The Duchy of Diemed used to be a prosperous area, rich on overland trade between Western Eria and the Skythian Empire. The many villages and farms that lay liberally strewn throughout the fertile, shallow river-valleys were by many seen as the rural ideal, and the cities and towns were wealthy and peaceful. The mines in the southern mountains, though not rich enough to attract the envy of the greater princes, still provided a healthy financial bedrock for the House of Diem. The silversmiths of Zalburg and Woll-am-Möwe were also widely renowned for the quality, if not beauty, of their work. Likewise, the University of Zalburg was acknowledged for it's achievements in the fields of natural philosophy and the liberal arts, and it had a Chair in the Cabal of Pure Thought for more than three hundred years.
Then, during the summer of YE 1022, the Red Death swept away all semblance of civilization, and tore asunder the Hegemony of Man over these lands. Mekelrad, the Lord of the Red Death, the terrible demon that brought the plague to Eria, was lured to Zalburg by the Thulist plague-herders. Here the Outsiders trapped the demon inside a blasphemous machine, using it's struggles to fuel a heinous experiment designed to burn a hole in Creation. While the demon was slain, and the Thulists driven out, the damage wrought on reality was so great that now a different law rules the region.
The deluge-like onslaught of the zombie plague was halted when Mekelrad was destroyed, but within what has become known as the Redlands, the restless dead still prowl hungrily. The Northern Alliance have built fortifications around the borders, and cavalry and cabals of magicians patrol them. Some of villages and towns that were deserted have been reclaimed, but in these walled communities, the living live in fear of the dead. Marauding packs of zombies roam across the once peaceful countryside, and many who have tried to return to their homes have vanished.
There are also other tales beginning to be told about the Redlands. Trolls, hobgoblins and other creatures from the dark depths of myth are said to have returned to the mortal world. The ravens are everywhere, and rumour has it that a great and ancient raven-king holds court somewhere in the deserted region. Where mortal nobles and rational thought once ruled, wizards, dark beasts, ghosts, zombies, and entities from the other side now do as they please. The Hegemony of Man does not extend to these lands.
- The Raven King has a mighty magician as his servant.
- Gypsies are seen travelling into the Redlands.
- There are vast treasures hidden in the ruins inside the Redlands.
- The zombies are controlled by a nigromancer.
- If a corpse is lain outside for a hour after dawn, it's eyes will be eaten by ravens, and it's soul will not haunt the living.
- A great troll has been seen in the hills.
- A child born with a red birth-mark has been tainted by evil.
- A terrible darkness lies buried in the ruins of Zalburg.
In Erian mythology, the raven is a bird of omens. It can herald death, destruction, and ill fortune, but also victory, success, and magic. In ancient times, the raven was believed to be the messenger of the gods, and there are already some amongst the growing number of worshippers of Arkon who hold these birds to be sacred. Another common belief is that a raven, or it's lesser cousin, the crow, can carry a soul safely to the Underworld. This, combined with the rising number of ghosts appearing across Eria, has further strengthened the raven's place in the mythology of Northern Eria.
The Raven King is an ancient Nature Spirit, and for untold centuries he has watched the Erian lands, longing for the long lost time when he could freely soar on the winds of the material world. He has always stayed close to the Gauntlet, and he has maintained close ties to his mundane kin, the ravens. Throughout the ages, many legends have sprung up about him, and he has been given many names; Father of Omens, Grandfather Raven, The Trickster, Bran the Beautiful, and Lord Corvinus are but some. Tales about him taking on the shape of a handsome young man and stealing the heart of maidens, are told all over Eria, as are those about him playing cruel tricks on the proud and the greedy.
After the fall of the demon Mekelrad, the Raven King was able to fill the vacuum left after the collapse of mortal society, the ravages of the red dead, and the Thulist reality-rape. It is said that he made a deal with the Pius Cabal, and that through this deal he gained hegemony over the Redlands. His court has since grown strong, and few spirits can move in his realm but by his leave. His kin, the mundane ravens, bring him information from near and far, and he now rarely leaves the ancient circle of standing stones where he has his throne.
He appears as a large, black raven, almost as big as a man, and his manner is haughty but polite. He will receive visitors and supplicants with respect and decorum, but he will never partake in any action that does not strengthen his own position. Often he will feign ignorance, or appear impatient. This is seldom anything but tactics and games; the alien mind of the spirit may enjoy fencing with words, but in the end, it cares for nothing but it's own well being.
The Raven King
Rank 5 Nature Spirit
Attributes: Power 15, Finesse 15, Resistance 12
Essence: 50 (max 50)
Influences: Ravens 5, Fate 4, Death 3, Destruction 3, Deceit 3, Greed 2
Numina: Chorus (speak with any/all spirits within choir, range 15 mi., cost 1), Materialize (transform self to matter, cost 3), Material Vision (look through Gauntlet from the Shadow, cost 1), Morphic Form (see BoS p. 143), Mortal Mask (take on human shape, cost 4), Omen Trance (see BoS p. 144), Pathfinder (see BoS p. 144), Soul Harvest (see BoS p. 147), Spirit Minions (see BoS p. 147), Spiritual Vision (look through Gauntlet from the Material Plane, cost 1), Swarm Form (see BoS p. 148).
Ban: Must abide by the letter of an agreement (this is only a minor ban, the spirit's primary ban is unknown).