To Filyicanthia, Glorious Wife of Prince Xion Di Zul
Greetings to your most high and honored presence:
Forgive this lowly one's hand as he writes by night, with only the meager
light of a carriage's trembling lamp to aid him in his most dangerous and
precious of pursuits. I have been and shall be always the faithful and steadfast
servant of your husband, the most glorious Xion Zul, serving in the honorable
position of historian. Therefore, as poor Court Historian, I now humbly beg your
ladyship's forgiveness for the relation of this most dire and dreaded tale that
I am bound by honor and law to impart to you.
Most radiant wife, may your favored protector's sword be swift and just if
you do not find my dark and humble words true enough for your Skaithvarn
I hereof must speak of the traditions and honor of Illis as I relate to you
the woeful tale of your most glorious Prince, who like the great hero Zul Di--the
first Prince of the Sun--was brutally cut down in the midst of his prime and
strength. As it was with nine Sons of the Sun, leaders of the House of Zul Hi,
the house of Supreme Radiance, your most faithful and honorable husband now
fights before the Sun for his pleasure and glory.
It grieves me that I must write you thusly as you are so far from Tayr Biran
Di, the Luminous City, in your cloistered seclusion. Truly, I honor the privacy
with which you pass your days, attended only by your trusted guardian, the one
you have chosen as protector--Tylik Ki, bastard son of the House of Zui Hanth,
the Supreme High Warrior. I most humbly beg your forgiveness for disturbing your
precious peace with this dread news...but the Sun does not favor the faint or
unfaithful, so my honor leaves me little choice but to impart to you the truth,
although I fully realize that your most enlightened and educated person may not
understand the bonds that so drive a meager man of honor such as myself.
Therefore, before passing sentence on this wretched historian of Illis' honor,
allow that I might finish my tale of sorrow.
For today the Sun, like a warrior's saddened father, rose and dressed in
somber grey rags, and wept throughout the morn, showering the black parade that
wound like a sorrowful dragon to bury its dead before seeking vengeance. Tayr
Biran Di, the Luminous City, remained silent while all around grieved. Silence,
like the Unseen Hunter, was a tangible presence walking beside the pall that
bore aloft the most noble Son of the Sun.
The silently proud people of Zul Daltor,
Most-Favored-Nation-Among-The-Sun's-Chosen, mourned their slain ruler whose
blood flowed across the blade of a vile Rirorni or Bonsurian assassin, whose
accursed name we have yet to learn.
Fie, a vicious curse on the blood that flows through the veins of the
soon-to-be-damned creature! For the mighty House of the Zul Tyi the Just
Torturer rises up against them. Fearful are the magics also that flow from the
Houses of the Zhul Jin, Keeper of the Perfect Number, and the Tyl Hi, Sage of
the Ideal Resurrection.
As the reddened smoke of the war logs blanketed the still tear-heavy air
above the Chamber of Wisdom, the Council of Houses met to decide what was best
done. Thus it came that this meager carriage pulled away from the protective
gates of the Chamber of Wisdom bound for the walled fortress of the Zui Hi, the
house of the Supreme High Warrior. The head of that House, Lord Sondari by name,
should be well known to you and your chosen protector as he is the fire by which
your protector's life flame was lit, unrecognized though it is...
The Council of Houses has given to your lowly servant to protect, with what
inherited powers may be at my slight command, the living essence of our now late
but most precious leader's body, Xion Di Zul's own blood and bone now
incorporated in the body of his most noble son. Travel we shall through the high
passes until we reach the remote safety of the Guarded Cliffs far to the
southwest on the great island of Illis.
In our passing from Tayr Biran Di, the Luminous City, your fine man-child
received his first glorious sight of the Great Powers gathering their spells at
the House of Loi Ki, the House of Ultimate Healing.
The precious blood child of the Sun saw his first Fire. Fire, made of the
white purity that no man may yet behold, came willingly to the hand of the
Imperial Healer, Burli, answering him as he cried out for just vengeance.
Great lady of Skaithvarn, truly like women of your race before you, you would
have trembled to see the powers commanded by the Adantri wizard warlords this
night. Steeped in long tradition is the practice of selecting a wife of magic
from among your people, who live across the wild western sea. You, like those
before you, were taken for your imperial beauty and the skill with which your
practiced your great educated art of spellcasting, yet would you have stood by
awestruck at the sight of the fantastic spell woven this night by Burli, who
like his fathers before him, made the righteous stars that hang heavily above
your head lend him their power, that it might flow from the open windows and
great doors of the house. Three score horsemen formed themselves of the cold
white flames of the stars, and rode forth into the world, half of them
dispatched to find and bring back the hated assassin, and the others searching
for all warriors of the blood of the Son. Your noble son witnessed the glory
that will by birth and tradition one day be rightfully his, should he survive
the remaining two years to see his sixteenth date of birth. Truly, most gracious
of mothers, the years do not show upon your pale face, nor do they abuse your
beauty with anything but the slightest hint of maturity. I am sure that even in
your grief, you are radiant. Never could the sad weight of reality still your
girlish laughter, or seek to darken your ever-light-attitude.
