- "Never judge a book by its cover."
- —Xerathas d'Zarnagon to Marcus Sarillius
High Prophet Xerathas d'Zarnagon, originally Kernaghan Finian of the Finian Clan, is the leader of the Grey Cult in Aison and the son of Kareth d'Zarnagon and Kendra Finian. He acts as the spokesman of the Godslayer. He has been responsible for kidnapping Marcus Sarillius and Gerard Aurelac in the past and has constantly tried to get his hands on the magic blades Dawn and Dusk in order to prevent a catastrophe foreseen by the Godslayer.
- "It was imperative that the clergy didn't find out that I had children, and I made a decision: I would keep you safe until the time was right for you to fulfill your destiny. You're my first-born, and you'll always have a special place in my heart."
- —Zarnagon to Xerathas
Xerathas was born from the union of Zarnagon and a woman whose name his father never revealed. He was hidden from the Clergy of Mardük, and he got to grow up in relative peace although he was taught black magic from an early age. Xerathas showed promise in the dark arts, and he was always observant, even figuring solutions to puzzles that had confused his mentors. Zarnagon was proud of him and planned to make him the heir to the throne of Myridia in Aison, although Zarnagon could not meet Xerathas for ten years because he wanted to protect him from the other clerics of Mardük who would've slain Xerathas if they had known of Zarnagon's progeny.
Reunion and RebirthEdit
- "He's my son Xerathas, and you'll protect him with your life. In him lies the future of the Clergy of Mardük, and one day he'll become your new leader."
- —Zarnagon to the Fire Lizards
When Xerathas turned 10, the Great War was already being waged between Yamato Empire and the Grand Alliance, and his father had become the Witch-king of Aison who ruled from Myridia. He was escorted to the royal palace where he finally met his father. Zarnagon treated Xerathas well and asked him many questions to make sure that the boy had learned all the important things. He was pleased by Xerathas's obedience and took him and twelve other cloaked figures with him to the highest levels of the Dark Tower to perform the Ritual of Malakhia.
It turned out that the ritual to revive the Dark Prophets required the blood of the summoner's firstborn. Zarnagon pierced Xerathas's heart with his blade Inferno and thus got the necessary lifeforce to perform the ritual to its end. The Dark Prophets were reborn into the twelve acolytes' bodies, and Xerathas was revived only a moment after his "death". Zarnagon ordered the Prophets to protect Xerathas; he had foreseen that Xerathas would have a part to play in the future of the world. However, Xerathas's temporary death had left its marks: the colour of Xerathas's hair had changed, and he no longer felt any emotion and remained cold and distant.
Xerathas later witnessed how one of his father's closest minions, Vladimir Tytla, turned out to be a spy working for a group of people who wanted to stage a coup. Zarnagon sent Xerathas to a safe location within the Dark Tower and began to purge Myridia of traitors, starting with Vladimir who met his demise. However, the Grand Alliance had gained a considerable foothold in neighbouring countries at this time and attacked Myridia immediately after Zarnagon had noticed that someone had infiltrated the palace.
The Second Battle of Myridia was devastating. Zarnagon disappeared during the chaotic clash, and the Grand Alliance eventually liberated all of Aison. Xerathas and the twelve Prophets remained locked inside the Dark Tower, though, and the mages of the Alliance could not enter the tower because of its multiple wards. The tower was left alone as the Alliance continued the journey to other countries and eventually Yamato.
Serving the GodslayerEdit
Less than a day after the dreadful Cataclysm which had abruptly ended the Great War and forced the Alliance to flee back home, a giant beast appeared in Myridia. It presented itself as the Godslayer and asked to meet Xerathas. The boy went to see the beast and realized that the beast was actually his ascended father. The Godslayer was tired after having killed two gods in Yamato and gave Xerathas full authority of Aison while the beast itself would go into a deep slumber. It was around this time that Xerathas found out that Zarnagon's real name was Kareth d'Zarnagon.
High Prophet Xerathas wasted no time and began preaching around Myridia with the twelve Prophets by his side. They got more and more followers in the next few days and weeks, and the Grey Cult was formed. Xerathas and his Cult were instrumental in securing Aison and keeping it the most stable nation in the world after the Cataclysm. He also recruited Varalia Earthhaven and various other people to his growing cult.
