The Grand Marshal’s Debut

The four Marshals of Lotharingia had gathered in the great hall of the Cursed Iron in the city of Dusselburg to celebrate the promotion of the new Marshal of this vile lodge. Also present were the four bishops of the main cities of Lotharingia to lend a semblance of official sanction by the church hierarchy to the proceedings. But this was not just a celebration to recognize a new Lodge commandant. This gathering had been ordered by a foul and temperamental undead sorcerer known by the Lotharingians as the Green King. Elsewhere in Partum this abomination was known as the Viceroy. By whatever title or nickname he was travelling under, though, the Green King was not fooling around.

There were also some foreign heads of state in attendance to this auspicious gathering. The ruler of Condamner, a gruesome nightmare of a horror that was known informally as Le Duc, was here with a small retinue of his own courtiers both living and undead. King Sebastian, the ruler of Sachsen had made the trip to his infamous southern neighbor and stood warily with his own military advisors. The ruler of Söldnerland, the dignified and customarily silent Count of the House of Margraven, had journeyed here with a number of his finest army officers. All of these leaders were invited to be here by the Green King and while it had not been a command appearance as it had been for the Lotharingians the insinuation was clear that ignoring this invitation would not have been in their best interests. To say that everyone present was uncomfortable would have been a gross understatement.

There was one other guest in attendance to this meeting. The only woman here was a wizened and ancient night hag who had spent nearly a hundred years serving as a sort of horrific kind of soothsayer for the Fallen Knights of Lotharingia. Her name was Garstynnia and she had made a nice little niche for herself among the wicked warlords of this forsaken land and it was by her guidance that the lodges had embraced the darker aspects of their martial culture. With an eye to always drawing from ever more powerful entities Garstynnia had latched on to the Fallen Knights because they had themselves sworn a forbidden allegiance to the mysterious Patriarch of the Holy Church of the Imperium, Callidus Magna. It was from this entity that Garstynnia drew her prophetic insights, and it was from this same source that the Green King now drew the authority he needed to bring all of these people together in one place.

Prior to the Green King’s arrival there was a noticeable darkening in the hall as the candles flickered and threatened to go out entirely as if by some phantom breeze. Suddenly before the gathered guests and their hosts stood the Green King himself. Behind him magically appeared a hulking warrior clad in a blackened suit of plate armor as if he had trod through the fires of hell itself. A great blackened helm covered his features entirely and a flowing green cape with gold trim draped down and trailed behind him. The Green King gazed at the assembly before him, his pinpoints of green light flashing from the eye sockets in his weathered skull. Holding his arms out to his sides he cackled in a deep voice and said, “Well met, mortals! Welcome to the first meeting of our glorious collaboration. I present to you Lord Verrat, the new Grand Marshal of the Army of the Green King. You have all been summoned here today to swear you allegiance to our cause and to commit your armies to Lord Verrat’s command.”

There was stifled murmuring among the men in the room but none dared to raise an objection. All of them were aware of what had happened recently in Escaut. The Green King had swept in and without even bringing an army or employing the power of his stronger minions had brought the entire realm to ruin. Objecting to the whims of the Green King was not going to be on the agenda for this meeting. The Green King stepped closer to the men that now stood in fearful awe of the lich and he asked, “What forces do you pledge to Lord Verrat? He already commands Untote Druuna and her six legions of undead warriors. What more can you offer?”

Le Duc met the gaze of the lich and said without any trace of caution, “I give to Lord Verrat both legions of my ghouls. I have naught else to give, my Liege. But I do have graveyards aplenty and many corpses from feasts gone by if it pleases my Liege to animate them anew.”

Garstynnia grinned and said in her gravelly growling voice, “Lotharingia has many necromancers, Le Duc. I suggest that they be put to use in Condamner and anywhere else that the dead lay sleeping. The time has come to awaken the damned and set them to the work of the Ascending God and the glorious Fourth Imperium!”

This was met with more nervous murmuring and the new Marshal of the Cursed Iron cleared his throat and declared, “Lotharingia pledges all thirty-two of our combined legions to the service of Lord Verrat, the Green King, and his most Unholy Majesty Callidus Magna.”

The King of Sachsen looked around and then said with a slight wavering in his voice, “Sachsen will give to Lord Verrat and the Green King our entire army of twenty legions as well as our navy should the need arise for it to be pressed into service.”

The Count of Söldnerland was the last to speak, and it was clear to everyone that his heart wasn’t in this endeavor but rather he was being driven by the threat of destruction being levelled at him by the fury of the Green King. He said, “I hereby turn over to Lord Verrat thirty legions.” He left it at that and wanted all of this to end and quickly.

The Green King cackled and with evil delight stated, “With this large of an army there will be none that can oppose us. We shall secure for the Fourth Imperium the whole of northern Partum! I will require a proper accounting of all available resources that we can commit to this endeavor. The red dragons that live in the mountains of this land must be coerced to join our fight, as must the dead that lay waiting. I will need a list of necromancers that can commit fully to our work in bringing up more warriors. I shall expect our forces to be tripled in number by the time we begin operations when the snow melts! Each and every one of you will be held accountable for any shortfalls!”

Cackling again the lich’s laughter rang throughout the hall. Everyone present save for Le Duc and Garstynnia felt it to be extremely unnerving. Lord Verrat removed his helm and surveyed the room. His face was almost half-elven but there was much to suggest that the man was more human than elf. His skin was pale as if he kept to the shadows and preferred the night. His appearance was startling to some in the room because they had already met a man that closely resembled this dark and dreadful fellow. Except that the man they knew was an upright and noble paladin who would never tread such a dark path as Lord Verrat was undertaking. There was no doubt though that the two men strongly resembled one another.

Lord Verrat was well aware of this connection. And soon his enemies would know it as well.