Monday, February 21, 2011

Dark•Heritage: Return of the King

Something big is going on far to the north, in the desert canyonlands of Baal Hamazi. On the southern shores of the large Indash Salt Sea, the port and caravanserai city of Simashki is flooded with refugees from Tahrah and Baal Hishutash, as well as the rural areas all around. And they all have the same story; the First Priest-King of the old Baal Hamazi empire has returned; either reborn or somehow returned to life, and he's not happy to find that the empire he built has crumbled into petty city-states and mini-empires, and that his capital in the Hamazi canyonlands is an abandoned ruin.

Reports are confused about what exactly has happened. One of the most commonly repeated reports is that Hutran Kutir--the semi-mythical founder of the Baal Hamazi empire, and the first hellspawn to bear the distinctive hamazin physical characteristics, and the semi-mythical ancestor of all hamazi hellspawn even today--was either reborn or rose from his ancient tomb in the ruins of Baal Hamazi, deep in the Hamazi Canyonlands. Demonstrating his royal potency and grandeur, he easily swayed the cult-like tribes that still dwelt in the canyonlands to swear their allegiance anew to him, and with that small core he marched out of the canyons, crossed the Kindattu Mountains and sacked Baal Hishutash. Gathering additional drylander warriors to his banner, he advanced on Tahrah, which surrendered without a fight.

However, the details of the rise of Hutran Kutir and if he's really at the head of this army are not consistant and believable in all reports. The only thing that is known for sure is that somebody has managed to unite many of the northern drylander tribes into a potent military force which successfully sacked Baal Hishutash and which intimidated Tahrah into surrender and that soldiers, warriors, troops, and renegades now swarm both cities and much of the land around them. And that someone is using the name of Hutran Kutir as a rallying point. And refugees have been flowing southwards for weeks, swelling golden Simashki, the Jewel of the Indash Salt Sea to capacity and beyond. Most of these refugees are the human cityfolk; the relatively prosperous. Human drylanders still see opportunities for plunder, and the hamazin see their hopes of being raised into a privileged position at the head of a new Hamazi empire renewed--although possibly in vain; historical reports from the earliest days of Kutir's reign suggest that the only reason he gave special privilege to the hamazin hellspawn was because they were his own children, not because of their racial distinction from those of the human tribes amongst which they were spawned.

Simashki is flooded with refugees, clogging her streets, filling her inns, and creating all manor of shortages and other social problems. Some of the refugees, those who are able, have started moving even further south, traveling upstream on the Palar River to Ishkur, or even beyond; from there braving the Shutrak savanas to enter the "lost provice" of the Terrasan Empire, Calça, or to come to the northern boundaries of the weakening empire at the headwaters of the Volo river in the Garriga Mountains. This significant displacement of people, and the possible ramifications of further aggression by this army gathering in the far north, are so far issues that only Simashki and possibly Ishkur have asked; the remainder of the territories are only starting to hear the first fragmentary rumors and hints of problems to come. But unless the military action sputters soon, it is likely that further upheaval is in the near future for the successor states of the Baal Hamazi empire.

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