Fancy Bastard Scales of War
Founder of the Eternal Crusade
Generations spent in thrall to the mind flayers left an indelible mark on the people who would one day become the githyanki and githzerai peoples. Exposure to the Far Realm’s corrupting influence combined with budding psionic power sparked by their world’s reaction to the threat from without set in motion the evolutionary catalyst needed to transform these peoples from their humble roots to become the warriors they are today. Their mind flayer masters recognized their potential, and thus they used their slaves as foot soldiers in their conquests to expand their influence across the planes.
The Eternal Crusade
Gith’s uprising achieved what had before been impossible. Her cunning leadership and singleminded purpose helped her deal the deathblow to the mind flayer masters, giving her people the precious gift of freedom.
Even with the success, Gith knew others languished in the illithid’s clutches. If her people surrendered their hatred to rebuild their devastated world, the mind flayers might return with even more numbers and with other warriors to fight their battles. Gith had no doubt the mind flayers would exterminate them all. The answer to this lingering threat was to hunt down the illithids and destroy them root and branch.
Gith declared an Eternal Crusade, calling her people to join her in her genocidal mission. The githyanki were warriors, and fighting was all most understood. The people were past being farmers and crafters; they were killing machines. The promise of vengeance gave the githyanki something to do and also gave them a way off their desolate world, which was scorched and ruined by their uprising.
Zerthimon and the Civil War
Gith’s people despised the mind flayers, but not all agreed the Eternal Crusade was in their best interest. The people had just come through a devastating war, their world was destroyed, and few among them had the wherewithal to begin the process of rebuilding. Furthermore, not all wanted to perpetuate the warrior society that had gained prominence because they saw it as an aberration forced on them by their former masters.
Although not widespread, these misgivings had already taken root among the people, owed in part to Gith’s most outspoken critic: Zerthimon. A philosopher and warrior who had distinguished himself in the uprising and thus gained a small following of adherents, he taught a different path. He agreed the mind flayers would return, but argued that the same methods used to overcome them would be of little use in stopping another invasion. He taught the best defense was to embrace the new power within and unlock its secrets. Only then could the people fight their oppressors. Zerthimon’s position gained adherents as it spread throughout the camps until he amassed a sizeable following — enough to dismantle the Eternal Crusade before it began.
For a time Gith tolerated Zerthimon; she would not see the freedom she had won dashed with a new tyranny, even if tyranny was for her own people’s good. Her followers did not share her patience, however, and soon heated arguments erupted into open violence to silence the voice of opposition. Before Gith could react, the sporadic skirmishes exploded into civil war, and once started it appeared that it would find no end until one or both sides were destroyed.
The fighting raged for years, and terrible magic reduced what was already a wounded world into an uninhabitable cinder. With no end to the violence in sight, both sides withdrew. Those who followed Zerthimon, the githzerai, fled to the Elemental Chaos, and those sworn to Gith withdrew to the Astral Sea.
Though the plane divides them, the old hatreds burn still and the people have stood sundered, with little hope of reconciliation for thousands of years.
The One in the Void
Adrift in the Astral Sea, the githyanki had their burning hatred and their arms, but no home and few resources. They wouldn’t wander long though before fate, luck, or circumstance put a new home in their path. Githyanki scouts discovered the petrified remains of some dead god, perhaps a casualty from another war, or a god whose people were destroyed.
Gith led her people to the floating hulk and there established Tu’narath’s ancestral encampments. As fortuitous as finding the hulk was, the githyanki who settled in the folds and rocks knew they were much diminished from the war against their kin. In such small numbers, they couldn’t hope to fight the Eternal Crusade, let alone raise new fortresses or even feed themselves. The situation was dire, but there would be a glimmer of hope in the sacrifice of the githyanki’s glorious leader.
The githyanki struggled to survive. They lacked resources, so they had to scavenge for supplies. They had no means to navigate the Astral Sea, so they had little luck finding the materials they needed. To make matters worse, ancient abominations, those twisted remnants from the war of creation, raided their camps, claiming more and more lives and undoing what little progress the githyanki were making. It was clear they wouldn’t survive without help.
With enemies looming at all sides, the githyanki needed an alliance. Gith sent out representatives to treat with various powers residing in the Astral Sea. They had little luck: The githyanki were too warlike, too evil, and too few for a god or some other agency to step forward to give them aid, but the githyanki did have success in the Nine Hells. Vlaakith, Gith’s most trusted advisor and confidant, had spent weeks negotiating with Dispater to recruit an infernal legion to shore up the weakened githyanki legions. Dispater’s price, the souls of all githyanki, was far too high for Vlaakith to pay, but the archdevil had other ways to manipulate the exiles. In a show of goodwill, he offered to arrange a meeting between Gith and Tiamat’s red dragon exarch. Tiamat and Asmodeus had been occasional allies, and the Dark Lady lent the Nine Hells her abishai in exchange for information, treasures, and the occasional assistance. Dispater believed the githyanki could negotiate a similar bargain with the Lady of Avarice and even offered his city to host the negotiations.
Vlaakith carried Dispater’s offer back to Tu’narath and discovered her dubious offer was the best they had achieved, with all other roads leading to deadends. With little choice, Gith journeyed to the Nine Hells and there met with Ephelomon. Dispater acted as the mediator and observer. Ephelomon offered to send a wing of red dragons to aid the githyanki in exchange for the githyanki’s assistance should Tiamat require it. To cement their pact, Ephelomon would forge a scepter to give Gith dominion over the dragons.
Before they could finalize the terms, Dispater suggested to Ephelomon if he would entrust so many dragons to the githyanki, should he not gain some insurance? Dispater proposed Gith remain with him in the Nine Hells for as long as Tiamat upheld her side of the agreement. If either side breaks the alliance, Gith and the red dragons on loan would be free.
Ephelomon saw the wisdom in this proposition, and Gith agreed but with a condition. Gith required the githyanki be free to choose their own destinies and never be subservient to the Dark Lady. Finding nothing objectionable in this, the githyanki gained their infamous alliance and Dispater got his soul.
Before Ephelomon left Dis with the scepter, he asked the dragon to deliver her final command. Armed with Gith’s request, the exarch traveled to Tu’narath, leading a flight of dragons to the githyanki city. There, the dragon gave the scepter to Vlaakith, because Gith had named her the successor, and revealed the leader’s last command: Carry on the Eternal Crusade in my name.
The red dragons made the difference and with their help, the githyanki beat back the astral stalkers and other threats. As well, the dragons could move through the Astral Sea with ease, and so the githyanki could raid other dominions for foodstuffs and supplies and found new outposts. In the following years, Tu’narath evolved from its humble origins into a magnificent city, and so have the githyanki grown in power and influence, becoming one of the most feared peoples in all the Astral Sea and beyond.