The story of Tahir Bashara of House Akhuset begins many centuries before his birth, as it is inextricably tied to that of Rashid Shabaz, the Mad Sorcerer of House Anixis.
Long before the Cataclysm, four black crystal spires fell from the sky, and forever changed the destiny of the people of U’Duasha (and indeed, all of Iruvia). The Demon Princes imprisoned within the spires began to whisper to the people, and there rose up four great Houses, each dedicated to one of the Demon Princes:
- House Anixis was dedicated to Ixis, the Demon Prince of Shadows and Secrets. The symbol of House Anixis is a scarab, for the beetle scuttles in the dust and hides in dark corners, listening to all.
- House Ankhayat was dedicated to Khayat, the Demon Prince of Wisdom and War. The symbol of House Ankhayat is a snake, for it is said that the serpent possesses all the knowledge of the world behind its eyes, but the price of such wisdom can be deadly.
- House Ankhuset was dedicated to Khuset, the Demon Prince of Justice and Truth. The symbol of House Ankhuset is a falcon, flying high over the world and bearing witness to all of man’s deeds.
- House Anserekh was dedicated to Serekh, the Demon Prince of Strength and Building. The symbol of House Anserekh is a bull, which Serekh used to raise up the mountains and dig the mighty trenches that became the seas.
700 years ago, Rashid Shabaz of House Anixis was the Grand Vizier to Sultan Hassan II. By all accounts a man of noble bearing and surpassing intellect, he nevertheless fell prey to the will of Ixis, whispering in his ear as he worked. Rashid began to formulate a plan to free his master, by enacting an elaborate ritual. To focus the arcane energy required for the ritual, Rashid chose a bronze scarab seal that had been created for use on official court documents, transforming it into an arcane artifact of immense power.
Rashid’s goal would not be realized within his lifetime, partly because the ritual required a particular alignment of stars that the court astronomers had determined would not occur for several centuries, but mostly notably because Rashid himself was killed while resisting arrest when the I’Yalim came to summon him before the court of the Sultan to stand trial for crimes against man and nature. Officially, House Anixis would condemn Rashid’s actions to distance themselves from the scandal, but in secret, his descendants would continue to follow his instructions to ensure that everything was in place at the proper time to enact the ritual.
Approximately three centuries after Rashid’s death, Prince Tahir Bashara of House Ankhuset was the victim of unfortunate circumstance. On the night before his wedding, his bride-to-be was bitten by a deadly spider, and fell into a deep swoon. Within three days, she was dead from the spider’s bite. In his grief, Tahir entreated the Demon Princes to aid him in returning her to life. Only Ixis would answer his cries. He began to whisper to Tahir, giving him instructions and promising him all that he desired and more.
At first, it began with small, insignificant things. Go to the square and give three copper coins to a blind beggar. Travel to the highest point in the city and place a clay jug on the edge of a wall. However, before long the commands of the Demon Prince led him to enter the Tower of Stars and infiltrate the highly guarded storage room where Rashid’s artifact was kept after the I’Yalim wrested it from his dead hands. He retrieved the artifact, which had been stored in a pewter box of little decoration, and removed it from the Tower of Stars, bringing it to the house of healing where his bride had been brought before she finally succumbed to the spider’s venom. At the prompting of Ixis, he opened the box.
The attendant healers report that the moment Tahir reached into the box and touched the scarab, he was struck down, as with a bolt of lightning. It is possible that he was simply struck dead, but at least one account maintains that his soul was ripped free of his body and was trapped inside the artifact.
It is unknown if Rashid’s descendants were ever successful in enacting the ritual, but it should be noted that several decades ago, the spire located on the northwestern edge of the district of Sukru’At was cracked and broken, and rumors abound that Ixis roams the world free, whispering of His Design to those who would hear His voice and obey.# dontmesswiththedolls