In the language of the "Hollywood pitch" Nizrekh is "Undead and pirates from ancient Egypt."
An archipelago nation, Nizrekh was once a much larger island, and the very first High Civilization of Mankind lived on it. Terra Atlans, it was called, and they ruled with an iron fist over the continent, although they were little interested in the people there except to take them occasionally as slaves, or to exploit the natural resources of their lands. Mighty in technology and in magic, the Atlaneans were unchallenged for centuries. When their Doom came, it came because of the curse that befell one of their own.
A princess of Atlans named Medusa brought a curse down on the people for reasons that are now forgotten (or better said; there are competing accounts of what happened.) The ancient, heathen chthonian entities that the Atlaneans worshiped turned her into a horrifying monster for her crimes, her body below the waist transformed into that of the thick snake, her hair turned into a nest of vipers, and her malicious gaze would turn those who beheld her to stone. Full of hatred and bitterness for what happened to her she took her revenge on her people, and waged war against them. Although it's not clear how this happened, she did in fact bear children after her transformation, and these are called the lesser medusae, or sometimes the gorgons. Their own petrification abilities were similar to that of their monstrous mother, although less potent, and those of sufficiently strong will could resist it. Medusa herself was finally killed by a hero, but her vile progeny, which now included the warlike snake-men continued a bitter war of attrition against the Atlaneans.
Disgusted with the behavior of the Atlaneans, who had fallen into bitter rejection of their gods, a massive sea monster known as Mekaketos destroyed their island, killing most Atlaneans and snake-men both. There are disturbing rumors that Megaketos was not related to Ketos, but was rather Cthulhu itself, awakened for a short time by the gods. If so, the devastation to Terra Atlans makes more sense; the majority of the land was sunk and only sun-bleached fragments of it remain. A single structure, the great pyramid of Halkatash is all that remains.
New peoples came to these islands, peoples from the shoreline of what would later become the countries of Gunaakt, Baal Hamazi and parts of Timischburg itself. These were mostly simple fishermen and other coastal types, but they grew in power and influence as well, becoming wealthy traders and sailors. Occasionally, they would find nests of snake-men still lingering in the islands, but mostly the survivors of that Pyrrhic war had fled for foreign parts. But at the height of their power, they discovered that not all of the Atlaneans were dead. Some of the wisest and most powerful (and the most blasphemous and corrupt) knew that their destruction was imminent. Sacrificing many of their lesser brethren's lives and souls in foul rituals, they turned themselves in the Heresiarch's—arch undead that combine the strengths of both vampires and liches with few of their weaknesses—and sealed themselves in thick sarcophagi that would be able to survive the sinking of their land, slumbering for centuries or even millennia on the bottom of the sea.
Nobody knows how many of these there are, but about half a dozen or so returned to their former lands (or what was left of them) and quickly conquered it with their foul and powerful magic, establishing themselves as undead Pharaohs over the Nizrekhs who lived here now. They did, however, not disrupt the native Nizrekh culture too much, and are content to rule openly yet quietly. The world is not as primitive as it was in their time, and much of their science (if not their magic) was lost in the destruction of their world, so they bide their time, attempting to locate and raise the rest of their brethren and fortify their power base before they make any attempt to expand their influence through conquest yet again.
|The Court of the Heresiarchs|
Today, they rule over an aristocratic urban Nizrekh, a strange place where necromantic magic, Immortal soldiers (mummies) patrol the streets, and powerful traders still make their living. But more along the coasts are lawless communities, which have gradually become more mixed and cosmopolitan—havens for pirates and other worse riffraff who make of themselves a nuisance across the entire Mezzovian Sea. Few foreigners leave these anarchic, violent pirate cities, as they are rarely welcomed in the urban centers ruled by the Heresiarchs. In addition to these pirates, natives who live in rebellion against the Heresiarchs wander the plains and other inland rural areas of the islands. For some reason they are tolerated, to a point, probably because they cause very little actual harm. However, unknown (presumably, at least) to the Heresiarchs, these nomadic rebels have made contact with a cell of medusae and their snake-men soldiers, and may have found a means to wage a more successful rebellion—even if the cost is their own humanity, ultimately.
Anyway; that's Nizrekh in a nutshell. The advent of the Heresiarchs spawned a "Golden Age" of necromancy among the people, and a recognition of their past dealings with the snake-men has also spawned numerous odd details, including the worship of many snakes and snake-like entities, even as actual snake-men and their medusae rulers gather to threaten them yet again.
More details on some aspects of it will be forthcoming in future posts.