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Nightmare Fuel / The Arts of Dark and Light

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  • The werewolves are nightmarish for being so totally inhuman: in part animalistic, in part machine-like. Perhaps, by analogy, one might think of them as wolves with the intelligence of a human Idiot Savant, only drilled and indoctrinated from birth to be fanatical soldiers. Their thought processes come across as extremely alien: they are cunning observers who learn very quickly, and perfectly coordinated soldiers, yet at the same time they can make childishly simple tactical errors, because they understand things differently than humans. All in all, there is a lot of Uncanny Valley about them, and they are credible as a semi-sapient lifeform that was originally created as a Living Weapon.
    • Furthermore, the wolves are also presented as unstoppable so far. Human effort can delay them, but not contain them, and they also seem to become smarter all the time—or at least better at countering human military tactics. The first time they faced Savondir's knights and magic, they were defeated... but not for long, and in the end, all the Red Prince's expedition could accomplish was to lead a somewhat orderly evacuation of the islands they infested.
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  • The Witchkings of the setting's past are described as the ultimate Evil Empire. The sorcerers who reigned over it transformed themselves into an overcaste of semi-demonic superhumans with god-like magical powers, and ruled according to a sort of bastardized Nietzschean philosophy: the elites ventured into macabre philosophy, bizarre experiments and horrible hedonism, while the masses were brutalized into a totalitarian Cult of Personality worshiping them (with all other religion banned, and all books from before the regime burned, to make a clean slate for the new everlasting empire). In terms of other fantasy, they are something vaguely like Melniboné, only more technocratic and efficient, and a young, vital and expanding culture instead of a decadent one.
  • In the present day, there is Savondir, which the Amorrans consider almost a neo-Witchking state. It isn't really quite that bad, but certainly bad enough: a tyrannical empire ruled by megalomaniac psychopaths, that may well be the most powerful state in the world, and practices slavery, pseudo-Darwinism, mass murder and unethical experimentation. Also, the State Sec that is the real power behind the throne is in fact an order of wizards, with agents who can call upon everything from demonic familiars to scrying to Mind Rape to keep dissidents down, so it is easy to see where the comparisons come from.
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  • The old elvish chronicle that tells the story of the Watchers. Most of what the elves know of them, it says, was told by a severed head that one of their kings found and spoke to after a great battle—alive and capable of speech long after it should have died, due to their magic, and pleading to be killed so it would be freed.
  • The mythic story of the early Watchers creating elvish civilization far back in the paleolithic age reads almost like a Cosmic Horror Story. To the races of men, the elves themselves are almost impossibly ancient, the people who built the equivalent of the Tower of Babel while men remained savages ... but they were primitive semi-animals when the godlike Watchers first taught them to sharpen wood and shape stone. For a pop-culture reference, the Watchers are somewhat like the Monolith in 2001: an eerie Time Abyss whose touch is still felt untold millennia later.
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  • Corvus' nightmare after hearing of them. It begins with Silvertree talking to him, as in their earlier conversation, urgently repeating a message again and again. Then his speech degenerates into babbling and screaming, and his face becomes distorted and monstrous. Corvus awakens with a start, the words still ringing in his ears:
    The Gods are coming. They are coming! They are coming ...
  • Corvus' confrontation with the Watcher in the papal palace in Old Amorr. There is mounting dread as he walks in silence through its dark corridors, contemplating the strange stories Silvertree has told him, before he arrives in the great, empty throneroom. There, the odd priest who has led him along begins behaving increasingly strangely—until it is clear that he is nothing human. And after that...


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