The Death Lights
I knew that man, he was a neighbor of mine. Despite the fact that we had know each other for over twenty years, we had never exactly been close though. His farm was located a distance of no else than five miles away from mine, and on the few occasions when we did meet at the village market, he respond to my greeting with no more than a sullen word of acknowledgment.
Can’t say I blamed him. Ever since he’d had inherited the farm from his father, nothing but tragedy seemed to follow him. It started when, his deceitful and loathsome brothers, filled with bitter envy that their father had left the entire family estate to him, inflicted what they deemed their revenge. They swindled him out of much of his wealth through a clever confidence trick. Ever since that, he was forced to struggle simply to keep the farm form being lost. That was the first blow. The second one came shortly afterwards, when his wife tried of their desperate financial straits,a and chose to elope with a traveling peddler. The third and most fatal one came upon him when his beloved daughter who was his only child, succumbed to a fatal ague and died.
Ever since then, he had been lost forever in despair. I suppose he longed for death, since he had lost all reason to continue living. The debts continued to accumulate. His wife never returned. And his daughter was forever lost to him.
Most odd than that when they he was found dead, he had the most content and sublime smile on his face. It had been one his creditors,a local money-lender in the village that had dropped by to deliver a stern warning to his troublesome, constantly defaulting debtor. At first, the local village council suspected suicide. Given the dead man’s troubled past, that was a very good possibility. But no traces of poison were detected by the local healer. And there were no signs of obvious self-inflicted wounds either. The whole thing was so strange.
The night before, as I stumbled home drunk after an evening spent in revelry,I encountered a most frightening sight,one that will never leave my memory for as long as I live. As I passed my neighbor’s farm on my way home, the entire area around his residence was suddenly illuminated by this sickly,green glow that seemed to suffuse everything within sight. As my horrified eyes widened ,my body and mind both were gripped by this strange,unsettling combination pure terror mixed oddly with exhilaration of the most powerful kind. As I watched, spell-bound by the eerie miracle unfolding before me, the wave of light seemed to form itself into a vast serpentine dragon. In a single fluid movement, this vast monstrous thing composed entirely of the green radiance, wound its hulking mass around the farmhouse as if to smother it within its fatal embrace.
The Lord be praised that in that very moment, some divine force urged me to awaken from the unholy trance that held me captive and flee for my life. This I did, not ceasing until I had reached the doorstep of my own farm, filled with intense joy that I had escaped the clutches of the dread monster I had seen.
-Wild ramblings of the village drunk to the priest. Made shortly before his mysterious disappearance.
Visitors In The Skies
Scour the most ancient and venerable tomes of knowledge and you will find nothing. Nothing that will serve to shed even the slightest light on a mysterious, unfathomable presence that has stalked and haunted our world for as long as the mortals races have walked it, though we have never been aware of it. Even the most primitive and fragmented legends or stories are not to be found. In short, the Uroghi do not exist and never have, insofar as the common man is concerned. This is the deliberate result of their scheming which demands that the slightest trace of their very existence be hidden from our eyes and ears. No doubt any revelation about their mysterious visitations to out realm would seriously threaten their interests. And not theirs alone. Some of our most powerful leaders have been complicit in the grand conspiracy to erase all traces of them from the collective consciousness.
Understand one thing though. The Uroghi are not maloveant beings of darkness spawned by some nameless horror to consume and destroy our race. On the contrary, they see themselves as wise and enlightened beings, that harm no living things without purpose or reason. Anything that appears foul is not necessarily vile in nature, just as all that appears fair and beautiful is not always noble in truth. Have we not been told tales of monstrous fiends that don the most comely and gentle of guises to prey on unsuspecting mortals? The Uroghi are just the reverse, thought not all may see them that way.
The inscriptions of the ancients are mention strange green lights in the night-sky, abnormal entities that were not part of the world’s constellation. Completely dumbfounded as to what they were, the priests of old named them ‘‘demon-lights’‘, fearful that these unnatural illuminations were in truth, the forms of demons soaring through the skies to wreck their twisted mischief on mortals once the night had descended. And indeed, mysterious deaths always occurred on the occasions when these lights were glimpsed. Over the long course of our history, we came to fear and revile these lights for what they were:a precursor to death.
The ancients were not entirely wrong. When the Uroghi visit our world, their vehicles leave behind a blaze of light that follows them everywhere as they race above.
The Dark Depths
As the various sentient races of the world go about the tedious business of daily lives, they tread over the face of the earth, utterly uninterested in the dark layers of soil and and rock that lie beneath their feet, forming the rugged,durable foundation of the physical world. The surface is what matters to human,elf and orc alike.
Only the dwarven people among all have made their homes in the dark bowels of the earth, but even they, fabled miners and researchers of the subterranean bounty, know nothing of an ancient but utterly alien and incomprehensible culture that lies hidden thousands of leagues beneath their deepest mine.
The Uroghi are not beings from the skies, as the ancients feared. Nay, they have lived deep in the heart of our world since it was first formed, the misshapen and twisted creations of an alien god, if such is the indeed term we can use to dignify it. We know nothing of them, and even among the elves, you will find no mention of them. The gods that brought us into life, did not sire them. And nothing that our men of wisdom and faith know of, can hope to explain origins and dark and obscure as the impenetrable depths they inhabit.
