Dzree: Empress of Death (book)
Dzree: Empress of Death
By Nereon Amisal
Dzree -- it is a name known by every one living in the Five Provinces, for so great were her misdeeds and the damage she inflicted upon the world. She is truly famous, although infamous would likely be a far better method of describing her.
She has been known by many names and titles. The Hag. Dzree the Smozh. Empress Dzree. High Priestess Dzree -- these last two were used interchangeably, as her Dragon's Empire was a theocracy; Dzree served as both Empress and High Priestess of the Dragon. Perhaps the most appropriate title by which Dzree was known, though, was as the Empress of Death.
I've often been asked, as a teacher of this particular era, where the Dragon Priests ruled all but supreme over Kermoria... I have often been asked for the details of this woman's life, the details that could breed such a monster as would commit the acts she did.
This is the collection of the research I have compiled into Dzree's life, and it serves both as a biography of this woman and a chronicle of her evil acts, so that in hundreds of years, the world will still know the crimes she committed upon us all.
Dzree was born in a small village on Reshalia Island, one which, as far as historians can ascertain, does not exist any longer. Her mother was a woman of great repute and fame, as a member of the Ru'atin Peri'el, the sacred order of sisters that watch over Peri'el and aid her with song and ritual -- an order greatly admired in S'Kra Mur culture.
Dzree was the fourth daughter of her family, which was a great honor for any daughter of a Sister of Peri'el. The Ru'atin always hoped for female children, and they would perform rituals in the hopes of assuring that, pray to Peri'el and Tamsine for daughters that could carry on the legacy of the order. The fourth daughter of a sister was thought to be specially blessed by the gods, and there was an expectation that she would be among the greatest of the sisters. And of course, such an expectation and honor was only magnified when the child was the fourth daughter of a fourth daughter.
Much was expected of Dzree, then, among the Ru'atin Peri'el. Her family, and the Sisters, thought she would become a masterful singer, giving aid and comfort to their cherished goddess, to keep the World Dragon asleep. But Dzree did not live up to those expectations.
When she came of age and became a young woman, she was given the test of entry to the Ru'atin Peri'el. And shockingly, she failed it.
She could not sing at all, unfortunately. She did not just sing averagely, or even badly -- she was terrible. The test of entry required of a fourth daughter of a Sister was the simplest of all tests, and she failed even that, quite miserably.
This failure brought an extreme amount of shame to Dzree's mother and family, and to their community. Most fourth daughters were thought to be blessed by the gods, but many in their village decided that surely Dzree was instead cursed by the gods. The villagers directed loathing at her, treated her poorly -- they thought she would bring the ire of the gods down upon them. Dzree's mother was a good woman, and would never have turned the girl out, as many of the villagers wanted... she still loved her daughter. But Dzree did not wish to remain in the village, and so she fled.
I shall interject myself here to make note that if one wishes to learn more of the Sisters of Peri'el, one should read the excellent accounting, "A History of the Ru'atin Peri'el," by Laricra Milaeshi.
This was a turning point in her life... and quite truly, a turning point for the world, because it was these events that set the course of her life and the acts she would commit in later years.
Dzree had been taught her entire life that her destiny, her reason for existing, was to help keep the World Dragon asleep. I make no excuses for the evils she unleashed upon the Five Provinces -- none at all! -- but I can still acknowledge that certainly it would have been hard for a young girl to deal with such a situation: to be told from birth what your fate was, that the gods smiled on you and you would do great things for them, that you would help and nourish the goddess that gave you life, and then be unable to accomplish that destiny. When it was finally time to live up to that fate, to fail. Certainly it filled in her a loathing for the Ru'atin Peri'el (a loathing she would later take out upon the Sisters in infamous and brutal violence) which eventually great to encompass all singers (these events likely planted the seed for her hatred of Bards as well as the Sisters).
But more importantly... she still felt the need to accomplish her destiny in life, which was to help the world by keeping the World Dragon asleep. The method by which she was to accomplish this goal was removed from her, but the desire to accomplish it was no less diminished. So as she left her village, young, helpless, and alone, she sought to find another way to fulfill her destiny.
She wandered then, for some time, struggling to keep herself alive. It was this that brought her to the man known as Sh'kial.
Sh'kial was a radical. An old and wizened S'Kra Mur man who had formed a new religious ideology, a new way of thinking about how to view the World Dragon and how to save the world from his wrath. Sh'kial believed that the World Dragon's awakening was inevitable, and so the people of Kermoria must placate him, pacify him, earn his favor. This was a shocking way of thinking that earned Sh'kial the enmity of the followers of the Immortals.
So he and his small sect of followers -- little more than a dozen at that point, really -- wandered about, preaching where they could, and performing the acts and rituals and sacrifices (though never of mortals) that they believed would keep the World Dragon content and pacific.
In one village where Dzree had been staying... sleeping in a pile of hay in a stable... she came across Sh'kial and his band. And as she listened to them, she thought, "Surely this is my fate." Here was a man offering to her what the Ru'atin Peri'el ultimately had not been able to -- the ability to keep the world safe from the Dragon. She was, needless to say, a true convert. She joined Sh'kial and his followers and journeyed with them, becoming his most eager and exceptional pupil.
As the ranks of these new Dragon Priests grew and expanded -- too many S'Kra Mur were, unfortunately, willing to believe Sh'kial's problematic and erroneous dogma -- Dzree served as the leader's right hand, indoctrinating and leading many of the priests.
