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The legacy of the Carashast
Posted on Fri, October 03, 2008 by Dongul
rasgon writes "This is the story of the vile Graeki tribe of Oerids and the carnage they wrought. Also, it's the story of the Flan youth Tehan and his quest for a draconic artifact.

The reign of Carashast

The Graeki were an Oeridian tribe who held Erythnul above all others, but were rumored to worship certain demon princes as well. They heard with the other Oerids the call to migrate eastward, and did so with enthusiasm for their coming conquests, though it is likely that at least some remained behind to father some of the remaining Yorodhi tribes in Ull today. They were driven southeast by those who settled the Vale of Luna into the Kron Hills, where they settled  in what is now the village of Nulb, constructing an elaborate temple to their vile gods.  

Though the Graeki were savage in temperament, they were as able in battle as any other Oeridian people, with battle-mages, artificers, and - it is said - even a lesser artifact under their control.

After twelve years of their raids and depredations, an alliance of gnomes, Oeridians, and Flan drove them from the hills to the east, where they passed through the Gnarley Forest (where they were reduced in number by the local elves) into the plains beyond.

The prince of the Graeki at the time was Carashast, the son of Carshax, the previous ruler who had brought them to the Kron Hills. Carshax had been slain by his own son while distracted by his slaughter of gnomes. The Erythnul-worshipping Graeki did not consider such a thing to be dishonorable, and Carashast was accepted as Carshax’s rightful heir.

The plains of the Selintan in those days, much more heavily forested than today, were inhabited by relatively primitive Flan, devotees of the druidic faith. Though they were the heirs to lands once part of the empire of the Isles of Woe, the gods and magic  of that great race had been largely forgotten, and  they were little match for the warlike Graeki, who wiped out village after village until they found a capital that suited their purpose.

They found a village called by the natives Hierax not far from the banks of the Selintan, where small boats on the shore were used for fishing and trading.  The villagers wore simple clothing made from soft deerskin and decorated their skin with whorls of blue-gray paint and depictions of their totem animal, the hawk. Fields of maize and, in the nearby swamps, rice surrounded houses made of bark affixed to simple wooden frames, built in a circle south of  a low hill where the people retreated in times of danger. They fled there now, their archers and spearmen readying themselves behind a wooden palisade as Carashast’s followers attacked with spears, axes, and battle-magic. The battle was short, with the palisade burnt to ash and the remaining Flan retreated further into the caves beneath the mound. The Graeki followed, fighting a pitched battle beneath the earth, finally winning the day. Things were worst for those Flan foolish enough to surrender; these were captured and tortured slowly over a period of days before being sacrificed to Erythnul.

Carashast declared the village his new capital, naming it after himself. A new palisade was erected on the hill and a temple built in the tunnels beneath. From this base, Carashast led several new campaigns against the surrounding villages before being slain by two of his sons, each ambushing him simultaneously and thrusting spears in either side of his body, during his sacking of a village on the site of modern Hardby. The sons carefully interred him in a nearby system of caves, surrounding his tombs with fearsome magical traps in case his unquiet spirit should seek revenge. Then, gathering to them the rival factions that supported one or the other son, they decided to determine which of them would inherit his father’s throne. One faction built a rival encampment in the midst of the Gnarley, and it was there, several months later, when a terrible battle left both factions - and the last of the Graeki - annihilated.

Tehan Longshadow and the Ring of Balance


The Graeki were an exceedingly vile people, and the stains of their evil continue to scar the Gnarley, the Abbor-Alz, and even the Kron Hills to this day. Yet Greyhawk City, the site of a terrible massacre and Carashast’s short-lived capital, remains relatively unscathed. The reason for this is to be found in the legend of Tehan Longshadow.

Tehan was, it is said, the sole survivor of the massacre at Hierax, a stripling of twelve out hunting for rabbits while his family was rounded up into the caves.  When he returned to see olive-skinned warriors mounting the heads of his tribe on pikes, he longed to attack them with his sling, but his innate caution bade him bide his time. He made his way to the village of Achrox on the shore of what is now called Hard Bay, where his father had cousins, and there warned them of the coming threat. Most of the legends say that Tehan slew Carashast there himself the following spring, hurling a sling stone into the tyrant’s left eye. Here myth is more dramatic than reality, because as was already recounted it was Carashast’s own sons who were his ultimate undoing. Still, it is true that Tehan accounted well for himself in that battle, helping alongside the other warriors of Achrox to hold the Graeki off long enough for the many of the citizens of the village to flee into the hills.

When the Graeki exterminated themselves later that year, Tehan made his way back to the ruins of his home to see what could be salvaged, only to find it populated by the undead husks of his own tribe, malevolent and dangerous even with their heads tucked under their arms. It was then that he swore to find a way to lift the curse on Hierax or die trying.

Tehan’s subsequent adventures took him to many places, from an ancient temple of Pelor in the Yatils to the legendary Cauldron of Night. It is said he met the god Trithereon himself on another plane, learning from him the secret of summoning an extraplanar hawk to his aid. Finally, following the advice of an old woman he helped along the road, he came to the Pinnacles of Azor’alq, where he was subjected to a series of tests by the ruling dragons of the isle. By then he had grown to manhood, and the dragons were sufficiently impressed with him that they allowed him to take the Ring of Balance, an artifact created by their creator god Io to bring some measure of peace between his warring children. The Ring of Balance would not eliminate evil, but it would counter it with an equal amount of good, or vice versa. It had not succeeded in preventing the Dragonfall Wars between Tiamat and Bahamut, but when Tehan buried it in the caves beneath his village, the undead horrors that had once been his tribe were at last able to rest.

The Ring is a circular carving of stone shaped like a wingless dragon with its tail in its mouth, with a diameter approximately equal to a length of a human arm from shoulder to wrist. It has been removed from its current resting place beneath Greyhawk’s Citadel only once, when it was sent as tribute to Rauxes. The reinvigorated undead terrorized the City of Greyhawk for months before it was returned by Zagig Yragerne during his youthful adventuring days, before he became the town’s mayor. The Lord Mayors of Greyhawk have kept it under close guard ever since.

The Ring’s effects are powerful, and it could as easily suppress the curse of Bad Deep, where the last battle between the sons of Carashast had been fought, or conceivably any similar place of evil. The dragons may also want it back at some point if they believe peace talks between their subspecies may once again be viable, or if they decide its current owners are unworthy.

Bibliography

  • Broadhurst, Creighton. "Mysterious Places." Available online: [1] Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2006.
  • Sargent, Carl. From the Ashes. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1992.

"
 
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