Thursday, September 22, 2016

Odekor - Day 22

Skarn the Eternal

Five hundred years before the War, the Emperor at the time was a man called Skarn. He was a formidable leader, intelligent and even-handed, but utterly ruthless when the need arose. He was also a talented and powerful wizard.
In his later years, Emperor Skarn chose to abdicate from rule, passing on the reigns of imperial power to his son, Selenn.  Skarn retreated from the Imperial Capital of Askir, retiring to a private island off the northern coast of Choan.  There, he lived in quiet study and contemplation, communicating with his son a few times a year in the form of long, poetical letters.
No one is certain when the letters stopped, but it took a while for the Emperor to notice. When he did, he dispatched an emissary to his father’s island, to assess the situation.
When the emissary returned, he had a terrible story to tell the Emperor.  The Emperor’s father had used his wizardry to become some kind of undead monstrosity.
Not long afterward, a letter arrived from Skarn to his son.  It was just as long and poetical as his earlier writings.  In it, he stated that he had found a way, with Eligel’s blessing, of transcending death. He stated this very matter-of-factly, then went on to complain about the state of his roses.
The Emperor was unsettled by his emissary’s report and his father’s letter.  He sought counsel with the Temple of Eligel.  The priests confirmed that Eligel did know ways to transcend death, but that it was anathema to use them.
There was nothing in the Prophecies regarding this, so the Emperor was left with no guiding hand to point the way.  He had to decide what to do on his own.
Initially, he waited.  The letters from Skarn continued to come. The Emperor was informed that his father’s household expenses had decreased considerably.  He did receive reports that his father was sustaining himself by sacrificing slaves, but no one cared about slaves.
By this time, Eligel’s priests had discovered Skarn’s transformed nature. They informed the Emperor that his father’s physical body must be destroyed, that the vessel containing his soul must be obliterated.  That his existence was an affront to Eligel himself.
The Emperor was not accustomed to being given orders, and balked.  He refused to raise a hand against his father, and ordered the offending priests sent to Skarn’s home for his father’s delectation and amusement.
Once this information became known among the priests and the imperial court, Emperor Selenn was quickly and quietly murdered by his own family.  His cousin assumed the throne and ‘pruned’ that branch of the family tree, executing Emperor Selenn’s wives, concubines, heirs, bastards, as well as his siblings and their children.  Once this was done, the new Emperor turned his attention to the matter of Skarn.
Although respectful of the priests, the new Emperor was not going to do their bidding.  Instead of sending an army of soldiers to destroy Skarn, he sent an army of priests to bind him to the island. Then patrols were established beyond the island, to ensure that no one ever landed there again without imperial approval.
The High Priest of the Temple of Eligel protested. The Emperor had his tongue cut out and his lips sewn shut.  The remaining priests got the message and did not publicly bring up the matter again.
Skarn, now referred to in lore as Skarn the Eternal, remained bound to his island. Occasionally, a ship of criminals was sent to the island, manned by golems. Eventually, Skarn began husbanding the living inhabitants of his island, breeding a steady supply of sacrifices for his phylactery.
Centuries passed and then came the War and the godstorms.  The Empire collapsed. Humanity was reduced to mindless, shambling zombies.  The divine wards binding Skarn to his island vanished.
Recently, a black ship set sail from the island, crewed by golems. Skarn the Eternal was returning to Choan, after five centuries, hunting for answers to the disaster and fresh sacrifices for his phylactery.  He is making his way toward the Imperial Capital.  What will happen when he arrives and comes face-to-face with the half-dragons currently occupying Askir is anyone’s guess.

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