Long ago, when the Autarchs still reigned over Vaarn, there was a certain valley where no plant grew and no bird sang and no man had made a house for the land underfoot was poisoned and all who camped there would sicken and die. In time the Autarch’s wise men were told tales of this cursed place and they travelled for many moons to visit it. In vaults beneath the ground they found a sickness sleeping. This sickness was once the blood of demons or so I have been told, but it had grown turgid and congealed into rocks that shone with a virulent light and caused all around them to wither and perish. The Autarch’s wise men had heard tell of such material before: they named it blightstone and wore warding suits of lead so that the curse in the stones would not sicken them.
Blightstone holds great power within; the wise men rejoiced for they knew that these stones held the strength of the ancients and could wreak great havoc upon the Autarch’s enemies. They raised a fortress in the poisoned valley and began to bring the blightstone up from the vaults so that it might be studied. The Autarch was well pleased with his servants for he knew that the curse in those ancient rocks would soon be his to wield. He dispatched an order of his proudest knights to guard the fortress whilst the wise men within studied the mystery of the sickening stones.
The Autarch of that time was at war, as great men always are. He had enemies to the north and enemies to the south and enemies beyond the sky who sailed down from the moon in silver boats that had been crafted by the ancients. Perhaps it was they who heard whispers of the discovery that the Autarch’s wise men had made in that poisoned valley, for one day the knights awakened to discover their fort was surrounded. Their enemies had done so cleverly in the night so that there was no escape and no hope of rescue. The knights had sworn to defend the blightstone until their last breath, but they saw little chance of victory. Their foe need not storm the fort, but could lay siege and starve them to death.
The knights saw this clearly. They waited until their food was gone and they were drinking a drizzle of water each day. Then one bold knight said “Let us give our enemies what they ask for. They ask for our lives; let them have them. They ask for the blightstone; let us give it to them. Let us give them all they ask for, but drown them also in sorrow.”
All the warriors agreed that it must be done as he had said. The knights donned their armour, the lead-lined power suits that the Autarch’s wise men had crafted to protect them from the blightstone. Then each warrior swallowed a chunk of that cursed rock, so that they began to rot from the inside and their blood became polluted. Now there could be no surrender. The knights killed each of the Autarch’s wise men, so none could share what they had learned with the enemy. Then they opened the gates of the fortress.
Their enemy spilled in, as numerous as the swarming fish in the Sea of Songs, and the knights leapt forward to face them. Their blades flashed, their auto-cannons spat fire, their shields turned aside arrows and spears and bullets. Each of the knights was a mighty warrior, and the halls of the fortress grew red with death. As the knights were wounded, the poison from the blightstone in their guts began to leak from their wounds with their blood and it slew ten times as many of their enemies as did their blades, for these common soldiers knew nothing of the curse and wore no leaden armour. It is said that such was the knights’ fury that even as the blightstone consumed them, their power armour continued to fight, inhabited by the embers of those fearless warriors.
It is said they won the battle, and although each knight perished, their armour continues to stand guard to this day. They are found wherever blightstone is found and the living tombs are merciless in their defence of such accursed sites. Only a fool would go in search of such places, although Vaarn is home to many fools who think themselves wise, and I – alas – once was one such.
Blightstone Knight (Synthetic)
Hit Dice 8, Armour 19, Morale 12
Attacks: Tarnished Greatsword (d10) + Shield Bash (d8)
Notes: Vengeful radioactive revenant. Withered corpse inside sentient powered armour. Fanatically guards buried blightstone mines. Biological creatures who attack the Blightstone Knight at melee range must make a CON save each round or suffer d8 CON damage from the leaking radiation.
The Blightstone Knight was created as part of Monster Monday, a monthly feature I run on my Patreon. Patrons get to vote on the spark word I will use to inspire a new Vaarnish monster. This will be happening every month, so subscribe if you want to get in on the action.