Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Vermin Lord

One of the most bizarre characters of DARK•HERITAGE is Vermin Lord, a nameless sorcerer billed as a member of the Heresiarchy.  Although he's often considered--by those few who know of him--as unconcerned with mortal affair and either above (or beneath) them, this is a dangerous affectation to hold.  A common conceit of many sorcerers, and almost certainly true of the folks who merit the label of Heresiarchy members, is that the "gods" are merely mortal sorcerers grown beyond the confines of this world, and that their time may yet come, and a new generation of "gods" may yet replace them.  Vermin Lord certainly believes this, and perhaps more than any other of the Heresiarchy, has taken action to ensure that when that time comes, he's at the forefront of the replacement of the current generation of gods.

This is not good news for humanity, since Vermin Lord has no use for them.  Vermin Lord is a scion of numerous other repugnant forms of life--rats and spiders being among his favorite.  Many have wondered at a possible link between Vermin Lord and the giant carnivorous spiders that prowl the Plateau of Leng.  But his most foul creation are the ratlings.  Large varieties of filthy rats, fed on human carrion and blasted with foul magicks, have--over generations of shepherding at Vermin Lord's hand, become vaguely anthropomorphic.  Walking on two legs and using their front paws as hands, the ratlings are as intelligent as humans, and as inventive, but they know nothing but filth, hatred, and cruelty.  Vermin Lord has clearly set them up to replace humanity when the time is right.  In the meantime, they spread in small groups from their home in Leng, feeding on carrion and rotting flesh--human when they can get it--and hiding in the sewers and midden heaps of humanities cities, poised to spread their plagues and diseases like the rats from which they were engineered by this mad sorcerer.

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of the ratlings, however, is the extent to which their exposure to foul magicks has made them surprising mutile, or subject to mutation.  Most of these revolting mutants are unfit for even the ghastly life that the ratlings currently live, but some are actually quite fearsome.  Gigantic, pustule-swollen rats larger than horses, long-legged "wolfrats"--capable of pack hunting over long distances, "aperats" that are much larger than a man--weighing up to 1,000 lbs. of muscle and mangy fur, with claws and teeth of hardened enamel.  Thankfully, these mutants rarely are intelligent, but their fearsome strength and constant rage can be harnessed by their more intelligent overseers.

Among the most fearsome are the ratling-spawn that are able to develop some of the features of Vermin Lords' other passion--spiders.  Dog-sized rats with eight-eyes, or ratlings who's bites are laced with venom, or who can scale walls like spiders, or even spin fetid silk are reported by the few who even know of the ratlings or their doings, and it is indeed an ominous development.

Vermin Lord himself has turned into a grotesque, post-human mockery of his previous form, which is now unremembered.  Constant exposure to unclean magical forces have mutated his bones and sloughed off his flesh--he now appears as a monstrous parody of human and ratling features that has died and rotted, yet somehow still moves.  Horns and spines jut from his exposed skull, and his teeth have been replaced by bone spurs directly in his jaw.  He truly is one of the most unsettling of the Heresiarchy to see (worthy of a SAN check, believe you me!)

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