Let it suffice to say that we are fortunate the Uroghi do not trouble us very much with their presence. As I have warned, they could inspire great fear and dread in us were we ever to see actually see one. A diminutive, wizened shriveled creature, it is nevertheless capable of filling your heart with fear for it is the most monstrous thing you will ever meet in all creation, being spawned from an imagination somewhat more peculiar than that of the gods.
Mostly humanoid, they possess small, emaciated bodies that are a nauseating gray in color, the shade of a cadaver gone deep into decay. The large, bulging head is vaguely human shaped, but is grossly over sized, accounting for half of its body length, and perches awkwardly on a thick stump protruding from the Uroghi’s back. Hundreds of tiny cavities ringed with small needle like shredding teeth, line the sides of this ‘‘neck’‘, every now and then ejecting a thick strand of adhesive tissue that violently wraps itself around an unwary one among the dark wriggling things that scuttle in the dark world of the Uroghi. Hunched over in a perpetual stoop, they possess legs and arms, but rather than moving as we do with our limbs, they are more apt to slither. Both their arms and legs are so weak that they are always bent towards the ground, and end in spindly appendages that superficially resemble fingers until you notice that they are completely hollowed out. A thick white sludge that perpetually leaks out of these cavities, is a sticky secretion that allows the Uroghi to slide over both rock and earth with ease. A fifth limb extension, a thin snakelike tendril sprouting from their bent receding chest, extends a few meters ahead of the rest of their bodies, scanning the dark passage ahead of them. This is a vital part of their biology, augmenting their ability to move though their home environment. An Uroghi is almost as dependent on the ultra-sensitive receptors that are capable of picking up the slightest changes in vibration, and which are located in the tip of its fifth limb to navigate its slimy way through its pitch black surroundings, as it is on the myriad of blob-like orbs scattered throughout its head that provide them with a multi-faceted view of their world.
Such loathsome, repulsive beings might appear to one who knows not better, scarcely capable of civilization. For how could such lowly bottom feeders that live off squirming worms and other more foul bugs, possibilly hope to build a culture that could rival those of the surface dwellers?
One would be most surprised. Every Uroghi is a master-piece of creation in its own bizarre way. A combination of perfection and contentment both on an individual and communal level, the Uroghi are masters of a culture that in many ways, has far surpassed anything to be found on the surface.
Located in the heart of their subterranean homes, lies a great earthen mound that is vast and enormous, rivaling the greatest mountains on the surface in terms of sheer size. The Uroghi revere it as the the source of their civilization, indeed of their very race. For deep within its heart, lies the Goran, the all giving spark that births everything. The Uroghi regard this mysterious and potent presence entombed within the mound, as their supreme deity. Ancient memories reveal to each Uroghi how the mound housing the Goran existed before all else in the great caverns and passages. Stepped in eternal darkness, very little life flourished where the rays of the sun could not reach. But the Goran would rectify what that shining luminary had ignored. As time went along its slow, eternal way, the Goran begun the monumental task of populating its great domain with the seeds of its imagination. Slowly, various slithering and crawling things begun to multiply in the dark recesses, creatures that devoured the very rock and earth, thriving on the unique and bizarre biology which allowed them to live in a place where no other source of nutrition would have been available.
This is how the first Uroghi came into being. When the Goran heard for the first time from far above, the innocent, beautiful voices of the first elves to step from the embrace of the gods as they explored the world that lay before their awe-struck eyes, it grew envious, suddenly filled with disgust and loathing for all that it had created. For to reach the status of a true divinity, it had to first create beings that could truly think, creatures that concerned themselves with more than mere survival. Creatures that would devote themselves entirely to its glorification, making it as worthy of adulation as the divine rulers of the world above.
And so the first Uroghi came into being. Like the previous creations Goran had spawned from its maw, it was perfectly equipped for its dark, forbidding environment. Equipped with both male and female sex organs, it soon went about the business of fertilizing itself. Within hours, its skin begun to thrash wildly, as miniature versions of its ripped their way out of their parent’s body.
An Uroghi that comes tumbling out of its dead parent’s body, is filled with the desire to shape and mold the environment around it. It does not want it species to be a result of the surrounding environment. It wants the surrounding environment to be a product of its species. For it is a thinking being, afire with the innate desire of Goran to innovate and forge ahead on the path of progress.
So it was that the first Uroghi that had been spawned found themselves instinctively reaching within themselves to access the power that Goran had imparted to them along with its ambitions. Acting as one, but thinking of different things, they begun to actually will the first steps to civilization into existence. Fleshy little spores tumbled from their mouths, each one containing within it the embryo for the biological masterpiece its creator had envisaged. Rapidly developing within a matter of seconds, the Uroghi witnessed their creations take shape before their very eyes.