Xerathas was patient, knowing that his father's grand vision would soon come true and that he would play a part in it too. He also used this time to hunt down anyone with a hint of glowing red eyes, although whether he did this to purge Aison of demon spies or to get rid of his father's other children remained unclear.
On Death's TrailEdit
- "I may not be able to stop the wheels of fate, but I will change the way they turn."
Ten years passed. However, on one ordinary day in 1016 AE Xerathas's meditation in Myridia came to an end when the Godslayer woke up for a short moment to inform him of the opening of the Gate of Light and that the power of the swords Dawn and Dusk had been unleashed.
Xerathas knew what the Godslayer's ominous words meant, and he hurried go gather his two closest underlings, the Shadow and Varalia Earthhaven. His orders were clear: they had to recover the two blades before the Godslayer's apocalyptic vision would come true.
A Game of DeceptionEdit
- "The burden of leadership is heavy, isn't it, Marcus? Everyone's looking at you for guidance, and if you make just one tiny error, your subjects and allies will turn against you and tear you apart like ravenous wolves."
- —Xerathas to Marcus Sarillius
Xerathas, Varalia and the Shadow reached Remonton in 1017 AE and witnessed the meeting between various delegates. They located the wielder of Dusk, Marcus Sarillius, and eventually they found the wielder of Dawn, Axikasha Keiran. They decided to wait until night before they entered Marcus's tent and captured him and Dusk easily thanks to their high-level magic. It was impossible to capture Ax at the same time, though, so they disguised the Shadow as Marcus and left him as a bait to lure Ax after the real Marcus.
Xerathas, Varalia and the captured Marcus reached the Ruined Kingdom some time later. Once they entered a temple in the ruins, Xerathas revealed his identity. Marcus was not impressed when he realized that he was dealing with Zarnagon's son, and he was even less impressed when he saw Xerathas placing an ordinary bar of soap on a pedestal. Xerathas reminded Marcus that everything would not be as it seemed and that he would deal with Marcus's friends in time. However, Xerathas and his companions were unaware that there were some Totenkopfs in the temple as well watching their every move.
Echoes of WarEdit
- "The lives of a few do not matter when they are weighed against the lives of many."
- —Xerathas to Axikasha Keiran
A group led by Ax eventually reached the temple and handed over Dawn in exchange for Marcus. Magic was being distorted in the temple, and it disoriented Xerathas who could not notice if anything was amiss. However, it did not take long for him to figure out that he had been tricked by the rescue party, and he caught them. Xerathas and Ax had a short but sinister conversation, but things got out of hand when Varalia acted on her own accord and attacked Ax, and the Totenkopfs arrived at the same time to make things even messier.
Xerathas was delighted to meet his uncle, Refan d'Zarnagon, during the battle. He had read his father's reports about Refan and knew what to expect. He was disappointed to notice that Refan had not fully embraced the demonic side, and Xerathas easily brushed him off. While Xerathas was having fun with his uncle, a cloaked mage appeared and zapped him before he could react properly. The mage, Zenobia, took Xerathas's sword Inferno and teleported away.
The High Prophet remained unconscious throughout the rest of the battle, but he woke up outside the ruins and was informed by Varalia about what had happened: Ax and a Totenkopf named Jacob Seneron had been possessed by gods, and Ax had emerged victorious and led the group out of the temple just before it collapsed.
Xerathas was surprised to see the god Hephaestus blessing Ax, but he soon realized that Varalia had just told her about the destruction of the temple. He immediately asked Ax's group to get out of the valley, because he knew that it was the birthplace of shadows and the group, himself included, would be slaughtered if they remained there for too long.
Xerathas had a brief chat with Refan and played with his mind by telling him that Zarnagon was still alive, although he did not reveal that Zarnagon lived on as the Godslayer. This shocked Refan who kept his distance, troubled by the words. Xerathas was surprised once more when he realized that one of the heroes, Unithien Greyrain, turned out to be Varalia's long-lost daughter. He could not believe that the once deadly Varalia had turned into a different person after she had finally found her child.
