Dead Kingdoms (Patronage Supplement)
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Over the millenniums, nine kingdoms have passed from Patronage, leaving history, ruins, and artifacts in their wake. Their governments may be gone, but their legacy affects Patronage even today.
The Middle Empire
|Monarchs of the Middle Empire|
Emperor Cyr (711-721)
The goliath Cyr left the Ochre Mountains as the instrument of the Patrons' revenge against the ghilan Nebu for killing a Patron. Cyr raised an army from Nebu's mortal enemies and besieged Dragonseye until Nebu died. With the withdrawal of Dragons, the residents of the Dragonlands begged Cyr to stay and, with the blessing of the Titans, be stayed and founded the Middle Empire, so called because it existed in the middle of Patronage. To commemorate this new Empire, he commissioned the construction of a mighty and magical seat of power called the "First Throne".
The Empire existed peacefully for 70 years as the sole and first Free Kingdom until Waros, Cyr's great-grandchild, decided to extend his reign over the free cities of halflings and sparti that had formed in the south beyond Imperial borders. This, apparently, awoke the Dragons and they returned in force, destroying the Middle Empire and scattering the goliaths into the Barrens to hide. The withdrawal and awakening of the Dragons, as well as subsequent examples, leads scholars to speculate that the Mists were created by the Dragons.
A hundred years after they disappeared, the Dragons returned, destroyed the Middle Kingdom and their goliathan rulers, and re-establishing their dominion over the Dragonlands. Not all of the Dragons' subjects were thrilled with their Patrons' return. Many halflings had come to appreciate the autonomy they enjoyed under the short-lived Middle Empire. Within a decade after the Dragons' return, several halflings began surreptitiously sabotaging the Dragons' reign, hoping to convince the Dragons to return to where they had disappeared. Slowly, as the Dragons exerted more effort to catch these rebels, the cause began to grow. The more effort the Dragons expended into ferreting out the organizers, the more recruits they sent in to the rebellions' arms. However, as successful as the rebellion was in recruiting, it seemed to accomplish very little in driving the Dragons away. Rebel after rebel was located and executed by the Dragons' sparti loyalists. (The rebellion seemed singularly unable to recruit sparti to their cause.) Slowly, the Dragons tightened their talons around the movement and zeroed in on their leaders. As the Lost Age came to an end, it seemed the movement was rapidly coming to an end with it.
A halfling girl named Lucinda was born to the then leaders of the halfling rebellion. Even at a young age, she demonstrated remarkable leadership. It barely even surprised her parents when Aris, the greatest sorcerer of the age (and possibly of any age), and a human, appeared at their secret residence and offered to serve as Lucinda's tutors. Phillip and Persa, Lucinda's parents, happily accepted the offer. Several years later, loyal sparti assassins found the couple and killed them. Aris managed to flee with Lucinda. The pair went into hiding. It is unknown where the two secreted themselves for the next decade. It had been assumed they were killed by the sparti.
But she was not dead. When Lucinda finally revealed herself, she was a grown woman and master of both weapon and spell. Aris had taught his student well. Imbued with powers no mortal had previously wielded (and has never wielded since), she issued a decree that was carried from one end of Patronage to the other: The reign of the Patrons was coming to an end. They should emancipate their mortals and leave beyond the Mists. At her decree, many halflings and humans flocked to her banner, as well as other races who sought to escape the tyranny of their Patrons.
The Dragons -- her own ostensible Patrons -- took notice. At first they sent their sparti warriors to deal with the rebellion, but Lucinda revealed herself to be as adept a strategist as she was a fighter and wizard, and the sparti were forced to retreat. The Dragons then took wing, to deal with the upstart themselves. Lucinda met them in the ruined remains of the City of Artifice. Bards still sing of the battle. Nobody has any certainty as to what happened that day except that Aris lost his life, and the Dragons virtually disappeared. There have been a handful of Dragon sightings in the last 2,000 years, but for all intents, the Dragons had abandoned Patronage.
