Dragon Pass in the Third Age, part 2


The southeastern corner of Dragon Pass, roughly the area between Kero Fin Mountain and the barbaric Plains of Prax is the Kingdom of Sartar. It consists of many Orlanthi tribes that were united in 1492 by the great Hero Sartar. Before his arrival, the tribes lived as lawless bandits, plundering the ever-increasing caravans that pass through. Sartar, it is said. was born “from the dew of dusk and the thew of an angel.” His magic turned smart men into chieftains, good men into loyal thanes, and enemies into pack beasts

It is said that he took over the valley without a fight, though that is an exaggeration since others did his fighting for him. But overall, the transition was an easy one and he soon organized the robbers into a unified principality. After marrying the Feathered Horse Queen he was named King of Dragon Pass, and all of Dragon Pass began a rapid growth to power and prestige.

Under Sartar’s rule the Orlanthi tribes turned from pillage to mercantile advantage. Sartar and the Queen both set up cities, tax posts, guides, and treasuries. Sartar also built roads and forts to protect the traders from possible nomad raids. He fostered literacy, experimentation, and luxuriousness upon his subjects. His short-lived dynasty grew from that base. and would soon have rivalled any empire for sheer splendor, had it survived.

Sartar’s greatest metamorphosis was that of changing himself into a god. His path had been long and dangerous, and more than slightly lucky, during his years among the bloodthirsty warriors. Yet he had passed all tests, slowly accumulating all the things necessary for apotheosis. In 1520 he assembled his family, many priests, and most loyal followers at the huge brass brazier near his palace overlooking the mountain valley of Boldhome. Before their eyes, and those of the thousands of people farther below, he lit the Flame of Sartar, bestowed his last blessings and instructions to those closest to him, and strode into the flames where his body was consumed.

The cult of Sartar continued after his apotheosis. His voice was heard in the Flame, and his Orlanth Rex magics worked for his heirs to the kingdom. His family members were the leaders of the cult, and under its guidance they continued the healthy growth of the kingdom along the lines established by the Founder. The spirit of Sartar continued to live in the hearts and souls of the people, and the cities assumed lives of their own as well. The confederacy was led by the family of Sartar, who continued to build their beautiful city of Boldhome attracting wealth, splendor, and learning from all around. Their command of trade between Kethaela and Peloria made them rich and powerful.

The princes of Boldhome continued to rule in the path set by the Founder. They built roads, temples, and fortresses. They were famed for their wisdom, their magical secrets, and for their generosity. Allied with the Feathered Horse Queens (who were also descendants of Sartar), they dominated Dragon Pass. In 1538, Prince Saronil, the son of Sartar, aided the Tarshite rebel Palashee Longaxe and the Shaker’s Temple to drive the Lunars out of Dragon Pass. For a generation, Palashee ruled in Tarsh as the ally of Sartar. The Lunar dynasty fled to Glamour to plot their return.

In 1539, during the reign of Saronil, began the magical event called the Dragonewts Dream. All living dragonewts in Dragon Pass crawled into their ancient cities, sealed them with magical wards, and then disappeared from view. For the next two years there appeared phantasmal dragonewts, in far greater numbers than there are living dragonewts, dressed in antique costumes and going about a silent and mysterious ritual. In some cases, they caused other portions of their phantom reality to appear in the material world as well, such as the Pyramid of Caran, which has sporadically reappeared ever since. It was possible to interfere with the ghostly dragonewts, but such attempts almost always led to severe retaliation by the apparitions. In those occasions where a ritual was entirely disrupted or destroyed by external forces, the Dragonewts always made at least one more try to perform it again.

The purpose and result of this five-year dream is quite unknown, although many theories have been put forth. Among other events forced by the Dragonewts Dream was the opening of the ancient city of Pavis, in the Praxian wastes, after being sealed by troll magic for centuries.

Trade and religion tied Boldhome closely to the Holy Country, still ruled by the ever-reincarnating Belintar the God-King. Merchants traveled the rivers and roads from Nochet to Boldhome, carrying goods to and from the Esrolia, Ralios, and the far West. Many nobles from Sartar engaged in trade, religious, and mercenary activities in the Holy Country; in turn, many artists, merchants, priestesses, and scribes came to Sartar.

In 1555, the Lunar Empire invaded Tarsh to reinstall the Hon-eel Dynasty as rulers of that kingdom. With the aid of Prince Jarolar of Sartar and his Praxian allies, King Palashee routed the Lunar Army at the Battle of Karnge Farm. The exiled Lunar King Philigos was killed. However, once the armies disbanded, his younger brother, the Lunar general Phargentes, launched a surprise raid. King Palashee met General Phargentes in battle and they fought so fiercely that the grass at Axefield is still red today. But in the end Palashee was slain, although Phargentes lost his arm to Palashee and was named One-Arm.

