Sunday, February 16, 2014

Pandemonia: The Black Hand

Not long after the founding of the Stormsea Republic, when some of the ancient Leviathans still stalked the world, refusing to give up the fight, one of the greatest soldiers of the age and holder of one of the last vorpal swords, Centurion Arblaster was attached to the Third Provincial Legion. The Third took part in the defense of Sunturi after a failed experiment opened a rift to some infernal plane of existence. To this day, the exact plane is unknown. But the entities that crossed over were well observed.

An army of small fiends wrought a path of destruction through the city of Sunturi, doing damage out of proportion to their small physical size. They were led by a giant, hellish Lord, protected by armor sculpted from black volcanic rock and holding a sickening black sword. His cloven feet burned the ground where he walked and the prints can still be seen in Sunturi to this day.

No soldier could stand against him. Where he touched soldiers, he burned them. When he held them in his fist, they ignited.

Arblaster called out a challenge to the fiend and stood in his way, though the Fiend Lord was twice as tall as a man. The Fiend Lord laughed and a whole city heard his mirth and quivered in fear. All except Arblaster. The Fiend Lord and the Centurion fought. Arblaster's vorpal sword cut the Fiend Lord's sword in two. The Fiend Lord slapped Arblaster with his palm and sent the man flying into a building.

The Fiend thought his victory was complete but Arblaster stood up. There was a giant, burning black hand print on his chest. Arblaster stumbled, hurt and nearly broken, toward the Fiend Lord. The Centurion still held the vorpal sword and cut the Fiend Lord in half, through its stone armor, and it died laughing.

Arblaster sank into unconsciousness and slept for a week. When he woke, his hair had turned white and the same black hand was burned through his armor to his skin. He died many years later, a farmer and a very old man. A statue of him stands in Sunturi at the site of the battle and another statue stands in his home city of Centralia.

The armies of the Republic honor bravery against impossible odds by allowing the painting of a large black hand on the armored chest of any soldier judged worthy after the witnessing of a Black Hand victory.

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