‘There is a certain arrogance to the writers of the Bestiaries, books of Demonology, and codices of the undead. My particular favorite is that of the lich. Is not the description of such a creature livid and purple in it’s prose. Flesh hanging from dead bones, eyes ghastly and rotten in the sockets, the chill of unwholesome necromancy spilling from every fiber of the creature. I think the greater offence is that these so called educated men express pity for the lich, trapped in a rotting shell of meat while it chases after some apocalyptic goal.
If a lich can transcend the boundaries of life and death, what consequence are magics to preserve the flesh, enhance it beyond what it could be in wet, viscid life? I have broken through that last door and have become a lich. Yet does my flesh reek of the grave, does it hang sallow and gray on my bones? I think not. And if you find a speck of mold in my robe I’ll make you a Knight of my realm and execute my household staff.
Do not pity me for what you think I have lost. If you do, you are a greater fool than I give you credit for.’
The Lady Leshach
The Lady Leshach is of slightly greater than average height for a woman, making her eye level with most men of the western lands. Her figure is seemingly iconic of what female beauty should be, an ideal that few women are actually able to obtain. Her eyes change colors to suit her mood, flashing from cold and angry blue to curious brown, and mysterious green when she is planning ascheminging. Rarest are her gray eyes, when her spirit is filled with regret or remorse. Leshach’s face is pleasantly round with an expressive mouth that is always painted in a provocative shade of red. Her hair is platinum blonde and spills past hwaistise, only in state ceremonies does she confine it beneath a net of spidersilk and rare jewels. The rest of the time, her mane hangs loose, athickich handfuls of it are often found twirliaboutunt in her hands.
The Lady speaks with the grace of a wizenedned Queen, and the absolute authority of a King, all the time her voice remains civil and pleasant. wearing a number of rings and bracelets of rare jewels, the Lady is as expressive with her hands as with her voice when she speaks in private, or before the populace that she rules. While there is no doubt that she is not kind-hearted, there is no doubt that she is fair in her dispensation of justice.
Born the eldest granddaughter of Mastere, the Necromancer Queen, it was a given that Leshach would follow the Via Mortus and become a Death Priestess as her mother and her grandmother. While Leshach did learn the Black Arts, she did not enter into the cold clergy of the Death Keepers. Leshach has never spoken of the events, but it is known that she was groomed to be a Priestess so far as entering the Great Barrow at Ozea for her rites of initiation before the Dolmen Spirits and ghosts of the dead there. It is whispered that the clash of wills was terrible and Leshach emerged and cast away the vestments of servitude and shortly after vanished from Falhath completely.
That was well before the cataclysm of the Nightmare war, and end of the Old World. After she departed from provincial Falhath, Leshach followed a meandering path northwards until she found herself in the Capital of the Old Empire. What she did during this time is a close guarded secret that even today the Lady will not speak and will not suffer others to ask her. Many speculate, quietly, that during this time she fostered a family or had an affair with a powerful noble. It was obvious that some time during that era, she undertook the rigorous study of necromancy, as well as the purely spiritual science of nethermancy.
Exaltation and the Nightmare War
It is recorded in her Book of Wasted Tears thLeshachhch transcended the barrier between life and death during the week long hell that was the Nightmare War. it was also during this week that she started her first Dominion. At that time, things were very grim. The magical defenses of the Realm were all but silent, the great towers broken, and monsters and horrors without name ran amok in the streets and wallowed in human gore and viscera. While the traditional mages found their magics starved of power, and the devices equally fouled, Leshach found a new resevoir. Still newly gained to her lich state, but still canny with the use of necrotic energy, she caste back the monsters and horrors that had assaulted her current home, the city of Illingen.
Many monsters were simply found laying dead in the streets, their vital life force leeched away by primal power that was vast beyond even their near immortality. In areas where there were too many humans still alive, the corpses of the dead rose and attacked the horrors that roamed about. Many such beasts were slain by surprise when the body they were slowly devouring came to life and ripped through flesh and eye sockets to reach the hot wet meat of their brains. Commanding her army of the dead, Leshach cleared the streets of both corpses and unwelcome monsters, driving them into the river, breaking them against the stones, and dragging them screaming into Death’s hungry jaws.
