Their leader is consumed by an obsessive vengeance. Their enemies are growing more powerful by the day. In these desperate times, even the menacing tunnels of Erendorn’s dungeons seem like a refuge to the Rhinogar, a battle-hardened desert species whose scars speak of a vicious history.
Rhinogar of the Great Desert
The scorched sands of Erendorn’s Great Desert are an unforgiving and cruel terrain. With the relentless heat and lack of resources, survival in this region is a brutalising experience. But there is one race that has managed to secure for itself a safe and sustainable existence that is always rife with water and prey.
Rhinogar have been native to the Great Desert since the Old Times. With skin as thick as armour, incredible strength and lethally sharp horns, it is no surprise that this ancient species has managed to dominate the most lush and sought after place in the desert. The Rhinogar settlement spans across an enormous oasis that has long outlived any desert species. Its bending trees provide shade from the fierce eye of the sun while the ice blue lagoon that stretches its banks for many miles provides an unlimited source of water. But these aren’t the only advantages the Rhinogar get to enjoy.
Lifestyle of Rhinogars
By building their settlement within the oasis, Rhinogar have made a very intelligent move as they no longer have to hunt in the parched expanse of the desert. Unable to withstand the blistering heat, all types of desert fauna flock to the oasis for shelter and water. Though they walk with trepidation, aware of the dangerous Rhinogar that lurk there, they cannot afford to abandon the oasis; their lives depend on it.
Situating themselves around the Great Desert’s only safe haven has meant that Rhinogar very rarely have to go on long, perilous hunts. Instead, they prowl around the oasis, hiding themselves among the ferns and rocks as they stalk their prey. However, while their settlement is never without food and their thirst is always quenched, there is still trouble brewing among the Rhinogar. A disenchanted faction is beginning to emerge, one that can no longer blindly follow a leader who is consumed by vengeance.
Tundorph: Leader of the Rhinogar
Rhinogar are led by the biggest and strongest of them all. Tundorph surpasses the average seven foot stature that this species typically reaches. Instead, his height and extraordinarily broad frame easily distinguish him from the rest of the race. But with great strength comes great battles, and the deep set scars that marr Tundorph’s skin bear testament to the many opponents he has fought and defeated.
Despite being brutal and offensive in combat, Tundorph is actually a cautious leader who recognises that although the Rhinogar have taken hold of the life-giving oasis, there is no such thing as safety in these merciless lands. His blades alone have cut through the skin of many maniacal enemies over the years, and his horn has been bloodsoaked more times than not. With these memories circulating his head, Tundorph knows the true dangers that they face in Erendorn, and so he leads his settlement with great caution.
But there is one battle that Tundorph has never forgotten, one that he never got a chance to finish. Many know it as the day Tundorph lost his eye, a brutal injury that serves as a reminder of this leader’s savage past. However, this battle was also the day that Tundorph’s all-consuming vengeance was born. So obsessed has Tundorph become with exacting his revenge that, over the decades, he has led dozens of attacks on the race that accosted him all those years ago: the Humans.
A Vengeance is Born
In his earlier years, before he was leader and before his horn had reached its full lethality, Tundorph was a formidable fighter for a Rhinogar so young. His already impressive size distinguished Tundorph as a powerful force among the species, and his arrogant desire to continually test his strength led him into many fierce battles.
The sun had brought the desert to its knees on the day that Tundorph finally met his match. The unprecedented heat discouraged anything from crossing the burning sands; no scorpions lay between the sheets, no life could be seen for miles around, and not even the Sloo-Tan would risk slithering through the melting dunes. Ironically, this incredible heat also prevented many of the larger fauna from visiting the oasis. Unable to cross the scorching sands, they stayed in the coolness of their underground burrows, forcing the Rhinogar to survive on the small birds and rodents that were native to the oasis.
As the race became weaker by the day, Tundorph and a group of skilled fighters decided to roam the desert in these perilous conditions, hoping to find a larger kill. Through the thick, burning air did these Rhinogar trudge, their mouths parched and their stomachs hollow. With their mission unsuccessful, they were returning to their settlement when a group of a dozen Humans suddenly appeared on the horizon. Rhinogar had fought Humans before and, despite their monopoly on weapons and armour, found them to be relatively easy to defeat. With this in mind, Tundorph set his sights on this wandering group before leading the deadly charge towards them.
Blood sprayed across the sands. Guttural screams fell flat in the heavy air. Two Rhinogar had already fallen, their gaping wounds leaking like faucets. Only Tundorph and three others remained, but they were soon picked off by their savage enemies. As he watched his comrades fall, Tundorph realised he had made a huge mistake.
