Harbingers, the Heralds of Doom

Harbingers are the shock troops from the Shadow World. They are fast, agile, with a light frame that enables them to jump far and high, and sharp senses. In truth, they are predators, pure and simple. Hunters to seek out prey. Their features are mainly cat-like, some bird-like, with the notable large ears that resemble those of a bat. They have sharp teeth and bone talons protruding from their slender fingers. While they are thin and light, they are far from weak; they run, they leap, they fight, they kill, maintaining an athletic form by their own natural lifestyle. They won’t win a fist-fight with a brute, but they can kill one through agility and focusing on weak spots. Few beings can outrun harbingers, fewer still evade them altogether.

For all of these reasons, harbingers are widely used as scouts and spies, so very often they were the monsters humans first encountered before major assaults. Even if that wasn’t the case, the fact harbingers were innate hunters meant they were often encountered on the move, raiding in small numbers or even alone. Basically, when you met a harbinger, trouble was coming your way. Hence the name.

Yet there was more to the name than that. When the Shadow World came, it didn’t arrive in one big dramatic moment. It ebbed into our reality. The sky grew darker and magic crackled in the air although no human knew what that was at the time. This same magic flared and tore apart the very one who summoned the Shadow World. Then the monsters began to appear. Not in one single gateway. No. Two planes of existence became one and they came into our world here and there, and the legends say they were as shocked as humanity was.

It was the harbingers who appeared first. That is one of the few things well remembered about this terrible and tremendous event. The harbingers were among the humans, so they acted on impulse. They killed. They fought, they evaded, and then they hunted. No one remembers how long subsequent events took to occur, but it felt as if they were alone in this world for a while. There is good reason for this. The monsters that followed were wraiths and deemi, who were able to shroud or outright disguise themselves as they learned of their new home. Smaller monsters infiltrated the world long before anyone realised they were there. Brain-maggots, nippers and the form the gleaners originally possessed meant they were considered bizarre vermin instead of a threat to be written down in history. Some wonder if the magi arrived during this time too. Maybe hobgoblins and vermin. It can never be decided, most of the invasion was a blur of chaos and terror. When the more blunt and brutal monsters – brutes and vandals – took form and began their rampages, it was clear to the human race that it was fighting a myriad of supernatural foes. Then the most powerful ones were able to break through. Devil-beasts, aegis, sphinx and then the dragons completed humanity’s fall.

Why the harbingers were first, no one knows. Some insist they were sent in as scouts by the more powerful beings. Other believe that their hunter-nature defined them as being necessarily the first to exist, to pave the way. Harbingers themselves tend to claim they were the most daring so chose to go through. No one can be sure. No one is able to recall how the process went, let alone why the order was chosen. But they know harbingers were first. They were the heralds of humanity’s end. They were the first to shed blood. They were the first to be killed. They were the first to race through a bright and vibrant world and then to follow their nature.

Harbingers are predators. They always have been and always will be. Most embrace it. They are not necessarily evil or even cruel. They can be, like anyone else. They can hunt for sport as well as food and they are often known to draw the chase out for amusement’s sake. They see no wrong in this. Let the prey enjoy living a little more. Let it strive that bit harder. Hunter and hunted are part of a way of life that permeates nature everywhere, so why be ashamed of being one and not the other? Harbingers are often smart, but they also tend to be driven by instincts. They are often fighters and killers, assassins and bounty hunters, because that is where their impulses lead them. They were born to hunt. Designed to pave the way. They are proud of this.

It could be argued, and has been by many over the last two and a half centuries since the Shadow World merged with our reality, that if another type of monster had come first, things would be different. If magi or totems or denizens or sphinx or any of the more rational races had been the original newcomers, then the human race could have been spoken to. It could have understood. Many debate whether monsters are a kind of evil, to always be at odds with this alien world, or whether they merely hostile due to the way they were introduced to their new home. When this happens, the accusation can be made that harbingers started a fight that others then found themselves in. It could also be opined that humans assumed all who followed were ‘bad’ because of how the harbingers behaved. This kind of thinking has typically met two responses from the harbinger race. They either take pride in having initiated such conflict, or they snort and sneer, and proclaim all they did was follow their nature. As did everyone else.

The truth, that most beings that lived at the time and have lived since, is that things happened because of the way everyone was. Humanity was a fractured and belligerent race. It reacted the way it wanted to. Other monsters acted on their nature too. So did everything that followed.

Harbingers are known as the swiftest of killers, the most deadly of enemies and the ones who lead the way in conflict. They take pride in this reputation with a simple smugness – simple because in truth they know they could be no other way.


Read this short to get to know a harbinger who takes pride in being the best he can be:



Devils and Angels and Talking Lions

The three top ranking monster races who came from the Shadow World – ignoring the dragons, who returned to that mysterious realm of existence – are devil-beasts, aegis and sphinx. All are strong in magic, much more so than other monsters such as deemi and wraiths. They are also physically powerful – large in size and naturally well built – and all are capable of flight. The other main feature that sets them as the top rank is intelligence. This varies more than the other traits, but there is no question that even the most belligerent devil-beast is also a cunning and knowledgeable foe.

At the same time, these traits differ among the three races. Sphinx are known for their wisdom. Capable of learning and storing vast amounts of information, also of using it wisely. For this reason, many suspect, they are seen as neutral, neither warring or allying with humanity, yet often making bargains with groups or individuals when it benefits them. In essence, they are rational creatures, but still with ambitions, fears and wants.

