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Cult of the Storm Renegade Campaign: Goblins - Lizardmen - Highmen/Undead

Cult Renegade Campaign Info

Part 1 is shared with the Cult of the Storm campaign. This branch begins when the player chooses the Lizardmen rather than the Orcs.

Part 2: Lizardmen

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Here the player can choose between High Men and Undead.

Part 3A: High Men

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The Highmen have the easiest of the four starting positions, being allied to the large Human faction at the center of the Valley. The Highmen will have good relations with the races you helped earlier in the campaign, even if they are not Good.

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Part 3B: Undead

Choosing the Undead over the Dark Elves in the Cult of the Storms campaign also leads to this branch, the narrative doesn't change in any way.

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Plain text transcript

--- Lizards

Meandor is displeased with my choice, but it is time to find allies more worthy of the Cult of Storms. These lizards are far more clever than the brutish Orcs. Already they tire me with worthy demands, requiring I take back lands rightfully theirs. But they cannot fool me with their chameleon minds, I am kin to these devious reptiles. I'll let them use me for a time, then I will use them. I will grant their request, then they will grant mine. But for now I go to defeat Frostlings, intent upon freezing lizard holdings in solid ice. About the Lizardmen: Lizardmen are aquatic by nature, covering marshlands and coastlines with their strange dwellings. Of all races, the lizards are most closely tied to the animal world. Caring little for good or evil, they favor ideals that promote their prosperity. Their weaponry is crude, yet efficient. They harness other wildlife to aid their civilization; such as the giant turtle, which they use as a beast of labor and for hauling weapons of war. Their bodies are equally suited for life on land or in the water, so they often control the most exotic and fertile lands.

As I have promised, I have secured the desired holdings. Am I to be an executioner forever, or do I have a greater calling? I see how the Lizardmen flock to me, and the Goblins before them. Now that I am freed from Meandor's shadow, I begin to wonder. Here in the swamp, where things with large snapping teeth devour things with smaller snapping teeth, I am beginning to see life according to the true order of things. These lizards desire a competent leader, one willing to guarantee them luxuries. They desire a leader like me.

For aeons, perhaps before all other races, the lizards sunned themselves upon spawning beds on a peninsula named Sobek. Hatchlings wriggled from clutches of leathery eggs. Lizards grew on rich beaches, building vast cities which were decimated, not by force of war, but by global cataclysm. Their cities lost, the few lizards remaining squabbled while inept leaders fought over sunny spots. Other greedy races, incapable of appreciating the land's significance, have claimed the rich land. It is time these intruders found a new home. I will obtain these sacred breeding grounds.

Vigorous choruses of mating calls churn the hot night, as Lizardmen start the work of inhabiting their ancient abode. It is sweet music. Each discharge of musk means more warriors. Warriors which will owe their blissful upbringing to me. The primal state of these swamps leaves me pondering my own condition. The lizard hatchlings start small and vulnerable. Darting amid the reeds, hoping to escape the notice of larger predators, until they can grow and learn. I have long been Meandor's prey, but I foresee change - a time when the hatchling, which was once prey, becomes a predator.

Since Inioch was deposed nearly every race from Azrac pirates to self-righteous Elves have sought control of the Serpent River. It is only natural the lizards lust after the twisted waterway. Regulating passage of merchant vessels would be a fine resource. What better species to monitor the safe travel of vessels, than the Lizardmen? Unfortunately a few troublemakers don't see it as clearly as I do, and so I will need to clear the surrounding jungle of dissenters, before the lizards can claim this new enterprise. I am more than happy to indulge this favor, for a price.

The river is cleared of rebellion. The Lizardmen rejoice, while others hungrily eye the expanse just beyond its banks. I can see now that they have a greater appetite for conquest than I had previously thought. It is time I started drawing them back within the reach of my control, or I may risk breaking them apart. The time to be used is over. Now it is time to nudge this force in the direction of the bright star which calls to me. I will not fight for the lizards any longer, instead they will fight for me.