Having vanquished an entire race of Patrons, Lucinda declared her own Empire. Halflings, humans and other races swelled her armies. To commemorate this Empire, she revealed two artifacts that Aris had made for her: a Jade Crown and a Marbled Scepter. With the First Throne created by Emperor Cyr of the Middle Empire, these artifacts became the symbols of her reign and of her dream of a world without Patrons. Over the next few years, she consolidated her hold on the Dragonslands. Only the sparti (or the vast majority) refused to bow to her will, remaining loyal to the memory of their Patrons.
Her next advance was against Anthropophagi on her southern flank. Battle after battle, she drove them back. With each battle, ravin and shedu alike fled the field and joined her growing army. Finally, the Anthropophagi were forced to flee across the Savage Sound and take refuge on Mongrel Island. Lucinda ordered the construction of a mighty armada that would take her across the sound to finish the Anthropophagi. While Lucinda awaited for her fleet to be built, she prepared to invade the Green Lands.
Her people buckled. They had been fighting constantly for years and were tired. They thought Lucinda should concentrate on establishing her Empire, not killing Patrons. Lucinda did everything she could to convince her subjects to continue to liberate the world from Patrons, but only her second-in-command, the halfling general Daro and a handful of loyalists, remained steadfast. The Lucindan Campaigns came to an end.
The Lucindan Campaigns had a deep impact on the behavior of the Patrons. The Patrons ceased interfering directly in the affairs beyond their own borders. The Dragons had disappeared. The Anthropophagi and Oni -- the most aggressive and militaristic of the Patrons -- had been beaten back. Some of the Patrons became ominously more active. The Elementals of the Fire Mountains, and the Oni of the Green Lands, have been nearly frenetic in their activities within their Realms. Others continue as if nothing had happened, such as the Anthropophagi, who returned to their Great Hunt, and the Fey who continue to revel in their own Courts. Many of the Patrons, however, retreated into their sanctums. The Titans, the Shinigami, and the Avatars all began withdrawing from the world.
The Leviathans are said to have caused the Nereid Sea to boil and overflow its shores, threatening to destroy the pesky upstart free races by flooding them, and being stopped only when the Avatars left the Avatarlands and cast a mighty ritual over the Leviathans causing them to fall into a deep slumber, able to visit people only in their dreams.
Meanwhile, Lucinda cursed her race for their disloyalty, casting a powerful ritual that prevented them from receiving a landbond, and condemning them to a life of perpetual wandering. She appointed Daro as King of all halflings, and charged him with ensuring that no halfling ever rules over non-halflings. Then, she disappeared. Nobody knows where she went or what she has been doing. Some legends say that she will return, either when the Patrons try to destroy the Free Kingdoms once and for all, or when her people show they are worthy of her leadership. Some say she committed suicide, or that she was found by a Patron and finally slain. Nobody know for certain, but her ideas, her dream, lives on in the minds of anybody who seeks to destroy the Patrons.
Before departing, Lucinda divided her Empire into three parts. The north she bequeathed to the goliath warrior Nikos, who called his realm the Second Empire (the first being either the Middle Empire, or the Lucindan Empire). The east and the City of Dragonseye were bequeathed to her human aide Antigone, who named herself Queen of the Eastern Kingdom. The south, which had been Anthropophagi Lands, was bequeathed to the shedu Filia and her husband, the ravin Mnemon, who ruled the new Kingdom of Sarrun as a dyarchy.
The Eastern Kingdom
|Monarchs of the Eastern Kingdom|
Queen Antigone (927-950)
When human Queen Antigone founded the Eastern Kingdom, it was a time of great hope for the human race. This was a sign of their acceptance as equals among the other mortal races. It also represented a return to human self-governance of Dragonseye for the first time since Nebu the Dragonslayer. This dream was short-lived. Within ten years, the Southern Empire invaded and conquered Dragonseye in order to obtain a port on the Neried Sea. Queen Antigone fled to the City of Lucinda, her new capital, where she died.
