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Hecarim/Background

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"Break their ranks and ride them down without mercy. Crush the living and feast on their terror." - Hecarim Hecarim

Hecarim is an armored colossus who Devastating Charge.png charges from the Shadow Isles at the head of a deathly host of Onslaught of Shadows.png spectral horsemen to hunt the living. A monstrous fusion of man and beast, cursed to ride for eternity, Hecarim revels in Rampage.png slaughter and crushing souls beneath Warpath.png his armored hooves.

Lore

Born into an empire long since gone to dust and forgotten, Hecarim was squired to a legendary company of knights known as the Iron Order, a brotherhood sworn to defend Blade of the Ruined King item.png their king's land. There he endured the harshest training imaginable, a punishing regime that schooled him to be a formidable warrior.

As Hecarim grew to manhood, he mastered every form of combat and war-stratagem with ease. He quickly outstripped his fellow squires in mounted warfare, and the Knight Commander of the Iron Order saw greatness within the young man and recognized a potential successor. But as the years passed and Hecarim won victory after victory from the back of his mighty warhorse, the Knight Commander finally recognized a growing darkness within his lieutenant. Hecarim's thirst for wholesale slaughter and obsessive hunger for glory was eroding his honor and the Knight Commander knew the young knight must never become the master of the Iron Order. In his private chambers, he told Hecarim that he would not be his successor and though his lieutenant was furious, he bit back on his anger and returned to his duties.

When the Order next rode to war, the Knight Commander found himself surrounded by enemies and isolated from his fellow knights. Only Hecarim could ride to his aid, but in a moment of rancor, he turned his mount away and left the Knight Commander to die. At battle's end, the surviving knights, oblivious to what Hecarim had done, knelt on the bloody ground and swore to follow him as their master.

Hecarim rode to the capital, and met with Kalista Kalista, the king's general. Kalista recognized his exceptional nature, and when the king's wife was wounded by the poisoned blade of an assassin, she tasked the Iron Order with staying at the king's side while she sought a cure. Hecarim accepted, but being given what he perceived to be a menial task planted a seed of resentment.

Hecarim remained with the king as he descended into grief-induced madness. Gripped by paranoia, the king raged at those who sought to separate him from his dying wife and despatched the Iron Order to quell what he saw as dissent throughout his kingdom. Hecarim led the Iron Order in bloody suppressions of discontent, earning a dreadful reputation as a ruthless enforcer of the king's will. Villages burned and the riders of the Iron Order put hundreds to the sword. The kingdom was in darkness, and when the queen died, Hecarim spun falsehoods around the king, speaking of how he had uncovered the truth behind her death, seeking sanction to lead the Iron Order to foreign lands and earn yet more dark renown.

Before he rode out, Kalista returned from her quest. She had found a cure for the queen's malady upon the legendary Blessed Isles, but was too late to save her. Horrified at what had become of the kingdom, Kalista refused to share what she had discovered and was imprisoned for her defiance.

Hecarim saw an opportunity to win yet more favor and visited Kalista's cell. Promising to keep the king from any rash actions, Hecarim persuaded Kalista to reveal what she knew. Kalista reluctantly agreed and guided the king's fleet through the glamours veiling the Blessed Isles from sight.

Hecarim led the ruined form of the king to the center of the magical island, where he met with its guardians and demanded their aid. The guardians offered their sympathies, but told the king his wife was beyond their help. Enraged, the king ordered Kalista to kill the guardians one by one until they relented. Kalista refused and stood between the king and the island's inhabitants. Hecarim recognized a crossroads in his life and made a decision that would damn him for eternity. Instead of supporting Kalista, he drove The Black Spear item.png a spear through her back and commanded the Iron Order to slay the inhabitants of the Blessed Isles. Hecarim and his warriors slaughtered the guardians until Thresh a lantern-bearing wretch finally led the king to what he sought - the secret to resurrecting his wife.

But when the queen returned to life she was a horror of decayed meat and maggot-ridden flesh who begged to be allowed to die once more. Repulsed at what he had done to his beloved wife, the king enacted a spell to end their lives and bind them together for all eternity. His conjuration was successful, but unwittingly empowered by the many potent magical artifacts stored on the island, its power was increased a hundredfold.

