A loud cry went out; a weeping howl. The crisp blue skies became littered with the ravens of Tyrven Forest as they left their perches, startled by the sudden outburst. Upon the soils of the forest a creature, galloping on all-fours, fled the warmth of his burrowed home. In quick pursuit was another of his nature, escorted by two more of larger mass. They heaved rocks at the helpless fugitive, growling in a furious rage.
On and on the little one ran, mumbling in fear as he made for higher ground. The others who were in chase ended their run not far from the mouths of their burrows.
"You don't come back!" The leading creature yelled in broken common tongue. "Ye hear?!"
The little renegade crawled out from behind several rocks that sat atop a sloping hill. He had heard very clearly what his angered kin were advising. He understood the common tongue, as did many of the rest of his kind.
Years ago, in a time when Tyrven Forest was a popular outpost for rangers, the wild men of the underground, known as the gyrocks, became friendly with the race of men. During this lengthy relationship, the gyrocks picked up the knowledge of communication through the common word. They felt it to be most advantageous to their relationship with each other, and in doing so they adopted the speech of men as their main form of communication.
The little gyrock perched atop one of the sitting rocks and wept. He was alone now, when for so long he had been a part of the gyrock collective. He was not the first to flee the warmth of the winding tunnels of the underground, and he knew very well that those who fled before him did not last long in the isolated wild. Gyrocks were not a very strong independent creature. They needed the unity, the collectivism, the community of the rest of their kin to survive.
The lost gyrock knew very well that he would never be accepted back in the burrows. He fled to avoid being killed for a crime against the tribe; he fled for the murder of a younger sibling in a violent rage. Ironically, he fled the execution pledged by his own kind into an inevitable doom by the hands of nature, his incapability to survive on dependence, which he unpretentiously lacked, being his ominous executioner.
The weary creature wiped the tears that flooded his face with the furred coat along his arms and cleared his protruding snout of the drool and mucus that had collected. It was time to move on, the creature was convinced; it was time to become independent.
The little one galloped through the twists and turns of the forest. He needed to find a place to live, or at least somewhere to sleep for the night ahead. The day was still young, and his growling stomach reminded him that he had yet to eat this very morning. The thought of food was both a satisfying desire and a curse, as the incentives for his murderous rage toward his youthful kin was for a simple piece of meat.
Galloping onwards, he switched his priorities from shelter to sustenance. His feet pounded across the forest floor, littered with the fallen leaves of the foreboding winter. It would be a great concern for the little one when the first flake falls free, as the gyrock is such a very vulnerable creature in the nights of ice and wind.
His travel continued forth galloping in and out, around and through the arbitrarily placed deciduous trees. Suddenly, a pleasing sound was heard from the northwest; a calm, flowing sound. The pointed ears of the gyrock stood up straight in the direction of the disturbed silence; a silence he was growing accustomed to.
A stream, it must be, the gyrock thought. Where there's a stream, there is fish, and where there is fish there is food. Onwards he ran, galloping even faster than he had while in pursuit by his own kind. In and out he weaved through the bulky trunks of the Lords of the Wood, and over a hill he climbed until in view came the most wondrous of sights.
Before him flowed a calm, crystalline stream, glaring as bright as gold, reflecting the morning sun with great valour. Teirnova had blessed him this day. The stream was filled with fish as they migrated south in hopes to flee the doom of the frozen airs that were nearing each day.
Their doom, however, was still present as the gyrock plunged his arm into the chilled waters, grasping two fish with his extended claws. Lifting his victims out of their crystalline home, droplets of water glided through the morning breeze, reflecting the valiant sun. They looked like gems in the sky, a treasure the gyrock cherished as he giggled and smiled.
With great swiftness, the gyrock tore into the fish, ripping and scratching, calming the growl of his stomach. His sharp teeth bore down on the helpless creature as he gulped down large mouthfuls of meat, his stomach thanking him with a hearty belch. The fish left a bitter aftertaste in the gyrock's mouth. It was a meal he less preferred, but being alone he would find it extremely difficult to down a deer, a more favoured meat. He filled his cupped hands with large amounts of cooled water to refresh his thirst, the stream flowing easily into his grasp from up the summits of Mount Koth.
His meal done and his stomach satisfied, he looked up the brook, knowing where it led. The torrent flowed slower these days, unlike its rapid surge in a summer's morn. Mount Koth was slowing its generous gift as the nights became colder.
Mount Koth, the highest mountain in the region. The gyrock stared up the stream, its eyes in a trance. Perhaps, upon the summit, a new home could be viewed. The little one pondered, diligently scratching his chin with his large, sharp claws. The only thing he feared was the bitter chill of the high airs. He would only be there for a short while, though. He was sure he could last just long enough to view the world around; just long enough to find a home.