This was no ordinary group of Humans; their unbridled savagery was like nothing Tundorph had ever witnessed, and they wore clothes that he did not recognise. Bloodstained helmets disguised their faces. Spiked maces were held in their hands. These were a group of escaped Gladiators, the most skilled and vicious fighters to ever emerge from the Human Kingdom. While they spent their lives enslaved, forced to fight to the death in spectacular displays of strength and brutality, it gave each Gladiator unprecedented combat skills that make them a truly dangerous force.
Having watched them rip apart the last of his comrades, Tundorph slowly began backing away, all the while facing his opponents who began to walk calmly towards him, their maces slung casually over their shoulders. Behind them, birds had already begun devouring the bloody corpses. Tundorph knew that this was a battle he could not win alone and yet, instead of attempting to flee, his youthful arrogance seized him one last time as he gripped his weapon and charged into the Gladiators. He felt the familiar crunch of his horn breaking bones, and then the fell swoop of a mace smashing against his head.
As he lay on the desert floor, dazed and bleeding, one of the lead Gladiators stood above Tundorph, cocked his head and then pulled out a small knife from his belt. Before Tundorph could move, the others were upon him, holding down his legs and arms as the other Gladiator straddled his waist and plunged the blade into his right eye. For miles around, the sound of Tundorph’s screams echoed like a sad song as the Gladiator ripped out his eye and stabbed the wound. When the Rhinogar finally found their fallen members, Tundorph was as silent as death. The only way they knew he still lived was the fresh stream of blood that poured from his head.
While his wounds eventually healed, Tundorph was never the same after that day. The brashness and arrogance that characterised his adolescence were replaced with a quiet, brooding air. Instead of romping with other Rhinogar, Tundorph now preferred total seclusion. The memory of that day possessed his mind like a virus until he felt an overwhelming disgust for the entire Human race; and, when Tundorph became the next appointed leader of the Rhinogar, this hatred quickly unravelled into a devastating obsession.
In the early years of his reign, every Rhinogar in the settlement felt a hatred for the Humans. Having witnessed the way in which Tundorph had been attacked, and how the others had met their fates, many dedicated themselves to helping Tundorph exact his revenge. Dozens of attacks have been led against the Humans since Tundorph came into power, but it soon proved to be a luckless feud.
Although Tundorph was once a wise, strong and caring leader who everyone respected, his vendetta against the Humans soon began clouding his judgement. He no longer prioritised his race and no longer led them with caution, for his desire to bring down the Human race was all too strong. Unfortunately, this was a dangerous delusion. Since Humans have the biggest population in Erendorn, as well as the greatest access to weaponry and forces, facing them in battle is a dangerous and often devastating risk that the Rhinogar have been forced to take. Over the years, Tundorph’s obsession has only worsened, and the onslaughts he commands have become more and more frequent. In the earlier years, defeating Humans in battle was possible and even easy at times. But, as the years brought more fortune, trade deals and population growth to the Humans, more and more Rhinogar are dying by the year.
So possessed is Tundorph by his hatred that he fails to see just how much damage he is bringing to the race. Since his leadership, the Rhinogar population has entered a gradual yet persistent state of decline. With no end in sight for this devastating feud, a growing number of Rhinogar have become disillusioned with their leader and what they now consider to be a foolish obsession.
Disillusionment Among the Rhinogar
In recent years, a disenchanted faction has emerged within the Rhinogar population. After fruitless pleading that Tundorph bring an end to his madness, these individuals are now beginning to band together and question his ruling. They argue that Tundorph is so engulfed by hatred that it is blinding him to the amount of death he is inflicting upon the Rhinogar. Some, more vehement individuals even claim that it is not the Humans who threaten the Rhinogar existence – it is Tundorph himself. Indeed, with no intention of stopping, many fear that Tundorph’s vengeance will be the end of the species.
While there are those who still remain loyal to their leader, disenchantment in the settlement is becoming widespread. Many Rhinogar are now choosing to abandon their idyllic oasis in search of a more undisturbed existence that won’t constantly pit them against the Humans. But for those Rhinogar who do choose to leave, a new kind of danger awaits.
As they roam the lands, many Rhinogar end up in the dungeon depths, a treacherous place that makes them mourn the times when Humans were their only real enemy. In the depths of Erendorn, Rhinogar have had to face fearsome monsters of unimaginable power. Between Tundorph’s obsession killing them in the lands above and the dungeon’s beasts killing them in the tunnels below, Rhinogar must now learn to survive some of the most brutalising conditions.