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Wyrms of the Flanaess: Verithmirax
Posted on Sun, October 16, 2005 by Dongul
Osmund-Davizid writes "
The drive for relentless perfection lies at the heart of this dragon queen. She has extensive contacts with the Horned Society, and has become a proponent of their dread philosophies. So much so that she now represents the dark hope of that evil organization.


Verithmirax “The Fourteenth Hierarch”
By: Osmund-Davizid
Used with permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

The grand old queen of the Fellreev Forest is the green dragon Verithmirax. Long has she plagued the northern Shield Lands, the Bandit Kingdoms, and the elves of the forests with her depredations, but in recent memory she has retreated to her lair in the deep Fellreev. There she would have likely remained undisturbed until fate brought a powerful being to her lair. The devil lord Durgaloth was on a dark quest and managed to find Verithmirax during his wanderings on Oerth. This meeting blossomed into an unconventional friendship that may lead to the doom of the good lands of the Flanaess.

Her Deeds: Little is recorded regarding Verithmirax's early years. She would raid into the Bandit Kingdoms and the Shield Lands sporadically when she wanted treasure, but she generally contented herself with dominating the southern Fellreev Forest. She would bully the local orc tribes and torment the feral druids of the forest, but she did not wish to bring upon her head a never ending stream of would be dragon-slayers from the civilized lands, so she was very careful when she raided the lands close to the Knights of the Holy Shielding.

One quirk of her personality that is known is that she has a great hatred for kobolds (apparently one had managed to steal some treasure from her when she was very young and inexperienced) and would often raid any caves she suspected were housing these humanoids. She would often hunt these creatures near her lair and has been known to create a sort of jerky from their meat.

Verithmirax claimed a wide swath of territory, (in fact, the whole of the forest), but her will practically reached only the southern and western regions. The elves had a strong enough presence in the eastern forest to be independent of the dragon's rule, and Verithmirax exercised no claim to the lands of the lich lord Dahlvier. In all, she managed to accumulate a modest sized horde and ruled over a respectable amount of territory. But Verithmirax grew bored with her existence. Being the only major surviving dragon in the region (most dragons of the Fellreev were hunted down and slain by questing Shield Land knights, or else were forced to move to other forests in order to seek better game), she felt she reached the pinnacle of her success and was depressed that she did not have the power that she felt she deserved. That all changed when she discovered that by working with the humans of the Horned Society, she could achieve much more then on her own.

In the early 520s of the Common Year, the devil lord Durgaloth had begun to wander Oerth, seeking atonement for the loss of his mistress Bensozia (Foot Note 1). He found a mortal organization that embodied his ideals of order, strength, and power in the Horned Society and took them under his wing. Durgaloth kept his involvement in Society business minimal at first, limited to making suggestions and organizing a small private army with himself at the head. Part of his indirect assistance to the Society was to fully explore some of the mysterious regions near the borders of the Horned Society. Durgaloth experimented with dweornite stones, plumbed the depths of the Rift Canyon, and mapped out the Fellreev Forest, all adding to the Horned Society's might. It was in his mapping expedition that he made a formal alliance with the prominent green dragon of the Fellreev.

Verithmirax, at the time of Durgaloth's meeting, was growing lethargic with age and introverted in attitude. After she met with the Knight-Errant of Hell, her motivation became revitalized. Up to that point, she was uninterested in the politics of men, but through her debates and discussions with Durgaloth, she gained a new awareness of herself and her place in the wider world. She was anxious to understand the nature of this nearby nation of humans that was growing in might and stature. In doing so, Verithmirax became a citizen of the Horned Society.

Verithmirax arranged a meeting with the Dread and Awful Presences – The Hierarchs. Through many counsels and exchanges of materials, she came to understand the Horned Society philosophy. She began to make regular trips to the Horned Lands and the malign capital city of Molag, seeking out their sages and policy makers. Verithmirax became an enthusiastic convert to the Horned Society. She eagerly read from their missives and treatises on law, order, management, economics, warfare, magecraft, and politics. She even began to add to the already impressive body of work in the grand library of Molag.

Many of her ideas and policies were later implemented by the grateful Hierarchs. Principle among these maxims was the clarion call for unrelenting perfection in all that one does as well as complete obedience to authority. The sages and scholars of the Horned Society began to refer to her as the "Fourteenth Hierarch" (FN 2) in recognition of her dedication in expanding the Society's policies and control.

Throughout all this academic work, Verithmirax remained close to the devil lord Durgaloth. She would occasionally accompany the devil on some of his quests, acting as a steed and guide. When Durgaloth created his Shadow Corps, Verithmirax insisted on being an honorary member and sought actively to serve the Corps in battle (FN 3).

