details of the resolution, which was handled by Naggarok, are available here.)
The necromancers of the Shadow Isles wove ancient spells, long forgotten by the living, to sever the link that fed the crystal field with volatile magical energy. Its clattering skeletal armies marched forth and slew the mutated crablike beasts that had infested the factories. From their pierced shells flowed rivers of ichor: though hideously mutated, they still possessed the vital spark. Karthus watched patiently, waiting until that spark dimmed almost to nothing before transmuting it into the cool glow of undeath. They arose as undead guardians obediently following the commands of the Shadow Isles.
Linking his mind and will to the thousands of skeletal warriors who had claimed the ruined factories, Karthus surveyed the old machinery from thousands of empty eye sockets at once. He sang out, and heard faint Nyrothian voices joining the melody from beyond the veil. The tune slowly changed, falling into the sturdy rhythm of an old Nyrothian work song. He gave these lost souls a purpose again, guiding them into the skeletal figures that stood around the factory. Their bony hands found their old workstations and resumed the tasks that had dominated their lives. After a thousand years drifting through the aether, they found comfort in their old routines.
Wheels turned. Gears spun. Deep underground, picks broke stone, and shovels ferried the fractured bounty into the carts, which once again rolled into the factories laden with ore. Furnaces flared. Tirelessly the skeletons worked, amidst thick blankets of hot fumes that could no longer trouble them.
“They will labor, yet never grow weary,” Karthus preached to his acolytes, who stood beside him covering their still-mortal faces with their sleeves. “A thousand years of empty leisure was their anxious torment, and work shall be their salvation.”
The creak and crash of machinery rose to a manic tempo, an industrial danse macabre. Yet the Deathsinger’s voice was clear above the din. “They have come home at last. Hear the laughter of metal, earth, and bone, and rejoice with them!”