Theodunn, later to be known as "The Prophet" was the King of Ehebion during the glory years of the Nybelmarian Second Shadow. He lived a short life (by Murmillion standards) between 3239 b.S. and 3190 b.S. Born in one of the noble Murmillion Families he led King Sylas' drakkar armies as their High Captain in the last campaign against the First Empire of Korweyn and he was crowned as King after Sylas' death. Although his reign was short (only eight years, between 3198 b.S. and 3190 b.S.) it was one of the most controversial yet, nevertheless, one of the most important in the history of the Ehebion Kingdom. Theodunn is the author of the treaty with Anis-Anpagan, by which the southern Nybelmar was split in two spheres of influence during the Dark Age (the east one belonging to Murmillions and the west one to Anis-Anpagan), and he is also known for making the prophecy about the events of the Year of Darkness, which meant Ehebion's end as a dominating power in Nybelmar.
"Never underestimate the power
that lies in the mind of a Shadowcaster. Close your ears when their words
surround you and try to see them for what they truly are: poor tormented souls,
lost in the thickest of all mists, in the deepest of all shadows..."
Education. Theodunn was born in the city of Dasans
in one of the oldest Families of the Kingdom, the Pheronn Family. His House was
aligned with the Cult of Fire, thus his education started in the schools of this
Cult. At the age of 14 his Family
enlisted him for the drakkar training to fulfill their duty to the King, but as
with all the other noble children, he still continued his education at the Cult
of Fire's temples.
Even if he lived in Dasans, he never saw the King until he finished his drakkar training. As at that time, King Sylas was rarely to be seen in the capital, being most of the times busy with the major campaign that he initiated against the Empire of Korweyn. Nevertheless, the fifty years of battles on the foreign territories had spawned many legends in Ehebion. Just as many of the kids, Theodunn was mesmerized by these stories, and King Sylas became his role-model, his idol. The stories about Sylas' fierce warriors, about his mastery of weapons, about his tactical genious, all these had left a deep mark in Theodunn's young mind. Thus, helped by a strong will and ambition, Theodunn concentrated on both his Cult studies and the military training, quickly growing in ranks among the young drakkars.
There is yet another side of his education, that not many were aware of, and that is his Arkhaeon alignment. The Guild was in very close relations with the Cult of Fire (a secret agreement that was going on for years by that time) and the period of Theodunn's education happened to be a period of experimentations. The Arkhaeon guilders were granted by the Cult with the possibility of sending teachers into their schools - as they were hoping to interfere in the drakkar conditioning and secure some acolytes among the "King's guardians". As a young and ambitious apprentice, Theodunn was sighted by the guilders and by the time he finished his training he was also already an Arkhaeon acolyte. Ill-intended voices now say that his quick growth in ranking was just due to his Arkhaeon status (as the Guild actually used its intrigues to promote the young man), but no one could ever doubt that he always proved to be meritous in any of his positions. Helped or not by Arkhaeon's power, Theodunn managed to become the youngest Captain of Drakkars and yet the battles he fought under this rank proved that he was indeed worthy of the title.
The High Captain of Drakkars. As soon as Theodunn was invested with the Captain rank, he was sent to serve at the outpost of Kelád - a former Korweynite fortress that was conquered by Sylas in the beginning of his campaign and transformed into a base of operations and military training. Kelád was already known among Ehebion's soldiers as one of the toughest duty posts, yet Theodunn managed to adapt quickly to the harsh military life. He was assigned to a small company of soldiers with the given orders to continuously raid the Korweynite settlements east of Fennez. By showing a lot of leadership skills and a promising tactical thinking he quickly gained the respect of the Kelád garrison and unconditioned loyalty on behalf of his soldiers. His battle deeds started to be heard also outside of Kelád's walls, and not a long time passed until King Sylas himself summoned the young officer and his company into the main battlefield.
