The Blight. Not just a disease that turns one’s skin grey and one’s blood black but also an affliction that darkens one’s soul. It had swept through the creatures of the Great Woodlands like a wildfire, turning even the purest of heart towards evil.
The Ka’Wren, a collection of Gnoll tribes who fight for dominance of The Great Woodlands, welcomed the Blight and the newfound allies it brought from their enemy’s ranks.
Ensel Swiftriver, Knight of The Emerald Guard, the force tasked with protecting the Emerald Keep, seat of the Adron Alliance, the governing body for all good willed races of the wood, had seen so many of his comrades, friends and family fall to the Blight. It was eating at his soul.
If it wasn’t for Esma, his love since they were both more interested in play than love, he would surely be lost. His escapes with her into the wood always renewed him. Ensel had a streak of adventure in him. It's one of the qualities that originally attracted Esma to him. He loved nothing more than a good climb up steep mountains or a delve into a deep dark cave. He was always surprised that Esma went along on his escapades. When he would ask her about it, she would always say "Where you go, I will always follow."
The Ka’Wren, emboldened by the thinning ranks of their opposition, attacked the Emerald Keep almost nightly. Ensel had started just sleeping atop the castle walls, his sword clasped and ready to do battle at a moment’s notice. He never left his post even though the thought of being with Esma was almost too much to resist.
Deep into the night, a clear, star filled sky above him and moonglow bathing everything in an eerie white light, he saw other orbs suddenly fill the sky. Balls of fire, lobbed into the keep, devastating walls and towers.
“Alarm, alarm!” he cried. The alarm bell sounded and, yet again, he prepared for battle.
The fields around the keep looked alive, teeming with movement, a sea of Ka’Wren getting ready to crash into the keep. As they broke through the main gate and clashed headlong with troops in the courtyard, he saw her, Esma.
Sword in hand, fighting with her special grace, as if dancing … but ... she wasn’t fighting against the Gnolls, she was fighting with the Gnolls! A gash across her arm, leaching black blood confirmed his worst fears. “Esma, Noooooo!”
Through the clashing of swords and screams of the soon to be dead, Esma heard him, looked up at him and smiled a twisted smile. She ran into the keep.
For the first time, Ensel abandoned his post. He had to chase after her. The winding corridors, the sounds of battle, the thoughts of his love, fallen, blinded him to her blade sliding in between his ribs as he rounded a corner. “A gift for you lover.” She kissed him deeply as the pain shot through his body. He tasted her foul blood on his tongue.
He knew he was doomed.
Either the blow from her blade or the Blight would end him. He wanted neither. He only wanted to be with her. No matter the cost.
He kissed her back, passionately. Looked into her eyes. “Where you go, I will always follow.” A look of surprise and sinister joy filled her face. It was the last thing he saw before his world went black.
Weeks later, after recovering from Esma’s stab wound, he rose as Ensel Blightblood, Flail Master of Yeenoghu and joined the charge of the Ka’Wren to defeat the forces of the light and take the Emerald Keep!