K is for King Leamain, the man given responsibility for first treating with houndmasters and bringing a portion of them north out of the wilds. This bit of history marks why there is a disconnect between the wild and civilized sides of houndmasters–those who refuse to work with other races and those who have come to live among them (mostly) peacefully.
This bit of history is important for a second reason as well, because two of De’vii’s dogs are named after Leamain and his sister Katarita.
During the Maddened Age, when the giant wurms still claimed a wide swath of territory across the continent of Nithe in Nebrae, natural selection had created races adept at surviving.
Some fought. Others hid.
There were the animas, who could, and would, call upon the drakes to protect them from the wurms. The crakfins, those luminescent people who made their homes in the craggiest of the cliffs and took to the water when the wurms lumbered past. The renpters, who could rip their own skin off and feed the cursed flesh to the wurms and use the wurms’ bodies to build walls of rippling flesh. The batarai, with their long, thin bodies and frail wings that took them to heights the wurms couldn’t reach. Then there were the black widows, eager to steal every talent and ability they stumbled across, giving them a range of advantages.
And, of course, the houndmasters who reigned in the deepest, darkest of the forests and who took great enjoyment out of bringing down the wurms who dared cross into their territory.
The humans who were first thrown into Nebrae through an astral portal did not have thousands of years of genetic disposition to fight the wurms. They brought skills that were different and useful, yes, but without the specific focus that would give them immediate advantage when the wurms attacked. This meant many of the first humans, criminals tossed into Nebrae from their own plane, became wurm fodder.
Those who survived were the most powerful. Mages who could create fire out of nothing, speed up time and alter space, and raise the very wurms their fellows killed in order to set the dead against the living. Those humans banded together, at first becoming nomadic tribes traversing wurm-treacherous territory and avoiding other races. But the outskirts of the overgrown bone basin to the south of anima and drake territory attracted multiple tribes because the basin trapped many wurms during the rain season.
Overtime, the tribes merged and a city rose up. This city was named Matoxi after the mage who spearheaded the tribal union. As the city flourished and grew, humans spread, treating with other races, most notably the renpters who were eager to lay claim to the clothing styles to emphasize their warped and ruined skin.
One of the first towns beyond Matoxi and the bone basin began to grow. It’s original name is now lost because a few decades after its settlement the wurms wiped it off the map. A man named Leamain, along with his younger sister, Katarita, survived the deadly attack and made the long trek back to Matoxi with the other stragglers. Once there, he began a crusade, slowly spreading the fury he felt until most of the citizens of Matoxi wanted to abolish the wurms.
Three to six years after his town was destroyed, he led a push during the rain season in an attempt to remove the wurms. His army managed to clear partially into wurm territory, but at a great cost, leaving many powerful mages dead. The people of Matoxi became resentful toward him, leading to him leaving the city. Stories are unclear whether his exit was coerced.
With his sister by his side, Leamain traveled through wurm territory, living a dangerous nomadic life. Until one day they wandered far enough south to stumble into houndmaster domain.
At this point, Katarita had perfected her skills out of necessity and had become a deadly necromancer. Artists often depict her sitting astride a dead wurm’s head, gray lines painted across her skin. Out of respect for Katarita’s fierceness in the fight, the houndmasters welcomed them and the two settled within a pack family.
Eventually, Leamain mated with one. Though details about this union are unknown, it is believed the mated houndmaster was a leader of some sort. Through charisma and persuasion, Leamain eventually convinced some of the houndmasters to begin stealing land back from the wurms, pushing them farther and farther north. With the houndmasters at his side and Katarita wielding dead wurms at their front, Leamain took Matoxi over, becoming their de facto king.
The houndmasters who came north began to live mostly peaceably with the humans, all of them slowly pushing the wurms farther westward until the wurms were forced to remain on the other side of the Ilarmor mountain range.
Small cities, such as Crafton and Luirton rose in the following years, with King Leamain acting as ruler of the newly cleansed land. He gave his blessing to a sect of houndmasters, rewarding them the heavily forested territory to the southwest along the base of the range. Those houndmasters took up residence there where the wurms had once reigned, dubbing it Ay’ril Woods.
Taking advantage of the sudden calm, the crakfins along the coast gathered and founded their own watery home, welcoming a group of houndmasters and humans with open arms in order to enjoy the protection they offered. This area later became known as Ca’ryl and is now a well-known and thriving port city.
Less than a decade after the wurms escaped west over the Ilarmors, the houndmasters living within Matoxi and the animas and drakes living north of them became embroiled in a series of bloody battles, later dubbed the Deaf Dog War.
This led to severe consequences on both sides. The animas turned from the powerhouse race they’d been during the wurm’s reign to becoming practically extinct, leaving nothing but their drakes behind.
Also, the walls of the basin below the towering city of Matoxi crumbled from too much drake activity against the soil, leading to a large part of Matoxi sinking into the basin, taking with it King Leamain and his houndmaster partner. The flourishing city became a husk of its once glorious self. In the following quiet years at the end of the Maddened Age, the people fled west, no longer wishing to be so close to drake territory and its dangers now that the animas no longer reined the beasts in. The bone basin, once a protection against the wurms, now stands as a stark reminder of Matoxi’s downfall.
It is unknown whether Katarita survived Matoxi’s fall, but it is believed she died along with her brother since the only mentions of her later on are paintings that could have been inspired by her and her brother’s legend.
Today, the Ruins of Matoxi are said to bear the remnants of those mages of old. Those who have visited claim King Leamain’s own words are carved into the stone walls and the howling of his lover’s hounds echo through the overgrown streets.
– pages 89-97 A Historical Overview of Southern Nebrae
Haunt of the Wilds
The Wilds Duology: Book I
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