My decision to cease aiding the reckless expansion of the Lizardmen could not have come sooner. I counted two dozen new conquests in whispers among the Lizard King and his chiefs. But I must accelerate my path toward the Valley of Wonders. Pursuit of all those missions would take too much time. My demand forced them to combine their ambition to one final request: Blackwater Lake. Fed by the Serpent River, Blackwater hosts a stronghold for Humans, rumored to house a greater evil beneath the surface of the waters, and the lake is a strong strategic position of the lizard's domain. Meanwhile, I have received news that Melenis is dead; her ploy to obliterate the Dwarves failed. I will miss her, but have little time to mourn. I am the focus of the Cult again. Rumors abound among the cult, accusing me of squandering Cult resources on this campaign. Like vultures, they swoop in, to pick apart the power I've assembled here, hoping for an easy kill. But I have foreseen all this, and I will not let them have it. I am focused more so than any Stormlord. If they impede my mission, I will cut them down.

The Stormlords are jubilant at my victory, and the capture of so many death nodes, but I alone hold Blackwater. The Lizards know they dare not deny me any longer. Shall I hand over my plunder? If the Cult is to survive, it will need superior men than those bickering for the spoils they did not earn. It is time a new leader rose to the seat of power. And what of the Undead and Inioch's return? Is Meandor's plan genius or a wish for oblivion? I am left wondering if Meandor has the stamina to execute his vision.

Inioch is returned, but not as the vibrant emperor who once ruled the living kingdoms. He is a dead thing driving dead things. Meandor hides within the Valley of Wonders. As I suspected, he is unsure of the brutal path that follows. The other Stormlords cower in shadows. I am left to decide. The path is clear. When Inioch rose, the star omen bled crimson. It bleeds in the night sky begging for an end of injustice. The souls of slaughtered Elves whisper vengeance. I hear them and refuse to ignore them. He resonates within the death nodes. Supreme Inioch. His voice, cloying sweet with rot, promises eternal existence--power, even in death. Now that I have tasted the forces of the Undead, I find they hold power over me, and even I, fear to embrace it. I cannot shut out his desire. Then came silence. A faction, which has heretofore remained aloof of conflict, appeared to me, and the voice of death did not speak to me. For once, I knew a new seduction: Peace. They promised me deliverance from Inioch's plague. Now I teeter on the bloody star. Do I choose peace in life, or power in death?

- - - Branch A: Highmen

I am not stupid.War is about power. The powers now unleashed upon the world rival anything of the Keepers or Cult. I refuse to be caught on the losing side. The Undead are monsters -more appetite than mind. If I sided with them, I would end up in their bellies. While the cult hides in gloom, I seek the one force able to resist the Undead. For some reason, the Highmen give me peace of mind. I can think clearly, more so than I ever did in subservience to Meandor. Yet, I find much of the Highmen ways barely tolerable. They talk incessantly of nobleness and unattainable virtues. The ruling body of the Highmen, known as the High Council, will have nothing to do with me, claiming I am unclean. A messenger has informed me that if I am to remain with them, I will need to rescue my liaison, a Highman named Gabriel, who will speak to them for me. Ironically, the force of Undead I unleashed at Blackwater Lake split his forces and Gabriel has been trapped, unable to break through to freedom. I will save him and he will do what I want out of gratitude. About the Highmen: The Highmen employ a most impressive array of units in the battlefield and are optimal in combat against the Undead. They do not talk of their military prowess for good reason. What the enemy doesn't know gives the Highmen greater advantage. I have tried to ascertain further information but the citizens are strangely united in their convictions to keep such details secret. They claim their weapons are sacred and it is irreverent to discuss them. I must remember that if I ever rejoin the Cult. It is a wonderful excuse for hiding the nastiest surprises.

Gabriel is slow to acknowledge my hand in his rescue. He mumbles something about the virtue of humility. He should thank me for cleaning up the mess I unleashed at Blackwater. He tells me little, except in lectures. He wields great power as a Highman, but his eyes turn downward as though he were a coward. When he does speak, it is always something nauseatingly positive, as though the war was a diversion, or not the most important thing that this world has ever faced. Still, they have afforded me the finest fighting force in the world.

