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“The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.” - Corinthians 15:43 “Man is a shell, and clay to be molded. The mortal world hath provided a spectrum of shades to paint-- many hands to shape the Maker’s creations into forms of their own design. All such deviations were the work of the Gods; they whom endanger the realm with their meddlings and proxy wars, carving the world into pieces based on their squabbling. God’s children hath become unruly, and their temper fierce, and when pit against one-another, had taken what they could from the box before them -- setting the lesser as the pieces to their game. They use mortality against the mortals, defining them as vessels of power, but cursing them to be expendables. It is a broken cycle, where all men will die one day because it will spin too fast, and wipe the slate clean of all histories that men have woven. They have stacked the stones of life and established empires, and fueled them with faith of the ignorant to lead men to both war and to prayer. The Gods have become a glorious monument in ceaseless forms… ...but the old wolves lie wounded, bitten by their sins; bittered by their infighting. Warred to death by a thousand petty conflicts, brought low by their own pride. These are the death-throes of the divines; the light of Aenguls dims, and the fires of Daemons scatter. Even at the moment of their defeat, they will take no comfort - no reprieve. For we are coming for them. For I walk with graverobbed bones hither standing; I climb from the Abyss with an army where there was nothing; my shadow rises from Xion, and where it touches, men within their graves cry out knowing the scourge of the skies has come. And we shall watch these skies fall.” ~:;:~ The Darkstalkers, also called Deathstalkers in their first mortal generation, is a type of Lich that, instead of raised as masters of magic, are raised as masters of the blade. They act as the contrast to traditional Liches in ability, in purpose and the process of the origin -- deemed by their maker as the “perfect soldier”; blackguards fit to protect the lineage of the undying Gravelords. The origin of the Darkstalker is attributed to the ancient Lich Avern’len, whom in death defied mortal Nimdravur as a prime nemesis. Their struggles concluded in the wisened, strong-willed Wood Elves’ death, only to be rebirthed as a servant of his old enemy. By some means, the ritual had endured alterations -- Avern’len knew no magic in life, and thus to be raised as a Lich was a useless endeavour. But it was believed by his remaker that the lack of a magical connection had led to the empowerment of his bones, which enabled him to wear armor, wield blades and sustain damage he could not in life. This fashioned Avern’len as a powerful undead being, far different than any other Lich that had ever existed throughout all three generations. The annals of Darkstalker Avern’len had been recorded by Nimdravur as per both the Wraith’s fascination with his bitter servant, and under the desire to keep his enemy-turn-ally’s name known in history after his bones would crumble away after an age had passed. In was in these annals that the recollection of Avery’s altered ritual was written; and in Nimdravur’s isolation within Athera, put to the test - enduring countless bouts of trial and error and the ruination of old skeletons that could not withstand the power of Avern’len’s legacy. The closing note of the Gravelord’s study had produced success, with all of his compiled understandings bound together into one, singular process that would assure the creation of a warrior that would live by the blade, with no beating heart to burden him. Among these changes to the First Darkstalkers ritual were fundamental alterations that were designed to shape the intended being’s form into an unstoppable machine -- modeled after Nimdravurs very own kindred, the Wraiths. Though burdened still by the stubborn coil of their bones, the Darkstalkers were granted a variety of greater strengths. They are warriors whom feel no pain, lie stalwart against both man and the elements of the world, and require only the sustenance of raw life to survive. The latter is an emphasized detail; for so much power is fueled into keeping Darkstalkers alive that they must literally function as the masters they are intended to protect do -- they must drain the very essence of life from others to keep themselves alive, to keep their bones strong and to keep their minds keen. Should they fail to commit to this, their hunger shall become an obsession, and their excessively large phylactery shall erode to such frailty that the soul locked within it will become twisted and damaged. Come this stage of their degeneration, and a Darkstalker shall undergo intense psychological breakdown until they are nothing more than insane husks who hunt those with lifeforce to strip them from them; devouring what they can to satiate a hunger that is far from recovery, and thus damning them to a mindless existence where falling to the blade would mean their end - their phylactery too fragile to raise them back up, and thus shattering. Another prime change this differed Lich-creating ritual sets in motion is the utter removal of a Darkstalkers magical connection, and from all sources. Necromancy’s shambled, haphazard and vastly misunderstood designs within this ritual apply insurmountable, distorting change upon the Darkstalkers soul and causes whatever feeds a divine or arcane connection to fade away. This sets Darkstalkers in stone as inherent warriors -- they literally cannot cast magic beyond the dark forces their form would permit them. To do so, by whatever unknown means they would find, would cause their phylacteries to rapidly break down until their souls would combust. This violent reaction wipes them from existence and displays the results of tampering with souls when they cannot be truly understood. The only semblance of magic a Darkstalker retains is a lesser form of necromancy, wherein they must depend upon the sole power of limited lifeforce manipulation to drain lifeforce and store it within themselves. This limited manipulation is circumvented to the ability to drain lifeforce from others, and to guide it to other places or individuals (the latter being the Gravelords, as per their covenant to protect and offer the essence of others as tribute). Attempting actual necromancy beyond these two aspects will produce similar effects to attempting to conjure up magical potency that Darkstalkers were robbed of upon their turning. Though the power of these eternal knights seems broad, it is quite limited, and they are burdened by a sum of the ones they share with their Lich brothers. They are firstmost dependent on the sole intention of their creation -- Darkstalkers are still bone, indeed, and must rely on the armor their sturdier, mortal-esque forms may sustain in order to