reanimated skeleton from mythology reanimated skeleton from mythology

he undead are a pox upon our world, yet no one sees fit to look into their existence and find a way to rid us of them once and for all. How long until we are confronted by the terrifying specter of an undead army of skeletal warriors raised by some crazed sorcerer or would-be demigod? Do not let the scarce reports of skeleton attacks lull you into assuming we are safe; we are never safe from these unholy legions. They are coming, mark my words.

Despite the fact that skeletons seem mischievous or imbecilic, they are nothing to scoff at. We should neither dismiss them from our consideration, nor ignore the problem they represent. It is far past the time for serious inquiry into their exact nature.

Since I am overly qualified on many subjects pertinent to this area of inquiry, apparently it falls to me to rectify this lack of understanding. After completing many months of long, arduous study, I now present the information I have gleaned from my research into these unholy monstrosities.

Contrary to what I had assumed, a reanimated skeleton is actually constructed from bits and pieces of any number of different skeletons, not a single one. Their diverse composition gives them the ability to form and reform, and makes them easily summoned, permitted there is adequate raw material at hand.

  

infuriated azmodan infuriated azmodan

 

As hard as it is to believe, the fallen ones were once exalted demons of the Burning Hells. They served as Azmodan’s hands, performing acts that he would not, could not involve himself in. They were the instrument of Azmodan’s first failed attempt to usurp power from Diablo and his brothers, and after that failure, the fallen were subjected to the full wrath of Diablo. They were twisted into small, ridiculous imps, in contrast to their previously powerful forms. Moreover, if they expected Azmodan to reverse their condition, they were sadly mistaken. The infuriated Azmodan held them responsible for the Prime Evils’ continued reign, and so he left the fallen in their new bodies, where their degradation would serve to amuse him for all eternity. Their failure provided him with the information he required to succeed in dethroning Diablo and his brothers – the event now known as the “Dark Exile” – but that fact did nothing to soften his heart toward the fallen.

When unleashed upon our realm by their master, Azmodan, these impish terrors display a tendency to swarm like flesh-hungry locusts, and they have been known to tear apart a sleeping village in minutes. Small of stature and simian in appearance, these creatures possess surprising strength and unnatural agility. Other than feasting on human flesh, the only act that gives these unspeakable horrors pleasure is breeding; hence the tendency to encounter them in large packs.

However, due to their small size, cowardice appears to be one of the chief features of this species. They quickly retreat when one of their brethren falls in battle 

the established face of fallen onesthe established face of fallen ones

 

the fallen ones are a unique breed of true demonic origin, one of the few that I’ve been able to conclusively verify through sources other than the ancient Vizjerei tomes in my possession. (How I came by said tomes will, of necessity, remain my secret.)

As my readers are well aware, early Vizjerei writings are often little more than self-serving propaganda aimed at whitewashing heinous deeds committed by the mage clan. For instance, we now know that the goatmen were unwitting human victims of an ancient Vizjerei power struggle (see entry 009 for more detailed information on the khazra’s tragic history), whereas the ancient Vizjerei texts would have us believe that they were actually demons – lieutenants of Baal, no less!

Through diligent cross-referencing with other manuscripts in my vast library, however, I have ascertained that the Vizjerei depiction of the creatures known as the fallen ones is factually correct.

Fallen ones display no obvious tendency towards greater organization beyond their predisposition to swarm. This is fortunate for humanity, for they are so numerous that if they were to band together in large numbers, they might easily overwhelm a small city. 

arrival of thresherarrival of thresher

 

I quickly (and quietly) moved back from the edge of the rocks. And then I heard the screeching. Burroughs had retrieved a large object, a cage of some kind, covered with a black tarp. This cage was the source of the hellish emanations. Thick ropes hung down from somewhere deep beneath its dark shroud. “That’s not far enough,” he said. As if to prove his point, he shook the cage he was holding. Ever viler screams shot forth, cutting through my head like cold, sharp blades. But they were nothing to the sound I heard next – the deathly churning of sand that heralded the arrival of the thresher.

