So one of the things the guys have learned in Orcunraytrel is that the Briar King, Silver King, and their consorts are all Nel. They've also learned that Keroen Skathos is the creator and king of the Nel and he is currently masquerading as the Briar King in Serethnem and plans on bringing the Sereth to Orcunraytrel to find Evandor, the true Briar King. Since Cary, Jason, and Lance haven't been gaming with me or reading the blog as long as Eric, (the blog has officially been around for five years and eighteen days as of this post) they might not be as aware of the who and what and why of Keroen Skathos. I bring all this up because I've asked everyone that reads this blog regularly to give me some ideas about what they'd like me to write about, and Lance said he'd like to know why Keroen and the Nel are having such an impact on The Known World all of a sudden. This is going to be an explanation of events and their progression. There aren't any spoilers here. Some of this has been implied by Andorian or explained in previous campaigns or hinted at in various posts.
So this one time I wrote a story. Took several years with long gaps between sessions of work. It was about this guy called Keroen Skathos, and his people, the Nel. Over the years I've said things, written things, and posted things about Keroen, the story, and the Nel. Little bits and pieces, or large bits and pieces, or short stories. Sometimes I posted thoughts on rules and how the Gifts of the Nel would work in the game. Hmmm, just had an idea for how to make them work in GURPS. A very very simple and easy to use method. Damn. Fucking GURPS. Unfortunately, there's no good way to depict the Gifts of the Nel with Pathfinder. They're too broad and too powerful. I think I've made it work though, and it's something I needed to do, because eventually someone may decide to take a shot at Andorian. But probably not. We'll see. I think I've laid on the "I am an immortal sorcerer-king and I can do whatever the fuck I want" thick enough that they're not going to attack him unless he provokes them extensively.
Anyway. So there are six Nel that have had contact with The Known World in the past ten thousand and three years. The first four are Evandor (the true Briar King), Andorian (his consort), Kolenarel (the Silver King), and Vandella (his queen). They came to The Known World in like the 3800 DKs for reasons that are irrelevant to anything we will discuss here. They didn't come to The Known World specifically, they were fleeing their homeland, again for reasons that are irrelevant to anything we'll discuss here. The Nel don't even know The Known World exists. If Hekinoe is about the size of Earth, The Known World sits kind of where North America sits, albeit a little more south, and the homeland of the Nel sits about where China is.
The fifth Nel to come to The Known World is Callifay, and he was coming after Evandor, Andorian, Kolenarel, and Vandella. He was sort of tracking them, and ended up in The Known World by following their trail. Once in The Known World, he found them, easily too, but by that time they had already turned a native population into the Vyanth and were ruling over them and Callifay lacks the means to handle four other lastborn and the kingdom that serves them. So he set up shop to watch them from the trees. He didn't do much else. Just kind of lurked, hoping an opportunity would arise. It didn't. What he did do while hanging out is irrelevant and kind of a spoiler.
The sixth Nel to come to The Known World is Keroen Skathos himself. He didn't come there specifically for any reason beyond he ended up sailing east from the homeland of the Nel and ended up running into the western shore of The Known World. Came close to missing it though, as he ended up in The Beast Lands. This was around fifteen hundred years or so ago. He mostly just bummed around The Beast Lands fighting the tribes and beasts there, then he ran into Callifay and they started hanging out. At one point, back in their homeland, they were something of an item.
Keroen was never a sit on your throne and rule benevolently kind of king. He's calmed over the years, but he is pretty much how I envision Conan as he rules Aquilonia in his dotage. Yells a lot, gets really pissed off a lot, and periodically has to cut off a head or appendage to get things done. Periodic culls of the population of the Nel were not uncommon when he was in charge. Keroen is a warrior more than he is a king, he doesn't really desire power, he's never had to, he's always been the most powerful thing around. This changed for him, and is part of why he ended up leaving the homeland of the Nel. So he is accustomed to violence and leading others into violence, and there is war here in The Known World. Keroen and Callifay begin collecting other warriors, starting with the Uncout and Greenskin Abraxens. Once they have a sizable band going, they start looking for work as mercenaries and get involved with Kusseth. Keroen takes on the name Cenn and calls his mercenary band Cenn's Reavers. He gets pretty popular and is pretty successful and ends up taking Meroteth for Kusseth about eight centuries ago, which is the fight he's most well known for.
So eight centuries pass by, and Keroen realizes he is back where he started. He's in charge of a bunch of shits he doesn't really like. Which is why he abdicated, sort of, back in the homeland of the Nel in the first place. He likes fighting, and if a creature like him can love, he loves Callifay. Bald William is a decent sort, as is Laram Volungson. But the rest of his warriors are some of the worst shits in The Known World. Think of Cenn's Reavers as kind of like a mobile Arkam Asylum, but replace all the bat shit crazy with equal amounts of bloodthirstiness and skill at fighting. Long story short, during The Rebellion Arc Keroen Skathos decides to fake his own death to absolve himself of his responsibilities to Cenn's Reavers and to cast off the Cenn persona so he can do something else with himself.