Xerathas concluded that his father had been right all along: emotions were for the weak, and people could be manipulated if one knew how to guide people's emotions. He, Varalia, and the reappeared Shadow would remain as the heroes' prisoners, and they soon met the army of the new Grand Alliance which was on its way to Maar Sul City.
A Crimson DawnEdit
- "You're still wondering if what I said in the Ruined Kingdom is true. Let's face it: you've always been a pawn. The wielder of Dusk, the hero of Aison, the chosen King of Remon...you were forced to take those roles."
- —Xerathas to Marcus Sarillius
Xerathas and his companions had no choice but to travel along as the Grand Alliance's prisoners. However, this worked well for Xerathas who only wanted to stay close to Ax and Marcus and to keep an eye on their swords. He talked briefly with Tiyana Natiya, noticing how easily she could be manipulated by hinting that there might be a way for her to recover her severed hand. He also had some other things in mind for Maar Sul City and began preparations because he knew that the time to act would come soon.
He had a lengthy talk with Marcus Sarillius whom he tried to manipulate to help him. This turned out to be successful when he told Marcus that he had found a way to allow Marcus travel with the heroes under an alias. Marcus wanted to find out how people really saw him, and he also wanted out of Shyralis's control, so he agreed to do as Xerathas said. They began preparations in secret, and after all was said and done, Marcus transformed and assumed a new identity, Noche, just like Xerathas had told him to. Xerathas then sent one of the Shadow's clones to impersonate Marcus.
Xerathas waited until the army of the Grand Alliance had left Maar Sul City for Jardine, and he cast an elaborate illusion spell in his cell to fool the guards. He, the Shadow and Varalia escaped, and he ordered Varalia to find horses for the journey ahead. Meanwhile he and the Shadow entered the Citadel where they caught Gerard Aurelac by surprise.
Xerathas realized that his manipulation was not quite working to lure Xerathas to his side, so he decided to go threaten Elena Jeremy. Gerard became furious when he heard that his girlfriend would be harmed, and he assumed his wolf harm to catch Xerathas off guard and attacked. However, Xerathas had planned this to happen and put Gerard under a geas and forced him to remain in the wolf form. He explained to Gerard that their magics were linked because Xerathas tapped power from the Godslayer which held gods within that had access to Andain magic, and Gerard was a descendant of an Andain.
Gerard could do nothing to free himself because the geas was too powerful, and he reluctantly allowed himself to be teleported out of the Citadel while one of the Shadow's clones turned into a copy of Gerard to lure in Ademar Wisteria and Siobrach Wisteria in the following morning. Xerathas, Varalia, the Shadow, Noche and Lobo, which Gerard-wolf was now known as, began their long journey to Jardine, hoping to reach it before some members of the Alliance would continue the journey to Libaterra.
Tears of the SunEdit
- "One more godly nuisance gone. A pity that my lord couldn't devour you in person."
- "I agree. The Godslayer is an abomination. It'll be my pleasure to put an end to its miserable existence when the time is right."
- —Xerathas and Artemicia
Dealing with Lobo's peeing problem turned out to be anything but pleasant so Xerathas and his minions had to get on deck so that Lobo could relieve his bladder. The heroes of the Grand Alliance were surprised to see Xerathas's posse onboard the Hiltraud but the sudden arrival of the Fellowship of Maar Sul from the portal helped to draw attention away from them for the time being. Xerathas managed to convince the heroes to take them along to Libaterra and Ax, although suspicious, wasn't going to return to Jardine anymore and thus reluctantly accepted Xerathas's posse as new crew mates.
Two Coalition warships spotted the Hiltraud, and the heroes used rowboats to reach the Libaterran shore while the ship itself drew the Coalition's attention to herself. Khalid al-Saif arranged everything from camels to supplies, and the heroes began the long journey to Vanna, capital of the Sultanate of Karaganda. During this journey they happened upon a lone wanderer who turned out to be Jono Renfield, an old ally of the Alliance. Jono tagged along, and the heroes reached Vanna soon after.
Khalid led the heroes to the throne room where they confronted Sultana Adela al-Saif, Grand Vizier Iblis al-Djinn and Captain Razoul. Khalid immediately accused his aunt Adela of usurping his rightful throne, and the two had a war of words as they tried to discredit one another. Adela also used the opportunity to openly mock Varalia for losing Dawn and Ax for being unworthy of wielding Dawn. Varalia remained quiet, not wishing to provoke anyone, although she was surprised to see Adela after all these years.
