Ancient, malevolent evil stirs in the heart of the Nentir Vale— evil that has been imprisoned since the Dawn War between the Titans and the Gods. Twisted, filled with hate and an unfathomably alien mind, the Primordial known as Bel Shalor reaches through the bars of his burning prison to corrupt and desecrate the minds of the innocent.

In the city of Fallcrest, a watery, eldritch light erupts into horrific screams and squamous horror as a young astronomer sees the face of Bel Shalor in the night sky; his eviscerated body hangs from a rope in his room, and the knife he slew himself with falls to the floor.

A man-shaped figure in green velvet robes walks silently out of the astronomer’s home as the pale moonlight reflects on his face, covered by a dark iron mask.

Tunnels beneath the city’s surface are filled with the same watery yellow luminescence and tentacled, squamous things from the Far Realm push their way into our reality like terrible infants being born.

The hissing, sibilant laughter of the iron-masked man fills your mind as helpless victims are sacrificed to the tentacled monstrosities— all the while dark-robed cultists chant and pray in a droning, mind-numbing chant.

Dusk in a shadowed, secluded valley. A gaping hole like the mouth of a tentacled horror plunges into the hillside, and you hear the sounds of a powerful arcane ritual being cast. Three voices chant in exultant unison— one of them is the voice of The Faceless One, his mask on the altar before him revealing his pallid, featureless face bereft of any humanity or remorse. Only frightening intelligence and terrible insanity loom in his too-wide eyes. His chant and the voices of the other two ritual casters raise to a triumphant crescendo and then suddenly stop. Silence pervades briefly and then a tremendous, earth-shaking roar shatters the silence.

“All hail the Harbinger! Hail to the Bringer of Woe! Hail to the avatar of Bel Shalor, The Shadow in the Flame!!” all three chant over and over, and a creature straight out of nightmare exits the mouth of the cave with an animalistic rush. It has too many arms and too many mouths, and it slithers as much as it walks toward the walls of the town of Winterhaven.

The mighty dwarven city of Hammerfast sits nestled in the King’s Pass; it is the gateway to the Kingdom of Albion. Massive and wealthy, its walls swell yearly as the spring festival calls people from all nations to trade with the Jewel of the Vale. But a dark, slithering, weird presence lies festering at the heart of the city, near the massive Merchant District that houses the majority of the transients.

A single great lidless eye peers forth from the bowels of the city, and all whom its gaze falls upon scream in alien terror and unknowable horror. The Faceless One watches, grinning a lipless smile as a triangular sigil appears before him, surrounded by a clean blue flame. A horrific, resonant voice issues from the symbol, and the Faceless One bows, takes up an ornate, elegant black-hilted broadsword of obviously eladrin make, and disappears into the city, laughing.

The Great Arena in the city of Hammerfast is alive with activity. Each year it is the pinnacle of the Spring Festival, a celebration of life and the conquering of winter. The blood spilled in its sand is an offering to the oldest, forgotten gods of antiquity— those few who perish in the games are said to be reborn as spirits of the land, guardians of the Nentir Vale. Only the mightiest are strong enough to become Champions of the Arena.

The Faceless One walks the corridors beneath the Great Arena, writing arcane symbols on the walls, floors and ceilings. He mutters small enchantments, imbuing each with a tiny amount of arcane power. Cheers erupt in the Arena above, shaking dust from the ceiling as a brave soul’s blood is spilled on the sand, and the sigils pulse and glow dully with a sickly green-and-yellow radiance the color of dried pus. The Faceless One turns a corner and you see a split-second glimpse of a gargantuan, tentacled horror encased in a thick, translucent membrane akin to an enormous alien placenta. The writhing, tenebrous thing strains against its birth-caul, and the Faceless One caresses the slime-covered mass like a lover. “Soon, my Lord… soon. You shall be reborn and your shadow will pass over all this land. The time of the Age of Worms is nigh.”

You awake from the nightmare screaming, sweat-soaked sheets clinging to your skin like damp, slime-slicked tentacles. You know that this is a true dream— a vision of things to come. You know this is the future you are destined to prevent by any means necessary— even should it mean the sacrifice of your soul. The dawn of the Age of Worms is coming— and only your small band of heroes can stop it.

Age of Worms

kilted_scott