Saturday, September 4, 2010

The introduction to Obsidian Twilight - A Place Beyond Hell

There was nothing in the blackglass desert for leagues in every direction. Nothing grew there, nothing lived there. It was an endless expanse of ground glass, extending to every point of the compass, whipped up into storms that would scour the flesh from your bones in moments and tear you to ragged shreds.

The maggot-kin has been wandering this inhospitable place for weeks now, drinking their own piss to survive, but there was precious little to eat. So bad was it that falling into the company of a wandering band of glass-cut ghouls earlier that evening had been a blessing, rather than a curse. Now, for the first time in weeks, the maggot-kin had blood to drink, flesh to chew and bones to burn.

“Tell us, Blowfly.” They asked, in the flickering light of the burning bones. “Tell us of the H'Laqu.” Grown bold by their brushes with death and the remote, emptiness of the desert.

“You shouldn't talk of such things.” Grunted Blowfly, stripping the rotten flesh from a ghoul's finger with his filed down teeth, throwing back his hood to let them see his beady red eyes, how serious he was.

“Our luck won't hold Blowfly, we know you know about them. If we're all going to die anyway, what's the harm in telling us?”

“You won't know the harm until I tell you about them.” Muttered Blowfly, chewing on the stripped meat and sucking the rancid marrow from the bones. “Then it'll be too late, but I see I'll get no peace otherwise.” He sighed and tossed the bone onto the fire with the others to burn.

“They weren't here... before.” He grunted, nobody needed to ask what he meant by that. “They came with it, were never seen before it. They're not like anything else. They're not evil, not exactly. You know where you are with evil. Evil is relatable, there's a bit of evil in all of us and we know how it thinks, what it likes, what it's trying to do.”

He sighed again and poked their meagre, green-tinged fire with a shin bone. “The H'Laqu are different... indifferent. They just don't care about us, at all, they don't wish us harm, they don't wish us good. We're an asset or we're in the way and little – if anything – in between. They're not dark to light, they're not evil to good, they're not like anything you can think of. They corrupt, they twist, they use, they subvert.”

He paused a moment and leaned forward towards his gang of compatriots, emphasising his final point.

“They're just WRONG.”

The H'Laqu
The H'Laqu were not present on Abaddon until the disaster happened. They came with it, were the progenitors of it, were part of the meteor itself. They were – and are – the engineers of Abaddon's destruction. Now they're found, increasingly, all over the world. Insinuating themselves into air, stone, flesh and plants, subverting and spreading, wandering far and wide and engaging in strange and unnatural behaviours that nobody can understand. They're not of this world, not of this dimension, not of this reality in any way. Inscrutable, inimical to the very existence of this world, perhaps even insane, the H'Laqu are a growing presence, a growing influence and a growing concern to all the forces at work across Abaddon. A threat that can't be understood, controlled or even directed, beyond the schemes and plans of man and undead alike.

What are the H'Laqu?
The planes are all but cut off from the material realm of Abaddon now. Holes can open in the dimensions and allow things to fall through to Abaddon and get stuck there, but it's impossible for anyone to leave Abaddon's material dimension in any way. Even these other planes share common qualities with the material plane though, perhaps gravity, perhaps the flow of time. Essentially any person travelling from one of these planes to another can relate to it in some way. Those worlds are graspable, comprehensible, understandable.

The H'Laqu are not.

The H'Laqu defy normal defintion. They are one and many, bodiless and yet they inhabit the physical. They are everywhere and nowhere at once. They don't come from an alternate plane of existence but from the very membrane between the worlds itself, the gap between the spheres. Relentless, uncaring and utterly alien the H'Laqu regard the inhabitants of Abaddon as largely being beneath their notice, they have fashioned this disaster, this world as their experiment and they begin to infest and change it, more like a virus than anything that anyone has ever fought before, but it is reality that they infect.

Where do the H'Laqu Come From?
Between realities, between the planes and the material realities there are gaps, spaces, a thin membrane that divides one reality from another. Sometimes this opens up into larger gaps, but it still isn't a reality but rather a space of potentiality, emptiness, non-existence.

The H'Laqu come from this space between the worlds, whether they originate there or not is lost in the depths of time but these spaces had become their home – and their prison. They had been confined to one small portion of this 'gap' between realities, imprisoned, crystallised within this tiny space, reduced from infinite possibility to none. Time goes on forever though, things change, even in the vastness of the multiverse and the H'Laqu had beat against the walls of their prison so very long, observing the movement of the spheres, waiting for the moment that they could tear free a section of their prison and send it hurtling into a reality, sending some of their number through to pave the way for the rest, to find a way to free their brothers and to understand the material universe.

What do the H'Laqu Want?
The H'Laqu want nothing more than to be free but their very nature is separate from reality, distinct from it. They do not understand living or unliving beings. They do not understand the material multiverse and they need to understand it, to adapt to it and to enter it. They have laid waste to Abaddon in order to establish a beachhead, a research station to understand the material universe and to entrap samples from the broader multiverse.