Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kasdalan: The Secret History of Lady Poe and Zam Redar

Lost Tales: Kal Vassos, Zam Redar, and of the rise of Lady Poe

This backstory helped to explain how Lady Poe came into power, what her curious connection is with Chirak's most famous villain, and also served to outline the events which had a major impact on 2010's lengthy time travel campaign.
Once, centuries ago, Kal and Zam were young wizard apprentices studying under the tutelage of a now long-dead but great man named Tykarnias. Tykarnias was a rebellious soul himself, and he was perhaps overly permissive of his adopted sons and apprentices, letting them delve in to mysteries and magic perhaps best left untouched.

Kal and Zam were both orphans at a young age. Kal was an infant child found abandoned in the Mythric Isles by Tykarnias towards the end of his adventuring days. When discovered, he was preserved, seemingly perfectly, in a time-distortion bubble. Tykarnias deduced that Kal was, in fact, a child of true Mythric blood, and that he had been saved from death as a last act of defiance by his parents, using a time-displacement spell. Tykarnias in interacting with the bubble ended the spell, releasing the young child to a world far removed from his own time.

Zam Redar was the son of a chieftain who ruled a clan of loggers along the Legoran coast, and by the age of three he displayed profound natural powers of sorcery. Tykarnias found the child two months after his expedition to the Mythric Isles, while moving along the coast of Legora in search of a famous ruin. The village in which Zam was found had been razed to the ground in an attack by Blood-Drencher clan orcs, and all of the villagers had been slaughtered. Curiously, Zam was unharmed, but a hundred and more orcs around him had all been slain. There was a unique anima radiating an aura of dark magic around the child, and Tykarnias could sense a true sorcerer’s blood within the child. He adopted Zam as well, and named him after the chieftain of the village, whom he had known before in life on previous visits, for the child, bore the marks of leadership. In later years Tykarnias would learn that the chieftain’s wife had encountered a dark force within the woods of Legora, and that this entity had manifested as a black knight with whom she had frequent relations, until she became pregnant. Such was Zam Redar’s origins, though they were not to be known until much later.

Both children, in time, proved to be uniquely gifted in the magical arts, albeit in two different manners. Zam Redar’s perpetual anima seemed steeped in dark sorcery, which flowed naturally through the child’s blood. Kal Vassos was born in to natural power as well, and had about him an aspect of invocation, coupled with a natural penchant for wizardly lore. Tykarnios could not have been luckier to have two such gifted apprentices, though in time they taxed even his ability to keep up.

Tykarnios dwelled in a remote keep along the borders of what are now Mercurios and Nubirion, where he traded with all folks of the time. In his day Mercurios was a province of the Pellucid Empire, and Nubirion was a wild, untamed land with only the mysteries of the Yellow City to penetrate its vastness. The region was rife with ancient magic, a legacy of the cataclysm, and Tykarnios relished his studies in such. He was no arcanist, but his methods would not have been approved by the budding order of the Preservationists in far Eristantopolis.

The boys grew up under the tutelage of Tykarnios for magic, while their father’s retired adventuring ally, the Pellucid knight Morrick aided them in more physical arts, such as swordplay and horsemanship, neither of which were as good at such. Still, they did try. A third tutor, the elder priestess Nimrasa of southern Ur provided them with proper studies in religion and history. Nimrasa, though forbidden from marriage by her religion (for she was dedicated to the worship of Laddaskar) nonetheless was dedicated to Tykarnios and had stayed by his side for many decades. She had never borne children, and could not. The two adopted sons were a secret joy for her.

Life went well for this curious family of wizards and their adventuring allies who periodically visited. When the boys turned of age, they were tasked with journeying to the Pellucid Capitol, known even then as Mercurios. There, Tykarnios intended that they present themselves to the emperor, and that in turn they would dedicate themselves to him and his rule.

When Kal and Zam arrived, a journey in its own right for the two who had seen less of the world in person than in books, they did indeed present themselves to the service of the emperor, who was delighted to have the two sons of his valued ally and advisor as his new young agents. It was during this time that Zam Redar met the young Lady Erissa Poe, then princess of her father of Kasdalan, the King Gilharad Poe, who was negotiating a treaty with the Pellucids to insure peace and safe trade between their borders. Zam and Erissa became enamored with one another almost immediately, and did a terrible job of disguising their relationship. Indeed, not two weeks after the talks of treaty began, Gilharad left in anger when he learned of the tryst his daughter was having. The damage, however, had been done.

