Meet the Cast: Parthir

Parthir is an Alanai chieftain and corsair captain. Originally from Raduthon, he later established himself as a renowned pirate warlord in the port of Urundair. He is captain of the Névasayn and his crew were the only Alanai to attend the Tournament of Oron Amular.

Parthir is short of stature and slight of build, but he possesses a sinewy strength that belies his size. He is languid and graceful in his movements. He has an aquiline face with high cheekbones, a sharp nose and olivine skin. His smouldering dark eyes are often his most striking feature, for he regularly hides the lower part of his face behind a silken mask, after the fashion of Raduthite nobility. In other respects his clothing is flamboyant and colourful, like the Wave-Lords of Urundair, all flowing silk, gaudy colours and large sea-boots. He carries about his person many throwing knives, which he uses at the slightest provocation, but he also fights with a cutlass. He has real poise in his bearing, but also snake-like speed in attack.

Parthir was born into the nobility of Raduthon, northernmost of the great city-states of Lurallan. It is a place of high culture and commerce, ruled by a merchant elite. Sitting at the southern end of the Great North Road and along the banks of the River Souble, Raduthon is well placed to control the lion’s share of the trade that passes overland between the Alanai and the armists of Maristonia. Of all the Alanai cities, it is the most refined and the one in closest contact with Maristonia (in periods of calm, that is, between the intermittent raiding that never wholly ceases). Parthir’s family grew wealthy on the trade that flowed down the Souble from the mountain passes of Jarawick, principally slaves from the interior, but also rare minerals, spices and balms.

At a young age, Parthir was sent to the mountain passes to oversee the trade with the men of Arthon and Jasperes, two of the most powerful of the city-states in the interior. In a business deal that went wrong, he slew many members of an Arthite trading caravan. When a large war-band from Arthon came to the gates of Raduthon seeking redress, Parthir was disowned by his family and fled rather than face brutal justice. Stealing his first ship, he sailed down the Souble and the Orbar to Marble Bay, and then on down the coast, south to Urundair. There he took quickly to a life of piracy, gaining a fearsome reputation in Marble Bay and along the coast of Mastred Peninsula. He became one of the Wave-Lords (Undaeri) of Urundair, a great pirate chieftain with a small fleet of ships, devoted followers and a rich mansion. He also built for himself a secret hideaway, a sea-cave in a narrow cove on Dairas Head, whose entrance could be cunningly concealed, but which was big enough to shelter several ocean-going ships.

He spent the 430s preying upon armist shipping and the vessels of other Alanai, which embroiled him in many bitter feuds in the shifting alliances and partnerships of Urundai politics. When he made too many enemies, he rescued his situation by agreeing to join some of his biggest rivals in a massive attack on Caulrir, the other great corsair port, and an adversary of Urundair. The atrocities committed in that attack became infamous throughout Lurallan, and wounded Parthir’s soul. For the first time he realised there was a real distinction between himself and the other Undaeri, who killed for pleasure and delighted in mindless cruelty. His condemnation of the atrocities earned him the enmity of his fellow Wave-Lords and he became an outlaw.

On his voyage back to Urundair he seized the ship of a rival captain and in the process met a female armist, who was among the captives. Beautiful and devout, she went into exile with him, and taught him much about Prélan, which was the start of a lifelong fascination for Parthir about this elvish God. He seriously doubted his own chances of redemption, but would spend long evenings in his cave on Dairas Head, listening to all that she could tell, dubious yet intrigued. Tragedy struck, however, when his enemies discovered his secret hide-out, and came in force to destroy it. Parthir escaped, but his ministering angel was lost, diving into the sea to avoid recapture. Heartbroken, Parthir sailed away in his only remaining ship, Névasayn, a sleek predatory barque.

The years that followed were a time of exile for Parthir. He found refuge on Swordhilt Peninsula, where he eked out a living among the Rincenai, the barbarians who lived on Maristonia’s eastern frontier, hiring himself out as a mercenary captain to rival chieftains. In the course of this he launched attacks on armist shipping in Dagger’s Cove and along Carinen Peninsula, which brought him much booty and success. However, on one such raid he was wounded and forced to seek help inland. Stealing up the River Staedion and then cutting across the fens, he came to the Abbey of Elubun. There he was shown mercy and given healing, and also had the opportunity to learn more about Prélan. He became increasingly curious about the God of the elves and his allegiance to the various pagan deities of Urundair, serpent, fire, scorpion and shark gods, weakened still further.

The influence of the Abbot of Elubun led him to leave his mercenary lifestyle on Swordhilt Peninsula, whereupon he returned to Urundair. He took service with Dundroven, who at that time was the most powerful Wave-Lord. Under his protection, he was safe from the retribution of old enemies and began to win fresh reputation, though now holding himself to a higher moral code than in former days. It was also at this time that the dark power of Urunmar in the far north began making overtures to the Alanai, sending emissaries to Urundair and other cities to stir up their hatred of Maristonia. Many Wave-Lords were undecided, but to Parthir’s secret dismay, Dundroven enthusiastically took up the cause of Kurundar the Arch-Sorcerer.

At that time Parthir’s fate took a very strange twist. In the year 443 he began receiving strange dreams about Oron Amular, a place of great power in distant elven lands. Eventually, his dreams brought him a magical invitation from Kulothiel himself. Following an irresistible compulsion, and against the wishes of his devoted crew, Parthir decided to answer the summons, and set sail for the hostile coast of Kalimar. Guided by his visions, he found the mouth of the Amulir, where he met a Wood-elven lord who had the responsibility of guarding the river-mouth. This elf had also received dreams, this time from Prélan, bidding him let the pirate pass unaccosted.

Parthir sailed up the enchanted river, only to be stopped again, this time under the eaves of the forest of Therenmar, where a great river-gate of living trees guarded the entrance to the Wood-elven kingdom. It took all Kulothiel’s arts to persuade King Therendir to let the Alanai pass, and Parthir and his crew were taken upstream in elven boats, blind-folded and heavily guarded. They were set free outside the forest and told to follow the river to its roots in Oron Amular, and thus Parthir came to the Mountain, though the latter part of his journey was made under constant covert surveillance by Firnai hunters. The visit to Oron Amular would change Parthir’s life forever. It was a very different corsair who sailed back to Urundair, mind awakened to new realities, new connections, and new possibilities. What he brought home with him, and the relationships he had forged, would ensnare him thoroughly in the doom of the world and the great events that would soon follow.

***

Subscribe to World of Astrom on Patreon to read more about Parthir, and what happened to him after he came home from Oron Amular.

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Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

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