Transcript – Seregoth and the Reign of Blood
[Theme music plays, then fades into an eerie ambiance.]
Throughout the years, there have been few who have struck more fear into the hearts and minds of the people of Irdaliin than the one who was proclaimed, in his time, the Lord of Blood. Seregoth was the name he gave himself at the height of his power, but what his name was when he was born, who he was born to, even where he was born, all of these things have been lost. Or perhaps they were purposefully obfuscated by Seregoth himself. After all, the less people knew about him, the more intimidating he could make himself.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
This tale begins in the west, in the second millennium of the second age. Humanity had spread and settled in Toor, with many living with the other peoples in the lands of Irdaliin. The western lands were among those claimed by the humans and the twin nations that are now known as Sarnor and Aladia had risen to prominence, still ruled as one realm by the High King of the West; but not for much longer.
In those days, the city of Vypanakra was the crown jewel of the Aladian nation. Its position on the banks of the River Hethluin made it an ideal trading post and merchants from Aladia, Sarnor, Khaltu Vult and Ardh Narasant would gather there in droves to trade goods from all across the continent.
For many years, the city grew and prospered, growing from the emerald fields of eastern Aladia like a beautiful flower. The lords of the city became prosperous, powerful and lazy. And such people are ever easy to manipulate.
It was the year 1962 of the Second Age when a wise man came to the court of Lord Athvirka, who then ruled the city. He impressed the lord and his council with his knowledge and wisdom but, most of all, with his displays of magic. Surely, all thought at first, this was impossible, for the stranger was no elf. It must be some trick, they thought, some subtle illusion of sleight of hand and misdirection. But it was no trick. Conjuring, Changing and Healing, all these things and more the stranger performed, even going so far as to heal the blindness of Lord Athvirka’s mother.
Before long this stranger, who named himself Gollorain, literally: Wise man of the Wilds, had been drawn into the inner circle of the lord of Vypanakra, and his council was sought on nearly all matters, both personal and of the state.
Soon the name of Gollorain was spoken with almost the same reverence given to the city lord himself. It was Gollorain who found a match for Athvirka’s son and heir, Gollorain who convinced the merchant barons to make investments that made them all very rich, and it was Gollorain who, as a reward, was given charge of the city’s treasury and grain silos.
Then the years passed. Athvirka died and was succeeded by his son and heir, Shathsitr, who had come to rely on Gollorain even more than his father had. The city lord spent his days in luxury, leaving the actual governance to his trusted minister, Gollorain.
People began whispering in the street that it was Gollorain who was truly the lord of Vypanakra. And soon those whispers became open talk. And why not, the people thought, Gollorain feeds us and protects us while Shathsitr sits around doing nothing but grow fat on the fruits of our labour.
And soon these talks turned to open hostility. And when the mob descended on the city lord’s palace they found it unguarded, for the soldiers were now fully in the pocket of Gollorain who, of course, had been guiding events in this direction from the beginning.
They found Shathsitr alone in his palace, abandoned by even his family. He was stripped of his position and cast from the palace. And the people then proclaimed Gollorain as the new city lord.
And there was much celebration in Vypanakra. The feasting and drinking went on for many days. And then there was silence. The merchants and travellers who came to the gates of Vypanakra found them closed and barred and no answer came from inside the city. Unease gripped the countryside as days turned to weeks and then to months and still not a sound was heard from Vypanakra.
Until the day when dark clouds began gathering above the city. So dense and dark they were that the sun was blocked out, and an unnatural dark fell across eastern Aladia. And only then did the gates of Vypanakra open and an army robed in black marched out, carrying crimson banners and chanting the true name of their lord; Seregoth.
This army moved quickly and tirelessly, fearing nothing but the sun. It did not take long for the rest of Irdaliin to realise what this was, especially when Seregoth cast aside the glamour he had worn since he had first arrived in Vypanakra to reveal his true form. A High Blood vampire, ancient and terrible in his power.
And behind the closed gates of Vypanakra, the ancient vampire had made a feast of the city and had raised it again in his service. The nobles who had best served him in life were made the High Blood generals of this new army while the rest served as fledgeling soldiers. Rabid thirsters, those who had lost their minds to the process, ran ahead of the army as war dogs, while the rest marched together into the west, to make of all Aladia what Seregoth had made of Vypanakra. With every village, every town and every city they passed by, the numbers of Seregoth’s army grew as did the fear in the nations as news spread of terrible vampiric army.
Eventually they arrived at Caras Hyr’Ada, the seat of Aladia’s High Lord, the capital and beating heart of the nation. If they could take that city, Seregoth thought, then the rest of Aladia would be disorganised and divided, ripe for the taking.
And so, the vampire army lay siege to Caras Hyr’Ada, encircling the walled city, cutting it off completely from the outside world for many weeks. Seregoth believed all he would have to was wait for their supplies to run out. He and his army could wait for the humans to starve, and it did become desperate inside the city. But Seregoth had not reckoned on the dwarves of Angzhal.
