A cold and bitter wind howled across a frozen fjord. Frozen remains litter the landscape of those unfortunate to underestimate the harsh conditions of the desolate tundra. Few dare brave this route on foot, fewer still make it out alive, leaving it one of the last truly uncharted places on the material plane. During the warmest of seasons in this frozen hell, some life did appear. In fact, if one knew where to look it offered a bounty found nowhere else. This desolate wasteland was a treasure trove, guarded by the whims of mother nature.
Atop the fjord a mountain rose up, scaling well above the endless clouds and their relentless onslaught of snow and ice. This mountain was visible for miles in every direction with clear weather, a natural marker to navigate by. Fishing in this area was the staple they came here for. On occasion, they risked the edges of the fjord in search of seals, bears, and other game. The crew regularly joked about even the blind being able to catch a season’s worth of food here.
All of this effort would feed and clothe Laeroth’s community for the upcoming winter. With the hunting this season being some of the best he’d ever experienced in his lifetime, his team was busy with preparations for the return journey home. The temperature had been dropping precipitously over the last few days and Laeroth was worried if they did not depart soon they might become trapped in the ice. A death sentence for them all.
Laeroth was no stranger to these sorts of expeditions, having braved these hunting grounds every summer for nearly two decades. As the only one aboard his vessel, he looked towards the shore where his crew was preparing to board the longboat with the last of the supplies. What luck, he mused to himself, as today’s weather was abnormally clear and free of snow. His musing was interrupted when he spotted his son, Daylor. Daylor had taken great initiative in leading the effort to prepare the food and furs to make their trek home. He looked forward to spending another quiet winter season with his son.
In the distance, a glint of moving light pulled his attention away from his son. As his eyes sought out the source of the movement, he noticed that it had begun to take on a necrotic green hue. His eyes finally located the source, a pulsating beacon at the base of the mountain. Laeroth’s skin was immediately covered in gooseflesh; a sense of dread washing over him. Unnoticed by him, all the sounds of the tundra had ceased. The wind, normally biting and blustery, eerily came to an absolute standstill.
Laeroth took in the scene, gauging the change to the environment and ensuring his crew was unaffected. His gaze moved back from his crew to the mountain, noticing that the pulsating light had increased in intensity. The increasing ferocity of the light, caused him to panic. Now certain that this unnatural light might pose a threat to his crew, he frantically began trying to signal them. Daylor and the rest of the crew did not see Laeroths efforts, their full attention drawn up the fjord at the light.
Laeroth remembered the horn at his side and pulled it to his lips. He let loose a piercing note which cut across the silence deafening the landscape. The crew, then Daylor, finally resist the lure of the light and turn towards Laeroths position. His gestures to move are underscored by the panic in his face. None in the crew, despite the distance, fail to see the panic and fear in his gesturing.
Seemingly all at once, the crew began frantically making their way to the longboat. Their acknowledgment of the impending threat is witnessed immediately by their abandoning of a season’s worth of supplies, food, and furs.
At that moment, the source of light reaches peak cacophony. Simultaneously, the silence that had gone unnoticed up to this moment, parted to the bloodcurdling sounds of millions of moans, screams, shrieks, and pure horror. The light exploded outward, sweeping across the landscape as if some physical wave. It blinded Laeroth, who had the good sense to throw himself behind the railing of his ship.
The screams of horror, what sounded like people in various states of dying in the worst possible imagined ways, went on for what felt like days. Too scared was Laeroth that he refused to open his eyes. His palms were pressed painfully against his ears, a futile effort to subside the disharmony of so many suffering souls screaming in the distance. His efforts went on, doubled more so by the realization that his son and crew were exposed without cover from it all.
His measure of time was lost in the chaos, but the pure noise of horror personified finally receded. He tried to blink his eyes open, fearful that the glow might still blind him yet again. Yet, Laeroth found himself in darkness, barely able to make out the parts of his fishing vessel.
Laeroth grabbed a torch, lit it, and raced to the dinghy, frantically rowing towards the position he had last seen his son. He came upon them quickly, his heart leaping into his throat as he came across them all, standing paralyzed in the dark. As if sensing his approach, the entirety of his crew collapsed in front of him, as if struck by some invisible lightning.
Laeroth stares through the darkness, with only a meager torch to illuminate the devastation before him. In a heartbeat, everything he cared about in this life, was snuffed out. As if to mock him further, a sharp breeze pulling the air towards the mountain extinguishes his torch.
In the darkness, surrounded by his dead crew, movement catches his eye. The light, though greatly diminished and no longer pulsating draws his vision to the base of the mountain. Like an ink drop staining fresh parchment, a towering black necropolis framed by the green light, rises into the night sky. It hums faintly, even at the distance Laeroth stands from it.
Movement again. This time all around him. He both heard and felt his crews rousing. Relief flooded through him as his son and crew began to shake off the mistaken assumption of death. Staggering to their feet, Laeroth rushed to his son’s location. Something was off. They made no sounds a human could make. They made no effort to respond to his calling of their names. None turned towards him despite his pleas. Jerkingly, Daylor and his crew look at him. Their eyes…
Laeroth wasn’t sure at first, but the glow coming from the necropolis seemingly was bouncing off of each of their eyes. It made them all seem unnatural. Laeroths instincts screamed something was off. How was someone whose back was turned to the source of light… how was that possible? He realized all of their eyes were glowing that same green light.
The undead crew turned in unison and marched towards the necropolis, and with it, Laeroths hopes of ever going home with his son…
Sitting languidly atop an intricate throne of bones, deep in the Shadowfell, Myrkul stared out at an empty hall. It has been over 25 years since he last manifested on the material plane. He has strong connections into that plane as his Knights have been spreading His name for decades. The souls reaped in His name have been growing as more mortals are recruited and transcend in His service. Now was the time to address his acolytes in person and to give them new direction…
With a snap of His fingers, he willed himself into the material plane. Massive amounts of necrotic energy are sent out as Myrkul appears in the material plane. A necropolis identical to the one he came from in the Shadowfell was raised in front of him in a flash. A magnificent temple of undeath and unholy energy.
Myrkul extends his senses around him, pleased with the area he chose to establish himself. The surrounding landscape was barren, frigid, and utterly devoid of life, with the sole exception of a single soul out on the ocean, sailing away from him. Myrkul glides inside to the massive hall and takes his seat upon an ornate throne of obsidian and bone. Stretched out in front of him are endless rows of tables and benches, waiting to be filled.
He extends his hand out and reaches into the void, pulling out a small bell. Myrkul sits back in his chair and rings the bell one time, a single clear note that is heard across the plane by those who serve…