The Rise and Fall of Gaskiev Ratsuva

This is a brief biography of the rise and fall of Gaskiev Ratsuva and the House of Ratsuva as of 1140.

    The story of Gaskiev Ratsuva must start with some information about his house. The House of Ratsuva are an ancient Atrovian noble family who are mentioned very frequently in 9th and 10th Century records of the Heartland Wars. They produced many great tacticians and warriors, and they tried their hardest to pass down their abilities from generation to generation with rigorous training regimes. Much has already been written about the famous general Titchen Ratsuva who broke the siege of Torov Bay, or about the warrior-concubine Ines Malnir, a daughter of Ratsuva by birth, whose quick thinking saved her husband’s entire house from ruin.
    Within Atrovia, however, the House of Ratsuva was always overshadowed by even larger and even more powerful houses. They were not doing poorly for themselves, they were respected by their neighbors and their people, but they were frustrated by the fact that other Atrovian houses had more land, more resources, and bigger armies. To control any part of the Heartlands was a great honor, but there was very little room to expand and outcompete the houses that had already reached the greatest heights that the Confederation of Razenova had to offer.
    Gillian Ratsuva, Lady of the house in the year 1083, sold the family holdings in fertile Atrovia in order to purchase a much larger swath of land in sandy Karfor. This unexpected move was ridiculed by her former neighbors and attracted intense ire from many of the lesser members of her house. It has even been speculated that a group of her uncles and cousins plotted to have her assassinated at some point, as a number of family members were executed or exiled for unknown reasons shortly after the move to Karfor was announced. She insisted against all criticism that it was necessary for future generations of House Ratsuva to thrive.
    Despite these difficulties, Lady Gillian was generally quite popular. The servants and commonfolk of House Ratsuva believed her to be kind and generous towards them. She was also quite regal in appearance, with noble features and reddish-brown hair. There were very few challenges to her leadership from within the house after the initial purge.
    Gaskiev Ratsuva, son of Lady Gillian, was born in 1078. He lived in Atrovia for just five years prior to the move, and it is not believed that he remembered any of his time there. In Karfor, his mother attempted to immerse him in local traditions and local history, and he came to have a great fascination with the ancient Kingdom of Xhakhoro as well as their influences from the even more ancient Attrakan Kingdom. He was a wild and imaginative boy whose interests bordered on obsessions, so Lady Gillian went to great effort to find many storytellers and history books so that her son could explore his passion fully. There are even many records of her taking Gaskiev on expeditions to visit Xhakhoran ruins in some of the most hostile areas of the desert and the mountains that surround Karfor.
    As the decades went by, even the most easily disgruntled members of the House of Ratsuva began to understand Lady Gillian’s motives for moving. Karfor had great mineral wealth that was left untapped, and Lady Gillian organized extremely effective labor forces for uncovering this wealth. She was said to be kinder to her workers than most rulers of her time, visiting the mines personally and speaking to them in their native Xhakhoran tongue to ascertain their needs and wants. They were provided with better protective gear than workers at other mines and were allowed plenty of downtime so long as the most important quotas were met.
    They would build deep mine shafts reinforced with wooden supports and then light fires at the bottom. The fires would heat the mountains, at which point they would rapidly throw buckets of water down the shafts to put the fires out. This process would split the mountains and make them much easier to mine with pickaxes and shovels. They were able to mine copper, iron, and blood-red Xhakhoran rubies.
    She was able to construct a ‘battleforge’ with her mining profits, which is a concept that she borrowed from the ancient history of the region. She had many smiths and many apprentices working to produce weapons and armor and tools as fast as possible in one huge forge structure. These products were created in both traditional and Atrovian styles. The best items were held back for her own army, and the others were sold to other lords. Records indicate that a number of these lords were from Estrella, and this has been used by some in Razenova in order to accuse her of being Estrellan agent, but it is easily demonstrable that these lords were far from being her main source of her income.
    Now a financial and martial powerhouse in the region, House Ratsuva purchased even more territory from its neighbors on every border. It is notable that they did not have to pay very much for this land. Their neighbors wrote in letters sent to Atrovian lords that they felt as though they felt bullied into selling their holdings or risking a war. It is also noted by many that the neighbors in Karfor were not particularly competent or ambitious leaders, and were complacent to spend more time lounging in their manors than on ruling their lands. Their plight remained mostly ignored by the rest of Razenova.
