A Selection from “The History of Zarubain, Vol. 2”

Author: Jourmande diu Arandois, Court Historian
Date of Composition: 1102 W.Y.

I.

Sources cast no light on the childhood of Lord Vilnius. However, it appears that Vilnius attended the University of the Arcane Arts near Tournay, but was expelled for what contemporaries called—with unfortunate vagueness—“poor behavior.”

Archimond Sedrien Vilnius was born around 731 W.Y. to a noble family of baronial rank. His father, Bolond Vilnius, appeared to be of dubious character, oppressing his subjects with excessively high taxation.

Sometime around 746 W.Y., a severe plague swept through the barony. Archimond at this point seems to have taken an interest in death; according to one contemporary source, he was found dissecting a corpse—for which his father severely reprimanded him.

However, Bolond, at this point, caught this plague and died what appears to have been an excruciatingly painful death. Unfortunately for the world Archimond did not die from this plague. Being the only son, Archimond inherited the barony.

The plague abated. Archimond left the estate in the care of a steward and appears to have searched the neighboring libraries for dark tomes; however, none of them had books of sufficient maleficence.

He did return, however, with many books—their identities are lost, for after Vilnius’ death, his personal libraries were confiscated by the Council of the Twelve and stored in a secret vault in the University of the Arcane Arts. Despite the author of this work’s petitions, the university dean will not release them.

Upon Archimond’s return to the barony, life grew unbearable for his peasants. A state of fear fell over them. Infants disappeared from their cribs in the middle of the night. Children played outside and never returned. The peasants suspected Archimond but dared not voice their concerns. In reality Archimond had begun his dark, twisted experiments, which—in this book—I shall not record for the sake of decency.

In 756, the sources become more clear. They report that Archimond had amassed a small army of Murghul mercenaries. They numbered less than 2,000. When Archimond led them into the county of Orr, the count—Garzon vis Cardigne XII—thought him insane. He dispatched a force of approximately 25 knights and 3,000 men-at-arms to destroy them. As expected, Lord Garzon’s forces decimated the Murghul mercenaries. But Archimond had a plan in mind. Through his dark spells, he raised an army of the walking dead. Now his unholy army only increased. He marched on the city of Tournay.

Despite his evil magic, the walls of Tournay proved formidable. A contingent of wizards from the nearby university further protected the city with mystic wards. Archimond’s license to practice magic was revoked, and a sum was placed on his head of 1,000 marks. Furthermore, an immediate meeting was announced for the Council of the Twelve.

Vilnius promised he would return to raze Tournay to the ground, and then left, proving that—at least for now—the Necromancer Lord was not unstoppable.

II.

The next sighting of Vilnius and his unholy host was in Surrevere. The Viscount of Surrevere, Lord Emil, remained holed up in his keep with his army, fearing that his forces would meet the same fate as Lord Garzon’s. His cowardice, in the end, was wise. Though widespread damage was done to the farms, and the peasants lived in absolute fear, Lord Emil and his forces remained alive.

Then, for seven years, Vilnius disappears from the historical record. He reappears in 763, in the Robber Baronies.

III.

The minor barons wrote of their horror at the sight of Lord Vilnius. In this seven-year span, he grew incredibly emaciated. Some reports claim that country peasants—on the sight of him—flung themselves off high rooftops or impaled themselves on spears. Most horrific at all was his apparel: a robe of flayed human skin, invulnerable to common weapons.

Wars continued in the Robber Baronies. Lord Vilnius’ army was invincible; for when one of his men died, or—for that matter—when one of his enemies died, he was quickly raised to false life. Armies were sent to face him, but all were invariably defeated. The evil man’s army grew from 5,000 to an enormous host of 30,000 by the end of the decade. In 640, our noble king petitioned the Council of the Twelve, saying they were cowards for not facing Vilnius. The Archwizard said to wait; that they had to act wisely.

Again historical records leave a blank space between the years 766 and 771. One can assume Lord Vilnius left the Robber Baronies; there is a folk legend in Dorenzia that he came even there to that far-flung eastern region. Yet it is clear that in 771 he was back in the Robber Baronies and—with an army of 50,000 walking dead—he assailed the city of Carribor.

IV.

The House Kardis that rules over Carribor was then—as now—cowardly. They attempted to bribe Vilnius with gold. Vilnius refused on no uncertain terms, claiming that he wanted their lives and not their gold. The House Kardis fled in the middle of the night, and then the siege began. In the end the city was overcome; a great slaughter was had, but the gold and wealth remained untouched.

Hearing this, the king was mortified. Rumors spread—and likely, not unfounded—that the army had swelled to 100,000 persons. The king, not unjustly, sent another scathing letter to the Council of the Twelve. It seemed to all wise men that the black sorcerer Vilnius would consume the world with his undeath.

As a historian, I must ignore the biases of the present and tell, plainly, the truth. The Emperor of the Elves sent forth a small band of healers from the city of Danarion. When they arrived, the king of Zarubain was puzzled. The leader of the elven band—Gilirias was his name—told him that an ambassador from the Council of the Twelve had sent them thither. Reluctantly the king of Zarubain gave them permission to pass through our land. When the elven wizards reached Tournay, the Knights of Lorh joined with them.

V.

In spring of 772, as the massive forces of Vilnius headed west for Tournay and—gods help us!—the king’s own land, the small elven band and the Knights of Lorh met them on the road. The Knights of Lorh, in their archives, wrote of what happened that day:

“The elven healers lifted their hands. The magic that they wielded—the power that would heal any man’s worst wounds—did the exact opposite to the matchless host. Searing golden fire burnt their unholy bodies into blackened ash. The host, within the span of minutes, was burned away with holy flame. The knights took heart and galloped into the fray. Sir Nestor, a green knight from Harcombe, dealt the blow that killed Lord Vilnius.”

Lest it offend our contemporary ears, I must say that—though the elves did help a great deal—it was the Knights of Lorh that ended Vilnius’s life.

Afterwards, Vilnius’s head was severed. According to peasant superstition, a stake was buried in his heart, and then his body was burned. His mouth was stuffed with garlic and his head was buried in the earth. Thus ended one of the darkest eras of Zarubain’s history.

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