"It's not just about living until tomorrow. Sometimes, you take a stand." -Emperor Aethax Pelaios
Affiliation: Empire of Bael Turath
Origin of Aethax Pelaios Edit
The Fellowship Edit
Born in the capital city, Vor Rukoth, in the great kingdom of Nerath. A descendent of Ivania Dreygu and Vorno Kahnebor, Aethax was named the crown prince and raised in the palace. He was tutored by Wizards of the Spire, though he had no aptitude for magic, and he was instructed in the ways of war by Traya Zannifer, Knight-Captain of Nerath. At sixteen years of age, Aethax was formally inducted into the Knight-Protectors of Nerath by then Knight-Vigilant Traya Zannifer, and given his own Griffon steed, Felicity.
Two years later, Queen Daela Pelaios took ill. Aethax Pelaios returned from the frontier to find that she had passed. Vicereine Pyranika Synnaridia, an old friend of Aethax' and his mother's closest confidant consoled and comforted Aethax, and they spent the night together. Aethax awakened to find that Pyranika was gone, and he felt deathly ill. Two soldiers arrived to take his body away, and Aethax defended himself, killing the first. As he passed out, he saw a flash of light, and a pair of golden eyes.
When he regained consciousness, Aethax found that he had been rescued by his tutor, Garel-Kai, a Genasi and Wizard of the Spire. Garel-Kai explained that Pyranika poisoned him, just as she poisoned his mother. She had declared herself Queen-Regent, and accused Aethax of murdering his own mother.
Determined to avenge his mother and retake his throne, Aethax learned from Garel-Kai that the Knight-Protectors of Nerath were the most powerful fighting force in the world, and no single army could hope to oppose them. But a united force could draw Pyranika to the field. The Dwarven Empire, the Genasi of Alluria, the Halfling clans, the Goliaths of Zaron, the Minotaur tribes, and the Thri-Kreen, could unite just so, but bringing them together would require a hero as the world had never seen before.
With Felicity, Aethax and Garel-Kai went to Hammerfast, where Aethax proved his worth in the Dwarven Provings. The Dwarf King Ortan pledged his golem armies to Aethax on the condition that, in victory, there would be a lasting friendship between Hammerfast and Nerath. As they left, the clockwork engineer Thorfin and his mastercraft Warforged, Hammer, requested to go with them. Thorfin wanted to see the world beyond the Dwarven Empire, and he agreed to Aethax' one condition; that he destroy Hammer's control rod.
Journeying south for Onrac, Aethax and his fellowship were attacked by Steel Vanguard bandits, led by the Minotaur berserker Podrus. After the bandits were vanquished, Aethax hired Podrus as his bodyguard. They happen upon a Thri-Kreen caravan under attack, and after driving away the raiders, Aethax invited the lone survivor, Sa-Relka, to join his 'clutch,' or fellowship.
At the Halfling settlement of Fallcrest, Aethax was approached by Kuori, a Goliath who claimed she received a vision from an angel commanding her to aid Aethax in avenging his mother. Aethax allowed her to join his fellowship. Seeking a ship to transport his fellowship to the distant lands in order to negotiate for his alliance, Aethax sought out the Halfling pirate captain Bree, rescuing her and helping her take a ship.
The Alliance Edit
The Halfling clans of the Nentir Vale were uninterested in fighting Nerath, and they remained deaf to Aethax' request. However, after the clan leaders had gone, a Halfling outrider named Finnan Talar explained that legions from Nerath had begun encroaching on Halfling settlements, and the clans would soon have a fight whether they wanted it or not. Sailing north along the eastern coast of Prontera, the fellowship were taken by a Minotaur warband. After saving the war chief and winning Podrus' honor back, the warband pledged to fight for Aethax, and to bring as many tribes as they could muster.