A hurricane of black mist surrounded the king, spreading across the island and killing everything it touched. Hecarim abandoned the king to his doom and led the Iron Order back to their ships, killing all in their path as the spirits of those slain by the black mist arose as undying wraiths. One-by-one, the knights were dragged down into undeath until only Hecarim remained. As uncontrolled sorcery filled him, he and his mighty steed were fused together in a monstrous abomination that reflected the true darkness of his soul.

Howling in rage, the titanic beast known as the Shadow of War was wrought in an agonizing transformation, a brazen monster of fury and spite. The sins of his former life were heightened by the maelstrom of dark magic, birthing a creature of endless malice and terrifying power.

Now Hecarim is bound to the Shadow Isles, patrolling its nightmare shores and killing all before him in a mockery of his former duty. And when the Black Mist reaches beyond the Shadow Isles, he and Onslaught of Shadows.png the spectral host of the Iron Order ride with him to slaughter the living in the memory of glories long passed.

No One Lives

Icy waves crashed on the bleak shore, red with the blood of the men Hecarim had already butchered. The mortals he had yet to kill were retreating over the beach in terror. Black rain doused them and storm clouds boiled in from the mourning heart of the island. He heard them shouting to one another. The words were a guttural battle-chant he did not recognize, but the meaning was clear; they actually thought they might live to reach their ship. True, they had some skill. They moved as one, wooden shields interlocked. But they were mortal and Hecarim savored the meat-stink of their fear. He circled them, threading crumbling ruins and unseen in the shadowed mist rising from the ashen sand. The echoing thunder of Warpath.png his hooves struck sparks from black rocks. It gnawed at their courage. He watched the mortals through the slitted visor of his helm. The weak light of their wretched spirits was flickering corposant in their flesh. It repulsed him even as he craved it.

"No-one lives", he said.

His voice was muffled by the dread iron of his helm, like the corpse-rasp of a hanged man. The sound scraped along their nerves like rusted blades. He drank in their terror and grinned as one man threw down his shield and ran for the ship in desperation.

He bellowed as Devastating Charge.png he galloped from the weed-choked ruins, lowering Rampage.png his hooked glaive and feeling the old thrill of the charge. A memory flickered, riding at the head of a silver host. Winning glory and honor. The memory faded as the man reached the dark surf of cold breakers and looked over his shoulder.

"Please! No!" he cried.

Hecarim split him from collarbone to pelvis in one thunderous blow.

His ebon-bladed glaive pulsed as it bathed in blood. The fragile wisp of the man's spirit sought to fly free, but the mist's hunger would not be cheated. Hecarim watched as the soul was twisted into a dark reflection of the man's life.

Hecarim drew the power of the island to him and the bloody surf churned with motion as Onslaught of Shadows.png a host of dark knights wreathed in shimmering light rose from the water. Sealed within archaic plates of ghostly iron, they drew black swords that glimmered with dark radiance. He should know these men. They had served him once and served him still, but he had no memory of them. He turned back towards the mortals on the beach. He parted the mists, reveling in their terror as they saw him clearly for the first time.

His colossal form was a nightmarish hybrid of man and horse, a chimeric juggernaut of brazen iron. The plates of his body were dark and stamped with etchings whose meanings he only vaguely recalled. Bale-fire smouldered behind his visor, the spirit within cold and dead yet hatefully vital.

Hecarim reared as forking traceries of lightning split the sky. He lowered his glaive and led his knights in the charge, throwing up giant clumps of blood-sodden sand and bone fragments as he went. The mortals screamed and brought up their shields, but the ghost-knights charge was unstoppable. Hecarim struck first as was his right as their master, and the thunderous impact splintered the shield wall wide open. Men were trampled to bloody gruel beneath his iron-shod bulk. His glaive struck out left and right, killing with every strike. The ghost knights crushed all before them, slaughtering the living in a fury of thrashing hooves, stabbing lances and chopping blades. Bones cracked and blood sprayed as mortal spirits fled broken bodies, already trapped between life and death by the fell magic of Blade of the Ruined King item.png the Ruined King.

The spirits of the dead circled Hecarim, beholden to him as their killer and he reveled in the surging joy of battle. He ignored the wailing spirits. He had no interest in enslaving them. Leave such petty cruelties to Thresh the Chain Warden.

All Hecarim cared for was killing.

References

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