Rathenoch

Rathenoch

Territory: Gerdain, Maub'dib, Bakura and the mountains in that region.
Colour: Red
Symbol or Flag: A dragon made of fire
Style of Rulership: None
Demeanor: Egotistical, stubborn, bully, self absorbed
Views Toward Mortals: Useful for collecting tribute
Preferred Magic: Elemental Fire, Protections
Relationship with nearby kingdoms: Rathenoch is an impressively large and battle-tested red dragon. He makes his home deep in the molten heart of the mountains north of Gerdain and often takes tribute and offerings from them. The Deep Dwarves and Mountain Dwarves respect him and feed his ego; to them his strength and courage is to be admired. The dwarvish kings hold festivals in his honour and name siege weaponry after him. Rathenoch lives for battle and war, thus the passive and calculating stone elves show no interest in him (and vice-verse) and the avians pay only as much respect as they feel they need to, to keep their villages safe from his fire.

Rathenoch, like most Firstborns, see only other Dragons as his equal albeit with him being most prominent. He has no wishes to establish a kingdom and sees political systems as weak and confining. His followers take his example and rule as warlords across his lands. His influence extends throughout the entire Mountain Range north of Gerdain and all who travel through it pay him tribute to feed his ego for fear of his reprisal. The Dwarves of the kingdom of Gerdain hold him in great honour, building statues, weapons and holding feasts in his name. His lands, the wilds north of Berphaunt, are in a perpetual state of war as many different warbands vie for greater supremacy and glory.

Rathenoch’s lair is in the molten heart of the mountains, at its centre is a massive caldera created by countless eruptions and is ringed by the shattered remnants of mountains. The Deep Dwarves long ago constructed a huge fortress deep close to his lair, where rivers of lava flow from its gates and the intense heat is enough to keep most at bay. It is here where all tribute that is gathered comes, gold is melted down and formed into huge statues; magic items are lost and stored in the many great chambers.

While in his slumber, Rathenoch spends his time deep within the lava that is beneath the caldera. During this time lake sometimes forms in the caldera that bubbles with poisonous gasses and jets gigantic streams of steam and water as countless geysers erupt. It is said that his mood controls the fire of the mountains so those that live nearby are wise to try and appease him, and watch the mountains persistently for a sign of his coming.

To an outsider Rathenoch’s lands may seem to be in a state of anarchy, however beneath this there are customs and codes that promote strength, courage, honour and tribute. To maintain order and servitude all warlords have adopted a caste system where common folk, merchants, warriors and warlords are divided.

The lower caste, the common folk, are not permitted to wear or train in the use of weapons, learn to read and write and must provide the labour for every day life. In return they are mostly kept out of the fighting but at times raided for a reminder of the strength and power of the upper caste.

The middle class exists for the purpose of trade and therefore have the right to learn and to be able to defend themselves.

The upper caste is those that serve a warlord as warriors, these men are further divided based on their skill in battle and given rank as such.

The elite caste is the warlords themselves. It is possible for a warlord, through force and awe, to subjugate other bands at which point he takes the title of Khan. Once someone assumes the title of Khan it cannot be taken away, even if disgraced it will stay attached to their name.

Those granted the status of Knight by Rathenoch are considered to do be apart from the caste system but have all rights that a Khan would have. Some are Khans themselves commanding large armies, some prefer to travel from warband to warband relishing in the constant combat, while others act in Rathenoch’s name and do his bidding.

It is Rathenoch’s decree that all who follow him or live in his lands must pay him tribute and demand it from those beneath them. To him tribute means many things, in its simplest form it is a chest full of gold, but he takes pleasure in receiving living sacrifices, heads of enemy warriors or anything that promotes war or idolises violence. Above all else he covets Orbs of power and ancient relics.

Every year from his great fortress Rathenoch sends out his knights whose sole purpose is to collect his tribute. Several bands head out in different directions to meet with all the warlords and Khans. They are received with honour and great feasts are held in Rathenoch’s name. They will determine if the tribute they receive is adequate and those that do not provide enough are incinerated as warning to others. It is during these feasts that the paths of succession are taken and Khans renew their oaths.

Paths of Succession

For the most part once born into a certain caste one stays in it for their lifetime. However there are certain rites and customs that allows for some to move into the more prestigious classes.

The rite of conscription: Every warlord has a right to conscript anyone of the lower and middle caste if they can provide for them. For the most part this happens when a warlord sees a child of exceptional size or magical aptitude from one of the lower ranks and conscripts them in the hope that one day they will be a fearsome warrior.

The rite of challenge: Every member of the lower caste has the option of challenging a warrior during the first day of the festival of fire to ritual combat. If he succeeds he takes the place of the warrior he defeated and the warrior is then burnt in Rathenoch’s great fire. If he fails then he is burnt. This rarely happens because the lower caste are not allowed to train in the weapons used in the combat and therefore looked at as more of a suicide option.

The rite of supremacy: This deals with the changing of status between warrior and warlord and be either taken or given. When it is given it comes in the form of a warlord promoting one of his warriors to warlord making himself a Khan in the process, or when the warlord dies and his heir takes his place. When it is taken it means that a warrior feels that his warlord has acted cowardly or just believes that he is stronger and assumes control by killing the warlord.

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