The Lost Lands
Tenkuhran, the arch-lich, surveys his lands from Attafel Keep, deep within the Sea of Dust.
THE TALE OF TENKUHRAN
In an ancient age, Tenkuhran, a wise and generous Sorceror-King ruled a most prosperous kingdom. His army was unchallenged, his treasury was overflowing and his subjects adored him. While he was a great King he was also an adventurer and would lead expeditions accompanied by his most loyal knights. These knights were known as the Tenkuhran Six. The prosperity of the kingdom was possible in large part by the spoils of these expeditions because their very purpose was to seek powerful artifacts of legend from the far reaches of the world. Upon his return from these excursions there were great celebrations in the kingdom as Tenkuhran unveiled his latest treasures. After the King’s return from one particularly long journey, the people of the kingdom gathered in the palace courtyard to await delivery of the fantastic tale of his travels that was always delivered by a beaming Tenkuhran. To their surprise the crowd was addressed only by The Six.They were told that the expedition was unsuccessful and that Tenkuhran was exhausted but to enjoy the festival nonetheless. The meat didn’t seem as succulent that night and the ale not as intoxicating.
The evening ended early and the King’s subjects shuffled home with worried whispers. There had been the occasional fruitless journey before, but each time Tenkuhran had appeared with a smile and at least a humorous tale for the masses.
In the following weeks there were rumors that the King had been slain, and without a Queen or an Heir, The Six were ruling the Kingdom. The gossip was disproven when Tenkuhran appeared briefly on the Palace balcony ooking pale and gaunt. He offered only a wave of his hand and a forced smile before retreating to the confines of his chambers. Meanwhile, The Six had been convening weekly as usual but the chair at the head of the table had been empty since their return. They had been ordered to lie about the success of the expedition. But why? They had traveled
many weeks to the dense Sunken Forest where they descended into a temple that had been buried when an earthquake caused the hillside to come raining down upon it years before.
They had been searching for a fabled tome and a pair of daggers which they unearthed with little effort – exactly where Tenkuhran had said they would be. The King was eager to return home and study the relics in detail. His nose buried in the tome the entire length of the journey, he ordered The Six to deliver his message upon their return, and to leave him undisturbed in his chambers until furthere notice. The King had never lied to his people. Much less asked his
Knights to do so. This was cause for concern, but The Tenkuhran Six were loyal and while they expressed their worries to one another they would never confront Tenkuhran. They trusted him. They loved him.
There would come a day when they would all regret their inaction.
It had been nearly 50 days since their return and The king’s champions were gathering for another uninspired assembly. They had just called the meeting to order when to their surprise, Tenkuhran entered the chamber. He was emaciated and the knights were aghast at his appearance but he ordered them all to be seated and they obeyed. He stood at the head of
the table and seemed to glare down at them with contempt. And then he spoke. “You have all served me well in the past. You have killed for me and bled for me. You have helped me to obtain everything which I have ever desired.” Why, the knights wondered, was the King speaking of their honorable service in such a callous manner? This was very uncharacteristic but so had nearly every action he had taken since their return. They listened on.
“Until this day, that had been enough.” the King continued in a growling murmer. “But as you have served me in life, you shall also serve me in death.” One knight responded, “Of course my Lord.” It is known that we will serve you second only to the One God when we meet in the Everafte-" “No!” Tenkuhran interrrupted with a hellish roar, and then regained his composure.
“What I mean to say is that The One is no longer worthy of my service, and therefore no longer worthy of yours. There has been a change of plans”
The knights were outraged. "What manner of speaking is this? one knight bellowed in defiance. Tenkuhran’s eyes became as pearly grey orbs and the very flesh exploded from his bones. The six who were once standing were thrown to the floor by an unholy torrent of blood and sinew. They gazed up through stinging eyes at a terrible sight. Tenkuhran had become nothing more than a blackened skeleton clutching two daggers in outstretched arms, a swirling black aura emanating from his rib cage.
The Six drew their swords. Their beloved King was dead and this foul creature had killed him. Two knights lunged forward in attack and two tendrils of the black energy shot from the creatures chest cavity to meet them in a deadly embrace. They were paralyzed and lifted off their feet where they were easy prey for Tenkuhran’s obsidian daggers. In a cyclone of horror the King eviscerated each of them until he stood in the center of the chamber with their lifeless bodies suspended around him by the ebony tentacles.
The black aura suddenly disipated and the once glorious warriors fell to the cold stone floor in a succession of sickening thuds. The ensuing silence was broken by the spatter of blood that had begun to flow from Tenkuhran’s chest. Soon it was a crimson downpour that began to blanket the floor of the entire chamber. Upon reaching the corpses of the fallen, the hematic fluid seemed to crawl up their bodies, enveloping them. The cadavers bubbled and sizzled until the nefarious liquid began to recede, flowing back to King Tenkuhran, leaving the bare bones of his victims scattered on the chamber floors. As it did, the abomination began to regrow the flesh it had shed moments before until at last it was whole again.
Tenkuhran’s black lips curled into an evil grin. Taking his seat at the head of the table he held up his hands and muttered an incantation. Six skeletal warriors clambered to their feet and awaited his command.
“Now,” He said. “Where were we? Yes, Yes, I was saying how you all served me well in life and so you would in death, or something like that. You now have no need of sleep or sustenance. You will kill without fear or conscience. You are perefect. But I’m being rude. Although you have no need for rest, please sit. For old times sake. We have much to discuss. We have a war to plan… a war against the living”