Monday, September 21, 2020

A Brief History of Sakaþa, the Great King of the Lizardfolk

Excerpts from Brief History of Sakaþa, the Great King of the Lizardfolk
by Demetrios ap Varin
(Published 536 IR)

The Great King Sakaþa is an enigma, shrouded in myth and legend. Venerated by the lizardfolk of the Great Southern Swamp as their true and eternal leader and feared as a demonic figure of terror by all of the civilized peoples of Nuþralia, it is almost impossible to disinguish between fact and fiction concerning this creature. Among the lizardfolk, the legend of Sakaþa has taken on such epic proportions that virtually any deed one can conceive of has been attributed to him. Among the non-lizardfolk that live in Eor, the folk tales and stories told about him paint Sakaþa alternatively as a figure of ineffable terror who name should only be spoken in hushed whispers and a comical buffoon whose ineptitude is a suitable subject for mockery.

No one knows for certain where or when the dread creature known as Sakaþa was born, but it is reasonable to assume that it took place in the early part of the 4th century IR, presumably somewhere in the depths of the Great Southern Swamp. With the strength and stamina of the lizardfolk, but intelligence that rivaled even the most brilliant of men, Sakaþa quickly rose to a position of power and leadership among the tribes of the marshes, gaining such renown that his name appears in texts as early as 348 IR. Sakaþa proved to be a skilled arcanist, and he used his magical prowess to great effect, defeating his enemies with both the physical prowess of his troops and the arcane power of his wizardly abilities. In short order, Sakaþa ruled over a vast nation of scaled folk. Despite his success in taming his fellows, Sakaþa was clearly unsatisfied, and all accounts provide the same reasons why: He had a larger than normal share of the greed, rapacity, and evil found among both the lizardfolk and men.

Sakaþa's ambitions likely would have gone unfulfilled had the lizardman not formed an alliance with a powerful sect of Belial’s church called the Cult of the Black Flame. The power wielded by the Cult's priests and the dark mysteries of Belial's power they commanded gave Sakaþa's armies a strength and vigor that was nigh-unstoppable. Within just a few years, Sakaþa came to be the supreme ruler of the lizardfolk and other denizens of the Great Southern Swamp, extending his hegemony over all who dwelled there and becoming a constant thorn in the side of his neighbors as raiding parties were frequently sent forth to plunder all those on his borders.

Following his conquest of the denizens of the swamp, Sakaþa decided that plundering his neighbors was not sufficient, and launched an invasion of Eor in 351 IR, and completing his conquest of the region by 356 IR, defeating King Comyn of Nuþralia’s army and killing the king in the process at the Battle of Ongal Hill. Once he seized control of Eor, Sakaþa enslaved the population and carried away vast riches to the Great Southern Swamp. In addition to his loyal lizardfolk and vast army of slaves, Sakaþa’s overflowing treasury enabled him to employ many powerful mercenaries in his service, further cementing his position as unquestioned ruler of both the Great Southern Swamp and Western Nuþralia.

After Sakaþa’s invasion of Eor, Nuþralia was in disarray, with the newly crowned King Cadwalandr unable to respond right away due to incursions by Ahaliat tribesmen and yet another invasion by seafaring raiders from Kysthjem and Langjord that not only overran much of the eastern half of the realm but also kept most of the Imperial fleet occupied for years. Fortunately for the young king, Sakaþa was strangely quiescent during this period, giving both the Nuþralian royal house and the Imperial Throne the time they needed to marshal their forces for a campaign to liberate the lands the Grat King of the Lizardfolk had seized.

In 364 IR, Cadwalandr’s pleas for Imperial aid were finally answered, and High King Ghilchrist IV assembled a host that included knights from the Order of the Gauntlet, and forces contributed by House Gilfaethwy and House Llefelys. In an unexpected turn, King Cadwalandr was able to turn Håkon, one of the chieftains of the invading northmen, by promising him lands for Håkon's followers to settle upon, and thus was able to swell his own forces for the campaign. Over the next three years, the King Cadwalandr aided by the Imperial forces was able to reconquer most of what Sakaþa had seized a decade before.

Sakaþa was not a particularly wise or judicious ruler. It was this weakness that caused him to ride into battle at the head of his lizardfolk in the Battle of Vendare, where he was mortally wounded. Legend holds that it was Håkon himself who dealt the fatal blow upon the Lizard King, a story many consider dubious, but which Håkon's descendants consider to be iron clad fact. What is known is that Håkon was made Æorldorman of Vendare for the services he rendered to King Caldwalandr during the war. As for Sakaþa, his shattered army was scattered, but stories tell that a few loyal servants carried his dead and broken body from the field of battle and off into the Great Southern Swamp to a locale unknown to his enemies.

Since that day, Sakaþa’s name became a talisman of power among the lizardfolk of the Great Southern Swamp. Powerful tribal leaders often style themselves as the “New Sakaþa’, but none has ever been able to match his combination of power and cunning, and none was ever able to equal his glorious career. In time, it became de rigeur for the lizardfolk of the Great Southern Swamp to claim they were acting in Great King Sakaþa’s name, and invoking his name in their battle cries and curses. Fact turned to legend, and legend turned to myth, and over the years it became impossible to distinguish between the reality of Sakaþa’s life and the array of stories concerning heroic feats and exploits that were attributed to him in tall tales. Stories about Sakaþa’s acts have become a staple of tavern tales and songs even among the men living in the regions bordering the Great Southern Swamp, although he was almost always depicted as a villain in them.

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