The southern fringes of the Mists of Osthemangar hide many dark secrets of an evil past. One such oft whispered bit of lore concerns the now decrepit tower known to the local orc tribes as "Rhazga'mish" (orcen lit. “Wyrm rot”). If the old orcen legends are to be believed, this tower of shadow was once a temple to the Chaos God where the ancient dark elves worshiped during the Age of Sundering when Caaehl’heroth was the domain of the elven and orcen rebels from the sundered empire of Fá'áv'cál'âr. Today, the tower stands as an ominous monument that has been seemingly dormant for many centuries. Yet, as anyone familiar with the Netherworld Mists knows, nothing is ever truly asleep in the warped region of Osthemangar.
Image description. View on the Wyrmrot Spire hidden somewhere in the Mists of Osthemangar. Picture drawn by Seeker.
Description. The first documented explorer to visit the Wyrmrot Spire was the famed Injerín ranger Saryas Kelweather in 1470 a.S. His exploits are well known throughout the North and during one of his forays into the Mists, he encountered the tower. The structure stands in the center of an immense bramble choked expanse of bone known as the Umbral Fields. This region is said to be littered with the remains of powerful dragons who once ruled the region during the Age of Sundering. The thick Mists swirl over the ground preventing a clear view where to step. Large thorny vines twist over and through the bones that further hinder any travelers’ progress.
The Umbral Fields
Mist Hunter lore tells of a great battle of immense beasts that took place shortly after their ancient ancestors, the Aeh'os'th'er'oc orcs, arrived in the Osthemangar region. The nature of the beasts is unclear, but the large size of the bones and skulls that litter the field around the tower appear to be those of large drakes. A gloomy shadow overcasts the region creating such a dim view that torches were near useless. According to the tales, Osthemangar was ruled by dragons of immense power who fought for territory and power in the region. In the end, the remains of dozens of the creatures came to rest in an area spanning several strals. The Mist Hunters forbid the taking of any bones from the field for fear that the creatures’ spirits will follow. Saryas conjectured that perhaps the Umbral Fields were a burial ground for the dragons. Although some sages dismiss the idea that such beasts could have possessed such a civilized treatment of their dead, it is not unheard of that the sentient and intelligent greater dragons may have had some sort of cultural requirement.
Regardless of the origins of the bones, there is no question that the remains themselves point to the fact that dragons once thrived in the North in ancient times. Each step crushed the ancient bones underneath and the sound was deafening in the otherwise silent atmosphere. Additionally, traversing the field required careful planning to avoid the thorn vines that sprouted from the ground with some areas being as thick as a several handspans. The thorns themselves were as long as daggers with sharp jagged edges that rendered soft flesh as if slicing air. Saryas guessed that it took a full day to cross the field to reach the tower. If not for the Kaaer guides’ exceptional tracking skills and Saryas’ keen elven senses, it would have been a deadly hike for them. For if the briars did not impale each foot fall, then the unstable carpet of bone would have caused a violent mishap in the pale light.
The Wyrmrot Spire
Once the group reached the Wyrmrot Spire, Saryas began his journal entry describing the structure:
“The tower stands immense, as tall as any structure I’ve ever seen. It is shaped like a sharp fang protruding from the ground. Thick, knotted vines grow and grasp the towers’ surface giving the impression that the structure is a hunched over blackened, dead tree. It seems to have been carved from a giant piece of black shiny bone or rock. There are ancient trees in many Northern forests that do not compare to the height of this spire. All around the ground surface is as a fine grey dust that when disturbed only slightly produces cloudy plumes that rush into eyes and mouths. The plumes are likely very fine bone dust that swirl with each cold breeze. Even now, I can see this dust falling like the snows of despair in a cruel winter…”
Saryas goes on to describe the tower in more detail. He estimated the base of the structure to be as wide as an elven palace of the Shaded Woods and as bleak as a corpse. The surface of the tower is smooth and very cold to the touch. Scratch marks and pitted holes adorn the tower like ancient scars of battle. There are no visible windows in the tower save one located above the single double door. The mists hide the peak of the spire so it is difficult to properly obtain a measurement of height.