King Phargentes One-Arm was an ambitious and ruthless man. He worked hard to strengthen and expand his kingdom. He relentlessly launched magical assaults and military raids against all who did not obey his demands for respect and tribute. When enemy kings resisted, Phargentes killed them. He slew two Tarsh kings, Palashee and Hendrakos; two Sartar Kings, Jarolar and Jarosar; one Balazaring King, Iertand; and one Aggar king, Lornstal. For this, he is often called King‑slayer.

Phargentes performed many great services for Tarsh. He divided the kingdom into six districts and appointed deputies to rule over each. For example, he appointed the powerful Vostor Blacktooth to rule Dunstop. Phargentes commissioned roads to be built, and he built a new section of Furthest and securely fortified the walls. Other cities also got new walls or temples. He was patron to the sculptors Cassidor and Ineldus, and sponsored the entire Furthest Dramatic Re‑enactors.

During Phargentes’ reign, the Red Emperor gave Black Horse County to Sir Ethilrist, even though the Empire had no claim on the territory. In exchange for the grant, Ethilrist swore thirty years loyalty to the Empire, and for thirty years the Black Horse Troop harried Sartar and the Grazelands. The day after the thirty years were up, Ethilrist made common cause with the Feathered Horse Queen and burned Dunstop until the Red Emperor paid his price.

When the Kingdom of Sartar was threatened by this new Lunar expansion into Dragon Pass, a great dissension among the tribes threatened to tear the kingdom apart from within. The Elmal temples of Dragon Pass had long been overawed by the crushing splendor of the Dara Happan Yelm cult, and some Elmali clans even began to worship Yelm as their Sun God. Now Lunars from Dara Happa encouraged and exacerbated these quarrels and open violence between the groups grew common.

In 1550, Dorasar, a member of the ruling dynasty, founded the city of New Pavis or Pavis Outside the Walls in the Praxian wastes. Many refugees from Sartar settled here, seeking safety from the growing troubles between Sartar and the Lunar Empire. The city held itself aloof from war-torn Dragon Pass and sent no warriors, though individuals certainly went on their own to fight the distant foe.

Tarkalor Trollkiller, the youngest son of Prince Saronil, restored Sartar’s dominance in Dragon Pass during his reign. Tarkalor spent much of his youth adventuring in the Holy Country and won his name in the many wars that he fought there against the trolls who threatened to close the trade routes with Sartar.

Upon becoming Prince in 1569, Tarkalor brought peace with the Sun worshipers at last. Tarkalor had befriended Monrogh Lantern, who had heroquested to the Sun God and returned with Yelmalio, a god known to the elves and to the Sun Dome Temples of the Second Age; a god neither Yelm nor Elmal, but with a rich mythology of his own. Monrogh swore loyalty to Tarkalor, who had been dragged into a feud with the Darkness-worshiping Kitori of the Troll Woods. Tarkalor gratified the new Yelmalio cult by seizing new territory from the Kitori, and then granting it to the Yelmalions for their own rule. In this way, a new tribe was founded at the borders of Sartar, between the trolls and the Beast Men. They called themselves the Sun Dome Temple.

Prince Tarkalor proved more than a match for King Phargentes, both militarily and magically. When Lunar troops could not succeed, the conflict moved to more subtle realms and the two leaders found themselves in a contest for the hand of the Feathered Horse Queen, ruler of the Grazers. Tarkalor was eventually victorious and married her in 1575. After this he was titled King of Dragon Pass. The contest had proved to be too much for old King Phargentes, who died in 1579. The Red Emperor himself came to Furthest for Phargentes’ funeral.

Tarkalor’s rest was short, and his alliance with the Feathered Horse Queen did not ensure success. Shortly after Phargentes’ death, Vostor Blacktooth, the leading Tarsh general, was given regular Lunar army rank and command of the Imperial army. His first major action was to try to crush the remnants of the Tarsh Exiles. He marched against their last city, Bagnot, in 1582. The Lunars ravaged the Bush Range, reducing it to a wilderness. Both Sartar and the Grazers sent troops to aid the defenders.

The armies met at the Battle of Grizzly Peak. The Lunar armies swept the field after their vastly superior Lunar College of Magic sent hostile spirits against the Sartarites. Both King Tarkalor and his Queen were killed. A month later Bagnot fell and its inhabitants were put to the sword. The Tarsh Exiles retreated to Wintertop, where they were protected by the magic of the Shaker’s Temple.

