Written by Terry Hurlbert

In the year 827EDS,* on the night of the Winter Moons, the longest night and brightest full moons of the year, the moons failed to rise over the Empire. This was largely viewed as a portent of great evil and impending doom, which sparked months of mass hysteria and a flood of spontaneous religious conversions, which swelled the coffers of the Imperial church to near bursting.

Also on this night, an eye into the future was opened, and the dreams of a select few were cast through, revealing to them the approaching of a vast shadow. Within this shadow they witnessed several vague figures of immense power at the forefront of a vast hoard of shadowy creatures. This shadow wave moved inexorably across the face of the world, swallowing every land and people as it went. These dreamers had impressed upon there dreams that they must ready themselves to face this Shadow or the empire would be swallowed by it.

When these dreamers awoke, they were filled with a compulsion to search, but for who or for what, they knew not but that they must search. Over the next several months they began to find each other, knowing another dreamer on site and without discussing the dream, they began to lay there plans to thwart the Shadow.

Each of the dreamers brought with them a part of the plan and there part to play in that plan. First was money, they would need great quantities of money, and among them was an Imperial High Priest with great influence and unrestricted access to the churches coffers which had so recently been infused with great sums of money that had yet to be counted.

Second, they would need to transport the money, supplies and equipment they would need to face the Shadow, and among them was a merchant prince with many caravans of mules and



wagons spread out across the Empire where the purchases of vast quantities of supplies and equipment would draw little attention.

Third, they would need great leaders with presence and vision to unite them and lead them to victory over the Shadow, and among them were three of such, a reclusive wizard of great skill, a young War Priest of unyielding faith and a border captain with an uncanny grasp of military tactics.

Fourth, they would need a hidden place to prepare for there meeting with the shadow, and among them was a lore master who knew of an underground city in the mountains, abandoned by they dwarves so long ago that they had forgotten the memory of its stone.

Fifth, they would need to fashion great artifacts of war for there small numbers would not be sufficient to repel the Shadow hoards, and among them were engineers, artificers and War Priests skilled in crafting of the implements of war.

Sixth, they would need soldiers both brave and strong, to do battle with the Shadow and cast it back from whence it came, and among them was an Imperial scientist who had been breeding men, elves, dwarves and monsters to create better soldiers for the Empire. and with him, his stable of breeding stock and a legion of his finest soldiers.

Seventh, they would need to train these soldiers in the ways of war, to make them the pre-eminent soldiers in the world for no ordinary soldiers would be capable of driving back the Shadow, and among them were warrior monks and armored knights of great skill.

Also present were those who had not witnessed the coming shadow but who were also compelled to be there. People from all walks of life and professions, skilled people to rebuild this abandoned city and to provide support for the soldiers till the coming of the Shadow.

Within days of the finalization of the plan, caravans of people and supplies were quietly headed to there destination buried deep within the frozen crags of the northern Empire. The first to arrive at the abandoned fortress of Strumm Karak or Storm Keep in Imperial were the soldiers of the newly formed "Legion of Menoth." who immediately set about clearing out the tribe of frost trolls and other monsters living within, then securing the immediate areas around Strumm Karak. After a few days all of the "Chosen" had arrived and clean up was well under way when a small contingent of dwarves arrived, there pack ponies loaded down with the tools of metalworkers and without a word being spoken, marched into the keep and began setting up shop.  

Soon the Dwarves began to open hidden repositories of Iron, steel, mithril and adamantite, stored here against the eventual return of the Shadow so that the "Chosen" would be prepared. With these metals and the powerful tools of forging the dwarves brought with them, they began the creation of a great central forge,



into which was bound an ancient fire elemental of mammoth proportions capable of melting the spell infused metals used to make the armor and weapons of the "Menoth" soldiers.

With all of the "Chosen" gathered together and working as one to defeat the Shadow deep within Storm Keep, there memory soon passed from those outside. The only contact they have with the out side world is the occasional caravan delivering untraceable good and bringing news of Shadow activity gathered by specially trained "Menoth" listeners stationed through out the lands of the world, and with the teams of recruiters looking for special traits or skills to enhance the breeding and training programs.

For nearly four centuries the "Chosen" have been perfecting there armors, weapons and the breeding of the perfect soldiers. Added to this are there cadres of War Wizards and Priests who's spells enhance there warriors, hamper the enemy and blast them to pieces and to wield there masterpiece creations. Five massive suits of armor enscrolled with both arcane and divine magic's, which sealed within each is a greater daemon, bound to serve and fueled by hate and fury, capable or tearing there way through anything there set upon.




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