Nordel is going to be our first novel in what we hope to be a trilogy of books. This will be a long-term project running alongside our main goal which is the design and release of our main Ulandi wars core box set. We are very excited about writing the stories and creating the background and lore to the characters in game. So excited if fact that we just had to publish chapter 1 from our first novel, Nordel. We hope fans love reading about the adventures from the Ulandi universe and we can’t wait for the first book to be finish. To whet your appetite here is chapter 1. Enjoy.
REXCORE HOME WORLD OF THE COREX
The chamber was hot, steam was rising from the ceremonial rock at the front of the Rexason temple. Inside the enormous octagon shaped entrance hall, stood eight statues, each was five times the height of a normal man, all holding aloft the manuscript of The Ancients, a revered index recording the knowledge of the Corex . Unusually each statue faced the wall so you could not see their faces, all holding a different pose, each representing the eight warrior classes of Corex society. All eight had their eyes fixed on the ceiling and each one looked up at the finely detailed oil painted map of the early known Ulandi universe. Like the rest of the building, the painting was old, and was painted before most other creatures in the Ulandi galaxy had crawled out of the primordial filth. It was for this reason that the painted ceiling was the only part of the entrance that was clean and protected, an invisible projection shield of pure energy ensured its safety. The rest of the room was covered in a fine layer of black soot, which was a common sight in most northern parts of the planet.
The Corex are a race of monstrous beings dwarfing most others in the Ulandi galaxy, they reside on their home planet of Rexcore, a red rock mountain world. North of its equator line stands high, red topped volcanic mountains that sweep down into deep valleys. Ancient lava rivers carve their way through a primordial landscape. To the south lie vast oceans with scattered islands anchored within the red hot seas where the lava rivers from the north meet in a crescendo of fire and steam.
The Corex have a vast life span, ten times that of a normal man and their extensive life allows them to grow ancient. The elders pass down their knowledge of forbidden technologies, space travel and ancient science to the next generation in a ritual known as ‘The Hacker’ which was carried out in the very temple where Narrex stood.
He walked into the entrance hall, the floor was hot under foot, and made from old stones and tiles. A variety of coloured tiles carved out different paths one could take to different areas of the building. Narrex stood admiring the ceiling, he was without armour nor did he carry any weapons, he just wore simple ceremonial robes as was the tradition in all Corex temples.
He was a large brute of a Corex, an unmistakable warrior. When he was young, and the time had come for him to do the eight rituals, he had no doubt in his mind which warrior class he would be placed in. The warrior tournaments were unbelievably tough. Narrex was convinced that no human or any other race for that matter would even pass the first stage of the Corex trials. Like a lot of things in Corex society the trials were divided into eight parts, eight being a sacred number. The sequence of rituals began under water, the candidates would be strapped into cages and dropped into Gewurts lake. This particular lake was in the centre of an extinct volcano, located in the far south of Rexcore. Once dropped, they would have to escape from their chains, then from the cages, then if strong enough, swim the 500 meters to the surface. If they survived, they would then have to make it to the shore and just hope the local spinny tooth fang fish didn’t spear them.
There were all manner of ritual trials; from endurance tests to hand to hand combat, and Narrex knew he would excel at them all. He was the best in his field, and had never beaten, that was until he met Goreblood.
‘Incredible, is it not?’ said a voice that sounded like gravel.
‘This Rexason is one of the oldest on Rexcore, its age unknown even to me’ A grizzled Hacker elder stepped out from under an archway on the northern wall. Narrex looked at her with contempt
‘Just atom date it!’ he snarled
‘And risk damaging a part of our heritage?’ replied the elder with a sneer to her tone. ‘This temple’, she continued, ‘like other Rexasons stands as a living history to our race. It holds knowledge that you warrior classes can’t comprehend’. She gave him a long hard stare whilst shaking her head in contempt.
Narrex understood the anger behind her voice and was smart enough not to insult her or her temple again. Hacker elders were very touchy if anyone dared to insult their precious building, and being of such high rank, it was unwise to upset them.
