Pale skin marbles with the lines of blackened veins, the blood that runs through the body twisting and tainting with the magic that now flows through it. A Cleric
mutters the words of their prepared spells, black magic flowing from their fingertips to a gaping wound in the side of their patient. The skin knits together like cloth, but instead of the smooth alabaster of human skin, the rough leather of hide replaces it, much to the disappointment of the caster. This had been a hard wound to heal, but the Cleric
entrusted with this healing had been one of the best, so why were things going so poorly?
The telltale aura of undead invades the senses of the caster as he finishes chanting another spell. With a pause, he expects the aura to fade, as it had with his other procedures that day. A proper healing should show no trace of the death magic that the Clerics
of the Order of the Ashen Tree
use. This one is different, as the moments passed, the stench of undead permeated the room and the once sedated patient thrashed wildly on the table. In a rare instance, the magic of the Order showed its true colors as true necromancy instead of magic.
The patients who are inflicted with the necromancy of the Order are said to have "tainted blood." Those that cannot survive the magic as they once were are relegated to a part of society that is no longer seen as human, they are lumped in with the undead that haunts Stronghold's
depths. For these select few, the magic that was supposed to heal them has inflicted them with a curse worse than death, but it also grants a strange power.
"Tainted Blood" is caused by someone's body rejecting the magical cures of the Order of the Ashen Tree
. Because the magic used is necromancy, the body reacts to the magic in the intended ways, turning the person into an undead.
Those who reject the necromancy of the Order are often granted with unintended side effects. The magic causes the person to turn into an undead, exhibiting various traits that zombies, skeletons, and even vampires have. At this point, the person is no longer alive, but in exchange for their life, are granted a strange power that gives them extreme strength and magical ability beyond what they may have had during their lifetime. It is said that being inflicted with tainted blood makes one the perfect undead soldier, but few who are inflicted with the condition live long enough for the truth to be determined.
The Vampire Conundrum
Due to those inflicted with tainted blood often having traits similar to vampires, it is assumed that these people are instead inflicted with the Vampiric Curse
. With the proximity of infamous vampire Alexander Cross
outside of Stronghold
, citizens are more apt to blame the failure of tainted blood on vampires instead of the Order of the Ashen Tree
. Because of this, those that are inflicted with tainted blood are often hunted and killed, almost like animals, for their supposed ties to vampires.