The Northern lands were cold at this time of year; the time of year when the skies alight with blue fire; the time of year when sacrifices are made to celebrate Orcus, the Demon Prince of the Undead. The lithe figure stood atop an embankment looking over the hundreds that had gathered for tonight's invocation.
Pralin Drem was one of the gathered in the horde. Wrapping his red-robes tight about him to keep away the cold, he stared up at the High Priestess as she prepared herself for her congregation, all the while, Acolyte Trevis Maraan fussed at his side.
"We have travelled 200 leagues by Northern Sea, and another countless miles to Tavenlore and for what, my brother?" Maraan asked.
"To serve our new masters, Trevis,"
"I thought we served Pondera," the acolyte said.
"Have you ever wondered if there was ... more, Trevis. More to life than toiling over dusty books, and signing doctrine dedicated to an old religion, and a God who has been silent for nearly 100 years?" the priest asked.
"Times have grown dark, Brother, of that there is no denying." the acolyte waved a hand, "Look you, on the darkness which surrounds us .. now is not the time to loose faith."
"Faith, you say?" Pralin Drem was incredulous, "Faith in what, exactly, Trevis. For nearly 30 years, I sought the wisdom of Pondera - and through her wisdom did I come here to Tavenlore in search of a darkness which haunted the underworld here... and what i found..." Pralin's hands shook, "... horrible things. Sinful... things. Covens of vampire, engaging in bloody orgies, seething like serpents in a bloody-river, feasting on the flesh of humanity,"
"You cannot give in to your fear, my brother," Trevis said.
"Fear? I felt no fear. I felt .. envy! I wanted it. I wanted to become them. I wanted it so badly, that I swore to HER that I would do anything to become one of them!" Pralin's eyes were feasted on the lone, lithe figue in dark robes on the embankment yonder.
"You cannot be serious!?"
"Why have you brought me here. Why do you have me skulking in alleys at night handing missives to men with demon-faces?" Trevis demanded finally.
"Because it is what she wishes of me,"
"To what end?"
"So that I may, one day, become a Vampire in service to Orcus," Prelin reached into a sheath upon his belt and withdrew a dagger. "I'd hoped that you would join in my quest, Trevis. YOu have been a loyal acolyte of mine for many years,"
"I cannot condone this ... this.. heresy,"
"That is why you must forgive me, then, Trevis,"
"For wha..." the acolyte's words were cut short as Pralin Drem plunged the dagger into his throat and gave the blade a violent twist... Blood sprayed in a fountain upon his flesh, and Pralin drank deep of it and pushed Trevis' dying body away...
"FEED, BROTHERS .. FEED," Pralin shouted, as the scent of blood waiffed over the crowd of fanged night-walkers who took turns devouring the once promising acolyte of Pondera.
A New Age for Pralin Drem was beginning.
"ALL HAIL ORCUS!" he chanted, "All Give Our Love to Dralara Uth'Kemp - the embodiment of Eldrua Servant to Orcus," his eyes were mad. His hunger, unstoppable.
So began The Age Of Madness.
And the High-Priestess Spoke: "It is the Time Of Orcus, my children"
Pralin Drem wept.