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Origins of Nithian Empire

by James Mishler

Pre-Dynastic Nithia (ca. 2100 BC through 1700 BC)

In 2100 BC the region now know as Ylaruam was a verdant region of grasses and fields fed by the great River Nithia. The meadows and fields ended not at the modern coastline but extended yet another 100 miles on to the east, ending in the Great Delta of the River Nithia. The entire region was known as the Eastern Plains, and had been home to the Necromancer-Kings, who ruled their City States in the name of the Eternal Emperor of Taymor. However, rebellion by a number of the Necromancer-Kings (who had been turned from the veneration of Nyx to the worship of Thanatos), caused the Eternal Emperor to purge the City States of that region of their rulers, and in their place he placed an OverKing. The Necromancer-King Nahar, a favourite of the Eternal Emperor, was named OverKing of the Eastern Realm. Nahar built a capital for his kingdom, a city he named Nithus in honour of the great river. His two most powerful lieutenants were the twin brothers Orisis and Setu-Kha, who were given the rule of the cities of Djedet and Payuum respectively.

In BC 2000 the Taymoran Empire came to a very abrupt end in the great war between those who had remained loyal to Nyx and the Eternal Emperor and those who had turned to the ways of Thanatos (a battle between Nosferatu and Vampires). The earth heaved, the mountains cracked and the Empire sank beneath the waves. No cities survived south of the Altan Tepes, as the waters of the Sea of Dread finished any communities that were not destroyed in the earthquakes. The realms of the Western Plains (modern Darokin and Alfheim) were destroyed in a great slave uprising, and disappeared from history. It was only in the Eastern Realm, sheltered from the earthquakes and tsunamis, that any Taymoran cities continued to exist.

There were nine major states and cities that formed along the banks of the River Nithia following the fall of the Taymoran Empire. The states, listed from east to west:

- Tamyris, centred on the city of Tamarnak (South of modern Anram). This realm, ruled by the Vampire-Queen Nennaya-Sherat, was found in the far west of the Eastern Plains, in what is today known as the Ust-Urt Valley. Nennaya-Sherat had been the leader of the Cult of Spectral Shadow, one of the many Vampiric Cells created by Thanatos. Her realm was ruled in a manner similar to that of the Taymoran City-States of old, with the exception that Thanatos was openly revered, rather than Nyx.

- Khyptis, centred on the city of Khypta (modern Sulba). Ruled by a council of Priests of Nyx who had overthrown their Vampiric overlords during the Taymoran Civil War. They did not trust the rulership in any one leader, so they rejected the ancient traditions of the Necromancer-Kings and ruled through a Council of Priests. The city was retaken by forces loyal to Thanatos within 20 years, sponsored by the Vampire-Queen of Tamyris. Khyptis was annexed by Tamyris in 1950 BC.

- Amon-Saar, centred on the city of Djer-Amon (modern Deraan). This city overthrew its native rulers in favour of rulership by foreign mercenary forces during the chaos following the cataclysm. These mercenaries were Antalian priests from the far north who had fled the internecine wars of their clans. They brought with them the worship of Odin, whom the locals came to revere as Amon.

- Herusat, centred on the city of Herunak (modern Ylaruam). This city was "purified" (i.e., all Nosferatu and Vampires slain, as well as all Priests of Nyx and Thanatos) by followers Horon (Ixion) during the Taymoran Civil War. Ruled by the High Priestess of Horon, Herunak became a beacon of light and knowledge in an otherwise very dark time.

- Nupt-Hur, centred on the city of Nubt (modern Kuznetz). The city of Nubt continued to be ruled after the cataclysm by a Vampiric minion of the OverKing Nahar.

- Munein, centred on the city of Munak (West of modern Hedjazi). Much like the cities of Djer-Amon and Herunak, the city of Munak overthrew its local rulers and religion in favour of a new faith, in this case the reverence of Munes (Asterius), Patron Immortal of the Moon and of Trade. Munes had been quietly revered by the Merchant Clans of the Taymoran Empire, a fact ignored for the most part by the Necromancer-Kings (even they had realised that it would not be wise to anger the Patron Immortal of Commerce).

- Payuum, centred on the city of Merunak (on the ancient lake that now is the Great Salt Basin - halfway between Ylaruam and Abbashan). Also known as the Kingdom of the Lake, or simply the Lake Kingdom. Continued to be ruled by the Necromancer-King Setu-Kha, who was still a Nosferatu in the service of Nyx.

