Legends of Arcur
Historical Figure: Vathain the Heretic
The Heretic of Lethray
Born in 181 BU, Vathain Sa’Tonavus was a member of a wealthy family of the Lethray Ecclesiarchy. One of his ancestors had been a prominent member of The Speaker’s retinue when the Praetor traveled into the Rimewind Heath at the end of the Frigid Crusade, and most of his descendants had followed his example and become member of the Holy Paladin Legion. Instead of following directly in his ancestor’s footsteps, Vathain opted instead to the church as a cleric. He quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a member of the Prelate’s Council in Vashnian by 388 AU. He was regarded as one of Lethray’s finest minds, and was known throughout the Ecclesiarchy for his understanding of the ways of the divine, and the ways to channel it as magic.
In 415 AU, however, it was discovered that Vathain had been dealing with darker forces than the edicts of the Ecclesiarchy permitted. Though it was never known what knowledge he had discovered that had broken his trust in The Crusader, he was deemed a Heretic by The Speaker himself. However, before the Divine Guard of Vashnian could strike him down for his heresy, he used his knowledge of divine magic to escape the cathedral, somehow circumventing the holy wards created to prevent just such an occurrence.
“In all my centuries watching Lethray, only Prelate Vathain came close to matching my connection to divine forces. He had powers that even I cannot wield, which is saying truly much.”
Vathain then managed to raise a sizable army, working his hidden profane powers to sway entire legions of Paladins under his command. Thousands of Paladins began to forsake their codes, forming the Brotherhood of Blackguards, a heretical faction that still has cells in Lethray to this very day. Vathain waged a terrible civil war in Lethray, winning multiple key battles against the Holy Paladin Legion until he eventually conquered the capital city of Vashnian in 424. Drawing upon powerful corruptive magic, he managed to drive The Speaker himself away from the grand cathedral, and named himself as the new Supreme Praetor of the Ecclesiarchy. The Speaker fled to Utand and established a government in exile.
“My brothers! The lies of The Speaker are at last at an end! Free are we from his endless deceptions about the purity of the gods. See how the coward flees! See how he abandons what is left of the Holy Legion! To them I offer salvation, redemption, truth and freedom. Join my brotherhood, and all this shall be yours. But beware, those who side with The Speaker, that traitor to all who live on Arcur, will be put to the sword. I am Supreme Praetor Vathain, and my word is divine law.”
~Vathain the Heretic
Vathain held the entire country for seven years, which he used to fortify his borders and expand the membership of his blasphemous brotherhood. Then, in 431 he launched a full scale invasion of Callarea, pushing the armies of the Archmages all the way to the great river before they managed to stop him in 433. From there he had planned to begin to study the arcane magic wielded by the powerful spellcasters of Callarea, but luckily Vathain was denied the time. in 434, The Speaker returned to Lethray outside Vashnian, supported by a force comprised of thousands of Utandi warriors supplemented by what remained of the Holy Paladin Legion. Even as The Speaker retook the cathedral, nearly two hundred ships laden with a massive army from Norianir landed on the coast of southern Callarea as the Archmage personally led an effort to retake Espar.
Very suddenly, Vathain’s empire began to collapse. The Brotherhood fought back hard, however, and Vathain re-established his throne in Sul. He fought against the alliance long and hard, holding out against the four armies for another 16 years. However, in 451 The Speaker found a way to break the spell Vathain had placed upon most of the Holy Legion. Once more with their minds their own, Vathain was left with only the basic core of his truly loyal followers. As the armies of the alliance marched on his citadel in Sul, he and his retinue fled into the Ruthrunel forest. Not even the druids of Utand were able to find them.
Vathain left a dark stain on Lethray history. Though Vathain was never found, The Speaker declared Vathain dead in 467 after well over a decade of constant searching from all members of the alliance. However, every few years the Paladins of Lethray find an enclave the Brotherhood of Blackguards, seeking vengeance for “Vathain as the Martyred Lord.” They are considered the single greatest threat to the Ecclesiarchy, and despite the constant vigilance of the Holy Paladin Legion, centuries of hunting has still failed to destroy every enclave. And so the the legacy of Vathain’s heresy continues…