In the centuries before the undead Council of Ghulstadt came to power, the Great Houses ruled. House Glomvar (which would one day count Reinhard and Richter among them) was one of many such clans – sometimes torn by war, occasionally united by destiny, but always fiercely independent.
The rise of the sand-magi of the Harakite Dominion sent shockwaves throughout Skyrealm, and the Great Houses understood that an empire that mysterious, and that powerful, could not be permitted to reign unchallenged. House Glomvar rallied the young nation with promises of glory and riches.
And so the Houses marched to war.
Their palaces still stand, and the spoils of war still gleam – in the golden halls of Ison, Vaust, and Marek; in the silver citadels of Salusa, Kerrol, and Rubolg; and even in the cold, grey manor of the House of Glomvar, whose vanguard swordmasters fell by the hundreds in the Battle of the Hive.
Yet for reasons lost to history, those few members of House Glomvar that returned were branded as deserters… and worse, that they had been tainted by the Dominion’s dark magic. Still, the Great Houses triumphed, and the last of the Haraka simply vanished into the sand.
Overcome by suspicion and emboldened by victory, the Great Houses turned on the Glomvarian dynasty, and a new age of kings began as each House fought to take its place.
For all it had sacrificed over the centuries, and as often as it proved its strength against its rivals, House Glomvar never returned to the position of power and honor it held before the war with the Haraka. Resentment and pride grew in the shadow of frustrated ambition as each passing generation was raised to believe that their time had come again.
Yet the people grew weary of perpetual war, and spoke in hopeful whispers that the Council, a revolutionary group that convened in secret, could break the cycle of bloodshed for good.
Richter and Reinhard understood that the Council was simply another means to keep them from their birthright, to reinforce the ancient lie that robbed their House of honor.
The twin princes carried a new message to the people – that the Council could not be trusted, and that strength, not shadow, was the true measure of a leader. Under the leadership of their father, the true king, the Glomvaria of old would rise again.
And so the princes marched to war.
Although Reinhard and Richter inspired many to take up arms, neither diplomacy nor violence could convince the people to give up the Council’s secrets. Their efforts frustrated at every turn the princes – perhaps inevitably – turned on each other.
At last, it was time. Refusing to take responsibility for further bloodshed, the Council emerged to cheering crowds in the halls of each Great House.
Ison, Vaust, Marek, Salusa, Kerrol, and Rubolg spoke to their subjects in long-forgotten tongues, their cloaks thrown back to reveal the fleshless skulls that had unlocked the key to immortality, and the secret to eternal peace.
And as the liches of the Council unleashed the spell they had labored for centuries to perfect, the people cheered – for they were free.
Delivered from Glomvar’s tyranny at last, the Thanatocracy of Ghulstadt would endure forever.
The princes found their armies had transformed, not only in body but in mind. Whether putrefied into zombies or raised from the grave to join the Skeleton Guard, the strange joy of the Council’s magics gave them the peace they had never found in life. Menaced by the liberated and functionally immortal citizens of Ghulstadt, the princes fled – Reinhard to the Nexan Republic to find support against this nation of undeath, and Richter to the countryside to atone for his crimes in endless battle against those he meant to rule.
But it would be years before these misguided warriors could truly be called Heroes of Skyrealm.