Jade Obelisk

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Jade Obelisk fighting the Seraphon of the Hunters of Huanchi (left).

The Jade Obelisk is a Tzeentchian cult devoted to the merciless destruction of temples, monuments and false idols not dedicated to their malevolent god - the so-called Speaker in the Stone.[1a]

History

Origins

The cult of the Jade Obelisk originated in the darkest centuries of the Age of Chaos, when death and destruction came to the continent of Thondia. In those days, the tribe dwelt within the great cavern-city of Vexothskol were regarded by all to be amongst the finest stone-sculptors in Ghur. Their works - carved from viridian crystal - graced the palaces of Azyrite nobles and the parapets of some of the realm's mightiest citadels. But this did not avail them when the hordes of the Dark Gods were unleashed upon the reality. In less than a decade, the cavern-cities were overrun, their wondrous monuments torn down down and citizenry torn limb from limb by drooling daemons. Soon only the great jade citadel of Nephricar remained unconquered. This was set of Mason-King Mephrobaal, an ailing ruler known for his cunning and wisdom. Abandoned by the God-King, the city's denizens prepared to meet their fate as daemons hammered on their walls. It was then that the stones began to speak. In the central forum of Nephricar, there stood an immense obelisk of the purest jade, every of of its surface engraved with intricate scripture. The monument was not native to the city of Vexothskol. It had been bought at great expense from a foreign land by the Mason-King, who had spent many exhausting hours carving strange sigils on its surface. Now these marking began to pulse with energy, unleashing tremors that shook Nephricar.[1a]

As the terrified populace watched on, an avian form dragged its way out of the obelisk. Its flesh was rough as chipped rock and its bloated body ended in a serpentine tail that writhed hideously. The creature settled atop the monument that had birthed it, and as it did so, all present heard a keening voice echo in their skull. It did not come from the daemon-bird, for it was merely the herald of another, infinitely more powerful being - an ancient, formless entity that had been entombed within the monument for aeons until the bloodshed and terror of the Age of Chaos awakened it. Still unable to manifest in its true glory, this entity demanded sacrifices to renew its strength. In return for these offerings, the people of Nephricar would be granted the power to obliterate the daemon army besieging the. Mephrobaal and his subjects willingly embraced this pact. The entity to which they now pledged themselves - and which they came to know as the Speaker in the Stone - was no benevolent saviour, but an ancient agent of Chaos that had found new playthings to service its dark desires. Sacrifices were chosen amongst the populace of Nephricar, their hearts ripped from their bodies and fed to the Speaker's daemonic herald, which gulped them down greedily.[1a]

With every sacrificial offering, the power within the obelisk grew, until at last it issued forth a crushing beam of emerald light that washed over every human present, driving them to their knees in agony. Staggering to their feet, the damned souls of Vexothskol realised that their flesh and bones had grown tough as stone and their muscles were swollen with new-found power. Even the most ancient amongst them no longer felt the ravages of age. Thus, the Speaker in the Stone was true to his promise, and had gifted a fraction of its power and might to the people of Nephricar so that they may defend themselves. The daemonic assault upon the city was quickly repulsed. However, the warrior-masons of the Jade Obelisk - as they now called themselves - discovered their new found gifts come at a terrible price. With each passing day, their rock-hard flesh becomes more brittle, their bones cracking and creaking painfully until the merest movement unleashed a torrent of agony. Their faces began to splinter, crumbling like dust, forcing them to constantly wear mask to hold their features together. The Speaker in the Stone could delay the onset of this curse in exchange for a constant stream of sacrifices. Moreover, to further grow its power, the entity demanded the Jade Obelisk raise new monuments akin to the great stone of Nephricar.[1a]

With each new idol erected in the Speaker in the Stone's honour, its strength grew and its ability to manifest new arcane powers increased. It was believed that one day it might even tear itself free from its jade prison and once more bestride the realm in all its glory. In time, the lands surrounding Vexothskol were littered with such structures. Fed by the blood of ritually sacrificed prisoners, these obelisks grew in size and power, absorbing the magical energies of the land and sometimes birthing more of the daemonic birds known as Idolarcs. These would act as vision guides, leading the cult's warriors to the next conquest. These creatures are revered, for the Jade Obelisk believe their strange elongated bodies resemble the Speaker's true form.[1a]

