We found out today that our application to demonstrate Judgement on the Gen Con official Twitch stream, during the convention, was successful. Game creator, Andrew "Guns" Galea and "Chain Attack" Jay Larsen will be hosting the show where they will discuss the game in general before diving into a game! Streaming Judgement on the official Gen Con Twitch channel will get the game in front of thousands of new players and enable us to continue to grow our burgeoning player base.
When: 6 pm, Thursday 1st August (GMT -4)
Remember to follow the Gen Con Twitch channel to be reminded whenever it goes live and make sure you don't miss the stream.
Friendly reminder that our excellent pre-order deals are still available right now for those attending Gen Con or having a friendly ninja who is visiting for you.
The Sharn, Orc Guardian, hero model is being launched at Gen Con and is available for pre-order now!
The Judgement crew cannot wait to get to the convention and remember to stop by and say hello, have a demo, and pick up some of the best miniatures on the market at booth #2861!Continue reading
The Judgement booth, #2861, is situated in Hall G. Pre-orders will be packaged and ready to collect on the 1st morning of the convention.
It took a lot of convincing the early playtesters that neutral monsters were an essential element of the game. Over time, the task of convincing players that monsters are more than a gimmick became a lot easier. Now, they usually are singing the praises of monsters to us. Our monster designs have come a long way since Gloom. The shadow hound was the equivalent of the designers dipping their toe in the water, in terms of monster board presence. From Gloom we moved to Ashtooth, then Inferno, the first monster with a ranged attack and then, boldly, we introduced Vujasha into the game.
At that point, we all took a collective breath and gave the game some time to breathe. The last 12 months have seen unprecedented growth in Judgement's player base and the introduction of new heroes and a new 5v5 Scorched Earth map. Dor'gokaan represents a natural progression in the evolution of Judgement monsters. He has the most rules, the highest potential damage output and being a demon, can be summoned by Warlock heroes!
Something that Jeff and I keep in mind when designing new heroes or monsters is to make sure we maintain the Judgement model range's variety. Of the three official Judgement illustrators, Helge C Balzer is the one who pushes character design into areas we would not usually go. Vujasha is the most obvious; however, his Styx, Loribela and Nephenee illustrations have all introduced unique elements. Safe to say that Helge's Dor'gokaan tops them all. From the outset, Helge had a vision for the demon that none of us would have taken from the design brief. Before too long, Dor'gokaan had a life of his own, and the final product became a fusion of various archetypes and genres.
Dave Whitaker, the sculptor who recently sculpted Sharn for us, was commissioned to turn Helge's vision of Dor'gokaan into a 3D sculpt and he nailed it. We are itching to produce Dor'gokaan and get him onto the battlefields of Judgement players everywhere, as a neutral monster and a summoned minion of Viktor Clerval.
If launching the Judgement North American Championship at Warfaire Weekend was not enough, we are also going to pre-release both Dor'gokaan and Fazeal at the convention. Both models will be available to pick up on the Friday, and they will be legal for all the Judgement events, including the JNAC. Continue reading
Herein lies the seventh clarification and errata document for Judgement. From the very beginning we socialised the fact Judgement would be a regularly "patched" game, to stay true to its MOBA origins, and to ensure the game's rules are kept in an optimal state. Our patch schedule is quarterly, with the changes becoming official on the 1st day of the start of the next quarter. Therefore the official date for this patch is the 1st of July 2019.
Remember that all hero, monster, magical artefact and core rules can be downloaded from the Print & Play section of this website. Both our Android and iOS apps will also be updated to reflect changes from this patch.
Clarifications are provided for rules that are normally played a certain way, however the rules as written do not necessarily support that. Clarifications can also be quality of life changes that do not necessarily change rules.
There was some confusion around whether a model could overlap a token, such as Rakkir's Shadow Orb, or a teleportation circle on the Scorched Earth map, and still be considered base to base. Well the short answer is yes.
We want to clarify what happens when a hero dies and re-spawns.
Broadened the definition to include all enemy models, not just heroes.
The model that inflicts the last damage point, resulting in the death of an enemy model, is considered to have dealt the killing blow.
We clarified that only the hero that collects a Fate bounty can buy, trade or sell magical artefacts.
With Dor'gokaan having the same ability as Nephenee, we decided to make Fly a core rulebook Auxiliary Function.
Way back in patch #1, we actually changed Invisibility to include active abilities, however it somehow dropped off the radar and never made it into the rule book or Rakkir's card. We have reinstated it into both, so Invisibility is now the following.