On 3216 b.S. in the Eypesh Woods southwest of the city of Tas, Theodunn met for the first time with his beloved King. Sylas was just preparing to intercept a Korweynite army that crossed the Eypesh river with the apparent intention of reinforcing the area around the cities of Tas and Fennez. The battle that followed was fierce and in some point Murmillions looked like they were losing it. But under the leadership of Sylas on one flank and of Theodunn on the other flank, they managed to regroup and counterattack. The fate of the battle was turned while one could have snaped the fingers. The Murmillion soldiers regained their fierce bloodlust and won the day. Many casualties were reported in that battle yet the Korweynites were even greater. King Sylas returned with his armies to Kelád for reinforcements and in the long march he was often seen riding side by side with Theodunn. And as soon as they reached Kelád, Sylas appointed Theodunn as "Arh'Drakkar", his closest, personal guard. Thus for the many years of battle yet to come, they were always seen fighting together, side by side.
Living in a constant war, always on the move and looking for the next battle, and always riding beside Sylas, Theodunn learned a lot, and some say that he learned a lot more than he could have ever did, burried beneath the ancient scrolls of the great Dasans Library. Yet the campaign was growing tiresome even for the most foolish and bloodthirsty Murmillion soldier. One by one, all the armies sent by the Korweynites beyond Eypesh were defeated, but no real breakthrough was to be seen on the battlefield. The great Korweynite cities west of Jerrah were still standing proud, defying the Shadow of the Burning Mountains. And among them, the white walls of Cykosi were rising like a true statement of the Korweynite heresies and barbaric thought. Anyway, beyond any metaphors, the city of Cykosi was indeed the key to the whole southeast Korweyn. And yet King Sylas' armies could not break through this city's defences. Thus on 3210 b.S. Theodunn was appointed High Captain of Drakkars (the highest military rank beside the King) his first task being to organize the siege of Cykosi.
The lands around Cykosi were passed through sword and fire, over and over again, dead rotten corpses of beasts and men alike were thrown over the city walls, huge boulders were pounded on them, yet the inhabitants managed to keep their spirits and withstand the siege. After five years the siege became almost like a training camp, as Theodunn was constantly refreshing his armies to prevent any possible flaws due to an eventual drop in morale. On 3205 b.S., for reasons unknown, King Sylas arrived at the siege camp to relieve Theodunn from his duty. Some regarded this as a break in their friendship but given Theodunn's Arkhaeon status there are enough motives to believe that he was actually trusted with a specific mission. Not much is known about Theodunn in the following three years, except for the popular stories about him travelling the Korweynite lands with his most trusted drakkars, relentlessly pursued by imperial posses. At 3202 b.S. Theodunn showed up again in the Cykosi siege camp, as the city had finally surrendered to Sylas. After the celebrations Sylas and Theodunn parted again: Sylas headed north to Kelád, and Theodunn, assuming the command of the army, headed south to conquer the rest of the Korweynite coast.
In 3201 b.S. the city of Methra fell to Theodunn's army. Not as well equipped for a siege as Cykosi, the inhabitants had no chance facing the fury of the drakkar armies. To make an example out of them, Theodunn ordered the city to be burned and the inhabitants to be scattered in the surrounding mountains. The wells were poisoned and the food supplies that couldn't be carried with the army were destroyed. It was only two years later that the people started to return and rebuild the now ghostly town.
In the beginning of the year 3200 b.S. the impetuous march of Theodunn's army was coming to an end. Countless waves of refugees were pouring down on the fields of Paenoi as the Murmillions were approaching the city. The city officials promised them protection and a safe evacuation over the Eypesh to the city of Kosth. But in a forced march Theodunn's army arrived on the scene sooner than expected. Panic stroke among the refugees while they hurried, trampling each other, to the city's gates. Later reports tell that when Paenoi fell to the Shadow much more casualties were caused by this panic scene than by Murmillion soldiers themselves. Seeing this scene of terror and desperation, Theodunn halted his drakkars and ordered them to set camp as if to prepare for a siege. Not a long time passed until the city officials sent messengers for negotiations. In the end they agreed to surrender the keys in exchange to Theodunn's promise to spare the city and to let everyone alive except for the clerics of Aseya. And as promised, Paenoi was spared. The clerics were all gathered in the central plaza and executed in the the very same day when Murmillions entered the city. By Theodunn's order they were hung by the feet, smoked to death and left there to rot for weeks to come. A sign was posted near them reading as follows:
"They walked the skies breathing the poisonous fumes of their sick belief. They sought the paradise on earth and sought to make you believe that too. Let this be their final walk, let this show you their real destination. As this is what happens when one walks on the paths of falsity."