Kal Vassos remained loyal to the king, and petitioned Lord Kaledon himself for entrance in to his exclusive tutelage. He later went on to become the true advisor of the king when his father perished, and one day would be approached by the Order of the Chronomancers, who recognized his unique tether to the time stream, for entry in to their order.

Zam Redar, however, renounced his father’s name, and after being expelled from the courts of Pellucid in shame for his dalliance with Lady Poe, he set out on his own, to explore the world. He traveled for many years, and in his quests he discovered many powerful and ancient artifacts. Though none know for sure, Kal Vassos is certain that Zam was responsible for Tykarnios’s death, as Zam later showed he had acquired their father’s Robes of Wizardry, an artifact otherwise unattainable.

It was in the deep south of the Everdread Desert that Zam Redar found the Orb of Dragonkind, hidden in a ruined fortress where a last stand of the Betrayer Gods was made. Here he also met a powerful, ancient being named Skaddras, a Shadow Dragon which recognized Zam Redar for what he was: a Thousandspawn, a child of the chaos god Ga’Thon. This was revealed to Zam Redar, who upon discovering his nature, realized his true potential was as yet undiscovered…

Meanwhile, Lady Poe was the youngest child and only daughter of her father, Gilharad, and the Poe line had always been prolific, such that there were seven sons ahead of her who were destined to rule Kasdalan. It had always been a peculiar trait of Kasdalani blood that the women tended to have a strong talent for wizardry, and Erissa Poe was no exception. Her development of these talents was interrupted by the birth of her bastard child, a daughter she named Tyrea. Tyrea was unusual, and could speak as an adult by the age of one. Indeed, it seemed that Tyrea was a Thousandspawn, born of Zam Redar’s bloodline, and that unlike her father, she was fully aware of her nature from infancy. She told Lady Poe that she was destined for greatness, and that she would teach her how to manifest her destiny. Shortly after her child turned one year old, rumors of diablerie and witchcraft grew rampant, and Lady Poe was forced to flee with her daughter or be destroyed.

Ten years passed and in this time Zam Redar grew powerful, Kal Vassos joined the Chronomancers in studying the secrets of the time stream, and Lady Poe fled in to the swamps of Kasdalan, where she met the death cults of the Apocalypticists, who revered only the passing of the soul and the eternity of death. Each became important in a different fashion, and at last, after much time had passed, destinies once again converged.

Zam Redar, now powerful in a manner he had not previously imagined, sought out his true father, the Black Knight Voskos Redar of Legora. The two fought, for it difficult for Thousandspawn to tolerate one another. He nearly slew his father out of mere spite, choosing to steal most of his magical powers, instead. He then journeyed southward, after experiencing a sudden vision of Lady Poe, and remembering his lustful encounters with her.

When Zam Redar reached Kasdalan in the south, it was with a small army of draconian and mercenaries at his command. He quickly set about using his sorceries to depose and slay the elder Gilharad before the king even knew he was threatened, and then quickly invaded the land while its leadership was in disarray. Upon reaching the capitol, he declared that the rightful heir to the throne would be the first Kasdalani true blood to best him in combat.

One by one, the nobles, knights and princes of Kasdalan fought Zam Redar, each perishing against the man who wore chaos-inscribed armor, upon a steed that was at once horse-like and draconic. It was not until a sharp-eyed woman with raven black hair, now twenty five years of age with a young daughter at her side, that Zam Redar was fairly beaten. Matching sorcery for sorcery she soundly demolished his defenses and he immediately bowed before her, granting Lady Poe the rule of the kingdom. Lady Poe, knowing he had let her win, bade him to stay within Kasdalan, and be her captain of the armies. He consented.

Thus was born the reign of Lady Poe. In the decades to come, Kasdalan would be shaped as she desired, as she learned much from her captain and lover, as well as her half-god daughter. In time, her quiet, cautious ways coupled with her own profound instinct for magic allowed her to become more powerful than either Tyrea of Zam. Thanks in part to her participation in the death cult; she even learned the secret of conquering death.

Kasdalan grew powerful under the reign of Poe, and after a decade she consummated her well-known affair with Zam in marriage. She and Zam had several more daughters, and though it was never known if she had male children, most were sure any so born would be slain. Eventually, with seven strong daughters and her husband, it was decided that Kasdalan deserved to rule the world, and so the great and ancient war against Pellucid and the other neighbors of their kingdom began. Decades later, the Kasdalani would be the greatest nation in the world, having laid claim by force to more land than any post-cataclysmic realm. It was only hubris that laid low Zam and Poe, and their empire with them.

