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King STEFAN KARAMEIKOS, the Dark Ruler of Traladaraby Giulio Caroletti
WARNING: I don't want a million of posts that says how a stupid idiot imperialistic Thyatian and Karameikos-hater I am- I am NOT. It's just an alternative view on things that could appeal to persons that like devious and sinister explanations to what's happening in Mystara. It can be seen as a joke, as an adventure idea etc etc.
Stefan III Karameikos, Duke of Machetos, was born in 948 in Castle Karameikos, now Castle Jowdynites, son of Cymon Karameikos and Adriana Pallacratis. Stefan III inherited the title very early in his life, in 959, when both his parents remained killed in the Alphatian Spike's Assault at Thyatis. Luckily, Stefan had remained in Machetos with his tutor, a mage whose name was Assaran.
Assaran was a Sindhi exile who had travelled in the Eastern lands for about ten years before settling down in Thyatis City in 947. Assaran met Cymon Karameikos at a party at the Imperial Palace. There, Assaran told him that he would have a child that one day would become a King. Cymon and Adriana had never had a child in their ten years of marriage. But a few weeks after that encounter, Adriana Karameikos was pregnant.
Cymon Karameikos called for Assaran very soon, and asked his new friend to become the educator of his son, whom he named Stefan. So when, at the age of 11, Stefan became orphan, it was Assaran who became his father and mother, educator, counsellor.
Assaran had left Sind, charged of black magic and worship of Entropic beings. Assaran was in fact also a devotee of Bozdogan, and this was not a great thing to be in Sind before the Hulean conquest.
Karameikos grew up in the worship of the Hulean Immortal, and learned to view himself as the man destined to be King in the name of the Patron of Lie.
This destiny of power seemed to fulfil itself in 970, when finally Stefan, with the helping hand of Assaran, managed to obtain the Grand Duchy of Traladara from the Emperor Thincol Torion, not before he completed the stripping of all wealth in the Duchy of Machetos. When Thincol grabbed the duchy to obtain the funds he needed for his political actions, he discovered that no wealth were there...and preferred to be blamed for the act, than mocked for the ingenious way the Duke of Machetos had deceived the great Emperor of Thyatis.
Stefan Karameikos asked some of his loyal friends of Machetos and Thyatis to join his expedition. Among these, Ludwig Von Hendriks, his cousin; Philip Vorloi, a quite honest merchant; Desmond Kelvin; Arthur Penhaligon.
An interesting thing about Assaran that I forgot to tell you, is that Assaran was in fact a woman. When Stefan married Olivia Prothemian in 979, Assaran magically jarred herself in the young and fascinating body of the Arch Duchess, then had the woman imprisoned in a secret chamber of the Castle. It is unknown whether the poor woman still dwells there in the guise of a mad Sindhi...
Stefan Karameikos knew that his cousin Von Hendriks was a despot and an awful person. After the reprisal of a big revolt in Specularum, put up by the Marilenev family, Stefan needed a way to appear in a better light among his subjects, so he begun to search for possible Traladaran candidates for some public roles. Von Hendriks ruling in Halag helped also to his reputation of a just ruler, by simple comparison.
In the following years, Stefan begun to increase the power of his newly founded nation, and at the same time worked to create trouble and havoc in other countries of the Known World. He contacted secretly Alphatian wizards and provided ingent quantities of zzonga fruit to the Thyatian market, helping the decadence of its army drugging and corrupting its officials. He employed pirates to attack the Shires and ships that sailed near Western Karameikos, and gave the blame of it to his cousin. He contacted the Master of Hule and promised him to support an eventual invasion of Darokin, attacking from the south. And, as Bozdogan told him a Great War would have been near, he carefully prepared himself to intervene to haste its beginning.
In 1004, when the first problems aroused between Glantri and Alphatia, he intervened hastily, sending a group of Glantrian and Alphatian traitors to their countries and act destructively pretending to be of the other one; he managed to burn to ashes the city of Aasla; had Torenal killed; when the Alfheim elves fled from their lost nation, he payed the humanoids of the mountains to kill the most possible number of them.
Then, his two masterpieces, that allowed him to gain the approval and sponsorship to Immortality by Bozdogan:
the first, the betrayal of Thyatis; the second, his betrayal of Hule, that at the same time justified his 'selling out' of his homeland, and proved the ability of a man daring enough to lie to the Master of Lies himself!
Then the war went toward an end, and Stefan's plans were continuing for the best. He encouraged refugees from all the nations in trouble to join Karameikos, especially Alfheimers and Alphatians, knowing that this would have surely led to great problems and conflicts, both between the Thyatians and Alphatians and between humans and elves. Some financial help to the Alfheim Avengers, especially in Darokin, created difficulties to the diplomatic process in Aengmor. Unfortunately he was forced by the Hin to do something with his cousin Von Hendriks...but it's just a minor flaw in a great plan of destructiveness.
Stefan is a master liar, a very patient fellow, a villain of immense strategic capacity. And the best is that he knows the people know him as a good, although maybe a little unwise, ruler.
Stefan is now preparing for the ultimate coup: allied with Master Terari, he will give new dominions to Alphatians, but not to Traladarans. He is intending to act like he is becoming very senile, a pawn in the hands of Terari, an Alphatiaphile with the paranoia of being killed by Thyatians because he didn't help them in the War with Alphatia. "I abandoned my homeland...and now they will kill me...only Alphatians can help me...". Obviously this will begin with only slight hints of paranoia and develop into a nearly complete madness, when he will declare that the Cult of Halav is the official religion of the land, put to death Desmond Kelvin for conspiracy and declare the Church of Karameikos illegal in its borders!
And, suddenly, Stefan will begin to tell he is Adriana Karameikos, whose mind has been put in his father's body by a mysterious witch. A few days later, Adriana will tell to a mournful nation that her father Stefan, completely mad, died during the night, while he cried that 'Thyatians are coming'.
Adriana Karameikos is obviously Stefan, whose mind and soul were transplanted using one of Assaran's Sindhi Black Magic spells (see later). Naturally, unrest will spread very quickly in the country, because the Cult of Halav and the new Alphatian landowners pretend that Stefan's folly begun AFTER they received their benefits...But Adriana/Stefan thinks it differently. She wants back all the land from the Alphatians, declares the Church of Karameikos the ONLY legal religion, thus enraging the Traladaran population. By this time, the new Patriarch of the Church of Karameikos is Alfric Oderbry (Gaz1). While Alphatians protest her actions through Master Terari, the latter is killed by a nationalist cleric of the Church of Karameikos.
When unrest starts all over Karameikos, Adriana/Stefan will call for help from its allies of the Western Defence League...
At the end of the war, Karameikos will be a very different nation. Bozdogan can be quite satisfied of his servitor. He has managed to help Entropy for nearly 20 years in the Known World without exposing himself directly, and all only by the use of lies and deceit. Except for the burning of Aasla, obviously!