Fancy Bastard Scales of War
Lich Queen of the Githyanki
When Vlaakith came to power after Gith’s imprisonment in the Nine Hells, she started a millennia-long dynasty. Vlaakith was the first of a long procession of Vlaakiths who would rule the city and the githyanki. Some were strong, others weak, but all added to Vlaakith’s legacy until the name transcended the person and became, in effect, a title.
The last ruler to bear this name was Vlaakith CLVII, and her reign lasted a thousand years. When she came to power long ago, she was much like her predecessors: ambitious, cunning, and committed to the Eternal Crusade, yet there was something different about this Vlaakith. She liked power. She didn’t see herself as holding the throne for Gith, but rather she saw the throne as hers, and she was not about to give it up to a less worthy heir.
Not long into her reign, she performed the Lich Transformation ritual, but her undead state did little to quell her growing paranoia. Vlaakith saw enemies everywhere, even in the faces of her most trusted advisors. To protect herself, as well as to sustain her long life, she began a pogrom to eliminate potential rivals, wresting their souls from their bodies and animating their remains into undead thralls. By the time her practice became known, few were left to challenge her, and the rest have lived with Vlaakith CLVII for their entire lives and see her as more than their queen — and every bit a part of githyanki identity (as is their city).
Vlaakith’s custom made her throne secure, though it had profound consequences on the Eternal Crusade. Eliminating the best and brightest githyanki had a leveling effect on githyanki society. Although it’s hard to call any githyanki mediocre, few standouts existed among those who dwelt in Tu’narath. The ranking officials were lickspittles and sycophants, and corruption was rampant in the highest levels. Worse, support for the Eternal Crusade was waning. Expeditions still set out from Tu’narath, but fewer and fewer returned with new mind flayer skulls.
A shadow hung over Tu’narath. Each passing year saw Vlaakith’s madness growing. She withdrew from public view, spending most of her time in Susurrus, the Palace of Whispers, where, if rumors can be believed, she worked dread magic sending tremors to shake the city. In her stead, fanatic mages and inquisitors, calling themselves the Ch’r’ai moved through the city, speaking of the Lich-Queen in terms more fitting for a god than an undead tyrant and executing any they suspected of treachery. To make matters worse, dragon-githyanki abominations infested the city and were permitted to go wherever they pleased because they had the Lich-Queen’s blessing and were thought to be her favored subjects. Unrest and outrage grew, casting a terrible pall on the ancient city.
The Final Gambit
Having ruled the githyanki for a thousand years, the Lich-Queen was no longer content with the limitations imposed on her by her rotting body. Her longevity would not last forever. Her command over the githyanki was not complete, and enclaves in the Astral Sea’s far-reaches were free from her rule.
She wanted more power, more influence, and true immortality. To this end, she would become a god. Vlaakith long suspected a divine spark lingered in the dead god’s petrified remains, and she believed that if she could tease it out, she could claim it for herself and complete her apotheosis. Her paranoia equaled her ambition and as she sought this ultimate transformation, her trust in her dread knights and commissars wavered. Using terrible magic, she formed a master race—a perfect fusion of githyanki and dragon to be her loyal children. She used these duthka’gith as her personal retinue and replaced her guards with these wild and unpredictable warriors.
Her seclusion coupled with the gradual spread of what many githyanki saw as abominations sowed the seeds of unrest in the city. Tu’narath had always housed opponents to Vlaakith’s reign and her designs, seeing her power as a mockery of Gith’s ancient intent, but these groups lacked the numbers or resources to oust the Lich-Queen. It seemed to these rebels that if they acted, there would be support for their coup after all.
The strongest and most radical opposition came from the Sha’sal Khou. They hoped to reunite the githzerai and the githyanki into one people and continue the Eternal Crusade as Gith had intended. Zetch’r’r, their leader and decorated knight, sheltered his followers in a Citadel, gathering strength and resources for the time when his followers could strike and then begin his reign as leader over all the gith peoples.
The Ch’r’ai, however, tightened their net, closing in on the rebel faction and if the Sha’sal Khou did not act fast enough, they would fail before they began. Zetch’r’r did the unthinkable: He turned to foreigners for help. Using mortals who had fought the githyanki in the past gave him a way to eliminate the Lich-Queen without implicating his organization.
As Zetch’r’r organized the assassination team, Vlaakith worked to complete her divine transformation. Terrible rituals sent tremors through the city. Just before she completed her transformation, the adventurers struck, destroying her and thwarting her designs. The resulting quakes nearly destroyed the city, toppling her dread palace and flattening a great many buildings all around. But tremors were nothing compared to the shockwaves resulting from the realization of Vlaakith’s death.
Zetch’r’r moved to fill the Lich-Queen’s void, but his ideas were too strange for the common githyanki to embrace. Unable to rally the military societies to his claim, he faced a half-dozen rivals, each with considerable strength. Worse, many suspected his hand in the Lich-Queen’s death, and his treachery further weakened his position.
Zetch’r’r would not be thwarted and could not allow his city to fall or his dreams to die. His warriors were too few and his faction crumbled around him. In desperation, he turned to the githyanki’s oldest ally, Tiamat. By altering the pact’s terms, he hoped to gain the red dragons’ aid and thus claim the city by force.
The Dark Lady coveted the githyanki, always resentful of Dispater’s influence and the poor bargain her exarch made long ago. So when Zetch’r’r approached her, she welcomed him, but this time she demanded the githyanki oaths of service and the githyanki’s absolute loyalty to her. Knowing the alternatives worse than making such a terrible bargain, Zetch’r’r consented to the new terms and returned to Tu’narath with Tiamat’s armies in tow. Tu’narath fell in a single day and Zetch’r’r named himself emperor.