Saryas guessed that the tower as it stands today is only a partial structure. Along one side, the tower surface appears broken and cracked as if a great portion had been bitten or sheared off by a weapon the size of a small hill. The broken side gives the tower a roughly curved appearance likened to a fang or the Kaaer’dár’shín “re’voq” dagger. Bits of stone pieces litter the ground all about the tower with some as small as a warg puppy and others the width of six men shoulder to shoulder. Saryas surmised that at one point, the tower may have suffered battle damage or been victim of a violent siege. Another theory that he postulated was perhaps the many earthquakes of the region shook pieces of the spire off.
Further physical evidence points to the fact that the tower was once a part of a larger layout. Surrounding the spire is a ring of large stones cut from an unknown quarry in the Caaehl Mountains. The stones stand in various heights having been broken long ago. The pieces lie about haphazardly giving the impression that these stones were once pillars perhaps ten to twelve peds in height. Although the lore surrounding the construction of the Deep Winds Portal is not truly understood, it can be guessed that perhaps the Wyrmrot Spire was a main gateway further into the grounds of the Portal tower itself.
Steps hidden under the falling ash are located perhaps six peds in front of the tower entrance. Many of the steps are buried or broken with some having been overgrown with dead tree growth. Twisted and gnarled black limbs intertwine between the cracks like decrepit fingers. Saryas guessed that the spire could have stood high atop a platform with steps leading downwards into a complex below. Surrounded by pillars, the entire edifice would have been an impressive sight. Orcen lore says that the tower was once a temple or at least had some religious importance to the dark elves.
The Eyes of Terror
The Kaaer’dár’shín Mist Hunter clan are known to be fearless and savage stalkers of the Mists, but even they have learned to keep a good distance from the spire. They speak of a large nest of creatures that have taken refuge within a damaged section of the tower. The hunters call these creatures "vins'unja" (Kaaer lit. "eyes of terror"). Although the hunters generally will hunt most any Mist inhabitant, it would seem that these particular beasts in the tower are not game that they wish to encounter by any means. When asked for a reason why, the Hunters simply say that the denizens are “not of this creation, not of Durgho...” Saryas braved a look at this nest for himself and he described it in his journal:
“Upon one side of the spire, perhaps three peds up, a gaping hole stares out. Within the hole is dizzying blackness. When I stared at it, the darkness seemed to move and writhe like a pit of serpents. I could hear nothing, but I could feel a wave of horror creeping through my body slowly. As this despair and fear threatened to overtake me, I prepared to run away…far away from this lonely nest. I thought of how the Hunters describe this hole as a nest of beasts, but at first, I saw nothing inside. But as my fear took a deeper hold on me, my eyes were opened ever briefly into a world of such cataclysmic chaos that I never even felt my knees buckle as I dropped to the wet ground. Then, something emerged from the nest…
It was indeed a creature of ultimate darkness. It was shaped like a serpent with a very long neck and a multitude of eyes on its serpentine-like head. Each eye reflected my torch light and I stood horrified under its gaze. The beast had four legs with each attached to claws that easily gripped the tower surface. Black spines shaped like thin daggers bristled upon its back. It also possessed wings of scaly black that slowly unfurled and spread wide making a shadow over me. My torch suddenly winked out and all I could see was its malevolent gaze burning into my very spirit. The air around the beast swirled and moved as a very cold wind seemed to emanate from it that chilled me to the core. As I continued to start at this embodiment of terror, it suddenly flared to life as if ensorcelled with black flame.
I then felt a grip on my shoulders and a cry of alarm in my ear. I turned and saw one of my Mist Hunter guides pulling me away from the nest. He shoved me down out of reach from the creature. The guide then turned towards the thing and produced his protective to’vatar gripped in his left hand. I was on the verge of passing out and I remember the magic stone in the guide’s hands glow a bright light and all of the darkness was gone for a brief moment. I then remember waking up some time later with my savior guide kneeling over me. His to’vatar stone hung about his neck, dangling slowly as I watched it. The guide smiled and nodded reassuringly as if to confirm what I saw. Indeed, the spirits of the Kaaer’dár’shín have some measure of power over even the denizens of the Mists of Osthemangar...”
