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 The Esoteric Order

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Jape
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PostSubject: The Esoteric Order   Sun 25 Mar 2012 - 16:21

The Esoteric Order

Before the Great Cataclysm laid waste to Mordheim, it already had its fair share of macabre tales. Many surrounded the deep, dark waters of the River Stir which run through the city. Although the waterway was a source of great wealth from trade, many locals dared not frequent its quays and docks at night. Those who did, watchmen, smugglers and the like often told strange tales, or simply disappeared into the depths. Stories of fish men, ethereal flames playing on the waters and siren calls have long been part of local legend. But when Sigmar’s judgement fell upon the city, the terrors half-seen and whispered of in taverns burst forth into the light.

At the time of the millennium, as daemons and beasts of all unimaginable forms stalked the streets its not hard to understand why people paid little attention as the Stir fermented and ships and buildings were consumed by the sea. Eventually however, as the few sane witnesses of the Cataclysm reported what they knew, and adventurers flocked to seize the booty of the cursed city, yet another dark shadow seemed to fall over Mordheim.

Along the eastern bank of the river, nearest the Pit and where the old fisherman’s market now stands a gutted ruin, a new cult had arisen - the Esoteric Order. The Order quickly gained attention for two reasons. Firstly, its leader, known simply as the Patriarch, was widely believed to be Oved Broek, formerly a priest of the sea god Manann, driven insane into the arms of Chaos by the Cataclysm[1]. Secondly, the presence of hideous, shambling, tentacled river creatures within its ranks. Categorised in the mad monk Hans von Hoffman’s Liber Creaturis Impiorum as Homo Cephalopoda; the Deep Ones of legend.

The Patriarch soon established a following amongst the displaced and insane within the city. At a time of starvation and drought, the Order offered these dregs a bounty of fish and clean water provided by the Deep Ones. On giving themselves over, the Patriarch baptised them in the foul, wyrdstone contaminated waters of the Stir. Many soon felt the effect, as the ‘blessing of Dagonis’[2] came over them. No member of the Order has been seen without at least some physical degeneration, with bulging black eyes, webbed hands, and gills being most common. Others degenerated into creatures no longer discernable as men, developing tentacles, claws and crustacean like hides under the sway of Chaos itself.


The touch of Dagonis

[1] This was later confirmed on recovery of Broek’s grimoire, Codex Dagonis, during the cleansing of Mordheim by Magnus the Pious in 2314. It was placed within the vaults of the Order of the Silver Hammer, though has since disappeared.
[2] Inquisition scholars have struggled to ascertain the nature of Dagonis. An avatar of Nurgle seems possible, however the Order’s obsession with rebirth and change would point to Tzeentch. Broek himself claimed it to be a twisted, dark apparition of Manann, or rather his pure form, as taught to him by the Deep Ones. In reality due to his shattered sanity, it is very likely the Ruinous Powers as a whole acted to twist the deranged priest’s beliefs to suit themselves. Notably daemons named as Dagos, D’gon and Gonaris have been reported near lakes, river and even by sailors on the high seas, for centuries.


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Von Kurst
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PostSubject: Re: The Esoteric Order   Tue 27 Mar 2012 - 18:14

This is a great little article. Just writing or is it for a warband or campaign? Will there be more?
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PostSubject: Re: The Esoteric Order   Wed 28 Mar 2012 - 7:48

Why thank you. Its for a Possessed warband I plan to assemble - fishy cultists, aquatic themed mutants and I'm looking at a Genetstealer/Ghoul/Kroot mashup to create some Beastmen 'Deep Ones' stand ins. However my present money situation means this might take some time.

I should be posting some more fluff though at some point.
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PostSubject: Re: The Esoteric Order   Wed 28 Mar 2012 - 18:58

Excerpts from the Journal of Hans Jansz, Witchfinder Captain of the Templars of Sigmar

27th Day of Vorgeheim
My men and I have arrived in Sigmarhaven after an uneventful journey late in the evening. It is a decrepit place, a tent and hovel city of cutthroats and heretics. In the torch lit streets I see drunkards and prostitutes but I sense even worse beneath the surface. If we did not have greater purpose I would command my men to purge the whole cursed town. The stench of death and decay carries from the ruins of Mordheim. Our mission beckons us. In the name of the Lord Sigmar, His will shall be done.