Finally a mission worth doing, and Gabriel bores me with rationalizations. For aeons, the Highmen and Elves have coexisted in some form of symbiosis. They serve each other in some grand scheme. Snore. I care not for Elves. A few went crazy and wants to destroy us. I will destroy them, regardless of the unicorns protecting them in Unicorn Valley. The Elves are right to fear me and the Highmen. I assassinated their queen and now I use the Highmen to end this conflict in control. At least Gabriel will remain behind; I will be spared his excuses.

Highmen sing too much. If it isn't some noisy hymn of laud, it is a wailing funeral chorus. Don't they know I'm trying to sleep? They have mourned the loss of every fallen Elf. I had no choice. I didn't enjoy the slaughter, but it was necessary. Yet, they act as if they lost the war. Instead of celebrating, they douse themselves in ash and wear rags to denote the terrible times which they endure. Perhaps I should have chosen the Undead. Sure, they would have killed me, but at least they would do so in quiet.

My next mission will be delightful. I am to take the Cult's city named Durlag. It is a strong city but not well guarded due to stupidity. Gabriel launched into another lengthy speech as to why the acquisition is necessary. He treats me as a child. He says it is not about treasure, but about controlling the Cult. Of course, I know this. Without their supplies the Cult will be crippled. Still, it would be a shame to waste all those precious resources and let the farms go fallow. I'll do the right thing and keep the treasures "sacred."

Curse Gabriel! The Highmen have confiscated my holdings, claiming that it is better served for their common needs. I tried to explain that the treasures were sacred and he only rolled his eyes and muttered something about children. Still, I suppose it is premature to stockpile a treasure. That will come later, when we have conquered all the lands. Then I will face the High Council and demand my reward. Still, I take comfort in the fact that I chose not to remain with the Cult. I do not covet the rewards that the Highmen will give them.

The Undead have amassed within the Pass of Grief, a place where many Elves died trying to flee the Human slaughter. I have tried to ignore Gabriel's speeches but I find myself unable. He claims that Humans are the children of the Highmen and that they are a necessary part of the Highman existence. He added that the Undead are the cost they pay for life. I don't understand it all, but Gabriel feels great shame for the loss of life that happened here, and this battle is supposed to reconcile the innocent blood which flowed through this mountain pass. It will probably result in more singing. Inioch has gathered a cloak of darkness about him. The bodies of his fallen subjects serve as the fingers of his grasping hand. If I fail, any hope of resounding glory will also be devoured by this monstrous king. And while I would never tell Gabriel, I have grown quite fond of the Highmen and their children: these capricious humans. So much so that I will endure their choruses and punch through to the Valley of Wonders.

I predicted it, just like prophecy. They're singing again. They are out in the mountain pass building strange piles of stones atop ancient bones. I don't think I will ever understand these fanatics. Just trying to understand the Highmen would probably be fatal. My only wish is that we move on and finish this battle, but they wait. I grow tired of these virtues and desire the rewards for my long labors. Gabriel hints at a reward, but refuses to tell me what it might be. I don't care if it's sacred as long as it's valuable.

- - - Finale A Highmen

Meandor sends assassins and bribes to stop me. Neither have worked. I can forego the bribes, for when this battle is over I will have sufficient arms and power to walk into the Dark Elf capital and pocket their treasury. The Highmen care nothing of gold and are liberal with their possessions. Gabriel goes on and on about the evils of war and how this battle is a necessity. He states that the Highmen would not kill if it could be justly avoided, then he gives me his sword and expects me to fight. I will never understand the Highmen. The battle which follows is pivotal. So much so that Gabriel fights among us. He says that he must fight if he is to be "exalted." I don't know if that means he thinks he will die, or even if that matters. All the races and factions are here. The Keepers are gathered under Julia. The Undead follow Inioch's whims. And Meandor hides among his minions. But I am at the center, for I am with the Highmen, here to protect the fledgling race known as Humans. Before us lies the end of a legend and the start of glory.