West, as they cross into Lefein, Aethax sought an audience with the Thri-Kreen. They saw no purpose in fighting Nerath, but Sa-Relka formally inducted Aethax into a clutch, making him Thri-Kreen. Therefore, the Queen-Regent's attempt on his life was an attack on the Thri-Kreen. According to Thri-Kreen law, they were forced to fight her. On reaching Alluria, the fellowship learned that Pyranika had begun an aggressive conquest of the Dwarven Empire and Onrac. Honoring their pacts, the Minotaurs and the Thri-Kreen had marched to Hammerfast, and the Halfling clans had agreed to King Ortan's terms, requiring them to join the alliance.
The Genasi had convened a moot with the Goliaths of Zaron and the Mogogol of Yunith to defend themselves. With Aethax' promise to use Nerath's armies to defend the north, not oppress it, the Genasi, Mogogol, and Goliaths marched south to support the Dwarves.
The War of Nerath Edit
Aethax and the fellowship met with King Ortan at the Spire. The wizards were holding out in support of the Queen-Regent, and Ortan explained that cutting off her mage resource would seriously weaken her fighting force. Aethax and the fellowship entered the Spire under the authority of Garel-Kai, who spoke on their behalf. In the end, they agreed to support Aethax if he would keep a wizard in court to advise him. Aethax agreed, naming Garel-Kai his viceroy and advisor.
With the Alliance, Aethax marched west to Harrak Unarth, where Knight-Vigilant Traya Zannifer had rallied the Knight-Protectors of Nerath to meet the alliance on the field. The Battle of Harrak Unarth was the largest conflict until the War of Ruin, lasting six months and costing hundreds of thousands of lives.
On the sixth month, Thorfin and Garel-Kai finished reconstructing and enchanting Bree's ship, the Fair Maiden, to fly. Using this unheard of weapon, Aethax flew to the heart of the Nerath force and challenged Traya Zannifer to a duel for their armies. She accepted, and though the duel was the fiercest any had ever seen, Aethax triumphed, winning the battle. Traya Zannifer was spared, and invited into Aethax' fellowship.
Flying the Fair Maiden straight to Vor Rukoth, the alliance laid siege to the city. Aethax and the fellowship stormed the palace, and found Pyranika tending to her son. She explained that the child was Aethax' son. In his hesitation, Aethax was vulnerable, and Pyranika cut the amulet that kept him alive from his chest. Aethax fell, but Kuori executed Pyranika. Sacrificing himself, Hammer commanded Thorfin to use his golem heart, and tore it out himself. Thorfin put Hammer's heart in Aethax, saving his life.
Rise of an Empire Edit
Aethax honored his promises, forging the Empire of Bael Turath from Nerath, the Zagraz Mountains, Alluria, Lefein, Prontera, Onrac, Zaron, and Yunith. Garel-Kai remained his viceroy and advisor for the rest of his days, developing the Cullis Gates that would link all of the empire. Thorfin returned to Hammerfast and dedicated his life to building free golems, and all Warforged were freed in time because of his efforts.
Hammer, forever immortalized in the pose of sacrifice, remained as a statue in the palace of Vor Rukoth. Podrus led the Imperial Legion until the emperor died of old age, at which point he returned to Prontera and reformed the Steel Vanguard as an elite fellowship at the emperor's command. Sa-Relka watched over Aethax' son, mentoring him as Garel-Kai had mentored Aethax, and entrusting his Gythka to the emperor on his death bed.
Kuori was not seen nor heard from after she killed Pyranika. A Halfling outrider reportedly encountered a Goliath woman making her way north, claiming to have received a vision from an angel, commanding her to right an injustice. Bree went on to command the empire's navy, both the sailing ships and the flying airships. The Fair Maiden would serve as the empire's flagship until it was destroyed in the second invasion of the War of Ruin. Traya Zannifer was reinstated as Knight-Vigilant, and under her leadership, the Knight-Protectors served as the personal guard of the Imperial Family.
Through the efforts of Aethax and King Ortan, a lasting friendship between Nerath and the Dwarven Empire stood until the waning days of the War of Ruin. The Halfling clans made a significant effort to make up for their lack of support during the revolution; their ships forming the backbone of the imperial navy, and their outriders rivaling the Knight-Protectors in fame and glory. The Minotaur tribes later established a proud tradition in the Imperial Legion. Minotaur warchiefs commanded several of the greatest victories for the empire in the War of ruin.
