Other Names: Oblivion’s General
Neverborn Patron: He Who Holds in Thrall
In life, the Lion Exalted soon after the end of the Primordial War, making him one of the oldest sentient beings in all Creation. When slain, he eagerly accepted the Neverborn offer of power and quickly proved himself as the most powerful of the Deathlords.
Yet, for all his power, the Lion’s impatience and eagerness for personal glory led him to open the gates of Creation to the Fair Folk during the Great Contagion - an act that, ironically, saved Creation from extinction by the Dowager’s fell disease. For that, He Who Holds in Thrall laid two punishments on his errant servant.
First, the Lion's existance was agonizingly and permanently riveted to his Soulsteel Armor. In doing so, he lost the power to change his own shape and, accordingly, he always manifests in the same form - a nine-foot-tall man covered head-to-toe in soulsteel superheavy plate. The severed heads of six of the Seven Divine Counselors of Stygia hang from his belt, ready to lend their wisdom whenever he commands.
Second, the Lion’s master banished him from Stygia and commanded him to build a great fortress-in-exile - the Thousand - far from any useful shadowlands and even farther from the Underworld kingdom the Deathlord sought to rule.
THE LION’S DOMAIN Edit
For all his power and authority, the First and Forsaken Lion has little territory to show for it. His army, the Legion Sanguinary, is the largest military force in almost all existence, numbering more than 750,000 troops. Except for his deathknights, all his soldiers are dead. Half the Legion followed the Lion into exile to the Thousand, a vast complex of hollowed-out caves and soulsteel ramparts. This immense citadel takes up most of a small mountain range in the Underworld located not far from where Gem stands in Creation. It is the largest single military force in the city, and a not-inconsiderable fraction of the population.
While the Lion may not return to Stygia until his Neverborn master permits it, his Abyssal lieutenants ably oversee his interests in the capital.
The rest of the Legion Sanguinary is scattered across the Underworld in garrisons conveniently placed to intimidate the Lion’s rivals without actually provoking them.
No major shadowlands lie within 1,000 miles of the Thousand—certainly none large enough and convenient enough to accommodate hundreds of thousands of troops with thousands of necromantic war machines.
If the Lion is to gain a foothold in Creation, he must create his own pathway. To that end, the Lion schemes to destroy Gem through plague, civil war, famine, a Fair Folk incursion or some other means.
By the Lion’s calculations, exterminating one of the South’s most populous cities should generate a shadowland slightly smaller than the Font of Mourning—a 100-square-mile shadowland swamp in the Southwest. That should be more than big enough for the Lion’s needs. Although he previously judged the Fair Folk as the most efficient weapon to use, his trusted deathknight Meticulous Owl recently brought attention an intriguing new possibility—that a small army of strange intruders from regions unknown is active in the Font of Mourning. Perhaps these “locust-men” can provide the massacre the First and Forsaken Lion needs.
THE LION’S PANOPLY Edit
The Lion’s resources dwarf those of most of his peers. The Legion Sanguinary is several times larger than the army of the Mask of Winters—the only other Deathlord who could seriously challenge the Lion in direct military combat—and even Juggernaut might be no match for an army 750,000 strong. The Lion himself sees the Bodhisattva as his sole rival in terms of military strength, but ONLY because the Lion has no navy - nor any prospects for getting one soon.
The Lion’s personal weapon is his soulsteel grand daiklave, Varan’s Ruin. The soulsteel of this mighty blade did not come from the souls of common ghosts, but a quality source few weaponsmiths would ever see. Varan Pen was a Solar hero of the First Age. Noble and steadfast, Varan resisted the madness and decadence that claimed his Solar peers. (Or at least resisted them more than most.) When the Usurpation claimed him, he became a great hero of the Underworld, resisting the Neverborn temptations and helping many ghosts find peace and Lethe. The Lion found him, captured him, and melted his ghostly flesh into steel without the customary step of beating his sentience into submission. The agony broke Varan’s mind and consumed it with hate and malice. Varan’s Ruin hungers for blood and souls, and it revels in carnage. Each blow struck with Varan’s Ruin drains the target’s Essence pool. The blade utterly consumes the souls of any living beings it slays, and ghosts who merely touch Varan’s Ruin are drawn in as well.
Although the Lion thinks himself invincible, he is also a realist. The Legion Sanguinary’s maintenance and upkeep requirements are prodigious, and the Lion knows that unless he can somehow exert his forces in Creation, he will soon suffer a shortage of soulsteel and other resources. Indeed, that shortage has already made itself felt. One of the Lion’s most prized possessions is his royal warstrider, the Insidious Ebon Xoanon, which has only minimal soulsteel components. Its fuselage is actually made of ebony overlaid with human skinand bones, all of which have been magically reinforced to possess durability comparable to the magical materials.
The Lion’s greatest and most terrifying weapon, however, is still under construction. More than a century ago, the First and forsaken Lion ordered the construction of a flying battle cruiser he dubbed the Final Maelstrom. It is more than a quarter-mile wide and still 5-10 years from completion. This mighty war machine of obsidian, black jade and soulsteel operates by long forgotten First Age principles. It will draw upon the raw power of Oblivion even while fully manifested in Creation under the full light of the Unconquered Sun. The most devastating necrotic Essence weapons in existence will make the Final Maelstrom a force on par with the Five-Metal Shrike and the Thousand-Forged Dragons… far surpassing any of the pitiful airships of Lookshy and the Realm.
SERVANTS OF THE FIRST AND FORSAKEN LION Edit
The Lion runs his forces as a strict military body, complete with ranks, promotions and command structure. Quite possibly, he cannot conceive of how to maintain any other sort of administration. Accordingly, the Lion strongly favors persons with a military background in choosing his Abyssals.
The Lion intuitively favors Dusk Caste Abyssals over any other type. This preference could lead him astray, since he might appoint any Dusk Caste within an Abyssal circle to the leadership role whether she is the best person or not. For example, Walking on Laughter, now commands the Legion Sanguinary despite his inexperience.
The Lion respects Midnights for their charisma, devotion and boundless stamina, but has little time for theological concerns.
The Lion prizes Daybreak Abyssals for their necromanticskills and for their mastery of artifact construction. Although he knows more about First Age military artifact design principles than anyone but another Deathlord, the Lion understands that applying such principles is best left to technicians with a natural flair for it.
He usually favors Daybreak craftsmen over sorcerers. Day Caste Abyssals are valued for their cunning at infiltration and intelligence gathering. Meticulous Owl became the Lion’s most trusted servant despite Walking on Laughter’s technically superior rank. A truly hideous specimen even by the standards of Abyssal Exalted, Owl is crippled, deformed, blind in one eye—this was before his Exaltation—and one of the most cunning manipulators and spymasters in all Creation. Since his Exaltation, only the Lion has seen the face Meticulous Owl hides behind a black jade mask.
The Lion slightly distrusts Moonshadow Exalts, possibly because naval combat is the only field of war in which the Lion knows he is not the undisputed master. It leaves him uncertain whether he can properly evaluate a Moonshadow’s proposals for sea-based conflict.The only Moonshadow currently in his service, Shatterer of the Way, monitors the City of Dead Flowers in An-Teng, the closest shadowland that could possibly serve as a staging ground for the Legion Sanguinary.
In addition to his deathknights, the Lion has one other servant, albeit an unruly one: his fellow Deathlord, the disgraced Princess Magnificent with Lips of Coral and Robes of Black Feathers.
Regardless of their personality or background, characters who serve the First and Forsaken Lion are expected to comport themselves as high-ranking officers in a well-disciplined, if ghoulish, military company.