    Lady Gillian was also frowned upon by some for flouting a harem of male concubines. She had six concubines at the harem’s peak, and dressed them in golden jewelry and flowing decorative robes that caused them to stand out at diplomatic functions. It was deeply impolite to dress concubines more regally than the visiting nobles, but she seemed to see no issue with it. She generally favored men with feminine faces and long blond hair.
    In 1100, to celebrate the turn of the century, Lady Gillian ordered the construction of a large and glorious palace in the Xhakhoran style. The monument was named Gashkev’ada Nuri, which translates from Xhakhoran as ‘The Palace of King Gaskiev’. Although her son was clearly not a king, it was a reference to other ancient palaces of the region such as Deshtiri’ada Nuri and Irunan’ada Nuri, which her son loved very much. She believed that the palace would make a wonderful gift for him while also providing an awe-inspiring seat of power for the future of House Ratsuva.
    Lady Gillian would not live to see the completion of Gashkev’ada Nuri as she passed away suddenly just one year after construction began. The cause of death was a bite on the ankle by the highly venomous kharediaq wyrm as she lay asleep in her chambers. It was normal for her to remain asleep until midday, as she often went to bed late in order to spend less of her day in the hot Karforian sun, and so her body was not discovered until around 3pm by one of her concubines. It is only possible to treat a kharediaq wyrm bite in the first couple of hours.
    Gaskiev became the new Lord of House Ratsuva, but it is said that it took an entire month of mourning before he was able to assume any of his official duties. Lord Gaskiev never stopped missing his dear mother and dedicated a large room of Gashkev’ada Nuri to relics and tapestries of her life story. He continued to house and feed her concubines, but was resentful of them, blaming them on some level for not discovering her sooner and saving her.
    Lord Gaskiev, just 22, was considered by some to be a somewhat immature leader. He was knowledgeable of how his mother had run her fiefdom successfully, and he had a great desire to improve the lives of both the rich and the poor, but he was also very easily emotional. He would shout at his advisors and launch plates and cups at his servants whenever things did not go his way. He was also still obsessed with ancient history and attempted a revival of certain aesthetics and customs that had been long gone for hundreds of years.
    He grew out his beard and braided it with rings of silver and gold, and he strongly encouraged all of the men under his command to do the same. He also abandoned the old House Ratsuva colors of red and green in favor of the ancient Attrakan colors of red and gold, although he kept the eagle sigil intact. He commissioned a number of intricately patterned golden breastplates to be worn over red gambesons by him and his army captains, and he commissioned one golden great helm in the shape of the Xhakhoran Salamander. It was rumored to be one of the most expensive helmets in the world.
    In 1104, not long into Lord Gaskiev’s rule, he was attempting to negotiate a new wave of land grabs for House Ratsuva territory when he received a letter that inspired unprecedented fury in his heart. He cast it into the fireplace before his advisors were able to read what exactly was said, but it is known that it contained numerous insults directed at the late Lady Gillian. The sender of the letter, Lord Pereven Dervish, controlled one of the neighboring towns. He believed House Ratsuva to be a family of brutes. He was still angry about the sale of territory to Lady Gillian and had been enraged by Lord Gaskiev’s attempt to purchase even more land at low cost.
    Lord Gaskiev mobilized his military within weeks and had them march into his neighbor's land and swiftly annex it. Lord Pereven, realizing he had made a mistake, requested safe passage for him and his family to leave Karfor forever. Lord Gaskiev is reported to have laughed for several minutes before denying the request and ordering his soldiers to set fire to the manor house. All of its residents were burned alive or cut down by horsemen while attempting to escape.
    While the invasion was a success, it was a political disaster for Lord Gaskiev and House Ratsuva. The other Lords of Karfor were brought together by the threat of invasion and immediately shut off negotiations for the sale of any more of their land. They created a defensive alliance and solidified it into a meaningful pact by giving each other military access and exclusive trade deals. This alliance included House Dairne, House Skair, House Rypien, and House Trithe, who were Lord Gaskiev’s close neighbors. It also included the powerful House Balr, who did not share a border with House Ratsuva, but was recently bonded by marriage to House Skair. House Nemri, the noble house of a native Karforian family to Gaskiev’s south, had a policy of remaining as neutral as possible in the conflict. Lord Gaskiev was not able to expand for quite some time.
