So I'm going to talk about something that isn't common knowledge in The Known World. Actually, it would be common knowledge for Kethralzahn. So a long long time ago in The Known World the Fallen were bound irrevocably to life by The Bleak Tyrant. They were kept immortal, but not forever young, and as the appetite for food and drink left them and others forgot to breathe, their bodies broke down and they began to decay.
That's the thing. The Bleak Tyrant granted the Eldumans that would become the Fallen true immortality, except he didn't perfectly preserve their flesh. So as they advanced and aged hunger and thirst left them, but their bodies still required them to live. They forgot to breathe, because not doing so could not kill them. They were injured, but their bodies did not heal. So, they rotted from disease and age and injury.
So to continue, as the Fallen fell apart, their minds did not die. If a Fallen burned or was otherwise completely destroyed, they could still be sensed and detected. Sorcery could be used to communicate with them as well, but they were completely silent and passive creatures that could not interact with the physical world or be seen, they were just there, waiting and silent.
So after decades of experimentation, the physical Fallen found a way to bind the incorporeal Fallen into a physical object and through other spells (specifically a variation of Magic Mouth) they were able to grant them the ability to communicate. So now the Fallen have the oldest most powerful members of the race back and able to shape the fate of the nation and contribute to their knowledge and power.
The next step in this as you may have guessed, is the creation of the Soulless. Soulless are animated by necromancy, specifically by taking a heart and binding the ash of six or seven Fallen to it with sorcery and kind of baking it so it ends up being this heart-shaped urn of super necromancy containing ash. This heart urn is the animating force of Soulless. They can talk via that variation on Magic Mouth, see, and move. They are completely 100% sorcerous creations, and not itty bitty minor sorcery either, they are created by some potent shit, and it is the ambient super necromantic energy of those Fallen that powers the whole mess.
Between Fallen that are bound within little gems and chairs and toys and the Soulless is a step in the evolution/devolution of this creature. That step is Omne-1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. Once the Fallen discovered that they could bind Fallen into inanimate objects, they decided to create war machines to bind them in. Kind of like the Soulless that would eventually be made. They took eight of their oldest, most ancient and learned and just plain powerful Fallen. Fallen so ancient that they were no more than foul smelling leather wrapped around bones so bleached by time that they would crumble if pressed between thumb and forefinger for too long. Every time they spoke, a tooth older than The New Empire crumbled, every time a they cast a spell another finger bone fell from bony hands and turned to dust on the wind, and so on.
Then they bound those dried and crumbling corpses in iron. They replaced tendons and ligaments with springsteel wire, made ribs of wolf-iron, eyes of black glass cut from the walls of the Necropolis. Then they piled on more armor. They doubled, tripled, and quadrupled the size of these Fallen, bent and broke these tortured iron creatures into the shapes of metal beasts the size of a small house. Somewhere between the beginning and end of this project, the eight Fallen went from being honored patriots to tormented slaves. Everything that was done to them hurt, for they were still alive, and as metal was added to bone it became their body and they could feel what it felt, they could feel their new flesh being welded and bolted and reconfigured into something else.
When the Fallen were done, they had eight massive creatures, all spikes and talons and snarling animal faces. Creatures with ancient minds and sorcery so potent they no longer needed base components or gestures, their words alone were enough to change reality, creatures that could not be restrained or halted in battle, angry creatures that had been tortured and broken and remade into beasts that hated the race that they had once been members of. Their names were taken from them and they were renamed Omne, a phrase in Wretchtongue that meant slave beast, and dubbed Omne-1 through 8. The end result of this project amounted to eight iron golems built in the shape of huge beasts and equipped with the most powerful spellcasting abilities in The Known World.
In short, the Fallen bit off far more than they could safely chew with this program.
The eight Omnes were unstoppable in battle. There is an ancient legend in The New Empire of a beast with armored hide and breath of fire called Somnen. Legend says it comes in the night and lays wastes to entire towns with fire and huge scything talons, this beast does not eat the dead, for it seeks only to make the living suffer. Records in the Fallen Empire indicate that this legend is based on the work of Omne-7, who in life was the most powerful pyromancer ever seen among the Fallen. They were also used to pacify the lands around the Necropolis and the destruction they were capable of soon struck fear even into the hearts of the malignant mutant beasts of The Fallen Empire, the legacy of this extermination effort has allowed platoons of Soulless to march through The Fallen Empire of Man unmolested by anything more harmful than night fowls that cling to them like camp followers in a more conventional army. The platoons make almost as much noise as the mighty Omne did when they tread across the fields of The Fallen Empire.
At the time of Spineplate's creation, roughly 9857 DK, Only Omne-4, 5, and 7 were still alive. Their five brothers had either been destroyed in battle, or put down by the Fallen because of unruly behavior. As the Omne aged, they became more powerful. They learned and grew stronger and achieved a closer union between metal flesh and sorcerous mind, and they became more and more resistant to the sorceries of lesser creatures.
Omne-5 and 7 did not survive the decade. Omne-5 was destroyed in battle by Volung himself, and 7 was put down by the Fallen, leaving only Omne-4. Omne-4 was no more remarkable than his brethren, a powerful dead wizard bound into the metal body of a beast. He was angry and cunning though. At every opportunity he obeyed and turned his rage at his masters out towards their enemies. He lurked in the depths of the Necropolis, feigning loyal service, destroying his Fallen masters only when they pushed him too far and inflicted petty torments upon him, he bound his anger in chains of will stronger than the metal bound to his dusty remains.
For his loyal service, he was rewarded, he was allowed to teach and train the Soulless when they were created, specifically, the seventh one created, Spineplate. It was never known by Spineplate or the Fallen that created him, for only Omne-4 knew who he had once been, but two of the seven Fallen that became Spineplates mind were descendants of the Elduman that Omne-4 had been. Omne-4 taught Spineplate that the Fallen were flesh, and flesh must always bow to the strength of steel. He taught Spineplate that the Fallen did not control him, could not, they could only torment him from within, and if he cultivated a willpower as strong as his flesh, he could ignore them and bend them to his will. He taught Spineplate that he was not trapped with the Fallen in his mind, they were trapped within his, cut off from other Fallen. They could argue and yell at him, but they could never communicate his thoughts to the Fallen that believed him a loyal servant. Omne-4 taught Spineplate all of this, but his main lesson was war and destruction. He made young Spineplate into a weapon, a warrior that cared nothing for the weakness of flesh, a warrior that reveled in pitting the strength of steel against that of flesh and storming through the field of battle to the music of weapons clashing.
A'lst is the ancient electrician that fathered Kethranmeer and made him into the leader he became before his death. Omne-4 is the immortal warbeast of metal and sorcery that fathered Spineplate and made him into the blood slick warrior that was able to survive the mines of Beltan and taught him the Fallen were not worthy and should not be the masters of the Soulless, that metal was superior to flesh. Omne-4's influence allowed Kethranmeer to fight Nakmander and bust heads with his mighty hammer to protect The Robust Five, his sons, and Kusseth, but it was A'lst that taught him why he should wield that hammer.
So there is some more about Kethranmeer and the backstory of the Rankethlek.
Music: Weis & Hickman - Melt Wizard