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Asacar the Black (847-864 ST)
The son of Carshandar and a noble-woman of Enthyr, Asacar served for many years as a sirdar for his father, first capturing and then governing many cities and tribes in the rich land of Arir. His hazars jealously guarded its borders against both the sun-worshipping realms to the east: the Dara Happan Empire and the Kingdom of Darjiin.
But Asacar knew no moderation, had not the balance which characterises the man of virtue. He had learned much from his dark mother, and turned altogether from the bright path of honour and noble action. Against the shining lands, he sought allies among the dark folk, who hid from the light in the shadowed passes of the Yolp Mountains.
Asacar was slain by a conspiracy of sirdars, outraged at the atrocities he had ordered them to commit upon the battlefield. They raised an army against him, and the Shah could not resist their onslaught. His body was thrown to be devoured by black dogs, taking his soul with them to Hell.
No dishonour was visited upon the family or associates of the slain Shah, save only for the death by burning of his Trollish allies -- but then, they were not human. His son Ammas, a man in the fullness of his strength, retained his position as commander of the armies.
His half-brother Carmandar, son of a princess of Darjiin and already a man of mature years, was anointed as the next Shah of Carmania.
Carmandar the White (865-872 ST)
In his youth, Carmandar had studied the secrets of religion. He dwelt among the viziers and the magi, and knew more splendid things than any other noble of his day. This was a great consolation to him in later life, when the sorrows of the world thrust themselves upon him.
The sirdars chose Carmandar as their commanding general, because he was of Carmanos' blood and known for his piety and purity. They were confident he would not have given the orders that had so incensed them. Yet he gave few orders of any kind upon the battlefield, being a man of much learning yet little craft. This too, in its way, was pleasing to the sirdars, who enjoyed the freedom to choose their own strategy and take destiny into their own hands.
The choice displeased many men of Spol, who had preferred the familiar rule of one who could trace his ancestry back to the Queen Maelola of elder days. They raised the ancient ox-head standards in revolt against their rightful ruler, and for a time the tribute of Spol was lost to the Shah.
Carmandar's first war was fought to defend his mother's kin. The Carmanian host marched to counter the Alkoth hordes, who raged against the citadel-crowned highlands of Darjiin. In battles beneath a sky turned black with thunderclouds and riven with white bolts of celestial fire, Carmandar turned aside the furious destroying mob, lifting their oppression from his gold-masked cousin, the Math-an-Oor of Darjiin. The slaughter was terrible, and the Shah wept for a day and a night to see the corpses of his friends and foemen heaped upon the fields of Darjiin.
Carmandar lacked good fortune on the battlefield. His early devotion to religion had made him less of a warrior than most Carmanian youths, and he suffered grievous wounds twice in battle. Fighting against the Spolite rebels at *, his left hand was maimed, and the doctors had to remove it. "It is no great matter," the Shah said when his healer-viziers reported the extent of the injury, "the left hand is the hand of deceit and impurity, and I am a better man without it."
Again, fighting the men of Alkoth, he was crushed beneath his horse when the Shields of Gold stood against the charge of his Hazars. He was carried off the battlefield, and his viziers discovered that the Shah had lost the use of both his legs. Never again could he ride or walk. "Though it is a dire wound," said the Shah, "my lower parts are the region of base urges and impurity, and I am a better man without them."
Carmandar was killed in darkness, struck through from behind. None knew who his assassin might be. On his tomb is recorded the epitaph he chose: "I was not wicked, nor a liar, nor cruel, neither I nor my family. I thought always of right and justice. Neither to noblemen nor to poor people have I done violence."
As he had no children, having emulated too far the ideal state of purity his mother had taught him in his youth, the succession passed to the eldest son of his older brother: the Black Shah's child Ammas, now one of the finest sirdars of Carmania.
Ammas (873-879 ST)
None know who the mother of Shah Ammas might have been: she is recorded in the Shah-nama only as a "Dark Woman". This may mean she was an unusually discreet Spolite heiress, but in view of the Shah's later achievements there are those who suspect a deeper secret.
On reaching the throne, he was expected to condemn the murder of his uncle, Carmandar. "But it is no great matter," said Ammas, "for he was struck from behind, and it is right that it should remain a mystery who dealt the blow. For what is behind us is ever a Mystery, and the wisest of viziers choose to leave such matters unexplored."
The armies of the Shah needed a war-base for their campaigns against Dara Happa. In the south of Arir, he raised through his arts a black fortress, squat and dark. Its heavy walls crowded out the light; its passages and doors were built to proportions shorter and wider than the human norm. The Ebon City of Qabadash is there to this day, though none would willingly meet with its inhabitants.
Shah Asacar had been cruel, but at least his was a human cruelty. His son alarmed all by his pitiless search for ever greater methods by which he might wreak destruction upon his foes.
Shah Ammas was cast out from his nation by the common revulsion of the warriors and priests, disturbed at his excesses. Driven from the cities and towns of civilised men, he made his way to the darkness of savagery and the gloom-shrouded cliffs of the Yolp Mountains to live the lonely life of an exile.
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