A small fishing village on the Northern coast is the stage for today’s story. As the inhabitants awaken and open their front doors, bleary eyed to the early morning sky, they are greeted with an unsettling view. For the past few weeks the weather has been glorious, they’ve maybe seen a handful of clouds the whole time. Today however, a heavy fog blankets the bay. What’s more, the fog has a strange purple hue and a smell that could only be likened to that of nightmares and horrific visions soaked in neat alcohol.
The people stumbled from their homes, grimacing at the taste the fog leaves in the back of their throats. Despite a few quizzical mumblings from troubled villagers and the gentle lap of sea on shore, there is an eerie quiet. The normal background noise of screeching seabirds is absent today, as are the birds themselves. Folks nearer the water’s edge notice that the waves are growing in violence, turbulent with anticipation as to what is yet to come this day.
Suddenly, a heart-stopping, deafening explosion of a roar blasts across the bay, echoing like a thousand tortured souls. Stunned still with fear the villagers can barely react besides blinking at the shockwave of sound hitting them. The stillness is broken by a young man pointing out towards the sea, into the very heart of the fog. An unearthly, writhing shadow grows quickly until it breaks through the fog and into view. The head of a Dragon! Nearly as tall as the nearby cliffs themselves.
Could this be some kind of Sea Dragon come to wreck devastation upon the village? Why aren’t the villagers running to safety? Sadly it is not for want of trying. As they scream and wail with the burning in the backs of their throats intensifying, they find themselves stuck to the spots where they stand. Those that can bear looking at the Dragon notice that something is amiss. It’s eyes look sunken and the eyelids have been sewn shut with strong rope. The two large horns protruding from the top of its head are wrapped with thick, iron chain which trails backwards. It appears that this Dragon is in fact the living figure-head of an obscene longship.
Tattered Purple sails lash in the wind. Tentacles pull through the water where you would more likely to expect oars. At the far end a large, flailing Dragons tail, bound in similar chain and pierced with terrible spikes. As the beast-boat approached the shore, the head swung around dramatically, nostrils flaring as it blindly attempts to pinpoint the position of nearby quivering mortals. Plumes of violet smoke pour from the Dragons mouth as it purposely beaches itself on the shingle before it.
When it finally grinds to a halt, the Dragon’s face noticeably winces as if in tremendous pain, it cranes bolt upright, skywards and the resulting screech is even more dreadful than its previous efforts. The sound contorts and deforms as a blinding, blue line of corrupted magical light traces a path down the head to the point where the neck seemed to fuse with the heavy, dark wood of the ship. The screech mercifully dies out, but is replaced with a combination of hideous squelching, tearing and snapping noises as the head begins to split along the glowing sliver of mana. As the two halves come apart, strings of ichor drip in between, but oddly not a drop of blood is spilt. The interior of the skull was now totally visible, but appeared to be held in suspended animation, almost as if it had been preserved in a jar for many year. As the two halves had separated nearly as wide as the rest of the ship, a thick wooden ramp fell to the beach.
It was then that the crew made themselves visible.
A horde of hollering, swearing barbarians stormed down the ramp, frothing with faces of pure, ecstatic insanity. Dressed in matted furs with scraps of leather and metal armour and wielding axes and spiked clubs they hacked down three unfortunate villagers that happened to be too close to the ship, the poisonous gas cancelling any chance of their escape. Once ashore and with their immediate victims done in, these vile invaders formed a perimeter around the head of the ship. The attackers were huge by normal mens standards. They sported impressive battle scars, beards that looked as if they had been soaked in blood for decades, and soulless eyes that held secrets of murder and devastation no man should ever witness.
And yet the next figures that ventured forth from the ship dwarfed even these men. Clad in magnificent golden full-plate, they stomped onto the beach. No faces could be seen from under their helms, just darkness and unspeakable abyss lay within. Their very image seemed to exude an aura of a nauseating corruption of reality. Glancing at the reflections in their armour displayed altered images of the surrounding environment, where everything had been laid waste, burnt and beaten. These warriors took their place just behind the line of barbarians.
As this scene unfolded, a carriage drawn by two fine horses crested a small hill outside of town, down the main road. One of the larger warriors turned and observed this but made no further move. The horses and their coachman all had soaked cloth tied around their mouths as they thundered down the road. They drew to a stop forty-foot away from the invaders, the horses were becoming spooked and even with their training and expert handling, they would go no further.
The door of the carriage creaked open and a finely dressed woman stepped out, followed by a floating golden orb. The woman wore a respiratory mask made famous by “Beak Doctors” from the Great Plague of Gruumdahl, a few years previously. The confidence in which she wore it suggested that she had chosen the rest of her outfit to compliment the piece, and if truth be told she knew she looked good. The strange flying ball that kept a few feet behind her right shoulder at all times, emitted a bizarre green flickering light from a glass lens. It didn’t let the woman leave its “sight”.
She strode towards the beach and shouted, albeit slightly muffled by the mask, to one of the barbarians.
“Where is he then?”
Nothing. The man she had called to simply looked at her and a perverse grin erupted across his face. She decided she wasn’t going to get anything useful out of this one. She instead focused on one of the taller members of the wretched crew.
“Well?” She demanded, in a manner not expected of someone conversing with beings such as these.
The answer was rumbled back at her with a voice that sounded like a large boulder being rolled across a granite cavern floor strewn with the armour of the dead, “Wait”.
As the very last moment of sound reverberated through her skull, another noise emanated from the ship. She turned to face it. Such a hideous blasphemy against sanity had never graced these shores before. Head and shoulders above the armoured warriors stood a mindbending visage of flesh even the most demented of artists could never hope to put to canvas. The head resembled that of the smaller warriors, but the body it sat on was a hulking collaboration of meat and muscle. Bursting from this form were bone quills, tentacles, claws and freshly healed wounds. The creature carried itself with a definite air of pride, below which simmered a hair-trigger murderous rage only barely contained.
Somehow, perhaps with thoughts of more pressing matters, the woman managed to look into the creatures bloodshot eyes. “Magnusson?”
With that the beasts arm raised and held aloft a helmet similar to the other warriors, only far more ornate. It was plain to see there was still a head inhabiting the helmet. Blood slowly dripped from the neck hole, and a fine beard sporting two long braids hung from inside the front of the helm. A voice boomed from within.
“I AM HERE!”
As these words echoed around the bay like thunder, the villagers fell synchronised to their knees, clutching that their throats and vomiting powerful streams of blood. This gruesome scene appeared as if these poor innocents had fallen to the ground in praise of their new, uninvited guest. The whole crew, marauders, warriors and the beast, let loose with raucous cheers, laughter and howls. The Dragon’s head slowly reformed, the wound sealing without a scar, and it too delivered a roar of triumph, as the victims of the fog fell lifeless to the ground.
The woman, still miraculously unphased by this whole scene turned to her golden orb, looked straight down the glass lens and pronounced “There you have it, sports fans. Another Wolf Sports exclusive. Magnusson has landed”