Sunday, August 18, 2019

Rulers of Ull: Kuchakar the Dragon Slayer

Welcome esteemed seekers of Greyhawk knowledge. Delleb knows that I am the authority on all things concerning the inconsequential land of Ull. Occasionally I break out some new material on this lawless frontier, or expand on something I started years ago. That said, I'm featuring a new column titled Rulers of Ull, where I reveal some new-found lore about the many Orakhans of Ull over the centuries. Some are vile, some are useless, but a few are quite epic. Today I'm starting on the heroic end with the mightiest and most famous ruler in Ull history:

Kuchakar "The Dragon Slayer" 
Orakhan of Ull from 3144-3171 BH (485-512 CY)
(N male human ranger 15)

Kuchakar lived near the end of an era of heroism and bravery not seen in Ull since its founding out of the ashes of the Invoked Devastation. Many Uli rightly claim Kuchakar's story is also that of Ulzhun the Victorious. Unlike the famed Orakhan, Kuchakar neither came from the family of a great khanate, nor did he ever lead a feared warband. Baklunish scholars attribute Kuchakar's improbable ascent to the fate of Istus, yet his own descendants profess the strength and wisdom of their ancestors was with Kuchakar on the day he slew the blue dragon, Fusarkalon.

Raids by the dragon effectively cut off trade at the crossroads of Ull and the Dry Steppes, much to the ire of Ulzhun the Victorious, who famously had never been defeated by man or beast. In 483 CY, Ulzhun was pushed to action by the khanate council, and so gathered his personal guard along with a cadre of the best trackers in Ull to assail the lair of Fusarkalon. Among these rangers was Kuchakar, the son of a humble Uli far-rider of the northern plains. By his twenty-fifth winter, Kuchakar was an accomplished rider, huntsman and mountaineer. He had traveled beyond the borders of Ull as well; trading with giant-kin of the mountains, wandering the markets of the north and even witnessing the blinding desolation of the Sea of Dust.

The rangers of Ull had already been searching for Fusarkalon's lair for months, thus they were familiar with many of the mirages and tricks protecting its territory. Since there was no way of knowing if the creature would be in his lair upon their arrival, the Orakhan reluctantly went with Kuchakar's own plan of deception rather than a direct assault. Using a train of pack horses and camels moving away from the hills as bait, the dragon was eventually lured out of its lair and pursued by Ulzhun's mounted lancers, while Kuchakar carefully led the ruler, his sons and the remaining scouts into the revealed entrance on foot. Kuchakar and the rangers planned to lay an ambush in Fusarkalon's own lair, hoping at best the lancers could wound the dragon and force it to return for them to finish off. Ralishaz's misfortune found them first however, as it became apparent when they stumbled upon a treasure-filled cavern, that the dragon outside was not Fusarkalon at all, it was his mate, Kilberenden. 

Fusarkalon the Quick and the terrifying Kilberenden Sand-Twister arrived in the southern foothills of the Ulsprue range some time before 480 CY. Sages speculate Kilberenden was spawned shortly before the Twin Cataclysms and roamed the far-western steppes until she came upon ruins beyond the Sulhaut Mountains. There she met Fusarkalon, whose origin is buried beneath the Sea of Dust with the bones of many ancient wyrms from the era of the Suloise Imperium. From that point on, the pair of blue dragons flew northward where they began to harry nomads and caravans going from Lake Udrukankar to the Kester Escarpment. As they only hunted alone and left few survivors, no one knew it was a pair of dragons that now laired in the vicinity of Ull.

The Death of Fusarkalon is a story that Kuchakar actually loathed to tell and he humbly insisted till his dying day that Ulzhun shared the victory. The initial encounter was a blur. Known as the Quick, the dragon ambushed with illusions, a flash of thunderous lightning and slashing claws until all the rangers and both of the Orakhan's sons were fast slain. Lastly, Ulzhun the Victorious faced Fusarkalon alone with his sword-arm charred and useless, indeed he would have perished if not saved by his cherished adamantine shield. Feeling confident, the dragon toyed with the crippled warrior and tore the shield from his arm as he pinned him under a talon. What words Fusarkalon shared with Ulzhun is lost to time, but it bought Kuchakar time to recover. The stunned ranger had by chance, acquired a shirt of fine chainmail in far-off Zeif years ago, never once realizing its arcane protections against electricity until that very instant. Gathering up the shield of Ulzhun, Kuchakar impaled the dragon's eye with his broad spear. Taking up Ulzhun's scimitar next, he beheaded the writhing wyrm as it wildly breathed crackling energy all about them.

Surveying the carnage and the glittering wealth at his feet, Kuchakar picked up the unconscious Orakhan and carried him into another chamber, hoping to find another way out. Here at the back end of the caverns he found the egg-clutch of Kilberenden half buried in a dune of sand. Weary but undaunted, Kuchakar wisely stopped to destroy the dragon eggs, only to be alerted by the frenzied roar of the female's return. Unscathed, Kilberenden had repelled the lancers and slew everything that moved in the diversion. Kuchakar hastily buried Ulzhun and himself in the dune using the shield and waited with sword in hand. When Kilberenden discovered her mate slain, she began to angrily tear at bodies and stone, that is until she finally saw her eggs and the discarded shield of Ulzhun. Kilberenden Sand-Twister was driven to madness. She vowed revenge on the ruler of the gold blazoned shield before twisting and lashing out of the lair forever. Some say Kilberenden turned bestial from that point forward, never again speaking intelligibly. She has yet to return to Ull for her sworn vengeance. 

Kuchakar bore Ulzhun back to Ulakand and the entire way, was hailed a hero, the khanates naming him the Dragon Slayer. Kuchakar became so revered in Ull that every khan, warlord and pit-master in the realm bowed in his presence. It is said even the ogres of the Ulsprues laid out tribute on the golden trail for the dragon slayer. Ulzhun and Kuchakar formed an inseparable bond and divided the recovered treasures of two dragons between them, affording them both a lavish lifestyle unknown to many in Ull. Despite it all though, Ulzhun would rule Ull only two more years. Disheartened by his permanent injury and the deaths of his heirs, Ulzhun the Victorious chose Kuchakar to replace him as Orakhan, and with no objections he departed Ull on his Final Ride. 

Kuchakar the Dragon Slayer would go on to rule Ull for twenty-seven years. Though his legend is defined by one dragon, his adventures in defense of Ull were many. Any bard in Kester or Ulakand can regale stories of Kuchakar in the Taming of the Silver Chimera, or the Sundering of the Blighted  Scorpion and even the futile Hunt for Kilberenden the Sand-Twister. As his adventures waned with age, Kuchakar gave up his title to the khanate council, like Ulzhun before him, and with the last of his wealth took his family north. Why Kuchakar chose to leave Ull behind may never be known for sure, but his descendants are sure it was fanciful tales of dragons hiding on magic-shrouded isles in the Dramidj Ocean.

If you don't want to wait for me to write more, you can find all the rulers of Ull listed in Oerth Journal #19 in the article Ull over at Greyhawk Online. Check it out.


Thomas Kelly said...

This was terrific. Really fantastic. Can't wait to see your illustrated version.

Mike Bridges said...

*facepalm* Thanks Thomas lol