People commonly believe that the Kingdom of Thane and the Thanes themselves, were a cursed peoples..
Unlike the other great Kingdoms of Eletreus, who have created great wonders and thriving civilizations, the Thanes legacy has always been war, death and destruction for as far back as the scholars can trace back into the mists of time. It is even written in the Elder Tomes that the first murderer was the earliest ancestor of the Thanes..
Why their land, which though often cloudy and grey, has many wide open green and fertile plains, quiet coastal bays and deposits of almost every mineral any land could ever need has been the root of such violence and trouble is not entirely understood.
Some claim that when the war in heaven raged before the archaic age and when Eletreus was young, that the most terrible battles all happened in and around Thane, soaking the ground with the blasted remains of both the angelic and the demonic, and that some of Fallen sought refuge in its many dark caves and labyrinths near the coast.
Others argue that it is the presence of the first murderer and his bloodline that tained the lands.
But whatever the cause, the result is always the same.
The Kingdom of Thane is – and always has been – broken..
The black armored warriors that inspired such fear in the days before the Paragon and the Proto-Imperial Army finally cast down their wicked Kingdom had completely disappeared from the world – though the Orcs left behind that now claim the empty lands as their own birthright attempt to recreate the Thanish style, knowing the fear and loathing it instills in the hearts of men.
But while its original people are long gone, in recent years there are sightings and reports of a lone traveler in isolated places, sometimes hundreds of miles apart, who seems to have stepped right out of the Kingdoms violent past.
Malarion ‘Malar’ Varangir – The Last Thane
Perhaps the most wanted and hunted criminal in all of Eletreus and the subject of intense and fearful debate in the houses of the holy is the mad lone wanderer known commonly as the Last Thane, Malarion ‘Malar’ Varangir.
Believed to be the last living descendant of none other than Zorander Krauss with a lineage tracing back to the bastard son of the man who would later become the first DeathKnight Shazn’Oegtol, as the bards tell it, he was raised by a secret cabal of demon worshiping witches hidden away in the deepest Orc infested ruins of the Broken Kingdom.
But his tale begins in earnest to the outside world a few years ago when he was first found wandering aimlessly in the wilds near the new Territories of the Colonies of Silverleaf by some local hunters..
There are several different accounts of what happened next. Some say the hunters fired at him first when they mistook him for an Orc due to his Thanish armor and he went after them in response. Other accounts have him ambushing them at a crossroads like a common footpad. And much later, a third account began to surface that the men were part of a gang of thugs who were robbing and murdering lone travelers..
But whatever really happened the end result of his encounter with the hunters was two dead local men, and thus the manhunt began..
Two mercenaries separately took up the initial modest bounty offered on his head. One was never heard from again, his fate still to this day unknown. The second however was found within a matter of days – severely beaten, robbed and tied up on the side of the road. Of the details of his encounter, the bounty hunter would only say that his opponent was a mad man – and when push came to shove, fought with supernatural skill, submitting the hardened mercenary with, as he reluctantly admitted, nothing more than a mere wooden cudgel..!
The bounty, and his reputation, increased. Soon news came that he had been spotted again – but this time hundreds of miles away in Escia
Found wandering half-dead and deliriously through the desert by an Escian patrol – he refused to answer their questions, but instead began accusing their captain of being no more than a butcher of men and enraged and insulted him to the point where he launched an attack on the Thane..
What happened next further cemented his legend and his notoriety. For even though the Captain was a decorated war veteran – after sending several of his men colliding into each other like greenhorns, the Thane proceeded to disarm him of his Castir as if he were a mere child and turn him at just the right moment so that two of his own men attacked at the wrong time and place and skewered him on the spot before jumping on a horse in the confusion and escaping into a sudden wild desert storm..
A wanted man now in Silverleaf AND Escia, he soon added the Aelutian Empire to his list when a fight with three renowned bounty hunters spilled out into the village of Rockwind in Central Aelutia and ended with several seriously injured legionaries who stepped in to intervene in the chaos. Seeking refuge in the nearby monastery of Saint Griffin, it first appeared that he repaid the monks kindness by slaughtering them to the last man – though as is often the case with the last Thane, digging deeper it was found that all the monks had been corrupted by the cult of Domas Rahm and out the back was a pit full of the bones of lost travelers who had fallen victim to the murderous monks..
An enigma, and now hunted by three nations, sightings of the wandering Thane started to be reported in the unlikeliest of places. And then the reports started to become more frequent and almost random, popping up in the unlikeliest of places and then disappearing without a trace with multiple sightings even as far away as Lhasa and was rumored to have been pursued by a party of Wild Centaurs, who lost him when he entered the forbidden and terrifying Black woods for reasons known only to himself..
In the few years since he was first encountered in the Colonies, this sinister figure has become something of a bogeyman. Not only was it impossible to predict where he would be sighted next, but his actions were equally as unpredictable – and those who had claimed to have encountered him painted him as a talkative madman convinced of his own innocence..
To the church however, he has become more than a bogeyman and while some find mirth in the stranger stories attributed to him, the clergy are not laughing. For they warn his true intention is to find the the lost Brand of the Fallen and claim his birthright as the final DeathKnight – the one who would usher in the end times..
The stories about who he really is, the dark purity of his lineage and who he will become, have created quite a panic in some circles. For now even the Priesthood of the Old gods gave the myth fuel for its fire and fanned the flames with an old, cryptic and prophetic passage from the Elder Tomes which reads:
“The danger is far from over.. The war, just beginning. For from his hellish prison, Shemhazai will find a way back to the world in the form of a Black Sword. Called forth by a heart lost forever to hatred – the world will be shaken – again and again the sword shall strike at the heart of civilization..
Time and time again, the Black Sword will move from host to host, hand to hand, blood to blood. Fast at first, then so slow that the good people of Eletreus will be lulled into believing peace has finally come.
It is then, when the painful memories of the sword begin to fade so far away that some doubt they were even true that the faithful must be truly vigilant. For in the twilight of the false peace one lone figure will rise up to claim it, but this last time it too shall rise to claim them – an unholy union unlocking the swords darkest secrets so fast and so suddenly that the threat to all creation it represents clouds every day beyond it grey with uncertainty, and the final predictions of the Tome, only to become clear once the time for action has long since passed..”
The Elder Tomes, Chapter 79, Verses 34-39
The Doomsday cultists and the fearful insist that the time of the ‘false peace’ is now – for the last DeathKnight to rise (and who mysteriously disappeared) was indeed many hundreds of years ago..
But if asked directly as some have done – for while considered to be extremely dangerous, he is well known to be extremely talkative – he is said to answer that his only intention was to leave the broken land of his ancestors far behind and to be left alone. To be free..
How much longer he can evade the rich bounties that have been put on his head from almost every nation in Eletreus remains to be seen – and wanted dead or alive – the truth of his story may never be known. Or, as some of the Elders claim, his story will be the most important and the last tale ever told when he rises up bearing the Brand of the Fallen and reduces Eletreus to molten stone and ash…