Into the Ashlands
Ahmar Akht is the founder of the kingdom of Ahmar Hazaq and the deity of the Akhti religion.
In the time before steel, a prince was born to the ruler of a great ancient kingdom. The prince was called Ahmar Akht, and it is said that he was born with golden eyes on the morning of a solar eclipse. It is known that as a child he stunned all in the court with his great cleverness and wisdom. Ahmar Akht lived a privileged life as the first born son of the ruler of the vast kingdom. He was trained by masters of blade and bow and tutored by scholars of unrivaled learning and wisdom. He grew to be beloved by the people, and was known as the blessed son…a shining example of the natural power and magnificence of his people and lands.
When Ahmar was a young man, he had a strange vision. He saw that through the overreach and hubris of his father and his most trusted advisors, a great evil would come over the land. He saw the land covered in darkness forever, and he knew that any that stayed in the kingdom would be killed or forever twisted. He saw a great well of fire in the desert, and a soothing voice that spoke to him of eternal peace and prosperity for his people.
Ahmar Akht spoke of his vision to his father and the greatest advisors and generals, but they waved his prophecy off as the ravings of a young man with an overactive imagination.
Ahmar would not relent, however, and he began to gather any that would follow him and listen to his prophecies. Many followed his words, but many many more were dismayed to think that the beloved son of their kingdom would betray his father and his people on a fool’s errand into the desert. Those that followed Ahmar were given the name of “Hazaq”, or “believer.” Finally as Ahmar Akht gathered the first Hazaqi and began to depart, the forces of the kingdom surrounded his followers and forbid them to leave. He tried to reason with them with his most eloquent words, but they would not listen to reason and began to chain his followers. When one “warrior” killed an old woman who would not stop protesting her husband being put in chains, Ahmar reasoned no more. In his fury he slew 100 men. All who stood between his followers and their path fell before him. He led his people out of the gates, never to return to the ancient kingdom.
The journey through the desert was difficult, and many struggled to survive. On the 7th day a great roar shook the heavens and earth, and the people saw that the sky had split above their kingdom. Terrible lights and shapes poured from the portal, and darkness filled the sky and blotted out the sun. The followers of Ahmar Akht knew then that their prophet had spoken truth and resolved never to doubt him again.
On the 14th day a stunning woman with writhing hair of flame came to Ahmar. She told him that she was Kalos, the fire queen of the great desert, and she had been watching him for some time. She professed that she had come to love Ahmar for his widsom, bravery, and strength. Kalos took Ahmar as her lover. She favored his people, and took them as her adopted children. The followers learned to thrive in the desert under her guidance and protection. Ahmar and Kalos had 7 sons, the firesouls, and they were Ahmar’s firstborn children. Though Kalos loved Ahmar, she was fickle by nature, and soon left Ahmar and disappeared into the dunes. Though Kalos left, Ahmar and his followers retained her favor and a place in her burning heart.
Ahmar and his sons and followers continued on the path seen in his vision, and soon came to the great well of fire. A woman of unsurpassed and striking beauty emerged from the well and praised Ahmar for his vision. She summoned the finest gold and marble from the well, and bid his people build a great city where they would rule for eternity in peace and privilege. The Hazaqi built the legendary city of Az Fadim, or “Jewel of the Desert”, and its beauty and splendor was almost blinding to the human eye.
Ahmar and the woman from the fire well, Fierna, grew to love each other, and she bore Ahmar many sons and daughters. These children were the second born of Ahmar’s children, and they bore the horns and tails of their mother. Ahmar saw a dark and selfish streak in them that he recognized in his own wife, but he loved them as a father even when they did wrong.
The nation of Ahmar Hazaq grew in power and influence and absorbed many of the other peoples of the desert until it truly became a kingdom. The people of the desert lived for many years in unsurpassed peace and prosperity, as the great fire well granted them anything they wished. Ahmar grew white-haired and wise, and his people lived in a golden age under his benevolent rule.
Ahmar’s eldest son born of Fierna, Ahmar Farras al’Azdi , grew to be a peerless tactician and general, and Fierna favored him to become ruler after Ahmar’s death. Ahmar recognized Farras al’Azdi’s brilliance, but saw in him a dark streak of cruelty and maliciousness, and so decreed that he would leave the kingdom instead to Abbad, the firesoul and his first born son.
When Ahmar denied Farras al’Azdi the kingdom, Fierna’s black-hearted ambition was revealed, and she plotted with Farras to send Ahmar into a great slumber. As Ahmar slept for 200 years, Farras took the throne of Ahmar Hazaq. Fierna and Farras’s true nature became clear, as they summoned Fierna’s father, the devil Belial, from the fire well to rule Ahmar Hazaq. The kingdom turned to conquest, and foul and and dark things spilled from the fire well. The people suffered under Belial’s infernal and callous reign, and thousands upon thousands died as Farras led his forces in a bid to bring all of Equabar under his control. What seemed a paradise became hell on earth, and all peoples of the continent shook in fear before the conquering forces of Ahmar Hazaq.
It is said that a slave girl who had only known a life of suffering stumbled upon the sleeping Ahmar Akht, and as she pleaded over his bed she was killed by the guards. The blood of her innocent tears spilled onto his face, and awoke him from his slumber. Enraged, he enacted a god-like vengeance on those that had betrayed him, banishing Fierna and Farras and finally turning his fury upon Belial himself. He challenged Belial to a duel, a fight that the devil could not refuse by diabolic law. The battle between them shook sky and earth, and Ahmar seemed certain to perish. In a final, desperate gesture, he threw himself at the Devil-King and they both hurtled downward into the fire well. Belial’s taint was driven from Ahmar Hazaq, and the kingdom once again knew peace. The fire well was sealed shut, the secret of its gate known only to the firesoul…chosen guardians of Ahmar Hazaq for all time henceforth.
The Hazaqi people wept for Ahmar’s great heroism and sacrifice, and said prayers for his safe return to the world. Ahmar Akht seemed lost forever to hell, but then one night miraculously returned. He appeared as a shimmering being of red and golden light, and in a final decree laid out the tenants that all Hazaqi people should follow from that day on. He then disappeared into the heavens and shone forever on as a golden star, to guide the Hazaqi people through the blackest night.
So was born the god Ahmar Akht, and so did his sons and daughters honor his great life and sacrifice forever on.