Vald and Kess
Twins and claiming weak yet undeniable links to the now all but exterminated Imperial family, Vald and Kess took conference with Leshach. They were humbled by the near ruin of Illigen and by Leshach’s power, yet they were still nobles in blood and could not bow knee to the lich. Instead they spoke of abandoning Illigen, since that city was certainly within the newly forming boundaries of the Wastelands, and would never be safe. Seeing wisdom under poorly concealed arrogance, Leshach agreed to protect the refugees as they fled, knowing that the duo would turn on her as soon as the threat of horror was gone.
The Tomes of the Western Orthodox branch of the Trinitine Church are florid with tales of Vald’s Seduction and his later betrayal of his sister Kess. Most tales indicate that Leshach seduced the spiritually weak Vald with promises or temporal power, carnal relations and deals with the dead and damned. The tales also paint Kess as being near angelic in her opposition of Leshach, whom they always refer to by the sobriquet ‘The Mistress of Miseries’.
As usual, the truth is bitmoree complex, and not nearly as black and white as sages would like. Vald was swayed to Leshach’s side and there is credence to the rumor that he himself eventually became a lich in his own right, but that is not a tale for this day. By Leshach’s words it was Kess who she tried to seduce for she was the stronger of the two, and that she succeeded. As the foundations of the city-state of Kesselry were laid, Leshach and Kess were said to be lovers, and that Leshach learned much of statecraft from Kess as Kess learned of the soul arts from Leshach. While the church vehemently denies these allegations, the Pneumamancy practiced by the western clergy has no counterpart modern or historical in the older Eastern branch of the Trinitine Faith.
While eventually Vald would go his own path swearing bloody vengeance against the Fomorian Elves, Kess herself one day decided to die. Seeing the ruin of what was and the seeds of a new hope sprouting, she finally allowed herself to grieve for all that was lost. This was done despite Leshach’s vehement pleas for Kess to remain by her side. Instead the now venerated St. Kess passed dominion of her joint kingdom to Leshach, who in turn gave it a new name, Kesselry, and crafted in image of the old world, a ruling congress of councilmen, clergy, and nobles.
With the foundations of a Council of Bone like clergy to keep tabs on the pockets of necrotic emanations, and the newly formed Congress to rule the growing city, Leshach departed. This was a time of mourning as the lich was nearing the regular end of her mortal time span and entering into her unnatural years. During this time she invested a great deal of effort into her undead condition and found various ways to eliminate the threat of bodily rot as well as mental instability that comes from too long a life span.
Togaille, the Shadow-City
Leshach later vanishes from the histories, a period that the Faith claims was caused by Saint Helnivik driving the Mistress away with his massive warhorse and weighted fighting chains. Rather, Leshach went again East, and found a small community barely surviving on the edge of the Wastelands. In need of leadership and a protector, plus having lands that were glutted with necrotic essence, Leshach took up her second mantle. Under her guidance, Togaille survived. It’s soldiers were drawn from the graves to serve again so that the living could spend their time farming and raising children rather than feeding the gullets of wasteland monsters or marauding tribesmen who were becoming more and more common in those brutal and lawless days.
The regular and controlled releases of necrotic energy had a strange effect, breaking down the barriers between the lands of the living and the realms of the manifold dead. It was a simple thing for ghosts to make themselves manifest in Togaille, whereas in other places only the greatest act of will could they even push a coin, or write upon a fogged mirror. In Togaille they could live after a fashion again. Such rumors spread quickly, and Togaille’s population tripled in the span of a decade, as ghosts and other intelligent incorporeal undead made their way to the city.
Entire swaths of the city were vacated, turned into necropoli for the dead, where they would live in peace with the living as neighbors. Leshach smiled on this, but the corporeal undead were quickly bent to her will, or ground to dust for their impertinence. By this method, revenants of slain soldiers, and those bound to semi-existence were given purpose in her garrisons, the hungry ghosts were sated with offerings of incense. The living found themselves outnumbered by the dead, but in turn became very valuable to them. Without mortal hands to light incense or to lay offerings on tombs there would be no sustenance other than the cold effulgence of necrotic energy.
Quite the contrary to popular thought, the dead loved the living. For the living gave them praise and purpose. In Togaille, funerals soon rivaled weddings for pomp and circumstance. Tombs and mausoleums studded the lands around the city, each becoming a tower for Leshach’s spectral armies and undead legions. The incessant monsters of the Wastelands found a stone to hard to crack and soon the tombs were being built of the bones of slain giants and hellish mutants as often as with stone and mortar.
