The writing below was copied from an old torn book, which appeared to have been scorched and worn. Pages were missing from the tome, some having been lost to time and others clearly torn away with purpose. It is believed to have been written by Prelate Venton Telemon in Lairroth, in the ages before the Betrayal.
I received a letter a short while ago from a common Falconcrest peasant who asked my the simple question of “Why”. Why did I want to restore the hateful Nadrak to power after all the terrible things that my country had done. Better, the man said, to just let the Kingdom fade into long forgotten story than to revive the unjust empire. It was the last thing he said that struck me off guard, for I had heard all the other things before, usually in Falconcrest inserted propaganda, spread through small outlying hamlets and villages by Southmarch spies and infiltrators. But Unjust, surely the man was not speaking of the same country I have lived in, and long to live in again.
Then it occurred to me. How much does the common man of Falconcrest know about Nadrak? You have no doubt heard the stories of Necromancers eating babies as they watch their undead torture innocent farmfolk. You have no doubt been raised with tales of the terrible burden the people of Nadrak feel as they toil under the oppressive yoke of their rulers. And you have surely frightened your children into doing their chores for fear that the big bad Nadrakian slavers would come and take them away to the mines. I have to wonder how much your state approved histories say, what your Grand Vizier Tromere Dru’Var has permitted to flow into the minds of your neighbors and friends.
With the coming of the Gargoyles and the fall of Nadrak, many Nadrakian refugees have fled to the shelter offered by your still standing armies. There is nary a hamlet or village that has not seen their road weary faces, or felt the anguish of their near broken hearts and spirits. Some of you, in your great kindness, have found the room in your homes and your hearts for these injured souls, and have taken them in like family. For that completely unexpected kindness, my people will always be grateful. But when you opened your homes, many of you also found something completely unexpected, that the monsters that you had been taught to hate were no monsters at all. They were simply people. Just ordinary, everyday people, with lives very similar to your own.
Of course there were some differences, it must have been frightening and strange the first time a small boy asked why there were no undead helping in the fields, or why there was so little magic in your lives. But a kindhearted farmer is a kind hearted farmer, no matter which side of the border they live on, and children are children everywhere. Wonder of wonders, we looked into each other’s eyes and saw ourselves.
The only true enemy Nadrak has ever had has been Prejudice, brought about by misinformation. It has been the legacy of our foes throughout the ages, to move their people to war with half-truths. I hope that your kindness has opened the door for you to understand our people, and I pray that I may help that along in some way.
And so it is that I write a History of Nadrak, not as a historian or a scholar, for I have neither the skill nor the talent to claim such a title, but rather as a man who misses his country, and wants his former enemies to know why. Much in the way of dates was lost in the Plagues, so my timeline of the old times is shaky at best. But I remember much of my schooling in the years before the Long Nights, and these tales, along with my personal story, I give to you now. I hope that I may teach you, in some small way, to look at us without so much hate.
Part 1: Empire and Exile
A long time ago, perhaps a thousand years, I do not know for sure, there existed on this continent a great Empire that spanned the continent West from the ports of the Calien freestates to the edge of the Inner Wilderness, and south from the Icy Swamps of Moradrim to the peaks of the Fury Mountains and The great center of the Empire, the port city of Roum. The name of the Emperor who ruled over this great Power during the Exile has long been forgotten, but at his right hand, and as his Seneschal, sat the Powerfull Necromancer, Nadrak. Seneschal Nadrak committed a trivial, unknown, unremembered offense, the and on a whim, in a pique of anger, the Emperor decreed all Necromancy illegal. And as the word of the Emperor was binding law to all of the Empire, it was made so.
Necromancers everywhere found themselves exiled and ignored by their once fellow men and women. Even to the point of death were many sent away. Nadrak begged the Emperor to reverse his decision, but for the Emperor to go back on his decree would unravel the fabric of empire. Bereft of friend, family, home, and any lives they had ever known, a small portion of the necromancers struck back at the Empire. They used the magics they had once used only to help their country to tear the life from those that had torn the lives from them. The Emperor’s council, quick to find a way to veil the Emperor’s rash decision, pointed to these attacks as justification to the unjust decree. Nadrak begged them to stop, pleaded with them, but it is said that those men’s eyes had the same blankness in them as the eyes of the undead they controlled.