The gyrock washed off the blood and entrails of his finished meal and began galloping along the bank of the stream. Its course drew east then entered a bend that continued its course northeast, up toward the summits of Mount Koth.
The gyrock halted as he exited shadows from the canopies of the forest and into the open, being met by a steep wall of jagged and separated rocks. The air flowed freely here, the trees serving little purpose as barricades to the cool winds as they did before.
"Stupid rocks," The Gyrock growled under his breath, "won't be stopping my quest for a home!"
The little one hopped up towards the base of the mountain, his feet slapping against the granite floor. With a deft leap from his powerful hind legs he jumped several feet into the air, grasping onto an open crag with his sturdy claws. Heaving with all his might with his brawny biceps pumping fiercely, he climbed and leapt his way up toward a ledge.
Up and up he went, pumping his muscles as his legs pushed forward, his claws dug deep, and his arms pulled him up. Gyrocks were extremely skilled climbers, becoming the masters of the treetops, even though they preferred the darkness and warmth of the underground.
The little one's skills came to a sudden test as he leaped for another open crag and its structure crumbled as the gyrock went to grasp it. His left arm held firm, but his right flew freely into the open winds as the rocks crumbled under his grip. His footing gave way, and his firmly planted arm could not withstand the pull of his weight as he tumbled several feet down the vertical drop. To the little creature, the fall felt like eternity as he smashed his forehead and arms against the jagged mountainside.
In a desperate plea, the gyrock launched forth, his claws extended and finding a spot within the cracked walls for his limbs to take hold. He painfully whimpered as he wiped away the fresh flowing blood from his forehead and licked two fingers on his right hand where a couple of his claws broke free.
The little one shook his head clear of all pain, looked up toward the lost ground from the fall, and entered into a furious rage. His howl echoed off the rocky walls and his fist pounding off the jagged rocks briefly shook the area. The possibility of an avalanche was of no concern to the raging creature. The only concern was to get up the mountain.
With a burst of speed the gyrock launched himself upwards with his legs, plunged his remaining claws into the open cracks of the wall, and pulled himself up. With great haste he made his climb. His rage heated his blood, flooding his body with a burst of adrenaline. His climb became a vertical dash, the ledge he targeted drawing nearer and nearer with great swiftness.
With a final nimble leap, the gyrock soared over the lip of the ledge and landed on his side. The little one rolled on his back and shut his eyes, exhausted from the expedition. The cool mountain air and the warmth of the morning sun felt so soothing on the weary creature. He wanted to sleep; he wanted to make this spot his home. The little one knew too well, though, that this spot would become a deadly beacon for a storm in the coming winter, and to call it home would be a call for death.
Slowly, the creature opened his eyes to be greeted by the bright morning sun, still on its rise. It was almost noon, plenty of time to reach the peak before nightfall. With his remaining strength, he propped himself up and turned to look up the summit.
The jagged rocks were behind him now. His newest concern was the snowed cap that lay beyond the rocky steps. Looking behind him, he courageously peered over the ledge he comfortably sat atop. It was so far down; he had come so far up the mountain now. He could see the tops of the many coniferous trees at the mountain's base, and the deciduous trees out further south, as Tyrven Forest stretched out for miles. Just beyond it, he could see, just barely, the beginnings of the Rolling Plains. There was still much ground to travel before he could see the rest of the surrounding lands.
His trek slowly continued up the sloped mountain side. He no longer had to worry about a vertical climb, but a slip would certainly still deal serious wounds, as the rocks about were very much uneven and sharp.
Hours flew past and much ground was gained. The little one looked back again to see the whole forest, and much more of the Rolling Plains. Still, it was not enough to find a home. He would need to see further east and west, and even further north before he could make his decision.
His newest hindrance drew close as he reached the snowy ridge. The air was much colder now, more so than it had been for much of the journey. The Gyrock shivered, its sensitive skin constantly feeling the crisp chill of the winds that were steadily increasing as he ventured higher and higher. He would not turn back, however. He needed to find a home.
Cautiously, the gyrock stepped forward, dipping his foot into the iced white powder. The little one yelped in pain and hopped backwards, his voice continuing to carry through the frigid air. His cries came to a halt when he realized that the snow had not actually caused him any physical harm. Fear and ignorance of what this substance was seemed to be the source of his outburst.
His sensitive skin felt the tingle of the bitter floor as he bravely stepped forward. His thick fur blocked out the bulk of the chill, yet with each step shivers still flowed down his spine.