Come the Trinity
It was not long, in the years of the immortal, that the Trinity appeared with it’s heralds clad in steel armor and swinging maces and shouting psalms from their holy texts. Togaille was bypassed initially and it wasn’t until Kesselry and much of the West converted away from the Old Ways that the august bishops and cardinals of the Faith turned their eyes towards the wastes and Togaille.
The White Crusade
Now abolished from the clerical record, the White Crusade was a massive undertaking mounted by the Archdiocese of Kesselry. Nearly 5,000 crusaders marched out towards Togaille. At the plains trade city of Ys-Corlus, another 3,000 mercenaries, and 2,000 zealots of questionable loyalty and faith joined the columns. The force of some 10,000 men marched for Togaille, crossing into the Wasteland and making camp by the Harad river just above Orgain-Mille Lake.
The force was just breaking camp in the morning when they were set upon by a host of maddened beasts from the wastes. Mishapen livestock, miserable half recognizable freaks, and monsters that crawled purely from ancestral terrors broke through the Crusader lines. After six bloody hours, the monsters were cut to ribbons, but not before a third of the crusaders were dead or wounded. That evening, the dead who had not been buried were stirred from their shrouds and the camp was put to a route as the dead slew the living. Without ever laying eyes on the cold stone walls of Togaille, the crusade was broken, and it’s leader was murdered by his own scribe, recently killed by a stinger through the abdomen.
The scandal in Kesselry was severe, with half of the clergy behind the Crusade resigning their commissions and most of them taking monastic vows of poverty and obedience. Accounts of the Crusade were stricken from the records and it was if the event never occurred. Other records of Togaille and the Lady of Misery were also hidden, only to be revealed to the current Bishop of Kesselry at his anointing.
Leshach and Togaille Today
The Lady Leshach rules Togaille today both in the spirit of the people, living and otherwise. Through her ranks of carefully selected councilors and administrators, the once small town has grown into a sizeable city-state completely encapsulated within the Wastelands. This land she defends with a small but highly competent force of war ghosts, several legions of armored zombies and blade skeletons, and her own considerable sorcery.
She is confident in her own power, now almost 1,000 years into unnatural life. Her skill as a necromancer and sorceress is almost without peer, though her interests seldom wander beyond Togaille. She does spend a great deal of time collecting artifacts and legacies from the Old World, and in doing so has created a vast treasure trove of said artifacts as well as one of the most complete libraries of classical writing and thought in the world. It also helps that some of her councilors were mortal during those days and were able to scribe some tomes entirely from memory, often being consumed themselves in the effort of the writing.
As an immortal of great age, hailing from a great and terrible age, Leshach is impressively armed in terms of magic items and sorcery, as well as having enough allies to choke even the most determined of foes. It can be assumed that at need, she would have access to any regular magic item (IE not legendary) as well as a number of unique items. Likewise, her spell arsenal is vast, and she has become adept at casting her spells quickly and efficiently.
Into Darkness - The PCs are following a history to discover the truth behind the dingus (magic item, important historical person, etc) and a shadowy lead tells them of Togaille, the city of ghosts and the great library there. The PCs trek through the wastelands, facing monsters and enviromental hazards to find the Xanadu-like Togaille. There, they find opulence and splendor in the middle of ruin, girded by the dead. They must play at etiquette and deal with Leshach with grace and manners, even though they are face to face with one of the ‘great evils’ of the standing faith.
Against the Light - The Bishop of Kesselry is feeling the flame of zealotry and has an idea to launch a second Crusade into the wastes to bring down the towers of Togaille and cast Leshach into the justice of the Trinity. The PCs are brought aboard as crusaders or mercenaries and go along on a nearly suicidal attack against a vastly better prepared foe. They must battle monsters, their own dead, and then the armored ranks of the Togaille legions, as well as their commanders being possessed by ghosts and being assailed by black sorceries.
All Good Things - The PCs have come across something of the old world that is quite valuable, a book or magic item, even something artistic and useless in battle. They find buyer who will even pay them to protect the item until it arrives in a city that most people do not believe exists except in nightmares and the fevered dreams of the greedy.