Zepzaris is one of the nine ‘kingdoms’ of Askamar. It lies in the barren Outer Reaches of the realm, and is ruled by Lady Mormariul.
Zepzaris is a land of desolate wastes and jagged peaks where the winds howl bitterly. The Ogurazian mountains loom to the north-east, their deep valleys and brooding summits impassable even to the yuyarni. Rugged cliffs line the western coasts of Zepzaris, interspersed with rocky, wind-whipped beaches.
Cliffs and plateaux of ice segment the inner plains, some marked with gullies carved by cascading water. At the heart of Zepzaris is the vast frozen lake of Xekurial. Water flows beneath its surface, and strange creatures are said to dwell within its depths.
The Court of Zepzaris
he Court of Zepzaris has a fearsome reputiton, for its ruler is considered insane. Mormariul encourages her servants to compete for her favour, and loves to be entertained with duels, music and singing. She considers the lives of mortals more interesting and meaningful than the existences of the Ankaykari, and so her servants compose poems about human kings, warlords and wizards, creating art to commemorate epic events both real and imagined.
Mormariul was always a proud and quick-tempered ruler, but she became increasingly cruel and volatile after she was captured by the wizard Hakenar.
Mormariul liked Nayusuru servants who were strong enough to withstand her rages, but who would console her when she was miserable and obey her every wish. Although she sometimes accepted advice, she could not stand to have her will thwarted, and followers who were too audacious felt the force of her temper.
Quenezarea is the only Nayusuru who is truly loyal to Mormariul. She has stood by her during her descent into ‘madness’, making vain attempts to comfort her while becoming ever more listless and withdrawn.
Mormariul knows that she should treat Quenezarea with greater kindness, but she feels frustrated by her apparent lack of emotion. Quenezarea used to be a worthy servant who brought prestige to Zepzaris, but now she seldom speaks at all.
During the Ceyth-Janzarian Wars Mormariul gained the allegiance of Carashanza, a high-ranking Nayusuru who rescued her from Daskesurul’s dungeons.
Mormariul realizes she has reason to be grateful to Carashanza, and she can see that Carashanza is a more impressive servant than Quenezarea, but they have a tempestuous relationship. Mormariul senses that Carashanza has come to despise her, and she fears that the cunning Nayusuru lady is plotting against her somehow.