The Horned Society grew to the point where it was able to successfully invade the Shield Lands in CY 579. Durgaloth’s Shadow Corps was in the thick of most of the heaviest fighting, most notably in the Battle of Axeport. As a member of the Shadow Corps, Verithmirax was the spearhead for the assault on Axeport. The commander of the Shield Landers was Lord Hrothgar of Stahzer. Wielding the holy relic-weapon Oathkeeper, Lord Hrothgar managed to injure Verithmirax, forcing her to fall back (FN 4). But the dragon managed to sunder the defenses of Axeport and break most of the Shield Lander's siege weaponry in her assault. Durgaloth entered the city through the breach Verithmirax created (FN 5). Once inside the city's defenses, Durgaloth challenged Hrothgar to a duel of honor, which the devil lord won. These events proved to be the turning points in the Battle of Axeport and thus the Shield Lands fell to the Horned Society’s might. As a reward for her service, Durgaloth gave Verithmirax the body of Lord Hrothgar, along with his shield. These items are now Verithmirax's most prized possessions.

Following victory over the Shield Lands, Verithmirax retired back to her Fellreev lair, to further contemplate the philosophies she learned with the Horned Society. She began to record in the walls of her lair the maxims of the Hierarchs. After a time, Durgaloth called his Shadow Corps to Hell itself to serve him in a coup to win the control of the Sixth Hell (FN 6). Verithmirax answered Durgaloth’s request and thus was away from Oerth when Iuz launched his coup on the Blood-Moon Festival in CY 582. Verithmirax was a tremendous asset when Durgaloth wrested control of Malbolge from the Hag Countess Malagard and has been awarded with a fief in the Underworld in recognition of her service.

Her Lair: Verithmirax's old center of power was in a particularly dark and dangerous corner of the Fellreev Forest. Verithmirax carved out her lair in the kech infested deep forest just north of Darkpool (approximately hex 21-P on the LGG map). Presently, this cavern is vacant, except for a large extended family of particularly clever and evil kech. But Verithmirax has occasionally returned to her old lair via a gate, so this cavern is still useful to her. On the stone walls of her lair are carved many rules of Horned Society law and philosophy (FN 7).

She now has a personal cavern in Malbolge, located near the grand libraries of the Academy of Infernal Law. She often visits the Academy to further expand her knowledge and engages in endless debates with its Headmaster, the devil Danjiael. Her cavern is crammed with all manner of legal codes, tomes of laws, philosophical scrolls, and other literary devices. She also imported her treasures from her Fellreev home, which is a standard sized horde for a dragon of her age and experience.

Durgaloth has taken steps to make his draconic friend comfortable in Malbolge. There are especially enchanted monoliths ringing Verithmirax’s caverns that have the magical effect of lowering the temperature to a more comfortable level. Verithmirax has recently left her cavern to visit Oerth in order to find a mate. She was evidently successful, as she is now the proud keeper of a clutch of eggs.

Her Domain: Verithmirax is now content with her fief in Malbolge. Her lands cover a relatively stable portion of ground the Malbolge Underworld. Her domain has a more cool temperature then the whole of the plane, making it somewhat of an oasis within the Malbolge Underworld. While there is no natural plant life in the hinterlands of Malbolge, Verithmirax is attempting to import all manners of fungal life in order to create a forest of sorts.

Following her relentless obsession for perfection, she is attempting to make her future brood of younglings the epitome of dragonkind. She has researched methods to take to infuse her eggs with various powers of Hell by bathing them in foul ichors, warming them near the Pit of Flames, and casting Hellish spells upon them. Verithmirax wants to make her brood more powerful, but does not wish to just create half-dragon half-devil creatures by cross breeding. That would just be too distasteful to Verithmirax’s sensibilities.

Her relationship with Tiamat, Queen of all evil dragonkind, is complex. Verithmirax dares not amass too much power as to be any sort of rival to the jealous Tiamat, or give Tiamat any pretext to hunt her down. Verithmirax presently enjoys the patronage of Durgaloth, so Tiamat is forced to more or less accept Verithmirax's independence. Tiamat gave Verithmirax command of a small contingent of abishai soldiers, as a show of good faith. Verithmirax uses these troops to police her lair, while she (rightfully) suspects that their true mission is to spy on her. Tiamat has also allows Verithmirax to continue her experiments and is most interested in following her projects to create a draconic-diabolic hybrid.

Verithmirax’s Magic: She once managed to conduct some secret experiments in the waters of Lake Aqal, but the results of such work is unknown. The lake has exhibited the property of increasing size to the animals that live there, so if she still has possession of some of that water she will undoubtedly try to use it on her offspring.

She is also rumored to have traded magical secrets with the lich Dahlvier, but that does not seem likely, as she avoided the strange lich for most of her life. By living in Malbolge and having the favor of Durgaloth, she is in close proximity to Lilith, the Mistress of Witchcraft, and may be able to learn some forbidden devilish lore from her.

