冥主传奇#Tales of the Netherlord
Well met, shadow councillors.
When I asked you what should be the topic of my next tales, I didn’t expect that so many of you would be familiar with the Netherlord, Sandro, and would like to hear more about him.
The way Sandro and his Order remain shrouded in mystery would make us Faceless proud, if their tool was not the power of the Void, the negation of magic and existence itself. Indeed, while some refer to the nethermancers’ powers as “Void magic”, it is a misconception. Nethermancers call upon the emptiness that predates all of creation, including what we call magic.
Those who have met the Netherlord (and retained their memories of that meeting), describe him as calm, cunning and well-mannered, a charming personality that contrasts starkly with his ghoulish and skeletal appearance. Alternatively, those who fought against him (and lived to tell the tale) describe him as ruthless, unforgiving, paranoid and, of course, extremely manipulative.
How Sandro himself has managed to not be consumed by the Void and returned to nothingness is only one of many enigmas that surround the self-proclaimed “Great Lich”. This story of his life is full of guesses, holes and contradictions, and should be considered unreliable at best.
To the best of my knowledge, before there was a Netherlord named Sandro, there was a man of flesh and blood named Alejandro dela Segadora.
Alejandro was born in the year 444 YSD, and was the only son of Vidal dela Segadora, a count of the Bull duchy, and his fourth wife. Despite having had numerous daughters, the count was still longing for a son. But right from the start, the shadow of death hanged over the boy. The countess died giving birth, and at first it seemed the baby was stillborn. However, the infant miraculously came back to life after a few moments, leading his grieving father to believe Elrath had heard and answered his prayers.
Growing up, Alejandro was a strange and precocious child. At an early age, he already knew how to read and write, displaying great intelligence – sometimes frighteningly so. He didn’t get along with his older sisters very well, except one, Alma, who shared his love for books. According to some sources, he also had a deep, reciprocated dislike of his father’s new wife.
As time went by, his father started to worry about Alejandro. Not only his son seemed uninterested in hunting, fighting, and warring, but the way he was telling stories of strange places and times “like he had been there” unsettled Vidal. At first the count thought it only had to do with the books his son was always seen reading and considered it to the sign of an overactive imagination. But it was obvious the boy was much more mature than he should have been for his age.
Eventually Vidal asked a priest of Elrath to come and see the boy. The priest explained Alejandro had a rare power: due to his near-death experience at birth, he had retained a strong connection with the Spirit World and possessed the “natural” ability to journey in this alternate plane during his sleep. The cleric advised to send Alejandro to the seminary where they would make him a great priest of the Light.
That didn’t work out well. Alejandro was always debating with his teachers, always putting their faith and beliefs into question with common sense and simple logic. The priests began to fear his insolence would spread to other students. They tried to isolate him, to punish him, to break him physically and mentally, in order to have him admit the greatness of Elrath. Alejandro only laughed, claiming they were just a bunch of ignorant old fools blindly following the laws dictated by the Angels. One night they found his cell empty: Alejandro had escaped.
That is where Alejandro dela Segadora disappears from history. A few years later, one can find the first vague mentions of a disfigured Necromancer named “Sandro” among Belketh’s closest disciples. It is my belief that Alejandro and Sandro are one and the same, although I couldn’t find much information regarding his arrival in the Seven Cities and how he joined House Eterna. But even the Void cannot erase everything, especially from a Faceless. Finding secrets is, after all, one of Malassa’s commandments.
It seems that during his time in the Seven Cities Sandro became increasingly rebellious towards the Dragon Gods, and resented the transformation of House Eterna into a Spider Cult. Having had visions of other worlds and never doubting their reality, he started to believe the whole of Ashan was actually a prison, built to retain souls for eternity, much like Sheogh was for the Demons. Sandro saw the Dragon Gods as little more than parasites, sustaining themselves with mortal souls and faiths. Sandro believed Undeath was the first step to escape this cycle, but he refused to drink the venom of the Namtarus, the sacred spiders, since he feared it would turn him into Asha’s puppet.
As a result, Sandro turned to the Void, older than the Dragons, which he considered a much better source of power… if much more dangerous. It is believed it is his meddling with the Void that caused his current appearance, and that Sandro only “survived” by binding his soul to his own bones. How much of that is the truth and how much is a tall tale… I leave the decision to you.
Faking obedience to Asha, Sandro started working behind the scenes to take control of the Spider Cult. But his coup was foiled by Vein, who had once been his best friend, and had become suspicious of Sandro’s behavior, especially in the light of one of the Mother Namtaru’s prophecies. Arrested, Sandro was put on trial, while his disciples and accomplices were executed. Out of respect for the one who had been at his side from the beginning, Belketh requested clemency for Sandro. Condemned to exile, Sandro disappeared from the Seven Cities. He only reappeared four decades later.
It is not known with certainty what he did during that time, but he was far from inactive. Some claim he travelled the world, studying ancient Shantiri ruins and travelling to distant lands and lost continents. More importantly, he found a way to acquire the Mask of the False Face, an ancient artefact that allowed him to change his appearance at will, like we Faceless do. Some tie him or his followers to the theft of the Throne of Renewal, the incident of the Five Towers and even what occurred in Shanriya around 570 YSD. The fact several accounts of these events exist, with nobody able to tell with clarity what really transpired, give us a clue that the power of the Void must have played a significant part, even if Sandro wasn’t involved in person.
All these years of wandering had in any case strengthened Sandro’s purpose: with the power of the Void, he would “liberate” the people of Ashan from the so-called Dragon Gods once and for all, allowing their souls to ascend to a higher, purer state, essentially becoming gods themselves. Of course, that’s assuming that anything would continue to exist if Ashan was returned to the Void, which, in itself, is either a leap of faith or dangerous insanity.
With his newfound Order of the Void, Sandro has already tried several times to put his plan into motion, although fortunately these attempts were thwarted every time. Unsurprisingly, his targets of choice have been the Mother Namtaru and Elrath. There are some who claim he was somehow involved in the attacks against the Dragon Knights and their Hidden Houses during the Third Eclipse.
The same people even say Sandro was actually slain in battle, but I wouldn’t count on it. It may take him a year, a decade or a century, but eventually, Sandro will be back… And when he does, the very existence of Ashan and its people will once again be in dire danger.