Khalid seemed to have a trump card when he claimed that the massage he had done to Ax the previous night had made them a married couple as per Sarquil customs. However, the plan backfired when Adela presented to him a boy who he claimed was her son. Khalid could thus not use his wife clause because Adela's supposed son nullified it.
Khalid became openly hostile when he realized he had to improvise from now on. He thus failed to see that he was in fact falling for a delicate prestige trap: once he would insult Adela enough, she could order his execution by claiming that he had dishonoured her in the eyes of her court. Khalid was saved just in time by Ismail who appeared in the court to put an end to the schemes of Adela, Razoul and Iblis.
Things turned more complicated when the goddess Artemicia appeared and openly challenged Khalid who was too blinded to realize what he was getting into. Artemicia suggested that Khalid and Adela could settle the dispute with a game, and Khalid agreed. As soon as he finished speaking, he found himself trapped in a giant magical hourglass. Xerathas saw an opening and used his powerful spells to destroy Artemicia but the goddess was too cunning for him and ended up trapping him in the hourglass as well.
Artemicia gave the heroes an ultimatum: they had a week to find the lair of the Sirithai and bring back the head of their leader to Vanna. If they did not get back by then, Khalid and Xerathas would drown in sand. If they got back in time, Khalid and Xerathas would be set free, and Khalid could legally challenge Adela without worrying about angering the nobles.
The heroes had no other alternative than to accept the rules of Artemicia's game and packed for the long journey to the hostile Sirithai lands in the middle of the Libaterran desert. Varalia was distraught by Xerathas's imprisonment and she promised herself to return as quickly as possible to save him. Xerathas and Khalid could do nothing but wait for the heroes' return.
The Winds of WrathEdit
- "Don't you see? I was never after you or Ax: I only wanted to take your swords to a place where no one could use them so that my father's vision wouldn't come true. But now Artemicia's plans have changed everything. If Krystallopyr is reforged, I'll have to use its power to destroy Dawn and Dusk for good. That way those artifacts of doom will never threaten my people again."
- —Xerathas to Marcus Sarillius
The heroes managed to get back to the throne room of Vanna in time with the Sirithai leader Qadohi, and to Xerathas's surprise Marcus was no longer disguised as Noche. The heroes presented Adela with Qadohi and demanded that she would now set Khalid and Xerathas free as she had promised. However, to their dismay Artemicia showed up and said she had only manipulated the heroes to bring Qadohi to her and Adela and that she would now get rid of them all.
Just when Khalid and Xerathas were about to drown in sand in the giant hourglass, Hephaestus appeared and released them, reminding Artemicia that she would keep her end of the bargain whether she liked it or not. The angry Artemicia challenged Hephaestus to a duel, and the two gods retreated to the High Plane to settle the dispute.
Khalid openly challenged Adela to a duel, accusing her of murdering his mother. However, Adela suddenly shielded herself with a boy she claimed was her son, thus forcing Khalid to choose whether he would strike down a child in his quest for vengeance. Before Khalid could make the decisive move, three ominous figures calling themselves the Vulfsatz appeared and snatched the boy away. It turned out that the boy wasn't Adela's son but Hannibal Losstarot, the master of the Vulfsatz and the son of the Coalition leader Glaurung Losstarot.
Seizing this new opportunity, Iblis declared that the heroes were conspiring with the Vulfsatz and had become a threat to the Sultanate of Karaganda and should be eliminated. The clerics of Artemicia, the Black Guard and Totenkopfs attacked the heroes and the Vulfsatz.
The heroes had anticipated that things would turn sour, however, and the Sirithai soon emerged from their underground tunnels while Azriel rallied many citizens of Vanna to help the heroes. The Battle of Vanna between the heroes, Adela's supporters and the Vulfsatz had begun. Jono actually stumbled on Varalia who promised to handicap him even further if he ever touched her again. The memories of Hiroki's and Zarnagon's assaults were still fresh on her mind, and the last thing she needed was another aggressive man in her life.