The Thri-Kreen traditions became more open to foreigners, especially strong among the men of Nerath, where the Thri-Kreen way was nearly as prevelant as the worship of the gods. The Genasi continued as the dominant race at the Spire, and more than half of the archmages in the following years were Genasi. The Mogogol were free to continue their lives in Yunith free from the threat of invasion, and by the War of Ruin, served as the personal guard of the Imperial Family. The Goliaths established permanent settlements, and traded with Vor Rukoth, Hammerfast, and Fallcrest. The Empire of Bael Turath stood for thousands of years, the Imperial Family of the line of Pelaios remained unbroken until the empire's collapse during the Cataclysm.
Legend of Aethax Pelaios Edit
Old Friends Edit
On the eve of the anniversary of the Battle of Vor Rukoth, Garel-Kai informs Aethax that Kuori had returned for the first time since that fateful day, and she wishes to speak with Aethax. Kuori informs the emperor that a religious war was about to erupt, but he may be able to stop it. Kuori requests that he come with her to Parsantium, City at the Crossroads. Aethax had never heard of Parsantium, and Kuori says that she can say no more until they arrive. Without hesitation, Aethax agrees.
He leaves Garel-Kai in charge, despite the wizard's insistence regarding accompanying the emperor, and Sa-Relka in charge of young Deimos. He commanded Traya Zannifer to have the Knight-Protectors of Nerath watch for trouble at the temples, and he commands Podrus and Bree to have the Imperial Legion and Navy spread out throughout the empire and remain alert for possible conflict.
Kuori disapproved that Aethax brought Felicity, but ultimately conceded that they required capable transportation. The three traveled to Parsantium, City at the Crossroads. Located where the old borders of Alluria, Lefein, Prontera, and Zaron met, Parsantium was host to the Temple of the Prophetess, the largest and most influential temple in the world. Kuori explained that temple armies keep the peace in the cities, dealing with orc raids and civil disputes alike. The temple armies were commanded by archpriests of the temples, and each one looked to the Invoker, archpriest of the Temple of the Prophetess.
Aethax cannot learn more until he undergoes the Rite of Investiture, binding his soul to the gods, empowering him with their divine light, and becoming a paladin himself. Aethax suspected that Kuori was attempting to ensnare him in her religion, but she swore that if there was another way, she would offer it. Aethax reluctantly agreed, and underwent the Rite with Kuori.
Now Aethax saw the world in shades of light, by virtue and vice. He saw the beauty in souls like Kuori, and the pain of the suffering. Kuori now freely explained that the faith was maintained by a secret Order, founded by the Prophetess Petrice Hepler herself. While the common folk would only ever interact with priests, called clerics, those clerics were led by the archpriests, called invokers, who commanded the temple armies, called paladins, who were kept in check by the dread imperators, called avengers.
A paladin named Haytham Ley rebelled against the Invoker, breaking away from the Order and stealing several powerful relics. The new Invoker, crowned earlier that year, had declared Ley and his followers heretics, and he had begun an inquisition to purge them. Paladins loyal to the Invoker, called cavaliers, had begun a highly militant campaign, hunting down Ley's followers, called the blackguard. They had burned dozens at the stake, only a handful of whom have been true blackguards. This approach recently killed a Knight-Protector of Nerath, and a local lord's two children.
Kuori explained that soon, the entire land would take up arms against the Order, and the conflict would spread throughout the empire. Kuori believed that the only solution was to find Haytham Ley and bring him before the Invoker, to put an end to the inquisition. They met Borgia Ahmet and Amgetoll Ivo, both Kuori's allies in Parsantium, and discovered that Haytham Ley was hiding in Alluria, in the Genasi fortress of Cinderheart.
On the way to Cinderheart, they came across blackguards tormenting a half-orc named Mord, trying to corrupt his soul. Aethax, Kuori, Ahmet, and Ivo vanquish the blackguards, and Mord swore his loyalty to Aethax in thanks. On reaching Cinderheart, they were approached by a strange woman with pointed ears named Fairië Shanairra. She explained that she knew they have come for the blackguard, and offers to take them to where the blackguard rest. Though Kuori suspects a trap, Aethax accepts Fairië's offer.
