The lines were breaking all around us, men dropping their weapons and fleeing in utter terror. We had stood for days, but the undead horde was too much for us; no matter how many we destroyed, more would rise to crash into our defenses. All was lost, and the city would burn soon after.
But then a piercing cry sounded across the field, and men who moments before had broken ranks rejoined the fight, pushing back the mindless minions of destruction with renewed strength of heart and limb. A shadow made it's way across the field, and where it blocked light, countless skeletons fell apart before our very eyes.
--Soldier's tale overheard in a bar
The Phoenix is a powerful creature of light, a radiant being of majesty and beauty. The sound of its cry invigorates an army to fight for hours more. The mere shadow of its wing banishes the mindless undead and weakest of demons, crumbling their forms to dust. Its kinship with cleansing fire purifies the bodies of all those who draw near. When it takes the field in war, only the most fell of foes can withstand its might.
But as with all things, there must be a balance. After a hundred years of bringing light, its radiance must dim for a short time, so that the flame may be rekindled in a new vessel to spread light for another hundred turnings of the celestial sphere. And in those brief moments, the Phoenix is most vulnerable.
We knew that the time was near for the Phoenix to be reborn; three known spies had their minds ripped to shreds to confirm the timing, and dozens of slaves were sacrificed for our auguries, their entrails and blood painting a map of the path we must walk to remove that hated foe.
The snare was set: three armies of rotting horror were the bait, forcing the Phoenix to take the field at a time so near its rebirth, and thus be where we could grab it at its most vulnerable. We had only hours to do our work, but countless virgins were sacrificed on the twin altars of death and lustful corruption, their broken and defiled corpses piled in a mound worthy of the Old Gods themselves.
It was a near thing, but as the last wailing scream faded the raging pyre began to burn with new colors, its purifying flames tainted and corrupted by our gleeful atrocities. With an unholy cry that split the veil of life and death (and utterly destroyed no less than a hundred acolytes), the dread foe was reborn to our cause, an abomination to wreak dissolution and desolation upon the world.
--From a forgotten diary, found in a dusty crypt
Murderblaze, the Fallen Phoenix
Heretofore Bennu, a Phoenix of fearful might that struck terror into the hearts of all darkness' servants, Murderblaze is the product of an adulterative ritual performed in the middle of the purifying rebirth that all Phoenix must enact every century. The corruptive debauchery therein subverted the cleansing flames of the mystic pyre Bennu had built, perverting the very nature of his power and being, transforming him into a blackened, unholy terror.
The once-holy bird of paradise is now a harbringer of undeath, spreading rot and destruction wherever he flies. The shadow of his wings spells dissolution. The cry that used to hearten and unify men now breeds doubt, discord, and treachery. The very land spews forth its dead at his command, and his mere approach causes the restless dead to quiver and shift within their graves.
Erstwhile sunrise-hued feathers are now the shade of twilight, the beak of yellow an ebony maw. What's left of his plumage is the grey-black of rotten flesh, and his flames are the blackest of midnight's depths. The eyes, however, are the most different. Soft, altruistic gold has changed to harsh, malevolent red. His eyes burn with unending wrath and terrible fates for all those who catch his attention.
The Fallen Phoenix is no prisoner. He fully understands the nature of his existence, what he was before, and what he is now. He simply doesn't care. The corruption of his essence is truly complete; where before he desired peace, harmony, and protective strength, now his soul cries out for destruction, discord and rapacious bloodlust.
Yet Murderblaze is not a fool, mildlessly reveling in the darker elements of existence. His wit is ever as sharp as it was in centuries past, but what once was benevolent wisdom has turned into merciless calculation. When presented with a problem, he will crack it with just as much force as is required, though it can be assured that he will make the solution as painful for the recipient as possible. Emotional turmoil is just as pleasing to his senses as physical torment is.
If a flaw exists, it is his utter pleasure at the defilement and sacrifice of maidens, which resonates with the corruption permeating the very being of the Fallen Phoenix. Given the choice, he will almost always prefer it to the alternatives.
Shadow of Dissolution: Murderblaze' shadow degrades anything that it falls upon. Metal rusts, wood rots, stone crumbles and flesh weakens. Proximity is a factor, so the farm he passes over whilst soaring high will only have a minor mishap; perhaps an old tool will finally kick the bucket. But the prisoner he looms over will begin to wretch as his organs begin rotting inside his body.
Discord's Cry: The call of the Phoenix is a weapon in itself, reaching into the souls of men and stiffening their spines into steel bars. But the necromantic energies infusing Murderblaze have perverted that strengthening cry into a subversive manipulation that destroys resolve and undermines loyalties, breeding dissension and betrayal.
Corruptive Presence: The very essence of the Phoenix is a purifying force, cleansing sickness and healing the wounds of those nearby. In this Murderblaze remains the same, for his essence also expresses itself. Instead of healing and purifying, however, the tainted energy of his undeath resonates with and permeates all undead in close proximity, making them faster, stronger, and more resilient.
Blackened Sun: Drawing deep on the well of necromantic power coursing through his flames, Murderblaze can blot out the very sun, and in so doing pierce the thickest reaches of the veil separating life from death. Within that eclipse, the ground unleashes her horrible reserve of corpses, all of which march to the drumbeat of Murderblaze' command. Warriors from millennia long forgotten, restless spirits of yesteryear, all those who ever died upon that ground will rise again at his call, to wage unholy warfare on all those who defy the Fallen Phoenix.
Triumph on a Wing and a Prayer: The zombie horde has been beaten back! Now it's all over but the cleanup...Wait, what's that dark form hovering over the fleeing undead? And why aren't they fleeing anymore? ...Oh crap. --The PCs must endure yet another assault by the renewed undead hordes, strengthened by Murderblaze' presence. Lucky for them, he has better places to be, so they only have to deal with the upgraded undead.
Hide and Seek: The party has caught the attention of Murderblaze, and the Fallen Phoenix wants to have a little fun before unmaking them. Now they must try to escape their fiery foe while fighting off the inevitable undead that stir from their graves. But can they trust each other, when betrayal can ensure the survival of the turncoat in their midst?
Phoenix, Phoenix, Burning Bright: A century has passed, and tales of a fallen hero have spread across the land. The time approaches when Murderblaze must himself set a pyre and be reborn to spread destruction for yet another hundred years. Rumors spoke of a dark ritual that ensnared the hero; could a holy cleansing return him to his former glory? --The PCs must replicate the feat of the cultists who originally corrupted Bennu's resurrection, ensnaring and cleansing Murderblaze with a holy ritual while he is at his weakest. However, this is not an easy task.