I have been robbed. I gave the Highmen's children dominion over this world. I gave them all what they wanted. Gabriel joined the High Council. The Elves went away to Evermore. The other races disappeared from the world and I know not how. Were they executed? In garish daylight, I see Humans as vermin devouring this once remarkable land, leaving only shadows of its former wonder. All is my creation. And what's my reward? What do the Highmen give me in return? A rock. A simple stone. They said it has power, if my heart is pure. I am pure, but by whose standard? Pure nonsense! I will rule, not spend eternity chasing impossibilities! It was a trick. I demanded the High Council give me what I wanted, and I threw their rock back at them. I demanded an immortality of power! They struck me dumb by some power beyond the talent of any healers. They placed a mark upon me, and proclaimed I would live forever in scorn. They said I was dangerous, that I would plunge their utopia into war. All who see the mark shun me. Who are they to cast judgement upon me? They summoned war by whim. They pretend to be guiltless, condemning all who threaten their pets, allowing Humans to consume everything. Still, the fools left me alive. And though I cannot speak, I can write. I shall write. I shall rule this world from shadows. With gold, I will raise up armies. With silver, I shall ordain priests. I will flood their world with a war of false gods, and make their virtues this world's heresies. It will take time, but if I am to remain for eternity cursed, the least I can do is have a little fun.

- - - Branch B: Undead

Meandor fled, leaving me to choose between Inioch and his cowardly son. Meandor claims that a mistake has been made. I will agree with him. A mistake has been made. That mistake was my allegiance to the wrong Master. The other Stormlords scramble to cover their fiefdoms, and hide from the powers of these new gods: the Undead. I will not be the one that grovels for his life when this engagement is over. Inioch has promised me dominion over all living creatures for the duration of this world. Ultimately, I decide who lives and who perishes. I will finish the work abandoned by Meandor, and crush Humanity; but first, Inioch desires a place of power: A mountain called "the Skull." For centuries the Dark Elves have perfected their dark magic within this mountain. It is a sacred place of death, where Meandor learned the blackest arts, even those that brought Inioch back to the world. The Skull burns hot with the return of the Undead. It is befitting that Inioch should desire it for his necromancers. Should the Dark Elves resist, I will see their bones dance for their true king. About the Undead: The Undead cannot be killed, for they are dead. Death affords them many advantages including immunities to poison, fear, charm, and death magic. They are resistant to cold, fire and lightning. Their otherworldly forces include demons, hellhounds, and the hosts of all that have died. They feed upon fear and turn mortal realms into graveyards. Death Knights gallop through nightmares riding the bones of hellish animals long deceased, while Doom Priests proclaim the end of the world. They move with one mind, spreading their black sleep across all the land unburdened by conscience or emotion.

I see now that with the Skull, the Undead have established a place of permanence upon this world. The Dark Elves have lost another foothold in their quest for supremacy, only proving my suspicions that they are weak and unfit to conquer the masses of Humanity. The Stormlords have each expressed their distaste for me, and they have even tried to send assassins, but Inioch's power has preserved me. I have chosen wisely.

Inioch has chosen his next target, which like unto the first, is a source of great power. Even before Inioch reigned in life, the Elves gathered upon the Isle of Burbatak to learn mystic arts. All the greatest wizards were chosen and trained on the Isle. Since Inioch's fall the Isle has been under dispute by nearly every race, each hoping to exploit the island's secrets, but only a true pupil of the island's Master can claim it. Such a pupil would be a follower of Inioch, and so I shall reclaim the island for my Lord.

I have the island. The power of Burbatak enabled Inioch to gather more of his followers. As a reward Inioch reached into my heart and brought her back to me. Draped in black cloth, she stood with her mouth half-agape, and arms outstretched. My dear Melenis is raised from the dead. But she is not alive, she is Undead. How could Inioch grant what I wanted, yet be so cruel? She follows me like a shadow, obedient, yet saying nothing. Her touch is cold. How can I dispose of this horrific gift?