So I think of your bright blonde face as my wild horses drive on into the
dark night, and my shoulders sag from a weight much greater than that which now
rests against my thigh, that weight being the coppery head of our gracious
lord's sleeping son. I swear by the honor that flows in the blood of all Illis
warriors that I shall allow no harm in Heaven or Hell to come to this sweetest
of youths, the blessed Son of the Sun. I believe that upon his birthday two
years from now he will rise up to challenge whomsoever shall seek the throne in
the next few months. Till a new head holds the crown of Illis aloft, there will
be no peace on the land, much like the olden days when the many House heads
fought among themselves. Yet, there is a great wisdom in the ways the Council of
Houses now use to govern this most blessed of nations.
The day for the Letting of Blood has been set by the House of Zul Tyi, the
Just Torturer. This shall be on the seventh day of the first full moon after the
beginning of the second arena cycle. Those who are of the blood of Zul will be
gathered into the great arena and there fight for the title of Son of the Sun
and the leadership of the House of Zul Hi, the Supreme Radiance. It will then be
their honor and responsibility to choose a mate of magical prowess that may bear
the new Glory of Illis many fine sons--so that as tradition demands, he can
engender offspring with the power necessary to command the forces of the unseen
He, the one whom the Sun will bless, may of course choose to keep you, great
wife of our now dead and benighted Son, for his own wife, one of many who may be
chosen to honor him. Or, he may choose another of his personal liking, thus
leaving you a beautiful dowager exiled to your own beloved seclusion. Perhaps,
with the new Son's benevolence, you may even remain with your chosen protector.
If not...then, I am sure his new Glory shall take all the precautions
necessary to insulate you from any possible treacheries. Bearing this letter I
have sent strong guards to help you on your journey to Tayr Biran Di, as it is
respectfully requested that your dainty self make the understandably hard
journey with your ever-present protector into Tayr Biran Di, the Luminous City,
to be the one to begin the first fight of the first cycle of the new arena.
This honor would have fallen to your illustrious Prince, but he has left us
now to fight before the Sun, so the fateful event falls into your sweet
Skaithvarnian hands. Even now the men of the assembled Houses move through the
gladiators of the new arena to learn where loyalties lie, and mark those whose
aid might have resulted in the blackest day in Illisian history in nearly an
The powers of the Council of Houses are now rolling like thunder across the
plains, cliffs and seas to seek out those of the blood of the House of Zul,
while in the meantime other manifestations of their righteous wrath ride swiftly
across the black night like avenging angels, bright creatures of raw power in
search of those who work to destroy us.
It is said that there is some bastard blood of the Son in the veins of some
of the gladiators who fight in the arena, and it flows most certainly in the
veins of the brothers Hisarr Zul and Tosyal Zul, Dragon's Friend, who made their
way across the seas many moons ago in search of the one maiden called Sorana,
who has no claimed sire, although all know that in her veins flow the blood and
power of Raigavor the Unholy.
Naught has been heard from the brothers in all this time, but if they live
anywhere on this sweet green land, or in the shadows of the Shagornan Desert,
than the searchers will find them.
Then, with a new head to uphold the glorious crown, will Illis rise up,
perhaps to make war on the Rirorni Horde or those vile nations among the
Delarquan Federation who hold the branch of peace out to us with one hand while
bearing a poisoned dagger in the other.
My fondest greetings and deepest sorrows, sweet mother of this sleeping Son.
I remain ever your humble and meager servant...
Klothri, Court Historian
The isle of Illis, unlike the rest of the Federation, is populated mainly by
immigrants from the Empire of Lirith Kai, from across the Trier Sea to the
southwest, renowned for their military prowess and their honor--though it may be
that their ancient nation is not all that it once was. These islanders are
called the Adantri, their nation on the isle of Illis is Zul Dartor, and their
stately and eloquent language is Tiklirath.
Because they thought the Empire of Lirith Kai suffered for its scorn of the
arts of magic, the Zul Daltor has made a new law: In order for a member of the
royal House of Zul to ascend to the throne, he or she must not only triumph in
the ancient rite of combat, but must marry an individual of proven magical
prowess. Most often, this means taking a wife from the Skaithvarn Peninsula, to
the northwest. As this highly magical House of Zul also does intermarry with the
other great Houses of the nation, and because the practice of marrying wizards
has spread through the nobility in emulation of the House of Zul, this law has
created a noble class that is as strong in magic as it is in combat.
Illis joined the Delarquan Federation about thirty years ago, when the Prince
of that time, Gaion Ai Zul, married Yeisal Havendish, daughter of the leading
lord of Osksi. Though bound by word and honor to membership in the Federation,
and finding some common philosophy with the Osksi Empire (at least in theory),
the people and lords of Illis are not comfortable with what they perceive as the
loose morals and mongrel culture of the Delarquan people. Still, they prefer the
Delarquans to their ancient enemies the Rirorni, and will certainly join in any
war against such a foe.
The economic strength of Illis rests upon its fabulous silver mines, and upon
the magic that transforms some of that silver into coruscine, the mirror-bright
metal imbued with the spirit of fire, that is made into the sharpest swords of
the mortal world. These swords are crafted in Bonsur, due to an old trade
agreement, but the rulers of the Adantri would like an honorable excuse to break
the agreement, as they now have the skill to make the coruscine swords
It is ruled by Filyicanthia, wife of the recently deceased Prince Xion Di Zul,
who is acting as regent for her young son.
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