The Revenant

There is no magick in the making of a revenant, no ritual, no alchemy… there is only rage. Only the most grievous injustice, deepest betrayal, or greatest loss can foment the sheer hatred from which a revenant is born. As the soul of one so aggrieved leaves its body upon death, it is drawn into the realm of the dead along with so many thousand others. But while the hordes of deceased drift deeper into the dark, the revenant’s soul rebels. The outrage of what it suffered in life turns it against the flow of the others, and hatred drives it back the way it came. Ripping and tearing, it forces its way through the dead, every step won by utter brutality.

The counter march is exhausting, and the newly dead are without end. Many would-be revenants are overwhelmed, dragged down by the dead, and carried into the dark, never to return. But for those that choose to keep clawing, keep thrashing, keep suffering no matter what comes against them, their souls are kindled with preternatural rage. They become engulfed in violet flames that give no heat, a baleful pyre to light the shadows of the world of the dead. And the dead turn from them in fear then, clearing a path for the nascent revenants to pass, but there is no mercy. Still they rend their way through those that now cringe before them, cleaving their own path, not the one that was given to them.

And so a revenant returns to the world of the living, seeking out its mortal remains as a vessel to house its all-consuming wrath. Reunited with their flesh, revenants serve as the brutal enforcers and avengers of Deadhaus.

They wield enormous weapons toward the singular purpose of retribution, finding strength in the crucible of war. Every blow against a revenant fuels its need for vengeance. Violence begets violence, rage begets rage, ever enkindling the violet fires, unable to extinguish. Even if the revenant should tear apart every last soul that wronged him, still the fires would burn, for that is the price of his power… eternity.

Of Revenants – I

Twenty-third of Lau, in the year 218 after Deadhaus

I was at Fort Zaestra when it was taken by the dead. Many believe the city fell to overwhelming numbers, but this is not the truth. Countless large-scale forces had besieged those fortress walls, and all of them were repelled. It was not an army, but a single being that brought ruin to Fort Zaestra. On that day, I was in a dispute with the acting commander of the fort, Knight-Captain Harwin. I urged him to allow me to study the remains of the undead, to learn what weaknesses might be uncovered, but he forbade it, saying they should all be burned instead. He was right, of course, according to Imperial decree. I could have claimed I had been sent under emergency orders to collect a specimen, but if that fabrication found its way to the Emperor, I would hang for it.

Our argument was interrupted by a guard, breathless and drenched with rain. He told us that a Templar of the Ashen Ring stood at the gates, and Harwin and I exchanged glances. Even in those days, few of the Ashen Ring remained, and each of them was invaluable in the war against the dead. We sped at once to the gates and saw the armored figure standing silently in the rain. A gray mantle covered his head and draped from his shoulders, and on his breastplate was the emblem of the Ashen Ring, unmistakable even in the downpour. In one hand hung a mighty war maul.

“Thank the gods,” Harwin said. “Lower the bridge. Let him pass.”

“I should question him first,” I said.

“You can question him when he’s inside, Inquisitor,” Harwin answered.

The chains and pulleys rattled as the bridge was lowered, and the armored figure strode forward. Yet as he neared, a bolt of lightning streaked across the sky, and for a moment his face was illuminated from within his mantle. He had no eyes.

“Raise the bridge!!” I shrieked. Harwin, stunned by my outburst, said nothing, and his men looked to him, bewildered. “That is no Templar! Raise the bridge at once!” This time they sprung into action. Seeing that it would not reach us in time, the dead thing hefted its enormous maul overhead with one hand and hurled it at one of the windlass chains. The weapon severed the chain, clattering to the now disabled bridge, and the armored figure stepped slowly forward.

“Sound the alarm, Harwin!” I commanded.

“I will stay and fight!” he protested.

“You can fight when you’ve sounded the alarm, captain.” He knew better than to quarrel now, and flew to his task. The guards worked frantically to seal the wooden doors behind the iron gate that stood between us and oncoming death. Soon a blow fell against the gates with such force that fragments of wood splintered inward. A second blow fell, impossibly hard, as if from a battering ram. The third blow fell with such violence that the gates were shattered open, wood and iron alike. And there it stood, the Revenant, wreathed in violet flames that gave no heat. For a moment, no one moved, and I could feel the malice of its eyeless gaze like a leaden weight upon me.

One of the guards struck first, thrusting a spear that lodged into a gap in the Revenant’s armor, but it gave no indication that it felt any pain. Its cloaked face simply turned to the guard, who still gripped his spear in paralyzed terror. It then grabbed the guard by his face, and in one motion, shoved his head into a wall so that it splattered like a meat pie. Battle broke out in earnest then, and that is when I observed firsthand the nature of a Revenant.

Though many blows were struck against this creature, it was not impeded by wounds. This is not uncommon among the undead, but what truly defied explanation was that it seemed as if the physical harm that was done to it actually strengthened the Revenant. Violence, both taken and given, fed the violet fires that enveloped its armored form. Those that it struck with its maul were instantly mangled, like victims of cannon fire. Yet sometimes, for no reason I could discern other than pure hate, it did not use its maul, preferring instead its armored fists. The flesh and bone of mortal men yielded to the Revenant’s hands as wet clay to a sculptor, and it remade their bodies in the image of crimson ruin.

I observed for as long as I could, but dared not engage so vicious a foe, especially without my implements at the ready. I had no choice but to retreat and report my findings to the Emperor… but how do you destroy that which is fueled by destruction? I do not know what became of Harwin, though I heard the city bells sounding the alarm as I fled. He succeeded in that, at least. A portion of the soldiers would remain behind to secure the escape of the rest. It was for them and Fort Zaestra that the bells tolled that day.

– Alaric von Beller, Grand Inquisitor of the Thacean Empire

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