So it was that Nadrak organized as many necromancers as he could, and together they fled south, outside of the borders of the Empire. They ran until they could run no more, the bitter tears of rejection stinging their eyes the whole way. They stopped at the edge of a mighty river that they could not cross, and there they camped. They had no direction, no goals, and little hope, but Nadrak moved among them, and organized them, and they began to build a city by the river. Nadrak then returned to the Empire, and began hidden operations to smuggle as many necromancers out of the Empire as possible. He established a secret transport system and spent what little remained of his personal fortune on bribes to get his people safely out and away to the South. Slowly their numbers grew, as did their city by the river. Over time they became so many that they realized that they needed both a leader and a name for their city. The answer to both was simple and unanimous. Nadrak.
He was never referred to as King, not then, he was simply Nadrak, the leader. He worked as hard as any building the city named for him, and his sweat and spells are as soaked into the foundation stones of the capitol as any others. But his real work, and his real task, was the Code of Laws. For although Nadrak was as just a man as any could have hoped to have as a leader, he was not immortal, and there was no guarantee that those who replaced him would be as just. So he did what the empire had never done, he created a written code. It took him 50 years of nearly uninterrupted work to finish it, but at the end it was 282 laws long, and all who read it knew it to be just. The Code of Laws stood to insure impartiality and an absence of favoritism. The Code, combined with the necromantic powers of enslavement ensured that there would be no injustice. For if there was one thing these mighty Necromancers feared, it was more injustice.
The laws regulated everything, from merchant contracts, to conduct in a foreign land, to appropriate fees for doctors and laborers. It also introduced a system of forced servitude, or slavery. You see, the penalties for breaking many of these laws was often death, and the numbers of people living in the city of Nadrak were small at that time. They needed every available man to work on carving out a place to live in the wilderness. So when a man had passed through the circle many times, and feared that he might not make it through the next time, he was offered the chance to exchange his death sentence for a length of servitude to the one he had wronged. The length of servitude being determined by the severity of his crime and the worth of the man as a worker. When his sentence was up, he was free again, although as a lawbreaker who took the cowards way out, he could never receive the same social standing.
When Nadrak died after a Necromanticly enhanced life span of well over a hundred years, his bones were ground into a powder and enchanted with a great ritual, designed by Nadrak, and cast by every necromancer present. The ritual was designed to catch Nadrak’s fleeing spirit and encase it within his powdered bones, which were then mixed with a variety of other ingredients to form the mortar that held together the first and deepest foundation stones of the newly begun royal palace. This was done so that while Nadrak’s lineage ruled over the city they would be insured to be just by the benign spirit of the first ruler.
Part 2: Kingdom and War
Over the years the people of Nadrak grew in number and strength. A country that relied heavily upon magic to solve it’s every day problems. Undead worked in the fields next to the farmers. Enslavement was used as a tool to determine guilt in trials. Water was magically heated, grain was magically transported, and magic was a part of everyone’s everyday life. As the size of the kingdom grew so did the legal system, judges were appointed by the king to make decisions in their sectors. Traveling judges were put in place to travel circuit to the smaller and more distant hamlets and villages, ensuring that no-one was without justice.
The corrupt Empire dwindled as Nadrak grew, some say it’s peoples turned upon themselves when the government picked out a section of their society for alienation and exile. When the splintering of the empire was complete, there were several kingdoms, Moradrim, Sith, and of course, The Heartlands, of which Calien was a Duchy. The Heartlands clung to the ideals of the dying empire, and the decrees of the foolish Emperor. Over hundreds of years they indoctrinated their youth to see necromancy as evil and the cause of their reduced greatness. They clung to their belief that necromancy, in and of itself, was pure evil. A belief first spawned by the public relations and image control campaign of the Emperor of the exile. And so it began.
It started as a “sin tax” placed upon all goods coming from Nadrak, increased tariffs making the exporting of products difficult and unprofitable. The belief that Nadrak grain was unholy because it was in part farmed by undead was prostelited to the people with fervor, and because the Heartlands held the only nearby port city of Roum, we paid. With time the sin taxes expanded, and the requirements grew. The Heartlands imposed much hardship upon the peoples of Nadrak, from king to commoner. There was hunger, and there was poverty, as the larger Heartlands stifled the smaller Nadrak with trade requirements and high tolls. This was topped by insult from the mouth of the Petty King Greymor of the Heartlands, who constantly insulted the peoples of Nadrak from the soapbox of his elitism and self righteousness, he called us cattle, mindless droning beasts, and called for us to rise up against the rulers who protected us from his bigotry. Hunger, poverty, and insult turned to hate, and as the people cried out to young King Rivon for justice, the Heartlands began amassing an army.
