Joel Chaim Holtzman
Illustrator / Concept Artist

The Cordyceps King

As Amorges sat in his tent, he closed his eyes and inhaled the smoke from the burning herbs around him. The steppe, warriors and horses around him changed to another space and time, a vision of ages yet to come.

16th century, Bulgaria

The Scythians have been reduced from mighty steppe warriors to small secluded tribes, living in mountains, swamps and forests. While some tribes have vanished from history, a few have found ancient powers where they roamed. One of these tribes was the Azure Horde.

They settled in the Bulgar forests, who was, unbeknownst to them home to the Fallen Angel Leraikka. She promised them, as any other Grigori, power in return for servitude. Wanting to regain their ancient dominance in the world, the Azure horde accepted. years passed, the forest intermingled with the Scythians; cordycepts grew from their limbs, granting them strength and resilience. Only the healthy and the strong could survive such a gift at old age without getting consumed by it.

Contemplating his heritage, Amorges knelt down besides an ancient Scythian statue, once a pillar of steppe-nomad civilisation, now overgrown with trees, fungus and decay. His father, a withered old man now, held the great Crown of the Azure Horde and placed it on Amorges' head He looked at his palm and saw the mark Leraikka gave him since birth. A white rose, for the goddess ' chosen warrior. Amorges was about to be crowned king of the newly formed Amyrgian Horde, and bring glory again to Scythians. He would release any oaths and bonds of ancestry he made and follow his new goddess. Under the burden of his blessing he felt weak, but still, he could not wait to ride again, out of the forests, into the fire.

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