The Ceyth-Janzarian Wars

The Ceyth-Janzarian Wars were a series of conflicts that engulfed Askamar following the fall of Janzaris. It was a time of shifting allegiances, violence and disorder. Naskremari was determined to reclaim the power he had lost, while many other Esu hoped for a chance to found their own sovereignty. Their battles lasted over a thousand years.

Shattered Ambitions

At the start of the conflict, Liralian believed she might finally be able to become sovereign. For centuries she had languished near the bottom of the Esu hierarchy, but during Janzaris she gained the allegiance of Zotharan, one of the greatest Nayusuru fighters. The Esu had always suspected that Zotharan’s companions Xanuspari and Kurunari were more loyal to him than to any particular ruler, and that they would come to his side if he asked.

Zotharan laughed when Liralian told him of her hopes, and called her a hypocrite for wanting to make use of his fighting skills when she had always rebuked him for being too ruthless. He immediately gave his allegiance to Ruzenathra, hurling Liralian back to the lower ranks. She felt both devastated and infuriated by his treachery. There was nothing she could do now but seek the protection of her old ally Yazelern – who of course wanted her allegiance in return.

Now that Ruzenathra had regained Zotharan’s allegiance, she also hoped that she might emerge triumphant from the conflict. Her plan was to let Naskremari and Daskesurul battle each other into exhaustion while she subdued the weaker Esu. She began by attacking Liralian’s Citadel, only to find herself driven back by Yazelern.

Ruzenathra felt infuriated by her defeat. Over the next few years, she ceaselessly attacked the Citadels of her rivals’ servants, hoping to weaken the enemy courts. Whenever her own lands were threatened, she persuaded either Naskremari or Daskesurul to defend her, playing the two foes off against each other.

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Rising from the Ashes

Although Daskesurul began the war in the stronger position, Naskremari soon regained Tassedehami’s allegiance. Until then he had been hosting lavish banquets for Ruzenathra in an attempt to win her loyalty, but Tassedehami told him it was a waste of time – as usual, Ruzenathra was just manipulating everyone. Naskremari realized he was right and agreed that they should focus on gaining the support of less ambitious Esu.

When Ruzenathra captured Yazelern’s servant Arellesria, Naskremari promised to secure her freedom if Yazelern agreed to become his vassal. He struck unexpectedly and captured Ruzenathra’s servant Xanuspari, then offered to exchange his valuable prisoner in return for Arellesria.

Ruzenathra agreed, scarcely able to believe Naskremari would make such a poor exchange. She felt furious when she discovered the reason for his actions.

Naskremari was now the most powerful of the Ankaykari, for his new vassal Yazelern commanded the allegiance of the Esu Lady Liralian as well as three Nayusuru servants. Naskremari thought it would be immensely satisfying to see the self-righteous Liralian return to his court, but she refused and relinquished her allegiance to Yazelern.

Liralian’s friends begged her not to be so foolish, for they feared she would end up in the dungeons of her enemies if she tried to stand alone when the realm was torn by war. However, Liralian was tired of serving oppressors. She had endured Naskremari’s regime for years, and she was not about to fight to see it restored.

Naskremari told his followers that he was not surprised, for Liralian had always been stubborn. He did not think it would be long before he had to rescue her.

The Alliance of the Outer Reaches

It was a frightening time for Liralian, but she held out even though her Citadel was attacked by both Daskesurul and Ruzenathra. It was during this period that she formed a close relationship with Mormariul’s ally Takanepi. He seemed more thoughtful than most Esu, and he shared her longing to see peace restored. They often met in the Vale of Ilayath where they discussed their dreams of a better world. Over time, they fell in love.

Moved by her concern for mortal-kind, Takanepi helped Liralian to free the provinces of the Janakezan Empire from Ruzenathra’s oppressive rule. They were both horrified when the land fell into anarchy as a result.

Ruzenathra was utterly furious, while Takanepi refused to intervene any further in mundane conflicts, no matter how Liralian tried to convince him that it was their duty. Liralian felt distraught that he blamed her for the bloodshed in Janakeza. Mormariul, meanwhile, was jealous of the bond between Liralian and her ally.

Takanepi urged them to become friends, but Mormariul was too consumed by envy, while Liralian considered her selfish and arrogant. Mormariul helped to defend Liralian’s Citadel because she dreaded the thought of Takanepi being captured, but the two argued viciously. Liralian said Mormariul was too ruthless, while Mormariul called Liralian a pathetic, ungrateful wretch.

