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

by Jul 28, 2011Stories

‘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.’
– The Rogue Prince – Chapter X: The Cult of Sauron

Amur Suladân, son of Varnam, was born into the house of Lurmsakûn – one of the four provinces of Amrûn. 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, Amrûn 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 Lurmsakûn 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.

Lurmsakûn 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 Amrûn. Varnam’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 Suladân. This bloodline was rumoured to have been sourced from the ancient lineage of the infamous hero of Far Harad – Mârdat, the Serpent Lord. Together, Varnam and Jerra had a single child, whom they called Amur.

When Amur was but four years of age, King Surakaris and his Variag horde assaulted Lurmsakûn. 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 Sakûn behind and took up Jerra’s maiden name – Suladân. 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 Raukazân, a rogue member of the insidious Hâsharii order of assassins. They took the refugees into their protection, and they later became their fellow companions.

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 Hâsharii’s goddess, the Shadow Queen. Here, Valakar and Raukazân sought to accomplish their life’s work; of finding relics to prove that the corrupt Hâsharii enforcers are under the puppetry of the Dark Lord. However, they were dogged firstly by Raukazân’s former peer, the ruthless Javitâkh, 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 Suladân.

Tragedy, however, struck again soon enough. After their companion Khûlgana departed at his home-city of Dhâran-sar, Raukazân 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 Raukazân was beheaded by the Hâsharin agent, Kharid Drôzhna. Despondently travelling to the distant harbours of the south as a mercenary close to beggaring, Amur Suladân eventually decided to return to his homeland.

Although Lurmsakûn had fallen to the Variags of Surakaris, along with the kingdoms of Ammu Baj and Siakan, one alone stood – Arysis, under the King Kurhan. It was to him that Amur pledged his service, and so became a soldier of Amrûn at last. During his service he befriended Hâran, 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 Hâran were made captains.

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 – his older half-brother, Lasran, long presumed dead. Lasran explained that it was their own sister, Adazra, who had betrayed Lurmsakûn to its defeat. She had joined the Cult of Sauron long before, having become the lover of the Hâsharin, Venmal Javitâkh. It was this villain who had given Valakar’s company information on finding the ziggurat, so that he might use the evidence to forge the Cult of Sauron and the Hâsharii 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 Abrakân, where Adazra, Javitâkh, and the other Cultists were conspiring in secret. Although Hâran begged Amur not to leave on the eve of their victory, still the two exiled Princes of Lurmsakûn went.

Upon arriving at the Golden City of Abrakân, the Princes met an officer of the Merchant Guard, Gutharîc, who resolved to aid them in finding and crushing the rumoured Cult within the city. It did not take Amur long to discover them – for two Hâsharii in the Cult, Drôzhna and Vâshnir, 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 Hâsharii Javitâkh, Drôzhna and Vâshnir, escaped. Although Amur slew his traitorous half-sister Adazra and regained his family’s honour, Lasran too had died in the struggle. Taking his leave of Gutharîc, Amur departed the Golden City for now, knowing that the survivors of the Cult were most likely abroad, hunting for his head.

Although he has resolved to return to the conflict of Amrûn, first Amur Suladân has turned west, to the port-city of Badharkân, where his mother’s house originally hailed from, and where he seeks to discover clues to her life, and his own Haradrim heritage.

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