Her great-grandson, King Phillip, tried to reclaim human honor. He made a dark pact with the Shinigami and declared war on the Avatars. But this was a trap (for what purpose only the Shinigami know) and the Shinigami did not support him. The war ended quickly with the Eastern Kingdom obligated to pay tribute to the Avatars. Phillip transferred his resentment to his daughter Persa, claiming that she was the human incarnation of Lucinda herself, and that she could do to the Avatars what Lucinda had done to the Dragons.
When Persa took the throne, she believed this self-made myth. She had mastered the sword and spell, and was roundly regarded as unequaled in her age at either. Seeing herself as the next incarnation of Lucinda, she crafted a sword with which she intended to slay the Avatars. But just as the sword was completed, the Avatars had discovered her plan and pre-emptively assaulted her palace. Persa was captured by the Avatars' army of deva and eidolons, and she died in an Avatar prison in Aligon more than three decades later. The Avatars annexed the Eastern Kingdom upon her death.
Persa's sword was smuggled out just before her capture with the Halfling Queen Evara. Evara eventually used the sword on behalf of her own people to slay an Avatar, at which point the artifact became known as the Evararm in her honor. (Some humans insist on calling the sword the "Persarm" in honor of the human who crafted it.)
The Southern Empire
|Dyarchs of the Southern Empire|
945: Mnemon I and Filia I
The Southern Empire was a unique kingdom. It was run, relatively without major internal upheaval, by two monarchs. The monarchs were always a mated pair of shedim or ravin (often one of each), and when one died the survivor would choose a young successor to mentor. Often the younger monarch maintained a number of lovers who vied amongst one another for the privilege of succeeding the monarch's regal mate.
The initial dyarchs of the Southern Empire established the traditions for this Empire. Mnemon and Filia were both ambitious and shrewd rulers of the realm. They organized a war against the Eastern Kingdom to take Dragonseye as their freshwater port, creating the first kingdom with ports in both the Savage Sound and the Nereid Sea. They founded the capital city of Sarrun. They instituted an open policy for immigration, welcoming all races (although they never allowed humans to return to Dragonseye). They ruled together for nearly four decades, beginning their Empire with prosperity and stability.
With the Second Empire often tearing itself apart with rebellions and revolts, and the Eastern Kingdom concentrating on a pointless war with the Avatars, the Southern Empire managed to enjoy two centuries of relative peace. However, after the Avatars annexed the Eastern Empire, the South found itself wedged between two powerful players on the world stage. The Dyarchs decided that if the Empires had a common border, the friction that could result Southern Empire might be able to play the two off one another. Slowly, the Southern Empire withdrew its forces from Dragonseye, leaving the city undefended. The last king of the Nikosian Dynasty of the Second Empire, Altroll VII, took the bait and captured Dragonseye. The gambit worked, for a while. The Avatars subsequently took Dragonseye from the new, vulnerable Altonian Dynasty. The two Empires struggled in skirmishes that never quite flared into open war and the Southern Empire thought itself safe and unassuming.
When the Avatars withdrew from Patronage and the Alabastrian Empire replaced them, Empress Xalia saw the fields of the south as a valuable resource for her armies. In the 13th century, the Southern Empire was governed by the aging Mnemon XIV, and a young Filia XIII. However, the marriage was not a happy one. They had not been married more than a month before Filia took on lovers and began openly talking about her reign after Mnemon passed. Empress Xalia visited the kingdom on a diplomatic exercise after her coronation and immediately smelled opportunity. She seduced Mnemon. Filia died shortly thereafter (later revealed to be the result of rakshasa poisoners). Under Xalia's charms, Mnemon appointed Xalia as the new "Filia XIV". Before the people of the Southern Empire could protest, the Empire was filled with Alabastrian soldiers. Mnemon XIV continued to rule the South for 15 years as little more than a figurehead. When he passed, the Southern Empire was quietly absorbed into Alabastrian territory. The 310-year rule of the Southern Empire perished not with a roar, but with a shrug.
The Southern Empire was governed by 28 dyarchs: 14 kings named Mnemon and 14 queens named Filia. As the dyarchs always took on the name of their predecessor (even Xalia pretended to take the name Filia XIV while Mnemon XIV lived), there is no record of the dyarchs' original names. All of the dyarchs except Xalia were shedim or ravin.