Aegis are said to be the strongest in magic. They are also the most skilled. Warriors all, they train their arts, whether it be with the swords of flame they carry or their own innate power. They can summon magic and use it with a quickness that can appear to be instantaneous to the unlearned, but never hurried. Aegis are often seen as distant, even cold, due to their intense nature, focused on defeating their enemies and protecting the human race along with their world.

Devil-beasts are the sworn enemies of aegis, and the feeling is very mutual. These seek to conquer, even their own kind. In physique they are the strongest. While aegis may be the tallest, it is only just, and devil-beasts are wider, sturdier and just plain stronger. Their love to finish a defeated enemy by hand, or under hoof, is well known. Cruel, ruthless and malevolent, their name was easily given by humanity.

Their appearance helped here too. So much so people wonder if their existence was formed from the human perception of demons and devils, or if the perception is from these beings dwelling in the Shadow World. Either way, covered in red fur, adorned with black horns, leathery wings and hooves, there was never a doubt that they lived to bring pain and death to others. Aegis are little different in that regard. Black feathery wings and red eyes are enough to make humans cower from those who would save them. In the main they look humanoid, if clearly physically superior, and their blue hair and silver skin completes the unearthly look. Sphinx, well, look as a sphinx should. The bodies of lions are strong and eagle wings enable them to fly as well as any other creature. Their human heads retain some feline features, not least prominent canines, and even the females have manes, although theirs tend to be longer and flatter.

The legends of the arrival of the monsters into our world have been passed down through the two centuries hence. How elaborate they are is unknown. Some would even dispute certain tales altogether. But the lessons they pass on are often proven by the behaviour of the three races in the present. The devil-beasts seeking to conquer this fresh, brilliant world they found themselves in has never been disputed. They, themselves, boast of it. They had created armies of lesser monsters through force and persuasion, and fought those who stood in their way. This involved each other as much as anything else. What role the sphinx took is uncertain. Some warred, some chose to talk to humanity, and some kept out of the way completely. Judging by their tendency to think things out before acting, it is highly likely they chose to do as little as possible until they understood this world. By then, lines had been drawn and reputations made.

When it comes to the aegis, their story is controversial and disputed. It is claimed they attacked the human race, along with the other monsters. But the aegis themselves say this is a lie. They do acknowledge that they were far from tactful back then. When they fought, they did a lot of damage to the world, and what they disliked about humanity they were openly critical of. Aegis are beings of order, nurture, dedication, responsibility. They act as guardians because they are such by nature. But they are guardians due to their superiority, and this leads them to judgemental attitudes. Also arrogance. Some stories tell of aegis turning their backs on nations because they despised the greed and apathy in those societies. There is even a quietly spoken tale of aegis destroying a city in a biblical-type act of condemnation. The comparisons with angels is easily made. Aegis defend humanity because they want to, no one could force them, but they also see themselves as protectors of a higher good. The weak should be protected, and sometimes dictated to. The natives of this world must be respected, but were often wrong. Truth, courage, honour, loyalty – aegis believe there is an eternal law of doing what is right that everyone must obey. Humans, of course, often dispute this. Aegis are not open to debates.

Of course, many think that the aegis hated the devil-beasts so much they just took the opposite cause.

The battles between the aegis and the devil-beasts were supposedly clashes that awed even veteran warriors. They fought each other around the world, as they continue to do now. The Raging was the name given to this era. Conflict was everywhere, between all manner of beings. Aegis fought machines. Devil-beasts fought mutant armies. Humans developed magical powers, and many unleashed them without restraint. The cost was brutal. For the aegis, perhaps most of all. In a number of places they stood between the annihilation of humans and hordes seeking to make it so. Rarely did they fight alongside others. Not that they had much choice. While devil-beasts led armies of monsters, only two other kinds sided with humanity. Even after the Raging, as the fights continued and aegis carried out their chosen duty to defend what they felt was good and true, they found themselves in a desperate struggle to survive as much as a crusade. Devil-beasts, too, are far fewer and will gladly kill one another – for gain or just out of sheer vindictiveness. But they will always set aside differences to hunt and kill an aegis.

Sphinx did not escape their share of casualties either. While it wasn’t common to see a sphinx pushing for a kingdom, they were still targets, and at other times they put their wisdom to use, advising more power hungry individuals. All such beings fell in time, though. All empires perished, all kingdoms were crushed, all power bases left in ruins. Old rulers were toppled to make way for new and then again for another generation. No one was safe. No one is ever safe.

So, while these three races remain at the top of the food chain for the most part, and encountering even one of them is a daunting thing, they aren’t as many or as strident as they once were. Those who live now were born in this world, it is all they have known. They have no real knowledge of what the Shadow World was even like. Perhaps the hunger that drove the beings from that realm hasn’t infected them. However, they have the desires and drives so many in this world share. They seek survival, and sometimes that means keeping out of harm’s way, and sometimes that means taking it head on and beating it down. By and large, the three races remain as they were from the beginning. Devil-beasts are usually enemies of humanity, aegis the defenders, and sphinx the neutral bystanders who think and talk their way through events. Yet there are those who differ. New ways, new ideas continue to alter the customs of those who walk this world. A devil-beast could be reasoned with. An aegis might shy away from a fight. A sphinx might seek one.

Just never underestimate them.

Trident? “Yes, Prime Minister” , because it’s the very best, most pointless that you can buy.

Want to reblog this for two reasons. One, it was a great show. Two, this reasoning and debate still goes on.

Think Left

Sir Humphrey tries to convince the Prime Minister why he must spend money on the very best nuclear weapons which we won’t use, because …. well because …

Sir Humphrey tries to convince Prime Minister Jim Hacker that he must buy Trident because Britain needs the best nuclear deterrent available because the Soviets can’t certainly know that Hacker probably knows that they probably certainly know…

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