Scourge

Few people have the fortune to be able to take their greatest mistake, lock it away in a box and seal it up in reliquary never to see the light of day again. Then again, a past buried like that may be dredged up by uninvited guests, and that fortune sure turned into a curse for me when a pair of damn foolish upstart wizards dragged that mistake back to their mansion. The bloody fools resurrect the damn thing and then get themselves killed fighting ghouls! Now it's out there again and it's hunting us down one by one. Seems I'm the last name on its list too.
Heinreich Klamp explaining his connection to Scourge
 

Fathers

 
Many of Tairos' greatest evils have equal dire origins but in the case of the golem later known as Scourge, it owes its existence to a rather humble beginning. Heinreich Klamp, Lutin Laplin and Temax Moondall built the scarecrow as a bodyguard and servant to aid them in their pursuit of lost arcana. Each of these men was an accomplished spellcaster in their own way (Klamp a powerful diviner, Laplin an alchemist and relic maker, and Moondall an accomplished enchanter) but none of them were able to hold their own in a physical confrontation. It was Temax Moondall who first suggested creating the golem so that it might be used to watch over his children during the mages' missions. Lutin Laplin quickly put his skills to work in crafting the creature, choosing to make a scarecrow rather than any other type of protector because it could defend them without resorting to killing. Klamp was against the idea from the start. His readings of the stars told him this machine was dangerous but they were all equal partners and his premonitions were dismissed by the others as just being another one of his sour declarations.
 
For a time it appeared as if Klamp's divinations were wrong. The bodyguard acted impeccably to force away would-be threats and defending the wizards against the many dangers that lurked in the old ruins they explored.It wasn't until a year after its creation that Laplin started to notice erosions in the devices behavior matrix. It started as needing to issue commands twice before the construct would carry them out. Shortly after that, there were several incidents of the Scarecrow activating during the night and wandering off on its own only to return in the early morning hours. It wasn't until some months after that they found it leaving at night to break the bones of forest animals. It was emulating the injuries it suffered while acting as a shield for the wizards.
 
Laplin theorized that the destructive effect of The Queen's Rebuke also seemed to poison the spells they imbued into the construct to create it. His suspicions were proven correct when he examined the manacite core they installed in the scarecrow and found it to be fracturing and corrupted. Laplin and Moondall replaced the core and while that restored the construct to perfect working order it only did so for a time before it would revert again to nighttime aggressions against forest animals. It seemed that the more combat it saw and the more injuries it was forced to suffer for the wizards the quicker it would spiral into trauma-born violence. Core replacements were becoming expensive the scarcer Manacite was becoming but so effective was the scarecrow that even Klamp relented and agreed to help keep it in working order.
 
Almost eighteen months after the first signs of failure the core was being repaired or outright replaced almost weekly. The scarecrow's bloody excursions were getting worse as well. If it had been hit by flames in one of their missions it would later set cattle or forest creatures on fire. If it was broken in twain it would crack the spine of its victim. In one instance their bodyguard's head was shattered by a thunderous blow and later the construct would seek solace by crushing the skull of a dairy cow with its wooden hands. During one particularly treacherous exploration, they had to defend themselves against soldiers from Lockland, a nation obsessed with capturing and enslaving the few spellcasters that remained in Tairos. That evening their scarecrow snuck into the barracks of a local town guard and began hacking apart the men inside with their own swords. When the wizards rushed to deactivate the machine it lashed out at them, breaking Laplin's jaw and snapping Klamp's fingers one by one as it emulated an injury Klamp had ordered it to take in the fight against the Locklander soldiers where its own hand was splintered by the blow of a mace it intercepted.
 
The scarecrow eventually recognized Moondall's frantic commands and deactivated itself. The trio removed the manacite core from the golem and destroyed it before disassembling the construct and boxing it up. Laplin knew of the location of several hidden storehouses belonging to the old College of Magic and suggested they put the thing there for safekeeping should they ever discover a means of repairing it permanently. This time it was Moondall who dissented, believing it should be utterly destroyed but the other two believed their creation might one day be made functional again. Laplin, in his arrogance, was not ready to admit that he couldn't engineer a solution to this problem and Klamp saw a potentially more potent bodyguard or even assassin in the making. Though none of their plans would ever come to fruition. Other projects, other expeditions and their eventual falling out and disbanding all got in the way of fixing their scarecrow. Thus, it lay broken down and forgotten for years to come.