The Second Empire
The Second Empire is the longest government outside the Patrons' Realms. It survived from 927 to 2010, more than 1,000 years. The Second Empire had a succession of dynasties, five of which were major dynasties spanning centuries.
The Free City of Ramhead
According to legend, in the dawn of the Ardashid Dynasty of the Second Empire, a small band of intrepid orcs and half-orcs escaped a mad Oni Patron and sought freedom in the dense greenery of what would become western Minia and Verdant. These orcs and half-orcs founded a small settlement that they called "Ramhead", and they lived in perpetual fear that their Oni master would send an army to retrieve them.
The small community slowly grew, virtually undetected in the uninhabited wilderness for more than a century. Then, some hunters from Ramhead discovered a slave train being transported through their forest, in a new trail forged by slavers attempting to avoid the new anti-slavery laws of the Vologasian Dynasty of the Second Empire. Although the Ramhead residents had been living free for generations, the folklore of the horrors of their ancestors' subjugation in the Green Lands stayed with them. Almost without thinking, they set upon the slavers and slew them. The freed slaves, however, had nowhere to go, and no way to sustain themselves in the wilderness, a week's travel from any civilization. The decision was made then to allow the slaves to live in Ramhead if they pledged never to leave and never to reveal its secret location. Ramhead became a diverse city on that day.
The anti-slavery tradition continued to grow. As civilization encroached on the settlement's forests, they came into contact with more slavers. Ramhead began to free as many as possible. However, the forest was getting a reputation and the elders feared an investigation would bring an end to their secret city. But nor could they continue to allow people to live in bondage. They decided to form an elite group called the Ramhead Rangers. These men and women would leave Ramhead, traveling far so they could not be traced back to their home. Then they would spend a year assaulting slave trains, and recruiting only those freed slaves deemed worthy of living in Ramhead. At the end of a year, they would return, report on the world, and prepare the next generation.
Over the next five centuries, the legend of the Ramhead Rangers continued to grow. Various slavers tried to find the location of this legendary city, but none ever did. However, in 1876, a large band of humans appeared at the city gates. Each of them was a refugee escaping the horrors of the Efthali Dynasty in the Second Empire, led by a prophetess named Aira, who claimed the "Twelve" had led her to the secret city. She stated that only the Ramhead Rangers could destroy the blight of the Efthali Empire. The Ramhead elders deliberated for many weeks, and the Rangers affirmed that never had they seen an evil has bad as the lich Efthal. The Rangers agreed to help. They sent an elite squad of Rangers who assassinated Khosra, the "Dead Queen" and forced Efthal into hiding. However, Efthal managed to regain power and the Rangers realized they needed stronger allies to depose Efthal and preserve their city's security. They bided their time.
25 years later, the young Caliphate was warring unsuccessfully with the Alabastrian Empire when, in the dark of night, the Caliph Muhajiel found three young Rangers in his tent, along with the elderly Aira. It is unknown what they discussed that evening, but the next morning, the Caliphate ceased its war against the Alabastrian Empire and began its war with the Second Empire. The Ramhead Rangers aided the Caliphate. A century later, the millennium-old Second Empire had been destroyed. The Rangers and the Caliphate remained allies, despite the Rangers' use of wrought metal, and their insistence on keeping their locale a secret. The Caliph never pressed the issue.
It is believed that this alliance led to Ramhead's downfall. When the dwarven warlord Chingiz decided to invade the Caliphate, he announced his arrival in the world in dramatic fashion. Without warning, his dwarven legions sacked Ramhead and scattered its inhabitants to the winds. To this day, nobody knows how Chingiz discovered the secret city. Some believe Efthal discovered it and sold the secret to the dwarves. Some believe the humans betrayed the City. Others simply state that it was remarkable the city survived as long as it had.
