Here’s the background fluff I’ve concocted to tie together the White Rose and Yorkshire Stone thematic elements of my Undead Army. Given that I live in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, maybe the lost Kingdon of Odersfelt may sound a little familiar..?
The Kingdom of Odersfelt flourished during the millennia after the God War and before the coming of Winter.
Located in what at the time was one of the nine richest provinces of Primovantor, Odersfelt lay to the West of the mysterious Forest of Galahir, home to Sylvan kind for thousands of years.
Odersfelt was a beautiful land with fertile fields well suited to agriculture and livestock and steep-sided valleys where water power could be harnessed. The Kingdom grew wealthy from textile manufacture, with thousands of clothier families in the rural settlements supported by good crops of grain and the production of milk and meat.
The King wisely saw to the construction of good roads to compliment the traditional packhorse routes, enabling trade to take place far and wide. Odersfelt subsequently became an important centre for commerce within Primovantor.
Odersfelt’s adopted sigil was that of a White Rose, a particular four petalled bloom which grew plentifully in the rich soils of the Kingdom, especially those close to Galahir.
Such a Kingdom was the envy of many, not the least marauding Orcs and Abyssals that now troubled the land. A strong army protected Odersfelt, utilising a series of watchtowers, stone forts and beacons on hilltops to warn of any incursions.
The colours of the militia were natural tones of green and brown, reflecting Odersfelt’s connections to the earth, the people’s pride in the beauty of their Kingdom and their proximity to the forest. And so for many a year Odersfelt flourished. Yet all good things come to an end…
Odersfelt fell to the ice as Winter escaped her prison and the unnatural cooling of Mantica saw her glaciers inexorably advance. Odersfelt was invaded by colossal armies of Orcs, icy Abyssal Dwarves and other hideous monsters, surging South ahead of Winter’s glaciers.
The armies of the Kingdom initially stood shoulder to shoulder against the threat of the Wicked ones with the Elves of the Forest of Galahir, but the Sylvans began to look inwards, becoming more concerned about their own survival than their alliances with Men. Calling upon the power of the Green Lady to save their realm from icy doom, the Elves withdrew their alliance, knowing they were ultimately powerless to help Odersfelt avoid its fate. The Kingdom was subsequently sacked by Abyssals and then crushed under ice.
Over the near half millennia in which Winter held the land in her grip, Odersfelt faded from memory. Yet with Winter’s defeat and the retreat of the glaciers, the rich soils of the former Kingdom were fed by rainfall and warmed once again by the sun. Within a year of the ice melting, white blooms began to appear in hidden parts of the land…
The man who would eventually become the blight on the world known as Belial Crepitus was, a long, long time ago; Edmund Gaunt – Head Gardener for a local Lord in a rural area of the Ardovikian Plains, close to the former Kingdom of Odersfelt.
Lord Lister valued the ornate gardens of his estate as a symbol of his wealth and position and so showed much favour to his Head Gardener. Edmund lived contentedly with his wife Anna, in an idyllic cottage on the grounds of the estate.
Edmund sought a means by which to grow brighter and bigger blooms and to increase the longevity of flowers after they had been cut; so that the beautiful flower beds, borders and bouquets he would create could bring his Lord, Lady and dear wife even greater pleasure.
To achieve this innocent goal he experimented with herbs and other, now-forgotten, ingredients and during his research and explorations, rediscovered the long forgotten White Roses that grew centuries ago on the plains around Odersfelt before Winter scoured Mantica.
These beautiful White Roses were soon the talk of the land. Life for the Edmund became even better, as to complement his success with the White Rose and increased status with his Lord and peers, Anna announced that she was with child.
Lord Lister carefully limited growth of the White Roses solely to his estate in order to increase their value and allure. Edmund redoubled his efforts to find a way help them grow even more beautifully and to preserve them when cut. The future seemed bright for all, yet tragedy was to strike in the cruelest of manners…
Edmund’s wife and unborn child died at their cottage during childbirth. Once the maids had left him alone to grieve, a distraught Edmund flew into a heartbroken fit of rage, smashing everything within reach. Hurling his now pointless experiments against the walls, a combination of elixirs splashed onto his wife’s corpse and several hours later, in a terrible moment of revelation, Edmund discovered his experiments worked better on dead flesh than living flora…
Some say that it was in this moment of utter horror that Edmund lost his mind; others that this happened more slowly over the long years of terrible sights and deeds which followed.
