Gehn Messenger Boz
On the 15th day of the 3rd moon of the 4513the year of the Noruz Reckoning, Kalahn Al’fest sets the Gehn messenger box before him, eager with anticipation. At long last, he believes he is about to learn the secrets of the mysterious box he has been carrying around all this time. He gingerly places the precious lump Enhaemon incense in the box and sets it alight with a quick prayer to Rashka. In contrast to the weak incense Kalahn experimented with before, the Enhaemon burns slowly and luxuriously. As before, but much more densely this time, smoke swirls and the image of a figure appears, this time in full color and with sound…
…A desert elf, whose advanced age is betrayed only by the sharp contrast between his snow white hair and dark skin stands alone behind the box. He appears to be standing on small hill with stars shining brightly in the clear night sky behind him. He is dressed in the traditional finery of the Gehn. The strident rythmic bustle of a camp preparing for battle is heard in the background.
A voice from a source out of the visual recording range of the device calls out, “All hail Gatharen Al’Delatrius El’Gehn.” Gatharen was first of the Gehn in the time of Xelem III. Gatharen led a large force of Gehn warriors to assist the Great Alliance. None of the Gehn who went forth with Gatharen returned. After the introduction, Gatharen speaks:
‘I am Gatharen Al’Delatrius El’Gehn. Know me by my sword for I bear the Wrath of Rashka.’ Gatharen draws his scimitar and displays it for a moment. The pommel and hilt are of rough, blackened iron. The blade itself is darkly sleek with a flickering red sheen to it.
‘I speak into this device with the knowledge that soon, before the sun sets on this day, I will be dead. It will be known to whomever is listening that the Great Alliance has failed. Despite it being midnight, you can hear all around me the sounds of a camp constantly preparing for battle. We fight continuously in shifts for the Claacos do not rest at night. It is mere skirmishing now, but there will a great battle with the rising of the sun.’
‘Though the strength we muster for that battle is great, the War Council has known for some time that defeat is inevitable. Our campaign proceeded well at first, but we underestimated the Claacos. What we assumed were belligerent hives, just as likely to fight each other as to fight us, have set aside their differences and united against us. We did not anticipate this intelligence. Our strategy of defeating the Claacos one hive at a time is now doomed.’
‘Why do we not retreat? To regroup and replan? Alas, it is too late for that. The Claacos are on the doorstep of the Shomaal. The remaining human kingdoms and the homeland of our cousins the wood elves are about to be overrun. We stand as the rear guard to buy time for all those to flee north.’
‘As the Gehn are relatively safe in the parched Saahel which is scorned by the Claacos, all those Gehn who went forth with me are committed to the end. Our kin are safe, so we prepare to die following the example of Xelem III whose surviving people are also already safely settled in the Shomaal.’
‘The wood elves and the human kingdoms with populations south of the Shomaal have a few weeks past released some of their troops to lead their evacuations. I fear for the humans. The wood elves will perform an orderly withdrawal, but I expect chaos and confusion for the humans. Still, more will survive this way than otherwise.
But why do I speak into this device? For vanity’s sake in the hope that someone will in the distant future stumble across this recording and honor me and those who sacrifice with me? No, I speak into this device to report a finding that must not be lost.’
‘During the successes of our initial campaign, we were able to recover the corpses of some queen Claacos. Suspecting great power in their organs even after death, the most powerful mages among us set out to find some weakness or latent attribute we could exploit. Our efforts have been rewarded. The antennae and cerebral glands of the queen Claacos can be used after death to control the beasts.’
‘We successfully demonstrated this and were able to subvert some Claacos to fight on our behalf in the most recent battle. The power is not infinite, so not all Claacos can be controlled, but still it is something. Be warned, though, the procedure to activate the organs is risky. Our first volunteer went mad. The second died outright. The third was luckier or stronger, we do not know. Peritonic Ulbeckus will explain the procedure.’
‘Gatharen steps out of the recording and Peritonic enters. He is an ancient wood elf. Exhaustion lines his face and he is stooped with age and worry. Without ceremony, he dives into a detailed explanation of the arcane procedure to prepare the queen Claacos organs and meld them to a subject. The procedure is extraordinarily complex and takes nearly a full hour to explain. When he is finished, Gatharen returns.’
‘I hope this knowledge proves useful in a future contest between a new Great Alliance and the Claacos. Though it may be nature’s way for the weak to fall to the side, I do not believe there is anything natural about these Claacos. Though today we die, it is only to ensure our victory in the end.’