Although the city had been sacked, its dream lives on. Numerous groups calling themselves the "Ramhead Rangers" continue to fight for the emancipation for all in bondage. It is said that Chingiz himself could not slay the last elder of Ramhead until he swore to emancipate his own slaves. (Historians disagree whether Chingiz ever did own slaves.)
With the death of Xalia, elements on the outskirts of the Alabastrian Empire, seeing weakness, decided to take advantage of the chaos as Juzhian stabilized his realm. Most significantly, the lands along the Savage Sound declared themselves to be the independent Empire of Sarrun, with their capital in that eponymous city. Alabastrian Emperor Juzhian gave the fledgling empire some respite as he entered his policy of "rapproachment", indicating a less belligerent attitude from the Alabastrian Empire.
The name of the first Emperor (and, in fact, all of the rulers of the Sarrun) is lost to history. However, the entire Empire was supposedly based on an ancient cult dedicated to revering all nine Patron Races, believing that each race represented a different aspect of "alchemical truth", and that mastery of the philosophy of each of the nine Patrons would lead to an alchemical awakening through a process of "purification" that wold lead to unlocking the very secrets of immortality. The Sarrun Empire made great strides in the study of alchemy in the early years of its Empire.
Rapproachment, however, was short-lived. The Cult of the Nine Truths led to some very unusual splinter groups, including one group that felt that the Alabastrian Ritual of Remembrance was a blasphemy against the Patrons. Assassins from the group allied with rebels from Duat and attempted to assassinate all of the deva who had been granted the ritual. According to legend, there were thirty-six such deva. The conspiracy managed to assassinate all but three of them -- Juzhian, Oncia, and Xarlem. In order to accomplish this, they also developed the Ritual of Decadence.
The assassination drew a vicious reprisal form the Empire. Juzhian ordered Xarlem to lead the battle into Duat and Oncia into Sarrun. They were not to stop until all copies of the ritual had been destroyed and all of the conspirators had been killed. The resulting war consumed 18 years, but Juzhian's Vengeance was complete. At the end, most of southern Duat was a wasteland and the Sarrun Empire had been demolished, and its territories reabsorbed into the Alabastrian Empire. The ritual, if any copies exist, are entirely in the hands of the Alabastrian Empire, and Oncia even ordered the destruction of any records of its existence, and the even erased the names of the Sarrunian Emperors and Empresses. (Sometimes, Sarrun is known as the Forgotten Empire.)
The Border Kingdom
During the Juzhian Age, the Alabastrian Empire had acquired a lot of territory that had traditionally been a part of Duat. For reasons nobody understood, the Shinigami never interfered in any of these invasions. Alabastrian armies would report exploring ancient Shinigami mounds and finding them abandoned and empty.
When Emperor Xarlem acceded to the Alabaster Throne, the territories that had traditionally been of Duat rebelled against Alabastrian rule. Xarlem, who well understood the difficulties of waging war in the lands of Duat, and who was more interested in recapturing the lands of Chisel and Oncia, chose to postpone a conflict on his northern border. He identified the leaders of the rebels and then sent emissaries to entreat with them. The resulting treaty created the Border Kingdom out of the nine tribes that had formed since the region declared its independence. The treaty prevented the Border Kingdom from reintegrating into Duat. It also allowed Xarlem to choose which of the nine tribal leaders would become monarch of the Border Kingdom upon the death of the prior king (and no tribe could provide two consecutive kings).
With its southern border secure, the Border Kingdom had to deal with its own northern border with Duat, but more importantly, it had to deal with internal rivalries among the nine tribes. In 2212, a ghilan warlord from Duat named Otto invaded the Border Kingdom and supplanted the prior king. Otto was strong and his tribe was skilled. Emperor Xarlem chose not to wage war. Instead, he entered into a new treaty with Otto, recognizing him as the Border King and his tribe as a tenth tribe. Otto also insisted that his tribe would be first, and would always provide the king for the nation. Xarlem bristled, and bided his time.