For hours the little one struggled up the slanted, snow covered peak. The sun was on its afternoon decline as it hid behind the western tips of the mountain range. Struggling to look up, his head locked in a downward glance to protect his face from the brisk winds, he saw the most wondrous of treasures. No longer was the crystalline river the pinnacle of moments in the eventful day. The sight of the peak, the quest that the little one strived for so long, now claimed the throne of importance.
In a howl of glee, the gyrock shrugged back his stiff shoulders and pumped his limbs with a warm flow of blood as a supply of adrenaline, triggered by overt joy, fuelled his drive. Within instants the peak was his as he stood atop it. He stood tall, as firm and proud as a valiant king. This weak and feeble creature, dependant on the collectivism of his kin, had proved his independence as he sat atop Mount Koth.
"I did it! I did it!" The little one jumped up in a frantic, yet joyous, display. His laughter filled the cold winds as he tossed clumps of snow into the air, creating a dazzling effect as they broke freely, the flakes being carried away, creating their own joyous dance.
Ignoring the reasons for his quest, the weary creature basked in his rewarded independence. He looked blankly into the distance, recalling his times in the burrows of Tyrven Forrest. So many memories, yet such a dark and dirty place compared to his new throne. He didn't need them, he thought. If it was possible for him to scale the most colossal of mountains in but a day, then he could do anything.
The gyrock giggled as the collective misfortune of his kin; their dependence was a weakness. Finally, it clicked in. He was atop Mount Koth for a reason. A home! He still needed a home. With his keen vision, he glanced about in search for a new residence.
Facing south, he could see the top of Tyrven Forest, a place where he would not be able to return. Further out he looked upon the Rolling Plains. No creature would accept him there, nor would it be an ideal place for a burrow, as it would be easily in view where other creatures could enter.
He turned to the west, the mountains continuing for eternity. Not far from its base, however, just to the south lay a city. It was the city of Fylenth, where men dwelled. The gyrock immediately shook the thought of living with humans. Long ago they walked alongside the wild gyrocks, but they would no longer accept them. Besides, the little one pondered, they are too dependant amongst themselves anyways.
Turning his head eastwards, he could see more forests, as well as marshes. No gyrocks were out that far, since they were common residents of Tyrven Forest, and none other. The only concern for the little one was the presence of the orcs that dwelled near the marshes. For years they lay dormant, but the arrival of a foreigner, such as a gyrock, would definitely surge their diminished bloodlust.
Over his shoulder he peered, toward the tundra of the north. He quickly dismissed any notion for creating a home in the scorched world, corrupted by a permanent frost. Men lived there as well, but once again, the gyrock removed any ideas of residing with any human creature. They, unlike the nobles of Fylenth, were barbarians. Vicious, battle hungry warriors who claimed the northern side of Mount Koth created the villages of Thrusia for their winter homes.
The little one was disappointed. There was no place about in any direction that would take him. A nomadic life did not suit him, either. He needed a home to stay, where he could dwell for the changing seasons. He was no bird, he did not migrate. Nor was he a slumbering mammal who hibernated during the winter seasons.
The gyrock's confidence began to diminish, his independence becoming a sham. The little one's eyes began to close and he passed his hands through his short, ill-groomed hair. The pains in his limbs were returning as the adrenaline began to disperse. It was time for him to succumb to the frigid airs and to remain as only a bitter memory for the remaining gyrocks. Warmth passed over him; a dark but calm warmth. Like death, it filled his whole body, but his expectant freedom from the material world was not becoming a reality.
He was shaken and removed from his deadly slumber to be brought to the attention of a warm air current that was being emitted from a small opening in the tip of the mountain. The snow was slightly melted in this area as a tepid, soothing current flowed out into the dimming sky.
Back and forth the little one passed his open hand over the perforation, feeling at ease as the air danced through his finger tips. It sent a calming chill through his body, expulsing the iciness that greedily held warmth captive from him.
"What is this?" The gyrock pondered. He dismissed many of the possibilities that passed through his mind. It could not have been the rising of molten rock, as the mountain was never an active volcano, its structure diligently created by the goddess, Teirnova. Nor was their any heated water within its core as the gap spewed no steam. The little one placed his finger in the hole, blocking off the comforting flow.
In a flood of darkness, the creature's keen sight was swallowed up by shadows. He could see nothing, yet he could still feel the sting of the brisk winds as they brushed against his open eyes. He became consumed by a strong and present evil, its powers hungering for his soul as darkness hungers for light. Slowly, the creature felt his soul being ripped away from his body, distancing himself from the material world into a world of shadows and sorrow.