One very special aspect of her powers is that she can create temporary gates that can somehow work even in Malbolge. The source of this power is thought to be some artifact that Verithmirax gained while studying in Molag. Whatever the source, she is able to open one gate a month for the period of a day. She has thought to have used the device at least twice since her arrival in Malbolge. She returned once to the Fellreev to recover her horde and another time to an unknown location (see Foot Note 9 below for a mysterious event that occurred in the Udgru Forest that may be her handiwork).

Verithmirax’s Fate: Her present ambitions are centered around her brood of hatchlings, which she is raising to be the ultimate in Hell-born draconic perfection. Hellish politics being what they are, she may experience the jealousy of a rival or become embroiled in some multiverse expanding plot of one devilish faction or another.

She has been periodically returning to Oerth, both to get obscure components for her breeding experiments and to contact the new Hierarchs of the Horned Society. It is in this latter aspect that Verithmirax presents the gravest threat to the good nations of Oerth. She has personal contacts with Hierarch Nezmajen, and through him knows of several others.

The Horned Society is far from extinct. Members of the Shadow Corps, sequestered from the ravages of the Greyhawk Wars, have been filtering back to Oerth in order to start up cells of the Society in many different locations throughout the Flanaess, in accordance with their contingency plan (FN 8). Secondly, the Shadow Corps seeks revenge against Iuz for his treachery and will act in ways both subtle and direct against him (FN 9). Verithmirax, because of her lair in the Fellreev, is a major coordinator of Horned Society operations in their old lands. She also acts as a communicator between cells. Few suspect that a dragon would be a Horned Society leader, thus she can pass relatively unnoticed in evil lands.

Thus Verithmirax is becoming a powerful figure in both Malbolge and Oerth. With her access to gate creating magic on Malbolge, she can direct the forces of Hell and the Shadow Corps to multiple hot spots in the Flanaess in the service of either Durgaloth or the Hierarchs. She has connections to at least two of the present Hierarchs and may be considered to become a Hierarch herself (or it could be possible that she has already been initiated into that dread and awful rank?). Verithmirax also directs the actions of many remnants of the Horned Society, and may be the leader of a clandestine cell of agents in a major city in the Flanaess. She is still devoted to the ideals of the Horned Society and will act to further the goals of that organization, even if it means bring the powers of Hell to Oerth!

NOTES:

1: These events have been described in the lich-sage Rexifer's magnum opus the “Libram Infernal”, see article on Canonfire for excerpts from this missive.

2: Though no one ever referred to her by this title while in earshot of a true Hierarch!

3: The Shadow Corps was created by the devil Durgaloth to be his private elite army. As such, the Shadow Corps were rivals to the Men of Steelreach, the Hierarch’s elite troops.

4: Verithmirax still bears some ugly scars across her belly from this devastating battle, marring an otherwise very beautiful body. She is very touchy on this subject.

5: Axeport’s defenses were in fact not very strong, just hastily built earthen walls. Axeport itself before the conflict was a minor township that had the primary purpose of shuttling people to and from Admundfort. It became the last bastion of the Shield Landers when the Horned Armies engulfed them.

6: See “Excerpts from the Libram Infernal” on Canonfire for more details.

7: Some examples of Verithmirax’s laws includes (translated from Old Oerderian):

Quicquid est contra normam recti est injuria: Whatever is against the rule of the right is a wrong.
Rex non potest peccare: The king can do no wrong.
Dominus rex nullum habere potest parem, multo minus superiorem: The king cannot have an equal, much less a superior.
Lex nemini operatur iniquum, nemini facit injuriam: The law works an injustice to no one and does wrong to no one.

Note that the theme of Verithmirax’s legal theories is that the rule of the powerful is always right. When conversing with Verithmirax, she will always approach a subject like it was a legal argument. She has the ability to twist a speaker’s words and use them against him, to make the most radical of suggestions seem reasonable, and to confuse even the most level headed.

8: For indeed, the Horned Society was well prepared for the event that their capital city would fall, and had plans set in motion as soon as Iuz began his coup. There is a debate among some scholars and those in the intelligence community on whether or not the Hierarchs knew of Iuz’s coup ahead of time and just let it occur, just so they could morph their organization from a nation to a more world spanning criminal network.

This view has been championed by the great sage Arkalan Sammal, but his works are suspect because of his familial ties with the traitor mage Rary. Regardless, when the Horned Society was operating in the open in the form of a blatantly evil nation, they were severely limited in their scope. Now, no one can tell just how long a reach the Horned Ones have, and that is their greatest strength.