The next few decades were spent usefully as the Uroghi allowed their fertile imaginations to roam wild, each giving shape and form to his invention before he expelled it from his body. Vast hive-like structures, a single of which could easily house thousands of them, giant food bugs that would simply keep multiplying, giant mole-like earth movers that would smash massive holes in the stone walls to allow this wildly exploding civilization to expand, these were but the most prominent among the creations that the Uroghi spawned. For these relentless artistes and inventors, nothing was impossible, nothing beyond their reach to master the pinnacle of civilization that Goran desired of them. No leaders were needed to govern, each of them confidently reaching and striving for what he knew was best. A small essence of Goran was incarnate in each and every one of them, imparting what was was best for the community’s needs.
Each Uroghi can live for five centuries before the urge to spawn finally overtakes him. Death follows as a matter of course, and his spiritual essence returns to join the embrace of Goran. This had its obvious advantages as the most innovative and talented Uroghi continued their illustrious campaigns of creation, relatively unhindered by mortality.
But it also had one major disadvantage. The innate powers of creation that the Uroghi possessed, stemmed entirely from Goran. And Goran in truth, derived its powers to create from the spiritual energies of the dead. Every dead Uroghi that joined it once death had claimed it, renewed its strength. Alas, but they died too slowly. And their great works had drastically drained its strength, leaving it famished.
It sorely craved the spiritual energies of other sentient beings if the Uroghi were to continue their works of progress, beings more quick to die than its children.
The answer to this problem did not evade it for long. A world away, the surface beckoned with its teeming millions of inhabitants. And so it extended massive psychic tentacles towards the world above, eager to scout out any possible sources of replenishment. Goran was not to be disappointed. It could sense the discontent of so many surface dwellers that wallowed in the bleak grips of despair, their spiritual energy desperate to escape from the confines of their physical forms. Such unfortunate beings, compelled to drag out an existence devoid of all satisfaction.. But it could end their agony. It certainly could and it would.
And it begun to whisper into the minds of its children, informing them of what they must do…
Thus did the Uroghi begin to visit our world in the bellies of massive monsters that belched eldritch fire and radiance as the carried their masters with them in pursuit of the tormented human souls screaming for the liberation of death. Each seeker and his mount emerge from massive caverns they have bored all the way up to the surface, and embark on their quest, guided by Goran’s whispered commands in the direction of their prey. And when they find their quarry, their fertile imaginations release the most potent mind-altering pheromones and drugs to create pleasant hallucinations in the mind of the marked victim, as they slither from the bellies of their steed and creep into his bed-chamber to still the human’s breath with their silent but deadly fifth limb, throttling the life out of him. Ensnaring the mortal’s soul in strange, arcane devices, each unique to the inventive genius of the hunter’s mind, as the dead man’s echo departs the corpse, they quickly return to their homes beneath the surface and present themselves before the sacred mound to immerse the stolen souls in the loving and grateful embrace of Goran.
So do they deliver the unhappy among us from misery to the most blissful after-life in the arms of a very appreciative deity. Only the most powerful mages in existence among mankind, know of this, for Goran has always sent envoys from the Uroghi to buy our connivance with the wondrous inventions of their strange art. We are the only ones whom the Uroghi deem a threat to their vitally important business of soul snatching, and so they buy our silence. And so we have those killed that choose to speak about the strange lights in the skies that they would have done better to remain silent about. This is a secret we have harbored since time immemorial ever since the first user of magic was approached by this odd race. Do not ever betray it, if you value your life.
-A dying arch-mage’s revelation to his chosen successor
The embrace of Goran is akin to a state of Nirvana, where the soul of the departed, human or Uroghi, enjoys perfect bliss and contentment even as it slowly begins to be leached out of existence by the energy hungry sentient nuclease nestled in the mound . Human souls will be lavished with pleasant illusions of all that they had hoped to achieve in life, and so convincing is the art of Goran, that they will be unable to recognize the illusion for what it is. As for the imprints of dead Uroghi, they provide a far greater amount of spirit energy than the slain humans. Goran obtains this from them simply by letting them bask in his warm praise, conveying with heartfelt emotion rather than alien words, the debt their civilization owes them for the wondrous works of biology they have spawned.
Communication and Work Ethic
The Uroghi communicate with each other to ensure that their individual projects for the betterment of the community do no clash with or replicated one another’s. This is accomplished by means of a mental telepathic link that each of them shares with the rest. Whenever they deem it necessary, they will file requests or questions to the others laboring around them using this faculty. Otherwise, they will remain immersed in the trance-like state of concentration required to fully flesh out ideas in their mind and then spawn them. This is for them is the ideal state of being, one of the utmost joy since they are realizing their glorious destiny of furthering the progress of their civilization with the fruits of their inventive genius. Only the command or summons of Goran can take them away from the project at hand.
When an Uroghi does find itself compelled to stop work after birthing an especially ambitious and grand project that takes a heavy toll on its vitality, it will spend the next few weeks or months completely focused on scarfing down enough bugs to regain its strength so it can return to work again. Bringing a brilliant coup of innovation and design to life is the ultimate pleasure for an Uroghi. Even when performing a task set to it by Goran, it waits impatiently to be allowed to return to the project in progress.