Soon we enter the Valley of Wonders, but first I must lead Inioch's forces through the Human settlements which line the way. The Highmen and Keepers have allied to destroy us. Inioch has told me some of these Highmen, but I care little. He claims they are the source of Humanity. I see a slight physical resemblance, but Humans are decadent and violent, wild and prolific, while Highmen have none of these desirable qualities. They both share an air of self-justification that sickens me. Still, it changes nothing, they shall be destroyed as any nuisance. I have rid myself of Melenis for now. I sent her on a mission to assassinate the Keeper that murdered her. It was a good plan; I even managed to capture a Dwarven hero that knew the Keeper and arranged for them to meet in a place called Sugarwood. Though devoid of emotion, I perceived that Melenis was eager. Her leprous flesh twitched in anticipation of revenge. If she destroys the Keeper and returns, I will be no worse than before; but should the Keeper prevail, I shall be rid of her spoiled image. Both options please me.

The Undead feast hungrily on Humans. The Keepers have retreated. The Highmen are scattered. The remaining populations will join our great army of dead willfully or not, it does not matter. Inioch has gained considerable strength from this endeavor. So much so that I am beginning to wonder if there will be any left living that I might rule, once this engagement is complete. Still, Inioch would never be so greedy as to consume all the living, else there would be no source for his minions. I will rule them. He promised, so I will.

I feel only triumph. Though Melenis failed to assassinate the Keeper, I hear he rushes off to the Isle of Last Goodbyes. He won't stop our great slaughter in the Valley of Wonders by fleeing. Highmen regroup, trying to break into the Valley, but we hold the Pass of Grief. Here we must keep them from joining the Humans. Yet we stand upon wounded earth, for the Pass is filled with the graves of fallen Elves, which died when fleeing from the Human slaughter at Inioch's court. The Undead have the clear advantage then. We cannot be stopped.

The pass has been cleared. Undead minions pour from the mountains and into the Valley of Wonders. I can feel Inioch's passion in my head as a brand of searing revenge burns his vision into my mind-the complete obliteration of Humanity. I have petitioned Inioch for further details as to my rank after the great carnage is completed, but the Undead king thinks only on the moment of the kill. Still, I will have my allies with me from previous campaigns, and they will be my children, and I their god. I will. I know I will.

- - - Finale B Undead

All my allies are here. It is good to be among the living as well as these potent Undead. Their numbers grow quickly and Inioch is anxious to reestablish his court. Near the center of the Valley lay the ruined remains of the court. There will be plenty of Human settlements to feed upon, plenty of spoils for my living allies as well. I am told that Meandor is here, but he is nothing. Julia's forces will likewise fold against our power. And Humanity will know blessed servitude to Undead masters.

All forces have been put down. The star over the Valley is gone. There is no light save that of torches, and even then, thick black vapors obscure them. Inioch rules supreme. My living minions have disbanded. Each flees in the dark, feeling for an escape from the change which Inioch has for them. I should have seen it. Inioch's vision ended at the Valley of Wonders. He seeks to make all like unto himself. All must now die, that Inioch may rule. The Undead view all life as corruption, to be swallowed and refined. My few loyal troops have fallen to the scourge that I created. There is no hope, for there is no purpose, but to die. This is the joke of creation, that we may choose to obliterate ourselves. It is inevitable and eventually all must succumb to this final state. A state of perfection, or so Inioch would say. Inioch's court is returned. He sits upon his shattered thrown, surrounded by motionless courtiers; and this time, he needs no music, entertainers, or riches, for he cares for nothing. He is nothing-nothing but dust. I sit and await the Necromancers. They will come soon. I wonder for a moment, could I have changed things? Chosen a better path? Never. Death is inevitable. It is the end. Only a fool would believe in something better thereafter. So I suppose I should take comfort in my actions, for I have hastened the inevitable end of all worlds. I have returned it to a state of ash and dust. I am the god of death. I am a god of dust. And I leave this record here to fall to dust. I fear nothing-nothing but dust.