Edmund left his Lord’s estate that very night, never to return. There’s no accurate account of his travels in the years after Anna’s death, other than that they were far and wide as Edmund attempted to leave far behind him the horrors of what he had seen and the implications of what he could potentially accomplish.
During Edmund’s long period of wandering, word reached the Vampire Lady Melantha of Ophidia of White Roses in a far away land which rivalled the beauty of her own pale, ivory skin.
Distractions, no matter how trivial they may initially seem, can be very welcoming when you have all eternity to fill and the White Roses piqued Lady Melantha’s curiosity. Almost all of Ophidia, bar the rich river valley, is desert and dry savannah and a bloom such as the White Rose does not flower in the native flora. Melantha was doubly taken with tales of this flower, both in its reflection of her pale, physical beauty and the stark contrast to her own dark heart.
Through twists of kismet Edmund became known to Lady Melantha as the grower of these pale blooms. Intrigued, she sent her servants to locate the wandering madman and bring him before her to tell his tale of the White Roses of Odersfelt.
Lady Melantha’s servants eventually found Edmund and, whether of his own free will or under coercion, he shared the tales of the White Roses and in doing so; the terrible effect of his elixirs. Greatly pleased and seeing a dark potential in the broken man before her, Melantha offered to share her knowledge of magics and necromancy.
This sparked in Edmund Gaunt’s ravaged mind the first real interest for years in anything at all. Before long, Edmund had thrown himself into a study of the dark arts, relishing the opportunity to preserve life (after a manner) and fascinated by Lady Melantha; his new, immortal dark flower.
Over a few, dangerous, depraved years, Edmund become well versed in the Necromantic arts, taking the name Belial Crepitus and swearing his fealty and allegiance to Lady Melantha for all time. All traces of Edmund Gaunt were now gone and in his place the horror of Belial Crepitus stood ready to commit dark acts that would plague the world….
Armed with knowledge from Lady Melantha of the location of many battles fought on the Ardovikian plains against Winter, Belial Crepitus returned to the lands he once called home. After ‘acquiring’ undead servants to act as workmen and earning the allegiance of a local pack of Ghouls, Crepitus quietly and swiftly carried out excavations at the sites of several battlegrounds.
Months later Belial returned to Ophidia and presented Lady Melantha with a cache of unearthed arms and armour bearing the White Rose motif. Even better, he also brought samples of the rare White Roses themselves which he was able to grow in the palace of his dark mistress.
Lady Melantha found herself so taken with the pale blooms that she decreed the White Rose to be her new sigil and before the week was out, it was fully adopted into her heraldry and banners. Melantha bade Crepitus to return to the Ardovikian Plains and raise an army under her new banner. The opportunities of conquest and inflicting misery that the northern lands presented looked fully capable of entertaining Melantha for oh, a decade or two.
Belial carried out his lady’s wishes with the full fervor of his new found purpose. Within a few months, regiments of skeletal warriors, revenants and troops of terrifying Wights had been raised from remains of Odersfelt’s forces and hordes of zombies created from slain villagers. Yet more ghouls flocked to Melantha’s new banner, and shortly after, massive lycanthropes. Crepitus also bound terrifying Wraiths and other nightmarish creatures to his service.
Warbands of Crepitus’ undead have struck settlements and townships across the plains and into the Successor Kingdoms. The White Rose has become known once more; albeit feared and reviled as a portent of not only death, but of grisly servitude beyond that not-so-final veil.
There have even been reports of an achingly beautiful, terrible woman at the head of Crepitus’ hordes, her skin the colour of ivory, her long hair black as night. It would seem that the Lady Melantha has accompanied her chosen thralls on the long journey across the Infant Sea and Dragon Teeth Mountains so that she may personally rejoice in the slaughter and add her claim alongside that of other undead fiends such as Mhorgoth the Faceless and Lord Malak of Dol Eragos as masters of horror and true terrors of the night
Thanks for reading! 🙂