A model with invisibility cannot be targeted by an enemy model's active abilities or RNG/MAG basic attacks while the enemy model is more than 3” away from the model.
We have been toying with the idea of a point blank rule for some time, and the changes to Saiyin gave us a reason to take the plunge.
Added a new section to clarify what happens when terrain pieces stack on one another, such as Marcus' Wall being placed within a forest or smoke.
The movement penalties from Rough Ground and Treacherous Ground do not stack. Similarly, the attack dice penalties for Soft Cover and Hard Cover do not stack. In both cases the highest penalty will be applied.
Errata are changes to the rules that we believe improve the player experience, close loop holes or are simply kick-ass changes that make Judgement even better.
This section was only relevant for Saiyin, and produced a lot more questions and confusion than it was worth. It has been removed from the game.
Added the following:
A model suffering the knocked down condition has to spend an action, or a Fate, to stand up, at the start of its activation.
As the game continues to grow, adding heroes, different maps, magical artefacts and monsters, creates many options for players. We continually revisit various elements to ensure they are balanced and players are faced with legitimate and interesting challenges when designing their Warbands. All changes are carefully measured and, as is always the case, we will continue to monitor things over the next three months as we march towards the next patch.
Qualify of life clarification for Allandir around the wording of his Explosive Shot.
Barnascus has been in an awkward place for some time and we have spent a considerable amount of time trying to find the best way to buff him. A model that can do so many different things can easily become OP, so we have chosen two areas to improve his kit. Promoting him to a mounted model was an obvious thing to do and continues to build on his flavour as a dwarf riding a tank platform. The 2nd change is another one that make sense. He pays an action to advance his MOV stat and a Fate to do some damage. This also means if you have Fate you can negate the poor situation where you are engaged by an enemy, but not engaging them. We feel these two changes give "Barney" a decent buff that should place him towards the top end of town.
Bastian has held his position at, or near the top of the supporters role, pretty much from day 1. We have said, on several occasions, the fact a hero that does so little damage can be one of the most powerful is testament to the game's rule set and we are proud of that. With the game maturing, and the player base increasing rapidly, we want to normalise the abilities that can produce such wild swings in fortunes and his Prayer of Health is one such ability. This is not a trivial nerf to Bastian however one we feel is warranted, and one that still makes his healing ability a powerful one. The Plane Walker reduction is a small adjustment we have wanted to make for some time.
For completeness sake, we have included the official V1.0 card for Lord Fazeal.
Haksa is in a solid place and fits the role of supporting Shaman perfectly. Keeping in line with our desire to reduce the large swings in dice we changed the way Equilibrium works. 3-5 instead of 1-6 is arguably more a buff than a nerf, however it serves the purpose of reducing a massive swing opportunity. The range reduction, to 4", brings him in line with most other offensive abilities. Haksa will continue to be a solid choice with these changes.
This simply makes sense to us from an origins stand point and a flavour view. She is the Mistress of the Flame after all.
The ability to strip multiple souls in a single activation had the potential to cause a negative play experience and give a losing player a path back into the game that was a little too easy.
We are very happy with Kogan's kit, his model, his theme, pretty much everything about him. We feel he is just under the curve with regards to other aggressors however we understand, from past experience, that he is a delicate one to balance. We have made 3 minor changes to him that we feel nudges him into comparable territory with other aggressors in the game, while maintaining his niche.
Way back in patch #1, we updated the definition of Invisibility to include active abilities, not just RNG & MAG attacks, however it somehow never made it onto Rakkir's card. We have finally updated it to reflect the intended Invisibility rules.
Saiyin's magic attack in melee caused more confusion and questions that it was worth. We thought long and hard about what to do with her attack. We did not want her to become another ranged magic elf, and we wanted to keep her ability to wield magic in combat. We believe we have done that perfectly, and at the same time given her a combat oriented buff. Just think of her now as a magic wielding hero with a short range attack that can still be cast when she is in combat.
For completeness sake, we have included the official V1.0 card for Sharn.
Skoll's Primal Scream was causing a lot of issues around unforeseen interactions with other hero's innate abilities. We considered a few options here however all were a lot of re-work so instead we decided to change the definition of Primal Scream and move it to his level 2 Mystic head slot. This meant that Mesmerising Gaze was moved to level 3, and we also decided to upgrade its cost.
Styx is in a very good place, however we felt the ranges on his abilities meant he could play a little too safe while dominating a battle. We love his kit, and love what he brings to the table, however everyone's favourite cyborg needed to be pegged back just a touch.
