Also known as: The Soul Forger, Father of a Thousand Hungry Young
Greyland links: Isle of Grem, the Black Seas, the Well, the Dro'gah
Miurag links: Soul Drinker
"I have forged a thousand blades that shall wet their edges with a thousand tragedies."
There is a Greylord who resides on the Isle of Grem, known for forging many powerful and cursed weapons. He is considered neutral but it is more accurate to say he is generally uncaring. As some Greylords do, Wylan has become apathetic to most things; he has no concern for whom his weapons kill or how they might shift the balance. While Wylan creates these powerful weapons, he does not intentionally curse them; this is a side effect of the materials used and the influence of the Isle. While he's infamous for his weapons, Wylan also crafts various trinkets and armor as the mood strikes him.
There is a legendary Well on Grem into which Wylan discards his finished creations. Sitting at the bottom of the Well is a fluctuating chaotic portal. Things that fall into the portal may be destroyed as they are twisted apart in the etheric energies and cast out across several dimensions, or they may be flung through space and time, ending up whole in some distant place. The destination of his creations is a mystery even to Wylan, not that the Greylord shows any interest in them after they've been forged.
The Isle of Grem sits somewhere in the midst of the Black Sea of the Greylands. The source of its name buried deep in the past of the Greylands and known only by a few Greylords. At some point in its history, two portals to two violently-opposed planes opened. A clash between angelic and infernal forces took place, leaving the isle a war-torn battlefield strewn with the broken bodies and gear of both armies. Eventually the portals shut, trapping the armies in their bitter conflict with no chance to retreat. Neither force lived to claim a hollow victory.
Normally such rich metal resources would have been fought over by any nearby Greylords but, due to the location of Grem and the obstacles to reach it, it simply wasn't worth the effort and cost. Thus Wylan remains unopposed in his claim of one of the largest metal 'deposits' in the Greylands. How the Greylord ended up on the Isle in the first place is currently unknown.
The Isle sees only a few souls spawn there, primarily drawing in those that die in large scale conflicts. Unfortunately for these souls, the isle is not hospitable nor is it any easier to leave than it is to enter and most souls begin the inevitable transformation into hungry ghosts. Due to the environment of Grem, this has given rise to a unique form of hungry spirit, the dro'gah. These war hulks are formed from the remnants of arms, armors, and corpses littering the island battlefield.
Sailing the Black Seas presents a unique challenge. Anyone trying to navigate on the land already knows no compass works, and there are no celestial bodies to track overhead. While on land one has landmarks, there are none for sea travel so one would be forced to follow the coast, which means one would then have to constantly contest with Bane wasp nests. Even abandoning the coast, any ship must still contest with storms and worst is the Lokra'then. These massive, serpentine beasts dwell in the deeper parts of the Black Seas and are highly territorial, voracious predators.
In essence, any ship sailing the Black Seas requires the direct intervention of a Greylord, not only to navigate but to survive the journey, and thus shipcraft is virtually non-existent in the Greylands as the inhabitants have little to gain from it. Still, more than one traveler will state how clearly one can make out the distant flame of Wylan's forge as a beacon to the Isle. Sadly there are just as many countless days that his forge fire is absent and one can never predict when it will go out, or for how long.
Wylan is not well-known outside the Greylands, though a few dwarves and smiths may give tokens and prayers seeking to ward him off when working on a particularly difficult task. Wylan has no interest outside his current work anyway, but mortals are fickle and fearful about such things.
Sometimes inspiration comes from the works of others. Wylan is such a case. I want to think that in visual design he's different enough that it doesn't seem like I drew him wholly from the source of inspiration.
Here is the video that in many ways encapsulates the character:
As well as the artist who came up with it:
As this is the second Greylord revealed, I will make note that while Nyx and Wylan show a humanoid form this is by no means their true forms. They've simply adopted this shape over time for convenience, much as how a certain Dragon keeps trotting around in smaller mobile forms.