The next move in this campaign would have been
the crossing of Eypesh to conquer the city of Kosth, opening thus the road to
Kormendale. Although a very predictable move, Theodunn took his chance again. He
employed the galleys stationed in the Paenoi port to drive them in the Eypesh
delta and try to gain a bridgehead on the other side of the great river. For
this he had to make use of the
sailors and thus he held the entire city of Paenoi as hostage. Still the
and Anpagan chronicles tell that it was more than just
the city of Paenoi held hostage: "the Shadow had clouded the minds of those
sailors", as they fought against their brothers in the Eypesh delta with an
unnatural bloodlust. Although the naval battle was won by the
of Kosth, these chronicles remember with great sadness "the dark day when
brothers fought against brothers". With this failed attempt to take the city of
Kosth and with his army weakened also by the garrisons left behind in the
conquered cities, Theodunn had only one option left: to march north as quickly
as possible and join with Sylas once again.
On 3199 b.S. King Sylas and Theodunn joined forces in the Eypesh Woods and taking advantage of the river defenses weakened by the battle of the Eypesh delta, they managed to cross the great river. For the year to come the drakkar armies struggled on the fields between Eypesh and Raneshar, fighting the relentless harassments of the Kassite cavalry, while trying to make their way to the heart of the Korweyn Empire, the capitol city of Kormendale. Yet the pointless harassments with the nomads didn't manage to lower their morale, as the fact that, for the first time in this centuries long war, "The Shadow of the Burning Mountains" was spreading beyond Eypesh was enough to keep their spirits up. Also with the bridgehead established in the Eypesh Woods, more and more Murmillions were pouring down the Korweynite plains and it was clear that it was just a matter of time until the great Empire would have crumbled under their onslaught. Towards the end of the year 3199 b.S. the Korweynite emperor Finnás called upon his remaining legions throughout the Empire to gather at Kormendale for a final, desperate attempt to drive the Murmillions beyond Eypesh. With the few legions that answered his call, Finnás marched out of the capitol seeking a decisive battle on the plains of Raneshar. He was intercepted by the drakkar armies and the battle was fought at night (contrary to all the rules of warfare of that time). Under the leadership of King Sylas and Theodunn the drakkars slaughtered the Korweynites to the very last man. A single group of Kassites escaped the horrors - to secure the imperial family and evacuate them in the Gaeldorioth Forests (the elven territory). Thus the First Empire of Korweyn became just a memory.
The Prophet King. In the morning after the Battle for Kormendale a terrible event had struck the Murmillion camp. Their beloved King Sylas had been found decapitated in his tent. An assassination that would remain clouded in mystery to this very day. A state of panic was threatening the Murmillion camp, very close to steal away their recent victory, yet Theodunn managed to contain the situation. The legend says that, mounting on his horse, he raised the head of Sylas on a spear presenting it to his troops. He shouted then:
"The treachery of the infidels spreads even beyond death!
Behold, as this was our King and their damnation! And now our hearts are
bleeding tears, as the Slayer of the Infidels is here no more... Yet hear my
words, as majesty lies in the sufferance of the righteous! We shall not bow to
this treachery for we are here and we are victorious! The Slayer is no more, yet
his shadow walks behind us still. And I shall let it walk with me and I shall
let it guide me. Onward drakkars! Make not this day a day of mourning but make
it a day of celebration! And the Slayer's Shadow shall guide us to our
All the veteran drakkars, knowing Theodunn very well, openly
shouted their loyalty to him, and with them the rest of the drakkars, and with
them the entire
army. Raising the camp they headed towards the defenseless city of Kormendale
under Theodunn's command. Messengers were sent back to Dasans and by the time
Ehebion's armies were marching before the
helpless inhabitants of Kormendale, the answer came back. A new King of
was appointed by the Council of the
Dasans, and this new King was Theodunn of the House Pheronn, now former High
Captain of Drakkars.