remain protected. Without armor, a Darkstalker is but a skeleton, and a skeleton, even with a skill of legendary swordsman, cannot withstand many attacks at all. Not only is their weight and poise belittled, but they are not anchored without armor, providing a variety of difficulties in battle with the offset that they are more agile as understandably lighter beings. However, even then, their bones are more dense because of their magical existence, and so this brings them toward the weight of a standard human without armor (up toward one-hundred pounds). This suggests that a Darkstalker is more on-par with a single knight of Oren than several of them, as their intimidating forms would imply. Summary of the Darkstalker Existence Strengths - Darkstalkers are sturdier skeletal undead; they are able to sustain much more damage in some instances where blunt weaponry or force is not applicable. This makes the use of bladed arms of lesser use, unless of greater weight and able to smash moreso than slash. - Darkstalkers have no limitation to endurance, and function under the burdens they carry. This means that how fast and strong they can be is attributed by the weight and properties of the arms and armor they carry, yet they are not bothered by the common mortal weakness of greater weight fatigue under physical duress. However, this does not prevent their skeletal structure from splintering and cracking under excessive weight, which eliminates the use of armor that would protect them from all incoming blows. They are only capable of wearing armaments the common knight would have trouble with adorning, at the very most, and at the cost of speed and skill. - Darkstalkers are capable of summoning a powerful life draining spell that is intended to be used as both a secondary weapon and a utility to keep themselves fueled. It matches the average necromancer’s draining power, but no more than that -- suggesting it is higher than the common Lich’s drain, yet far beneath a master necromancer’s. They can also store life force within themselves for a time until it is absorbed or until the excess fades away. - Darkstalkers are immortal undead. This means they cannot drown, they cannot bleed, they cannot feel some degrees of pain, do not age, and are often not burdened by the common physical fatigue that a mortal would withstand under intense physical stress. This pits them as challenging foes, but not invincible ones. This all lasts as long as their phylactery is constantly kept fed and stable. Weaknesses - Darkstalkers suffer the worst of undead weaknesses regarding lesser mortal functions. They are unable to breed, they are unable to rest and sleep, and are even incapable of feeling a great many things -- both physically and mentally. The process of turning is so spiritually and physically scarring that they simply lose all feelings within themselves, whether it be the heat of flame, the cut of steel, the warmth of a loved one, or the touch of the sun’s rays upon their lost skin. Only the righteous light of the Aengulic powers brings them intense agony, and acts as a shocking reminder that they are not yet dead and far from it. The sole thing they may physically feel is the ghost-like beat of a heart within their ribcage; a relieving, false sensation generated by an excess of collected lifeforce within them. It gives these forlorn knights a reason to strive -- so they may feel the fleeting pulse of a life that no longer remains. - Darkstalkers are bothered by light, and weak to Clerical magics. While they do not fear fire like their Wraith masters, pure sunlight seems to be shared instead; acting as a undying source of discomfort where the only reprieve is to hide beneath black cloaks to hope that the soft burning of the rays upon their bones may fade. This feeling is intensified tenfold by holy magics, where the pure power of Clerics may ward them off with ease based on the fear and pain that their magic brings Darkstalkers. The presence of sunlight also erodes their focus at a subconscious level and tampers with their innate ability to retain lifeforce, thus causing it to slowly fade away unless they seek shade or a shadowed place befitting their title. - Darkstalkers share the same curse of servitude that Liches do. Those that create them, often Wraiths by Archwraith tradition, are able to command them entirely. While Darkstalkers are able to attack their masters, this is unwise, as their masters may simply command them not to in-turn. - Darkstalkers are skeletons beneath their armor. Even with sturdy plates upon them, blunt force trauma is an especially effective non-magical method to combat them. Their boney frames can only take so much before crumbling away. - Darkstalkers cannot cast magic beyond their two designated dark powers. To attempt casting greater magic would end up with either failure or approved self-destruction. - Darkstalkers are inherent outcasts. As they are of the most prime undead, lingering among the living is a rare sight. The fact they must hunt the living for sustenance further establishes reason as to avoid these fabled warriors. - Darkstalkers can be utterly destroyed at any moment if their phylactery is found and destroyed. It must be agreed that a Darkstalker will be burdened with this risk before it’s creation as per common Lich-based rules. This permits their unforeseen undoing by the hands of another individual, and thusly the Darkstalker’s eternal sleep. [ The following quote is pulled from the reply toward the lore's pending request, offering both additions to the weakness section and clarifications: Physiology A Darkstalker is a warrior comprised entirely of the skeletons they died in and the armor they were reborn to be able to wear in unlife. They may take many forms - there is no defined, singular uniformity among the Darkstalker kind, and thus these deathly invaders may stylize themselves based on the weapons they wield to the armor they wear. Their deadliness may even be scaled visually -- the property of being able to withhold lifeforce within their skeletal beings may become so intense after so much collection that darkness seems from their armor, and whatever hood they would wear would simply exude a misty shadow that would utterly obscure the visage of their bare, dead skulls. Their weapons do undergo a degree of uniform tradition, wherein they must select a single “khộr blade” that is forged to be able to withstand the erosion of necrotic taint - a foul taint that their masters are able to bind to such a weapon for a time until the twisted essence fades away, eventually coming to dye the steel an abysmal black. --- “And so the sun sets over Xion; what was once Aegis, as the long lost rise anew from the Abyss. Th̨e ̕l͜on͡g͠ ͟nigḩţ co͝mes̨.̧.” ( I have revived this concept into a better, more indepth form. Questions and comments are welcomed, as well as feedback regarding any of the lore’s aspects or what I should add. )