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Origin and History of the Master of Huleby Colin Davidson
The Master of Hule Part 1
The Master of Hule is a mysterious character, with his origins lost in the mists of time. Here I propose a new origin for the Master, one that makes him older and more potent than ever before.
The Master is none other than the Egg of Coot, fabled nemesis of the Blackmoor civilisation. The destruction of Blackmoor also destroyed Coot; although his lands were never fertile, they eventually became a barren wasteland after the fall of Blackmoor and the shifting of Mystaras polar axis. His physical form destroyed, the Egg drifted as a disembodied, entity for an age, before finally settling in a remote region to the North of the Savage Coast.
Originally only able to manifest as a feeble vision, the Egg only slowly built up the level of support he needed to form a new physical body. Civilisations came and went, and the malevolent cult of the Master of Hule slowly grew. First, the Master took control of the lands around his new Temple, then he warped the people and culture of the land in his own officious, callous image.
Slowly his armies amassed, and his scouting parties ranged as far afield as the Arm of the Immortals, the Yavdlom divinarchy, and Darokin. And eventually he found what he was seeking; the remnants of Blackmoor. He slowly became aware of the presence of two powerful, functioning artifacts of that civilisation, namely the flying city of Serraine and the Nucleus of the Spheres. He tentatively probed outside his borders for ways to reach the Nucleus, finding his armies blocked to the North by a great mountain range, and to the East by the Plains of Fire and then Sind and Darokin. He tried sending an army underground, and discovered another forgotten remnant of the great Blackmoor disaster, the shadow elves. Now he struck upon a plan to seize what was, in his mind, his legacy.
He fed information to the Shadow Elves that above them, the nation of Alfheim had become decadent and was ripe for conquest. He fed information to the Dwarves of Rockhome that their fabled holy city of Aengmor was defended only by some rag-tag tribes of orcs, and waited for the inevitable. He foresaw the invasion of Alfheim, he foresaw the Dwarven-Shadow Elf war for Aengmor, but what he didn't see was the Immortal Storm.
The Master of Hule Part 2
The Master did not appreciate the lengths that Mystaran immortals would go to over the Nucleus. His relationship with Mystaras immortals being strained at the best of times (more on this later), he underestimated the sheer destructive potential of the great war. While he delighted in the chaos and slaughter, he lamented that his plans were necessarily pushed further back by the presence of thousands of Alphatian, Thyatian and Glantrian troops in the Known World, and the interest that the Heldannic Knights were showing in taking Serraine for themselves made any successful invasion of that city quite unlikely.
Still, his plan to encourage a Shadow Elf invasion of Alfheim worked well. Agents of his high in the court of King Doriath in Alfheim aided the retreat of Doriath's elves into Wendar but, from the Masters perspective, into the lowland forests of Atruaghin. The Masters timely invasion of Sind, together with threats from the East encouraged Darokin to remain Neutral in the war between Alfheim and the Shadow Elves, worried instead for their own borders, and the attentions of all other Known World nations were elsewhere. Doriath, and the elves of Alfheim, stood alone, to fester in their misery and anger, with only the sympathy of distant Wendar.
After the war, normality started to return to the Known World region, again with the Masters agents in several countries pushing for normalising relations with the Shadow Elves; this pariah state had to be brought into real diplomatic being to further alienate and isolate the elves. That, and a plague in Wendar, traced ultimately to a disease contracted during the Shadow Elf invasion, further alienated the elves loyal to Doriath's cause from other nations.
Doriath set about making what friends he could, but the weakened state of Glantri, Karameikos and Darokin somewhat restricted his success on most fronts. The humans of Atruaghin began to benefit from trade with the elves, and new roads built by the elves started to increase trade through Atruaghin, bringing some prosperity. But still, the desire of the elves to re-take what was theirs burned consumed all. The betrayal of the elves by their human allies would not be forgotten.
The Masters envoys, at this stage, could finally make their move. In return for passage through Atruaghin, on the newly constructed roads (which would take the Masters armies to within 50 miles of the City of Darokin), the Master would offer his forces for a full scale invasion of the Shadow Elf territories. A two pronged attack was proposed; Wendar would assault the Northern borders of the Shadow Elf territories, with the consent of the Erewan elves from Glantri for crossing that nation having been given already, while the combined forces of elves and the Master would attack from the South. With the Masters forces already in Darokin, on the poorly defended Atruaghin border, that nation would rapidly fall, leaving the Master free to assault Glantri and reclaim the Nucleus at a later date. With the combined wealth of both Sind and Darokin, the Master would be almost unstoppable.
Well, that's where we are in my campaign now... More on the history of the Egg/Master later...
The Master of Hule Part 3: Ancient History
The Master was originally of a primitive species not entirely unlike the roper. He was 8' tall, with many tentacles, a large, gaping, toothy mouth and a single eye. He was, in fact, of the same species as Zargon, ancient 'god' of the lost city of Cynidicea. Although the culture, history and even name of this species has been lost to time, three individual members of that species are noteworthy. The first was Arik (of which more later), the second was the Master (at that time known as Hosadeus), the third was Zargon.
All three of these beings rose to prominence as followers of the Outer Beings, serving to guide the Carnifex to their own ends. All three strove individually to attain immortality, at a time when the dividing line between immortal and mortal was still poorly defined. One 'position' in the immortal ranks was offered, by an as yet unknown entropic sponsor, and all three creatures competed for this place. Arik won out, reaching full immortality in the sphere of Entropy (in the process creating the Beholder race, being an improved and more dangerous version of his own body form) long before the rise of Blackmoor, defeating his rivals (the Master and Zargon) in the process.
Zargon was driven mad by the loss, and retreated into his own region, eventually becoming the almost immortal patron of the lost city of Cynidicea. What he remembers of the ancient past is unknown, but outside of Cynidicea he has played little part in Mystaran history.
The Master continued to oppose Arik, but he was soon defeated, his life force being dispersed by Arik. Eventually, some humanoid creatures discovered his teachings, and he coalesced around a nation known as Coot, building a new identity as the Egg of Coot, together with a body form more in fitting with the now dominant humanoid species of Mystara.
He began plotting the demise of his nemesis, Arik. But Arik had his own agenda; during the time that the Master had been gone, he had allied himself with the outer beings, who had once again waged war against the immortals. For his crimes, Arik was forever banished to the Dimension of Ice (a far away, inaccessible prison plane) and his servant race, the beholders, scattered far and wide. So to gain his revenge, the Master would have to build his own power, and eventually release Arik from his prison, that he may be killed.
The Master has many flaws; he is not one to forgive an insult or a sleight, however small. He is almost incapable of comprehending mercy or compassion. He is no ordinary creature of evil; he prefers corruption to delay and cruelty to death. But he has one important virtue; he is patient. He built the nation of Coot for the purpose of driving a rival nation to a point where it could produce what he needed to reach Arik and destroy him. That nation was Blackmoor.