Svetlana is another hero that brings something unique to the table, particularly in the Soulgazer class. We are very happy with her kit, however there was a general feeling she was reaching her strong point too early, especially when you consider how easy it is for her to reach level 2. We are much happier after tweaking her kit a little bit.
Thorgar has remained untouched for a while as he sits in a solid position within the hotly contested melee aggressor slot. In saying that, we do feel that in the hands of a top tier player, the ability to abuse Enraged Slam was just a little too good, particularly once the big man hit level 3. We decided to tone that down just a touch. He also had too much of an advantage, health wise, compared to his peers.
The ability for heroes to summon other models is a very interesting and fun aspect of the game we want to promote. Balancing heroes that can summon is always going to be a challenge and we thought it was time to revisit this little guy, particularly when you consider the introduction of Dor'gokaan.
Soul Call was an ability that began innocuously before becoming the single dominant ability in Viktor's kit. The Scorched Earth map reinforced this even more. It was never our intention to make Soul Call his main ability so we simply removed it from his kit.
The introduction of Banishment is a two-edged sword, as it means Viktor cannot automatically dispel previously summoned demons by summoning a new one. It now means he is a fantastic counter to himself, as well as making Dor'gokaan far more manageable on the maps where he is a neutral monster.
No material changes to Zaron's rules. We have simply made his summoning ability more generic to bring him in line with Viktor and prepare for future undead models that Zaron will be able to summon!
We felt Zhonyja was a little too reliable at level 1. These changes will mean she will have a little more difficulty killing that monster at top of turn 1.
Monsters have always been an integral part of Judgement, and as the game matures we find ourselves introducing more challenging and interesting monsters into the mix. We strive to ensure the monster rules are just as balanced as the heroes.
Al'garath remains a powerful choice for Viktor, even with the changes to Taunt and the introduction of Dor'gokaan. We have also introduced the summoning cost to his card like all summoned models.
Dor'gokaan has been spoiled with the release of the Scorched Earth map however this is the 1st official V1.0 of his card.
Similarly for the summoned version of Dor'gokaan. This is the 1st official release of his card. Balancing the summoned version was a challenge however there were several restrictions we added that, we believe, puts him in a good place. Below we highlight the differences between the monster and summoned version of Dor'gokaan.
Summoned undead have been revamped to be inline with summoned demons. So Zaron's Child has been renamed to Skeleton and its model type is now the generic "Undead - Necromancer Familiar". This is to cater for future undead releases that will be summonable by Zaron and other necromancers.
Terra was a bold step in a new direction for character shrines. Adding a model to a Warband takes careful design to ensure it is not overbearing or dominating battles. We have spent a few iterations balancing the pros and cons and feel he is now in a good place.
The Null Stone needed a boost to make it more competitive in the highly prized defensive artefact slot. We gave it one.
Doenrakkar stood atop the sentry stone and breathed the scented smoke that wafted from the damped fire behind him. Today the tenders had chosen to burn the last of the hecka wood and its thick, pungent odour reminded him of the reaches, where they should have been several seasons ago, under old chief Ballock. Ballock had been dead a dozen seasons now and his daughter, Cradol, was a very different person.
He sighed out the smoke, troubled. The tribe had been here at the oasis for far too long and still Cradol showed no sign of moving them on, in spite of his entreaties. She had lived her whole life without sight of the devouring tide. To her it was merely rumour and superstition. He knew she believed in the creatures known as the Atric, she had killed dozens of them when they were encountered in small groups, however the fact she had only experienced them in small numbers was the reason she treated the threat with disdain. A single Atric was barely a challenge for a warrior; a dozen were barely a challenge for a warband of four minotaurs. But the tide was something different altogether, something you needed to have seen, with your own eyes, to understand. Doenrakkar desperately hoped to never see it again. Staying at the oasis, for as long as they had, was asking for trouble and, he thought as he absently scratched at the runes on his chest, he suspected sadly that might be his daughter's intent.
Cradol had never had much respect for the lore of the tribe that Doenrakkar carried, nor the traditions her father had followed. Every day she kept them at the oasis, without incident, was small proof she was right, and the traditions could be safely ignored, the lore forgotten, in favour of stability. Stability was something the wandering minotaur herds had never had however, granted, the other races had gleaned much benefit from it.
The shaman sincerely wished Cradol was right. In recent times, the tribes had lost a lot of their most promising children to the cities, where permanent structures allowed for things that the nomadic camps couldn’t match. Places of learning and study and massive workshops with equipment far too heavy for the herd to carry around. Some came back, like Cradol herself, but many never did.