But she was still filled with that dark seed of hatred, that loathing of the Ru'atin Peri'el... as she grew more and more engrained in the dogma of the Dragon Priests, she grew more and more disdainful of Peri'el, the goddess worshipped by the Sisters. She was convinced of the rightness of the ideology that had restored her purpose in life, and so by that ideology, Peri'el and the other gods WOULD fail and the World Dragon would awaken. That assurance of the Immortals' eventual failure led her to hate them... and in time, to hate those who placed their hope in the doomed Immortals.
As time passed and the hatred inside her grew, her beliefs became more and more twisted. They changed from a belief of awe-filled fear of the Dragon, to an outright worship of it -- she was no longer seeking to placate an angry being that was held in awe in fear, but she was seeking to worship a being she viewed as a true god. And as time passed, more and more of the followers, the Dragon Priests, came to see things her way. After all, Sh'kial was growing older and older, and he was less capable of persuading others as he once was. He was a weak man who relied on his protege more than ever in the running of the priesthood. So she began to take it in a horrific new direction.
Thus was born the new Dragon Priests... which became more militant than the harmless religious sect they once were. Dzree believed the Immortals were fraud gods, and that their followers were an affront to the World Dragon -- that he would never bring the Golden Age the Priests believed would come, so long as the land was infested with the children of the doomed false gods that had sought to hold him captive. And so she believed that she and the priests must subjugate those followers... and they even began capturing them and offering them as sacrifices to the World Dragon.
As most know, Sh'kial found out about this practice, and he attempted to put a stop to it immediately. He had been withdrawn, tired, and had paid little attention to what was going on with the Priests. He did not know Dzree had transformed them so. He soon found out there were few remaining that were truly loyal to him and his ideals. Sh'kial was murdered by Dzree herself.
The Dragon Priests then worked at becoming more and more militant, seeking to amass the power they needed to do the bidding of the World Dragon and so enable him to usher in his Golden Age of Peace.
Once her army was strong enough, she captured the city of Shard by employing both strong magic and lethal cunning. She laid a trap for the Ferdahl Corik, he of the Black Cloud, and when he left the city of Shard with his army to confront the Priests, she outmaneuvered him and sacked the city. Dzree used Moon Gates to maneuver behind Corik without his realizing it, and this tactic would demonstrate a reliance upon magic that she would have throughout her life.
With Shard firmly under her control, she set her sights on even grander things -- the rest of the lands. But she knew that to do that, she would need more than just her army of Dragon Priests. The Elotheans were easy to defeat -- they were a weak, peace-loving people. The Humans, the Elves, the Dwarves... they would pose greater challenges, and Dzree would need to be crafty in order to overcome those coming obstacles.
It was thus that she began her experiments in summoning and breeding. She first attempted to control the Vykathi, but that was an unsuccessful attempt. Next would come efforts to summon the malevolent fae, the Frostweavers, from another Plane, and utilize them in combat... but these beings were far too fickle, and she abandoned her efforts to use them as part of her army. Thus she went to her third experiment, which was disastrously successful -- the Adan'f.
For more on this affair, one should read the book [["On Necromancy"]] which discusses in detail the acts Dzree undertook at this time, which led to the creation of the Adan'f.
In any event...
These beasts, bred through dark, sorcerous magic, multiplied the ranks of her forces, adding great power to the Dragon Priests. With them adding strength to her army, Dzree marched northward to begin in earnest her ravaging of the lands.
S'zhella was a biting satirist, as the tome [["S'zhella's Tale"]] tells us. And he mocked and humiliated Dzree, for the Bard knew nothing but hatred for the Hag and what she was doing. Dzree was not accustomed to humiliation -- it was not something she had felt since the time she was driven from her village, an act she laid at the feet of the singers of the Ru'atin Peri'el.
She quickly had S'zhella executed, but she did not let it there... oh no. Twice now Dzree had been utterly humiliated in her life; twice now by Bards and singers. Her hatred overwhelmed her.
She also blamed the singers -- Bards and Sisters alike -- on the songs that sustained Peri'el and kept her god, the World Dragon, asleep. These singers were, in her demented mind, keeping away the Golden Age she wanted to bring to Kermoria.
Dzree began a crusade to wipe out all Bards and Ru'atin Peri'el from the face of Elanthia. She and her fanatics hunted them down, slaughtering them without mercy. She was beyond determined to eliminate the song entirely. It was one of the most horrific tyrannies that would mark her reign.
And there would be many.
Dzree had long since passed the point of any hope of redemption. She had become a person of pure, true evil, and to solidify that (had she not done so already), more and more atrocities were committed in her name. Mortal sacrifices, destruction of temples, shrines, and cities, the twisting and corrupting of the very land itself -- such as what she did to Adamantia, in order to bring a painful death to HighHold. And then there was her crime against life itself: the black magic she used to unnaturally extend her life.
Dzree was not willing to give up power. She was not willing to leave the Empire she had created through her unleashed hatred. She was determined not to leave the world until the World Dragon awoke and ushered in his Golden Age.
So she relied upon sorceries and necromancies... all foul magic... to maintain her crazed grip on life. She lived longer than any S'Kra Mur had before. But with each passing year, she grew more and more insane.
So it was that she eventually succumbed to the fear and paranoia her insanity bred in her mind. Dzree died, a truly contemptible wretch of a woman, all shriveled up and hag-like.
There was not one positive thing to acknowledge about the life she lead, which was marked by nothing except fear and loathing.