Black Blood

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Did we leave the pack, or did the pack leave us? Darkness, ever darker. We will grow strong to right the wrongs against us.

Hyrn left soon after Mul defeated him. He could no longer stand the constant jabbering of the Guttermaw, and he was tired of being the clan’s whipping gnoll. He left under the blood moon, taking only a handful of his most loyal followers with him, and vowing to become more powerful than Mul would ever be. He wouldn’t take back the clan by force; he would become so powerful gnolls would flock to him for leadership. That, he mused, would be the ultimate revenge.

As time passed, however, this plan seemed more and more like an impossible dream. With their drastically reduced numbers, raids grew increasingly difficult. In the early days of the pack, entire towns were regularly razed to the ground. Now, even small villages had the potential to repel them. It wasn’t long before some slipped off in the night, deciding to try their luck with another clan. The most desperate just left assuming they could do better on their own.

With no more than five other gnolls by his side, Hyrn began to falter. His plans of attack grew increasingly simplistic, leading to whispered accusations of incompetence. His ever-present hunger drove him, but his fear of being alone drove him mad. He would lay awake under the pale moon, unable to sleep for fear of the nightmares that plagued him. When his need for sleep finally caught up with him, it was halting and short-lived.

The nightmares grew worse when only two remained. These were the gnolls he ran with his whole life, the ones he had first eaten with, the ones who were prepared to kill Mul in his name. When he saw the look of doubt start to creep onto their faces, he could take it no more. He fell ill, a fever overtaking him.

His companions considered abandoning him, but decided against it on the off-chance he survived and sought revenge. They had seen the deep bitterness in his eyes, and were not willing to have that hate directed at them. Having no medicines, though, they could do little more than keep watch over him. One stayed by his side while the other hunted; this arrangement kept Hyrn alive but meant that there was never enough food.

As Hyrn laid there dying, he had incredible visions. He saw his own life flash before his eyes, the experience repeating faster and faster until it was over in a breath’s time. He made to scream, to fight, to do anything to stop this horror, when a guttural voice rang in his ears. Its depth shook him to his core, so much so that the visions ceased. When the visions stopped, a voice rang out.

“You are weak, but I can give you power. I will save you from death, if you repay your debt in blood. It should be an easy choice to make.”

From that moment, something started to seep into the very fiber of Hyrn's being.

On the third day of the watch, Hyrn stopped breathing for a long time. His companions figured he was dead and prepared to eat him, as was custom. When they first bit him, however, he smashed them away with incredible force. His blood ran black instead of red, and his eyes gleamed with a new fire.

When his friends started to stammer out apologies, he raised a paw to silence them.

“I know the way forward,” he said, a twisted smile crossing his lips. “Watch.”

He began to eat everything in their humble camp. He started with carrion meat and bones, licking his lips and smiling. His friends protested about how they were saving those, but fell to silence when they saw the ferocity in his eyes. Then, without warning, his paw plunged into his chest, pulling out a piece of his own stone-like heart. He tossed it to their feet and the wound closed without fuss, no trace of pain crossing Hyrn’s face.

“Eat, and join me, brothers. I now see the way.”

They both stared at him in awe for a few seconds before hungrily eating the heart. As they did, their bodies grew tougher, their blood curdling. They had unknowingly joined Hyrn in his pact with something more sinister than even Ankha herself. It played on their fears, twisting and bending them to its own will. In doing so, it gave them new power, new life. The Blackblood clan has been small but mighty ever since, with few gnolls willing to make the same choice as Hyrn and his followers.

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