Warriors of the Dead
Lightning flashed across the blackened sky.
The thunder that instantly followed was just enough to blot out the ever-present cries of joy and pain that filled the air.
On a flat field that stretched as far as the eye could see, an army of men struggled.
They were the Fallen.
Soldiers that the gods of war had found worthy to reenact battles for all eternity in the land of the dead.
Far above the battle, a great castle fortress floated in the sky.
Great stalactites jutted down from beneath.
In a small room at the top of the tallest tower, the wizard Neltrin puzzled over a large map.
Around his table, scrolls of parchment littered the floor.
They were battle plans and diplomatic messages intercepted by his spies.
Neltrin lifted his head and peered out of the high stone window.
The Fallen were lucky.
They no longer cared who won or lost.
There was no great design to their battle.
Neltrin snuffed out the candle and knelt on the floor.
He called on his power to summon the being Mestafist.
A great shadow stepped through the stone wall.
Mestafist was always watching and waiting, kept barely under control by a dozen magic charms.
Neltrin rose and stepped toward the window.
The creature took the wizard in its arms and leapt from the tower stretching its great dark wings.
The great shadow soared over the battlefield.
Finding a quiet spot in the field, Mestafist set the wizard down and launched back into the broiling sky.
The warriors looked around to find the cause of the unwanted interruption.
When they saw the wizard they paused and gave him a wide berth.
A few of the warriors were stabbed in the back for their trouble, and fell choking on blood.
But soon even this horse play ceased.
The wizard was a mortal.
His wounds would not heal tonight when the clouds parted and the pale moon Eros rose.
Mortals had come to the land of the dead before.
Most of them had come looking for slain relatives and had been killed for their trouble.
The wizard was different.
He could take them back.
Back where the battles mattered.
Where killing had a purpose and death was a thing worthy of respect.
The wizard gathered a group of a hundred warriors in a circle around him.
He then called for Mestafist who began to weave a mist around the band.
The cloud lifted off from the ground and carried the wizard back to the tower with his new recruits.
The dark spirit let them down inside the courtyard of the flying castle.
It then followed Neltrin as he left the Fallen and entered the laboratory at the center of the fortress.
As Neltrin worked the complex astrological machinery that would bring his fortress into the land of the living, Mestafist reminded him of his promise.
The violent dead must only rise to do more violence.
To stray from what is willed by the gods is to invite ruin.
Amkar squinted at the sun.
It was the first time he had seen daylight in a thousand years.
For a thousand years he had honed his skills as a warrior.
He had been struck down hundreds of times and had mortally wounded thousands of foes.
Now he stood with his brothers in the land of the living.
The true test of his skill was at hand.
The wizard Neltrin rode behind them on a black horse.
They marched and marched until they reached a small village.
There the enemy lay in wait.
The Fallen lifted their weapons and charged.
Amkar's nerves were steady, though he found he now feared death.
Death would bring endless stormy night and the useless slaughter that brought no decisive result.
But he and his companions knew every move the enemy would make before they thought of it themselves.
Amkar's blade made quick work of two men.
A roar of joyful laughter rose from the village as the other men did likewise.
That was when he saw her. A small girl standing between two outbuildings.
He lowered his weapon and stared at her dumbly.
Seeing this, an enemy warrior leapt from behind a building and held a dagger to her neck.
Amkar was confused, tears filling his eyes.
He set his sword on the ground.
The sounds of laughter were replaced by shouts of confusion.
Neltrin thundered up on his horse along side Amkar.
The wizard shouted with rage, but Amkar did nothing.
The enemy shoved the girl toward Amkar and retreated further into the village.
Just before the enemy retreated into an alley, he let out an evil laugh and turned to fire an arrow into the girl's chest.
As Neltrin reached to stop him, Amkar threw himself in front of the arrow, which pierced the ancient warrior's heart.
"Fool!" shouted Neltrin as he dismounted his horse, "Let me show you how wars are won!"
The wizard drew his sword and made to swing at the child.
Amkar caught the wizard's wrist in his hand and brought him to the ground.
With his life's blood draining from his wound, Amkar strangled the wizard.
Neltrin stared up his killer's face framed in the clear blue sky.
The daylight was soon soon replaced by the cold glow of Eros, Amkar's finger's still around the wizard's neck.
- use of creatures that attackers care about as hostages
- riding is not only on the back, but you can carry others, this distinction should matter for babies, recovering wounded, etc.
- people who have been away from situations/creatures/objects for long periods of time can have various reactions upon their return and exposure to these situations/creatures/objects, especially if the object in the question had a great deal of significance
- light affecting vision, can make combat difficult in a given direction based on where the sun is
- naming celestial bodies
- stalactites and other cave formations
- teleportation spells
- magical effects in general can be worked by mysterious complicated machinery
- after-life notions
- flying sites, can be handled like boats somewhat
- summoning other-worldly beings
- non-corporeal beings, wall-walking etc.
- there can be deities that govern certain focuses
- planes have different rules for healing etc. and these rules depend on the status of the creature -- ie, there can be different rules for visitors or for natives depending on their status etc, planar hierarchies etc.
- planes can often have uniform characteristics based around their focus, there can also be subplanes that symbolize certain subsections of the focus of the main plane
- planar travel, rules and restrictions governing the travel and behavior of planar natives, and extra rules for those that have entered another plane etc., some of these rules simply can't be broken by their nature, others can be broken but they are enforced by whatever powers govern the planes