“I have soaked this cursed ground with the blood of ten lives. I have inscribed the symbols of power. Raise your army, Orcus…call forth your servants…”
Ninaran mumbled through the drooling fog of the Lotus vine she had been given by Kalarel. She stood, though her limbs hung like dead flesh and her head sagged low atop a bent and twisted back. A horrible gnawing pain wracked at her guts, and she groaned through vomit-parched lips that reeked of rot. Her heart slowed, and the gaps between beats were a terrifying ride between life and death. She couldn’t tell if she was breathing or not.
She was not dead, but she desperately needed to appear to be so.
Something clawed at her conciousness…her mind itched, surrounded by ants and buzzing gnats, the whispering madness of the dead…
Violent muscle spasms tore through her, twisting her into a more tortured parody of the human form.
The madness in her head grew to a roaring buzz of insects, and all she could see was a world corrupted by writhing masses of worms. Winterhaven’s tiny graveyard crawled with larvae, and in the distance the forests of the west burned. The ruin all around her was terrible, and complete, and she screamed in horror at the sight of it.
With this final cry, the vision that drove Ninaran mad, that made her claw at her face and eyes to tear them out and end the nightmare, became in an instant a grey dusty vapour, swirling about her. The whiplash of the effect made Ninaran vomit up again, and she felt herself begin to black-out. Kalarel had warned her to stay concious through the ritual, no matter what happened, and Ninaran took in large steady breaths, gritting her teeth, willing herself to stay concious.
The dust, now just a low fog at Ninaran’s feet, swirled about the symbol of power she had carved into the earth before her. A small indentation in the fog lay at the center of the symbol, as if it had become a drain, siphoning the evil vision into the earth beneath it. A malevolent vibration could be felt at Ninaran’s feet.
Ninaran saw suddenly, at each gravesite, the earth begin to swell and sink, breathing. One by one, the rotting carcasses and skeletons of those long-dead of Winterhaven reached out of the dirt and pulled themselves into the cold night of the living. Each one of the empty husks moved with such unnatural purpose, such mockery of conciousness, Ninaran would not have been surprised to see Orcus himself grasping them like rag-dolls and moving them to suit his whim. She began to feel a sense of elation, a renewed faith despite the horrors of the ritual. She was the master of these risen corpses, and with them she would inflict such misery upon Winterhaven…such misery as she had just survived…
An even more delightful thought then came to her drugged mind…she now had the strength to end those recent arrivals to Winterhaven. The group who had slain Irontooth, who had stolen the treasure found by that old man Douven Stahl. The group who had dared step foot in the ruins above Grilmach Rift. Ninaran would put down these pests and bask in the favor of Orcus.
Ninaran broke out laughing, a wild, inarticulate laugh. The laughter of hyenas before the kill. The murderous laughter of the insane.