The new Lunar king of Tarsh, Moirades son of Phargentes, was not a warrior, but used Lunar magic to soar into new heights of personal transformation. He was noted even in the Lunar Heartlands for his personal piety and power. King Moirades married the daughter of his father’s leading general, Vostor Blacktooth, and with Lunar aid, Tarsh came to dominate Dragon Pass.

In Sartar, the son of King Tarkalor, Prince Terasarin, defended Alda-Chur from a Lunar siege. After his victory, the Alda-Churi agreed to join the kingdom of Sartar. A son of Terasarin married a woman chieftain of the Tovtaros tribe to cement the deal. Shortly afterwards one of the fine Sartarite roads was begun to connect Isle Dangerous to Alda-Chur. It was finished before the end of Terasarin’s reign. He also designed the new wall and towers for Alda-Chur, and raised the new city of Alone, which was the new home for the Tarsh Exile survivors of Grizzly Peak.

Terasarin was filled with the power of his god, and resisted growing Lunar strength with all his ability. Despite the division of Dragon Pass, trade flourished thanks to the Opening of the Seas in 1580.

If anything, this increased the Lunar desire to rule all of Dragon Pass. During Terasarin’s reign many of his kinfolk deserted the lands and refused aid to their family. His younger brother Saraskos was killed in the Holy Country in 1587, avenging his son who had been murdered by Lunar assassins. Terasarin’s four sons and daughters were later killed by assassins as well. Terasarin himself was killed when a stray moonbeam blinded him as he climbed a cliff to escape a hungry dinosaur.

The next Prince, Salinarg, was a son of Korlaman, son of Eonistaran, who was Sartar’s bastard child. His wife was a Telmori werewolf. He ascended to the throne amid dire omens and multiple failed attempts at a crowning. Following Salinarg’s difficult coronation his two daughters and his 8‑year old son, Harsaltar, stepped forward and took unbending vows and iron oaths to defend their kingdom. At Sartar’s Temple they invoked the aid of Humakt to gain heroic powers in trade for terrible geases and taboos. Others, inspired by the moving ceremony, did likewise and they formed the Household of Death, sworn to defend Sartar to the death and beyond, into the Land of Death.

In 1602, the Lunar Empire used its full might against the Kingdom of Sartar. The Red Emperor himself led the Lunar Army, and brought with it the Crimson Bat, the Lunar College of Magic, and his daughter, the young heroine Jar-eel the Razoress.

The free folk of Sartar fought like fiends, the Household of Death lived up to their oaths, and the Lunar Army took terrible losses. The Crimson Bat was sent back to Hell, the Red Emperor grievously wounded, and many Lunar priests and demigods killed. But in the end, the Lunars took Boldhome and the Flame of Sartar was quenched, battered, and cursed. Although it occasionally sputtered on for years afterwards, for the next twenty-five years the fire of the land was effectively dead.

The Lunar army occupied the capital and cities, and began their occupation. Tribute was laid on all subject tribes. The Household of Death had failed. Sartar had fallen.

There’s a lot in there. Little or none of the information is new, but the attempt is to present it from an overall Dragon Pass perspective rather than just Sartar and also to emphasise how transformational Sartar and his dynasty were.

One thing that is worth keeping in mind is that until 1602, Sartar was the richer and more powerful kingdom than Tarsh. Phargentes certainly was able to contest with Sartar, but needed imperial resources to do so. Even then, Sartar was able to more or less hold its own – and even expand – although the long term trend was towards Tarsh, especially after 1582. However, it was the Lunar Empire, not Tarsh, that conquered Sartar in 1602.

Jillaro is definitely cosmopolitan, and Jillaro-on-the-Greens dates to about 1316, so it has nearly two centuries on Furthest. Furthest is a Lunar planned city, and Moirades and Pharandros have spent vast treasures (largely post 1602) making it a shining outpost of Lunar culture exceeded only by Glamour itself. Furthest’s moment is this generation (and maybe it only ended just now).

Jillaro’s moment was from 1316 to some point in the Sixth Wane.

I think of Jillaro-on-the-Green as being something akin to the Duchy of Tuscany. It is still a cultural centre, well governed, and with beautiful buildings – but it has lost the excitement, the frisson, of the Republic of Florence. That excitement is to be found in the Furthest of Moirades and Pharandros.

Why Sartar didn’t marry the mother of Eonistaran? because Sartar was married to the Feathered Horse Queen. Her children with him were his heirs. Part of the terms of that Marriage Contest. only that the children of that marriage would be their legitimate heirs. And so their daughter became FHQ and their son became Prince. They both had children from others.

Eonistaran’s mother was a concubine. Saronil’s mother was the Feathered Horse Queen. Eonistaran was a “bastard” in that his mother was the mere lover-companion of the Prince.