Tuesday, April 29, 2008 - 10:04 PM

Last game of DnD, my players encountered an oracle, who discussed with them some of the events going on that they were unaware of. Naturally, it's a bit cryptical, given that the oracle didn't know precisely what the truth was either, but the players got a fair amount out of it. In essence, there were five other 'parties' running parallel to the player group. These parties had their own agendas, but due to circumstance and coincidence, tend to follow along the same courses the players do.

Originally, to give the players something to think about, I was going to post a brief snippet of the views of these other parties, and what's happening with them. And that got me thinking about how many stories go unspoken in my campaign. Very nearly any NPC with a name has a backstory and a history. Half of them just sort of explode out of my poor head, fully created, and less than a fourth ever get their full story revealed. So, as a periodic addition here, I'll be posting some pieces of NPC information that never got (nor is likely to be) revealed. This is not only for the DnD group's benefit...I'll be including NPCs from other games too, and I'd like to think some people NOT in my games (I don't have time to run for everybody these days) will get some inspiration and enjoyment out of it.

So, here we have the Path of Hunger.

For a long time, Naello had been terrified. It had been a quiet thing at first, a vague whisper of unease, but as he grew older, his fear grew in turn. His faith hadn't given him respite against the slow inevitability of age, and as his warrior's body tired and weakened, his desperation had grown.

He knew perfectly well that what he'd done was wrong, but how could he have continued to help the world if he became some doddering old man?

Now, cast out from his home city and despised by all those who were once peers and friends, he scowled out at a tangled, thorn-riddled forest, wishing the bleak iron gray of the sky into the hearts of those four who had made a ruin of everything.

The deaths in the city hadn't been his fault. The horrors that followed would never have happened if the four hadn't interfered, but they had.

Naello still had resources, and he intended to prove to the world that he wasn't finished yet. He refused to be remembered as a monster, and refused to succumb to the underhanded treachery that fate had chosen to deal him.

Word had reached him that the dwarf Adun was slain. Martel the Gorecrow, an old foe, also slain. The four had been responsible for both, and now they were running some errand for Caradoc, the one man who never trusted Naello, even from the beginning.

Turning from the stone maw of his window, Naello looked at the black-wrapped huddles behind him, and felt a chill.

These are loyal, he reminded himself. They are loyal, and they will die to do what is right. And I will tell them what is right.

“Listen well. These are the ones you must kill...”

In the days that passed, some farmers near the edge of the wilderness would look up, feeling unease, but they would see nothing, and return to work. Rumors of shadows in the woods grew, and children weren't allowed to stay out after dark. No one knew exactly why, but their instincts told them with a shudder that something was out there.

Much later, bones would be found in the forest, hidden, and gnawed clean. The occasional lone traveler would be noted missing, but most of the bones would go unnamed.

The five moved unseen. They would listen at windows in the evening, loping silently along back roads and hidden paths, covering great stretches of ground because their hunger made them tireless. Skulking, they collected whispers and rumors, and over time built a path to take them to their quarry. The five moved like the black talons of a single hand, slipping from the dark thickets of the wilderness to the edges of country roads, and then further north and east to lurk in wide fields and scattered forests.

A month since Naello had unleashed them, they circled a township nestled in some verdant hills, and caught a scout near there. They told him what they wanted to know, and they ate him, and took his bones to leave no traces. They were not the first devourers in that area, they knew; they'd found old ghoul tracks.

When they came near the burial mound hidden in the woods, they felt the faint tingle of consecration on the area, and fanned out, pale shadows wrapped in black, flitting between pool of moonlight and streak of midnight, shifting slowly, intent on their task.

Early that morning, Caer Ondal's villagers heard a frightening ululation in the night, and they wondered if the ghoul-worshippers had not yet been wiped out.

The truth was that the neshniya had found the scent they'd been seeking for so long. By sun-up, they were already miles away, hunting for Naello's designated prey.

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