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Ruzenathra’s Patience

Ruzenathra was determined to punish Liralian, but she could not stand against an alliance of three Esu. Between the battles she complained bitterly to Naskremari about Liralian’s meddling in Udaris and her ‘stupid ideology’. Naskremari finally took revenge on her behalf by conquering Liralian’s mundane kingdom of Gabuwesu.

It was a grand gesture, and Ruzenathra was delighted by the thought of Liralian weeping over the loss of her kingdom. However, she still refused to become Naskremari’s vassal, for she had not forgotten how he imprisoned her when he was sovereign of Janzaris.

Naskremari told Ruzenathra that she was being a fool – what could she hope to gain by standing alone? He knew that she craved the title of sovereign, but the idea that she might triumph against Daskesurul or himself was absurd. Ruzenathra replied that she might seem weak now, but that would change. She was prepared to wait if she must.

By that time, both Naskremari and Daskesurul were entangled in mundane conflicts. When Daskesurul sent his Kahuburan armies to conquer Namiva, Naskremari sent his Yanbukan warriors to oppose them. The Udarissan war ended abruptly when Namiva fell under the power of the traitor Rakkian and the Kahuburan empire was torn apart by rebellion.

Meanwhile the war in Askamar raged on. Saroparel flew into a fit of grief when Naskremari captured her servant Vusashare, and she demanded that Daskesurul do something. Kurunari laid an ambush for Naskremari’s servant Esephrul in Udaris and brought him back to his ruler. Daskesurul was reluctant to exchange Esephrul for Vusashare, but Saroparel insisted that he secure the release of her servant.

After many years of fighting, Ruzenathra captured Liralian and dragged her back to her dungeons. Takanepi blamed Mormariul for failing to come to her aid. Mormariul retorted that she did not feel obliged to endanger herself for the sake of a self-righteous wretch who was plotting to steal her ally. After a furious argument, Takanepi attempted to rescue Liralian by himself.

Mormariul felt horrified when he was also taken prisoner, torn between anger at his recklessness and shame at her own behavior. She was so consumed by fear for him that she did not even consider that she was now without allies. When Daskesurul attacked her Citadel, she never stood a chance against him. However, she refused to become his vassal even when he threw her into his dungeon and made her suffer for her defiance.

The Storming of Karazran

Yazelern and Tassedehami expected Naskremari to lead them against Ruzenathra, for they longed to rescue Liralian. However, Ruzenathra threatened to give her allegiance to Daskesurul if Naskremari turned on her now. Naskremari knew his cause would be lost if this happened, so he did nothing.

In defiance of his will, Yazelern and Tassedehami stormed Ruzenathra’s Citadel, freeing Liralian and Takanepi. They took Ruzenathra prisoner and would have brought her back to their ruler if Daskesurul had not saved her.

Naskremari was furious when he learned what they had done. When he sought to punish Yazelern, the Lord of Thasenare withdrew his allegiance and fled back to his Citadel. Naskremari pursued him, trailed by Tassedehami, who obviously wanted no part in this.

Together they smashed down Yazelern’s wards and dragged him out, but at that moment Liralian and Takanepi arrived. They were still weak after their ordeal, but Tassedehami immediately fled at the sight of them. Later, Naskremari suspected it was Tassedehami himself who warned them that Yazelern needed their help.

Faced with three Esu, he had no choice but to withdraw. He was incandescent with rage, but although he screamed and ranted at Tassedehami, he dared not punish his one remaining vassal. Ruzenathra laughed when she heard the tale, then gave her allegiance to Daskesurul. It galled her, but she knew that she would be in Naskremari’s dungeon if it were not for him.

Bitter Struggles

Liralian tried to help Takanepi rescue Mormariul, both out of gratitude to him and a wish to prevent others from suffering what she had recently endured, but she knew it was hopeless. Daskesurul commanded two Esu vassals and many skilled Nayusuru warriors, while they had nothing but each other and their two followers.

It was Daskesurul’s own favored servant Carashanza who freed Mormariul. She was angered by his regime and decided that she would rather join Mormariul’s court.

Daskesurul felt stunned and humiliated. Desperate to restore his reputation, he launched a fresh attack on Ebzazire and managed to storm the Citadel of Tassedehami’s servant Iruzathe. Tassedehami was distraught, but Naskremari told him that it was his own fault they were now so weak – had he not defied him along with Yazelern, then allowed Yazelern to betray them and escape unpunished?