Perhaps the Council just made a state of facts official, by investing Theodunn as King of Murmillions, one might think, but actually the things were far more complicated. Indeed, he had the military on his side but he never completed the necessary trials nor did he ever engaged in the rigorous doctrinal studies required for any candidate worthy of this function. Also the House Karonn (Sylas' Family), accusing the assassination, was claiming the right to directly name the new King and they were fully supported by the Resurrection of Menemronn Cult. The Cult of Moth had their own candidate in mind, Alma, a very promising priestess, supported by many of the smaller Cults as well. Yet the decision was taken in the end as a result of the Arkhaeon Guild's intrigues and with the help of the Cult of Fire (which at that time seemed to have been the most influential Murmillion Cult). So doctrinal concessions, promises about the distribution of the new wealth, Family alliances and probably also the general euphoria caused by this total military victory shifted the ballance in Theodunn's favour,
The death of Sylas was never really investigated and as long as Theodunn lived the Kassites were blamed for it. It was a convenient way to dispose of a delicate problem actually, as the Kassites were already hated for their unconditioned loyalty to the seat of Korweyn, thus their refusal to accept the Murmillion new rule and for the fact that some of their tribes were hiding the last of the Korweyn's bloodline. They were also basically nomads, which was almost a crime in the eyes of Murmillions: being a nomad was contradictory with being "civilized" and not being "civilized" was already a sin. The consequence was that the Kassites were hunted and killed on sight, no matter their age or gender, and Theodunn was the one who made from such "huntings" a written law. Not taking into consideration the morality of such an act, all the interpreters agree now that this law served Theodunn in dissipating the Murmillions' "bloodlust" right after the war and in keeping the common troops from turning into bands of outlaws on the new territories.
After the Battle for Kormendale, the Korweyn Empire crumbled, yet there were still several centers of resistance throughout the lands. Thus one of Theodunn's first tasks was to eradicate any traces of such resistance and secure a western border for the Kingdom of Ehebion. The city of Kosth was drowned in blood (3198 b.S.), the reprisals being indeed gruesome. The province of Ontwana followed (3197 b.S.) although much of its settlements didn't pose any resistance to the new rule. Having the Raneshar River as the western border now, Theodunn didn't push farther though. And he had two reasons to worry: one was that the already conquered lands were covering a vast territory and Murmillions lacked the necessary experience for administrating them (so he feared that his kingdom wouldn't be able to survive his death); the other reason was the new military power that rose in the west, with the fall of the Korweynites, the Kingdom of Anis-Anpagan. Former Korweynite provinces, these territories were always resisting the rule of Kormendale in one way or another. With the Empire falling to Ehebion armies in the east, an exiled Korweynite prince, Narvé, had seized the opportunity to claim the throne of Korweyn in the name of the far-western pagan provinces. The tales about the massacre of Kormendale though made this new kingdom to be a little reluctant about engaging in a direct confrontation with Murmillions for the greatest prize: the former Korweynite capitol. And because Theodunn didn't wanted yet another new war a treaty was issued in 3196 b.S. between these two Nybelmarian nations. This treaty marks the beginning of the Dark Age of Nybelmar, as the two Kings agreed to split the southern continent in two zones of "influence": the east one for Murmillions, the west one for Anis-Anpagan. Each of the powers granted each other with the "right" to act on their fiefs (no matter if they managed to subdue those lands or not) in any way it suited them as long as they didn't cross the newly established border (running along the upper Raneshar and then going towards south, spliting the Sohon Mountains in two). Also, by this treaty, Anis-Anpagan engaged to pursue any Kassite tribes that were to be found on their territories in the name of "the hunt for the Korweyn bloodline".
The first four years of Theodunn's reign were also known as the "blood reign" throughout the newly acquired territories and this was because he appointed his drakkar captains to govern the new provinces giving them orders of free action against any possible opponents. This military regime lasted as long as Theodunn lived but the persecutions were a lot weakened in the last four years of his reign. It is needless to say that this military regime, enforced in the new territories, had caused a lot of discontent among the Families of Ehebion (as each of them was hoping to get a piece of the "prey"). Yet Theodunn managed each time to calm them down by explaining the necessity of such a harsh regime for securing the loyalty of the new tribes.