28th Day of Vorgeheim

We set out into the City today. The tales have not done it justice. Truly this is a place of the Damned. The ruins are slick with purification and blood. On more than one occasion we have come across fresh corpses in the streets, mercenary rogues who paid the price for their greed. The journey has been difficult. The map Adolfus, one of my lieutenants, purchased in Sigmarhaven has proven highly inaccurate, while many roads are blocked by rubble. He has made a note of the merchant he procured it from and on our return the man shall receive justice for trying to fool servants of the Lord. We have made camp for the night in an old tavern. By Mordheim’s standards it is in good condition and easily defensible, though Erich has claimed to have heard chittering and other noises emanating from the cellar. He is but a boy and has clearly been shaken by the fell atmosphere of this place. Father Manfred has commanded him to perform ten patricianal chants to cleanse himself of fear. Now we rest.

29th Day of Vorgeheim
Erich and Erwin are dead. Both were on sentry duty and never woke us to change the guard. They were found at sunrise in the cellar. Erwin‘s throat was all but torn out, while Erich had been disembowelled. We searched the entire building for signs of entry but found nothing, save strange markings, as if made by giant claws, and a pool of dark blood near the bodies, certainly not human, for it stank of foul corruption. After Father Manfred blessed the bodies, the men soaked the cellar in pitch and set it alight. We watched the old tavern as it slowly consumed itself in flame. Later as the building gave way and crashed in on itself we all heard a hideous shrieking over the demolition. It seems Erich was not wrong to be fearful, may Sigmar forgive me.

We marched on deeper into the city. Soon we began to see signs of Broek’s heretical cabal as we approached the river. We found strange ruinous signs on ruins by the old Osterquay. Adolphus made ridiculous claims that he saw them glowing. He was upsetting the men so I took him aside and instructed him - forcefully - in Sigmar’s righteousness. I have instructed him and the men to establish a redoubt in a courtyard, using masonry and timbers. Then we took turns to rest before sunset. We will be on guard throughout the night, we shan’t have a repeat of the tavern. The stench from the Stir is almost unbearable.

30th Day of Vorgeheim
A hellish night! The so-called Esoteric Order fell upon us with unholy fury. Cultists in sodden robes, wielding crude clubs attempted to rush us near midnight. Despite our torches, a foul mist crept out of the river over the encampment and negated our crossbows, leading to what seemed like hours of frantic hand to hand combat. I dispatched two of the fiends myself, while Father Manfred’s holy fire cleansed two more. Combined I believe we killed six of the heretics, but some of the men claim to have seen several bodies being carried away into the dark. On those that remained we discovered foul degeneration. The cultists were uniformly hairless with slick, scaled skin. Many hade webbed hands and what looked like gills upon their necks.

Two of the men, Heinrich, a most dedicated flagellant, and Werner, a fellow Witchfinder fell during the attack. Adolphus, though physically unhurt is gone. During the fighting he committed himself with great courage but as the Cultists made their retreat, he saw something in the dark and gave out an otherworldly scream. Father Manfred attempted to calm him but he would not cease with wild delusions of tentacled things whipping about in the shadows and glowing eyes, ‘the eyes!’ he cries over and over again.

Also we have had to dispatch the dogs. They have been eating a strange ‘sneezing’ fungus from along the quayside. We thought nothing of it until they began to suffer strange fits and then hideous, thick white stems began to grow out of their bodies. A horrid sight. It seems these corrupted fungi use living creatures as their flower beds. The dogs remained alive for hours in agonising pain as the stems developed at an alarming rate. Finally we put the three hounds out of their misery. Tomorrow we must finish this.


