Long ago, the world broke. It is clear for those who would look; the wilderness that turned against Man and rose up against our every footstep, the monsters that seek to break our minds and our bodies, and most abominable of all, the miserable puppeted undead who wear the faces of our beloved ones.
We are locked in battle with the broken creations of this broken world, and it is a battle that no one person can win. Yet if we do not offer resistance, we condemn ourselves to a life ruled by monstrous fear, as prey for the creatures that stalk the night.
Therefore we have become as hard as the lifeless ore that we mine, and as inscrutable and pitiless as the mire where we make our homes. We name ourselves Rocheaux, the gravediggers and miners of Luisant, the bringers of swift and final death, and the keepers of all secret things that lie in the depths of the frigid bog.
The greatest treasures we possess are those we call family, for who else surrounds us from birth to death, rejoicing at our triumphs and mourning with us when we fall? Since the first legends of the undead we possess, we have striven with all our might to put to rest those of our family who have been cursed to rise again.
When burying Rocheaux dead, family tokens are placed around the neck of the deceased to remind them of their names and loved ones.
Symbolized by a bright red necklace. If an Undead creature wearing such a token is hailed as a family member by a Rocheaux individual, they will pause and become disoriented, remembering their former life.
A rite of adulthood for Rocheaux youth includes a circuit of known burial sites, both in the town and in the forest – from the main graveyard to various individual graves. They are to pay respects to the fallen, and check how many graves have been disturbed or emptied. Elders say that once long ago, it was to check whether any graves had been disturbed – but for many years now, every circuit inevitably finds at least a few corpses missing.
Mathilda the Rock
Born in what would later become Gotha, Mathilda the Rock was a devotee of St. Gabrielle the Defiant, one of the great Saints of the Ordo Croix who slew the Witchking Chiropoler.
Before the attack on Chiropoler, Mathilda begged to be allowed to serve Gabrielle as she travelled, even as the lowliest footservant. Gabrielle agreed, but would not deign to treat her as anything less than an equal.
Through many hard and long months on the road, Mathilda became Gabrielle’s greatest supporter, fighting in battle beside her and listening awestruck to her fervent preaching. Mathilda adopted the Saint’s philosophy of life- that no obstacle is too great to strive against, and perseverance is never wasted.
They journeyed together to the mouth of Chiropoler to join the attack on the obscene King, but Mathilda was taken along the way- surrounded and snatched in an opening skirmish, and taken to the killing pens to await her devouring.
When Gabrielle arrived and Mathilda was freed, she was deemed too weak to go on, and although she begged Gabrielle to let her fight, the Saint descended into the depths without her, never to return.
Mathilda waited for weeks for Gabrielle to return, helping with the efforts of the freed survivors to build homes and defend themselves as she did so. She became one of the first heroes and founders of Luisant, and never again set foot outside of its borders. Some say that on quiet misty days, she would wander off and search for the Mouth of Chiropoler that had devoured Gabrielle, waiting for the Saint to return. Mathilda eventually married a woman who had been imprisoned with her in the pens and they adopted an orphan of the new village of Luisant, founding the legacy of the Rock of Luisant- the Rocheaux.
The great mace wielded by Mathilda the Rock, known as Sleepsong, a formidable weapon blessed by the Saint Gabrielle herself, was buried with Mathilda. Legend says that when it is needed it will be found, but the burial place of Mathilda has long since been forgotten.
Prayer for the Restless Dead
A prayer to Lurian for those who have risen from eternal sleep, sometimes said before battle with the undead.
“Herald of quietus, who brings true rest and the gentle respite of the evening
Return to your bosom the hungry Risen, who would feed on the flesh of men,
Shroud us in your wings of Night, Angel of Slumber, as we descend upon these abominable mockeries and return them to you.
Let not our veins awaken to thrill with bloodless hunger, nor our dead eyes open to find cold earth piled above.”
Speeches don’t fill an empty stomach.
Fear is no fit ruler for men.
A rolling stone gathers no moss