Image by Bradly Keene
Take a step into the mind of our group’s Human Warpriest of Groetus as he goes through his daily morning ritual. A Warpriest is a Fighter/Cleric hybrid class. Groetus is the god of the endtimes, he is depicted as the skull-faced moon above the Boneyard in which all souls venture to after death and it is said that Groetus will usher in the End of all things. As I’m sure you can guess, a devotee of Groetus might be just a touch mad. Mordigrim was created by and will be played by Brad. Told from the point-of-view of Mordigrim himself this short piece is an introduction to the character so that you can get to know him a little better before we begin our Carrion Crown Adventure Path.
Without further ado, say hello to Mordigrim.
“They do not see what lies ahead when sun is faded and moon is dead.” - Gollum
I’m awakened by the sound of a single bird chirping on my window sill. The sun is not yet above the horizon but the soft glow of the inevitable daylight is just bright enough to illuminate the bird. I must have forgotten to close my window again. My throat and sinuses are dry and sore from breathing in the cool night air, the fireplace must have died out hours ago. I feel an ache in my back that instantly reminds me of just how old I am.
Forty-eight years ago I was born into a simple farming family a couple miles outside of Ravengro in Canterwall and I was given the name Mortimer Grimwauld. My family was known locally as “the Grims” and my name was quickly shortened to the nickname “Morti Grim” and eventually bastardized by the local accent to be “Mordigrim”. I always preferred Mordigrim over Mortimer, so I never protested the title. My father was a lifelong farmer, working in the fields from dawn until dusk. My mother was a devout cleric of Pharasma, she spent her free time caring for the locals of Ravengro. My older brother was a town guard and taught me how to fight. My older sister was a widow before I even hit puberty, she spent the remainder of her days helping to take care of me and our family home. All of them were killed twelve years ago.
Forty-eight years on this planet. I’ve had forty-eight years to prove my worth to Groetus. I don’t believe I’ve earned his favor yet. I can only hope that I find what I’m seeking soon, I think another four or five decades of suffering in this world would be far too cruel. My eyes were opened to the truth of Groetus the day my family was slain. It was then that I came face-to-face with undeath and realized that the Endbringer is the only champion capable of ending such a scourge forever. Many think that the encounter drove me insane but they are wrong. I have only been truly sane since Groetus first revealed to me the truth of this world; this life is not our true life at all, it is merely a test. I long for the Boneyard and even more so for my reward that lies beyond.
I sit up in my bed and look over at the bird. He’s so small, so delicate, so blissfully unaware of how cruel this world is. How can he sing during times like this? Why does he not seem to fear me? I could easily crush him in my hand, his bones would shatter and crumble as easily as the egg shell he crawled out of. Yet here he sits singing me a beautiful song about the rising sun.
Perhaps he’s not unaware after all. Perhaps he knows exactly how cruel the world is. Maybe that is precisely why he sings for the daylight, a praise for the end of a long night. Maybe he knows as I know that Groetus is coming. Maybe he too sees that this world that we live in now is like the night and only after the Last Moon falls will the sun rise over a brighter new world. Only those strong enough to survive the night will be shepherded by Groetus to see the sun rise over our new world, the world that we righteous champions of the night will shape and build. Perhaps he sings not only for the sun but also in celebration of the glorious end of the wretched night.
I dress for the day. Black pants, heavy black boots, and a lightweight black tunic. I gather my armor and place it over my clothes, I have a knot in the pit of my stomach that tells me that today will be a day of danger. Atop my armor I wear a grey tabard with pale blue trim and a black skull on the front. Lastly I put on a thick black leather belt and a long black overcoat that nearly reaches the ground. My thick white beard is long and unkempt, it reaches to my stomach and the only care it’s given is a braid on either side of my mouth. My hair, though bald on the top, is tied into a single thick braid that reaches down the entire length of my back. I’ve not cut either since I began my journey toward my true life and I don’t bother fussing with either of them unless one of the braids happens to come undone.
I retrieve my traveling pack, filled with supplies, weapons, and my sacred fetishes. I then make my way over to the fireplace and with the poker I find a still-glowing ember, carefully place it in my fire carrier, and cover it with a layer of ash. I close my windows and step out into the cool dawn to begin my daily ritual. Outside of my door is a long path that leads through a densely wooded area and to the town of Ravengro. The ground within the woods is littered with dried sticks, limbs, and leaves. I begin collecting a number of small kindling sticks, then a few slightly larger twigs, and just a handful of medium sticks. I don’t need much. I return to my home and walk around to the east side of the building where I have long ago dug a 3-foot wide hole in the ground. The hole is filled with the ash of countless fires and is surrounded by a wide circle of dirt. I remove my hot ember from my fire carrier and place it in the center of the hole and then place the kindling, twigs, and sticks on top of it. Within minutes my small wood pile is flaming.