    In 1108, Lord Gaskiev witnessed a traveling theater troupe from the southern plains. They were performing an adaptation of ‘The Lady and Her Prick’ by the famous storyteller of the 800s, Ratetska Mastruil. In the lead role was a woman named Adoria Raenil, a woman from Avosnia with expert knowledge of Mastruil’s work. He fell in love with her performance and requested that she join him in Gashkev’ada Nuri for wine and dates. They bonded while trading humorous legends and myths, and it was not long before he also fell in love with her beauty and her wit. They were married within a year, against the advice of his confidants, and she became the Lady Adoria.
    Many have claimed that Lady Adoria strongly resembled a young Lady Gillian. This claim is not supported by any of the people who actually knew them both in Karfor. It seems likely that this was a rumor started and perpetuated by Lord Gaskiev’s enemies in order to suggest that he had a kind of incestual fascination with his mother. Despite his other flaws, this rumor does not seem to have any truth to it.
    They had a huge wedding in the Xhakhoran style where they paraded through the streets in exquisite sequined robes as people sang bawdy songs of love and marriage. Fruits and alcohol flowed freely for all to enjoy, and the town was rife with celebration for an entire week. Foreign tourists from Estrella who were not aware of the wedding believed they were witnessing some kind of collective madness.
    It became apparent after a few years that Lord Gaskiev needed an heir, but that Lady Adoria was not able to have any children. While this tested their relationship somewhat, as it is important for a ruler to have a suitable heir, the use of surrogates was agreed upon so long as Lady Adoria was still able to participate in the conception. They had three children over the years, all sons.
    Their first son, Bariha, was born to a Karforian woman in 1113 and named after an ancient king whom Lord Gaskiev greatly admired. He had tanned skin, dark hair, and was loved by the local populace whom he resembled. As the heir apparent, he spent much of his youth studying and training with various teachers hired to mold him into a successful ruler. His schedule was busy and he spent most of his time with his teachers.
    Their second son, Oricus, was born to an Avosnian woman in 1114 and named after a poet from the region. He had light brown hair and green eyes. It was said that he was the secret favorite of Lady Adoria and that she would read him to sleep every night. She even coached him in the creation of a number of stories that were quite well-received. Unfortunately, very few of these stories still survive.
    The third son, Merevin, came much later than the others. He was born to a woman of Estrellan descent in 1123. He had blond hair and fair skin. Mereven seems to have been disliked by Lady Adoria, for he had been fathered without her knowledge or consent, and he was a temperamental and difficult child. She considered him to be less of a son to her, and he received less of her attention.
    Lord Gaskiev found a new major source of income in the late 1110s when Karforian spices went through a surge in popularity in Estrella. Cities in Wesland and Middle Estrella found a friend in the Lord as he produced and exported large quantities of expensive spice for the nobility. The land captured from Lord Pereven was invaluable for this effort.
    Some trade with Estrella by the Razenovan nobility near the border has always been tolerated, but it is less tolerated when the perpetrators are already unpopular. Lord Gaskiev’s neighbors spread the word of his trade with Estrella in an attempt to damage his reputation. They exaggerated it as much as they could, claiming that he had perhaps two or three times as many ships coming and going as he really did.
    His land prospered and his people saw a good portion of the benefits, even in the fringes of his territory. You were never far from a well-stocked granary and it was rare to see anyone who looked malnourished. Many commoners even had access to relatively expensive clothing and jewelry, partially due to Lord Gaskiev’s push to revive traditional Xhakhoran aesthetics.
    Most jewelry coming from Lord Gaskiev’s land was made of bronze, created with Karforian copper combined with imported Estrellan tin from Wesland. Wealthier citizens would have red orichalcum or gold leaf adhered to their jewelry atop a base of bronze. Notably little silver was worn, despite its popularity in the rest of Eitador.
    Lord Gaskiev and the Karforian lords who were allied against him would send each other bitter letters full of insults. It appears as though they were perhaps both trying to goad the other party into attacking first. There were enough formal letters in which Lord Gaskiev was referred to without his honorific or with his name spelled wrong that many third parties to the conflict were confused, or replicated the mistakes unknowingly. When it reached a boiling point and finally affected the Lord enough for him to call out their misnaming ‘pathetic and childish’, they sent a mocking letter of apology to him through House Balr in which he was referred to as ‘King Gaskiev’.