The Doors of Chaos
The next few entries in Saryas’ log detail the internal appearance of the tower. The Mist Hunters claim to have never been inside the structure, but after Saryas’ insistence, a few of the Kaaer were willing to accompany the Injerin ranger. The only entrance appears to be massive double doors made of thick black stone. Saryas estimated them to be the height of a stone giant and as wide as a six horses standing end to end. There are no handles or knobs of any kind that he could find and the question of how to open the doors plagued him for some hours before the answer came to him:
“I sat for some time pondering how to gain entrance to the spire. The doors were extremely large and no doubt heavier than a mere elf could push. I spent the hours examining the doors and cleaning heavy ash and dirt away from the surfaces. To my amazement, it became clear that the doors were decorated with an ancient elven language not spoken in centuries. I guessed it to be an old dialect of dark elven. While my language skills were adequate at best, I managed to decipher some of the text carved into the doors.
According to the script, only those of elven blood could open the entrance to what the text described as “The embodiment of Coór’melor”. The Kaaer, being of orcen and human stock, had not the power to do such a task so I alone was going to open this long forgotten tower. Although I was not a dark elf, I surmised that perhaps the dark magic sealing this spire may have weakened over the years and would allow me to perform what it required. I guessed correctly and while the exact ritual I performed was lengthy and should not be described here, I will say that I shall never attempt such again. My body became weaker and my thoughts were invaded with harsh whispers once the door opened. This was likely due to the chaotic ritual... which again, I shall not describe here.
The stone doors swung open with a loud grating scrape of stone rubbing stone. A fog of bone dust burst forth from stale air not breathed since the ages past. I motioned for my Kaaer guides to follow me and I noticed they kept a tight grip upon their protective to’vatars. I silently prayed to Durgho myself for protection as my eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness within. The entire innards were carved of the same black stone as the outer walls. The floor was covered in thick ash and dust and the surface underneath could not be seen. Indeed, the creator’s vision of this spire was as chaotic as the dark god himself."
The Altar of Malice
"The room appeared haphazard in design with little to no flow or ease of use. Every corner dripped with shadow hiding secret places not discovered in millennia. Flanking pillars were rough cut bone surrounding an altar in the center of the room that seemed to have erupted from the floor. A thin coat of slime clung to the altar and I saw wisps of frost swirl above it. There were no rooms that I could see, just a wide open expanse that could easily hold innumerable elves. I pictured in my mind a host of worshipers gathered within, all kneeling before the gloomy altar giving heed to the Shadow’s unspeakable will. I shuddered at the thought and tore my gaze from the altar to search the room further. It was then that my Kaaer guides erupted in angry and fearful cries that caused me to unsling my bow in one rapid motion.
There was no cause for alarm, for the danger I had anticipated did not show itself. Instead, my Kaaer friends had found a pile of rotten bones that littered the west side of the rotunda. They showed for me a unique looking skull with a puncture wound that had been made just above the left eye socket. The skull was wide with a high forehead and jutting lower jaw. It was unmistakably an orcen skull. The Kaaers’ reverence for the dead prohibited having unburied bones as they believe that the dead should be entombed in the earth, or “Gynturg’s embrace” as they call it. They also realized that these orcen bones were probably the remains of sacrificial victims that had died within this tower. This was an affront to them of the highest order.
The Kaaer urged me to leave this cursed place at once. I agreed and as we all made our move to exit, the altar in the center of the room caught my eye again. Now, it was shaped differently. It seemed to move as if thousands of worms slithered over it. A palpable malevolence emanated from the altar and I could feel a cold chill come over me. Hovering over the slab was a circular glob of inky blackness that grew larger every moment. Then, the pile of bones began to rattle as if something huge was stirring underneath. Dull flickering lights and vaporous entities appeared around the room as if awoken from a deep slumber.
