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Part I: The Nephthisian Struggle against Taymoraby John Calvin
With my renewed interest in the Hollow Moon, as well as in Mystara's past, I've put together some stories and timelines that flesh out some of the work that Sharon Dornhoff has done on the Hollow Moon, as well as some of my own work on lycanthropy. It's important to note that the following material may diverge from the original articles in some aspects. This was necessary in order to mesh the two ideas together more fully. In the cases where I do diverge I will point out the differences.
It is also important to note that several of my own ideas diverge from canon, and I will note those as well. Foremost concerning this article, is that I place the creation of lycanthropy at the hands of the Taymorans circa BC 2000, and not at the hands of the Alphatians 1400 years later. In my version lycanthropy is only blamed on the Alphatians, because all knowledge of the disease prior to that was lost when Nithians were wiped from the memories of mortals on the planet.
I may also refer to Nephthisi as a goddess rather than as immortal. In these instances the term is simply literary license, and is not meant to change or modify the Mystaran concept of immortality.
Excerpt from the Nephthi Ben, circa BC 1900.
Know that we are not alone!
Our Mother looks down through deepest night.
Her tears are shed as a reminder
of her silvery embrace upon the waves.
BC 1900 - Nephthisi begins to gain followers from within the slave population of Mogreth. Slowly she guides them, forming them into what will one day become the Nephthisian religion and preparing them for the day that they will break the bonds of their oppressors(1).
BC 1894 - A silver meteorite streaks through the heavens and crashes in the interior of Mogreth where it is found by a human slave woman, by the name of Thema. Thema secrets the silver fragment from her masters and begins receiving visions from a mysterious patron who calls herself Nephthisi.
BC 1887 - Thema calls herself the first Daughter of Nephthisi, and quietly preaches against the hated Mogreth slave masters. She begins to attract a group of like minded women to her side. Though hounded by their scaly masters, over the next hundred years these Nephthisians build up a stable following. Always one step ahead of the slavers (thanks in part to divine intervention), they manage to keep the Nephthi Ben, the silver tear of their goddess, safe from harm.
This tear shaped chunk of silver is pock marked, and nearly two feet in length. Physical contact with the Nephthi Ben allows direct commune with Nephthisi. A prolonged period of contact brings with it the ability to commune with Nephthisi in dreams, removing the requirement of physical contact with the artifact. The Nephthi Ben radiates a strong aura of good, and life springs forth around it. Plants grow, animals multiply more fruitfully, and even the most grievous wounds can be healed in its presence. Evil creatures however, shun the Nephthi Ben. Those with evil in their hearts who try to claim the object are often struck down by the power of the goddess herself.
During their enslavement, the Nephthisian priestesses kept the Nephthi Ben buried in order to hide it from their oppressors. On several occasions the artifact was dug up and moved in order to prevent its capture, and many of the early High Priestesses gave their lives to protect it.
These lesser tears of Nephthisi, three in total, were scattered near the Nephthi Ben when it was first found. Also made of silver, these tear shaped fragments are 2 - 3 inches long. Imbued with minor protective and restorative powers, the main function of the Benbi is to locate the Nephthi Ben. Anyone grasping one of the smaller tears in hand, will feel the direction of the Nepthi Ben. This manifests as a small tug or push in the direction that the greater artifact is located.
All three Nephthi Benbe were strung on necklaces and given to devotees of Nephthisi as a safeguard against keeping the Nephthi Ben secret. Should the High Priestess be captured or killed, then other followers would know how to find and recover their most sacred of artifacts.
Excerpt from the Djeb Nekthmet, circa BC 1690.
Bone and blood, tooth and claw,
Crimson madness from a shattered land.
Though darkness fall, our mother sees us still.
In her light we shall prevail.
BC 1750 - A series of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions sends Taymora into disarray. In Mogreth the eruptions trigger a calamitous flood, washing most of that nation away into the sea. The Mogrethian slaves, who will eventually become the Nithian peoples, smash their bonds and claim their freedom.
Despite the disasters happening in Taymora, the vampire kings see the fall of Mogreth as their chance to claim the lands to the north. They begin a campaign of terror against the newly formed nation of Nithia(2).
BC 1700 - Elves in Glantri cause a Blackmoorian artifact to explode, triggering massive earthquakes and finally sending Taymora to rest at the bottom of the sea. Remnants of that nation struggle with the emerging Nithians in an attempt to recreate their former glory.
BC 1697 - Among the survivors of the sinking of Taymora were the vampire king Xhetti and his feral queen Makalbu. One of the architects of mythic lycanthropy(3), Xhetti commanded legions of the doomed creatures, setting them against the Nithians to the north.
The Siege of Shugrat
Recorded by Hastet, Chronicler of the Ages, Handmaiden to Khestiri, 12th Daughter of Nephthisi(4), Queen of the Moon.
We had hoped the foul beast Xhetti was consumed by the sea. It is not so. The Father of Wolves and his bitch queen Makalbu escaped from Akkar driving a horde of their children before them. Shugrat fell before them and before the flooding of the river Nithus already a temple has been constructed there. The black basalt seems to pull the light from the very sun itself. Always there are clouds above the dark tower, and a pallid blot stretches across the land underneath.
The tribes of Thetos and Hurekhem have each set upon Shugrat , and each in turn have been repulsed by the demons of Taymor. Of Xhetti there has been no sign, but the Bitch Queen takes the field among her children. Slavering and foaming at the mouth, Makalbu and all of her spawn send our warriors fleeing from battle. Those who face her wrath have worse to fear than death. Many of the injured flock back to Xhetti's banner once the sun sets and the beast controls their skin.