Adela, Iblis and Awar used the ensuing chaos to their advantage and kidnapped Qadohi who was carrying the Krystallopyr shard. They fled to the tower where they were planning to perform the ritual to make Krystallopyr whole. A group of heroes chased the villains up the tower and confronted them there but were too late to stop Iblis who managed to stab Nalaen Silverpond with the shard of Krystallopyr and charged it with her lifeforce.
Adela took the shard from the limp body of Nalaen and was about to place it into the Black Stone when she was interrupted by Xerathas who revealed his true colours to her and the heroes. Xerathas had only been co-operating with the heroes out of necessity and was now trying to take the Krystallopyr shard from Adela in order to use the shard for the benefit of his Grey Cult. He revealed that he had only manipulated Marcus to work for him and had never had Marcus's best interests at heart. He also wanted to take Dawn and Dusk from them in order to prevent them from ever using the blades again.
Xerathas's betrayal forced the heroes to divide their forces to face both Adela's and Xerathas's posses. Varalia tried to snatch the Krystallopyr shard from the stone but was stopped by Marcus to a duel, and Xerathas faced Iblis and the heroes of the Alliance in a three-way battle.
While Xerathas and the heroes were busy fighting, Awar picked up the shard and placed into the Black Stone where it began its slow transformation into the full magical blade. Meanwhile Adela tried to attack Qadohi but Ronove stopped her from killing her. Things escalated even further when Iblis transformed into a terrifying demon and challenged the heroes to a brutal battle. He ordered Adela to return to the throne room to finish Khalid off; if Khalid died, the Alliance couldn't take over Vanna legally anymore.
The reforging of Krystallopyr was almost complete. Noticing that both Iblis and Xerathas wanted to have the shard for themselves, Daventhalas de Mont Hault shot at the Black Stone. Varalia saw it and abandoned her duel with Marcus, trying to save the Krystallopyr shard before it would be destroyed. However, she was too late and the stone exploded, and the released magical energy of this shattering was so powerful that it made Varalia fall into coma. Lobo transformed back to Gerard, and Xerathas and the Shadow teleported away before the heroes could capture them. Xerathas swore to get his hands on Dawn and Dusk one day.
- "I'll require your services soon, High Prophet. Enjoy the hospitality of my dungeon until then."
- —Drishnek to Xerathas
Now on the run from the Grand Alliance, Xerathas and the Shadow headed north. The Shadow told Xerathas that if they travelled to Alent to meet with the Master of the Totenkopfs, they would be able to get Xerathas's sword Inferno back from the Totenkopfs who had taken it from him in the Ruined Kingdom.
However, when they entered the catacombs beneath Alent, they didn't meet the Master but a yellow-robed mage calling himself the Teacher. The mage was in fact the resurrected Drishnek who masked his true identity. He revealed that he knew about the magic swords and that he would get his hands on all of them soon. Xerathas realized that he was in danger, but before he could leave, the Shadow transformed into its true shape, Taliesin who then pinned Xerathas down.
Xerathas could hardly believe that the Shadow was in fact Taliesin reborn and that Taliesin had betrayed him and the Grey Cult. Before he could voice his disappointment, the Teacher cast a paralyzing spell on him and ordered Totenkopfs to drag him into the dungeon. Xerathas's part in the story wasn't over yet, however; the Totenkopfs had plans for him in the near future.
Xerathas didn't spend much time in the catacombs beneath Alent but was nevertheless subjected to mind-probing from the masked Drishnek who eventually broke through his mental defenses thanks to the powers of shamanic magic. The mage molded Xerathas more to his liking and eventually released him so that Varalia could take him home to Myridia. Xerathas, now free to do what he pleased as he and Varalia flew home with their pet griffin Draht, could only focus on one task: to prepare the Grey Cult for war.
More info later.
The Point of No ReturnEdit
Heart of DarknessEdit
- "Sinlarine may have many names over the years, but it doesn't change who they are deep inside. Our beloved may have changed your true name to one he found more fitting, but he can never change your heritage. Don't keep it in anymore; let it flow through you. Hear the calling of your blood. Just as you're your father's son, half of who you are also belongs to me, your mother, and to your clan...Kernaghan Finian."
- "Kernaghan? Mother? No, my mother's...gone. I don't re..."