The oasis was a perfect place to take root, build a city, and establish a kingdom, if you believed Cradol. Many others did. Over the last season Doenrakkar had seen buildings taking shape out of stone and mortar rather than mud and hide. It saddened him to see fewer attending the rituals, fewer greeting or saluting Torin, fewer devoting time to prayer to the old gods for merciful weather. Stone houses did not care about storms, and at the oasis there was a near unending supply of water and food.
When they’d sighted the first Atric, at least two seasons ago, Cradol had personally hunted and killed it, leading it far from the oasis before killing, following the lore. So it had been for the next half dozen, though other minotaurs had done the killing. When the first group of Atric had been spotted, a warband had been assembled and Cradol had led them into a brief but satisfying slaughter. Each time the kills were a little closer to their encampment and the trackers began to see signs of Atric closer still, wandering the dunes seemingly at random. For the last season it had stayed steady, a handful of Atric being spotted every few days and dealt with easily.
Cradol had ordered a wall built around the encampment, a hundred paces out from the existing camp, as if to imply how much their settlement might grow. The walls were only waist high, but they provided an illusion of safety that troubled Doenrakkar. He had confronted Cradol with his concerns and although she had listened, he had been dismissed.
“What we are building here is worth fighting for” she had said. “The Atric are not a threat if we stand united against them, we have dozens of the strongest warriors this tribe has ever known.”
“Daughter, you have never seen….”
She waved a hand dismissively.
“I learned the stories, shaman. I know the legendary ‘tide’! But I see no evidence it exists. If it ever did, then perhaps it doesn’t anymore. I see the tension in you when a single Atric shows itself and I wonder. You were young when this ‘tide’ swept through, yes? Perhaps it grew in your memory.”
Even then, as she dismissed his memory so easily and discounted his advice, she implied he may be weak or a coward. Despite this, he still felt no anger, only sadness and fear that the tribe would be forced once more to learn a lesson that had shaped their history. He felt that he, and the others responsible for passing down the lore through the generations, had failed. The elders of the tribe were likewise fearful of the Atric, but they were few in number, since the constant movement of the herd meant that the aged and infirm did not often last long. They instead chose to settle into small permanent camps along the migration route, seeing the herd every cycle as they returned. This was the tradition and it meant that the histories were passed on, however only if the herd continued to move, to migrate. Something that Cradol's ambition had hindered of late.
If it weren’t for his excursions Between, Doenrakkar himself would likely have settled by now, but he retained a vigour unmatched by others his age and indeed he seemed to be growing stronger. His people thankfully did not carry the same taboos around travel between planes that some of the other races did. It was known and accepted that shaman might move between planes, though Doenrakkar suspected that few, if any, had actually done more than brush the edge of Between with their meditating minds. The two other, non-warrior, minotaurs he had seen regularly Between were not shamans however, they were a necromancer and a druid.
He pondered Xyvera for a moment, an old crone from sometime in the future. She was enigmatic and unwilling to share her knowledge, but Xyvera had certainly indicated that, in her time, the minotaur race had suffered, or was suffering, a great calamity. The other was, of course, Gendris, a druid he’d known, by reputation, for most of his life. She too must be getting old, by their race’s standards, however it was impossible to tell from her appearance on the shadow plane what she may look like on Athien. Appearances Between could be deceptive.
For some reason he felt sure Xyvera looked similar, regardless of the plane she was on. Whatever else she may be, she was definitely certain of herself. He had seen Gendris in half a dozen different guises, once almost entirely a tree. Xyvera was, so far, unchanging. Gnarled, twisted, but sure of herself.
His reverie was broken by a cry of alarm from along the wall and a knot of tension twisted in his gut. The camp burst into immediate activity. Obviously he hadn’t been the only one feeling on edge. Cradol emerged from her tent, armed and armoured, which was telling. She wasn’t alone, her core warriors were on the wall in a handful of breaths and he reached it moments later, vaulting up easily onto the palisade.
“Where?” Cradol's voice was irritable. “I don’t see anything.”
The lookout was gesturing and stammering under Cradol's glare.
“There! Behind that dune was the top of another dune, it had a rock on it. A few moments ago it disappeared!”
“What? The rock disappeared?”
“No, the dune behind that one, it just….fell away.”
“Your eyes are playing tricks…”
Doenrakkar ignored the argument, letting it fade out as he stared in the direction the lookout indicated. There was dust in the air and Torin was setting, the dust staining the light Forin-red across the sky, and casting the dunes in a shadowy crimson that made it difficult to judge distance. As he watched, a plume of dust began to rise from beyond the dune, swelling, and he also began to hear the susurrus of movement through sand. The clicking of chitin and mandible that indicated Atric were about.