I sit next to my fire, facing the rising sun, and begin preparing my daily spells. I focus on protection spells this morning. Something tells me today will be the start of a long journey. I received a letter that informed me of the death of Professor Lorrimor. Today is the day of his funeral. Lorrimor had approached me years ago after my family was murdered by that undead abomination. Once every few months for the past twelve years he has visited my home to study me and any effects the undead might have had on me. He has always warned that one day I would have to face my fears again. Lorrimor’s only interests seemed to be in those abominations and their effect on myself and my fellow residents of Ustalav. What that thing was…and what it did…I don’t know if I’m prepared for another encounter. However, I must do whatever is necessary to prove my might to Groetus. Especially if it means destroying one of those…things. Nothing deserves a second life not granted by Groetus, a false life. Anything that lives after dying, no matter how soulless and empty that false life may be, is an affront to the will and work of Groetus.
I look down at my fire, it has calmed significantly. I must have gotten lost in thought again, I don’t know how long I’ve been sitting here. This is but one of my traits which my neighbors attribute to a supposed mental affliction that I most certainly do not have. They think that my reverence for the Endbringer is surely madness. They do not understand what lies beyond. They have not looked into the eyes of a creature living a false life. They do not know the depravity and despair that lies there. They do not know how desperately this world needs to be Ended and cleansed so that we may start anew.
They look to Pharasma for protection against the undead. They are fools, all of them! When Pharasma reads the last name in the book of life it is Groetus who closes that book! It is Groetus who opens the next book! It is Groetus who brings the end and the beginning! It is Groetus! Pharasma is nothing but an orator, a mere herald in comparison to the power that is Groetus! Only the Endbringer himself will end this cursed life and bring the Last Moon to wipe away the undead hordes and every other evil in this world once and for all!
My fire is gone. It’s nothing but smoldering ash now. I was lost in thought again. From my pack I collect my shield, my two kukris, my holy mask, and my sacred skull. My shield is a light steel shield with blue trim around the edge and a black skull painted on the surface, I place it on the western edge of my fire pit. My two kukris are well-sharpened and quite heavy for their size, I place one on the north edge and one on the south edge of the pit with their blades pointed toward the darkness to the west. My mask looks like the top half of the face of a skull. It is made of thick boiled leather with the details of a skull structure carved into it, open eye and nose holes, and no jaw. It is painted ghost-white and has a leather strap that runs around the back of my head to hold it on. I place it on the eastern edge of my pit, looking forward toward the light of the sun. My sacred skull is my most holy fetish and I carved it long ago from the wood of an ash tree. It is a simple jawless skull and I carved a tunnel through the nose of it and out of the roof of its mouth so that I could run a bit of rope through it.
The local townspeople often fear my appearance. They are offended by my many skulls. They believe the skull is a symbol of death. I know better. The skull is the symbol of life. Only by looking through the eyes of death can I see the beyond, the true life. This world is ending and rightfully so, this world deserves its death and it is nothing to mourn for. It is only the next life that matters and only by going through the End can we reach it. This world burns hot, it is a raging chaotic fire of life destroying itself faster and faster the hotter it burns. When nothing is left but skulls and ash, then we may truly know peace. Only those who championed true life in this world will be chosen to write the next book of life and I intend to earn my place amongst them.
I use the sacred skull to stamp out any remaining embers and mix in the older surrounding ash to cool the remains of my fire. I rub ash all over the surface of the skull and then tie the rope to my belt. I then dip both of my hands into the ash and cover my face with it. I do this every day and now my nose, all around my eyes, and my forehead are stained a deep shade of grey. I pick up another handful of ash and spread it over my items around the pit. I gather my pack, place my shield on my back, sheath my kukris on my belt, and place my mask on my face. I am ready for my journey.
I look to my window sill and see that the bird is still sitting there, still singing his song for the light of the sun. He seems entirely unbothered by my ritual or my presence. The sun is now above the horizon and it is time for me to make my way to the town of Ravengro. I look back at the bird one last time and in that exact moment I see a black cat jump up and snatch the bird from off of the window sill. In an instant the bird’s song is ended by two sharp fangs quickly sinking deep into his throat. I take it as reminder to myself that I can’t make the dangers of the night simply disappear by worshipping the light, I must be both willing and able to fight back against those dangers as well. I thank Groetus for showing me this truth and I begin making my way down the path through the woods.