Plane of Death
Death Rifts: a rot upon the land
There are places in Telara where death holds dominion: Graveyards that rot in the stinking swamps as inscriptions fade on the headstones, or battlefields where the grass has been crushed under charging feet, and the bones and blades of fallen warriors sink into the mud. Beware such places, for the air itself might tear open, spilling horrors like maggots from a corpse.
Around these Death Rifts, plants wither as the air stills, trapping rotten smells. The undead patrol the brittle dust, slaughtering and feasting upon passersby, the cries of fiends and victims chilling folks’ blood for miles around.
Places of decay are most likely to attract these diseased patches, but Death Rifts can appear anywhere in Telara, blighting the pristine snow or the forest glade. Beyond each rift lies a plane of endless decay where even the Ascended cannot tread.
The Plane of Death: quiet forever
The Plane of Death is an endless, flat expanse of dust and bleached bone. Shadowy tendrils slither across the horizon, while vast obsidian spikes tear from the ground to claw at skies of purple and gray. The few clouds are ragged and pale, and the occasional flash of lightning sets everything into stark relief.
Things rot under pools of black oil, ready to yank prey down to a gruesome end, and mummies wait in elaborate tombs that were not built by hand, but grew from the land like cysts.
While death is the natural end to life, there is nothing of rebirth and healthful change in Regulos’s realm. The Plane of Death devours, it erodes the flesh from living bones, stealing vital energy. Its denizens spread slow, painful rot through virulent diseases, or infect the mind with fear, nightmares, or outright compulsion.
From the journal of Maura Reinhard,
“We lived at the heart of where the Shade appeared, my husband, my two sons and I. We tried to flee, but the land was dead in every direction. The undead beasts of the rifts did not slaughter us, but watched with hollow eyes, as if they knew. As if they knew.
My sons changed, skin tight over bones, and so pale I could see down to their dear hearts. Their father recoiled from them, but I could not. By night, they would tell me how alien everything seemed, how strange it was that father’s chest rose and fell as he slept, while ours did not. We decided to open him up and see why. My boys and I did not leave the shaded lands, but no matter how many people we open up, we can never remember how to breathe."
Tainted by death: the dead and the doomed
When a Death Rift opens, the plane’s denizens pour into Telara to spread terror and despair in the name of Regulos. One group of invaders, the lorn, are hollow imitations of the glorious Ascended, husks that yearn to reclaim their lost spark by spreading pain and suffering to the living. They are often accompanied into Telara by the shadow elementals called umbrals, who leave their victims’ faces frozen forever in terror.
Anything from the Plane of Death can enter Telara through a rift, from its monstrous natives such as mummies and vampires, to fell energies that send corpses shambling forth as zombies, or bind the souls of the wickeddead to Telara as spectres.
Even the living are touched by energy from these awful rifts. Mortals who run afoul of death-tainted witches are cursed to stalk the moonlight as ravenous beasts. Madmen in hidden laboratories stitch corpses together into loathsome abominations, composing with flesh as a musician composes an overture.
Regulos, Devourer of Worlds: Dragon of Death
Regulos lies. He promises his cultists peace through death, but the peace of the void is not prosperity. He promises his lieutenants eternal power over the undead, but will unmake and consume all of reality to sate his hunger. Even his dragon form is a lie, rotting flesh disguising his incomprehensible nature within a cage of bone and sinew.
The Destroyer hungers, seeking to end the keening screech of life. Thanks to the treachery of his fellow dragons and the unforeseen heroism of Telara’s defenders, Regulos remains banished to the Planes. But when his pawn Aedraxis Mathos broke the Ward, Regulos’s hideous energy flooded once more into Telara. If he is not stopped, the Devourer of Worlds will consume everything, and stretch his bloated form across all creation.
Cult of Regulos: the Endless Court
Telara was young when Regulos first arrived, and his cult has festered in dark places ever since. Mighty Titans, haughty Elves, even the humblest human priest could fall victim to the Destroyer’s overwhelming vision of the end of the world. Throughout history, wherever thoughts of doomsday take hold, the Endless Court works its evil.
From nihilistic madmen who believe Telara should receive the gift of tranquil death, to mortals so hungry for power they would rule over the undead, Regulos’s followers are the worst of the worst.
While Aedraxis once led the Endless Court, Regulos’s most famous follower has not been seen nor heard from since he released the Shade, and his body was never produced. Folk everywhere fear that he might one day return, to hone the Endless Court into the scythe that reaps Telara for the dragon of extinction.