He ends up pretty battered and broken, with most of his body burned away. Nel regenerate and are immortal, so all he needs is time. Callifay decides to take him someplace quiet, so he wanders into the depths of Serethnem. It takes about four years for him to be physically whole, another year or two after that for him to wake up and be capable of full sentences. In that time, Sereth have discovered him and the ancient magics that the Briar King wrought to change the desert into a pleasant place to live have found a new power source, the Gifts within Keroen and Callifay. Which is part of why Keroen took so long to regenerate.
So the Sereth find these two Nel sitting in this patch of desert that is starting to turn into dirt where black briars are starting to grow into black trees and they come to one conclusion: the Briar King has returned. They rejoice and start coming to the center of the desert to wait for him to wake up. Callifay does his best to disabuse them of this notion, so the ground ends up littered with lots of dead Sereth. When Keroen wakes up, he finds himself stuck once more as a leader of a people he doesn't really want anything to do with.
Now, the Sereth are pretty tough customers. They're basically Fremen with high powered rifles. Keroen's first instinct is to kill the fuck out of them and spend a few decades alone with Callifay in the heart of this desert in peace and quiet (aside from the dire hyenas and burrowing night fowls). This runs the risk of the Silver King and the Vyanth investigating the extinction of the Sereth and Keroen is going for anonymity nowadays. So he acts like the Briar King and meets with as many of the elders of the Sereth as he can get in one spot and explains to them that he is not in fact the Briar King, which isn't new information. Callifay and Keroen have been screaming at the Sereth that neither of them is the Briar King returned pretty much constantly. They don't buy it though, because Keroen and Callifay fit the descriptions of the Briar King and his consort from forty-five hundred years ago when they disappeared. By fit, I mean they vaguely resemble the descriptions found in fragmented records of the Sereth from that time. Which makes sense, because all Nel lastborn bear a passing resemblance to one another.
Keroen explains to these elders that he is in fact the king of the Briar King, his creator just as the Briar King is the creator of the Sereth. They accept this, and those that don't, verify it with sorcery. They then determine that he is their king's king, so they are his people till the Briar King is found. Unable to argue with that logic, Keroen and Callifay kill a bunch of Sereth and sit in their camp in the center of the desert and ignore the Sereth. The Sereth are content to return the favor, but the desert has been feeding off of the Gifts of Keroen and Callifay for seven years now and the center of the desert is starting to look like earth and stone with trees growing on it. So the Sereth let Callifay and Keroen ignore them, but they set to work building a town around the two Nel. They're not stonemasons or master carpenters, but they get the gist of what needs to be done.
Luckily for Keroen, around this time a certain group of individuals are wandering into a certain pyramid in a certain place (possibly falling into lava because someone is too busy master debating to watch his footing) and find a certain individual by the name of Andorian. The guys release Andorian, Andorian gives them all boons, and he immediately zips back to Serethnem from Orcunraytrel. He spends a few hours weeping and turning the sand to glass in his fury. He was expecting to come home to a dark and chilly forest covered by a bruise colored sky of storm clouds, not a blinding expanse of desert. Once he's vented his fury and sadness, he starts looking for the Sereth and finds the little oasis around Keroen and Callifay. He immediately shits his pants, as he realizes who Keroen is and rightly fears him.
Keroen's first instinct is to drain the life out of Andorian, as Callifay has already told him that the Silver King and Briar King and their consorts are who they are and did what they did back in the homeland of the Nel. But, if Andorian is still around, Evandor probably is as well. If Keroen can find the Briar King, he can drag him back to Serethnem to rule over the Sereth so Keroen doesn't have to deal with them following him around.
Keroen makes a deal with Andorian. Andorian and Evandor get to live and keep their power if Evandor comes back to Serethnem and rules the Sereth and gives Keroen the Wytchstave. Keroen sends Andorian back to Orcunraytrel to observe and gain information about Orcunraytrel and come up with ideas about where the Briar King would be if he is there while Keroen makes plans to mobilize the Sereth as scouts to follow behind him and potentially wage war on anyone that gets in his way while there. Keroen's theory is that if Orcunraytrel is as big as The Known World, it might be hard to find Evandor. But if Evandor is there, and suddenly Sereth start showing up, he might end up investigating and come to them and save them the trouble of looking over every square inch of Orcunraytrel.
So, Lance initially said he'd like to know why the Nel are intervening now and how they choose to involve themselves in the goings on in The Known World. The above is the long answer, and kind of shows that despite the perception of Andorian as an immortal sorcerer king/demigod/whatever, the Nel stumble around like everybody else and are neither all powerful, nor all knowing. No Nel has ever actually come to The Known World specifically because they wanted to. They mostly end up there because it is a straight shot east from the homeland of the Nel to The Known World. Neither continent is aware of the other, and there is obviously no communication between them. The Nel don't choose to involve themselves, they just stumble upon The Known World. The reason they (Andorian, Keroen, and Callifay) are intervening now is because several plot points I've had in motion in the background have finally come to a point where they converge without the intervention of PCs. Cenn was always going to die during The Rebellion Arc, pirates were always going to uncover Andorian in Orcunraytrel, and Callifay was always going to take Cenn's corpse to Serethnem while he recovered.
So there's some stuff.