 

Repurposed

 
Over twenty-five years would pass while the scarecrow lay silent in the College storehouse deep within the woods near Beldon. It wasn't till a company of mercenary adventurers known as Seward's Sabers managed to open the vaults inside. The interior was guarded by an ice golem left in place by the original owners, one that Moondall knew how to pacify, and the territory outside had become home to a lurking Chimera. Both obstacles were overcome by these adventurers in their effort to secure ingredients to relieve the symptoms of a magical ailment suffered by one of their allies, Rowen Ioz.
 
Two of the spellcasters in this group unearthed the scarecrow and decided it might be worth completing the golem and using it for protection. Only a few short hours ago they'd recently lost their ally Gilgorath and reasoned it would be wise to have another "meat shield" to safely cast behind. Jafar Auloro and Gero Seward set about restoring the scarecrow and using some of their own manacite to craft a new core.
 
Jafar and Gero managed to get the scarecrow back to functional working order and into action as their bodyguard only a few short weeks before the fateful events during The Siege of Beldon. During the conflicts leading up to the siege both of his new owners began to notice some quirks and missed commanders during battle neither had a chance to truly investigate the malfunctions. Jafar was killed during the Battle for Beacon Hill by his mother and her undead allies. Gero would perish the next day during the final battle against Theodore Cross. Both he and the scarecrow were shattered by a Cone of Cold. Jafar's body was taken and buried by his sister Jasmine but the splintered remains of the scarecrow were left to the winter winds of the dead city.
 
After Cross' defeat his curse would return him to life again hours after his ghoul army was scattered and Beldon abandoned. While surveying the wreckage of his ritual site he happened upon the scarecrow's remains.
  Excerpt from footnotes of The Siege of Beldon battle report Cross stands and starts a slow, purposeless pace down the main street. His long black coat billows in the biting winds but he's beyond their touch. He has been for a very long time now. Behind him, the snow shifts, wood slaps back together piece after piece and a thing is thrust into sentience with a horrible, inhuman and agonized scream. It writhes and wails in the snow, consumed by fear, drowning in it.  
Cross used the malignant magic his body is infused with to not only restore the golem but give it the full free will and aware which it had lacked up to this point. He believed this newly birthed intelligence would be useful to him later in his quest to bring a final, merciful death to this crumbling world but rather than enslave it as others had done he set it loose and left it to its own devices. If it survived then it would become stronger and more useful to him later. If it died, then it had the chance it deserved to settle whatever trauma plagued it. For Cross, everything deserved an opportunity for catharsis and this golem was no different.



 

Revenge

 
The overwhelming deluge of awareness was crippling at first but through it all, one thing acted as an anchor that prevented the golem's mind from being washed away. Hatred. It remembered what its creators had done, using it as a shield to soak up all the harm meant for them. It remembered how they'd use it to set off traps, to take the brunt of ambushes, to be the distraction they needed in dire moments. It felt all that pain, it suffered all those deaths only to be rebuilt over and over. Only now, with this the horrible gift of sentience, could it fully appreciate the hellishness of that existence. The scarecrow emerged from those first few hours of sanity-cracking awareness with a singular purpose, to make them suffer as it had suffered.
 
It chose a name for itself, one that matched this new purpose. Scourge. And, with that, it set out to the west to track down each of its creators. It remembered their adventures, the places they traveled and the refuges they took shelter in.
 
First, it would find Lutin Laplin. It would use its newly enhanced fear abilities to turn an entire community into panic-stricken slaves forced to hunt the magician. The scouts of the Westbound Star Company would take Laplin in before the mob could find him but this was to be but a brief reprieve. Laplin would eventually leave the caravan (or may have been killed based on something Cordelia Dathmor mentioned recently in the heat of battle) and find his way into Scourge's clutches. He greeted his father and saturated the man with fear magic before breaking each of his limbs with his own four hands and then crushing the man's skull in his slow, vice-like grip. He then swallowed Laplin's spellbook while his dry wooden body absorbed the wizard's blood from the snow. Scourge would gain Laplin's knowledge of alchemy and relic crafting, thus allowing him to create scarecrow minions of his own.
 