Memories rose unbidden and he shoved them down. He turned to Cradol as the first dark form crested the dune since he didn’t need to watch in order to know what was coming.
“The tide is here.” He said quietly and the voices stilled.
Cradol stared at him, anger spreading on her features. “You speak doom, shaman, but all I see is a handful of Atric. We’ll destroy them and when I return you and I will have words. You have put this entire town on edge for nothing and now here we are, jumping at shadows! No longer!”
He stared at her, the sadness bone-deep. Turning he could see now a half-dozen black forms coming down the dune, but to him it was obvious.
“Do you not see? Even now? Look at them, they are not wandering any longer. They are coming. We must leave!”
“Then leave! This is my town. I won’t flee because of myths and stories.” She gave him no more attention and leapt from the wall, her guard following with roars as she charged across the sand.
Doenrakkar turned to the lookout.
“Go boy. Tell the herd to prepare, spread the word. I may be wrong, however if I’m not, those who wish to live will need to flee.”
He jumped back down to ground and ran to his tent bellowing “Awake and rise, the tide comes!” If he was wrong, then perhaps this would mark his exit anyway, he didn’t fit in a town, he belonged with the herd.
Doenrakkar’s belongings were already packed and waiting, his tent collapsed easily into a small package he secured to his bag, and his sleeping mat likewise rolled up and attached. He shrugged the pack across his shoulders and took up his shillelagh, turning to the camp. His dismay hit him like a fist as he realised that few were even moving to pack. He heard the sound of combat as Cradol and her warriors engaged the Atric in the distance, and he could feel the approaching tide with every sense. How could they not? Even the ground was trembling as if it too felt fear at the coming.
He realised a breath later that the trembling was more than his perception, it was a physical thing, shaking the tents visibly and now starting a quiet rumble as the wall’s stones jostled one another.
Around the camp others had begun to notice, at last, and they turned to watch Cradol and her guard kill the last of the Atric exposed on the dune, and began loping back toward the wall. As the town watched, the dune Cradol and her warriors ran down began to...subside. Its edge was slipping forward behind them, slowly gaining on them as they ran.
An uncertain murmur began to rise among the herd as they tried to understand. As the running minotaurs reached the flat sand stretching out before the wall, the dune edge started to show a distinct “v”, collapsing in a line that ran toward the wall. As the “v” hit the flat sand, at last, it was revealed as a complete collapse of the sand into a tunnel. From the collapsing line a dozen Atric were pulling themselves from the sand and moving towards the wall.
Cradol turned after leaping onto the wall, surveying the threat.
“Warriors to the wall” she bellowed “We fight for the town!”
Doenrakkar knew the madness she felt, had seen it in a hundred others. She was committed now and wouldn’t back down even when she finally understood. A tap on his shoulder pulled his attention to the small crowd he hadn’t noticed.
The oldest of the herd had gathered, dragging with them the youngest. They were packed, they had heard his call.
He was torn. They could leave now, but he would be abandoning most of the herd and he knew, whether Cradol realised or not, they stood no hope without him. They had no hope regardless, said the voice of his memory. Outside, the walls were now occupied by two dozen Atric with a few more still clambering free of the sands. The rumbling had stopped and for a moment he dared to hope. Cradol turned to look at him, triumph in her gaze as she shouted.
“This is the tide!? We need not live in fear of this! We will claim this land as ours for the life of Torin himself! No more migration, no more packing your lives up and starting again! This is our town. This land belongs to the herd!” A roar rose up from the warriors around her, a cheer that spread to the others who were still milling uncertainly around the camp.
Cradol was silhouetted against the setting sky, outlined in a ruddy glow and basking in vindication. And then the bottom dropped out of the world.
The ground between Doenrakkar and the wall caved in suddenly, the collapse spreading outwards like a fissure across the camp. Tents and minotaurs falling into the black chasm, to float briefly on the dark. The moment shattered with screams and the clicking hiss of chitin as the dark resolved into a writhing mass of Atric. Those that had fallen were torn to pieces in moments. More Atric than could be counted boiled out of the ground and spread into the camp, minotaurs running screaming before them.
Doenrakkar glimpsed Cradol’s face as the wall beneath her began to crumble, tumbling into the collapsing sand. Confusion crashed across her features, followed swiftly by understanding and a roar as the wall fell, taking a mighty leap that carried her onto a portion of solid ground. Her warriors tried to follow and a few managed, the others fell into the maelstrom of sand and Atric below, striking out and roaring uselessly as they were swallowed.
