|In an age and a region renowned for cruelty and violence, Caleb was
legendary. Born in western Texas in 1847, he had sealed a reputation as a
merciless gunfighter by the age of 17. But it was seven years later
when he met Ophelia Price that his hunger for bloodshed took on a
menacing new timbre.
She was already well beyond the bounds of sanity when he found her
cowering in the charred ruins of the burned out homestead where her
husband and child had perished only days before. It was neither her
tattered beauty nor her plight that compelled Caleb to take her in,
however-it was the words he picked out of her virtually incoherent
He learned that her husband had attempted to rescind his membership of the dreaded Cult of Tchernobog and in return cultists had set fire to the house in the night. Ophelia was filled with rage-not at the cult but at her husband, whose cowardice she blamed for the death of her young son. Ophelia was Caleb's doorway to the Cult and its dark purpose. He could not have known that in time he would come to love her, nor that their service to the Cult would find the two of them beloved among the Chosen, elite servants of the dreaming god Tchernobog, the One That Binds, Devourer of Souls.
In the Hall of the Epiphany, a temple that spans the chasm between the worlds, the four remaining Chosen stand at the forefront of a procession of worshippers. Tchernobog's presence is felt more than seen-the great, frigid weight of a hunger that spans millennia. He speaks in a cacophony of voices stolen from the dead, summoning the Chosen to the center of the sacrificial ring. They stand before the Dark God, united by a sudden, inexplicable sense of doom.
A wordless cry rises up from the seething shadows, one voice swallowed up by many until the hall resounds with them. The members of the procession behind the Chosen melt away in a gust of ethereal wind, extinguished like so many candle flames. There aren't even ashes to indicate they ever existed. The Chosen look to one another in confusion and dread. They can already feel the ties that bind them to Tchernobog fraying. Why? How have we failed you? But there is no answer other than the shattering scream that threatens to tear the universe to shreds. Darkness swells around them, swallows them. Their cold, abandoned souls fall through the abyss. And they burn. Caleb awakens in cold and damp in a body he no longer knows. It has long lain as a corpse that refused to rot, protected from putrefaction by some unearthly link to its master.
The pain of protesting muscle and flesh invigorates and awakens him. He welcomes it. It distills his hate into the maelstrom raging in the center of his mind. An agonizing cry breaks out of him, shattering the stone lid of the tomb in which he lies, knocking loose sediment, cobwebs, and the small, unnoticed creatures that have shared his grave with him. A single word rings out through the darkness, echoing Tchernobog's lingering howl: "Why?" You carved your soul to shreds in service of a forgotten, terrible god, but all your loyalty bought you were false promises and betrayal.
You were among the Chosen, Tchernobog's most esteemed generals, dark angels who were to stand by his side and inherit the earth. But that was not to be. Cast down and once again a prisoner of mortal flesh, you must seek out the rest of the Chosen-Ishmael, Gabriel, and your beloved Ophelia. Only with your combined strength can you find your way back to the Hall of the Epiphany and face Tchernobog again. Only then will you understand why he has forsaken you. Your journey will not be an easy one, but one thing is certain. Blood will flow.