Chapter 18, the Reign of Nalaster the Clever: Part 1
Nalaster the Clever, 5th Grand Prince of the Kingdom of Aerdy
Born -164 CY, Died
Reigned -179 CY to -152 CY
Sarcophagus of the |
Hidden Empress, Mentrey
Sidimara Sarcophagus, Roman period, 2nd half of the 3rd century AD,
from Konya, Turkey. Now in Istanbul Archaelogical Museums
|Leo, Prince of the Naelax|
Danila Koslovsky in Viking (2016)
|The Massacre at Chokestone|
Art by Artem Demura
The Sarcophagus of the Hidden Empress This coffin was crafted as part of the reconstruction of the Shrine of the Hidden Empress undertaken by Grand Prince Nalaster. It is said to have held the remains of the mortal body the hero-goddess Johydee inhabited before she ascended to immortality. The wooden coffin of the long-lived prophetess had been a sacred object among the Aerdi since before the migrations although some tales say that Johydee still secretly lived among them at that time, with the coffin there to serve as a ruse. As befits a deity of deception, no one is ever sure there was anything in it, and her small priesthood has never told. The stone sarcophagus commissioned by Nalaster held the original coffin but that object disappeared during the Turmoil Between Crowns for fear it would fall into the hands of one or other of the warring factions and be used as a totem to bolster their cause. Though the Shrine of the Hidden Empress still stands in Mentrey and is a site of pilgrimage, it is said that the real Shrine lays somewhere under that city, unknown to any but her priesthood(3). As for the empty stone sarcophagus that remains at the Shrine, it may be noted that pieces of of the friezes decorating it have been chipped off. Doubtless this is to feed the lucrative trade in holy objects.
Leo, Prince of the Naelax The direct ancestor of the current Naelax Overkings, he was known for being a tireless and cunning warrior and leader. Here he appears fresh from the field of battle for an audience with Grand Prince Nalaster. Despite the role Leo played in the rebellion that saw the death of Nalaster’s father, the Grand Prince came to trust Leo and relied on him to pacify the Flan tribes of the North with relatively little oversight. While the title used by the Celestial Houses for their prince was interchangeably in the form of, for example, Prince of Garasteth and Prince of the Garasteth, Leo was the the first prince to be styled only as Prince of the Naelax. This was in acknowledgement of Gennor's breaking up of the Principality of Naelax as a political entity as part of the retributions taken for the actions of Baldo. Despite this loss, the Naelax still retained a seat in the Diet of the Six Houses, which acted as an advisory council for the Grand Prince. Of those lands formerly making up the Principality of Naelax the majority were folded into an expanded Medegia, which became even more a patchwork of counties, viscounties, and baronies. A narrow band encompassing Strinken, the former Naelax capital, was absorbed by the Principality of Garasteth.
The Massacre at Chokestone One of the darkest events in the history of the Kingdom of Aerdy and Great Kingdom. The suppression of Erythnul’s cult in Aerdy drove his worshipers and priests either into hiding or exile. Many of them went north into the wilds and Rakers Mountains inhabited by savage humanoid tribes. There the priests of The Many spread his worship, through awful means, displacing the native gods of Orc, Ogre, Gnoll, and Goblinoid. Here, an avatar of Erythnul appears behind Mazos who prepares to cut the throat of the tribe's priestess, said to have been a renegade Ur-Flan who had taken up the faith of Pelor. One theory of the Curse of Chokestone is that she repented of her apostasy and in her final moments called down the vengeance of the dark god worshiped by her birth tribe.
1. As stated in previous chapters the names of Gennor and Nalaster both come from the fan-created “Timeline of AerdiGrand Princes and Overkings” by Canonfire! member Taras Guarhoth and posted on that site in 2001. While I’ve diverged from this timeline in my own writing I do want to honor the creativity of Taras, one of the earlier Canonfire! members and the author of a wealth of material on the Great Kingdom.
2. Ivid the Undying (IVID) p. 53 "This place, and the lands around it (one hex in each direction), are deserted, not farmed by anyone. The site is that of a great battle between Aerdi men and a small Flan tribe in -171 CY. The Oeridians were easily triumphant, and an excessively brutal general ordered the torture and sacrifice of all surrendering Flan folk in thanks to Erythnul. The following day, the Aerdi army woke from its camp to find that the land for several square miles around had been stripped of vegetation. Only slate-like stone remained. As they trod upon the stone, it cracked as if it were brittle paper, releasing clouds of oily, choking smoke. Less than a third of the army managed to march away from the accursed area, and those who survived suffered lung infections and disease which brought their lives to very premature ends.
From time to time since this slaughter, a huge black smoky serpentine shape has been spotted prowling the lands around Chokestone, slaying any who dare approach the land where the Flan were slaughtered. Astrologer-sages can predict this wandering; it occurs around once every 17 years, with the 'snake' manifesting for 2d12 days. At other times, mages will sometimes try to obtain some of the stone for use in making dust of sneezing and choking, but they invariably send servants to obtain it rather than risking entry themselves."