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The Ashes of Willow Creek

The Ashes of Willow Creek takes place during Soulblighter's wars against the forces of Light. Nivog, an evil warlock and follower of Soulblighter, has invaded the village of Willow Creek and bulit a factory to create hollow men, a pwerful variety of soulless. As a reward for his loyalty, Soulblighter gave Nivog and his four apprentice warlocks magic that allowed them to permanently take the form of soulless. This hybrid creature, known as a soulock, can use powerful magic that would kill an ordinary human sorcerer. With his army of hollow men and other minionss, Nivog planned to help Soulblighter to conquer the world.

The outbreak of ghasts many years before had unleashed dark magic forces on the village of Willow Creek that made it the ideal spot for the creation of enchanted creatures such as the hollow men. These magic forces, together with large population of peasants in the area, the raw material for hollow men, attracted Nivog to the town.

After all resistance was crushed by Nivog's hordes, survivors from Willow Creek and the surrounding towns were tied to posts to prepare them for transformation into hollow men. After several days of being bound and deprived of food and water, the delirious villagers were ready for their new form. The person was then taken to the center of the village and tied to Balnor, an enchanted sword rumored to be the evil twin of Alric's sword Balmung. One of the soulocks would recite an incantation that would cause the sword to suck the soul out of the hapless victim. This process also incinerated the victim's flesh, leaving a skeleton that can then be animated into a hollow man by the soulock's magic. In battle, hollow men use poisoned javelins that stun their targets, although they only carry a limited supply of these weapons. They are tougher than ordinary soulless and can engage in melee combat.

Some villagers were spared from being turned into hollow men only to be condemned to suffer as cursed peasants. Constantly tormented by biting flies, these miserable and deranged men are helpless to resist the will of their soulock masters. They are used in battle as suicide bombs. When magically detonated, the head of the cursed peasant is hurled into the sky by the explosion. Crows converge and pick the head clean of flesh as it falls. As the skull of the cursed peasant crashes back to earth, anyone standing nearby is hurt by the release of magically stored suffering contained within. The release of the peasant's suffering destroys from the inside out, allowing victims to run and fight for a few horrible seconds before being overcome.

Nivog's ghol allies, known as headhunters, are unusually good with thrown cleavers, which often dismember their targets on impact. Headhunters collect the fallen skulls of cursed peasants and hurl them at their foes, as the peasants suffering can be released from the skull over and over again.

Mercenaries, unscrupulous men armed with powerful shotguns, have also been recruited by Nivog. These men, paid by the soulocks and attracted by the spoils of war, prefer to fight from a safe distance. Their weapons are awkward and slow to reload, but fire a number of heavy lead pellets to a considerable range. When used for volley fire with the mercenaries standing in line, these weapons project a veritable wall of lead that can stop even the most determined enemy.

Nivog also used his powerful possession magic to brainwash the barbarian tribesmen living in the hills surrounding the village. Barbarians are used by the soulocks as shock troops and for rounding up escaped villagers in the woods surrounding Willow Creek. These ferocious fighters are driven into a killing frenzy during long battles or when they have been cheering. In this state, they swing wildly at their foes, often striking friendly units standing nearby as well. When seriously wounded, the soulocks' magic possession wears off. Insane with anger and remorse, barbarians will attack their former comrades to prevent more evil from being done.

Nivog's most powerful allies were his four soulock apprentices. The soulocks' most terrifying and destructive weapon is the Fire Dragon, a spell given to them by Soulblighter. When cast, a flock of Soulblighter's enchanted crows shoot forth from the soulock's hands. The crows pull spinning javelins shards and a trail of magic fire behind them. The Fire Dragon has a very long range and can kill practically any opponent the soulock can see. Soulocks also cast the Triple Fireball, a variation on the warlock's fireball spell where a single fireball divides into three smaller orbs before exploding individually. This spell causes damage over a large area and often sets the ground on fire.

After several weeks of building up his hollow man army, Nivog left with most of his forces to join Soulblighter. Nivog's four apprentices were left in charge of the village with the help of the headhunters and the human followers. Each apprentice soulock ruled a quadrant of the town from a tower they had built with slave labor. The four jointly controlled the hollow man "factory" in uneasy cooperation.

This situation did not last. When Nivog was killed in battle, his apprentices turned on each other. Nivog was fearful of being murdered by his apprentices and had refused to name one of them as his successor. Now, with Nivog dead, the four apprentice soulocks vie for control of the town and its valuable hollow man factory. Only one soulock can rule Willow Creek.

Unit Notes

Primary Attack (L. mouse): Fire Dragon. Very long range. Uses mana.
Secondary Attack (doubleclick L. mouse): None.
Special Attack (T key): Triple Fireball. Single fireball splits into three smaller fireballs which then explode. Medium range. Uses mana.
Notes: As fast and tough as an ordinary soulless.

Hollow Man
Primary Attack (L. mouse): Thrown javelin. Paralyzes opponent. Medium range. 6 ammo.
Secondary Attack (doubleclick L. mouse): Stab with javelin. Paralyzes opponent. Uses no ammo.
Special Attack (T key): None.
Notes: Faster and tougher than an ordinary soulless.

Primary Attack (L. mouse): Shotgun blast. Uses mana. Slow reloading.
Secondary Attack (doubleclick L. mouse): None.
Special Attack (T key): Fire without aiming in the direction the unit faces. Useful for volley fire with mercenaries in line. Uses same amount of mana as primary attack.
Notes: As fast and tough as an ordinary poacher.

Primary Attack (L. mouse): Sword swing.
Secondary Attack (doubleclick L. mouse): None.
Special Attack (T key): Cheer. Reduces mana.
Notes: When mana is low, the sword swing causes more damage but can harm nearby friendly units. Barbarians can pick up the magic sword Balnor. As fast and tough as an ordinary berserk.

Cursed Peasant
Primary Attack (L. mouse): Can target an opponent, move in, and explode when close (like a wight).
Secondary Attack (doubleclick L. mouse): None.
Special Attack (T key): Self destruct. Peasant explodes. Head (or sometimes heads) fall and smoke for a while. The head is explosive and can be picked up by Headhunters.
Notes: Slow and weak.

Primary Attack (L. mouse): Cleaver swing.
Secondary Attack (doubleclick L. mouse): None.
Special Attack (T key): Throws picked up objects such as cleavers, peasant heads, or Balnor. Relatively short range. Headhunters can pick up Balnor.
Notes: As fast and tough as a normal ghol.

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