The Ursek

An example of Bestia Ursek, the Ursek in Deiran, the Orzek in Arturan.

Native to the northern reaches of the Grunvale and beyond, the Ursek has a particularly fearsome reputation. The Ursek are often found roaming mountain passes and the darkest parts of ancient forests in relative solitude, only gathering in numbers when the need arises. These creatures are a mass of muscle and dense layers of body fat, which combined with their unnaturally rugged hide, affords them a great deal of resilience to to the average blade and spear. To stumble across the site of an Ursek attack is a sight of pure horror. Corpses torn apart, rib cages crushed and opened up like potted meat, limbs and innards strewn around while smashed and gnawed heads sit atop twisted necks. Little can stop one of these creatures when they attack, and nigh on impossible to stop if they are enraged.

The heavily wooded and mountainous areas of northwestern Deira,The Kingdom of Arthtir and the Cantons of Cathair play host to sizable numbers of Ursek and their smaller cousins the Urczarn, with Arthtir having a long standing tradition of their nobility hunting Ursek and Urczarn as a rite of passage. Thankfully the Ursek are isolated to the north, with only small groups of Urczarn occasionally being encountered in the southern mountains of the Grunvale.

The term Orzek is the earliest name for these creatures, originating amongst the isolated ancient tribes of Arthtir millennia ago, before it was carried south by Deiran traders and morphed into its current form. While the Ursek is noted as existing in the south during those times, it was such a rarity that it only appeared anecdotally in local myths and tales. Whereas the tribes of Arthtir had such regular and protracted encounters with the Ursek and Urczarn that they quickly formalised their names, with them entering their everyday lexicon and as an ever present threat. To this day the people of Arthtir stand against these creatures as their ancient ancestors did, using heavy spears to hold them at bay while warriors with jagged picks and serrated axes tear at the beasts flesh.

Thankfully I have only encountered one of these creatures on my travels, which was one too many despite my endeavors to catalogue such creatures. A truly terrifying sight, its blood caked brown furred mass thundering into our caravan while we were traversing the snow laden forests on the border Deira and Arthtir. It tore open two of my hired guards within seconds. The only reason I and the rest of our group made it to our destination was thanks to me prudently hiring a number hunters from Arthtir, all working as guides during a harsh winter due to there being little quarry at home to feed their families. Two of the hunters fell to the creature along with six other hired swords, leaving ten armed men slain by the creature, and seven other members of our caravan joining them. Were it not for those hunters I am sure I would not be sat here recounting that most traumatising of experiences.

~ Filib Stjerne, Scholar of Theriology at the Learning Halls of Esel-Din. Author of “The Superior Hunter’s guide to the Beastly Mind. A cultural and psychological treatise on the Gor-kin”

Malphus Seir, The Pale King, Lord of Kul Zhahiir

The Pale King sits amongst Yss’s fel pantheon, each an embodiment of chaos in one form or another. One of two orbiting avatars of chaos undivided, The Pale King and The Beast take a central position in the pantheon of the avatars. They each represent the raw nature of chaos, neither favouring one aspect of its quintessence nor the gods formed and nourished by it.

The Pale King’s legend rose at the end of the Age of Chaos, when malevolent minds sundered one of the realmgates and a horde of untold horrors swept through Yss wiping out civilisations and driving the primitive mortal tribes into desperate acts of survival and heroism. The first tale linked to him recounts the end days of the fel forces rampage. During this time the tribes of men and the remnants of Yss’s other people managed to hold the line against the hordes. Relief came from unexpected quarters, it was during this period that the first Orruks arrived in Yss. It is believed that they pursued the horde through the diminishing gateway and set about them with relish, breaking the back of the invasion and nearly annihilating each other.