This was the tide. The tide of death that could not be fought, reasoned or bargained with. It could only be fled from. Now, understanding washed through the herd and he saw many stopping to grab what little they had packed, rummaging desperately for their migration packs carelessly discarded and ignored for too long.
He turned to the small group with him and yelled at them, snapping the trance.
“Run! That way! I will follow once I’ve gathered any others, don’t stop until you must.”
He whirled to face the horror and forced himself into it, slamming through the Atric to reach the few survivors that he could see huddled in the centre of the camp. Cradol was with them, her handful of remaining warriors fighting the swarming Atric and, momentarily, holding.
Doenrakkars’ shillelagh struck like thunder through the Atric, catching black bodies and sending them flying back into the tide with the cracking sound of shattering chitin. He knew his trips Between had increased his strength but he rarely had cause to use it, and for once, he let it loose in his home world of Athien. Shattered corpses flew from him as he cut a path into the tide, his rage temporarily drowning the knowledge of how futile this fight would ultimately be. The warriors with Cradol, and even Cradol herself, looked relieved as he burst out of the swarming creatures and into their circle, shaking pieces of Atric free from his arms and legs where their mandibles had snagged his flesh.
“Decided to fight eh Shaman?” Cradol’s voice was hard and eager, though Doenrakkar could already hear the ragged edge of fatigue. Her Warhammer was not meant for protracted fights, and she obviously hadn’t thought to take any of her smaller weapons when she had come out to see off the Atric.
Hopefully she would live to regret it.
The survivors were fighting with whatever tools they could find, pots, pans, a fire poker, a shovel. They had gathered at least two dozen, but even with the warriors, that was only enough to hold their little circle and slow it’s inevitable shrinking. They didn’t have the strength to break free and they certainly couldn’t hold forever. They were unlikely to hold for much longer at all. Doenrakkar added his might to the fight, moving around the circle swinging whenever an opening presented itself and feeling the satisfying crunch of his weapon against chitin. During his round of the circle, he saw it close another step, forced back by the sheer weight of the tide. He moved to Cradol, striking from her side as she cleared an arc in front of her with sweeping strikes. She fought with the fury that had gained her the respect and allegiance of the warriors, but he could see from her posture that she knew as well as he did that her fight was a losing one.
“You were right, it appears shaman.” She spoke through gritted teeth, but they were gritted with pain, not anger. He could see red staining her armour in a dozen places, beneath the green of Atric blood and flecks of chitinous gore. She was staying upright by sheer determination and he could see even that faltering.
“Not completely right.”, he countered, and she grunted a question as her hammer arced out, shattering Atric bodies and sending them cartwheeling back into their frenzied brethren.
“I said” he grunted, swinging at an Atric that had got inside her guard, “that you couldn’t fight the tide. You appear to have proven me wrong.”
Her grin was bloody and feral as she responded “I’m glad I get to prove you wrong, just once, before I die.” She met his gaze and he could see her acceptance. Her smile turned softer and more genuine.
“I could never lead them after this shaman. My….dream….has nearly cost them everything. It is fair I die for this, but you need to live on. What if your other stories are equally true?”
He felt a snort of laughter at that, in spite of the circumstances.
They were only still alive because the Atric could not see, they were guided by touch and perhaps scent, though he’d never been able to determine how with any certainty. Individuals seemed to move almost randomly, but in a tide they moved more like a multi-headed snake, coiling around and winding through the camp, mandibles tearing apart anything they contacted that wasn’t Atric. They had the ability to sense motion up close and could dodge blows with surprising dexterity. Jaws could slip past the guard of a fighter in moments and remove an arm or leg.
The circle of minotaurs had beaten away any Atric that reached them and the tide had coiled around as a result, only slowly constricting inward as the edge of the tide brushed against them. Each brush drew the circle tighter and cost them another of the few remaining minotaurs.
“If you have a plan” Doenrakkar growled out “I believe we’d best do it soon.”
Cradol grimaced and spat out a gob of blood stained spit that mingled with the green and blue gore streaking the ground. The blue was….wrong…and Doenrakkar recognised it instantly for what it was. Trayda root. None but the Shaman were supposed to have access to it. She saw his gaze and shrugged apologetically, “I’m afraid you may have to collect a lot of your supplies again. My warriors and I may have helped ourselves.”
