Heroes of Khemer
Urikel Zarl - The Ghostlord
A powerful liche residing in the Thornwaste.
The Ghostlord is a horrible sight to behold. His flesh is yellow and shrunken, clinging to his bones in ragged tatters, and pale green flames dance where his eyes should be. He wears a decrepit lion hide as armor and carries a flaming wand.
Campfire tales of the Ghostlord speak of a once-proud sorcerer who dwelt in the verdant plains south of Rhest and led several tribes of nomads. These nomads were said to have built a massive lion of stone in honor of this great sorcerer, who taught them the ways of the lion and how to live at peace with these proud creatures. Yet when dark times fell on Rhest, their shadow also fell upon the lions’ plains.
It began when nobles visiting from Rhest arrived in the region. The nomads befriended the nobles but were betrayed by them when the visitors hunted and killed a lion monarch for his pelt and claws. The nomads reacted with violence, slaying the visiting nobles to a man. Rhest answered in kind, and its army marched against the southern plains. The disorganized nomads stood little chance against Rhest’s military might, and the tribes were slaughtered despite the fact that the lions rose to defend them. The warriors of Rhest confronted and slew the sorcerer between the pass of his own massive stone shrine.
But the night after the warriors returned to their city, doom came to Rhest. Ghost lions prowled the streets, stalking and killing anyone they came across. When the dawn came, the entirety of Rhest’s cavalry, including families, servants, and squires lay dead. Rhest never recovered from this night of terror, which marked the beginning of the decline of that once-proud nation. In the years since, the once-verdant hills to the south have grown horrid and tangled. The Thornwsate is all that remains.
While this story is accurate in its general outline, it gets several important facts wrong; Urikel Zarl, the great sorcerer of the story, was in fact the leader of a cruel lion cult based in the southern regions of the kingdom. His people were not the noble nomads legend recalls, but feral cannibals who believed that in death, their bodies would transform into lions and thereafter live forever. Urikel Zarl was their undying lord and master, who had long before turned his back on the natural world for the tainted promises of eternal undeath. When the Restiloran lords sought to challenge his power and subjugate the region, their cavalry and the cultists destroyed each other; in the years to come, both Rhest and the Thornwaste fell to ruin as a result.
The reason behind Urikel Zarl’s fall from grace cannot be found in libraries—it remains hidden in the depths of his great stone lion in the Thornwaste.