The Order of Soul-Takers
The armies of the Torth-Viesh went to the aid
Of a Kingdom all but swallowed by the Lack,
His Goddess spirited all she could away
Whilst her son's armies held the Void-slaves back.
They had no hope to save but a few thousand,
Taking them back to Viynon's new-crafted land.
For one week, battle after battle raged
On a field of vegetables burned and gone.
Flesh and souls, Gods and devils by the Void caged
Fought the growing army of Dark King Viynon.
And from the Void's hand, countless thralls were wrest,
Making the Void grin, for Nothing pleased it best.
Yet high were piled the defenders' dead,
The Vieshkryll, Viesh-Cshan Trilye, the soldiers
Of the Kingdom they helped, and more collected
From a dozen doomed battles, barely endured.
Bodies were burned and souls stored, lest they be turned,
The wounded were left, by necessity spurned.
It was on the fifth night, in a trice of peace
That the Torth-Viesh walked amongst the injured,
Seeking out torn youths soon to be deceased,
In their fevered dreams, his visage he conjured.
'Cruel fate cut short your fight 'gainst the only foe,
But there's still fire within your souls I trow.'
Choosing three, a Vieshkryll and two humans,
Viynon offered them all a macabre bargain;
Yield their souls to his forge, and he'd have spun
New forms, that the fallen youth may fight again.
From anger and dread came this hope... of a kind,
Thus three volunteers did the Torth-Viesh find.
And by foreign law, learned from a new subject,
The Torth-Viesh gathered each slain soldier's soul,
Burning in their wake the corpses torn and wrecked,
The Dark King's hands once more began to mould.
Hellish-painful were the craftings of Viynon,
Yet mighty was the end once he was done.
Enchantments too powerful for flesh were wrought
Into the three phantoms newly remade
And through these phantoms could, for a time, be brought
Enhancements to the living, caught in the fray
Should one alive welcome within such a soul,
Strength, speed and cunning would fill their bodies whole.
Yet there was a danger and, perhaps, a price
For should one die with a phantom within,
Their own soul was forfeit to the Torth-Viesh.
Thus would dead warriors swell their ranks and kin,
Such was the risk and thus the decision
Put before all ere they gave permission.
With the dawn the clash resumed and the Order
Viynon founded the night before set out,
Seeking volunteers, calling with whispers
Each entrance oft barred by suspicion and doubt.
Ye there were some who, for terror or dismay,
Dared not refuse even such dangerous aid.
A lad who lost limbs and life to some Hell's hound
Joined with a man who faced another such beast.
Tougher joined-hide and stronger joined-blows, both found
Less to fear from rending claws and bloodied teeth.
Gifted speed and judgement drove through the hound's eye
A slender iron sword, at once it died.
He left this host then, for his ghostly sight
Beheld, caught out of position, an archer,
Staving off the Void-husks as he might
With haste-loosed arrows in a dwindling quiver.
He joined with this man, helped steady his aim,
But all too soon, a bolt split his skull and brain.
The joined souls fled the body together,
Compelled to fly to King Viynon's own tent
Where, in a red talisman was interred
The archer to whom such scant aid was lent.
The Soul-Taker's duty was far from done,
More warriors he must join, one by one.
The phantom who had lately been Vieshkryl
Found a company of her kind near a flank
Their Captain and officers all were killed
So disorder and death spread through their ranks.
She found a jill, stretched and grown through many broods,
A nightmarish, commanding sight; she would do.
Finding easy entrance, the Soul-Taker
Made the jill-Vieshkryl impossible to ignore.
Greater voice and status were lent to her,
The better to have vital order restored
And 'gaint the tide of empty things the children
Of the Torth-Viesh did stand, bite, slash, feast and rend.
She led a fighting retreat to some thousand
Of their human kith, though many Vieshkryl fell,
The companies together could better stand
And held their ground until the dark day's knell.
Though this day proved red and many were slain,
Not a soul was taken, least not that day.
Last there was a phantom, in life hight Rachael,
Turned by Lelvadi's hand at Iskae's gate;
She found a sorceress facing a devil
And sped to try to spare her the Void-fate.
The elemental spells which brushed the fiend's skin
Were bolstered threefold by the Soul-Taker within.
In perfect unison they unleashed spells
Of ice and lightning and stone-wrought spikes, the might
Of all soon left the Void-taken devil felled,
And bolstered too proved the sorceress' delight.
She was Eluvaer, a ward of Viynon,
Who taught her the magic Angels frowned upon.
Mad with delight at such power to hand
The two brought devastation to the Void's things
In a spectacle un-hoped for and grand,
Power surpassing even Viynon's reckoning,
But the Void would not ignore such an attack
And sent an executioner out the Lack.
An assassin forged from nightmare and disease,
Taken by the Lack a century ago,
Leapt through bodies like a monstrous, leaping flea,
Void-slave or living, it laid them all low,
Eluvaer could do naught to stop its flight
Till she and Rachael felt its passing bite.
Down they dropped, soul and Soul-Taker cast out,
Moving back to the Torth-Viesh's talisman,
Yet the ta'en soul resisted, ardent went her shout
Proclaiming she'd not abandon this new friend.
Let them be in death what they'd been just now,
Let power and passion be together bound.
It is said that by this determination
And by the hand of Alyahredd,
The two were spared the fated separation
By lunatic passion conjoined and wed.
Together they rendered even greater aid
Than had Rachael alone when newly remade.
These are the redes of the first three on the first day,
Yet the Soul-Takerrs would spread and multiply,
Preserving warriors for the endless fray.
Tis meet, for in no afterlife can they hide
Until the Void is beaten through some means
Unimaginable, there can be no peace.