Ever viler screams shot forth, cutting through my head like cold, sharp blades. But they were nothing to the sound I heard next – the deathly churning of sand that heralded the arrival of the thresher

“Their sound riles a thresher up something fierce. Better get them into the sand before we have company up here.” With that, he tore the cover off the cage. The shock of seeing what was contained within overwhelmed me immediately. Everything seemed to wash together in a kind of bland, sickening grayness, and my knees buckled 

the deathly churning of sand the deathly churning of sand

I met up with him at dusk upon the sandy rocks that ringed the Tardein wastes. As I approached, Burroughs was kneeling on the black rocks, inspecting something. I looked at the indistinguishable matter he’d been staring so intently at, but I could not identify it. He held up his hand, motioning for me to step lightly. When I asked him what the problem was, he pointed to the focus of his attention and asked if I wanted to end up like that poor fool. I laughed, thinking he was playing one of his jokes on me yet again. Everyone knew that the dune threshers attacked from under the sand, and that we were safe upon the rocks!

“Tell that to him,” he said.

I looked again, and what I saw turned my stomach. The rocks betrayed the desperation with which the victim had clung to them. Left upon their bloodstained surfaces were strips of skin that had been torn from his hands and fingers.

“They’ll jump right up onto these rocks and drag you down. An experienced hunter could survive an attack, but someone like you will be lunch if you keep stomping around here, making all that noise.” He chuckled to himself as he made his way up to his heavily loaded wagon. 

viler scream shot forthviler scream shot forth

 

as I was preparing to set pen to paper to begin recording my thoughts at the beginning of my epic undertaking to gather the world’s knowledge together in one tome, the hand of providence tapped me on the shoulder. The news that a rogue burrower had killed a citizen just outside the city gave me the wonderful opportunity to see firsthand one of the more disturbing creatures we share this world with – the savage dune thresher.

Long ago driven away from settled locales to the deep desert wastes of the Borderlands, the dune thresher is rarely seen by city dwellers. Every so often, however, whether due to injury or old age, one of these unholy beasts ventures to the edge of civilization to feast on the frail human animal. When this happens, a professional like Franklin Burroughs, the famed guide and hunter, is called in to put an end to the threat.

Fortunately, Burroughs and I, both being men of travel and adventure, have naturally crossed paths before (frequent readers of my works will no doubt remember this grizzled, rough-hewn boulder of a man from my classic, Xiansai Chronicles). Thus, I contacted him so that I was able to take part in his quest to rid us of the burrowing nightmare. He acted reluctant at first, but I could tell he was happy to have me along. 

dug itself halfway out of the thresholddug itself halfway out of the threshold

I was extremely tense by this point. I felt naked and exposed. What insanity had convinced me that coming out here was a good idea?

I looked out over the wastes in the fading light, trying to detect the telltale horned fins of the thresher cutting through the surface of the sand.

With absolutely no warning, the dune thresher violently broke the surface, all three scavengers caught in his horrifying maw. There was a massive explosion of sand as the thresher dove back into the ground with its prize. The ropes immediately snapped taut, and I thought Burroughs would be pulled to his death. I didn’t understand how he thought he could reel in a monster that huge, but he wasn’t even trying – just holding on.

After several tense seconds that stretched towards eternity, the rope began making weird jerking motions.

“Ah. The little buggers are doing their work.” He smiled a ghastly smile. “Shouldn’t be long now.”

“One scavenger still clung to life, but barely. It had actually dug itself halfway out of the thresher, clawing at the air as its skin was slowly eaten away. I vomited.” 

the scanvenger struggle to survival the scanvenger struggle to survival

 

With absolutely no warning, the dune thresher violently broke the surface, all three scavengers caught in his horrifying maw. There was a massive explosion of sand as the thresher dove back into the ground with its prize. The ropes immediately snapped taut, and I thought Burroughs would be pulled to his death. I didn’t understand how he thought he could reel in a monster that huge, but he wasn’t even trying – just holding on.