- Nithia, centred on the city of Nithus (East of Abbashan). Ruled by the OverKing Nahar, Nithia was the strongest remaining state after the Civil War. Unfortunately, Nahar had become a Vampiric follower of Thanatos during the final weeks of the Civil War, and had broken with his lieutenants, Orisis and Setu-Kha.

- Taameh, centred on the city of Djedet (found in the Great Delta, now long-lost beneath the Sea of Dawn). Also known as the Kingdom of the East, or the Delta Kingdom. One of the great port cities of Taymor, Djedet continued to be ruled by the Necromancer-King Orisis, who was still a Nosferatu in the service of Nyx.

After the Civil War and the cataclysm most of the cities were in ruins, and the population levels were greatly reduced from their pre-war levels. Nithus, the largest of the cities, had an urban population no greater than perhaps 10,000 (down from pre-war levels of over 100,000!). Altogether, the cities contained fewer than 80,000 souls. The remaining rural population, having been spared much of the wrath of the Necromancer-Kings, was between eight and ten times that remaining in the cities. Over 80% of the "rural" population was found in villages along the River Nithia; the other 20% was spread out across the plains on great ranches and irrigated plantations. Most of the plains were devoid of civilisation, and isolated settlements were rare, as the Necromancer-Kings had always demanded strictest control over the populace.

During the final weeks of the Civil War the ruler of Nithus had turned to the ways of Thanatos; he had been opposed in this regard by several of his progeny, which were led by the twin brothers Orisis and Setu-Kha. Shortly after the cataclysm, the brothers were able to depose and dispose of their master. Orisis ascended to the throne of the OverKing, as he was the popular leader and elder of the twins (though only by minutes). Many of the cities did not recognise his rule, as they had rejected the old ways or were still ruled by minions of Thanatos; thus, the title of OverKing was effectively an empty one. Still, Orisis was the overlord of the eastern third of the Eastern Realm, which included the largest city (Nithus) and the rich Delta Kingdom and fertile Lake Kingdom (Payuum). However, Thanatos was still not satisfied with the destruction of the majority of the Taymoran Empire, and he saw a unique opportunity for destruction in the relationship between Orisis and Setu-Kha.

Thanatos was able to convince him that he should take the throne from Orisis, and was able to turn Setu-Kha over to his side, to become a Vampire. Setu-Kha rebelled against his brother in 1950 BC, and attacked the city of Nithus with allies from Tamyris and Nubt. He was defeated however, and he and his servants were forced to flee from the Eastern Realm. He fled to an island in the newly formed northern Sea of Dread, the legendary Isle of the Serpent where now lie the Isles of Ierendi. He gathered his own allies from the darker realms, notably the Serpentines of Davania, who sent him Lizard Men as shock troops. His servants also brought Makai Slaves from the southern isles, to serve him and his people. Orisis spent the next 50 years rebuilding his kingdom, purging the land of Payuum of its corruption. He also conquered the city of Nubt, and was able to make the rulers of the city of Munak recognise him as their OverKing (though he left their faith untouched... Orisis had become more tolerant in the years following the cataclysm).

During this period Orisis became acquainted with a traveller from the far east, an elderly wizard who went by the name Thoth. Thoth and Orisis became quick friends, despite the Undying nature of the OverKing. Thoth revealed himself to be one of the legendary Stone Folk who was on a great quest: he was searching for the reason behind the slow demise of the Elder Dwarven race. Orisis was unable to help him directly, though he was able to inform Thoth about Dwarven settlements to the north. Thoth eventually continued on to the Dwarven lands in the north, accompanied by his companion, the Dwarf known as Laughing Axe. After a very nasty encounter with the minions of the Vampire- Queen Nennaya-Sherat, the pair finally reached the lands of the Kogolor Dwarves in 1900 BC (modern Rockhome). The elderly sage and his companion were surprised to discover not only Dwarves, but also a race of Humans living in the mountains. The Humans were a tribe of Neathar that had been pushed out of the Northern Plains by invading hordes of Oltecs around 2000 BC; they had long been the allies of the Dwarves, and found refuge among them. But the Neathar were nomads, and found the mountains and valleys to be extremely restrictive.