- "Remember, you say? A Sinlarine never forgets...for the spirits of our ancestors are within us, guiding our every step, keeping memories stored in us...just as they've now guided the lost son to the arms of his mother."
- —Kendra and Xerathas d'Zarnagon
Xerathas went to talk with the imprisoned elven Queen Beruthiel Sindaros who openly critized his methods. He wanted her to give him the information he sought but found her less than receptive to his ideas. He told the queen to stay put and await for the interrogators to come who wouldn't be as polite with her as he had been.
As Xerathas left the dungeon, he sensed a disturbance in magic and yet found it odd that none of the mage guards had noticed that anything was amiss. He felt a presence in the chamber of the slumbering Godslayer and headed there to see if everything was alright. As he entered it, he saw a woman who had somehow entered to sealed chamber even though the chamber was supposed to be magic-proof.
The woman began singing a Sinlarine lullaby which triggered Xerathas's repressed memories. She then revealed to him that she was his mother, Kendra Finian, and that his true Sinlarine name was Kernaghan Finian who would have a part to play in the Cause. She subdued Xerathas by singing a pacifying bardic lullaby after which she took him with her to the Void before the Godslayer or the guards could stop her.
Aliases and NicknamesEdit
- High Prophet
- Xerathas's title.
- Kernaghan Finian
- Xerathas's Sinlarine birth name which his mother Kendra uses whenever she's referring to him. Kernaghan means Victorious in the Sinlarine tongue.
- Your Eminence
- How the cultists address Xerathas.
- Used occasionally by Varalia although nowadays she does not bother with it that much anymore because Xerathas does not care one way or another about such a nickname.
Xerathas is a young, almost effeminate man who is of medium size. He is shaven and wears a ponytail. His eyes are rather big, which make him look childish, which is far from truth. He can carry an armor but apart from that he is not as muscular as regular warriors. He prefers to wear a dark armour and a grey cloak, and unlike other regents he is not interested in jewelry or crowns to signify his rank. He often has the Staff of Abyss with him, which he uses to cast spells.
Personality and TraitsEdit
Xerathas is a cold person: he does not feel any emotion whatsoever and remains calm at all times. He analyzes people and things and keeps his distance, although he sometimes wonders what it might be to actually feel anything. He sees nothing wrong with sacrificing people and manipulating them as long as it serves a bigger purpose. However, he is not willing to cause collateral damage if he can help it, and he only kills or attacks when necessary.
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
Xerathas is a high-level black mage although still far from being the most powerful one. Although he is powerful enough to defeat several opponents at once, he is much more interested in duelling with words and seeing how far he can influence people with mere manipulation.
Xerathas considered his father to be a god on earth. He worshipped the ground beneath Kareth's feet and was thrilled to find out that his father had become part of the Godslayer. Xerathas would do anything to keep his father safe.
As of now, Xerathas is still unaware that his mother is still very much alive and what her name is. Kendra, however, has taken her time to stay in the shadows while waiting for a proper opportunity to reveal herself to her son.
Xerathas has never considered Marcus as anything but a pawn of the gods. He kidnapped him to trick Ax to follow him and he later manipulated Marcus to help him reach Libaterra. Despite all the psychological damage that Xerathas's manipulations did to Marcus, he also inadvertently helped Marcus break free from Shyralis's control.
Xerathas is interested in Refan's half-demon heritage, and Refan tries to keep his distance because he thinks Xerathas is just like Kareth. The two have not talked much and likely will not do it in the future either unless something can break the ice between them.
Xerathas treats the Shadow like a servant. He sends the creature to do his bidding occasionally, and the Shadow grudgingly accepts because of the geas between them. However, the Shadow may not be as loyal to the Cult as Xerathas thinks, although for the time being the two have kept their master-servant relationship the same.
Xerathas sees Varalia as an important ally, although Varalia herself only stays with Xerathas because she does not know any better. The two seem to respect each other for the most part, although lately Xerathas has begun wondering how Varalia's feelings for Unithien have changed her too much to his liking. Nevertheless, they still get along and will likely continue operating together for the time being.
- Finian Clan
- Grey Cult
- House of Zarnagon
- Kendra Finian
- Marcus Sarillius
- The Shadow
- Varalia Earthhaven