The Kaaer quickly filed out and I followed right behind. The stone doors began to close and as I watched, the black globe grew as violent as a storm, swirling with cascading colors of despair. A multitude of tentacle-like arms burst forth that stabbed the cold air coming for me. It was then that I perceived a pair of eyes open in the center of the growing storm of dark energy. I suddenly felt as if my entire body was being pulled in all directions. A cacophony of hoarse, deep chanting fills my ears as if thousands of long dead spirits were beckoning me. My thoughts were a jumble of confusion and I lost all sense of direction. I was tumbling down an endless void of nightmarish chaos…"
Saryas’ journal of the encounter comes to an end at this point. To this day, he refuses to speak of what happened next; only to say that he survived the experience with the Wyrmrot Spire with barely his wits and soul intact. He cautions anyone with the intent of exploring the tower further and even the Mist Hunters refuse to guide any outsider to the evil place again. Though the brave and famous Injerín ranger has never spoken of what he thinks he saw in the tower, it is believed by some clerics that he had looked upon the face of Coór himself that day. Only a person strong of will and faith could have withstood such an onslaught of dark intent, so says the Avanian faithful of the Injerín. The secrets of the Wyrmrot Spire will remain elusive for some time to come.
Location. The Wyrmrot
Spire is located in the Osthemangar region
of the Northern Sarvonian peninsula of
Caaehl’heroth. The tower stands amidst the Field of Bones which is along the
southern fringes of the Mists. The borders of the Cartash Forest is within two
days walk south of the tower and within five days walk east to the Caaehl
Mountains. The dreaded lairs of the
Ghostling Brownies is
said to be near the spire, but Saryas claims he never encountered the vile
little Rat Brownie tribe. He
assumes that even the
Ghostlings stay away from the tower, despite their worship of so-called
dark mist spirits.
Flora. Large bramble vines as thick as a human arm with dagger-like thorns crawl over the grounds’ surface hindering foot travel. These creepers are covered in stringy bark of varying shades of brown to black. The brambles twist all around each other like spined serpents in a tight mating embrace. The briars themselves are as hard as steel and possess a deep reddish color as if permanently stained with the blood of foolish passers-by. The thorns are not known to be poisonous and can even serve as useful weapons when carved off of the vine. The Mist Hunters say that the monstrous creepers develop deep under the ground and are ages old defying death. One orcen legend says that a vine is seeded for each fallen dragon that is laid to rest there. Each vine grows along the ground until it finds something to grasp. It then twists around the object like a coil. The vines can be found in several areas of the southern Mist fringes, with the most growth being centered in the Cartash Forest.
Fauna. Circling lazily in the skies above the spire are black, desiccated bird-like creatures with bony scaled heads covered in thin pale, sickly yellow skin. Cruel sharp beaks emit grating screams that can be heard for many strals distant. Their wings and body are covered in oily black feathers and their feet are topped with curved black claws. The Hunters call these creatures “Morta olk” (orcen lit “Dead Wings”). The birds’ gaunt bony bodies fly most ungracefully as if puppeted by a drunken hand. Atop the highest precipices of the spire are nests made of moss, bone and mud where the creatures roost. The birds guard the tower and flocks of them will swoop down to claw and bite any intruders. The Mist Hunters have methods of keeping the Dead Wings away by wearing a cloak made of spinewyrm hide. The Mist Hunters claim that the spinewyrm hunts and eats the birds by spitting a jet of sticky juice many peds in the air that entangle the flying Dead Wing and bring it to the ground.
Myth/Lore. The Osther-Oc and Kaaer Mist Hunters have long avoided the Wyrmrot Spire due to their belief in its evil nature. Legends tell that the spire is made up of a single bone of a colossal dragon known as Ezorrak’lagdan that lived in ages past and quite possibly was one of the dragons involved in the War of the Chosen. Once the elves and orcs arrived into the Cartash region, the dragon took up war with the intruders. The dark elves possessed powerful magic derived from Coór himself and prayed for divine intervention from the Chaos God. A mighty battle ensued and the dragon was defeated, but not destroyed. The great wyrm was bound into servitude to Coór's minions and took part in the construction of the Deep Winds Portal. Over time, the spiteful Ezorrak’lagdan gathered his strength and secretly garnered followers for a rebellion. He then sparked a civil war that lasted well over a century. However, the master of the Deep Winds Portal overcame the dragon’s insolent band and cursed them for all time. Ezorrak’lagdan was slain by Coór himself and his bones crafted into a temple. The other elven and orcen rebels were also slain most gruesomely and their bones were made into the altar within the spire. From that time forth, worship was held within the dragon’s bone and many vile rituals were performed upon the remains of the arrogant rebels as a reminder of the punishment for those who would dare wage war against the Embodiment of Chaos.