At the Cowl and Knife tavern, the six found dozens of blackguards eating, drinking, and watching a pit fight between slaves. One of the fighters was a scaled creature named Dhuryan Flamebrow. As the six entered, the blackguards immediately sensed their virtue and attacked. While the others held off the paladins of vice, Aethax freed Flamebrow, who helped them defeat the blackguards in recompense.
While Kuori interrogated the surviving blackguard, Aethax asked of Flamebrow if he wished to return home to Athas, and if he knew the way. Flamebrow explained that he wished to return, but he did not know the way, and Aethax offered him a ship and a navigation spell the moment they return to Vor Rukoth, that he may find his way. Flamebrow swore by his honor as an Arkhosian to aid Aethax until that time.
Then blackguard reinforcements, vastly outnumbering Aethax' fellowship, arrived. Their leader called for them to lay down their weapons, and they would not be harmed. Seeing that victory was beyond reach, Aethax offered himself on the condition that the others be set free. The leader counter-offered that he would take Aethax and Kuori, and let the others go. Kuori accepted before Aethax could protest. In the dungeon, Aethax and Kuori argued about why she left after the War of Nerath. She explained that she had a duty that could not be forsaken, while Aethax contended that she could have stayed on at the temple in Vor Rukoth. As they argued, Haytham Ley arrived.
Haytham explained that the Order does not understand the blackguard. They were still paladins, they just used every weapon at their disposal, regardless of temple law. Aethax contended that he had seen blackguards attacking travelers and forcing slaves to fight to the death, but Haytham reveals that not all of his followers had mastered their vices. Those who failed were cast out, but those who succeeded wielded incredible powers against their enemies.
Kuori condemned this as heresy, but Haytham contended that it began five years ago, when he discovered the Invoker was conspiring with a powerful mage; a planeswalker. The Invoker would claim divine revelation, accusing Aethax of conspiring to murder both his mother and Pyranika Synnaridia. The Vicereine learned of this treachery too late to save the late Queen Daela, but rightfully claimed the throne and made war on the kinslayer. The Invoker would further claim divine decree to punish the emperor for his sins, and lead the temple armies against him.
The planeswalker would open rifts to the planes across the Empire and lay the blame on Garel-Kai, the emperor's closest ally, to keep the Imperial forces divided and engaged on all fronts. The temple armies would be fully equipped to defeat the planar invaders, but they would refuse until the Imperial forces surrendered to them. After, the Invoker would establish a Holy Empire, and rule as the Holy Emperor. Haythem explained that he tried to stop them, but the planeswalker nearly destroyed him. He escaped with his life, but the Invoker condemned he and his followers as heretics to discredit them. The blackguard did engage in practices the Order considers heretical, but they did so for the realm.
Kuori dismissed the story as a lie, but Aethax asked if they stopped the planeswalker. Haytham replied that they had not, and that was why they needed Aethax' help.
The Blood Price Edit
The Chaosgate opened in Cinderheart. Hordes of elementals, efreets, titants, and a primordial, laid siege from within. The Genasi warriors were slaughtered, but Aethax' fellowship, with Haytham Ley's blackguard, evened the odds. Aethax sent Felicity to find Garel-Kai and bring him as quickly as possible to close the Chaosgate.
Keeping the forces of Chaos contained in Cinderheart seemed impossible, as Borgia Ahmet, Amgetoll Ivo, and Dhuryan Flamebrow held the gate with Haytham Ley and the blackguards. Meanwhile, Aethax Pelaios, Kuori, Mord, and Fairië Shanairra infiltrated Cinderheart quietly, and hunted down the primordial. After defeating dozens of elementals and three efreet, they found the fire primordial.
At the gates, Haytham Ley and the blackguards were slowly giving ground, but the field of bodies they left behind belied the terrible losses of the forces of Chaos. Flamebrow devised a strategy to lure the leading titan out, and with Ivo's assistance, Borgia slayed it. The forces of chaos faltered, and Felicity carved through their lines straight to the keep.
