The doll was perfect. Roughly a foot tall, it was the image of a young man with yellow curls and deep blue eyes. He wore a fine suit of clothes in the style of another time, a time before the Witches and the endless war and suffering they brought to Morden. He was a prince of Valkenholm or Steppengrad in miniature; perfect in every detail from the mirror polish on his boots to the small rapier the size of a hatpin he wore on his belt. Esteban was immediately taken with the little prince, sitting there among other, lesser treasures in a trinket shop. The old man picked up the doll and weighed it thoughtfully in his hand. The detail in its face and clothing was so fine that it almost seemed alive. He purchased the doll, for a pittance he thought, as a gift for his granddaughter and took it home with him.
Leech-men are one of the favored creations of the Blood Witch. These creatures are banes, meaning that they were born from witchcraft and are no part of the natural world. The leech-men are perhaps one of Sanguinara’s most well-known minions, although they tend to stay far away from populous cities and are most often encountered in more remote surroundings.
Just as the Chimera has produced countless different varieties of Mongrels, she has also produced a broad range of different banes to serve her. During the Bane War, the vanguard of her army was largely her Accursed, though many of her lesser creations—particularly stench goblins—were present in very large numbers. Other more specialized creations complemented her military forces, as monstrous terrors that could overcome even the most disciplined and well-armed opponents. The Morrigan insisted on sending cauldron-born to join the Chimera, but these were either redirected to aid the other Witches or used on the periphery of major battles. It was always the Chimera's horrific creations that played the central role in the battles she led.
In the days of its colonization Hyphrates was a land of lush farmlands. That was before the dark influences of the Djinn and the backstabbing attempts that the Hyphratians eventually learned to pursue. There were many different elements that transformed the beautiful countryside into a sterile desert. One of the most significant causes were the scarabs that came to infest the nation.
In these days of want and woe, the faerie stories of my youth have an unsettling tendency to become real. As a child, my majka told me of the wildmen of the forests; mostly as a way to make me behave and to eat my vegetables. These creatures, these trolls, were terrible giants who wandered about after dark snatching bad children from their homes and destroying the farms of those who transgressed against the Old Ways. Cut too much wood from the old forest or kill more game than you could eat in a season? Neglect your chores or letters? The trolls would come and teach you a very hard lesson. Adults could laugh at these stories, although they would make the ancient signs to ward off evil as they did so. But to a young man with an active imagination and a guilty conscience, the threat of being carried off to be eaten by trolls was a very real threat. Now I am grown, and there is precious little laughter anywhere in Steppengrad. Baba Yaga is with us again. Blight and famine are everywhere, and trolls step out of the pages of books to devour our livestock and ruin our crops. These are dark times my friend, but some day, if we are lucky, we will see the end of them.