The Arzhela Campaign
Arslahan was once a native of Arzhela who proved to be able to resist the powers of the Sacred Circle of Six. At the age of fifteen he established a small cult who followed a reconstructed form of the religion of the Okwipulkas, but he was opposed by the Circle after he killed a lieutenant of their military, arguably in self defense. After a period of imprisonment made short by his followers’ efforts to release him, Arslahan made a holy pilgrimage to an ancient tomb of the Okwipulkas where he came upon a source of power that allowed him to not only resist the powers of mages but also to return that power in retribution. Most believe it to be his shield which he calls Retere that gives him this power. With Retere in hand and the support of a small revolutionary group, Arslahan was able to unseat the Circle and create his own governance which still rules over Arzhela to this day.
The Long Story
Arslahan was born a bastard son of Arzhela, a child abandoned in the Sjuk beneath The Vynysja Tower with a pyramid-shaped birthmark upon his forehead. The Vynysja generally take care of all those who are left to Sjuk without the capacity to care for themselves, but legend holds that Arslahan, known then as Villi, was ignored by the witches. The Church of Arslahan holds that this was because from birth Arslahan could not be touched by manipulative magics, and that this made him invisible to the witches for their sight depends on a predatory instinct which acknowledges only those who they can manipulate. The young Villi was raised by the community of Sjuk, but one woman, the sorceress Bhana, above all others made certain of Villi’s growth and survival. She spoke to him of prophecy and the old ways.
“Young Villi,” she said, “you are a child most fortuitous. This mark,” she put an ancient-cold finger to his forehead, “this mark is an old one, older than old Bhana by more than millenia. It comes from the dawn of our people, from before we stood in awe of the ancients and their vile constructions,” she spat towards the tower, “These are no great prophets, these are the agents of those who would destroy us. They have made our people forget, but old Bhana hasn’t forgotten. Old Bhana heard tell from her mother, who heard tell from hers and even still from hers, back to uncountable ancient years, back all the way to the mother Old Bhana shares with Young Villi. We knew, we old and chosen women of Bhana, we knew this symbol would come. That a boy would be born with the triune of life upon his head. Do you know what it means? No?” Bhana traced the sides of the triune with her long crone-nail, from the left to the right to the bottom, “This is the line of body, given to all creatures. This is the line of intellect, given only to man. And this,” her finger lingered upon the bottom line, “is the line of soul from which all things come. Each has number. They are split just so upon your brow. The body is of two, for it is simple and takes only two to make a body. The intellect is of three, for three is the number which allows man to understand and construct. The line of soul is not split, but instead is continuous for that is the nature of soul. All soul is one, never divided. It’s number is seven, for soul is comprised of seven fluid and connect parts. We know this for sometimes soul is reflected in the sky for all to see. Boy, you are the herald of man, come to make right this world. It is your duty to help our people remember the truths we once held.”
Villi came to old Bhana everyday to learn of the old ways of his people, until old Bhana took sick. The Vynysja sought to help Bhana, in the Slough where all the desperately ill are taken. Villi was a young man of 15, healthy and hale, more than capable of leaving the Sjuk, but he stayed by Bhana’s side. At first he thought to make certain that the witches performed no misdeed against Bhana but slowly as he witnessed their ministrations Villi came to realize that the witches sought only and purely to help in whatever way they could. They could not save old Bhana but Villi saw the witches save many a soul.
After Bhana’s death Villi began to preach Bhana’s words in the streets of Arzhela. Early on he gained seven followers who would discuss with him in depth and in the open the old words and this discussions begun to draw crowds. One day a zealous lieutenant named Yjak sought to disperse the crowd as an unlawful gathering. Yjak bore some power granted by the Circle, he was a wizard himself, a man against whom none could stand. But as he sought to disperse the crowd Villi raised his voice for all to hear, “We shall not leave. You have no rights here. You defile this land, that once belonged to my people and was promised to them. You are a creature of pain, a black mark upon a beautiful earth.” Yjak raised his fist in a motion of power, and lightning struck from him to Villi.
But it did Villi no harm. Villi rushed at Yjak and caught the lieutenant in his surprise by the throat. Villi choked the life from the man there in the pavilion, in front of a crowd of hundreds. Never before, in a reign lasting hundreds of years, had a wizard died at the hands of anyone but a wizard. That day Villi was named Arslahan.
The soldiers who were a part of Yjak’s troop were slow to act after witnessing the death of their leader, but Arslahan did nothing to protect himself from their arrest. He was taken to prison, and sentenced to a hanging the next morning.
That night however, Arslahan’s seven followers appeared with thirty-five others who had witnessed Arslahan kill a wizard. As forty-two together they