As Aethax, Kuori, Mord, and Fairië fought the primordial, Garel-Kai slipped past them and began a ritual to close the Cullis gate. Fairië hatched a plan and used Cat Sith to lure the primordial closer to the Chaosgate. Fairië taunted the primordial, suggesting that if the power he had displayed was all he had, he would not last a fortnight in the mortal realm. Furious, the primordial reached into the Chaosgate to draw even more power, and Garel-Kai collapsed it on top of himself, killing the primordial and sealing the wizard in the Elemental Chaos.
As the remaining forces of Chaos fled, Aethax accepts Haytham Ley's explanation of events. Even Kuori could not find reason to doubt his claims. Felicity gave Aethax a letter bearing Garel-Kai's seal, which he left in case he perished. The letter tells Aethax how proud Garel-Kai was of the man Thax grew to be. He had no doubt that Aethax would make a legendary leader and a great man. However, the times were indeed dire. The temples have declared holy war on the Empire, and the Archpriest of the Temple of the Prophetess had marched on Nerath.
Aethax prepared to make for Nerath at once, but a flash in the distant skies accompanied an earthquake, and a crystal woman descended from the clouds. She spoke in Aethax' mind, and warned him that a mortal had made a grave error. A breach had been opened into the Far Realm, and he must go with her to seal it, or the fate of the Mortal Realm, all the realms, would descend into madness and destruction.
The Far Realm gate opened in the Underdark, within the Dwarven city Bhaerynden. Cerul sacrificed herself to seal the breach. Garel-Kai returned through the Cullis gate. They confronted the Invoker, and Kuori sacrificed herself by drinking a drop of Ichor, and destroyed the Invoker and herself.
Legacy of Aethax Pelaios Edit
Fairië Shanairra has gone to Onrac to close the Fey gate, and Dhuryan Flamebrow has gone to lead the resistance in Vor Rukoth, while Amgetoll Ivo, Borgia Ahmet, and Haytham Ley remained in Parsantium to fight the invoker's loyalists. Aethax Pelaios, Felicity, and Mord are traveling with the halfling Outrider scarred in the Battle of Bhaerynden, Finnan Talar, and the Imperial spymaster, Khazar. They make camp, but when they dream, they are drawn into the battle the Quori in Dal Quor, attempting to open their own planar gate. Though they succeeded in closing the gate, Aethax dreamed that another drop of Ichor existed in a reliquary deep in the unexplored and wild land of Morragor. He also dreamed that Kuori was alive.
Felicity conducts Thax, Khazar, and Talar to Morragor. They quickly became lost in the wilderness of Morragor, but a shape-shifting druid named Storm guided them through the woods. At the reliquary, the adventuring party is set upon by the angel Ehmeht El. Aethax defeats the angel, and claims the drop of Ichor. The fellowship returns to Bael Turath with Storm and Ehmeht El, and make for Vor Rukoth.
On the way, Aethax learns that Ehmeht El is Kuori. The drop of Ichor empowered her soul, elevating her to immortality, and she was given angelic form by the gods as a gift for her ultimate sacrifice. They announce their love for one another before arriving at Vor Rukoth. Arriving at the capitol, they meet Paik, who is part of the resistance. The Hellgate has flooded the city with devils, imps, and fiends. Flamebrow mounted a mighty defense, but the Avatar of Tyranny, the king of hell Asmodeus in mortal form, has taken the palace.
Together with Flamebrow, Garel-Kai, and Sa-Relka, the fellowship challenged the Avatar of Tyranny, and defeated him at the Hellgate. The gate was closed, and the Avatar defeated, but not before he cursed Aethax' son Deimos and all his descendants, promising that one day, he would claim them all.
In the palace, Aethax confronted the planeswalker, Petorin Synnaridia. The older brother of Pyranika Synnaridia, Petorin had sworn to tear Aethax' world apart. They duel in mortal combat, and Aethax prevailed.