Properties Of The Cloud Of Death
The Cloud Of Death (also called "Cloudkill" or "The Venom Of Tukhtar") is composed of a set of sciomantic chymicals and compounds. The most that is generally known among practitioners of the art of war is that these reagents are an inert powder, a crushed material of a salt-like consistency, and a noxious acid with high quanitities of sulfur. The few remaining scrolls which contain the recipe and proper incantations for this spell refer to these materials in mystical and allegorical terms- the sorcerors of the House of the Golden Arch, in trying to hide the shame of this horrific magic, were loth to divulge the secrets of the chymicals used.
When these reagents are mixed together, whether in a cauldron, brazier, or (as was proposed in a prototype by the sorcerors to the Khan of Tukhtar) in a thin-walled shell to be launched from a cannon, an alchemical reaction occurs, subliming the pleromatic properties of the reagents together and causing the terrifying reaction known as the Cloud of Death.
This poison cloud explodes forth with great and terrifying speed, multiplying its size exponentially within the first few moments, billowing outward like a noxious deathly octopus. The cloud resembles a mustard-yellow fog, almost too thick to see through; even from a safe distance, this cloud puts out a hellish, sulfuric stench that irritates the sinuses, causes sneezing and itching of the eyes, and causes the sensitive to bleed from the nose.
Of course, that is from a safe distance. Within the reach of the cloud, nothing survives. Those who breathe in the clouds gases are instantly slain, their lungs filling with blood as the sensitive membranes are destroyed by the poisonous air. The victims die in hideous contortions, blood spilling from mouths and noses. Their corpses rot unnaturally quickly.
The Cloud of Death is of a heavy consistency, and will often linger for days if a strong wind does not disperse it. If a Cloud settles instead of being blown away, the soil into which the dust of it sank will often be infertile or even poisonous.
However, the effects of the Cloud on the unslain are perhaps just as terrifying as the initial killer blast. Within a few days, individuals who were near the cloud (the distance necessary to induce the effect seems to vary from person to person) but who are unkilled may suddenly burst into blind blood-rage, and, mad as berzerkers, fall upon those around them, tearing them apart. Some even feast of the flesh of those they beat down.
The Yazdakh of Tukhtar, like many of the kings who rule the khanates of that region of the world, was a petty and jealous king, too aware of his weak position as despot of a minor trade-route city in a mountain desert to sit his throne comfortably. Only the second of his dynasty (though he did not know it, he would also be the last), the Yazdakh had been taught by his father to fear for his crown. His royal upbringing had filled him with anxiety and paranoia. It was because of this that in the Year Of The Purple Ox, the Yazdakh of Tukhtar undertook a vast military effort, sacking and enslaving the cities of Nikhrom, where the Pragdites brought strange goods from beyond the terrible desert of the Great Brhoz, Vizdrohm, famous for its Temple of the Toad, and fabled Tyohr Of The Golden River (this city he treated especially harshly, for he mistook the Tyohri’s poverty for open defiance, never knowing that the Golden River had been denuded of the gold flakes that once shimmered on its banks).
By the end of the year, the armies of Tukhtar were worn out. The Yazdakh’s commanders begged his irascible majesty for a reprieve. So, taking the spoils and slaves, the Tukhtaris retreated to their city and went back to doing business along the trade routes while they could, before the passes filled up with snow. The Yazdakh, ever paranoid, desired that when his soldiers would take to the fields again the next year, they would be armed with new weapons, impressive weapons to strike terror into the hearts of the Yazdakh’s foes.
To this end, messengers were dispatched to the diamond-sparkling, snow-veiled peaks surrounding Tukhtar bearing warnings of dire consequences, and out of the mountains came mystics, sorcerors, sages, and wizards, the wise men of the mountains, filing down on the backs of donkeys burdened with ancient scrolls and books, potions and raegents, and ornate trunks full of ritual implement. Each one trained in a different mystical method by his master, these men had known only solitude since their apprenticeship. Now gathered by the threat of destruction, the sorcerors eyed each other uneasily. Thus was born the House of the Golden Arch.
A madressa such as the House of the Golden Arch had not been seen east of the Great Brhoz since the destruction of the House of the Chamber of Books by the Emperor of Nikan. The sorcerors and sages of the Golden Arch bickered and battled with each other throughout the entire winter. In what way could his majesty be pleased that would leave them with their heads? The sages gathered and discussed summonings from Hell and pleromatic constructs, machines of unimaginable complexity, the resurrection of the dead, but none could imagine an idea which would preserve both the Yazdakh’s gold and his immortal soul (for some suggestions which were offered are best not to be trifled with by mortals).