In his anger, Naskremari continued trying to conquer Yazelern’s Citadel. However, Yazelern had been re-building his old alliance with Saroparel, hoping to persuade her to leave Daskesurul and join forces with him. Saroparel listened sympathetically to his arguments, not least because tension was growing between her and Ruzenathra. When Naskremari attacked Yazelern’s Citadel, he was opposed by both Saroparel and Liralian, while Tassedehami remained stubbornly useless.

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Unaware that Saroparel’s loyalty was wavering, Daskesurul believed nothing would keep him from becoming sovereign. His hope began to crumble when he failed to keep Saroparel’s kingdom of Farenia from being conquered by the Shuredorean Empire. To add to his vassal’s fury, her servant Gesmoriul was briefly captured by Shuredorean wizards and her lands in Askamar were invaded by Emperor Orothassan II.

The human army was quickly destroyed, but Saroparel felt humiliated. She blamed Daskesurul, reminding him that he had promised to unite the realm under a strong and harmonious regime. For the last few centuries there had been nothing but violence, and Saroparel blamed herself for the part she played in overthrowing Janzaris. Consumed by misery and remorse, she withdrew to her Citadel, saying that she would fight no longer.

In the meantime, Mormariul had returned her lands to find the vassal-emperor of Vanotaqua had agreed to serve Daskesurul. Mormariul killed him in a fury, but her actions plunged Vanotaqua into turmoil. Weakened by civil strife and invasion, her beloved empire was on the point of collapse when the wizard-king Hakenar arrived from the distant land of Garakia to assist her.

Mormariul fell passionately in love with him and gave him the Vanotaquan throne. She even tried to persuade Carashanza to brew him an elixir of immortality. Takanepi was not pleased, but it amused Mormariul to see him looking jealous for once.

Daskesurul’s Downfall

Daskesurul continued his attacks on Ebzazire and finally captured Tassedehami’s last remaining servant, Drathessa. She tried to defy him, but he was determined to have her allegiance, and the pain which he inflicted upon her eventually broke her will. However, Daskesurul had not reckoned on the friendship between his prisoner and his finest Nayusuru fighter, Kurunari.

When Kurunari saw what had been done to Drathessa, he took revenge on her behalf by re-joining Ruzenathra. The Lady of Veskansare immediately relinquished her allegiance to her weakened ruler, mocking him for his inability to retain the allegiance of his servants. With her three fearsome followers finally reunited, she resumed the fight for supremacy.

Daskesurul felt crushed. His status among the Esu had plummeted, for now the only servants he had left aside from Canrasiul were Drathessa and Iruzathe – both of whom were traumatized by their experiences in his dungeons. It was then that Mormariul struck, craving vengeance for the pain which he had caused her.

Mormariul captured Drathessa, who was still too frail to defend herself, and would have stormed Daskesurul’s Citadel with Takanepi’s help if Saroparel and Ruzenathra had not come to his aid. Daskesurul thanked his old allies profusely, too shaken to care about his pride anymore.

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The End of the Wars

Mormariul felt dissatisfied by her defeat. Her mortal lover Hakenar was a man of grand ambitions, and he insisted that she must be more ruthless. When Drathessa refused to serve her, Mormariul made her suffer in an attempt to break her will.

Takanepi was appalled when he found out, and Mormariul felt so ashamed that she allowed Drathessa to escape. Hakenar’s scorn was withering. He told her that she was unworthy of the power which she wielded. Stung by his words, Mormariul went after her prisoner and attacked Tassedehami when he tried to defend Drathessa. She would have dragged them both back to her dungeons if Naskremari had not come in time to drive her away.

Tassedehami had been hideously maimed by Mormariul. Naskremari took him back to his own Citadel to heal him, grateful that Daskesurul was too weak to launch any further attacks.

By now, everyone was exhausted by the centuries of conflict. Naskremari could see that he had no hope of regaining his former power. Daskesurul was terrified of Mormariul’s vengeance, while Mormariul felt sick with remorse over the way she had treated Drathessa and Tassedehami now that her temper had cooled. Ruzenathra’s attempts to defeat Yazelern and Liralian had failed, and even her servants were weary of battle.

Finally, Saroparel and Liralian persuaded the other Esu to gather together and negotiate the Truce of Elanthar. For now, at least, the fighting was at an end.

An epic fantasy saga