After several tense seconds that stretched towards eternity, the rope began making weird jerking motions.

“Ah. The little buggers are doing their work.” He smiled a ghastly smile. “Shouldn’t be long now.”

A few more moments of this strangeness passed, and the thrashing of the ropes became less and less. Finally, he began to haul his catch in. When it was partially on the rocks, I could see what had happened. The thresher had swallowed the scavengers whole, and they, in turn, had begun eating their way out of the thresher’s stomach before the beast’s digestive juices had killed them. One scavenger still clung to life, but barely. It had actually dug itself halfway out of the thresher, clawing at the air as its skin was slowly eaten away. I vomited.

Burroughs, laughing at me once again as he cut off the beast’s triangular head, began lecturing me on the amazing dune thresher: the dynamics of its jutting, angular lower jaw, which cuts a path through the soil; the way this jaw design enables the thresher to swim effortlessly beneath the sand with unimaginable swiftness; and much more that I didn’t care to hear just then. I nodded my head weakly and wondered how long it would be before I could politely get myself home and crawl into bed.

 

One scavenger still clung to life, but barely. It had actually dug itself halfway out of the thresher, clawing at the air as its skin was slowly eaten away. I vomited.” 

the psychopathology and demonlogist of burrowing deaththe psychopathology and demonlogist of burrowing death

 

as I began to fall, Burroughs grabbed me by the scruff of my collar and shook me violently. “You really want to feed some thresher, don’t you, al-Hazir?” he asked. “What, haven’t you seen scavengers before?”

I had indeed seen scavengers: small, burrowing creatures that feed upon carrion. Unlike most animals of this type, however, they are extremely aggressive and will not hesitate to attack those unfortunate enough to encounter them. Scavengers have powerful legs which they use for swift springing attacks, striking at vulnerable faces and throats. Their anatomy bears a striking resemblance to that of the leapers of the Aranoch desert, and thus, many researchers classify the two groups as part of the same family of creatures. An ensorcelled (some say demonic) variant is known to have plagued adventurers in the Tristram region twenty-odd years ago as well. Scavengers were also the cause of an extremely distressing episode during my youth, which I need not relate at this juncture.

“Yep. Burrowers to catch a burrower,” he said. He then took the lengths of rope hanging from the cage and impaled them on the ground using a heavy pike. He also attached what looked like long knives to the sides of his heavy, scarred boots, and drove the blades into the ground.

 

and i was fall into deeply contemplation:should i take some effectively countermeasure fo the striking of burrowing death neutralized?

the Festering Wood the Festering Wood

 My questions about this circumstance went unanswered. I likewise found it odd that there seemed to be only elderly people in the village, with the exception of one beautiful young woman whose father was quite insistent I keep my distance from her. Though he was rude on this point, I found him to be a rather sociable sort once convinced I was not interested in his daughter. He introduced himself as Pablo DeSoto, and as luck would have it, he was very knowledgeable about several topics in regards to magic and the object of my search.

According to Master DeSoto, the Festering Wood derives its name from the fact that everything in it seethes and roils with evil intent: even the ground itself has been known to rise up and devour a person. When pushed further in regards to the gnarled walkers specifically, he pontificated at length as to their true nature. He maintained they are vile mystical creatures from another realm who can only sustain their existence in our world by sapping life energy from men or animals.

 These heinous beings have shifted their appearance to that of trees, thereby luring their prey close so as to consume it whole and enrich their reserves of dark power. These beastly things move ponderously, and some are known to exude a foul stench that poisons their victims

 

 Master DeSoto is certain the origin of the walkers, and of the Festering Wood itself, can be traced to the foul doings of necromancers, who he claims are responsible for much of the evil that has befallen our world. He expounded in full to me his theory that the “whole Diablo incident”, as he called it, was tied up in their dark arts as well