Gazetteer – 04a020901 – The Laughing Man

The Laughing Man

During his life, the Laughing Man went by the name Chaos. It is historians who refer to him as The Laughing Man. Chaos came to the world on a failed Hero Quest by Railus the Damned. Railus had a foltute of fate and darkness.  He traveled there to win the heart of a drow princess.  During the quest, Chaos tricked Railus into giving up his body so that Chaos could have a physical form.  Chaos then returned to earth in Railus’s place.

Chaos at first was relatively weak. He knew little of the world and how it worked. He had no skills of any kind.  He couldn’t hold a fork nor tie his shoes nor dress himself, but he was extremely smart.  He was also charming and found every mishap he performed to be funny.  The governor of Darkdoven liked the silly man.  He made him his court jester.  He became beloved by all that saw him. He began to perform in amphitheaters to large crowds of adoring fans.

God’s Law was the capital of Darkdoven.  Those with the runes of darkness and law made it their home.  Chaos claimed a love of the law.  It was fate that he was opposed to.

“Is everyone just marching to Cora’s plan?  Does no one have a say in the outcome of their own lives?” he said.

The official’s of God’s Law took notice.  They too thought that mankind should control its own destiny.  Chaos was welcome into the church of Dugrane and ordained as a priest.

He found the law god’s doctrine easy to manipulate by endorsing a strict adherence to the letter of the law. Twisting it still further Chaos convinced a cult of worshipers to not only adhere to the letter of the law, but to believe that performing acts not specifically covered in the scriptures to be holy. Cannibalism, bestiality, essence manipulation, and ability tapping are examples of a few of these acts. To imagine a new atrocity unspecified by Dugrane was the way to achieve great honor within this new cult.  In time, the cult grew to the point where it was no longer a cult, but the doctrine of Dugrane within all of God’s Law.  The temple of Dugrane became a carnal palace of unthinkable debauchery.

Dugrane was angered.  He took physical form to punish the priests and the worshipers for acting this way in his name. Dugrane scolded Chaos on the floor of the sanctum in front of the entire congregation of God’s Law. This show of force played right into The Laughing Man’s trap.

At first, Chaos feigned remorse and sought forgiveness from Dugrane in a feint of warped words that only angered the god of law. Instead, Dugrane proclaimed that all atrocities spawned by The Laughing Man’s Cult were punishable by death. He impaled Chaos with his spear in an attempt to slay him. But The Laughing Man was a rune patron of chaos and only a weapon of fate could kill him. Dugrane had no such weapon.  He overstepped with his curse and created a contradiction. If all ideas spawned by Chaos were punishable by death and Dugrane was unable to carry out this punishment, then the law was unenforceable and thus not really a law at all.

Dugrane’s power drained from him and into The Laughing Man making Chaos a god-like being of contradictions.  Dugrane fell to his knees powerless.  The Laughing Man played to the crowd around him  Most in the crowd jeered their former god.  The Laughing Man would have killed Dugrane right then except that a bastardization of law had made him divine and now the law rune was denied him.  He could manipulate it no more.  A few loyal followers leaped to Dugrane’s defense.  Their law powers effective against the weapons of Chaos and his minions.   With great daring, they escorted Dugrane out of the capital to a place of safety.  The law rune to this day remains the bane of of the chaos rune.

Chaos used his newly gained strength to conquer all of Darkdoven and ally with the elves of Twindernight. Their combined armies pressed south into the provinces of Northlive (Volstokland) and Vinderswirl (The Dax Godship) secretly securing an alliance with the Titans of Giant Land (Atlas included).

The Grable militias tried to resist.  Wolfgang I of the Strandian Province was fighting a guerilla war with the Drow-commanded Dread companies, but was only slowing down their progress not driving them back.  News of the invasion reached Tanvarpov, the capital of the Grable Empire.

With the death tolls rising and refugees pouring in from the provinces, Calgillien could not wait to fully gather his army.  He marched forth from the capital with the Mobility legion (those warriors with both a mobility rune and war rune foltute). They used the power of their runes and sped on a forced march through the snows of winter.  This march is remembered in a song still sung by bards as “The Run of the Righteous.”

Calgillien and the mobility legion hammered a mighty force of giants and trolls on the outlying regions of Vinderswirl and moved into the province’s capitol, Lepov, reclaiming Lepov for the Grables. He continued moving hard and fast into Northlive where he slaughtered  8 legions of hobgoblins led by barghests and 8 legions of lizardmen and gnolls led by a demon lord, Yaviss. Yaviss was slain by Calgillien’s own hand.

On the night of the victory,  Drow assassins made an attempt on his life. Calgillien awoke and slew all that assailed him, but his adviser and friend, Jhymedral the Sharp (Master of War and Harmony), was taken captive.

Calgillien immediately awoke his legion to assail the Dread Companies. The legion crushed the dark elves of Twindernight forcing the remaining forces to flee to the only place they could – The Moon. But with them, they took Jhymedral the Sharp.

Calgillien, now united with the guerrilla fighters of the Strandian Province, worried the Laughing Man might bend Jhyemdral to his will. Where law is powerful over chaos, harmony is extremely weak and the Drow mistresses are masters at breaking the wills of the weak. Jhymedral became Verräter the Betrayer.

It was Verräter’s plan to use himself as bait to lure Calgillien out of the protective eaves of the Strandian forest to march against the forces of Chaos in the Ransgal Mountains. Drow sorcerers sent a projected image to Calgillien showing him spinning a crucified Jhymedral on a wheel in the shape of the chaos rune.