Era of the Beast

At the time word of the Legend of Talaxis reached the ears of the Nephrite Priesthood, the Jade Obelisk was engaged in heavy conflict with orruks across the Thondian plain, and therefore only had a detached interest. However, the Speaker in the Stone furiously insisted that an expedition be launched with a rage so intense it shattered many denizens of Nephricar into thousands of crystal fragments. While the Speaker despised all who did not abase themselves before its glory, its hatred for the Seraphon were another level of intensity altogether. The reason for this enemity is unclear, but some within the Nephrite Priesthood posit that the lost masters of the Seraphon - the Old Ones - were responsible for sealing the Speaker of the Stone within the great monument of Nephricar. It could also be that that the Seraphon propensity for erecting monuments to the Old Ones that angered the Speaker, or it could simply be its hatred that exists between the Seraphon and all entitied that defied rigid Order.[1b]

The Jade Obelisk was ordered to enter the Ravening Ruin, destroy it, and ensure the treasures of the Old Ones that lay within do not fall into enemy hands. When the Jade Obelisk reached the Gnarlwood they soon found themselves beset by the horrors within, but eventually settled within the region known as the Wyrdlights, which burned with eldritch flames. It was found the obelisks the cult carried kept the fiery orbs at bay and even absorbed a measure of their power. The Jade Obelisk eventually encountered the Hunters of Huanchi, where the Jade Obelisk and their Idolarc familiar proved adept at detecting the Chameleon Skinks.[1b] As they smashed their way deeper into the Gnarlwood, the Jade Obelisk came upon the statue of Motzlpota, which the skinks believe holds the spirit of the lost Slann Starmaster of the Eye of Chotec. Upon witnessing the site, the Speaker in the Stone reacted with unseen fury and insistence that this statue be destroyed and torn into a thousand pieces.[1c]

Iconoclasm

The Jade Obelisk's willing embrace of Chaos might have had disastrous consequences for their eternal souls, but it has undeniably transformed the cult into a force to be reckoned with. Monuments erected in honour of the Speaker in the Stone can be sighted across the western reaches of Thondia, from Vexothskol to the very heart of the Gnarlwood. Warbands wearing the avian sigil of the Jade Obelisk have launched several bold attacks on outposts and Sigmarite Strongpoints, tearing down and defacing statues of the Gods of Order and raising pillars of jade in their place.[1a]

Armaments

For all that they have embraced Chaos, the Jade Obelisk have not lost their skills as mason and sculptors. They take a perverse delight in carving new weapons and segmented armour from the petrified bodies of their victims, chiselling away with an artisan's delicate precision. They favour heavy mattocks and mauls - arms that can shatter bone as easily as they can pulverise the altar of a Sigmarite chapel or smash an orruk totem to shards and splinters. By far the most recognisable weapon carried into battle by these warriors is their Nephric Obelisk - a shard of crystal taken from the great monument of Nephricar itself, shaped and enchanted by the cult's priesthood. Suffused with petrifying powers of the Speaker in the Stone, this arcane rock is carried into battle by an anointed warrior. When spilled blood spatters across its surface, the stone glows with a blinding emerald light. Thus empowered, it can send forth crackling beams of magic that imbue the Jade Obelisk's weapons with shattering force. Moreover, the Nephrite Priestesses posses the power to wield this fell energy in order to transform the flesh of their victims to stone.[1a]

Warband

From left to right: Idolarc, Obelisk Bearer, Desecrator, and Nephrite Priestess charging into battle.

