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by Marco Dalmonte English translation by Gary Davies

Patron of Cloud and Mountain Giants

Level, Alignment, Sphere: 20th (Empyreal), LN, Time
Symbol: a cloud
Portfolio: cloud and mountain giants, knowledge, magic, strength
Worshipped in: Davania (Ice Peaks), Known World (Rockhome, Northern Reaches), Norwold, Kingdom of the Clouds, Skothar (Nentsun, Tangor)
Appearance: a classic cloud giant about 6m high, with grey skin and a bushy white head of hair, a pair of long white drooping moustaches and an attentive and curious look, wearing a ancient tunic that shows off his forearm and calf muscles.
History: PROBABLE THEORY: before the age of the humans and of the Empire of Blackmoor, Mystara saw the rise of the Age of the Giants, when the Garl (primitive giants) evolved into three sub races and they spread into the continents of Brun and Skothar raising the first kingdoms. At that time, the giants were divided into people of the plains, ice and sea. The giants of the plains were the more wealthy and most powerful, those of the sea were the wisest and more reticent, while the frost giants, that lived in the cold areas of the north, envious of their cousins of the fertile southern plains and often fought against them. It was because of the greed and of the hate brought among these giants by Surt, that the Age of the Giants had ended with the bloody Fratricide War. When indeed the richer land became really few, also because of the expansion of the more numerous humans, a large group of giant followers of Surt, the Gundirrim (the first fire giants) descended in mass from the north and began to lead to iron and fire the kingdoms of the south. At that time Zalaj was the uncontested sovereign of the Clan Bromdignag, the richest and most powerful among the giants of the south, given of incomparable strength and of a superior intellect to his equals. Unfortunately, because of the internal rivalry among the lowland giants, the assault of Zugzul also provoked an internecine war among them, and this caused the collapse of the giant kingdoms and the dispersal of the survivors. After the fall of his stronghold, Zalaj ended guiding his allies onto the summits of the highest mountains, here finding temporary refuge from the fury of their enemies. He then put himself in search of a place in which he and his followers could go to escape forever the persecutions of Surt and the wars between the cultures, and therefore arrived in the plane of the creator of the giant race, the powerful Ouranos. Unfortunately here Zalaj made a terrible discovery: the Immortal indeed had by now vanished from time, and could no longer respond to the demands of helping his followers. Zalaj decided for that reason of taking on his shoulders the destiny of his people, and returned to Mystara bringing with him the ancient knowledge found in the abandoned city of Ouranos. Thanks to the materials and the magic he discovered, Zalaj proceeded therefore to the construction of the first city among the clouds, where he finally took his most faithful allies for founding a new kingdom. From the descendents of these exiles were born the first generation of cloud giants, while the giants that remained to live on the highest summits had become the original mountain giants. Zalaj nevertheless wasn’t content with having saved his followers, and find a way for becoming the new protector of the giant race, replacing the vanished Ouranos. So he began to be worshipped as an Immortal, and to study a way for achieving Immortality. After having found an artefact for travelling in time and the support of Verthandi (the then Hierarch of Time), Zalaj finally succeeded to complete the Path of the Dynast created the Kingdom of the Cloud Giants above the Mystaran skies, while establishing an alliance between the ancient dwarves and the mountain giants that also allowed these disciples of his to live undisturbed on the more impervious mountain ranges. Zalaj rose among the Immortals in the distant 10,200 BC, becoming the patron of all the cloud giants (Bromdignag) and mountain giants (Zoldignag). Later, after seeing the repetition of fratricide clashes between the giant races, he decided to give his adepts, the cloud giants, the role of ambassadors among all the communities of giants of the world. Therefore the cloud giants became merchants, capable of travelling from place to another on their flying castles and of exchanging the goods produced by a certain clan of giants with those of other clans that needed the goods. In this way, all the giants became dependent on things that were produced by one of the other races, reduced the feuds between clan, and the cloud giants assuming a primary role in guaranteeing the global peace between the giants, as well as their superiority over the terrestrial and marine giants. Zalaj is further assured the continued veneration of the cloud giants and prevents that may become too eager and that somebody could be useful to the flying islands placing a bond to their existence: each year indeed it is necessary to perform an elaborate secret ceremony in which precious items are destroyed in an appropriate brazier consecrated to the Immortal in order to keep active the spell that allows all the islands and castles to float and move. Therefore the cloud giants depend on Zalaj as the others depend on them, and no treasure is more important than the protection that Zalaj offers them thanks to the flying castles of the Heavenly Realm.
Personality: Zalaj is an extremely arrogant and threatening individual, who always demands a great respect and he grants hearings only to those that before are lavish in fulsome flattery of his wisdom and power. He is very protective in the struggles of his followers and likewise prepared to curse them when they abandon him. He profoundly hates Zugzul (Surt) and Hel, that have caused the schism of the giants, and his only allies are Palartarkan, who demonstrates like him an unbridled passion for the skies and magic, and Gorrziok, who helped Zalaj when still mortal protect the new-born Heavenly Realm from the fire giants.
Patron: unknown [presumed: Verthandi]
Allies: Palartarkan, Gorrziok
Enemies: Zugzul, Hel
Alignment of followers: any; clerics must be Neutral or Lawful
Favoured weapon: warhammer (allowed all bludgeoning weapons)
Clerics’ skills and powers: +1 bonus to Wisdom, free orientation skill, +2 bonus on the astronomy and knowledge of myths and legends of the giants (not free)
Domains: Time, Law, Strength, Magic, Gravity
Preferred weapon: warhammer
Source: AC10