During his time in the Kogolor lands, when he was not investigating the history of the Dwarves, Thoth regaled the Neathar with tales of the rich plains to the south which were dominated by Tamyris, the realm ruled by Nennaya-Sherat. Being a friend of Orisis, who was an enemy of Nennaya-Sherat, and having his own vendetta against the Vampire-Queen, Thoth convinced the Neathar clans to cleanse the plains of the realm of Nennaya-Sherat. In doing so, they would win their own lands, lands that were not unlike those they had left behind a hundred years before. Thoth communicated with Orisis using magical means, and set up a series of meetings whereby the Neathar clans would join with the forces of Orisis in a concerted effort to destroy the realm of Tamyris. In return for his assistance, the Neathar were able to acquaint Thoth with their Patron Immortal, Kagyar, for the Neathar were known as the People of Kagyar. (Eventually, Thoth would convince Kagyar to assist the Dwarves, and Thoth would go on to earn Immortality under the sponsorship of Kagyar).

Khypta was taken by the united forces of the People of Kagyar and the forces of the city of Nithus in 1875 BC, and in 1850 BC the allies destroyed Tamarnak itself. Her city razed and her forces shattered, Nennaya-Sherat fled to the Isle of Serpents where abode her ally, Setu-Kha. The People of Kagyar had settled in the plains around Khypta in 1875 BC, and eventually they rebuilt the city, renaming it Khyptahr. Over the years they would eventually adopt many Nithian customs. They became known to the Nithians as the "Ptahr Al-Dar" ("House of Ptahr" (Kagyar)). During this period Orisis was able to bring Herunak and Djer-Amon into his kingdom, as part of the alliance against Nennaya-Sherat and Setu-Kha. Again, he allowed the people to keep their own faith, and allowed them self-rule of their cities and lands. With the destruction of Tamarnak, Orisis became the single ruler of the entire Eastern Realm.

After the fall of Tamarnak, Orisis took to studying the many different faiths among the people of his kingdom. During this time he became a good friend of Haterat, the High Priestess of Horon and Queen of Herunak. Over the years Nyx kept warning Orisis that she did not like the manner in which he was diluting her worship, and thus her power, among the people of his kingdom. He argued long and hard, across many years with his Patron, claiming that the single mindedness of the Taymoran faith was part and parcel of the old empires downfall. He could never convince her of the necessity of balance among faiths, however, and she slowly withdrew her support from him. Somehow, minions of Thanatos learned of the falling out between Immortal and OverKing, and relayed that information to Setu-Kha, who still stewed on his isle to the southwest.

In 1800 BC Setu-Kha was able to assassinate Orisis. He dispersed his body across the Known World (much like the body of Osiris was in RW Mythology), and took control of Nithus. The various kingdoms rebelled against their new OverKing, especially the Ptahr al-Dar of Khyptahr. Setu-Kha and Nennaya-Sherat ruled Nithus with an iron fist, and sent their Lizard Men warriors out to conquer the "rebel" kingdoms. Warfare and rebellion lasted for their entire rule. The pair cast down the ziggurats dedicated to Nyx and built temples dedicated to Thanatos in their place. Thousands of captives died in horrible sacrifice to the Immortal of Death. Meanwhile, Haterat, friend and ally of Orisis, sought out the body parts of her friend across the Known World. In forty years she was able to bring his whole body back together again, and through the intervention of Horon was able to bring Orisis back to life. In this case Orisis was resurrected into true Life, not the Undead state of the Nosferatu (Nyx had totally abandoned her wayward son). He was henceforth known as the Resurrected Orisis, Son of Horon.

The Resurrected Orisis returned to Nithus in 1760 BC to find it in a state of abject tyranny. Entire regions of the Eastern Realm had been depopulated to feed the dark hungers of Thanatos and his minions. Nennaya-Sherat had built a Dark Tower upon the ruins of her ancient city of Tamarnak, and conducted horrible experiments therein. The only city that had not been conquered by Setu-Kha was Khyptahr, home of the Ptahr Al-Dar. The Resurrected Orisis made that city the base of his operations. He coordinated attacks with his ally, Thoth, who was now King of his own kingdom, O-Ptahr, on the Great Escarpment on the isle across the sea to the east.

A fortuitous occurrence happened for the Resurrected Orisis in 1758 BC. A large group of refugees from far-away Adakkia were fleeing persecution at the hands of their Emperor and his Priesthood. These refugees were Wizards and Priests of the highest calibre, worshippers of the Immortal Rathanos. They had approached Setu-Kha for aid, not realising his nature until it was too late. During their meeting Setu-Kha had the Adakkian ambassadors slain on a whim and their functionaries sacrificed for the greater glory of Thanatos. He then had sent them a message, delivered by the animated corpse of the senior ambassador, that the same treatment awaited any others who would deal with him. Thus, they contacted the Resurrected Orisis, and sought an alliance.

