Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Aedeion, a history of Kholos

Long ago, the reign of Moros Aklaustros, the Unmourned, inaugurated the use of necromancy in Arunia. His kingdom, located in the region we now call the Dragonback Range, was a strange and occulted one. It is said that Moros the Giant-King crafted the first necromantic magics, and that much of modern necromancy stems from his ancient and occulted court. In truth, it was the nearness to this awful place that helped foster the Twin Empires, as well as the Art studied by none other than Tharos the Necromancer, who rumor says spent time in Moros' court.

But there is another figure of import here, one who entered the broken ruins of Moros' kingdom some in the 6th Age and only emerged in the 7th; that is, Lakryss of Essadurea, a powerful magician who sought enlightenment through dark and unwholesome channels. Rumors persisted that he was a sorcerous general of Rho'anir, or that he had served Galos in the War of the Chains; whether they are true, we cannot say. He left the regions recently conquered by Haxrim the Conqueror, and fled west, away from the conquests of his Essadi kin. Lakryss emerged from the realm of Moros Aklaustros, ruined though it was, with the gift of vampirism—he had transformed into a vampiric spirit of the north.

Thus did Lakryss set about building his kingdom in the Aedeion. In this time, the cult of Tharos the Necromancer was first gaining strength. The seeds of that cult which would later sprout in Teral, in the 10th Age, were planted when Lakryss invited a quarter of Poison-Tongues to the shores of the Red Lake and made them his servants. Shortly after arriving at the Red Lake, Lakryss proclaimed himself king of the misty forest in that region of the world. He slaughtered the skin-changer hideaways and the peaceable giants of the region, collecting men from the wild regions of Vithania and the Dragonbacks, his ranks swelling with those fleeing Haxrim the Conqueror and his successor Tarkus the Indomitable.

This new kingdom grew up around a city bearing Lakryss' name: Lakra, on the Red Lake. Lakryss himself, having undergone a vile transformation in the hidden halls of Moros Aklaustros, grew to be known as the Weeping King; his eyes ran with thick phlegmy tears, streak with blood, which he never bothered to wipe away. This fearsome visage buckled the warring men and three nations of wood elves together under one banner—his. They resisted the onslaught of Soloth and later Caruel, remaining independent under the Weeping King's sign. This new kingdom was called Kholos.

To help him rule it, the Weeping King ennobled a number of men. He further drafted some into his service as vampiric children, heirs of his vile curse, making a brood of some fifty powerful vampires. He fought off others from the north, and was known as the mightiest king in west of the Twin Empires. But Soloth and Caruel fell, and Kholos did not.

Not until the coming of Roland of Sunhome, who's story is best told in other places. Suffice to say, this paladin who founded the Order of the Forge Divine slew Lakryss the Weeping King, and he slew many members of his vampiric children. In the aftermath of that violent conflict of the 8th Age, the kingdom of Kholos fell into five duchies, each ruled by one of the strongest of Lakryss' children. Lakra herself remained a free city, governed by a council of Poison-Tongues in the service of the Necromancer.

Wars and the advent of the Bleeding Plague reduced the rulership of these lands, and their people. The vampires fought one another until most of Lakryss' line was extinguished and only lesser beasts roamed the land. Amongst the remaining Heirs of Lakryss was the Duke of Dakrya, a region west of the river Dakesis. This vampire, Glev Redcloak, also called Glev Lakryos, was hunted for many years by mendicant members of the Order of the Forge Divine, dispatched by their Grandmaster to finish the work that Roland had begun.

Eventually, the Duke of Dakrya went into hiding, leaving the governance of his province to men. The Cult of Tharos spread, and after the fall of Teral, it found its seat in the ancient and now-abandoned city of Lakra. With great aplomb, they drove out the Forge Divine and re-established order through the eastern portions of Kholos, calling their newly forged land the Duchy of Aklaustria. In the west, beyond the River Dakesis, the Stewards of Dakrya continued to resist them. It was only with the emergence of Duke Glev and the foundation of the Order of the Black Hand that the power of the necromancers was checked.

Now, Duke Glev and the Poisontongues stand at each other's throats, neither side willing to commit to war, but neither willing to back down. The lands of Aklaustria lie blasted and ruined by necromantic magic. Towns have vanished back into the wild, and cities have been drained of their people. For two generations, Aklaustria has suffered under its necromantic masters. As the necromancers have no need of living subjects, they callously kill those who break even the most minor of laws. Their corpses are used to farm the meager lands required to sustain the cult at Lakra.

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