"What do you know of the Greylands?...it is the natural pathway through which souls migrate. Like a bridge between ours and various other planes. One does not have to take the bridge to cross a river, but it is often the more chosen and easier path." ~Gavin, "Surfacing"
The Greylords are the 'gods' of the Greylands, and they have made pacts over the millennia with true deities, agreements to help guide the souls of those deities' followers through the Greylands and to their home plane. Not all sentient races have a God or Goddess with such a pact, and it is even possible for a living body with a soul to enter the Greylands, though returning back out again is not easy.
At the junction of so many planes of existence, the Greylords have an ungodly amount of access to everything in this universe. This leads to the question, why haven't they taken over all those other planes? While the obvious answer might be that the Gods are simply more powerful, that would lead to the question of why the Gods haven't wiped out the Greylords.
One truth is that Gods who step into the Greylands become weakened as they are touched by mortality, thus the Greylands are the one place any God could be slain.
Another truth is that, despite their power, the Greylords cannot leave their plane. They are able to influence and extend fractions of their power across the planes to the proper conduits, but they aren't capable the same feats as a God, often requiring a God's aid to even manage a fraction of such influence that a God gleans from its followers.
The final truth, perhaps, is much simpler: they are their own worst enemies. Unlike true Gods that exist on their own separate planes from each other, all the Greylords dwell upon the same plane. While a Greylord can be killed and is vulnerable to silver and 'holy' powers, it is uncertain how to permanently destroy one. Thus, the Greylords seem to always have been, and always will be present, squabbling and bartering for their own power at a nexus surrounded by Gods.
The Sphinx of the Greylands are oft compared to the Dragons of Miurag as powerfully magical, intelligent predators rarely glimpsed; when sighting one, it is advisable to tread lightly. Sphinx seem to be the natural guards to the various ins and outs of the Greylands, though they are so few that they do not draw the ire of the Greylords.
Sphinx will take up lairs near gates or roads and may also take up the guardianship of objects of specific note, though there are some rumored to guard even more vague things such as knowledge or truths. The details of what their 'guarding' entails also differs as some bar all passage and others simply restrict access to those who can prove themselves worthy.
This obsessive compulsion to guard seems built into the sphinx with the creatures helpless to stop themselves. Still, they have found ways to release themselves from their guardianships by setting forth challenges; in doing so they have become synonymous with riddles and puzzles. While they enjoy a bit of clever wordplay and mental gymnastics, their challenges can also include physical ones. The more famous tales of defeating a sphinx includes them dying of shame (hurling themselves from cliffs and not flying), though there never appear to be remains or even a third party account to support these stories.
Thought to be native to the Greylands, some sphinx have drifted to other planes from time to time. In either case their evolution wasn't natural though it isn't clear whether they are artificial or simply altered heavily by magic over time. Scholars muse they may have been a servitor race created by the Greylords that proved too independent and escaped their masters' control. Neither resident seems willing to divulge the validity of this claim.
Due to their skeletal head many believe them to be undead, but this is not the case. What many see at first to be the empty eye sockets of the skull are ear holes similar to a nocturnal bird of prey; the mask-like "face" on the skull contains the actual eyes and only the eyes. Again despite common first impressions, there is no secondary mouth and the nose is purely ornamental lacking nostrils. Within the large jaw, a pale blue light pulsates within when the sphinx talks. The symbol on the 'mask' does vary from individual to individual and is one of the few ways that outsiders can identify a specific sphinx.
The features of the mask and apparent breasts lead many to conclude that sphinx are all female, but when broached on the subject they indicate a lack of gender or a duality of gender even if, for the 'ease of lessers,' they use female pronouns and gender signifiers. To date no matings have been observed nor confirmed sightings of 'young' sphinx. Despite their somewhat sedentary lifestyle, the spread of remote locations in which they reside makes determining the number of current sphinx near impossible, so it is unclear if the sphinx population even fluctuates.
