The Serpent Lord - Book Two: The Helm and the Sword - Prologue/Synopsis

<p><em>&lsquo;Though it seemed the future could take him anywhere on its strange threads and designs, Amur knew one thing; that his destiny was to be carved by himself, alone.&rsquo;</em><br /> - The Rogue Prince &ndash; Chapter X: The Cult of Sauron<br /> <br /> Amur Sulad&acirc;n, son of Varnam, was born into the house of Lurmsak&ucirc;n &ndash; one of the four provinces of Amr&ucirc;n. This land stood to the east of Near Harad and the south of Khand, and its southern borders back upon a great promontory onto the sea. After having been settled by a people of close descendance to their two warlike neighbours, Amr&ucirc;n became a sturdy, single kingdom, with the resolve to make its own way in Middle-earth and yet remain distant from the great wars and affairs of the Haradrim and Variags. This, however, was shattered during the Third Age, when it was divided into four separate kingdoms, whose allegiances to one another shifted like the wind. These kingdoms were Lurmsak&ucirc;n in the north, Ammu Baj in the east, Siakan in the south and Arysis in the east. This fracture left it weak to outside oppression.<br /> <br /> Lurmsak&ucirc;n was the most northerly of the four kingdoms, and during the lifetime of its King Varnam, an influential ruler arose in the south of Khand called Surakaris, whose power threatened to swallow Amr&ucirc;n. Varnam&rsquo;s first wife bore him four children, before dying in birth during the last. And so he took a second wife, Jerra, who hailed from the warrior house of Sulad&acirc;n. This bloodline was rumoured to have been sourced from the ancient lineage of the infamous hero of Far Harad &ndash; M&acirc;rdat, the Serpent Lord. Together, Varnam and Jerra had a single child, whom they called Amur.<br /> <br /> When Amur was but four years of age, King Surakaris and his Variag horde assaulted Lurmsak&ucirc;n. Although Varnam and his older sons withstood him in battle and siege, they were overcome. Their defeat became evident to be the workings of a traitor within their own midst. Nevertheless, the young Amur, the supposed last heir of King Varnam, fled with his mother. Hiding from the agents of Surakaris, they left the title of Sak&ucirc;n behind and took up Jerra&rsquo;s maiden name &ndash; Sulad&acirc;n. Yet, on the road they encountered a band of adventurers. These were led by the valiant Captain Valakar, a repentant noble in exile from Umbar, and his shadowy companion Raukaz&acirc;n, a rogue member of the insidious H&acirc;sharii order of assassins. They took the refugees into their protection, and they later became their fellow companions.<br /> <br /> As Amur came of age, the company of Valakar took up a quest into the darkest deserts of Harad. Given information by an unknown source, they went in search of an ancient ziggurat, dedicated to the H&acirc;sharii&rsquo;s goddess, the Shadow Queen. Here, Valakar and Raukaz&acirc;n sought to accomplish their life&rsquo;s work; of finding relics to prove that the corrupt H&acirc;sharii enforcers are under the puppetry of the Dark Lord. However, they were dogged firstly by Raukaz&acirc;n&rsquo;s former peer, the ruthless Javit&acirc;kh, then by strange creatures of the desert, and finally by the phantasms of the ziggurat itself. Although the required relics were recovered, the sacrifice was great. Most of the company were dead, including Captain Valakar and Jerra Sulad&acirc;n.<br /> <br /> Tragedy, however, struck again soon enough. After their companion Kh&ucirc;lgana departed at his home-city of Dh&acirc;ran-sar, Raukaz&acirc;n and Amur were betrayed by their final associate, Belzagar. Although Amur escaped, the artefacts his friends had died for were destroyed in the process, and Raukaz&acirc;n was beheaded by the H&acirc;sharin agent, Kharid Dr&ocirc;zhna. Despondently travelling to the distant harbours of the south as a mercenary close to beggaring, Amur Sulad&acirc;n eventually decided to return to his homeland.<br /> <br /> Although Lurmsak&ucirc;n had fallen to the Variags of Surakaris, along with the kingdoms of Ammu Baj and Siakan, one alone stood &ndash; Arysis, under the King Kurhan. It was to him that Amur pledged his service, and so became a soldier of Amr&ucirc;n at last. During his service he befriended H&acirc;ran, a kinsman of King Kurhan, and together they fought in the decisive Battle of Solendon, where Amur made his name. After their army had been wiped out by Variags in the night, Amur took the survivors into hiding in the labyrinthine underpasses of the ruined city they had fought in. As the victorious Khandish camped in the city above, the Arysis survivors made hit-and-run attacks on their foes in secret, until many had been slain. When Solendon was finally retaken by reinforcements from King Kurhan, Amur was praised as a hero, and both he and H&acirc;ran were made captains.<br /> <br /> Together, the two friends vanquished the Khandish holdings, until they were well into reclaiming the southern kingdom of Siakan. Yet, amongst the liberated slaves, Amur found a relic from his past &ndash; his older half-brother, Lasran, long presumed dead. Lasran explained that it was their own sister, Adazra, who had betrayed Lurmsak&ucirc;n to its defeat. She had joined the Cult of Sauron long before, having become the lover of the H&acirc;sharin, Venmal Javit&acirc;kh. It was this villain who had given Valakar&rsquo;s company information on finding the ziggurat, so that he might use the evidence to forge the Cult of Sauron and the H&acirc;sharii into one group. On why he had allied with the Khandish King Surakaris, though, they were unsure. Nonetheless, Amur and Lasran resolved to travel to the city of Abrak&acirc;n, where Adazra, Javit&acirc;kh, and the other Cultists were conspiring in secret. Although H&acirc;ran begged Amur not to leave on the eve of their victory, still the two exiled Princes of Lurmsak&ucirc;n went.<br /> <br /> Upon arriving at the Golden City of Abrak&acirc;n, the Princes met an officer of the Merchant Guard, Guthar&icirc;c, who resolved to aid them in finding and crushing the rumoured Cult within the city. It did not take Amur long to discover them &ndash; for two H&acirc;sharii in the Cult, Dr&ocirc;zhna and V&acirc;shnir, came to him with an offer to join. Agreeing, a ceremony was held for his induction. Unbeknownst to the Cultists though, Amur had led the Merchant Guard to their location. In the short and bloody battle, the greater part of the Cultists were cut down, yet some, such as the corrupt H&acirc;sharii Javit&acirc;kh, Dr&ocirc;zhna and V&acirc;shnir, escaped. Although Amur slew his traitorous half-sister Adazra and regained his family&rsquo;s honour, Lasran too had died in the struggle. Taking his leave of Guthar&icirc;c, Amur departed the Golden City for now, knowing that the survivors of the Cult were most likely abroad, hunting for his head. <br /> <br /> Although he has resolved to return to the conflict of Amr&ucirc;n, first Amur Sulad&acirc;n has turned west, to the port-city of Badhark&acirc;n, where his mother&rsquo;s house originally hailed from, and where he seeks to discover clues to her life, and his own Haradrim heritage.</p>
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