Five centuries following the creation of the Gragan empire, a violent revolt erupted. For long centuries following the conquest of their homeland by Gragan armies, the black peoples of the great savannahs had toiled in slavery for their pale masters. Thousands of them had perished in the gold mines or had succumbed to disease while slaving away in malarial, mosquito infested rice plantations. Ever since the great Gragan fleet had come from across the ocean, their lives had been characterized by brutality and destitution. However, when the descendant of a once powerful tribal chief was brutally slain by his master, the savannah people cast aside their despair. Consumed by their thirst for vengeance, domestic and plantation slaves rose up in violent revolt against their masters. Armed with machetes and knives, the streets of the Gragan towns of the savannah ran red with blood as enraged slaves hacked their former tormentors to bloody shreds. Even women and children were not spared, screaming desperately as they were ground into a meaty paste under the relentless blows of the heavy pestles that the vengeful rebels brought down on their frail bodies.

With their small token militia cut to pieces, the resident priests of the largest Gragan colony of Sardis sent forth their desperate appeals to their gods. They had believed for years that the savannah folk, a wretched and primitive people, would never dare to rise up against the steel blades and matchlocks of their oppressors. That illusion had been shattered now. When the gods neglected to come to their salvation as the flame of revolt spread ever closer, the priests of Sardis made a desperate gamble. With terror consuming their hearts, they threw themselves at the mercy of the Sahids, the feared yet revered clerics of the gods of death. It was they who kept plagues and pestilence at bay by summoning and then subduing the dark demons of plague. However, their powers had extended beyond merely halting the spread of plague. In order to prove their devotion to their lord Sagas, the Sahids often allowed the god of death to devour the demons that they had captured, thereby enabling him to greatly amplify his strength. He in turn, had enhanced the abilities of the Sahid. And in this moment of crisis, they unleashed the dark gifts that their god had bestowed on them.

An order was given out. All the able bodied folk who yet resided in Sardis were to gather the corpses of those who had succumbed to pestilence. With malnutrition rife, many thousands had fallen prey to various illnesses, all of which proved invariably fatal to weaned frames and despairing spirits. With all their strength focused on dispelling legions of evil spirits, the Sahids had succeeded in saving thousands, but due to the sheer number of those who were falling ill, thousands more had perished before the sprit assailing them could be combated and subdued. Afraid of becoming infected by the spirits residing in decaying corpses, yet even more terrified of the grim Sahids, the mystified but terrified populace quickly gathered mounds of rotting bodies and had them transported to the main temple of Sagas. However, the putrefying corpses were not the only cargo transported into the temple. Together with their foul burden, the porters also dragged with them into the recesses of the temple, knots of frantically struggling and screaming slaves. Being of the same race that now marched on Sardis, they had been singled out for terrible vengeance by the clerics of Saga. Told to depart upon arriving with their cargo, the populace quickly fled for fear of incurring the wrath of the Sahids if they lingered. Hence they were not around to hear the awful, blood curdling wails that reverberated in the night sky. Nor did they hear other cries, low, agonised moans issuing from the dark, crouching mass of the temple, sounds inflected with sonorous tones utterly inhuman in nature...

Twenty days passed and the rebels marched into the all but deserted streets of Sardis. Having despaired of salvation, the surviving inhabitants had fled into the surrounding countryside, hoping for succour. Expecting the delights of murder and plunder, the furious rebels begun to pillage and torch every building within sight, determined to grasp anything of value. Eventually, their leader noticed the great black mass of the temple of Sagad. Gesturing with an impatient gesture, he ordered his men to ram down the great brass doors. After hours of much back-breaking effort, this was finally accomplished. With a trembling shudder, the great portals collapsed, revealing the vast interior of the temple. Eager for loot, the rebels lit their torches and greedily stared into the darkness of the interior only to find their hungry gaze reflected in the decaying orbs of the dead. Issuing eerie moans, the shambling and rotting abominations exhaled gently, a scent faintly reminiscent of attar expanding to suffuse the entire temple and its immediate surroundings. Inhaling deeply against their own confused and terrorised will, the rebels filled their lungs with the fragrant scent. Almost immediately their lungs reacted violently, decaying from within as various assorted plagues begun to devour them from within. An hour passed and eventually the rebels lay in a pool of reeking blood and flesh, having expelled their putrefying innards in the final spasms of death. The corpses watched the sight with impassive, sightless eyes. Then slowly, they shambled over to the pool of blood and begun to gently lap it up with their decaying tongues.

Additional Information

These undead are named the Harakan which in the Gragan tongue means ‘‘plague bearers’’. The Sahids created them by imprisoning the evil spirits of plague that they had subdued in the rotting shells of those who had fallen prey to pestilence. By enclosing them within physical bonds, the Sahids were able to exercise their domination over the spirits and ensure that they would unleash their infernal abilities in a manner that the clerics were able to envisage and put into action. By augmenting the abilities of the trapped spirits with their own power, they have also ensured that the Harakan kill their victims within hours rather than weeks. Interestingly, the first Harakans to be spawned were created in such a manner that the spirits animating them were only able to slay the black rebels who had risen up against their masters. By offering the blood of their slaves to the entrapped spirits animating the Harakan, the Sahids have ensured that their vile creations have developed a powerful craving for the life-force of the savages of the savannah. Starved of the ability to wreck misery among humanity and thereby to strengthen themselves from the ensuing misery that arises in the wake of an epidemic, the Harakan now eagerly await the opportunity to feed off the terror that is derived from infecting their designated victims. Ironically, in order for their physical frames to endure, the Harakan must devour the blood of the slave folk at least once every three years. Such opportunities often arise whenever the Harakan are despatched to slay potential rebel leaders among the slaves. Without this periodic supply of blood, the bodies imprisoning the spirits will rapidly decay and the fiends of plague entrapped within will escape, at liberty to engage in mischief once again. Although the Harakan are not unaware that the very blood which they lust for so greedily is also responsible for their bondage, their addiction has come to dominate them to the exclusion of all other motivations. When unleashed against the foes of the Gragan empire, the Harakan are often escorted by armed soldiers since they are vulnerable to both conventional weapons and divine assaults.

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