The wings of a sphinx are not developed for true flight but function in gathering and shaping ambient magical energies, which may give reason for their habit of 'sunning' themselves even in places such as the Greylands that lack a celestial light source. A sphinx is still capable of flight via purely magical means to generate the thrust and motion. Often a sphinx will 'glide' along Ley Lines to conserve its own energies. Due to the flexible and fluid nature of their 'feathers,' a sphinx can use gestural magic components with their wings just as easily as their hands.
Magically the sphinx focus upon the manipulation and warping of space and/or time. It is perhaps this reason that they find it so easy to locate portals between realms to guard. Unlike Dragons the sphinx do not seem to care to shapeshift, preferring instead to appear as they are. If their forms prove too large, they will warp space in order to pass through obstacles. Visually this effect varies between observers; some see the sphinx shrink, others the door grow large, etc. Sphinx are fully capable of using most forms of spellcraft and are quite practiced in several disciplines.
Sphinx don't seem to eat often and this may be due to their general lack of activity as well as their ability to take in power with their wings. Still it is not wrong to assume that they engage in carnivorous acts, especially with those that fail their challenge. They possess an incredibly long tongue with which they groom themselves much like a feline.
Sphinx of note-
Astrasza the Mad (not pictured)- Notable for goat-like horn spurs on her head and, far more obvious, the large sword that impales her skull. The sword itself radiates a very strong magical aura and it is believed that Astrasza has become obsessed with it; thus none may touch it to remove it and end her suffering. More unfortunate is that the blade may have impaired her cognitive faculties as the riddles she gives seem to be mostly gibberish (ex. "What is the speed of blue?"), so it appears the sphinx will continue to suffer the constant pain of her predicament. It is said that the blade was put there by a Greylord that had taken offense to the sphinx's presence; that Astrasza found it to be the focus of her guardian compulsion is tragic.
The early hint given on Patreon that "hippo skulls are awesome" is actually a reference to what defined the sphinx skull design. Rather than a lion skull I based it on a hippo skull. Seriously, look at a hippo skull. Just amazing.
The design for this critter came about around the time that Etaski was penning the Cris bonus story. At one point she was looking for potential interactions within the Greylands and one of the ideas was to introduce a sphinx-like creature. Obviously that didn't happen, but the idea kept up in my head and I continued developing it.
Astrasza is actually based on the Spelljammer Astro-sphinx. Spelljammer has some pretty out there designs.
Last updated: April 1, 2018 CONTAINS SPOILERS
This page contains work NecrosisBob has done to develop the Greylands for the story setting, both requests on Patreon and spontaneous inspirations adopted in the main story.
NecrosisBob's work on the Greylands and grey-touched Miurag has been compiled into a 211-page sourcebook on Patreon, and will be relevant both for the events of "Surfacing" and the God Wars epic to follow.
Greylord and Gavin's Patroness
Commonly known as: The Grey Maiden, The Grave Mother, The Maiden of Shrouds
Greyland links: Shae'goth
Miurag links: Deathwalkers, the Harrowed, the Deathless, the Winter Throne, the Broken One
"I stand upon the crossroads. Past, present, and future are as one to me. My reality is all of time. Life and death, real and unreal. I am the Maiden of the Shrouds, the Grave Mother."
A pale woman standing in an ashen plane, swaddled in grey, tattered shrouds. Her features are elegant and beautiful, save for her eyes...or more exactly, the place where her eyes should be. There are two holes into a black void, the edges of which make it appear like the shattered edge of a mask, even though her face moves and emotes exactly like one made of flesh and blood. Occasionally, obsidian-shelled beetles emerge from these holes.
While Nyx is often worshipped as a demigod or goddess of death, that is not all with which she is involved. She is also tied to birth, rebirth, and prophecy.
Most Greylords are said to be able to glimpse the final moments of the dying and hear their last whispered words. Nyx, however, is said to be able to glimpse the fates of anyone born. If this is true, Nyx has never been generous with her knowledge. While many Greylords have become entrenched in their own petty power struggles or throwing in their lot with the forces of good/evil/law/chaos, Nyx seems to be more concerned with maintaining a balance.