In those days, the humans who would come to be known as Aladians were not as close in bond with the elves of the east as they would come to be in later years, but the dwarves had seen in the new-arrived humans kindred spirits who shared their love of building, innovation and crafting and there was great friendship between the two peoples. The High Lord of Caras Hyr’Ada and the Kharûm of Angzhal had been close friends for many years. So when news finally reached the Valley of the Rainbows of what had happened, the Kharûm quickly mobilised a force and went to the aid of his friend. But, more than that, they sent word south to the Empty Mountain, calling on aid from the dwarves of Khaltu Vult. And back then, there was no more formidable fighting force than the Khaltu dwarves. Their armour was thick, their weapons honed to the keenest edges and they were trained and disciplined.
I would have been interested to see Seregoth’s reaction when he looked to the east to see a horde of angry dwarves descending on his undead army, riding the tarak goats that the dwarves preferred for their mounts.
The dwarves fell screaming on the vampire army like the fury of a god. And, seeing their allies charging gave the people of the city hope, and so they sallied out from the city to join the dwarves in the fighting.
This was not enough to defeat Seregoth of course, vampires are harder to kill than that. But it was enough to force him to retreat. He and his army fled far to the north, abandoning Vypanakra which was razed by the vengeful Aladians. The ruins of it still stand to this day and are generally held to be haunted. It was long ago renamed Nishanakra – the City of Night.
So, the years passed, centuries, millennia and a full age of Toor, and the name Seregoth became nothing but a figure of scary stories told in the west lands with many doubting he had ever really existed. Were such a thing the case.
For Seregoth had found a new home in the northern lands of Norbaran. He ever preferred to work his art on humans. Death comes easily to them and they are far more numerous than the other short-lived people.
Since humans had first arrived in Norbaran, they had lived the lives of peaceful nomads, travelling the tundra in tribes, following their horse herds. By the middle years of the first millennium of the Third Age, word had reached the other lands of one who called himself the Shianghun, the Lord of Battle, who had unified the tribes under his rule and had built a capital at a place called Barunkhot. None paid this much mind until the elven mages reached out to the Light of Calarborn, the western Lighthouse, and found it missing. It was then that the first seeds of fear began to take root in the hearts of the people of Irdaliin.
And that fear began to sprout when, in the year 1353 of the Third Age, Norbaran closed its borders, allowing no trade or travellers in or out. But nothing happened. At least not right away. For two hundred years, the north was quiet. Then that quiet was broken as with a warcry that shook the very air, a horde of unakhai warriors rode out from Norbaran under a veil of black clouds.
This new vampiric army was larger and far more terrible than the one that had come before it. The unakhai warriors of Norbaran were trained from birth in the mounted spear, bow and sword, and with the taint of vampirism making them faster and stronger, they were almost unstoppable.
Within two years, the army had advanced all the way to the Disputed Lands, leaving a trail of death and destruction in their path. Those who fell under Seregoth’s rule were either turned to swell the size of his army or else enslaved to his bidding.
When they reached Nan Annui, however, they were finally stopped by an alliance of Sarnor and Aladia. Though the two nations had separated, they were not yet so fundamentally divided that they would not join together against a common enemy, and with the aid of Cavernvault and the elves of Pale Harbour, they became a significant stumbling block for the vampire army.
It is said that this caused Seregoth great anger, as he had been hoping to push all the way to the south so that he might reach and seize Cavernvault, and so gain possession of their famous machines and engineers and turn them to making weapons of war for him.
But it was not to be. So, with this front established, the vampire army turned east, across the Echorodrim, into Weisscrag. Seregoth’s armies were less successful in this advance, frustrated by the dwarves of the Grey Hills and the orodar elves of the South Downs. South of Echorodrim, however, the High Blood generals Brunkyono and Kimilei led their forces all the way to the Nara Sea, where the elves of Narolin were hard pressed to hold them back.
The Reign of Seregoth was finally brought to an end by the Hermit of Aladia, who is better remembered as the Wanderer. He and his companion, Temulen the Urion, by stealth travelled north to Barunkhot and there confronted Seregoth face to face.
By all accounts, the Hermit used no weapon in this confrontation. No weapon and no magic. So how Seregoth was finally laid low, I can’t say. But laid low he was. And when the tyrant finally lay dead, his army lost its strength. They were so bound to their Master, the Highest of them, that when he was killed, they lost their guiding force. And so, the vampire army that had terrorised the lands of Irdaliin for nearly a thousand years, fell apart and began to be pushed back and slaughtered by those they had, until recently, viewed as no more than cattle.
In the north, the Hermit and Temulen found the Lighthouse Calarborn shrouded by some strange power, that contained the Light of the Fae and stopped it reaching the Mortal Realm. This was why mages had felt their magic weakening. And it was the sword of Temulen that cut this shroud and released the Light once again.
Vampires would continue to cause problems in Toor but none ever again reached the height and majesty of Seregoth. He was the Highest, the most powerful of them. It is not known why no vampire has ever been as powerful as him, though some theorise that the taint of vampirism has grown weaker through the ages, watered down through its transmission of person to person, and Seregoth was in fact far older than any believed, from the days when vampirism first began in Toor.
But of these things, we shall talk another time.
[Theme music fades up, credits.]