Thursday, 6 July 2017

The Children's Crusade

Four hundred years ago, the Children's crusade began, starting 'the Year of Nightmares.'

Like all the best wars, it started with romance. Babies started disappearing, vanished from their cribs in the middle of the night. Here and there, it happened at least once in each town. People began panicking, and couldn't find what was wrong, who was taking their children. Ghouls had taken them before, here and there, but it was rare. Mass kidnapping like this simply didn't happen.

The thieving of babies died down in a year or so, and people began to forget. All was quiet for about a decade, and then reports starting coming in from the east. Reports of monster children...

Ryan Yee, 'Blood Bairn' 

Investigations were sent, adventurers and soldier to investigate. The ones who managed to return spoke of fields of blood, with not a corpse in sight. The source became clear, and the dots were connected. The monster children were ghouls. But for what purpose was not known...

Ghoul children were an oddity. They did exist. They had to. But, they were rarely seen. They looked more human than their parents, unless they were feeding. They were generally cared for by their parents until they were old enough to strike out on their own. They rarely survived long on their own. Superhuman strength + a thirst for flesh + the emotions of a 10 year-old do not lead one to be very subtle.

Randis Albion, 'Spoiled' 

But not now. Adult ghouls had simply... vanished. Even those who had been outed, and lived off of corpses in relatively peaceful lives had disappeared.

An army was raised. Hundreds of knights on horseback rode out to face to coming horde. They stood, tall, proud, and only slightly shitting themselves as nearly a half-thousand blood-soaked children ran faster than any man up the hill to meet them. 

Photographer, 'Vampire Child' 

The knights had an advantage besides their superior weaponry and training. The ghouls, although hungry, were still children. The knights were large. When one of them was downed, he or she was swarmed, and devoured in less than a minute. The children, sated and no longer in a frenzy, would flee the battle. 

Some escaped. Most died. Just like that, the children's crusade was over. The mystery of where the adults went was never solved. The children were scared and confused. They told tales of waking alone in the night, watched by an enormous snake. They spoke of men made of blood, a grinning skull, and a field of corpses stretching from horizon to horizon. Blood-coloured skies flashing with red lightning, and stick-thin beasts striding through deserts of glass.

Several ghoul children were captured, and raised by an order of knights who paid homage to Gothos. They formed an elite crew of warriors known simply as 'the Crusaders' paying homage to the war they fought so long ago, for reasons they will never fully understand.

Darek Zabrocki, 'Twins of Maurer Estate.'

How Can I Use This? If you want to use to Children's crusade, here are some ideas for adapting it to your world or game: 
1. If you aren't using ghouls or something similar, try vampires. If you want to go for a terrifying mystery, make the ghouls into perfectly normal children, who suddenly grew unearthly strong and developed a taste for human flesh.
2. If you are playing an RPG, why not have the players take part in the groups of knights fighting in the crusade? Or, they could play the poor sods having to escort the captured child-ghouls to their new home, or even take care of them afterward. A ghoul PC could be the survivor of the children's crusade. If you want to get really weird, have the PCs play ghoul children leading up to the crusade itself.

An explanation: I'm sorry about my long absence from writing this blog, I've been very busy with writing, designing version 2 of Lint, and personal matters. I'll try and update it more frequently, and a guest author may make a post or two in the following months. Stay tuned!

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