This week, in the second part of our Legends of Dereth special, Jacinth tells the tragic story of one of the most noble individuals on either Ispar or Dereth and how that man inevitably came to fall:
It’s more or less a given that we human beings are flawed, imperfect beings. An old saying goes, “He who is above temptation simply hasn’t yet found one to give in to.” Unfortunately, as seen in the sad tale of the Shagar Zharala, it appears this statement also holds true to our organizations as well. Until just a few decades ago, the Shagar Zharala were a group to fear. The shadowy “Vengeance of the Malik”, the Zharalim were a ruthless and unstoppable tool of the leaders of Gharu’n and dedicated to protecting those lands and the people within. That dedication would falter, though, as the group gradually fell further and further below the ideals under which it was originally established. Scouts and spies infiltrated the Zharala, while the nobility of Gharu’n used it to carry out their own perverted whims, and the group became a shadow of its former self. It was at this point that Hamud ibn Rafik entered the tale.
Hamud was a unique individual within the ranks of the Shagar Zharala; he still believed in the ideals under which the group was founded and castigated his peers for their corruption and decadence. For that he was censured by the Zharalim elders and was accused of corruption himself. Made an outcast by the very organization he loved, Hamud was devastated, and along with his daughter Devana, he stepped through a portal to Dereth and left the broken world of the Shagar Zharala behind.
Here on his new home, Hamud set out on a new task. Wishing to protect Dereth from the very corruption that plagued Ispar, he created the Tenebrous Edge, a guild utilizing the skills and teachings of the Zharalim but established under the principles of honor, loyalty, and humility. As noble as his intentions were, however, the realities of this world would take their toll upon Hamud. He saw the immortality granted by the Lifestones empower those he considered fools and weaklings and feared that removal of the fear of death would eliminate one of the foundations of the Zharalim. After enduring so much despair, Hamud was finally reaching his breaking point, and unfortunately for him, it was at that time that he encountered the Shadows. While exploring a distant region of the Direlands, he stumbled upon a gathering of the creatures, and seeing them as the living embodiment of the precepts of the Zharalim that he so wished to live, he soon forged an alliance with them. Though he, as many who ally with the Shadows have done, would eventually discover the true horrific nature of the beings, it would be too late to save his body and, perhaps, his very soul.
Today, the life and works of Hamud ibn Rafik lay in ruin. The Tenebrous Edge is all but destroyed, many of its members wandering the wilds of Marae Lassel or selling their skills to the highest bidder. Hamud himself has scarcely been seen in years, though reports of his fate are unsettling–his body little more than a twisted perversion of nature and his will almost completely eroded by unholy influence, he now exists as a sad parody of the tenets he once wished to embody. Some would say that the fate of Hamud ibn Rafik is proof of the inherent hypocrisy of man, that even greatest of us is capable of succumbing to temptation and corruption. However, I see it in the opposite light. That a man once so moral and firm as Hamud could meet such an end shows that no man is any more or less perfect than the next and that all of us, even a fallen master of the Shagar Zharala, are equally in need, if not deserving of, salvation.