Old Dominion

The Final Creed

Even as Hazlia fell, some of his priests led prayers in his name while the panicked population of the city tried to escape. Even as the shockwave tore through Capitas and reduced the city to rubble, they chanted His praise while being torn to pieces by flying rubble and an enraged mob. Even as Hazlia’s un-Birth blanketed the land in a peal of death and darkness, ripping the life from all but the hardiest, they called out his name with reckless abandon, and his Name might be the last thing to pass their lips. Even as Hazlia’s dark will was made manifest and the dead walked once more to slay the living, they cried out his name in joyous communion and somehow managed to survive. They are the Apostles of the Final Creed, the last and most fervent worshipers of Hazlia that ever walked the earth, and their task is not complete.

Shielded from Hazlia’s baleful power by countless meters of rock, a maze of storerooms and dusty workshops lie next to forgotten sepulchers, abandoned mausoleums and long neglected naves carved into living rock. This is where the priesthood of the Final Creed carries on its work of bringing Hazlia’s vision to the world. Once that meant marching with Hazlia’s untold legions and bringing death to any mortal creature that stood in their way, utilizing their divine and sorcerous gifts to complement the unthinking savagery and endless numbers of Hazlia’s unliving tide. With Hazlia’s defeat and partial imprisonment, the Creed retreated to Capitas humbled and broken, settling next to the Pyre, that unceasing torrent of corrupted Primordial power that fountains from the epicenter of the Fall in the center of the dead city. Their leader, his original name lost to time and madness, committed ritual suicide by walking into the Pyre.

Even as their reduced number contemplated oblivion for only a handful had survived to this point, the first of the Pilgrims began to arrive. Driven by need or pulled by madness or faith, a few crazed survivors started trickling into Capitas. Their sanity blasted by the sights they had seen, or perhaps lost well before by the heinous acts they had committed, the Pyre called them from across Eä and they proved a fertile seeding ground for the apocalyptic faith of the Final Creed.

Even so, with the vast majority of the unliving tide defeated and their reduced numbers, the cult was in a trajectory to become a little more than a ghastly footnote in the history of man. All of that changed with the arrival of the Prophet, the first of the Anointed. Stepping forth from the twisted primordial flames of the Pyre, the Prophet rejoined his brethren, forged anew in the unholy furnace of his gods’ impotent rage. Their former leader had cast away all his mortal weakness and become a living vessel of his gods’ power and purpose. For while Hazlia’s will had been bound, his power remained available for those desperate, crazy or faithful enough to claim it.

Gifted with a fraction of Hazlia’s corrupt essence, the Prophet rekindled the dying embers of the Final Creed’s faith. Channeling his newfound powers, the Prophet sought to recreate Hazlia’s undead tide and scour the world clean of sentient life only to find that his powers were no match to those of Hazlia: he could not reanimate more than a scant few thousand corpses.

Years and decades of studies and horrible experimentation followed as the Final Creed sought to appease their dark master’s reincarnation, but progress was slow. Hundreds were sacrificed on the altars to fuel his mad quest for power and their bodies reanimated in a vain attempt to recreate the legions Hazlia once commanded. Having cast off his mortal frailties, the Prophet cared not for how far he pushed his servants, driving the cult to the edge of extinction time and time again. Disgusted by the frail efforts of his mortal followers, the Prophet turned further and further away from them, dedicating himself to his own vile studies and experiments. Despite his best efforts the Prophet was forced to concede while his attunement to his god could grow with time and sacrifice – only those who were sworn to Hazlia in life could be reanimated in death. The Prophet was undeterred, however. He might not be able to follow in his master’s footsteps, but he could certainly complete his great undertaking. It would simply take time… time he now had.

Returning to his followers, the Prophet was shocked to discover that he was no longer the only power in Capitas. Others had taken advantage of his long sojourn into the dark secrets of mortality and divinity and usurped a portion of his god’s power, twisting it to their end. Where once he alone commanded the baleful power of Hazlia, others now dared to tread.

Adding insult to injury, his harsh treatment of the Final Creed and subsequent abandonment had left the cult ripe for treason and sedition. Many of his favored followers had cast their lot with these usurpers. While he alone remained the true master of these dark arts, his enemies now benefited from years of careful research and dark secrets he alone had been privy to. Enraged beyond reason, the Prophet marshaled his forces to take down these usurpers, these Anointed, and reclaim his primacy as Hazlia’s Chosen.

The war that raged in Capitas and the dark deserts beyond was the stuff of nightmares that thankfully no sane mortal was forced to witness. Undead legions marched upon each other and clashed for days on end, their bodies as tireless as their masters’ spite. At first the Prophet was successful and managed to bring down a few of the Anointed, fueling his power with their own.

But his resources had been stretched thin. Maintaining his control over Capitas and his own trove of suitable cadavers and bodies was no match for the reanimated Legions his opponents could marshal from the burial grounds scattered across the empire. Worse still, the longer the war raged, the more irreplaceable bodies were being lost, and with them the hopes of conquering the mortal realms.

Faced with these dire facts and the united opposition of the remaining Anointed, the Prophet was forced to concede defeat. To preserve his master’s dark legacy the Prophet agreed in desperation to share Capitas and reform the Final Creed. It would now serve all the Anointed equally and share what knowledge and influence it had amassed with all Anointed.

That is how the Final Creed came to take its current form. Today countless servitors labor daily beneath the oppressive oversight of their unliving masters, to uncover more suitable bodies in the forgotten tombs and catacombs of the Old Dominion, to fuel their dark designs. Morticians and sculptors labor together to repair those bodies that were ravaged by time or battle, seeking to restore their function by replacing their lost parts with replacements carefully carved from the very stones of Capitas – stones that have witnessed Hazlia’s darkest slaughter and bathed in his baleful power for centuries. Some go even further, seeking to combine these unholy remnants with the will of his most loyal lost followers to create unstoppable engines of destruction, all to bring their dead god’s will upon the mortal world.

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