I am Boffo the Sane. Gaze intently at my words and gain wisdom, for I comprehend everything. You have never come to any realization that I have not already comprehended and understand thoroughly. The universe is a tangled web that moves by the influence of threads that most have no idea even exist.
The world of Bellicose exists in a remote corner of a universe that you will never visit in your corporeal form; yet it has some small influence in this universe, because I, Boffo, have decreed that it should be so. Why? I have already given the answer to that question in the Bellicose Fantasy Battles book. If you are not in possession of this tome, then I suggest you acquire it as soon as possible, assuming that your own sanity is worth something to you.
The gods of Bellicose are lesser gods, as I have stated elsewhere, incapable of creating life; but fully capable of making life miserable for others. They are also all quite mad. They are not, however nearly as insane as the mortals whom they champion on the world of Bellicose. Take, for example, the Horde.
The Horde is a collective organism, not a collection of separate beings, like most other races on Bellicose. The Horde queen lives far beneath the surface; but she is not a creature you would recognize. If you were to walk into a horde lair and look at the walls, ceilings, floors – this is the Horde queen. Here she spawns the other parts of her organism that feed her, fight her wars, think her thoughts. All creatures of the horde have minds, after a fashion; but each is completely dedicated to performing specific tasks. Even Stodges, who wield magic, are not capable of reason, or logic. Only the dark wanderers of the horde are capable of such things.
The dark wanderers of the horde collectively comprise the brain of the Horde queen. Now you may begin to grasp the breadth of their insanity, for each wanderer thinks of itself as an individual. So the Horde on Bellicose is a single being with multiple split personalities. Sometimes, the dark wanderers even do battle with each other, which would be akin to your elbow making war with your knee – not the type of activity engaged in by sane individuals.
Because the wanderers think they are complete beings, but are not, they are filled with a longing for something they do not comprehend. This causes them to be in a state of constant sorrow and self-pity. These negative emotions are reflected in the other parts of the Horde army and projected onto the battlefield, to be absorbed by the psyche of their foes, making them even more dangerous than they were already.
Although not consciously aware of it, the Horde’s goal is to plunge the entire world into a hell of ennui. Indeed worlds that have been completely conquered by the Horde – of which there are many – are easily worse than the legends of Hell perpetuated by the mythologies and religions of many civilizations. A Horde that grows large and strong is able to open magical paths to other worlds, and thus spread their miasma in a wide arc. They did not come to Bellicose by such means, however, and the gods have decreed that no such paths can be open. I, myself, wonder, nevertheless, if even the gods could stem the spread of the Horde, should it conquer all of Bellicose…
Many star systems are host to life-forms. A significant percentage of those star systems that support life are inhabited by humans. Humans are highly adaptive and can survive in many adverse conditions. In fact, once they have established a presence on a world, they are very difficult to get rid of.
You might be tempted to think that the god, Icon, made a sane choice when he chose humans to represent his interests on Bellicose. Not so, I assure you. The race of humans can be quite frustrating to any god. Icon makes decrees to his chosen prophets, which they impart to the human population at large. These decrees are meant to guide and help the humans to dominate their world. Human beings almost universally have problems with authority, for they often rebel openly and do exactly as they please; or they make a great show of respecting Icon, promising to obey, and then still do exactly as they please. This is why there are many many human kingdoms and nations upon the face of Bellicose, rather than a single, unified empire. Most of these nations claim to worship Icon and to follow in his ways; but they are just as likely to wage war against other human kingdoms as they are to make war on Icon’s real enemies.
One human civilization can differ greatly from another; but one thing they usually all have in common is that they treat any world like they own it, changing the nature of any terrain to suit their own needs, as if they had the right (and maybe they do – I, Boffo, merely observe, I do not judge). This behavior quite often makes enemies of races that might otherwise make strong allies.
This is the great paradox of the human race. It is difficult to believe that they could conquer the world, given their weaknesses; and yet, it is equally difficult to believe that they could ever be conquered, given their strengths…
Sanity flows through reality like water in a river. Currents can flow swiftly, or calmly. There are swirling eddies and violent undertows, raging rapids, and deep luminous pools. There are also desolate regions of creation where sanity does not flow at all. The goddess Ceybellah dwells primarily in such a bone-dry, sanity-starved state.
She came late to the game of the gods, and her weapon is unorthodox, to say the least. The beings she uses are not truly mortals, in fact they are barely even beings at all, for they cannot act upon the physical plane of existence.
But exist they do. They watch, and they whisper, hoping that someone will be able to hear. Pity those that do, for what they whisper is injurious to the living. These beings, called haunted by most, have nothing but hatred for all life. All life has physical gravitas, and the haunted are very jealous of this. They will do anything to destroy life.
Fortunately they have little power. The goddess Ceybellah chose to grant them additional power on the world of Bellicose, increasing their ability to do harm. Matter, more especially organic matter, can be prepared is such a way that the haunted are able to inhabit and animate it. Mortal sorcerers on Bellicose have been taught the preparations by Ceybellah, and make use of this knowledge to raise armies of un-living. They think that the undead serve their own twisted agendas; but as their plans involve the death of living organisms, they really still serve the wishes of Ceybellah.
Armies of skeletons, zombies, and other abominations comprise the haunted. These creatures’ hold upon physical bodies is tenuous at best, and they must obey the commands of their mortal overlords under most circumstances. Some of the true haunted have more powerful personalities than the general masses, and enjoy a greater degree of autonomy then their shuffling counterparts. The goals of these rare spirits, however, seldom deviates from those of mortal sorcerers who give in to the temptations of necromancy, although they will kill any mortal sorcerer they meet, if given the chance.
What would happen, I wonder, if they succeeded in destroying all life on Bellicose? Would they finally know joy? I don’t think so, for without the remains of living creatures, they would soon lose again the ability to interact at all with the physical realm. It is a no-win scenario for the haunted – but not for Ceybellah. Perhaps she has more sanity than I give her credit for.