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The Secret History of Sun County: In the beginning... (1490-1567)
This story begins, as so many do, with a feud between two of the clans of what was to become the kingdom of Sartar. For generations, the Red Fox clan had competed with the Karandoli for leadership of the Colymar. In 1490 their leader Venharl managed to drive most of the Karandoli out of Sartar, and, unknown to him, to the newly founded "City of Thieves" outside the walls of Old Pavis. However, a few of the Karandoli stayed in Sartar, and took revenge on the Red Fox clan. For years the Red Fox appeared to be under a curse, and many fled the area to escape it. Finally a clan ceremony was ambushed, and the remains of the clan were slain. Those few who had escaped were now known derisively as the "Running" Fox clan.
But the Red Fox had been friendly with the Royal House of Sartar for some time, and this friendship continued. Monrogh, the grandson of Venharl, was one of the companions of the young Tarkalor during his adventures in Teshnos. While Tarkalor took a great interest in the exotic animals of the east, Monrogh took note of the religions there, and learnt much of the ways of sun worship. On their way home in 1537, the party passed through Sun County, which was at that time "ruled" by a series of kin-slaying brothers. Using the new magic which Monrogh taught them, wiser men were able to throw out those brothers that survived, and an Impala leader, Poskuturri Criminal-slayer, became Count.
The religious implications of this are discussed as part of the Somash Heresy. But the political upheaval was also considerable, and many people who had also made a bid to be the new Count, or who had supported the wrong candidate, fled the country. Those of nomad origin went back to their tribes. Others went to the nearest settlement outside Sun County: the "City of Thieves" outside Pavis. The Karandoli who lived there were most interested to meet another group who had been wronged (however indirectly) by their old enemies the Red Fox clan. They took them in: and when Dorasar came to Pavis in the 1540s looking for a site for his new city, he found a ready audience for his ideas among those who welcomed the coming of a rival power-base to Sun County.
One of them, Varthanis by name, went back with Dorasar to Sartar, hoping to learn enough to defeat Poskuturri. He went to the newly founded Sun County of Dragon Pass, where in the meantime Monrogh had discovered Yelmalio and had learnt ways of beating trolls in battle. However unwillingly, Varthanis developed a great deal of respect for the older man, and learnt much from him. When a band of Yelmalians was sent from the Sun Dome in Dragon Pass to accompany Dorasar in the founding of his new city, Varthanis was chosen to lead it. He quickly proved himself to be a charismatic and effective leader, protecting the settlers from troll attacks, and gained the support of many of his old friends from "Badside",as the City of Thieves was now known, as well as those who had come with him from Sartar.
Spreading the word of Yelmalio to Sun County proved more difficult than Varthanis had hoped. He made his first attempt as soon as he arrived in Pavis in 1550, and gained some converts, including Zentakos, a high-ranking priest. Poskuturri however knew a potential coup when he saw it, and moved fast to stamp out this one. Zentakos was consigned to the retirement towers. It was not until 1556 that Varthanis felt secure enough to try again. Word of Varthanis' success against the trolls had spread, and there was considerable support for him. Poskuturri died in combat, and Zentakos was rescued from the Towers. Six years spent staring at the sun had left him blind, and he was seen as a martyr by many of the locals. Given this upsurge of popular support, it was Zentakos who became the new Count, though in fact Varthanis, the new Light Captain, held most of the power in Sun County and all of it among the sun-worshippers of Pavis. He revived as many laws as he could find that legislated against the return of any nomad to power (no dressing in women's clothes!).
This state of affairs continued until 1567, when Zentakos, growing increasingly frail and also increasingly unwilling to accept his position as a figurehead, "accidentally" fell down a flight of stairs and died. Varthanis Brighthelm now became Count in his own right, and ruled peacefully until his death in 1593.