The native tribes that had sundered the realmgate had run rampant across the land they coveted tearing down the idols and infrastructure of interlopers sent to “enlighten” them and the rest of Yss. Within this broken kingdom The Pale King rose from amongst the ash and blood and led his followers into battle against the tribes that were carving up the kingdom. Within a scant few years he had driven them all into another coalition, one where they sought to end his ceaseless persecution of their tribes. They chose to draw him to bloodied ground, the site they had shattered the first army of the interlopers. Unfortunately for them he was quite well prepared. He had turned many of the rampaging beasts unleashed by the gates sundering to his will, either through mystic means or through lash and chain. They rampaged through the tribal horde gutting the heart of their defenses while he and his followers waded in and cut down their kings, chiefs and shamans. By the end the beasts tired and wandered away from the battlefield, their purpose served and their appetites satiated. The Pale King rounded up the surviving tribesmen and had them all executed and disposed of. This was the first step on his apothesis to the creature described in the modern accounts.

Like so many of the fel horde that resided within the desolation we know as the Sundered Wastes, The Pale King carved out a new kingdom and built a home for himself and his followers, Kul Zhahiir. Few descriptions exist, but those that do talk of jagged obsidian towers, a pit of darkness, and a vast impossible fortress suspended above it. We know more of his deeds across Yss than we do the nest in which he resides.

The Pale Kings Seal

The Pale King carries an ancient shield along with his favoured weapon, Scourge. This spear is noted down as being in his possession from the earliest accounts, along with his shield. However their description has changed with each account over the millenia. Scourge has changed the most, from an average but sturdy spear into an object of profane power. Its original steel long gone, replaced with what the fel tribes call Blackstone and we call Wyrdstone, Witchstone or Warpstone. Those killed by it are turned to ash or rot away immediately, and those that are merely wounded can suffer all manner of fates, from persistent searing pain, sudden virulent infections, maddening blood poisoning, to rapid mutation and disfigurement. Even when The Pale King is banished and his army broken, Scourge and his shield always make their way back to Kul Zhahiir and into his clutches.

The name Malphus Seir is the earliest name that any scholar can associate with The Pale King, a name he gave to a foolish amateur mage dabbling with shards of Witchstone in a folk tale from the Al’Arkan region. Since then there have been variations of this name in numerous tales of his deeds. But it is unlikely this is his true name, for knowing a demonic entities true name gives you power over them, and none would be foolish enough to openly offer it. Who he truly is and was is lost to time, and only a mad man would try and dig that deep.

Excerpt taken from “A Compiled Grimoire of The Fel, The Demonic, and the Heretic” by Marus Von Helmar, Witch Hunter”

The Hircyne

An example of Bestia Caprigor Hircynus, or Hircyne in common.

The Hircyne along with Baran and the Stier, are the most widespread and most common bestial forms across Yss. The Hircyne share features with domesticated goats, and have a wide range of colouration and forms, dependent on location and climate.  

Belligerent and stubborn, Hircyne are a significant threat to any that might encounter them. Unlike the Baran, the Hircyne find no issue eating bones, tendon and anything else their prey may be wearing. There are many examples of deceased Hircyne specimens with buttons, buckles, coins and other such detritus in their stomachs, and showing no ill effects such as inflammation or ulcers.  

Hircyne, Baran and Stier can often be found in mixed herds, though it is not unheard of for them to live in groups made up exclusively of their own kind. One common trait amongst these groups is their pride in their horns and their disdain of those without. They treat hornless bestials as lesser than their ungor kin, even if the bestial is equal or greater in the natural order (Though they will keep such notions to themselves if the creature is far larger than them). They will only work with other bestials if they see a significant threat or if an alpha forces them to accept the arrangement, often with a few examples made of any with dissenting opinions.

The modus operandi of the Hircyne, Baran and Stier is well covered by numerous tales, personal accounts and historical treatise. For their actions are innumerable and horrifying. No corner of Yss has remained untouched by their kind, the tales from Esel and the Grunvale as a whole would fill volumes on their own. No man, duardin or aelve alive has not heard of their vile actions, nor unacquainted with their foul visage.    

~ Filib Stjerne, Scholar of Theriology at the Learning Halls of Esel-Din. Author of “The Superior Hunter’s guide to the Beastly Mind. A cultural and psychological treatise on the Gor-kin”

The Cervidian

An example of Bestia Cervidae, Cervidian in common, and Ceir-du in aelvish.