    Reports from those who lived and worked in Gashkev’ada Nuri show that Lady Adoria prevented war several times. For example, he flew into an incredible rage when his neighbors began subsidizing the creation of a new battleforge in another part of Xhakhoro for the specific purpose of being able to undercut his trade with cheap weapons and armor. He lost several clients who thought it better not to be associated with him. Lady Adoria was the only person who could calm him down in these vital moments. She soothed him with a soft voice and reminded him that his land was the most vast and powerful in all of Karfor.
    The feud also affected the mindsets of the citizenry and the soldiers, who often got into fights when they traveled to places with unfavorable mindsets towards Lord Gaskiev. There were at least two incidents where merchants from neighboring towns, who were permitted to travel and trade in House Ratsuva territory, were assaulted in the market square. They were defensive about their Lord while others called him a tyrant.
    The most major of this type of incident, however, occurred on the border and between two groups of soldiers. Some low-ranking House Dairne soldiers got drunk and crossed over from the neighboring side after exchanging insults with those manning a House Ratsuva watchtower earlier in the day. Insults escalated into fist-fighting, and fist-fighting turned into swords drawn. Two House Ratsuva soldiers and three House Dairne soldiers were killed. This could have easily resulted in war, but both sides punished the soldiers who took part in the fighting and accepted the incident as settled.
    The peace could not last forever though, and war finally broke out in 1129 when the alliance started blocking his spice ships from reaching Estrella. It seems as though they intentionally timed this move to coincide with a new wave of anti-Estrellan sentiment throughout Razenova following a particularly bloody battle in the southern plains. Estrella claimed that they were simply retaliating against the Razenovan raiding party ‘Malkyr’s Banner’, but also burnt many villages and killed many peasants who were entirely unrelated to the group. Spice had become one of his primary sources of income, but no one sympathized with Lord Gaskiev’s trade troubles and his hand was forced. He used his navy to sink the blockade and started a war in the process.
    The alliance sent very small raiding parties into Gaskiev’s land from House Dairne in an attempt to encourage him to cross the border. He knew, however, that a large army would already be waiting for him. Instead, he fought off the raids while sending the bulk of his army to occupy a path through the weak and neutral House Nemri. By sending his soldiers through neutral territory first then he was able to attack from an unexpected direction and stack the odds in his favor. He surrounded the army of House Trithe and destroyed them in what was a devastating victory. He then moved through their border with House Rypien and laid siege to Castle Calheume.
    Lord Gaskiev had expected the siege to only last a few months, but his intelligence was wrong. He was forced to break the siege when a large army entered his land through the territory that used to belong to House Dervish and his defenses in the region were no longer enough. He kept them out of the towns but lost many villages and fields in the process. A new and bitter stalemate was entered.
    In the next couple of years, Lord Gaskiev struggled to keep his people as well-fed as they had been before. He had a larger population, fewer fields, and the popularity of Xhakhoran spice was waning in Estrella due to food shortages caused by recent flooding there. His neighbors were not blocking his ships, but they were directing trade caravans away from his land. He eventually released his House Trithe captives in exchange for a paltry lump sum of gold that was spent primarily on importing grain through his docks.
    He kept control of House Nemri and House Trithe land, but it proved a burden, as it was all too desertified to grow enough food for itself. They had been relying on cheap imports from land unfriendly to Lord Gaskiev. He had to put down numerous riots and uprisings by people who were used to a somewhat better standard of living under the previous rulers.
    Tensions died down for a little while, but Lord Gaskiev decided in 1133 that he was facing a choice between destroying his enemies or fading into irrelevance. Peace talks were held in which he almost returned conquered land in exchange for trade agreements that would guarantee his people a basic level of food and safety. Lady Adoria encouraged him to try and co-exist with his neighbors and reminded him of the importance of protecting their children. Unfortunately, Lord Gaskiev hated to lose and wanted to have a legacy like that of the conquering kings of ancient Xhakhoro and Attraka. He knew that he no longer made enough through spice or the battleforge to reach the heights he had previously reached. Opting for peace would be admitting that he had already peaked.
    Fighting broke out yet again. Lord Gaskiev re-entered the land of House Rypien and once more laid siege to Castle Calheume. The centerpiece of his siege equipment was a huge trebuchet called Eagle Claw that he had prepared in advance under top-secret conditions before transporting the parts to the castle for assembly. The construction of this terrible instrument of destruction demoralized his enemy and inspired their surrender within days. In total, the siege lasted just a few months.