31st Day of Vorgeheim
All is lost! May Sigmar forgive me, I have failed Him!

At dawn we discovered Adolphus had left, where to I could not say. We came upon the old fisherman’s market at around noon, beneath a pale sun all but hidden in those horrid, unceasing mists. Hans Gietdorf, one of the younger lads just disappeared as we advanced along the river - I saw ripples in the stagnant water but heard no cry or splash.

As we approached the market, they came. Dozens of them, in their ragged heraldry. In the weak light they’re skin glistened and their wide black eyes bulged as they advanced. Some were even worse and had mutated with tentacled arms and poisonous stingers. Our crossbows cut a swathe through them but they were fast and too many. As I battled one of their number, I saw their leader watching on from a balcony. He had much the same pale, slick appearance of his followers but wore a crown or tiara upon his head, made of strange gold, which made me feel ill and uneasy. As we pushed on, the men’s zeal overcame their numbers and we advanced into the market itself. Then they came.

Out of the Stir, a half dozen creatures shambled onto the river bank. Ungainly, jutting things, they shimmered a putrid green, and seemed a mockery of men. However I could not look upon their faces, a mass of writhing tentacles beneath intense, burning eyes. Oh Sigmar, the sight of them! Finest Estalian steel bounced off their thick hides like dull razors. Bolts shot into their chests only seemed to distract before they came upon us once more. I myself fired a brace of pistols point-blank into one of the abominations, it merely fell to a single knee and croaked in pain before raising itself back up! Reinhardt, a terrifying sight with his mane of hair and whirring flail hit another of the beasts in its head. There was sickening crack and it collapsed, but to our amazement it crawled away into the dark, as if having merely suffered a drunken brawl. Another of their number advanced and crushed Reinhardt’s skull with a single enormous claw. Father Manfred attempted to summon up Sigmar’s holy fire but what set upon by Broek himself who conjured up a unholy dark wind that threw him into the priest and drove a hideous curved dagger into his side. By the now the rest were gone save I, some still alive, dragged kicking and roaring into the black - no doubt a villainous, blood stained altar awaits them.

I fled. Oh may all the Gods help me, I fled from that macabre scene. No man could stomach what I saw; those hideous creatures from the depths! I hear them still, advancing through the ruins at an alien gait. Calling to me, hunting me. They will soon be upon me. I am trapped like vermin. May I at least find the peace of honourable death, and may this journal enlighten all true men to the horrors that lurk along the banks of the Stir!


33rd Day of Vorgeheim
I now write one final entry, so all men may know of my fate. I am not lost, I am found. For only days ago I lived in an ignorant island of false prophets and charlatan priests. Now I can see. I have been delivered into the blessed hands of the Patriarch! Cleansed in the sublime waters of the Great Deep Ones who come to liberate mankind. The only true Lord is he, the great one beneath, Dagonis, Father of the life giving waters. For what is more alive than the fetid swamp and fly strewn carcass! Let this journal reach the so called civilised places, so He in the Abyss may know! To Great Dagonis must all things be told. Hail the Father! Hail Dagonis! Hail Nurgal! ia! ia! ia!

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PostSubject: Re: The Esoteric Order   Thu 29 Mar 2012 - 21:20

Excellent story. The description of the possessed warband is intriguing, I keep picturing mazah's warband in the role of the cultists.
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PostSubject: Re: The Esoteric Order   Fri 30 Mar 2012 - 3:09

Von Kurst: Yes, mazah and I have taken similar Lovecraftian inspiration for our warbands. However his cultists are more primal, my ideas are for more 'traditional' models based off flagellants and bretonnian men-at-arms with fishy faces. If you know your Lovecraft his is the Call of Cthulhu to my Shadow over Innsmouth, however I imagine there will be some crossovers.
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PostSubject: Re: The Esoteric Order   Mon 2 Apr 2012 - 17:26

great story! I was going to say that hellboys frog creatures could be a source of inspiration in your modelling but judging by your avatar you seem to be familiar with Anung Un Rama
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