Trayda root was both harmless and useless when ingested in small amounts. Very small amounts. A dusting over a meal for example. A little bit more than that and you could…lighten your mind, perhaps even catch a glimpse of the future. Enough of it, mixed correctly, would make a paste that a warrior could apply to their gums resulting in an enhancement of their strength and stamina for a short time, though it would leave them incapacitated for days afterwards. Chewed raw, in quantities enough to stain your saliva blue, it would kill you, however not before it turned you into a monster.
Knowing he’d missed the moment when she’d given the signal to her warriors, he knew they could only have a short period before the drug would overload their bodies. They’d already chosen to pay the price, now all he could do was buy as many lives as possible with their sacrifice. Cradol roared and the bellows of her warriors joined her as they surged outwards with suddenly monstrous strength. He gathered the survivors in the centre, as the circle stepped a step sideways in unison, and he shuffled the survivors along with them, step by step. After a handful of breaths he could see it would not be enough. For them to escape the tide they needed to move faster.
Cradol realised it too and she yelled at him, teeth still bared but now he suspected it was against the pain of the Trayda burning her up from the inside. “Be ready Shaman, we will make you a path, but I suspect it wont last long.”
He nodded and ushered his charges into a line three wide and offered what encouragement he could. The older ones knew what was coming and the younger ones were bewildered and terrified, but they would follow.
“Now!” Cradol yelled, and as one the circle collapsed into a wedge around the line of survivors, surging forward into the black mass of the tide and shattering it.
Doenrakkar herded the survivors down the corridor as the warriors forced it forward. The corridor was already shaking, the circle had held while the tide swirled around it, but cutting directly through the flowing tide was a very different task. Here the tide piled against one side of the corridor and was weak on the other. The corridor was being diverted sideways by the pressure. Doenrakkar supported their side and those survivors who were able added their strength, but even as they fought he watched two of the warriors fall under the weight of the tide. Even as warriors from the other side crossed the corridor to replace them, a handful of Atric made it through the gap, two of the older survivors charged at them, swinging pots. Doenrakkar couldn’t get to them in time and he roared in frustration, and despair, as they were torn to shreds in a matter of moments. The remaining warriors shored the line with a crushing charge that slammed the gap closed.
They made it only a handful of steps before another warrior fell, torn roaring into the black mass that closed seamlessly behind the corridor. Each moment bought by the falling warrior's lives, meant the survivors were able to take advantage of the innate regenerative powers of their race. It gave them some hope.
“We’re too slow!” he bellowed at Cradol and though he couldn’t hear her response, he saw the acknowledgement in the tension of her stance. Suddenly, she seemed to swell in size and her orders split the horrible roar of the tide. The warriors moved as one unstoppable blade cutting a channel through the tide as Doenrakkar practically threw the survivors along before following himself. The line held for moments, long enough to give hope before he could see it begin to shred. The line stalled, the warriors holding, but not being able to push forward with the survivors fully engaged in just staying alive. Summoning a strength he had never known he possessed, Doenrakkar bellowed defiance and crashed into the darkness ahead of them alone, plowing into the Atric. His roar was a near physical thing that seemed to drive back the Atric as much as his shillelagh, disrupting the symphony of the tide. He didn’t pause to look back, could not spare anything but hope for those that should be following. He simply fought with every scrap of strength and will he could find, his blows aimed to simply drive the Atric aside and allow another step forward.
And then suddenly he broke from darkness and into light. He stumbled and fell forwards onto clear sand, rolling to his feet, immediately rounding to try and hold the way open in an attempt to rescue at least someone for all the deaths that had been paid.
Doenrakkar nearly ran into the first of the survivors. An aging minotaur, carrying two youngsters, the sight of which bouyed his flagging spirits and renewed his strength to fight for few more breaths. Soon five more adults emerged, each carrying another child, all of them wounded, but alive. He continued to fight against the tide, holding out a small opening as long as he could, however no more survivors emerged for a dozen breaths, and he realised there were no more coming. The mighty shaman stumbled back from the edge of the tide and turned to run after the survivors who by now were halfway up a large dune. They were all overcome with bone-deep exhaustion, however he couldn’t let himself falter, couldn’t pause until they were safe. Doenrakkar lasted the rest of the day and through the night, driving the others forward, step by step, away from the tide and the remains of the oasis. When the dawn came, and he could no longer see any sign of the tide on the horizon, he allowed himself a moment’s respite. Exhaustion finally overcame him. The last thing his eyes saw were the survivors huddled together preparing to rest, then darkness, as his hulking form came crashing to the earth, tree trunk like legs giving way as his mind lost consciousness.