Nothing though could have prevented the growing discontent of the Families and the rage of the clerics when in the last two years of his reign, Theodunn tried to reform Ehebion's religious system. Speaking more and more often about some "dark events" that were to come upon the Kingdom, he tried to unify the Murmillion worship system. In this respect, as a Cult of Fire acolyte, he managed to persuade the high clerics of this Cult into offering him the title of Kunran, which happened in 3194 b.S. During the next three years Theodunn managed to ease the relations between the Cult of Fire and the Resurrection of Menemronn (the later were still not at peace with the fact that the Karonn Family, the Family of Sylas - aligned with them - didn't get the right to directly name the next king due to their son's assassination) and finally he persuaded them into offering him the Kunran title. Presumably Theodunn promised them some theological concessions (probably to accentuate the role of Menemronn in Murmillions' religion by allowing them to edit some of the interpretations in the Book of Dreams - a task normally given to the Arkhaeon Guild, mediators between the Cults).
Such a situation was yet not encountered in the history of Murmillions nor anyone had ever thought that it may ever occur. And with the spreading rumours about a marriage between him and his former counter-candidate, Alma, the situation exploded - as Alma was seen by many as the future Kunran of the Cult of Moth. Such a merging between the three most important Murmillions Cults was seen as unconceivable even by many of their own clerics. Also some of the Arkhaeon Guilders looked upon these events in discontent, believing that this merging would endanger their status in Murmillion society. Thus in the winter of 3190 b.S. Theodunn, the King of Murmillions, was summoned before the Council of the Cults to answer to all the possible accusations formulated by any of the Cults' representatives. As unconceivable as what he tried to accomplish, the King was on trial. Here are a few excerpts taken from that session's transcripts.
"I know that some of you believe now that eight
years ago we ended our Holy War. And I say yes, our campaign may have
ended as we had cast the Shadows of the Burning Mountains over the lands
of the infidels. Yet our Holy Endeavour is far from being over. No, my
wise Kunrans, no, we have not yet accomplished what we were destined to
and our work is still demanding. You have chosen me to be your King, and
you did so for reasons different than all the Councils before you. I
cannot possibly match the majesty of Sylas, you know that and I am also
aware of it, yet I know that I tried and I will still try, for as long as
I will live, to lead you all, my people, on the true path. Perhaps I was
not worthy of being the Shadowcaster, yet my whole work was done for the
Shadow. And I am content with what I did."
The Sessions lasted for three days but no
conclusion was issued. In the fourth day, Theodunn failed to appear before the
Council again. A strange illness had fallen upon him as he was in high fevers
and he was sweating blood. In the very same evening, he died in his bed. No
magic or poison were known with such symptoms
by that time, thus his death was not officially questioned. Yet riots broke out,
especially among the military ranks. But as with the case of Sylas, the mistery
of Theodunn's death was never to be completeley solved.
Right after his death, the Council took over the matters of the Kingdom, refusing to elect yet another King in a hurry. Theodunn was declared a blasphemiator and thus his body was mumified (Murmillions usually burn their dead, in Theodunn's case the mumifying of his body was supposed to forever keep his spirit on this plane of existence). But as the revolt of the drakkars grew, the Council finally decided to name a new leader. And so Alma, the priestess of the Cult of Moth, became the Queen of Murmillions. She managed to calm the riots by reinstanting the memory of Theodunn to its rightful place. His body was never burned though, but walled in the Amber Halls in the city of Lhindal, to protect and enforce the holy building with his spirit. Theodunn's words about the future of the Shadow, spoken in the winter sessions, were aknowledged as prophecy and inscribed in the holy glyphs on the walls of the Amber Halls. Later on, this prophecy came to be known as the prophecy about the Year of Darkness, the year of the Shadow's demise and also the year which brought Mari in the Santerran pantheon.
Importance. The mentioned three successive Murmillion leaders were actually the builders of the Nybelmarian Second Shadow (as the domination of Ehebion over southeast Nybelmar has come to be known). Sylas opened the path by defeating the Empire of Korweyn, Theodunn enforced the new borders by his Anpagan treaty and harsh military regime and finally Alma brought peace for Murmillions shaping the new Kingdom for the next millenia. Theodunn's military structure was not kept by Alma though, as she tried to please both Theodunn's adversaries and followers. Instead of the drakkar captains governing the provinces, the Families were granted with this task.
Nevertheless, what really made Theodunn famous, was not his regime, nor his treaty with Anis-Anpagan, but his prophecy and vision about Murmillions' destiny. Nowadays, the free Murmillions are praising him as a true forefather, maybe unfairly, in Alma's detriment.
Information provided by Smith in Exile