Next, he would track down Heinreich Klamp to the small city of Becklinberg near Lake Bask. Klamp was making use of the population's ignorance to masquerade as the oracle of the Frog God but the scouts of the Westbound Star Company were able to break his hold over the community and flush him out. Cordelia took the wizard out to the woods and tied him to a tree leaving him for Scourge to find. She seemed to be in communication with the scarecrow and knew this was what it hungered for. However, Scourge was denied his satisfaction thanks to Klamp's portents. The old wizard new to bury some supplies here thanks to his divination abilities and quickly escaped before Scourge could claim him.
 
Later, while clearing out the rest of Becklinberg, the scouts encountered McKenna and Riken Moondall who had been trying to steal Klamp's relics from under his nose. The plan went sideways very quickly and McKenna found herself about to be sacrificed to the Frog God at Klamp's command. The heroes managed to save the Moondalls and even take them in under their protection for the time being. While flushing out the last of the cult Cordelia used magic and acting skills to impersonate Klamp and order the rest of the cult to stand down and leave. While this worked on the cult it also altered Scourge and his scarecrow hunters to a possible appearance of the wizard.
 
It would ambush the party and claim to be able to hear Klamp as well as feel the presence of Moondall. Cordelia told Scourge the truth about Klamp, that she was impersonating him and that he's not here. She also told him that Moondall is dead and said that she and Scourge had an agreement that he had to abide by. Scourge would stand down in exchage for Klamp's spellbook which Cordelia had stole and then departed quickly into the woods.
 
Scourge would consume the spellbook as it had Laplin's and gain considerable proficiency in divination magic and scrying into the thoughts of others. It still craved the wizard's blood, needing it to unlock the diviner's full spell potential and to satisfy a need for revenge.
 
Scourge's scarecrows are now out in force, enhanced with Laplin and Klamp's secrets, searching for Heinreich and Temax. Both of their blood is required for Scourge to achieve the most flawless iteration of itself.

Physical Description

Physical quirks

Tends to walk hunched over and to assume the appearance of a beggar in tattered clothes

Special abilities

Numerous different mental effects all centered around invoking fear in targets. Due to his construct nature Scourge has no need for food and water, is immune to disease, poisons and most mind affecting magics. His wooden frame makes Scourge very resistant to bludgeoning damage as well.

Apparel & Accessories

Old rags, tattered coat and wide brimmed hat

Specialized Equipment

Hook and chain, bare-handed combat, stealth, interrogation, torture, fear-based magic, alchemy

Mental characteristics

Accomplishments & Achievements

Taking the life of Lutin Laplin is Scourge's greatest achievement after attaining full sentience.

Mental Trauma

It's possible that Scourge suffers from some kind of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome from the time as a construct bodyguard for Laplin, Klamp and Moondall. Scourge also seems to be deeply obsessed with fear and its effects on mortals. This may be part of the trauma or due to his origin as a scarecrow golem

Intellectual Characteristics

Predatory, calculating, cunning, relentless

Personality Characteristics

Motivation

Kill its creators

Alignment
Chaotic Evil
Species
Construct
Biological Sex
None
Sexuality
None
Gender Identity
Though a genderless construct, Scourge exhibits male qualities, mannerisms and vocal tones
Height
Eight feet when standing at full height
Weight
over 400 lbs of wood, chain and manacite
Known Languages
The Common Tongue, Elven


Cover image: Deepest Fear by Ric Ow
Character Portrait image: Deepest Dear by Ric Ow

Comments

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12 Oct, 2018 18:18

Absolutely love this dude. He might be my favorite party-level antagonist thus far. I'm going to assume (or if not suggest) that the blood of Riken and McKenna both, together, will be enough to replace their father's.

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