A relatively common bestial form across Yss with a number of subspecies adapted to the local environments, the Cervidian pose a regular threat to provincial towns and villages that lie close to wild hinterlands and forests. 

Their herds often range over vast areas, living a highly nomadic life. They have a particular affinity for highland regions and ancient forests, hunting through fog shrouded passes and dense undergrowth. 

Their herds are often filled with young headstrong warriors seeking to make a name for themselves with acts of bloodshed and displays of prowess. As such, ruts between herd members are common prior to battle, with members blooding each other in ritual combat to show their ferocity and so they may take a prime role in the hunt at the behest of their leader. Quite often a member of the herd will challenge the Alpha, entering a rut which can only end in the death of one of the participants. The locking of antlers can last days, with each fighter pushing themselves to extremes of exhaustion, pain and injury to emerge victorious. It is not unusual for one or both participants to die locked in place. Thankfully due to these bloody ruts many a raiding herd has lost interest in their prey, or other members step up to challenge the victor which leads to the herd descending into anarchy and turning on each other.

The Grunvale and the surrounding areas have a sizable number of Cervidian herds, with a number of notable herds ranging through the forest and highlands that divide Esel and the Mere March. The Elves that reside there take exceptional measures to eradicate them, leading tireless hunts to root them out. 

For the citizens of Esel it a cruel irony that something that bears the visage of the crowns symbol should be the source of such fear. Thankfully the brave knights of Esel and their retainers have slain many of their kind over the years in defence of their loyal subjects. 

~ Filib Stjerne, Scholar of Theriology at the Learning Halls of Esel-Din. Author of “The Superior Hunter’s guide to the Beastly Mind. A cultural and psychological treatise on the Gor-kin”

The Kheranox

An example of Bestia Kheranoxis, or the Kheranox.

The Kheranox are native to the savannahs and jungles of Ihlshana, though other subspecies have been noted in the frigid Isval to the far north, and the Taldegun Range in the west. 

A highly aggressive and territorial species, the Kheranox are a destructive blight on the people of Ihlshana. The nomadic peoples and the coastal cities have all felt the single minded brutality of the Kheranox. Of all the bestial forms that wander Ihlshana, they are the most feared. Their rage coupled with their thick hides make them formidable opponents, even for seasoned warriors. They show little regard for other creatures, viewing themselves as the undisputed inheritors of Ihlshana and it’s lands. The humans are interlopers to be eradicated. 

Along with the free people of Ihlshana, the Kheranox are often in conflict with other bestials and human followers of the fel gods. The beast are to be dominated, the human followers mere pretenders calling upon the primordial gods power to make up for their inherent weakness. 

The Kheranox like so many other bestials clad and armour themselves with scavenged materials and weapons. They particularly favour the tall shields and heavy wooden clubs used by the human inhabitants of Ihlshana, both free and fel.  

The only being they respect that isn’t of their kind or one of the primordial gods, is the legendary Ekuqaleni, or the First, The Alpha, The Beast of Beasts. To meet and serve under this legendary figure is an aspiration for all Kheranox. Many a young Kheranox has taken the quest to seek this creature, exiling themselves to wander Yss and find it, or die trying.

Though rare, it is quite possible for one of these creatures to be found wandering the paths of the ‘vale, or the mountainous reaches that surround it. It is best to avoid them, interfere with their wanderings at your own peril.

~ Filib Stjerne, Scholar of Theriology at the Learning Halls of Esel-Din. Author of “The Superior Hunter’s guide to the Beastly Mind. A cultural and psychological treatise on the Gor-kin”

An Invitation…….

So the Lore of Yss project is just over two years old formally (Previously it was just “The Grunvale” till we expanded it), but far older in concept. My friend Phil and I started it properly so we could take advantage of the clean slate that the Age of Sigmar offered, allowing us to explore old concepts and build something that we could blend into the larger universe. The freedom to theme armies and realms was delightfully refreshing and we quickly came up with reams of background, armies and kingdoms in our heads. So much so that we are still trying to get it all on to paper so we can share it. Much of what we started was centered around a single region and its kingdoms, The Grunvale and the metropolitan city of Fyrdhathen (Fairhaven as it was). Once we established the core kingdoms, numerous others started forming and growing, their politics, their themes, and how they all interplay with each other. Naturally this has made writing down everything even more complicated.