Light flickered across pages of an ancient tome, a candle wick burned down to about an inch off its base. Viktor had been at it for 18 hours straight, however he was still alert as ever, eyes bright and focused, mind sharp. The halfling’s previous genius level intellect, and god-like mental capacity, had continually improved since he had become one of the summoned. The journeys to Between affected the heroes in different ways, however universally they became stronger each time they were victorious in their service of the demigods. Viktor was still grateful that his theft of Aris Demonica, from the library of Bastian Oriel, the timeless one, had yet gone unpunished. He was sure that Bastian would come for him at some stage, and silently Viktor relished the opportunity to lock horns with the lore keeper on Athien, where the stakes were so much higher than Between. Quickly, he brought his mind back to the task at hand.
Extracting the true name of Al’garath had been relatively easy compared to his current pursuit. Yes, this one had proven to be very difficult indeed. Every waking hour for the past 50 days had been spent poring over the tome, and as yet, Viktor had been unable to make any major progress, until earlier today. The halfling finally learned the name of an ancient demon, a fire beast that swam the lava pits of the plane of fire, and as with all demons, having knowledge of its true name meant it was possible to summon it to do your bidding. Possible, yes, however there was no guarantee such a beast could be controlled for any length of time. Summoning demons was always a tricky business.
The demon Al’garath had thus far proven to be a powerful ally and, beyond the occasional eldritch burn, Viktor had been largely unscathed, however that provided no correlation towards any future summons, since all demons were frighteningly unique. Despite knowing his name for several hours, Viktor had so far resisted the urge to summon Dor’gokaan, because the halfling wanted to be sure he could safely dismiss him if things got out of hand. Hidden among the names of several powerful demons, the tome contained a spell of banishment which empowered the summoner to vanquish any named demon to its home plane. It could mean the difference between life and death should a summons go awry.
It took several hours more before Viktor, about to end the session, deciphered the final rune that gave him knowledge of banishment, the spell forever etched into his brain. With a sense of relief, he slowly closed the tome, fastened its metal bindings and placed it into a large rune-encrusted chest sitting in the corner of his laboratory. Viktor closed his eyes for a moment to settle his mind and make sure he still had the mental strength to risk a summons after nearly 24 hours without sleep. Even now, the power of his enhanced mind still surprised the halfling, as his everything came into sharp focus enabling him to begin preparations for the summoning ritual.
The air crackled with energy as parchment flew off a solid oak desk that stood to the side. Viktor sat within a glowing star etched into the stonework floor of his laboratory. A swirling vortex of purple flame which began as a flicker, erupted into a blaze 12 feet into the air, licking the ceiling above. The flame originated in a second glowing star, much larger than the first which, all going well, was the intended destination of the demon. Beads of sweat formed on the halfling’s brow, trickling down the crevice of his right eye, pausing as it came in contact with the crows feet wrinkles that gave some indication of the halfling’s age. Viktor’s concentration was unwavering as the roaring flame caused a noise loud enough to invoke a response from the ravens that nested in his loft. Then, silence, both within the tower and outside. It seemed nature held its breath in reaction to an alien intruding on the world. Athien herself knew that the demon did not belong here.
A low guttural growl broke the silence. Viktor opened his eyes and before him stood an immense beast like nothing he had ever seen. A gaping maw, its lips parting to reveal sharp jagged teeth, appeared where the demon’s stomach should be. Four appendages protuded from its upper torso, two that resembled arm and hands, another a crab-like claw, and the 4th splitting into two demonic eyes that peered around the room unnervingly. Grasped within one of the hands was a fantastic sword, runes writhing along its blade in an endless macabre dance. The creature focused its gaze on Viktor, hatred oozing with the knowledge of what had just occurred. “Dor’gokaan…” Viktor whispered. The beast instinctively lurched forward at the sound of its name, only to howl in pain as an invisible barrier burned its flesh the first time a part of its body cut the vertical plane rising from the star on the floor. Dor’gokaan retracted to the centre of the star, not taking its gaze off Viktor for a single second.
Viktor smiled. The repercussions of today’s achievement playing out in his mind. He would now be the most powerful of the summoned and before long, Viktor was sure, he would have the power to challenge the gods themselves. Let Bastian come now, he thought, for death awaited him.
The halfling spoke an incantation before clapping his hands together loudly. With a deafening pop, the demon vanished, leaving wisps of smoke tendrils floating in the air. Weariness suddenly overcame him so he stumbled to his cot and slid under the heavy furs. Sleep came swiftly.