The Tale of Shikar

I am the Ash Warlord Embereck, and I have come – reluctantly – to the task of writing this brief tale of the people of Shikar. I have sworn to be their protector in the war that is now upon us, and soon I will face Ravidel, he who I foolishly allowed to live centuries ago at Minorad. I know not if I shall survive the battle, for Ravidel is far more powerful than I ever imagined. I will be content if I can go to my rest knowing that at least I have atoned for foolish judgements past and have faced him, being to being.

But that is not the point of this chronicle. My family places a high value on honor and service to those who merit it, and since I have sworn to protect Shikar, it is now my duty to set down my oath to the people of that land and endeavor to explain why the defense of Shikar is worth my life. No service should be rendered without merit, so let this writing stand as a record of the worth of Shikar.

Shikar is a small nation near the White Woods of Corondor. Spices of a thousand nations waft through the warm southern air.. The people of Shikar are largely interested in mercantile pursuits and the scholarly arts. Needless to say, the market bazaar and great stone libraries are much more impressive than the walls that surround this plump pearl of a city. I appear to be the only truly sober protector of the main gate. Without me, the abacus-counting weaklings would be ground under the heel of Ravidel or some other trove-carrying despot.

That, perhaps, is not how this chronicle should begin. This will quite possibly be my last battle, and thus this writing will convey to the almighty ages the final thoughts of the Ash Warlord Embereck on the eve of his hard-fought passing from the spheres of life. And yet as I walked through the streets of the capitol, my eyes burned with the seeing of the Guild of Scribes and the Guild of Jewelers and the Guild of Bards and the most powerful Guild, of Merchants, honorless all. These plump be-robed jabberers truly run this city, using their money and trinkets to influence every other facet of society from the office of the Caliph to the General of the Guard.

Still, even to my hardened sensibilities, Shikar is full of good folk who lead good lives and only wish for a world that revolves around profit and knowledge. That in itself, I admit, is not necessarily deserving of admiration. There are degrees of worth, and being good and kind is not equal to having a warrior code. But it will do.

In the end, I have a debt of honor and a task before me. If Ravidel seizes Shikar, most will be lost. If coming here is integral to his plans, then waiting here and swearing to defend the city in the interim is as good a destiny as any.

Shikar has, in its past, had at least one person worthy of some portion of my admiration. Her name was Chondeah, and ages ago she really devastated old Sol’Kanar the Swamp King. No doubt generations of inbreeding has removed the last of her valiant blood from these coin- counting weaklings. I do not speak of physical power here as Chondeah did not defeat Sol’Kanar with her bare hands. Her greatest potency lay in the turns of her mind. In the end, her craftiness led directly to the destruction of an entire enemy nation, so she is worthy of mention.

Once Shikar was one of the Contrary Kingdoms. The other was Khone. Now Khone – that was a country! A nation of warrior clans fighting each other and everyone outside their borders, that was Khone. As you can imagine, they were two-faced and treacherous, but they knew how fine it was to hold a sword dripping with your foe’s blood in one hand, beating your battle-scarred chest with the other.

Sol’Kanar the Swamp King ruled the swamps between the Contrary Kingdoms. He could control the swamplands to an staggering degree, and threatened the two kingdoms to give him the bulk of their knowledge, or he’d sink both their Contrary Kingdoms right into the swamp. Soon enough he was nearly buried in books.

Indeed, he had a reason to request these instead of silver. Sol’Kanar didn’t want to just sit in the muck of the swamp and collect tribute from the countryside (although I recommend it highly to any planeswalker past his prime who still wishes the adoration of thousands without upstart spellsquires challenging him every day). So, Sol’Kanar decided that what he needed was the last of the Scarzam Dragons to be his champion. With that awesome force, Sol’Kanar would fear nearly no one, and conquer as much territory as he fancied.

However, Sol’Kanar was no planeswalker. So he demanded that the two nations each send him their finest sorcerer, one who would have enough of the planeswalker spark to summon the dragon from whatever misbegotten hellhole it lived in. Still living in fear of Sol’Kanar, Shikar and Khone yielded to Sol’Kanar’s demands. Shikar sent a young girl named Chondeah, and Khone sent a young girl named Gydolien Mor. Urza knows why they both happened to be young girls, I’ve no idea if it followed any design. Of course, one of the toughest beings I ever met was a young girl.

But neither one proved to be powerful enough to summon the dragon. Sol’Kanar, having unusual patience for a petty despot, said they would progress in their training and the girls would come back once a year and try again, and spent the rest of their time studying and training to get ready for the next attempt.

Here the story takes an intriguing spin. Sol’Kanar told the kingdoms that if one of their champions succeeded in summoning the dragon, Sol’Kanar would leave the area forever and not bother them anymore. As a an added prize, he’d also destroy the other kingdom completely. Let this be a lesson to you: the proper motivation can work wonders.

Years passed. The two girls grew into adults. They studied and worked hard, and each year they still failed to raise the dragon. In the meantime, the two kingdoms’ activities reflected their peoples’ natures. Khone prepared a massive army, stacks of weapons, and all sorts of terrific things. They planned to eventually rampage across the land and wipe Shikar off the map, dragon or no dragon. Shikar, meanwhile, fretted and worried and built more walls and defenses, hoping for a miracle.

Luckily for Shikar, Chondeah did achieve something truly miraculous. At the next gathering, she secretly made a pact with Gydolien to use their powers together to summon the dragon and send it against Sol’Kanar. Gydolien agreed, figuring that once Sol’Kanar was out of the way, Khone would go on the march and reduce Shikar to a pile of smoking embers. So the two wizards worked together, and sure enough they summoned the dragon, and I burn for all time if Sivitri Scarzam wasn’t still riding that beast.

At this point, it seemed the two women had to bind the dragon. But here’s where Chondeah rose above the entire conflict: she tricked Gydolien and left her to bind the dragon herself. Gydolien, of course, couldn’t possibly take control of such a powerful creature on her own, so she did the next best thing – she sent Sivitri and her dragon back to where they came from.

Sol’Kanar, naturally, was not pleased. He allowed the swamps to rise and engulf the kingdom of Khone utterly. Thereafter, his powers were also reduced by the encounter with Sivitri and he faded into obscurity after this point, leaving Shikar fat and happy and safe. Sol’Kanar, doubtless, sought refuge and time to restore his power in seeking vengeance for his toppling.

Chondeah went back to her people and found them safe and sound. Chondeah lost her true love to this mad mission of the Swamp King. He was a spy that told the Shikarans about how Khone was gearing up to march on them, but knowing Chondeah’s valor and cleverness, it hardly seems that this information turned the tide.

There’s not much more to reveal. Shikar continued to grow and prosper and today they’re a nation of artisans and merchants and other useless things. I’m sure they have an army, but Ravidel would have them stuck between his toes, were I not here to stand before them.

Oh, fie upon it! The truth is that I should have killed Ravidel centuries ago at Minorad, but I didn’t because I was a fool. So I’m going to empty my trove of spells for as long as I can and if Ravidel kills me and moves on to lay waste to Shikar, then good riddance, I say. Chondeah is long dead and maybe she’d even agree with me.

One more thing. My oath: