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In the Age of Men among the Old Kingdoms whose great civilizations dominated the east of Faerûn there were three men: Prince Myrkul the Necromancer, Bhaal the Assassin, and Bane the Warlord.
The Necromancer and the Assassin swore themselves to the Warlord for they did fear his might, envy his cunning, and respected his will.
Over the length and breadth of the world they strode, seeking powerful magic and spells and defying death at every turn.
No matter what monster they confronted or what spells they braved, the three mortals emerged unscathed at every turn. It was then that the trio did travel through Low Netheril and among ruins there that they did discover destiny.
In the shell of a city that was called Jathiman was a coliseum and within it there were the bleached bones of one hundred and forty nine men. Their bodies laid around a dais at the center in the shape of an octagon.
The Necromancer did find a clay tablet and etched into it was a tale of these men who were called the Jathimites. This Cult of Jathiman believed that mortal men could overcome what they called the tyranny of the divine through force of arms.
Stabbed within the center of this dais was a dagger that looked simple and of iron. Each man took notice of these dead men and their history and knew it to be an artifact of some kind.
The Necromancer studied the blade and saw its power with his art. He could not remove it with spell or touch.
The Assassin, though he favored the dagger, could not pull it from its resting place.
The Warlord first grasped it with his left hand and it did not move. He then took it up in his right hand and it was freely pulled from the stone. He held the dagger above his head and gazed upon it in the setting sun.
"I wield now the Dagger of Jathiman and so Gods and Men shall tremble," said the Warlord. "I will be ruled by none but myself."
The trio then left the city of Jathiman and toward their fate.
It was in the Year of Boiling Moats that the Warlord, Necromancer, and Assassin wandered from Low Netheril and unto the southern shores of the Dragonmere. For five days and five nights as they made the approach to the River Reza it did rain.
The waters of the river swelled and inundated the lands around the Rezamark where many sought refuge from the chaos of Low Netheril under the protection of a topaz wyrm. The waters came to form a lake of bubbling, boiling mud.
This caused a terror among the Men of Rezamark who began to whisper that this strangeness was the return of the Angry God of Old, Borem. When the trio crossed the river and entered Rezamark they were met by their elders.
They told the trio that the wyrm had lifted its protection against this new threat. They pleaded for these strangers to come to their aid. The Warlord spoke then to them;
"I wield the Dagger of Jathiman. No god, man, or wyrm shall rule over me. If you pledge your loyalty to me then I shall enter the boiling mud and so deliver Borem." The elders of Rezamark readily agreed.
They entered the fetid swamp and boiling lake - eventually to disappear below its surface with the villagers looking on - some in doubt and others in awe.
Four days came - but on the fifth morning the boiling mud did go still and by the high sun had dried. Out of a fissure came the trio triumphant. The Warlord's right hand was enveloped by a great mass of reddish clay and it was pierced with the dagger of Jathiman.
In a booming voice the Warlord spoke; "Behold! The Heart of Borem." He shifted the pierced mass into his left hand. Upon his right now, dripping with blood-like mud was a dark gauntlet that seemed to glow with a red and terrifying aura.
"Know that BANE and his companions have saved you." He raised the gauntlet over his head as the crowd howled his name. "Do not betray the protection I have given you." The heart was then bore to Mezeketh Isle and buried.
It was in the Year of Sycophants that BANE, the Necromancer and the Assassin did come to lead an alliance against the being known as Maram in Rystall who dwelt within the Ziggurat called the Great Spear. BANE had come to know anger since the slaying of Borem.
Anger for this wild world where strife was sewn by petty powers.
By the same act the world had come to know his Black Hand. It had seemed the power of Jathiman was now upon his hand and so the Sorcerer-King Barze and the Artificers of Horreb did come to beg his aid against Maram whose slaves call him god.
So then as generals the trio did come to lead the Barzenites, Horrebites, and Vanites against the Great Spear. Though many did fall, through the cunning of BANE and with the power of his hand the creature was banished from Toril.
Within the halls of the Great Spear there was a shimmering pool and from it there was a voice. The voice named itself Tyranthraxus the Flamed One. It named itself as a prisoner to Maram and if set free it would serve BANE.
It was so agreed then that these companions would go and free the being Tyranthraxus from its prison in the wastes of Thar.
However the Sorcerer-King did hear this voice as well and it was then that he did reveal himself as a traitor and a minion. Barze was an outcast prince of Netheril and sought dominion over that realm for himself.
He named himself the slave of NAKASR the god of strife, death, and rule in that kingdom and that he would claim the Black Hand for his master. With magic and might he tried to subdue BANE and his companions.
"No god, man, or wyrm shall rule over me. I will have justice for your treason," Said BANE as he struck the mage five times.
"Your blows are like the bites of mosquitoes. My power and faith leave me untouched," the mage did boast.
"You are already dead," said BANE as the mage was then obliterated in brilliant light.
The trio slipped away from their treacherous allies and made for the east.
It was in the Year of Stale Ale that BANE, the Necromancer, and the Assassin would enter the wastes of Thar. It was said that their betrayers in the lands of Barze and Horreb celebrated the act and forgot their service against Maram.
This swelled the Anger within BANE and it focused him towards the deed of freeing of the one called Tyranthraxus. The evil men of Barze, Horreb, and Vane would need to be punished.
The god that was NAKASR would answer for its meddling against BANE and so be humbled for its challenge to the heir of the Jathimites. BANE would see that the tyranny of the gods would be returned fivefold.
In a field of ash was set a great and radiant pool where the beasts of Thar dared not tread and within it was the essence of Tyranthraxus. BANE looked upon the prison and pool and knew its securities were against a fiend; an agent of punishment.
"I will set you free, daemon, but your liberty shall be as promised and at my command," said BANE as he drew a pentacle over the pool with the power in his hand. The fiend was conjured and its body was essence and flame.
"What is thy bidding, my master?" spoke Tyranthraxus whose form genuflected before BANE.
"You will go now to the lands of Barze, Horreb, and Vane. You will bring upon them judgement and it will be with solitary mercy; that those who kneel and curse the name of NAKASR shall be spared," said BANE.
"You will go to the forest of Rystall and destroy the Ziggurat that was the seat of Maram and its treasures you will store for me. You will then go west to Netheril and burn five temples to the power NAKASR," he finished.
"So shall it be," the fiend answered. "I shall go in your name and by your will. I shall call four servants from Hades as my generals, five destroyers from among the Tanar'ri, and five Baatorians to punish."
"Evil shall be repaid in evil," decreed BANE. It was then that the trio explored the radiant pool for it was both prison and a gateway between worlds.
It was in the Year of Lost Regalia that BANE, the Necromancer, and the Assassin did find themselves in the second gloom of Hades; what some would name Niflheim among worlds. Anger guided BANE towards satisfaction.
He would find entry from this shadowy realm and into the world of Oinos and thus the great Bone Castle of NAKASR. But the first gloom was not to be found. Instead the trio would be confronted upon the The Isles of the Cursed.
"Hear me here, wandering three," spoke a gentle voice. "I am Camnod who shall be seen as ARAWN. I am the servant and friend of NAKASR. You are known to me, BANE, and with your Hand I shall be seen by the Men of Toril."
"In my Hand is the Will of Jathiman. No god, man, or creature shall rule over me. Instead I demand you show yourself and you may yet know mercy," said BANE.
"It will not be so. No eyes mortal or god will see me until I have come to the world as ARAWN. In your blood and that of your companions lies my vengeance against the Winter Court. Prepare to meet your end," said Camnod.
So battle began against the trio and Camnod. Shadows wreathed them, blows were struck, and the spirits of the doomed ringed them. Though invisible, BANE still could feel the coming blows of the fey lord.
He endured five strikes from this Camnod and within him grew his Anger. BANE came now to understand the depth of his grudge with NAKASR. In his Hand was deliverance and so a fatal blow was struck.
The essence of the would-be god was dripping from the Hand and so it was that BANE took up a cloak from the fey lord and bore it upon his shoulders; black as shadow and streaked with blood.
In this immortal raiment was a measure of insight and so the Bloody Cloak gave to BANE the knowledge he sought; this path to NAKASR laid in the mortal realm.
"You died for nothing and so that is what you shall be," said BANE as he lifted the fey lord and then threw him into the dark seas. "You shall forever be Camnod the Unseen."
It was in the Year of Craven Words that BANE, the Necromancer, and the Assassin did return to the mortal realm. The Anger in BANE guided him to the southern shore of the Sea of Dragons.
Here a clan of Men did rule and they were called the Mulmaster. They had come under the yoke of the foul King-Priest of Grong-Haap. This Minotaur had ruled a vast realm for six hundred years - well beyond a mortal life.
From its seat of power in the Ironfang Keep it established around itself a cult of divinity and with its powers bound to its service a great evil from beyond the veil: Hargut of the Grey Pestilence.
Together they took life and worked strife, living as avatars of sick, death, and toxic. So too did BANE know by the insight of the Bloody Cloak that these beasts belonged to NAKASR.
Anger and the oath of the Mulmaster Clan demanded their demise. So then the trio marched alone against the keep, ripping and tearing through chimeric beasts that ringed that place.
As BANE came as the doom and slayer of these beasts - so came the howling horror called Hargut to fight him. The beast was mighty but the Hand of BANE was mightier. As it lay dying there came a challenge from Haask.
"BANE! You are bold. You are one to teach the gods their limits. I hope the bards will praise the glory of your death in song," so Haask called as he ran toward the trio and delivered heavy blows.
But with five blows Haask was struck down. Through the bloody mud the beast and its master were dragged within what was the seat of their kingdom. "You slaves of NAKASR shall be punished for your deeds against my people," said BANE.
With the power of his Anger BANE did fuse the two into an abomination and then bound them to keep itself.
"You now shall have the wit of the beast; Haask, Voice of Hargut," said BANE as the undying beast howled endless agony. So then the trio left the keep through a gate beyond mortal ken.
Into the first gloom of Hades did BANE, the Necromancer, and the Assassin did walk. In this realm of Oinos destiny would be made. Here the Anger of BANE and the Will of Jathiman would be fulfilled.
The trio travelled along the the rumbling river Styx, its waters of forgetfulness stained crimson with the blood of fiends and other beings that battled forever along its shores.
It would take them to the Castle of Bone - the seat of NAKASR and his Throne of Doom. Great was that citadel, ancient and dread. Its only entrance was a vaulted door of obsidian and warded with the spirits of the damned.
It had no walls; Baatorian, Tanar'ri, and other fiends were left to consume and take the dead as prizes which only further rose the Anger of BANE. This was a seat of a cowardly king and wasteful god.
As the trio moved toward the gate they were halted then by a great beast, bounding with thunder with the body of panther and the face of a fiend. The beast-thing howled; "I have long hunted you, BANE! Know that MALAR does this!"
BANE bounded back and fought the beast-god with his Hand, however, the Necromancer, and the Assassin would be swallowed whole.
"I have eaten your companions and you shall be next! Perhaps NAKASR will reward me with what you seek," snarled MALAR. But in the moment of the beast's boast did BANE take hold of MALAR's maw.
With Anger in his limbs BANE would force open MALAR's jaws and reach into the god-things' gullet to free the Necromancer and the Assassin. "You will have nothing on this day except for a choice," said BANE.
His arms moved to pin the beast. "To serve me or to perish," he decreed. The beast-god howled and struggled but was soon tamed. "I will serve and I do yield. Now and always I will call you master," MALAR answered with shame and fear.
"You will watch this gate and drive away any other who does arrive," demanded BANE and so the trio entered the Bone Castle and their place in destiny.
BANE, the Necromancer, and the Assassin then entered into the vast halls of the Bone Castle. An army of the dead watched them silently on their approach of the skeletal throne flanked sat on by NAKASR.
"I have come to take from you everything and leave you lord of nothing," shouted BANE as his companions readied themselves.
NAKASR arose from his throne with a weary expression and said, "The Throne is yours. I have grown weary of this empty power. Take it if you wish." He then knelt, lifting his iron coronet with magnificent stones toward BANE. "But in your mercy end me," he pleaded.
"You don't fear death. You welcome it. Your punishment must be more severe," said BANE as he approached the kneeling NAKASR and took into his Hand the coronet. The Anger within him flowed into the crown and joined Hate where it belonged.
"You have long tortured the mortal realms and terrorized them without purpose. You have inspired Hate in Men and worked Strife through them so that they might impose your Tyranny upon them: to Kill and to Die," BANE continued.
BANE took a dagger from the belt of the kneeling god and passed it to the Assassin. "Go now to Khalas and watch over my Throne of Blood," he commanded.
"Yes, my lord," spoke BHAAL and quickly he left the keep.
BANE took a scythe from beside the throne and passed it to the Necromancer. "You will remain here and watch over the dead. You shall build a Wall so dread that fiends and mortals alike shall tremble," he commanded.
"Yes, my master," spoke MYRKUL who then sent the army of the dead from the keep to defend it.
"Your evil name will be removed from the heavens and the earth. You shall be called JERGAL and you will serve MYRKUL in his duties here," said BANE to the kneeling god.
"Only when all of Heaven and the Worlds are brought to peace and all of the Old World is ashes will you have my permission to die," said BANE to JERGAL who remained quiet as the God-Tyrant left to walk his Kingdom.
So it was that BANE would walk the length of His empire. As it would be upon the world so it would be also in the heavens. From the ash and clamor of Oinos He did enter the second gloom of Niflheim.
Though He had once walked upon the isles of the cursed and the unseen it was His purpose to walk through all worlds and all realms and build the roads that would see His empire flourish.
With every step He took behind him formed a path of darkness; obsidian and immutable. Though other powers did dwell within this realm and though His rule was new He would ensure none would question Him.
In the grim darkness He could see a great keep that was hewn from the very shadows. Its tenant was known to Him through the scribe JERGAL. "You who would call yourself the master of thieves - know that BANE walks the land," spoke BANE.
The Lord BANE walked forward after this declaration and with each step His road grew longer and more secure. Eventually there came a great well of shadow and from its ill form was transfigured a MASK.
"All come to know you, BANE. Your triumph is a thing of envy and already are there schemes to take what you have taken," said the MASK in a voice as gentle as silk.
"All that was taken is now defended by my Hand. Evil done against me shall be repaid in Evil," warned BANE.
"I could not ever think to risk the touch of your Hand. What good is a thief who is dead? I admire what you have done, Lord BANE," said the MASK.
"This is why I speak now. Where you have taken so much, I realize, to stand against you is to have everything taken from me. I offer myself to you so long as I might keep what is mine," the MASK continued.
"What is yours shall remain so and to my people you will remain a shadow. But you will show me all of yourself and I shall know you in all ways," decreed BANE. He came to know what lay behind the MASK and so His concubine lived with His comfort. Refreshed He journeyed on.
The black road grew ever longer. The Lord BANE had entered the realm of Gehenna where he did visit his vassal BHAAL and sat His throne of Blood in Khalas. He continued then to deeper worlds and saw His lands in Chamada and His Throne of Hate.
His true purpose was to enter Mungoth, the third ring of Gehenna, and to find his Throne of Strife which was under the watch of LOVIATAR. Through the burning and bitter ice he did enter her home of Ondtland.
As the Lord BANE broke through a bank of bitter, biting snow he did glimpse the silvery haired goddess. "Only those who are worthy may approach," warned LOVIATAR.
BANE stepped forward and from her came a terrible crack as her scourge struck the Lord, but its teeth could not bite Him. "Only the strong may sit upon this throne," she again warned.
He took another step was met with another terrible strike, but His flesh endured. "Only the indomitable may know its power," she spoke.
With another step came another strike, but the Lord was not deterred. "Only the fearless can teach its wisdom," she roared as BANE continued to approach.
BANE was unscathed and the anger of the goddess was visible. With another step she struck Him and was left without satisfaction. With a fifth step she screamed and lashed out for the final time as the Lord BANE did take her Painbringer in His Hand.
In fear and awe the goddess was subdued. "You are worthy of this seat, Lord BANE, and in my tests I beg your pardon," she said.
"I cannot pardon that, goddess. Rise and allow me to gaze upon you," He spoke and so she did as commanded.
"Your beauty and daring cannot be disputed. Pain and Agony belong to you but they are married to Strife. Goddess, I shall have you as my Queen," decreed BANE. Their union trembled heavens and the worlds of mortals.
"My Lord, I tell you that my sister plots against me and would scheme against you," spoke His Queen.
"No longer," spoke BANE as He made for this sister's realm.
It was upon the orbs of Cathrys - jungles floating through the void of Tartarus that Lord BANE sought the sister of His Queen. Through the feculence of this realm he did wade though it was draining.
He could not find sign of the sister who was called KIPUTYTTO. But in the distance he saw a great pyramid and palace; here he traveled and here he was quartered by the goddess TALONA.
For five days and five nights he was hosted. In this time BANE learned of TALONA and she did learn of Him. The dark haired beauty presented Him with gifts; five fierce naga who were taught to adore His name.
The Lord would send these naga to the mortal realm and they would spread His glory.
After this she did feast Him and passed him a chalice filled with sweet ambrosia which he did sup and He did see that tears streamed down her cheeks. "Lord BANE I have done evil against you," she sobbed.
"You have told me of this KIPUTYTTO and she does dwell in this realm. I have long served under her yoke - for she covets my poisons and would make them her own," she continued.
"My lord, I have poisoned you with my bitter tears as she has commanded so she would not take from me my place in heaven," she finished her confession. But the Lord merely smiled.
"I tell you now that you have poisoned me but death is mine to command. But you have indeed wronged me and thus you must atone," BANE decreed.
"To be pardoned of my wrath you shall go to the Mother of Plagues and with your beautiful hands you shall take from her everything. What you gain from that is yours to keep but you will find me and serve me," He continued.
"But that would mean to lose my youth and to become unclean by touching her," she wailed.
"Your beauty is mine to remember. With this done you shall have refuge in my home- I will take you to wife and my Queen shall have a new sister," said the Lord. So she did obey.
BANE left Tartarus and it was not long after that He was again married.
The Lord had seen the vastness of His empire and was pleased. The end of the Black Road led to the interesting geometry in the skies of Acheron. There he settled upon his Throne World - an iron cube in the layer Avalas.
Here was the Throne of Universal Rule and the indisputable destiny of The Lord. For five days he labored in His realm.
On the first day He called forth the Beast that was MALAR and had it populate the lands with fierce hell hounds and beasts that were marked with the Black Hand, for he favored their vigilance.
On the second day He paved the the Black Road with the blackest sapphires.
On the third day He made a great divide in the land and filled it with the disloyal, wretched, and false - and placed baatezu there to castigate them in His Hell of Slaves.
On the fourth day He fashioned a terrible citadel of iron; The Black Bastion. He summoned forth Fanged Wyrms and Eye Tyrants to keep vigil over where his loyal vassals would dwell in Iron Paradise.
On the fifth day He was joined by His Queen LOVIATAR, His Plague Wife TALONA, the Cowled Concubine in the MASK, the Lord BHAAL, and the Lord MYRKUL. The Beast MALAR was at His feet.
Here He demanded of them - and his voice would ring out through the Heavens and the Mortal realm at the Midnight Hour. In Avalas He was heard. In Rezamark He was heard. Among the ruins of Barze, Vane, and Horreb He was heard!
"Serve no one but me," roared the Black Lord.
"Fear me always- and make others fear me even more than you do," spoke the Dark One.
"The Black Hand always strikes down those who stand against it in the end," He warned.
"Defy me and die-or in death find loyalty, for I shall compel it," He continued.
"Submit to my will, since true power can only be gained through service to me. It is the doom of those unguided by me to let power spill through their hands," He demanded.
BANE WAS HEARD! NO LONGER WERE THE REALMS OF MEN WITHOUT THE GUIDANCE OF A MASTER.