Xhetti's army grows and soon all the tribes of Nithus will issue forth to meet this abomination who consumes our people. We too shall meet this terror, but not alone. The strength and grace of our Mother flows through us.
Excerpt from the Djeb Nekthmet, circa BC 1680.
Bone and blood entwined,
Bound in silver, grasping silver.
In its reflection of our mother's face
Shining bright through the stars,
Nephthisi takes up the burden.
Children of the night rely upon her strength.
BC 1682 - The answer to combating this vile threat was revealed to a Nephthisian priestess in a dream. In order to fight this curse, the Nithians would have to return to its source. In a desperate ploy, they slew Xhetti and Makalbu and from their remains crafted a relic to ease the suffering of their cursed children, the lycanthropes. The Chalice of the Moon changed the plague of mythic lycanthropy, binding it to the phases of Matera and reducing the number of involuntary changes an afflicted would suffer.
BC 1679 - After the Chalice of the Moon is created, the Nithians observe the power of mythic lycanthropy fade. Silver, a metal sacred to Nephthisi hampers their movement and causes them great pain. With this new weapon, the Nithians are able to turn the tide against the Taymoran remnants.
The Slaying of Xhetti and Makalbu
Recorded by Hastet, 13th Daughter of Nephthisi, Queen of the Moon.
I write this now in haste. Khestiri, Beloved of Nephthisi, has returned from her communion with the Moon. Our Mother has revealed her plan to Khestiri, and though it is desperate, we will not shirk our duties. Urgab, once called Shugrat, must be infiltrated and the blood demon Xhetti and his queen, slain. I thought to lead this doomed task myself, but Khestiri insists otherwise. She will tell me naught except that Nephthisi requires her presence. I am wary of the decision. Despite her creaking bones and wavering gait, I can not... I will not oppose her.
Recorded by Ibenis, Chronicler of the Ages, Handmaiden to Hastet, 13th Daughter of Nephthisi, Queen of the Moon.
Our success has come with a high price. Khestiri does not return with the others, and Hastet, Daughter of Nepthisi even now battles for her life... but I get ahead of myself. Five set out to infiltrate the citadel of Urgab. Hengdyr Dranwyrf of Kagyar's folk(5), who helped us build the temple at Mintruh, offered his skills as a stonesmith. Gillahg, the jackal headed paladin of sunken Xesh, sought to avenge the blood of his family, stolen by Xhetti. Anurath, who did battle with Makalbu at the Siege of Shugrat, represented the tribes of Nithus. For our order went Hastet, 13th Daughter of Nephthisi. Khestiri led them all through the tunnels and sunken streets of Shugrat, where she spent her childhood chained by scaled masters. The horrors that she had to relive, and those she had yet to face when returning to that place, are beyond my desire to imagine.
Armed with knowledge provided to him by Khestiri, and a device said to be from his ancient homeland, Dranwyrf made his way to the centre of old Shugrat while the others fought their way past the upper levels of the citadel. It was the dwarf's task to destroy the foundations which held the city aloft. Should the others fail, at least Urgab would sink back into the depths from which it was raised. Of the horrors they faced, Hastet would not speak. Gillahg set upon Xhetti in a frenzy, but was woefully over matched. Hastet and Anurath moved to confront Makalbu, and the fiend's slavering jaw immediately clamped down on Hastet's thigh. To his credit Anurath hacked off the beast's arm, but by then Gillahg had fallen and the vampire Xhetti fixed his gaze on the others.
It is at this point that Hastet's story becomes confused, but apparently many things all happened at once. The foundations of the citadel shock, collapsing stone blocks and columns on friend and foe alike. Khestiri's form was consumed in a flash of brilliant of silvery light, as she reached out and grabbed Xhetti as the vampire closed in. All that remained after the flash was Xhetti's severed arm. Makalbu tucked tail and fled, and Anurath gathered the gruesome trophies and returned here with Hastet in his arms.
(1) Here I am changing the timeline specifically with regards to the foundation of the nation of Nithia. Instead I am taking BC 1900 as the founding of the Nephthisian religion - an event which predates Nithia's founding by 250 years.
(2) This timeline differs from the original Nephthisian timeline proposed by Rotipher. That timeline considers Nithia to be a full fledged and growing nation by the BC 1900s, however various other timelines (that I'd like to incorporate), dispute this. My solution is to take the first 3 entries from Sharon's timeline and shift the time frame 200-300 years (forward). This has the effect of causing those particular events to happen fairly quickly in succession, however the rest of the timeline is not affected by this and can continue pretty much as is.
(3) See A Treatise on Lycanthropy for more details as to the Taymorans involvement in creating the disease.
(4) The Nephthisian high priestess is always referred to as a Daughter of Nephthisi, Queen of the Moon. Khestiri is the twelfth in her line, and the first of her order to exist freely, out from under the oppression of Mogreth.
(5) It has never made sense to me that the Nithians and dwarves of Rockhome never had contact with one another. First of all both people were explorers during that era, and their proximity would have made contact inevitable. Secondly Egyptian mythology is full of references and tales about dwarves, and it seems like such a shame to ignore this aspect of that culture (simply because IMO someone failed to do their homework early on).
- Treatise on Lycanthropy by John Calvin
- Hollow Moon Exploration: A Brief History of Space (Travel) by Sharon Dornhoff
- Mogreth by Geoff Gander