With his new allies from the far south, and with his old allies, the Ptahr Al-Dar and the people of O-Ptahr, Orisis caught the forces of Setu-Kha in a massive pincer. Thoth and his people (the Stone Folk and the Gnomes of the Isle of Dawn) attacked from the east, through the Delta region, and the Ptahr Al-Dar attacked from the west. The Adakkian Wizards and Priests were everywhere, though they concentrated their efforts on containing Nennaya-Sherat and her force of monsters and magical constructs. It took ten years, but eventually the Resurrected Orisis and his forces were victorious, and overthrew the dark rulers. Setu-Kha and Nennaya-Sherat, however, fled to their citadel on the Isle of the Serpent, and continued to harry the Resurrected Orisis and his peoples.

During the next 50 years (1750 through 1700 BC), the Resurrected Orisis took the battle to Setu-Kha's island. During this time the society of the Eastern Realm also underwent rapid evolution. The cities of the Eastern Realm became more diverse religiously and culturally; while each city (and often village) continued to be the centre of worship for a specific Immortal, all cities had at least a shrine to all the various Immortals found in the Eastern Realm. This was partly due to Setu-Kha's attempts to control the peoples of the various kingdoms by dispersing them throughout the land, weakening their ties to their native faith and culture. In fact, it had the opposite effect in the long run, as the cultures across the Eastern Realm became more diversified, yet at the same time became more united through that diversity. As the majority of the peoples throughout the land were from the Kingdom of Nithia, the entire peoples across the land began to regard themselves as Nithians, and identified more with the land as a whole rather than with just their one city or kingdom. Also during this period Thoth developed a new writing system, called Hieroglyphics, based on the old Taymoran cuneiform script; this was used to further unite the people, as it was a method to focus their new cultural identity.

The Adakkians were not idle during this time either. They had been granted the ancient lands of the realm of Nennaya-Sherat, and there they built two great cities on the banks of the Eastern Branch of the River Nithia. These cities, Ustar and Urtum, eventually gave their name to the valley between the two branches of the River Nithia, the Ust-Urt Valley. The Adakkians cast down the Dark Tower of the Vampire-Queen, and what they could not destroy, they buried, sealed with great runes of power. The worship of their Patron Immortal, Rathanos, spread throughout the land, and he quickly became a popular Immortal among the Wizards of the realm. Ustar became his "Home" city, and was the centre of worship for his Priesthood. Urtum became the home of the Adakkian College of Wizardry, and in 1730 BC was the home of a Wizard who created a certain guardian servant by the name of Pflarr.

Of all the cultural and social developments that occurred during this short time, the greatest was the introduction of Iron, through the graces of the people of Thoth (who had never truly left the iron-age). The use of iron weapons and armour gave the forces of the Resurrected Orisis a tremendous advantage over the forces of Setu-Kha, and they were able to press the attack even further. By 1710 BC the forces of the Resurrected Orisis were regularly raiding the Isle of the Serpent itself, and the end of the long war was in sight. The forces of the Resurrected Orisis finally overthrew the forces of Setu-Kha in a great battle on the Isle of the Serpent in 1700 BC. Horon-Ausar, the son of the Resurrected Orisis and Haterat (born BC 1755), slew Setu-Kha on the steps of his own royal dais. (Though of course, as all know, he was later returned to Unlife by his faithful ally, Nennaya-Sherat, and went on to earn Immortality under the sponsorship of Thanatos).

Shortly thereafter, the Isle of the Serpent blew up in the seismic activity that followed the Elven folly in the area that is now the Broken Lands. Upon the end of Setu-Kha's kingdom, the Resurrected Orisis renamed the Eastern Realm the Nithian Empire, to finalise the change in culture and religion that had taken place over the last fifty years. He then turned the rule of the Empire over to his son Horon-Ausar, who became the first Pharaoh of the Nithian Empire. Rather than taking the title OverKing, the new title "Pharaoh" was used, which meant "Viceroy"; the Pharaoh was to be the representative of the Immortals on Mystara. In late 1700 BC the Resurrected Orisis and his wife, Haterat, disappeared into the east on their quest for true Immortality under the sponsorship of Horon...