Calgillien sped in haste with his dwindling forces of the Mobility Legion to the Northlivian town of Juniper in the foothills of the Ransgal Mountains. Surprisingly, Wolfgang and the Strandian warriors were able to keep up. In Juniper, Calgillien made camp for the assault up the mountain to the passes into Darkdoven and Twindernight. But Verräter countered quickly and urged Chaos to empty the Ransgals of all its evil to crush Calgillien in a swift bold strike. Demons, balors, dragons, special creations that Chaos called “The Uncontrollables,” evil dwarves with firesticks, sorcerers, and legions of drow assailed the tiny town. The Mobility legion and the men of Strandi were outnumbered 20 to one. The legion fought and died to the last soldier. The howl of wolves wailed in mourning at the loss of so many of their human brethren.

Though all other resistance had fallen, the forces of Chaos could not accomplish what they most wanted, the head of Calgillien, the King of Strandi, his shaman, or their vanguard. In berserk fury they fought. Garbonz the Gold-Eared, mightiest of the dragons allied with Chaos, died at Calgillien’s feet, Wolfgang lopped off the head of Camgerth, Commander of the Dread Companies, and Talos the Wolf Shaman bested then possessed Naigonesh Willowsoul, leader of Darkdoven’s Murder Mages, turning the wizard’s powers against his own forces engulfing them in sorcerous fire.

Chaos’s forces began to falter and the Laughing Man himself took the field. He was no match for Calgillien. Chaos would have been defeated there except for Oklos and his seven daughters, the Pleiades.  These titans were the only ones who honored their commitment to Chaos to war with humanity again upon the battlefield.

Heaving a massive boulder as large as the town of Juniper itself, Oklos crushed the remaining resistance beneath tons upon tons of stone.  The enormous rock made a hill from which the blood of the Grables flowed down it in streams and rivulets.

Impossibly though, when all seemed lost, Calgillien, the Lord of War and Death, emerged from beneath it…and not alone. The wolf shaman held the body of his dead king, Wolfgang, in his arms and rage in his heart.  Along with him came reinforcements from Tanvarpov.  So much mobility rune blood had been spilled on the mountain that it became a conduit for teleporting the entirety of the remaining legions to their commander — each Grable warrior took the field fueled with hate.

Against this new might, the Laughing Man had no chance. He fled with his army back into the mountains. Oklos and his brothers fled with them, but Chaos betrayed them. He fired arrows of slaying into each titan so their massive bodies would make colossal barriers to cover their retreat.

Oklos proved immune to Chaos’s treachery due to the massive amount of law rune in his body built up from his days as Truth Eater. He collapsed at the side of his dying family and wept. Calgillien came upon him to see that his way was blocked. Calgillien’s rage was tempered by the great sorrow he now saw in Oklos’s eyes. Without speaking, Oklos lifted the bodies of his family and carried them away. The way was clear for Calgillien to pursue Chaos up the steep slopes of the Ransgals.

Calgillien pursued without hesitation. He crushed the gates of Chaos’s keep forcing Chaos to flee blindly into the north. He pursued him into the kingdoms of Darkdoven and Twindernight raising those fallen kingdoms to the ground with his armies.

He found Chaos hiding meekly in the ruins of Twindernight’s Midwinter Castle. There, as the legions watched, Calgillien put Chaos to the sword…

…but Chaos didn’t die. Instead, Chaos laughed.

“Are you really Death’s Master? Why can’t you kill me?”

Calgillien tried a spear, but that didn’t kill Chaos either. “You’re as ineffectual with me as you were with your wife.”

Calgillien tried stakes, holy water, axes, anything he could think of, but nothing worked.

“How noble of you leaving Jaslia your estate. You made her the happiest woman in the world the only way you could — by leaving her alone. She did not love you. Your very presence near her is what caused her the most grief. Fate is my counterpoint, Warlord. And love is the most powerful force of fate. It takes love to kill me, Calgillien, that’s something you’ve never known. Something you’ll never know,”

Calgillien stopped at this, “How could you know this?”

Chaos looked to the shadows to see the quivering helpless body of Jhyemdral the Sharp. Calgillien was filled with rage at the sight of his abused friend.

“There’s more than one kind of love, Chaos, a love for one’s comrades. If love is what is needed to kill you then I call upon the love for my comrades in arms. I sacrifice my life’s blood of death to destroy you in the name of this love. You will pay for the torture of my dearest friend!”

And Calgillien used his sword to cut the artery in his wrist to bleed all over Chaos’s face. Chaos screamed in horrible agony as his body melted under the force of Calgillien’s love-tainted rune blood into nothingness.

When Chaos was gone, Jhyemdral began to laugh, “There is one problem with all this, Calgillien. I was never tortured.”

Calgillien looked over in stunned disbelief.

“And Jaslia always loved you.”

“What?!!” Calgillien stood dumbfounded.

Jhyemdral laughed again. “Chaos and harmony are a powerful mix don’t you think. I bent Jaslia’s love for you into love for Jukal. I found the Invincible Death Lord’s only weakness…his heart…and I destroyed him.”

It took a minute, but Calgillien now understood that Jhyemdral had betrayed him all along…from the very beginning…even before his bad advice in Polfany caused defeat at the hands of the Iron Kings.

Jhyemdral didn’t do this out of jealousy, but out of hate, and Calgillien now returned that hate one hundred fold.  He reached to kill Jhyemdral with what remaining strength he had left, but Jhyemdral grabbed the last moonthread remaining in the ruins of Midwinter Castle and whisked away toward the moon..

This hate though had more damaging effects for the army of the Grables. It was a contradiction to the love that Calgillien had used to kill Chaos…and Chaos is the god of contradictions. Calgillien died soon after due to the loss of his rune blood, but he didn’t really die. In three days he arose as one of the undead, the first vampire, and his legions soon succumbed to this dark curse as well.