Thuria and Beyond
Lich-master of the Order of the Rack
Born in Nemedia in 685 YT, Daidan Ruel served as a Hell Knight in the Order of the Scourge. Rising rapidly to become the Master of the Blades of his order by the age of 30 in 715 YT, Ruel had a difficult relationship with his immediate superior, the Lictor of the Order. Whereas the principal mission of the Order was (and is) to combat lawlessness and criminality across Nemedia, Ruel became convinced that certain forms of arcane knowledge posed a far greater threat to the kingdom. Mindful that the Overlords of the Numalian province held scholarship and magical lore in high regard, the Lictor opposed Ruel’s efforts to focus the activities of the Order towards the elimination of dark sorcery, arcane texts and the study of strange gods and religions. The cunning Ruel cultivated a close relationship with the Nemedian King, gaining support for his views and gaining the favour of the monarch. Aware of this, and keen to ensure his city remained safe for scholars and wizards, the Numalian Overlord became an implacable enemy of the dangerous and ambitious Ruel. The antipathy of the Overlord grew each time Ruel seized some Numalian sorcerer, philosopher or astrologist on the grounds of supposedly propagating dangerous knowledge.
Although it was widely supposed the Ruel destroyed all of the supposedly harmful texts, idols and artefacts which he seized, he was in fact amassing a secret hoard of the most interesting and valuable confiscated objects. Among these was the book Unspeakable Cults, penned around 500 YT by the scholarly Nemedian wizard Vann Junzt. Through careful study of this tome, Ruel learned a great deal about the pre-Mitraic deities once worshipped across and beyond the Thurian lands, most notably in ancient Acheron and most recently in the vanquished Taldan Empire.
In 720 YT, Ruel defied the customs of the Order by secretly entering the forbidden and supposedly demon-haunted catacombs below Citadel Rivaad. Ever suspicious, cynical and cunning, Ruel felt sure that the tales of demons and the rule forbidding the Knights of the Order to enter the catacombs was a ruse, surely designed to keep prying eyes away from some valuable treasure hoarded by the Lictor. Deep inside the tunnels, Ruel found the a temple of the Great Old One Chaugnar Faugn, constructed long before by the original Taldan inhabitants of the fort over whose ruins the grander Citadel had been constructed. On discovering the Portal of Chaugnar Faugn, and the Ssendam Gate, Ruel felt certain that these artefacts must have great power. Turning to Vann Janzt’s Unspeakable Cults, he learned that the Taldans had been in the habit of building their fortresses above ancient shrines dedicated to their dreadful deities, thereby both hiding and protecting the secrets below. From Vann Janzt’s writing, Ruel correctly identified the two Portal and the Ssendam gate as powerful magical gateways of some kind. He was, however, unable to decipher the markings on either artefact or make sense of the similar markings he on ancient stone tablets found in the catacombs.
Unable to move the massive Portal of Chaugnar Faugn and Ssendam Gate, Ruel removed the stone tablets, hoping they held the key to unlocking the two large artefacts.
In 723 YT, Ruel’s men captured a wandering Shemitish mystic and poet from the faraway city of Shushan. The Hell Knights seized the foreigner at an inn in Numalia, where he had aroused the suspicions of the innkeeper. When he was brought before Ruel, the Shemite revealed himself to be Abad Alharzad. As was his custom, Ruel showed his stone tablets to the prisoner, asking if the Shemite could read the inscriptions. The captive answered in the affirmative and read aloud from the tablets. Both men realised that each could benefit from the assistance of the other. So from then on Ruel learned about the Outer Gods and Great Old Ones from the Shemite while Alharzad, who had been travelling around the Thurian lands in search of artefacts and knowledge was aided in his endeavours by being aligned with the powerful, well-resourced Hell Knight Master. Together, the two allies continued to track down artefacts and knowledge, seeking to gain arcane powers.
By 725 YT, the Nemedian King intervened in the internal struggles of the Order of the Scourge, dictating that Ruel was at liberty to establish a new Hell Knight order. Aided by generous funds provided by the king, Ruel then set about the work of building the new Order of the Rack. For twenty years, the new Order was peripatetic, roaming the Kingdom on a mission to root out demon worshippers, dark sorcerers and others whose ideas, practices or studies were deemed to be at odds with the security of a prosperous, Mitra-fearing Nemedia. Along the way, vast quantities of treasure were taken from those punished by the Knights of the Order of the Rack. For twenty years, the Order differed from the other Hell Knight orders in that it lacked a stronghold to call home.
Clever Daidan Ruel continued to build on his privileged relationship with the Nemedian throne by handing over liberated treasures. All the while, Ruel continued to resent the House of Thrune, the noble family of the hereditary Numalian Overlords, yearning to avenge the many times he, his ideas and his Hell Knights of the Order of the Rack had been opposed and slightly in the kingdom’s liberal south-eastern province. By 745 YT, Ruel’s influence was such that the King issued a Royal Decree greatly in his favour. The Decree asserted Royal concern that the Numalian encouragement of scholarship had gone too far, leaving the wider kingdom vulnerable to the influence of dark sorcerers, demon-worshippers and dangerous heretics hiding among the city’s more well-meaning scholars and mages. This being so, the Decree stipulated that the Order of the Scourge was to vacate Citadel Rivaad and hand over the usefully positioned stronghold to Daidan Ruel’s Order of the Rack, which was to focus its greatest efforts on the elimination of forbidden knowledge and practices in the nearby city of Numalia.
Now able to operate freely inside Citadel Rivaad, Ruel instructed Abad Alharzad to unlock the secrets of the two artefacts hidden in the forbidden catacombs. After five years of study and experimentation, the Shemite successfully opened both gateways. The two men proceeded to communicate with Chaugnar Faugn, offering blood sacrifices to earn the approval of the horrible deity and thereby learning how to empower the Order’s finest blades with magical power. Soon true worshippers of Chaugnar Faugn, they also travelled regularly to Ssendam, exchanging knowledge with their Slaad co-religionists.
By 760 YT, the 80-year old Ruel was approaching the end of his life. Determined to continue exploring, expanding and enjoying his powers, the dying Lictor summoned his closest confidants to arrange for his transformation into an immortal lich. His trusted Master of the Blades ensured the Order and the wider world would believe the founding Lictor had died. For more than 200 years since then, Ruel has remained in the catacombs below Citadel Rivaad, controlling the Order via successive Lictors, quietly growing the power of the Order, steadily amassing more arcane knowledge and dreaming of future conquests.