    After looting Castle Calheune’s rich vaults, Lord Gaskiev was able to use the funds to hire deadly Shahir mercenaries from the other side of the mountains. He drowned them in coins and promised them an opportunity of a lifetime, permitting them to wreak whatever havoc they wanted as total victory was achieved. Lady Adoria was quite upset by this and even began sleeping in separate chambers, but she remained loyal to her husband despite this.
    Lord Gaskiev was then engaged on two separate fronts, one with House Dairne and one with House Skair. He knew that the mighty armies of House Balr, bonded with House Skair, would be the real threat. Accordingly, he focused in House Skair on encircling armies and positions where he believed he may be able to capture key prisoners, while he engaged in more traditional warfare against House Dairne. He also tried to anticipate the routes that House Balr would take and how many soldiers they would have.
    Although his predictions were accurate and he intercepted the armies of House Balr to initial success, he learned that the alliance against him was much larger than previous intelligence had suggested. House Balr did not come alone but was joined within a couple of hours by a much larger force containing soldiers from several houses from further afield. House Balr had negotiated with their friends behind closed doors in order to grow the alliance. Several generals and elite units from the Atrovian great houses were also present. He was forced to retreat temporarily.
    The alliance quickly cut through Lord Gaskiev’s fringe territories, entered his heartland, and burned and pillaged the villages there. They then fell back to defensible locations to plan their next move. House Ratsuva was penned in and in dire straits.
    Estrella believed that it would be too much of an escalation of their problems with Razenova to help Lord Gaskiev by sending soldiers, even though the Atrovian great houses were expecting and sometimes even hoping that they would. Instead, Estrella agreed after much persuading by Lord Gaskiev to provide him with food and loans that would result in discounted spice costs after the fighting was over. Estrella believed that Lord Gaskiev would most likely lose the war, but they also acknowledged that he was a talented leader and tactician who at least had a chance of victory. Even if it was a pyrrhic victory, they thought, he could continue to be useful to them.
    Lord Gaskiev was convinced that he could still come out on top. He divided his army up and shuffled around the captains and generals based on the strengths he had seen in them in the previous battles. The rearrangement was quick and effective. He worked out a plan to cut through the enemy lines at specific and unexpected points with organizations of soldiers that they had not seen before. He also built a huge camp in sight of the enemy that was capable of housing many more soldiers than it actually did. He had them light large numbers of torches at night to deceive the enemy about the size of his army.
    Bahira, Lord Gaskiev’s heir, led a major force of soldiers during the counter-attack of 1135. He wore one of the famous golden breastplates commissioned by his father a few decades prior. The Lord was excited for his son to join the fight as a leader because Bahira was now 22, the same age that he had been when he had assumed the lordship. His enthusiasm bled over into his son and his army, who were confident and in good spirits as they marched out through a desert valley to get into position to devastate the alliance.
    Bahira’s expedition was not expecting to run into trouble as soon as they did. Their foes knew that they were coming, what way they were coming, and who they were bringing. They sprung out from behind rocks and, according to one account, had some soldiers half-buried in the sand. This surprise attack was followed up with a flanking force to prevent retreat.
    Although Bahira had some of the best people in Lord Gaskiev’s army by his side, the sudden fighting threw them off-guard and into disarray. He was unable to reclaim control of his soldiers or provide any orders that were heard at battle scale. The fight was not quick, but Bahira was eventually thrown from his horse and instantly killed by the impact. The ambushers mutilated his body and paraded it around with their army after the victory.
    House Ratsuva had been betrayed by a former concubine of Lady Gillian known as Malik. He had listened in on conversations in Gashkev’ada Nuri and had studied the maps in the war room there. It is now known that he sent letters to the House Balr in exchange for the promise of great riches and then evacuated the palace during the dead of night. His disappearance was noticed, confirming his guilt, but the palace horsemen were not able to find him. It is rumored that he eventually settled down on a homestead somewhere in the north.
    Born in Atrovia, Malik was a very handsome young man when he met Lady Gillian, but the ravages of time and the harsh Karforian sun took their toll on him. With very little to do in the years following the Lady’s passing, living in the palace only through Lord Gaskiev’s respect for her, Malik was forced to confront his declining beauty and relevance as he became more and more bitter. He seemed to despise the Ratsuvan children, jealous of the attention they received for their good looks.
    Bahira was dead, and Lord Gaskiev was distraught at a critical moment. He sobbed furiously and refused to take guests out of a fear of showing weakness. He also gave fewer orders and put less thought into them, prompting his advisors and relatives to take over many of his duties. They did their best but were unprepared for the massive task of commanding his army.