His vision slowly returned, the sight of thousands of transparent beings floating in a mournful song of eerie blue aura. It was the spirits of the dead, trapped in a prison to drift aimlessly for eternity. Was he dead? Had the outcome he so dreadfully expected and feared come to pass? His attention to his concerns was pulled away as a deep, hollow voice filled him. An old, dark, arcane tongue - one that the creature could not understand - filled his soul with a morbid resolve. Even though the gyrock could not consciously decipher the words that passed through him, he could feel its intentions as it brought him into a peaceful trance. He knew what this presence spoke, knew what he had to do under its persuasive influence.
His spirit was now motionless, locked in a shallow gaze as it drew close to the centre of the collective of souls. As he drew close, the lost spirits were thrown outwards in a large wave to reveal a jagged, black, smoky face in his path. The phantasm opened its maw, a brilliant light shining within its throat, to which to silent soul of the gyrock indolently drifted.
Light washed over him, a peaceful warmth flowing through his body. The gyrock was slow to rise, and when he did he stumbled a bit to maintain his footing. Looking at the ground at which he previously lay during his out-of-body travel he noticed that a vast majority of the snow had melted, revealing the rocky shell of Mount Koth.
The creature stood still for a moment, staring at the small opening that spewed the corrupted air that he concluded as the cause for his collapse. He could hear the words again; the dark, hollow, enchanting words filled his mind. A grim smile found its way on the little one's face as he realized the quest put before him.
"Yes." The creature spoke to himself coldly. "It must be done; the bidding of the shadows." He stooped down to the rock, putting his ear to it to hear the constant rush of air passing through.
The little one entered a hysterical laugh as he jumped and pounded at the rock. He pulled out his claws and scraped at the thick shell, scratching rock and ice. His intentions were to dig towards the shadows within the mountain, but his hopes were diminishing as his progress did not forward itself.
The gyrock halted, several of its remaining claws torn and shattered from his rage. He could not do this alone. He needed the aid of others, but who would help him in his time of need? No one would help him. They would, however, follow the bidding of the shadows, as he had been convinced by. He was sure of it.
The little one sat atop the peak, the warm air flowing gently across his seat, filling him with a dark power. The creature filled his lungs with brisk air and emitted a defiant howl in the name of the Lord of Shadows. A calling to aid the Lord burst through the skies of Teirshard.
From the burrows of Tyrven Forest many gyrocks, weary from their early slumber, listened to the calls under the setting sun. They recognized the tone, the pitch, the sound of a fellow gyrock. They were quick to realize the source of the sound being the banished gyrock, the only one alone in the wilderness this day. The forest became alive as thousands of little creatures stepped from the underground, listening intently to the call of the shadows. Their attention drifted from the source and focused on the call. They were persuaded, put in a trance as they made their way toward the summits of Mount Koth to begin their climb, to aid the Lord of Shadows.
The marshes of the east, too, came alive. The growl and curses of orcish hoards filling the pungent airs as their evening feast was interrupted. Throwing down the ripped flesh of a newly attained hunt, hundreds of orcs fetched their ill-constructed weapons and began a march in the direction of Mount Koth, their dormant lust for blood awakened by the abrupt disturbance.
In the northern tundra, where the lands are plagued by an eternal winter, the men of the ice were pulled away from their daily rituals. Barbarians of all shapes, sizes, colours, and ages looked to the summits of Mount Koth, the source of the disturbance evidently located amongst the peaks of the mount that separates them from the rest of civilization. The call of the shadows drew forth the morals and beliefs of the savage humans, leaving them as empty shells for manipulation as they collected many items of all sorts and began a trek up the walls of Mount Koth.
The gyrock continued his call for creatures all around to bow before him in the name of the Lord of Shadows. He had to dig, he knew he had to. Within the mountain, deep down, was a treasure most dear to him. His master from the plane of shadows called for his aid, to release him from a prison forged long ago. The gyrock was determined to satisfy his master's desires.
The little one climbed down from his perch, putting his ears to the walls of the mountain once again. He giggled, excited by the coming events, as well as a small resurgence that seemed to grow within him. The little one clasped onto his stomach, feeling the warmth. In a burst of glee he stretched out his arms toward the setting sun and began and joyful cry.
"I am Minokoth, son of the Shadows! Hear my call, Teirshard! Awaken and bring aid to your king, Kothru`Gal!" Again, the gyrock entered a series of howls in a call to all creatures.
The calling did not travel far across the plains and forests. Its farthest reach made it toward the west where a small cave sat. Inside, deep amongst the shadows, an abominable beast awoke from an eternal slumber. It recognized the call that filled his hollowed abode. It was a call of aid; a call for him to aid his father. After thousands of years of slumber, the Son of Shadows awoke to a plea that he longed to hear for so many days.