Despite all of the kingdoms we’ve created, we have yet to actually make anything from those kingdom for the tabletop (bar a few rpg characters), instead focussing on Urzod’s mercenary greenskins, Budahks herd, and some of the Revenant forces that roam Yss. We may get round to making skirmish groups and RPG character for these other regions, but we may not. However, we want to share everything that we possibly can. So we plan on writing up some descriptors and army suggestions for the kingdoms we have so far in the hope that we, but more importantly so others, can potentially use them as guidelines and build one of the many and varied forces that inhabit Yss. I hope that some of you will at least take some inspiration from the forthcoming scrawlings and ruminations, and doubly hope that some of you may wish to join us in building Yss and a community around the concept.

The first three kingdoms we will cover will be the core ones that we have built up the most, The Kingdom of Esel, The Republic of Fyrdhathen, and the Mere March.

~ Mark Talmer & Phillip Starr

The Lore of Yss ~ An Introduction.

Introduction

In the primordial times before the Age of Myth and the coming of Sigmar, the mortal realms were forged, bound and molded by the magics they embodied. But in the aetheric void, the ash and embers of the reforging of the world-that-was came together to form the Shard Realms, a multitude of fragmentary worlds rendered into curious aspects by the debris that formed their mass, realmstone scoria and crystal fused into the essence of the shard realms creating strange fusions of magic that permeate the lands and infuse the environment, spawning creatures both fantastic and fel. The permutations of these fusions are endless, realms of fire and death burn in the void with a baleful glow, plains stalked by beasts of molten metal spawned of Chamon and Ghyran magic, cavernous deeps inhabited by shadowy beasts. These realms are only as limited as the realmstone that makes up their form, some only fusing a handful of types, to some riddled with debris from each of the realms creating a Shard Realm of infinite variety.  The Shard Realm of Yss is such a place……

The Shard Realm of Yss

Yss is a shard realm filled with a myriad of environments, from the mundane to the reality defying. A realm of  ancient kingdoms and fresh frontiers, treacherous oceans and unfathomable subterranean expanses. As such, its inhabitants are as varied and colourful as the places they inhabit.

In the Grunvale and its surrounding regions the Free People settled, building great cities and forging vast nations. In the distant west on the Al’Arkan peninsula, explorers led intrepid colonists from beyond Yss to settle the coastal regions, with powerful city states blossoming on the fringes of the great deserts, the vast savannahs, and primordial jungles. Amongst the alpine peaks of the Reach lies the great elven province of Ahmarha, its citizens hardy and pragmatic. In times of war, hunters, woodsmen, and pathfinders answer the call to protect their secluded alpine realm.  

In the north lies the the Uilebheist Plateau, a nest for all manner of primal horrors too terrifying to describe. And beyond that is the Sundered Veil, a vast stretch of lands tainted and misshapen by fel magics during the Age of Chaos, a realm of unnatural horrors. Gibbering men cavorting amongst the ruins of lost kingdoms seeking eldritch power and the patronage of abyssal beings. To the east of the Uilebheist Plateau is the Isle of Elthuin. An ash choked volcanic landscape with vast tunnels that lead deep into the under realms below. Few travel there, the stories of the Ashen keeps sane folks away.

These are just a small number of the many realms, wild regions and savage hinterlands of Yss, there are many more to be explored and revealed. An endeavor I hope you will join me in……

~Jhez Al’Waide, Explorer and Scholar at the University of Fyrdhathen, Professor of Psariology, Amphiviology, and Yssian History. Author of the “The Fulminous Kings: The Concise Lineage of Esel’s Royalty” and “The Spined Merwyrm: The Fisherman’s Bounty”.

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   Illustration by Karl Kopinski

~ Written by Mark Talmer.