    Although it was difficult for them, the counter-attack was successfully repelled by the alliance. They pushed forward and reclaimed almost all of the territory that Lord Gaskiev had conquered from them before. His army dwindled, several units deserted, and the rest fell back to the heartlands. The palace became an awfully quiet place where dread lingered in every person’s heart.
    Lady Adoria knew that the battle was lost. She pleaded with her husband to attempt a conditional surrender that would allow them to keep their palace and the surrounding town, to protect their citizens, or to at least let them escape to her relatives in Avosnia, but he was too prideful. He did, however, accept that she would leave with his two surviving sons and travel south so that they could seek refuge in Estrella before the palace fell.
    This caravan was ill-fated as it was quickly set upon in former House Nemri territory by disgruntled ex-soldiers who were looking to make a profit by robbing them and taking them as captives. As they attacked the carriage guards, however, Oricus jumped out with a Xhakhoran sling blade and slew one of the bandits. Although he caused enough of a commotion that the driver was able to ride off with Merevin and Lady Adoria unharmed, he was stabbed several times and left to bleed out on the road. The Lady screamed at the driver to stop the carriage, but he knew better than to listen.
    Lady Adoria and the then 14 year old Merevin were allowed to enter Estrella and remain there for a short while. There’s even the possibility that they briefly met with King Ivraen II at a party in the luxurious coastal city of Meridore. They were cared for, but not respected, for they no longer had much money or status behind them.
    Eventually, they were forced to travel east and return to Razenova, crossing the border into East Avosnia. Lady Adoria took Merevin to her cousin’s house where she forced him against his wishes to take on the name Merevin Raenil. She then entered a deep depression where she stopped eating almost entirely. The record of their story ends there.
    In 1138, soldiers stormed Gashkev’ada Nuri and fought their way through the palace. Lord Gaskiev was found in the room that he had dedicated to his mother when he first became the Lord of House Ratsuva. He put up a good fight, killing three men before being disarmed and captured. Soldiers tore the room apart while he watched, destroying all of the artwork of his family and stealing anything of value. He solemnly accepted his fate and no longer screamed or cried as he watched the fall of his house.
    Lord Gaskiev was imprisoned beneath one of the smaller guard barracks so that it was easier to keep his location a secret from his former citizens and soldiers. They cut his beard, took his clothes, and threw him into darkness. For a month he subsisted on small amounts of bread and water and was denied any kind of social interaction outside of the occasional insult cast at him by his jailers.
    Originally, the plan was to try and get a distant relative or sympathizer to pay his ransom. He would have been allowed to go free and live out a relatively peaceful life in another part of Eitador. They even sent letters to Estrella about him but received no response. Instead, he was paid a visit by Luri Dervish.
    Luri was the cousin of the late Lord Pereven Dervish, and harbored a great hatred of Lord Gaskiev for the massacre of their relatives. It had been agreed by the Pact that it was righteous for Luri to be allowed to see him in his suffering and explain the terms of the ransom to him. The jailers were even happy to turn a blind eye to Luri as they assaulted the man’s frail body in his cell. Whether Luri planned for it or not, the beating was enough to murder him. Lord Gaskiev had been 60 years old at the time. He was hastily buried in an unmarked grave as soon as his death was noticed.
    Gashkev’ada Nuri was almost completely dismantled by the invading army, and locals used the remaining bricks of the palace to rebuild their houses and granaries. Even without their intervention, it was high maintenance architecture that would not have survived being left empty for too long. Within just a few years, the area was being used for new building projects and nothing of the palace remained.
    House Ratsuva’s territory was divided up between the various houses of the invading force as well as their relatives and helpers, leading to a much more fragmented Karfor. House Trithe and Rypien were restored to their previous seats of power, but House Nemri was left to die. Houses who assisted from further afield received the bulk of House Ratsuva’s gold and its heirlooms. Gaskiev’s salamander helmet and sword are now displayed prominently in the luxurious manor house of Lord Pyke in Atrovia, where Luri Dervish serves as a consul. Several of the golden breastplates remain unaccounted for as of the writing of this record.
    Lord Gaskiev’s story reminds us of the complicated nature of leadership. While one may make good decisions and appear powerful in the moment, authority is a fragile and fickle thing. No ruler can live forever, and no great house can remain at its peak indefinitely. The tides of change will always bring new and unexpected challenges that must be carefully juggled in order to avert disaster.

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