She stood in a ceremonial leather robe, with a gold trim adorning the bottom. Around her waist was a ritual blade that ran the full length of her leg. Although the finely decorated blade was purely formal, Narrex knew she could wield it if she must.
‘I presume you are here for’, she paused, ‘for him’ her face showing obvious detest.
‘Yes’ replied Narrex, ‘I was told he was in the temple’.
‘He is in the Bano at the top of the tower’, said the elder, as she gestured towards the northern archway.
‘Thank you, I’ll take my leave’, replied Narrex. He took the smallest of bows, barely tilting his head, and walked past the hacker out of the entrance hall and through the archway.
On the other side was an even larger ceremonial room, again octagon shaped with eight equal finely decorated walls. In the centre, stood a large fire pit made from smooth marble. A stairway led to a platform which extended into the middle of the pyre. The whole structure was surrounded by eight golden shields, each pointed inwards towards the flames. Rexes apprentices stood on guard, again eight in total, all wearing their ritual robes and blessing the inferno with their baptism of sacrifice. Above the fire pit, high in the ceiling was an aperture that allowed the flames to rise into the ether.
Two large doors dominated the rest of the room, one stood to the east and the other to the west. The east tower was known as the Hark and Bano, the west. Narrex headed towards the west entrance which was guarded by two Zenarack guards of the clan Darkdeath. He knew them both by name. They had been in Goreblood’s service since the second reckoning. He bowed his head at the gate guardians and raised his right hand. He moved it from his left shoulder to his right, the standard Corex military salute. The wardens returned the gesture and opened the large double doors allowing Nerrex to pass.
The Bano was a round room located at the top of the tower, traditionally it was where the Hacker would pass on their teaching to the Rexes apprentices. It was a lavish room, tiled from floor to ceiling. On the floor was a mosaic spiral that started at the entrance door and slowly made its way to the center of the room. This represented the path the apprentices had to take to achieve the higher ranks of the priesthood.
There were various chests and bookcases scattered around the room. A large wooden meeting table surrounded by eight chairs was located on the far side. On the opposing wall was a long bench that ran the full length of the chamber and opposite the entrance door was a small stone table, above it proudly hung a Corex Darkdeath clan banner.
Goreblood stood on the center circle. He very rarely sat, thinking it a sign of weakness. He viewed a digital map that was being projected onto the easten wall via a small white box that sat on the table. He was alone apart from a hovering security droid that slowly circled and patrolled the chamber.
There had been another assault on the Grand Alliance satellite world of Nordel, that sits on the far southeastern border. It was an unprotected planet and far from the main Alliance fleet. The Thatcherling of Narcan had been fighting a bitter battle there with the locals, and the planet had been engulfed in war for over a year. Goreblood had been pondering for many months now as to why the Alliance had not sent any reinforcements.
‘Why let one of your own burn in flames when you could protect it and burn those who disrespect you?’ he said out aloud.
‘They are weak my lord’ came the reply.
‘They are either weak, scared or simply don’t care,’ replied Goreblood to the newcomer. ‘I do not believe they are heartless, so that leaves weak or scared.’ Goreblood turned to face Narrex who was stood at the entrance of the Bano
‘Tell me, Narrex the Hated, ‘ said Goreblood ‘If you owned a territory would you not fight for it?’ His voice started to become louder as he tried to make his point. ‘Would you not smash all those who dared attack one of your homelands and drive them out until all are dust!’ Narrex earned his moniker due to his involvement in multiple wars over his long life wrecking terror everywhere he went.
‘I would my lord, unless…’
‘Unless?’, Goreblood interrupted his lieutenant, ‘Unless you do not have the heart or the resources to do so. The Alliance are weak, they are not warriors like us, they are skittish cowards, too busy with their bureaucracy and hierarchy to care about the smaller members of their clan, and like them, Nordel is weak and ready for the taking.’ Goreblood stabbed at the digital map.
‘We can strike them from the south where their richest cities lie. I want my revenge on the Alliance after what happened on KKrag. We will strike Nordel and finish off what the Thatcherling of Narcan started’. He pointed at some data on the projection,
‘They have already attacked and destroyed the landing fields at Brandon, Hornhill, Mushtag and Ravenwing. The two orbiting stations have been raided and there is no sign of any reinforcement fleet.’ He turned off the projection, and walked over to a window on the farside of the room looking out into the volcanic landscape.