Nephrite Priestess

The Nephrite priesthood communes with the jade to decipher the desires of the Speaker in the Stone, and as a result, its members occupy a vital position in the culture of the Jade Obelisk. It is they who sacrifice prisoners to their ever-demanding god, cutting out still-beating hearts with votive blades or inflicting awful curses that transform their victims into petrified statues. Masterful artisans in their own right, Nephrite Priestesses take painstaking care in carving new trinkets and tools from these crystallised corpses. No warband of the Jade Obelisk goes to war without one of these fearsome figures at the fore, screaming praises to the Speaker in the Stone as their ritual daggers carve open throats and sink into exposed flesh. It is they alone who can call upon the power of a Nephric Obelisk to imbue the warband's weapons with shattering power or spit forth rays of petrifying magic.[1b]

Obelisk Bearer

To the Obelisk Bearer goes the honour of bearing the shard of the great monument of Nephricar - smooth, rune-etched totem that pulses with barely contained power. Only the greatest champions of the Jade Obelisk are chosen for such an honour, for if a warband's Nephric Obelisk is shattered, the Speaker's wrath is terrible to behold and those responsible are subjected to a ritual execution by crushing. Striding into battle despite the weight of their burden, these warriors cleave to and fro with jade scimitars, hewing flesh and steel with measured, and powerful strikes. With each kill - whether the final blow is delivered by the Obelisk Bearer or one of their comrades - the Nephric Obelisk gathers energy, which can be released by the Nephrite Priestess with catastrophic results.[1b]

Desecrators

Desecrators are the shock infantry of the Jade Obelisk, single-minded brutes whose flesh has hardened to the point that it can turn aside sword blows or incoming arrows. Though they are in the latter stages of the curse that affects all members of the Jade God's worshippers, Descreators have not yet begun to transform into living statues. They fight with a desperate need to please their demanding god, for they know that only be mercilessly slaughtering the cult's foes and defacing monuments to rival deities can they hope to have their petrification slowed by the Nephrite clergy, thereby earning precious stay of execution.[1b]

Defacers

Defacers are the junior acolytes of the Jade Obelisk, war-masons whose skills at stone-shaping are called upon not only to create new monuments but also to unamke the false idols of rival sects. Wielding hammers and chisels, they hack their enemies down and break their bones, taking great joy in the shattering crunch as spines give way and necks are snapped. Like all warriors of the cult, they never remove their war-masks, for beneath this featureless ceramic visage, their faces are already beginning to crumble away. Yet despite this ailment, Defacers are strong, hardy warriors. When their weapons are imbued with the energies of a Nephric Obelisk, they can splinter even the most formidable metals.[1b]

Idolarcs

The daemonic heralds known as Idolarcs are the messengers and favoured pets of the Speaker in the Stone, strange beasts that are fashioned from inanimate crystal given life by sacrifice and dark ritual. Appearing akin to the Vulcharcs that dwell within the regions saturated by Chaos Magic, these beasts are larger and more swollen, with lashing, serpentine tails and a beak that can hammer through solid sigmarite. Idolarcs act as guides and familiars for the Nephrite Priesthood and their warbands. The Speaker's anointed can commune physically with the beasts, which lead them to their next sacrifice or to the next temple of a false god that must be defaced and destroyed. They also possess and uncanny ability to locate the fault line in any structure or crafted item, highlighting the weak point for the warriors of the Jade Obelisk to strike. In order to prevent them from turning back into the crystal whence they emerged, Idolarcs must devour a constant supply of still-beating hearts - a stockpile the Nephrite Priestesses ensure is always available.[1b]

Miniatures

Sources

Tzeentch Arcanites
Units Curseling - Fatemaster - Gaunt Summoner of Tzeentch - Kairic Acolyte - Magister - Ogroid Thaumaturge - Tzaangor (Warrior - Enlightened - Shaman - Skyfire) - Vulcharc
Characters Daughter of the King of All Ravens - Sharizad - Tri'chlan - Yuhdak - Zagul - Ompallious Zeyros - Tzanghur - Zyclaw
Arcanite Cults Blazing Hand - Burning Eye - Contortiad - Distorter Cult - Eldritch Cult - Cult of Blessed Transition - Cult Cognita - Cult Esoteric - Cult of Oracles - Cult of the Fractal Demise - Cult of the Majestic Blue Flame - Cult Pandemonious - Cult of a Thousand Eyes - Cult of the Transient Form - Cult of Twisted Fate - Guild of Summoners - Inglorious Transition - Lazulites - Pyrofane Cult - Ninety-Nine Feathers - Ninth Brotherhood - Majestic Blue Flame - Transcendental Flames
Armoury - Artwork - Miniatures - Vehicles