It began with Tyrea, the first daughter, who was loved by both, until the second daughter, and then the third, and so forth. Tyrea was jealous, and despite her vast knowledge and magic, she still had a child’s sense of emotion and jealousy. She attempted one day to slay her sisters in a fit of anger, and her parents ultimately banished her. She was sent to the far corners of Kasdalan, and locked in a tower protected by demons under Poe’s command. Poe had grown powerful, but feared her daughter, who had taught her so much.

Tyrea eventually grew wise when she realized her prison was too strong for her to escape, and she seduced the demon Mazradache that had been tasked as her jailer. She had a child of mixed demonic and divine blood. The girl she named Tythia, who grew to become a comely beauty. Tythia she raised carefully, grooming the child to insure the ultimate revenge against her parents, and eventually she sent her daughter forth in to the world, to play the role of a witch and lady knight in the service of Zam Redar’s conquering armies.

By this time, Zam Redar had spent forty years ravaging the land, and he had brought Pellucid to its knees. He had taken residence in his father’s now abandoned keep on the edge of Nubirion while he contemplated whether to move north or east with his armies, and it was then that he noticed Tythia, who had served loyally as a shield maiden in his army, and now commanded her own company of conscripts from the region. In turn, Tythia seduced him, and convinced him to journey eastward, toward the Sapphiritic Kingdoms in search of great wealth. In the midst of her seduction she spirited away the orb of Dragonkind, replacing it with a false artifact, as proof of the seduction.

With the betrayal complete, Tythia contacted her mother magically, and let her know that the deception was a success. Tyrea, in turn, arranged for word to get back to her mother, Lady Poe, that Zam Redar had betrayed her love. Though doubtful at first, Poe soon came to believe when Tyrea presented her with the Orb of Dragonkind. Enraged, it is said that Lady Poe banished the prison tower and its captor to the Far Realms.

Lady Poe, so enraged that she could not bear herself, quickly fell upon her old sense of retribution, which she had developed in the old days thanks to her father and brothers. She journeyed ahead of Zam Redar’s position and deep in to the Skeladani Lands, where she negotiated a treaty with the Skeledani in exchange for their loyalty. She then called upon the dragon lords using the orb, and negotiated with them a betrayal as well, and in exchange she promised to free them from the orb’s control. Lady Poe then arranged for an ambush of Zam Redar’s forces, once they were east of the Kyurtain Mountains and deep in to the journey eastward. She chose her three most loyal daughters with the greatest talent for magic, and when the time was right, they struck.

In the end, Zam Redar’s own legions were cast in to disarray, unwilling to fight against their queen, and Zam Redar was left to fend for himself with his most loyal legions and his dragons, who then turned upon him, and though his sorcery was enough to drive them back, it left him depleted and weak. It was then that Lady Poe came upon him, weakened upon the battlefield, and promised him an end to this. She assaulted him, as did her daughters, with powerful magic, until Zam Redar was spent and unconscious. They placed him in an ancient sarcophagus, said to have held the body of a lost god. This container was made of primordial material that resisted magic, and Poe bound it with even stronger chains and spells. As she placed him in the sarcophagus, she reached out and ripped from him the anima which had been with him since childhood, and bundled it in to her womb with dark sorcery.

In to this coffin she cast the Orb of Dragonkind and his other artifacts, to keep her promise to the dragons. She then carried the sarcophagus southward, to the Dreaming Plains, where she called up one of the ancient Great Wyrms of the earth, and used her magic to force the worm to swallow the coffin whole. The ancient earth lord then returned to the bowels of the earth, not to be seen again for several centuries. So ended the first reign of Zam Redar.

When Lady Poe was done with her vengeance, she realized that the mistress of her husband, Tythia, had fled. She looked among her most vile knights and agents, and found the undying elf Orgain, whom she sent to find and destroy the woman, lest she cause more trouble for her grandmother in the future.

Lady Poe went on to rule Kasdalan to the present day, and she gave birth to several more daughters, twelve in all, using the anima of chaotic energy that she stole from Zam Redar. She was so bitter about the experience, that she declared that no males in her kingdom would be allowed to be born who displayed sorcerous talent, and such would be put to death. She made the death cult the state religion, and dispersed the armies of Zam Redar’s reign, caring not to rule so vast an empire, and seeing dissent fomenting in every corner of the empire. In time, Kasdalan’s borders shrunk to what they are today, and new kingdoms arose from the ashes of Old Pellucid.

Next: A Map of Kasdalan

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