9: Examples of these missions includes some strange activity in the Udgru Forest. It has been rumored that Ilkhan Gajtak of the Tiger Nomads is friendly to Iuz. Recently, Several silver mines of the Ilkhan in the Northern Yatils near the Udgru Forest have been completely wiped out. All the miners were found deep within the mines dead, as if fleeing from great horror from outside the mine. Just as if a dragon breathing poison gas drove the men into the mines and sealed them inside…

A more subtle method the Shadow Corps has been using against Iuz concerns the Lands of Jhanser in the old Horned Lands. Iuz has control over the old kingdom of the Horned Society, but this corner of the land is still loyal to the Horned Ones. This loyalty is mostly due to the extraordinary charisma of its former ruler, the great dark knight Jhanser. Lord Jhanser was on the cusp of being promoted to the Hierarchs when assassins of Iuz slew him during the Blood-Moon Festival of 582 CY. But Lord Jhanser rose up as a death knight and is now fomenting wily acts of espionage, sabotage, and sedition in his old fiefdom. Jhanser has close contacts with both Nezmajen and Verithmirax, and through them the Shadow Corps, so he has the potential for gaining more allies and resources as needed. The area is becoming a definite sore spot in Iuz’s realm, and for the time being the local Iuzite rulers are more intent on covering up Jhanser’s activities then on opposing them. In fact, the Iuzite rulers have no idea that they face one so powerful as a death knight, nor so committed to their destruction as a near Hierarch!


SOURCES: Iuz the Evil, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, Dragon # 142 for kech information, Black’s Law Dictionary for legal maxims, Hell on Oerth, The Reckoning, and the Libram Infernal articles on Canonfire!

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Re: Wyrms of the Flanaess: Verithmirax (Score: 1)
by Scottenkainen on Sun, October 16, 2005
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Is the inspiration for the dragon’s hatred of kobolds the old Trampier drawing in the 1st ed. DMG of a green dragon breathing on kobolds? 

 

I like the suggestion that the Horned Society was advanced in terms of “law, order, management, economics, warfare, magecraft, and politics.”  This would, itself, make for an interesting article…

 

Gate magic seems awful powerful to entrust to a dragon, but maybe that’s just me.  I still think of dragons as beatable monsters, as they were in 1st ed.  I think the larger weakness in this article is the suggestion that the Horned Society wanted to be decimated.  Maybe that makes good propaganda for people who want the Horned Society to come back to spread, but an organization is just not going to have the same resources as a kingdom.




Answers for Verithmirax comments (Score: 1)
by Osmund-Davizid on Sun, October 16, 2005
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A few answers to your comments:

Yes!  I thought that the picture of the green dragon fighting the kobolds was one of the best in the old DMG.  So I threw in that aspect to give my dragon a little more personality and to have some old school tie in.

As far as the advancements of the Horned Society goes, your suggestion on fleshing out their philosophies on other areas is a good one.  But, as the lands of the Horned Ones was poor in resources and skilled personnel, there were practical limits to what the Society could put into practice from their theories. 

For more HS info, the Codex of Greyhawk has a couple of great articles on different views of the Horned Society (they are under the geography tab) linked here:

http://216.10.17.109/ [216.10.17.109]

Yeah, gate magic is powerful stuff.  But Oerth seems to have more then its fair share of gates, fading lands, etc.  Also, with all the fiendish activity in Iuz and Aerdy going on, one more gate isn't likely to overly tip the scales of power.  Having a dragon be the keeper of a gate that leads to Hell is a touch overly powerful.  But my version of Malbolge is a layer that is currently in flux with a change of leadership and while a dragon is the guardian of the gate, there are certainly other devilish minions also keeping watch over such a portal from the Hell side of the gate.

My theories on the dragons has always been that they were epic in scope.  They can be defeated, but in Greyhawk, the race of man has become so dominant that dragons have to be especially crafty, strong, and/or powerful to survive.  More discussions on this topic have been carried on in the forums linked here:

http://www.canonfire.com/cfhtml/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=1270

As far as the last note goes:  there is a difference between wanting your own destruction and having a well prepared contingency plan for when and if that event ever occurs.  Besides, I imply this is just a theory some sages have thought up, it could be true or false as taste dictate (although I did use the LGG as the source of this idea).

As mentioned above, the HS lands had very little resources to begin with - so losing a resource poor land that is surrounded by chaotic demons ruled by an untrustworthy demigod on one side and legions of paladins and holy knights on the other side, a decentralized organization may have a better chance of surviving (think of SPECTRE in James Bond movies, if they were a nation-state they could have been just attacked but as a shadow organization they have to be tracked down, much harder to do). 

Anyway, none of this is official - thanks for the comments and feel free to use, disregard or modify as you wish - and/or continue this discussion on the forums. 

O-D


]


Re: Wyrms of the Flanaess: Verithmirax (Score: 1)
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