I was born into this tumultuous world, ten years before the plagues, from a Fey prostitute, in a brothel. I don’t know who my father was, nor the name of my mother. Not that it matters. From my first squalling breath I was property of the state, who in the wisdom of it’s laws deemed that a brothel was no place for a child to be reared. The state named me, fed me, clothed me, and trained me, in accordance with my abilities and inclinations. The innate abilities of my race made me a prime prospect for training as a judge, my aptitude and interest in Necromancy, even at a young age, settled the issue. I went to a state school in the capitol and lived there with other similar children, our bedtime stories were legal records, our games were “catch and subdue the criminal”, (undead which the older children raised for us to practice on) our mothers milk was the Code, and our fathers guiding hand and gentle reassurance was the Kingdom, and the King.
It is not known who struck first, weather the Heartlands in their effort to destroy the “evil necromancers” with more than economic warfare, or Nadrak, fighting for their right to exist. But none the less the war started, and was bloody and terrible. The war dragged on and on, and the enormous military might of the domination bent Heartlands, fueled by a prosperous economy that Nadrak simply did not have, was slowly winning. The Heartlands army marched south into the realm of Nadrak, and the Heartlands soldiers, fed on the righteousness of their cause, and sure in the inherent supremacy of themselves as people, tortured and killed any Nadrakians they fell upon in their invasion. Entire families were “cleansed”, burned alive in their homes as the Heartlands celebrated their victories of “evil”
The kingdom of Falconcrest claimed neutrality through this all, while secretly aiding the Heartlands with their slaughter. They sent supplies, food, and information gathered by Falconcrest spies, who traveled our land under the guise of neutrality. They lowered tariffs to the Heartlands, and kept trade routs open, helping fuel the war machine that ravaged my home, bit by bit. Falconcrest became as much of a dirty word as Greymor. For Falconcrest was the opportunist that lied and schemed for personal gain, the one who would not face his opponents on the battlefield, but would stab them in the back if given the chance.
King Rivon called together his researchers and gave them a commission. End the war, and save our people.
Part 3: The First Night
The best and brightest of the Kingdoms Necromancers and Arcanists were recalled to the capitol to undertake the project. The remaining fighters on the front fought long and hard to give them the time they needed. It is not known the research that they did nor the methods that they used. What is known is that we went to bed one night at dusk. And the next morning the sun didn’t rise.
That began the Year of the Long Nights. The magical shockwave centered around Roum spread outward at unbelievable speed. Fully half of the adult population of Nadrak died, suddenly and violently, their forms twisting into grotesque mockeries of life as their children watched in horror. Of the few that lived, one in ten became the living undead we now refer to as Plagued. As the Night continued, many of the fallen walked again, without a caster to raise or control them. They seemed bent on destruction, tearing through anything in their way. With most of our instructors dead or dying, the children of the state schools took to the streets, casting what spells we had yet mastered. We were led by the older children, those trained in tactics and war. We fought to retake our city, our home. We were outmatched, outnumbered, we struck when we could, where we could. We ate what we could find, most was diseased, all was unpleasant. Most of my friends died in defense of their homes, those of us who survived hid in the sewers, under constant attack
The First Night continued for several weeks, It is difficult to have any sense of time when there is no daylight. Even as we slew the undead walking the streets of our capitol, they rose again. We tried to use fires to destroy them completely, but we were drastically outnumbered, and every fire we started attracted undead to our location. After an eternity of fighting, We had just suffered a terrible defeat, with most of our number wounded. We found ourselves in the sewers at the gates of our school, the only place that had ever been home to us. We were exhausted, most of us unable to travel. The young ones were crying, cold, hungry, and afraid. Then we heard the groaning in the distance, a low roar, the sound we had grown to know and fear. A large group, easily four times our number, was bearing down on us, and would be upon us soon.
There were no words. The crying stooped. There was no where to run, and no hope of victory, and every child there knew it. One by one we stood, and walked out into the street in front of the school. There is a look that comes upon men when they are aware they are about to die. That look seems strange when seen in the faces of children. All of us had that look, from the leaders in there teens to the youngest, five and six. There was a kind of acceptance in the air. This was home, and home is the best place to die. The shambling hoards approached, and we set ourselves.
Suddenly, from behind the undead there was a flash of light, and a tremendous crash. With steel and spell King Rivon was among them, cutting a swath through the undead, his elite guard close behind. Our Father, the only father we had ever known, was fighting for the lives we had already resigned ourselves to losing. We surged forward en mass, fighting our way towards our King. Tears streamed from our eyes as we fought with wild abandon. We met him in the middle, and fell at his feet, weeping. For what seemed like the first time in history, dawn broke over the city.
In the year that followed, King Rivon, as King Nadrak before him had done, organized the people that lived, and step by step we retook our kingdom.