30 | SARGON AND THE VAMPIRES
The years after the death of Atan led into a new time of prosperity for the Beasts of the Covenant that rivaled that experienced during the line of OverKings descended from Solomon. The nations of Beasts grew stronger generation after generation and though there were frequent skirmishes with Bloodkin in the south and the Dvergar in the north, peace otherwise reigned through Europe. The Ursines sent a squadron of berserkers to aid in containing the Blood Kingdom and many of the races of Beast sent help to Midgaard, enabling them to push back the Dvergar to the old borders of Nidavellir.
One hundred and thirty‐five years after the death of Atan, Europe was shook by an event that ended the threat of the Blood Kingdom for the foreseeable future. Lord Vinga, Palatine of the Vampires and tyrant over Europe for two thousand years was slain by a mighty Taurian hunter. Sargon, he was called, and he had hunted Vinga for years. The ancient Taurian culture placed a heavy emphasis on the skills of the hunter and Sargon was among the greatest their race had ever produced. For months he probed the borders of the Blood Kingdom, always traveling alone. By making his way along mountain paths so narrow only goats tread them he made his way, undetected, to Vinga’s Starkhold Fortress. There, he scaled the walls, taking two Merihim guards by surprise on the way and slaying them before they could raise an alarm.
Once inside, he made his way down through the Starkhold and, escaping detection, descended into the catacombs underneath, searching for Vinga’s Sanctum Sanguis. Defying all odds, Sargon found it without raising an alarm, despite the need and opportunity to slay more than a few Vampire guards. The Sanctum Sanguis of the Palatine was, to Sargon’s mild surprise, simply a small cave dominated by what could only be described as a pond of blood. Rivulets of red flowed down the cave walls, feeding into the pond. Torches of bone that lit the cavern dimly were the only other features in the room.
Sargon secreted himself outside of the entrance to the Sanctum Sanguis and waited. With time, his patience was rewarded as Lord Vinga strode in, ready to refresh himself and extend his unlife yet further. It was for lesser Vampires to rot and perish with time, not the Palatine.
The Palatine Falls
Almost the Bloodkin Lord was fast enough. Almost. Sargon hurled his short hunting spear with all his might, and from such a short distance the weapon took a fraction of a second to cross the distance. In that time, Vinga had whirled and leapt to the side, almost to avoid the blow but instead taking the point deep in his side. His body would heal it in a matter of seconds, but in that moment of pain Sargon leapt forward and with a single great swing of his huge scimitar he took Vinga’s head.
Sensing that there was fresh air flowing from a tunnel that led away from the Blood Keep, the great Taurian hunter followed the scent and eventually found his way out, exiting from a cave hidden behind a waterfall. It seemed that Lord Vinga had prepared for the possible need to escape another Beast incursion into the Deadshale Plateau. From there, Sargon journeyed back to Taurania, carrying the news with him that Vinga was dead. All he met rejoiced at the news, and the Longtails he encountered on the way home joined with him.
The Taurians were a joyful people now that war had left their doorstep, and all knew that the Longtails had a great love for singing and dancing. The journey home was filled with laughter and many long nights of storytelling and roasted meats around the campfires. At the Bosporus Strait, the Longtails turned back and vowed to spread the good tidings to all the Beasts of the Covenant: Vinga was dead!
Upon Sargon’s arrival in Taurania he was greeted as a conquering hero, for the news had outpaced his leisurely trip home. Soon, he was universally elected King of the Taurians for who could doubt that the slaying of Vinga was the single greatest act of hunting in the history of the Beasts?
The Blood Kingdom in Chaos
Meanwhile, the Vampires were reeling from the death of their Palatine. None of them had ever known ought but the hand of Vinga as their ruler, for Vinga, born of the Archlich Abiel whom he slew, was the first‐created of all Vampires and all Bloodkin descended from him.
The Bloodkin split into seven Broods on the death of Vinga. Each was led by a ‘son’ of Vinga (one of the first group of eleven vampires, four of which died in the Undead War), called a Vaj. The Broods were:
• The Zapolya
• The Thokoly
• The Dallos
• The Koltai
• The Turan
• The Hunyadi
• The Rakosi
The Brood Vampires accounted for over three‐quarters of the Vampires, with the remainder made up of the lowest caste of Vampires – the Broodless – and the Merihim, who were viewed as barbaric and stupid, and shunned by all the Broods. Each of the seven Vaj claimed one of the Blood Keeps for themselves and made it their seats of power. The Blood Kingdom was now a kingdom without a king, and a much reduced threat to the Beasts, for each Vaj fancied himself the next Palatine and his Brood warred with the other Broods for dominance.
The Sargonite Dynasty
In Taurania, Sargon died an old man, having unified Taurania and strengthened it for the trials to come. The next four generations of Taurian Kings would be known as the Sargonite Dynasty, and they were perhaps the most revered time in the history of the Taurians.
Sennacherib succeeded Sargon and under his rule expanded the borders of Taurania east into the Waste, and when he died his son Kheit expanded further until Taurania extended east to the borders of Hayasa between the Black and Caspian Seas. Akkad succeeded Kheit and continued the Taurian expansion, pushing southeast and south of its eastern border south of Hayasa, and finally his son Marduk succeeded him. Marduk was a hunter with a reputation nearly as large as Sargon’s legend. He counted among his notable kills warriors of the People of the Skull, a Vampire Mage, and stranger beings from the lands far south of the Dog Soldiers of Amizeh. He had famously hunted Djinn in the deserts of the secluded and reclusive Djinn Caliphate and he had once brought down the largest wild boar anyone had ever heard of, taking a deep wound in his thigh from the crazed animal’s tusks.
Marduk the Hunter
Now he sought to outdo himself and cement his place in history by hunting and slaying a dragon single‐handedly. East he went, through the Waste and to the Dragon Empire where he crafted an elaborate trap of weights, counterweights, a pit, and crushing stones. When the great red dragon that he tracked was near, he sprung the trap. The giant wyrm fell into the huge pit Marduk had dug and the stones stunned it. Seizing the moment, Marduk leapt into the pit and, holding tightly to the fire‐spewing, writhing monster’s neck he stabbed it over and over with his short hunting sword, driving the blade between its hard protective scales until it stopped moving.
In the history of Beastdom, no one had ever slain a Dragon single‐handedly. Typically, groups of twenty or more were needed to distract and harry the huge wyrm while magic and sword were used to chip away at its strength until finally it could be taken down. Marduk roared his challenge to the world and set about the bloody business of cutting out as many bones as he could carry back to Taurania, to turn into dragon bone ash. He sought to have a dragonsteel weapon forged for him to commemorate his victory.
Once back in Taurania Marduk was hailed as a hunter on par with Sargon, and was accorded many honors as well as the favors of more than one admiring Taurian maiden. His triumph would have devastating consequences for the Taurians, however, as it seemed that Marduk had slain the offspring of one of the Dragon Princes, and while the Princes rarely cooperated to do anything but make war on another Prince, they felt that this outrage perpetrated by the Taurians must not go unpunished.
Flights of Dragons
Banding together, the Dragon Princes led their flights of dragons to Taurania where they proceeded to visit destruction upon it such as no nation in the history of Beasts had experienced before. Though the Dragon Princes began to fight with each other before they could completely destroy Taurania, they razed eastern Taurania utterly, killing every living Taurian in it that wasn’t able to flee westwards before the dragon storm. The Taurian borders were pulled far back and Marduk was cast down from power in disgrace. The Sargonite Dynasty, marking the greatest expansion of Taurania in history, had ended.