‘Do you remember what Dalion did to me at Kkrag Bay Narrex?’
‘Yes my lord, I will never forget our defeat,’ Narrex replied in his low, guttural tone.
‘Nor should any Corex’ said Goreblood as he gazed longingly out of the window. Goreblood’s assault on Kkrag was only 18 months ago, but the war had already gone down the Corex history. Kkrag was a capital world with an endless supply of resources, however that endless supply was also protected by an almost endless military. Attacking a planet like Kkrag was a foolhardy affair. An unlimited number of troops would be needed with an extensive navy fleet, which alone would only be enough to destroy the defence gateway and bring down the planet’s protective shield. Goreblood knew this and was smart. Brute strength would not be enough and a more cunning approach was needed; he had men on the inside. It was years in the planning and when his finely crafted attack arrived in Kkrag space, the defence gateway had already been disabled. The war was fast and brutal, and the Corex could see victory in their sights. This was not to be, as Goreblood failed to take into account a Grand Alliance General by the name of Dalion Trivian.
‘How long will it take to ready a landing force?’
‘We can be ready in a day my lord’ replied Narrex ‘but what of Thatchlings? They are also an enemy of ours, when we make planetfall, will we not be fighting this war on both fronts?’ Goreblood turned and gave Narrex a disappointing stare,
‘Are you afraid Narrex?’ he howled, a sense of jovial disbelief in his tone. ‘My good friend each time we have met the Thatchlings in war, have we not crushed them under our foot?’ He didn’t wait for an answer to his question. ‘We have crushed more of their pathetic race than any other. It’s true that when we arrive they will want our blood, and they can try, but I believe that Nordel is too strategically important to both races’, he paused, ‘I plan a pact’ said Goreblood.
‘A pact!’ Screamed Narrex ‘with those back stabbers! We can not trust a single word that comes from them, scum!’ Narrex loathed the Thatchlings of Narcan. He had fought them many times and still hated each and everyone of them. Goreblood laughed again,
‘Correct!’ He grinned ‘that’s why we will double cross them first. I will confront their leader and challenge him. I will convince him that our paths and joint goals are similar and offer him a deal, 50/50 control of the planet and access to our technology. He won’t dare refuse an offer like that. I will even offer him a squad of Corex warriors as his own personal bodyguards. Once Nordel has surrendered to us, I will execute the order and remove the head of the Thatchlings’ leader, crush what remains of their army and we will take Nordel for ourselves’. He finished triumphantly.
He walked over to a chest on the far side of the Bano. It was in keeping with the rest of the room. Wooden with leather straps and tarnished, metal fittings holding the lid shut. He opened the chest and reached inside pulling out a staff shaped object wrapped in an old faded brown coarse cloth. He placed it on the table, carefully unwrapping it. Inside was an elegant sword, the handle was made of carved bone with piping purposefully running up it to the hilt. The blade itself was red with the name ‘Blood Child’ engraved on its side. It was Goreblood’s own personal weapon, handed down to him through generations of his family. He picked up his weapon, comfortably feeling its weight, it was perfectly balanced and the blade was sharp enough to cut through steel.
‘Did you know that my father killed the prince of Mauu with this very sword? He sliced his head off with one cut and presented the headless corpse to his wife. He gave the High Priestess a choice. Either surrender or face the wrath of my father’s warband. She took less than five seconds to make her decision to surrender their riches that day’. Goreblood’s voice oozed with pride and menace as he recalled his fathers victory.
‘Soon, soon the blood of our enemies will taste this blade again’. Turning to Narrex and snapping back to the matter in hand, he slid the blade into a scabbard on his back.
‘I want you and the troops ready for dawn. Once the light rises above Mount Slaughter we launch.’
‘I will ready our troops immediately,’ said Narrex ‘We will be prepared to leave at sunrise my lord’
‘Excellent’ Goreblood replied, ‘at sunrise we go to war”