|Watchtower on the Broken Coast|
In this post I will sum up what is known about the other major faction of evil in the world of Argos. As with the previous Villains-post, no new information will be presented, but I will try to put things in context.
The concept behind the Court of Stars is Dark Empire/Ancient Evil, and as such, its ranks will include a wide range of villainous archetypes and characters, ranging from (to quote G. Galan's player) the Queen of Shit herself, down to the rank-and-file of its legions of terror.
The Court of Stars has roots back to the very early days of the Book of Worlds.
As the Millennium of Reason ended, the Court of Stars had established a total hegemony over the Dark Continent. After first the defeat of the Host of Man, and thereafter of the Stygian Empire -- and the slaying of Dìs -- the continent has been closed off from the rest of the world. Between the Dark Continent and the Realms of Man lies only the fortress-island of Cora.
|Artwork by fellow blogger Dustin Clark|
In the First Age, the elves were the guardians of the world, and greatest of the elven houses was the House of Hedhrindal. When the Dead Star fell onto Argos, it caused much of the lands of the Hedhrindal to be swallowed by the ocean. Those who survived went mad, and the once so proud Queen of Stars fell deeper than all.
The Queen has many names, Queen of Sorrow, Mistress of Despair, and Succubus are amongst these -- the Orc calls her Mother. She is said to possess great powers of foresight, as well as being able to command the carnal powers of all living beings. She is also counted among the Older Gods, those who survived the Godslayer Wars of the Second Age. Ultimately, she is the one who is behind all plots and strategies of the many minions of the Court of Stars. From her throne in the Star Chamber in the palace of Mûr-Chadrac, she moves her pieces on the board, as cold and detached as a towers-player.
Together with her son, Caracalla, and the orc warlord Ghuradakh, the she makes up the Dark Triumvirate.
See this, and this post for tales of the Queen of Stars and how she deals with her lieutenants.
These things in the Tenth Generation shall come to pass. A son will be born by elf and man that will gather darkness around him. He shall defeat the Host. Death itself will fall by his hand, and the tomb will be opened. From the deep He will rise. Then know the End of Days.
Caracalla, the Prince of Ashes, is the son of the Queen of Stars and Franko da Cola, the man who would ascend to godhood during the first years of the Time of Darkness. As such, he was born a demigod, and he was raised by his mother to become the penultimate ruler of man. At an early age, he willingly gave his soul to the Deep, and every waking moment of his life has been devoted to the service of his mother and the Thing That Sleeps Below.
After the fall of the Old Colonies, Caracalla became the focus of worship for the Cult of Man Ascended. The Cult has grown rapidly among the human subjects of the Court, and it would not be an outrageous claim to now count the Dark Prince as one of the god of Pantheon of Argos. In fact, the sermons delivered to the faithful hail Caracalla as the purest of all gods, sired by man, and born into the world by the Ancient Mother.
The Warlord of the Dark Triumvirate is the legendary and infamous Orc warlord Ghurandakh. His rise to power began in the last decade of the Millennium of Reason, when the Artifact known as the Aleitochron fell into his hands. Aided by the magician Franko da Cola, and the Rouge Navigator, he conquered the Orc Tribes of the Broken Coast, and thereafter marched on the Old Colonies. His victories, and the might of his Dark Horde, was in no small degree facilitated by the Gift of Industry.
When not in the palace of Mûr-Chardrac, the Prince of Man is always accompanied by a formidable nefandic Master known only as the Painted Man. The few who have ever seen him, and lived to speculate on his nature, believe that the tattooed body is nothing but a vessel for a soul so decrepit it has consumed the flesh it was born into. He is known to command great powers over the Arcana of Prime, Space and Spirit.
See this chapter for an account of the actions of the Painted Man.
After the death of Armand, Captain Radoslav became the new Admiral of the Black Ships. This fleet of the damned has since time immemorial been a part of the fears of sailors. "The ship who sees the black sails will never again return to port," so goes the saying. As the Great War has gripped Argos, these ships have moved from legends and into the fears of all who live by the oceans.
After Captain Armand was defeated, the Black Ships have not been seen, except as dark sails on the horizon by the few who have braved the far reaches of the deep seas.
The minions of the Court of Stars are legion. Their ranks are swelled by the conquered populace of the Dark Continent, of corrupted humans from the Realms of Man, of the Orc, and of a multitude of vile creatures, demons, and Abyssal entities. Here are but a few.
When the Old Colonies fell, not all humans were massacred. Many chose to bend their knee and serve their new masters. The Blood Legions are made up of those most devoted to the Court of Stars. They answer to the Queen of Stars and the Prince of Ashes, and all are fanatical members of the Cult of Man Ascended.
Little is known of the martial prowess of the Legions, as they have been overshadowed by the savage horde of the Orc. Nevertheless, they should not be written off, as they are the chosen of the Queen herself.
The Dark Horde was let loose on the Old Colonies at the end of the last century. Thereafter it was pitted against the Undying Legions of the Stygian Empire. In a terrible war that lasted more than a decade, the Orc finally prevailed. The Orc does nothing better than bleed and die. That is why they are born.
Fierce, savage, primal and independent, they have spent most of their history confined to the fringes of the world, driven away by the systematic humans, or hunted down by the powerful elves. It is only when a great leader, an Urghalkhan, is born into their ranks, that the Orc is able to unite. Thus united, few civilizations are able to stand against the wrath of the Black Blood.
There are speculations about whether the Orc's back has finally been broken for this time, after Hûron the White led his Frostelves in their last charge against the Dark Horde. Whether this is so remains to be seen.
The hatred between Orc and Elf goes back to the fall of House Hedhrindal, and the corruption of those elves. "Once we lived in great cities; Once we were loved by all; Betrayed and hunted, we remember it all," so goes the Lament of the Orc, a heart wrenching tale of the Fall of the Great House, as told by orcish lore-keepers.
See also this post.
The Forge Demons are corrupted spirits forged into a body made of blasphemous alloys. When on the prowl, they move in and out of the Gauntlet, ambushing their prey with relentless determination. On the battlefield, they will come at their enemy, tearing them to pieces with their powerful claws, or delivering their lethal poison with their stinger.
These creatures are dangerous enough to kill an Exalted.
"Many are the Nefandi, and you shall fear them, for behind them is the Abyss."
As magic returned to Argos, more and more humans have awakened to True Magic. Some of these turn to the Path of the Abyss, and all these are welcomed into the service of the Court of Stars.
There are many posts addressing the Court of Stars and their minions. Here is a selection:
The Prophesies of Elendrine
The Journal of Giovanni deVito
Two chapters where the Pius Cabal battles the Court's minions.
[Picture source: 1 unknown; 2 The Kinglands of Drakion; 3 Nikolai Aleksander; 4 Kerem Beyit; 5 Navate; 6 Martin McKenna; 7 unknown; 8 Nicolas Collings; 9 unknown]