When Otto finally died eleven years later, Xarlem invaded the Border Kingdom. At first, he intended only to restore the original nine tribes. But then he learned that Otto forcibly moved the various tribes, breaking them apart and intermingling them. Xarlem found nothing to restore. He decided that without restoration as an option, he would engage in conquest. The war was long and costly for all sides. But the greater resources of the Alabastrian Empire eventually overwhelmed the less organized ghilan tribes. Fifty years after Otto's death, the Border Kingdom was once more a part of the Alabastrian Empire.
The integration lasted another 50 years before the ghilan organized and rebelled once more against Alabastrian rule. Xarlem ended the rebellion within three years, executing the leaders of the insurgency. However, the rebellion continued in a more covert means, with raids on Imperial troops and citizens.
After 20 years, Xarlem had enough. His troops overran the Border Kingdom and struck deep into Duat, burning and sacking the port city of Ynepor, which he believed was instrumental in supplying the rebellion. However, the maneuver did not work. Rather, the aggression inspired a new leader of the rebellion, who called himself Otto II. He began a methodical and well-organized insurgency. Within a quarter-century, the Border Kingdom was independent again. Emperor Xarlem was forced to accept a treaty with the new Border Kingdom, recognizing his legitimacy and agreeing not to occupy its lands. In return, Otto II merely promised not to reintegrate the Border Kingdom with Duat.
Otto began to organize the reconstituted Border Kingdom, but tragically died four years later. Xarlem would not involve himself directly in a war in the Border Kingdom so soon after the prior one. Instead, he engaged in a shadow war, using subtle influence to guide the selection of new monarchs for the Border Kingdom. He did invade the Border Kingdoms once, 2421, destroying an undesirable monarch and installing his own candidate, but otherwise there was a tenuous peace on the border. In 2435 he bypassed the Border Kingdom to sack Ynepor again when he felt that tribes in Duat were interfering in the politics of the Border Kingdom.
In the beginning of the 26th century, Xarlem had to deal with an insurgency from his most trusted general. At the same time, the Border Queen died with no identifiable heir. The Border Kingdom fell to anarchy. Some chiefs raided the Alabastrian border. Others invaded Duat. Others simply set upon one another.
Seventeen years later, only three chieftains remained. The three met and agreed to petition for reintegration of the Border Kingdoms into Duat. Xarlem learned of this plan and invaded the Border Kingdoms. The chieftains went into hiding, but Xarlem's army managed to find and execute the strongest of the chiefs. The other chiefs led an unsuccessful raid on Ynepor, then occupied by the Empire, but it started another long chapter in the Border Wars.
Finally, in 2606, the last troops of the Alabastrian Empire were ejected form the Border Kingdom. The three tribes had splintered into seven. The seven chieftains reunited, the first time all the chiefs had sat together in a century. Together, they rode deep into Duat, in search of an active Shinigami mound. Shortly thereafter, new warlords appeared with orders from the seven chiefs -- the Border Kingdom had been reintegrated into Duat.
The Northern Reach
Some time during the Juzhian Age, it was noticed that the Shinigami had largely retreated from the world. Their mounds were either abandoned (mostly in the south) or sealed up and those who entered them never returned. For many centuries, the ghilanand wights of Duat simply continued their ord traditions and way, selecting new warlords, striking out in raids across the Nereid Sea or warring with one another.
One ghilan, however, decided that with the Shinigami gone, it was time for a new order -- his order. His name was Harald and in 2150, he united a third of Duat under his banner, and called the territory the Northern Reach. Legend says that he actually razed the northernmost Shiniami mound and found it utterly empty. The Shinigami, he announced, were dead. Harald reigned for 35 years, solidifying his kingdom and creating a buffer between Duat and the Dead March.
When he died, he had fathered nearly 20 heirs, and they all sought to replace him. The Northern Reach descended into anarchy and chaos, unified only by the notion that they were free of Shinigami influence. While the southern third of Duat -- the Border Kingdom - had come under Alabastrian influence, and the Duat proper continued to venerate and follow the Shinigami, the Northern Reach practiced autonomy and eschewed the thousands of years of tradition with which they had originally been raised.
One of the warlords in this time of chaos was Yuri. He grew tired of the constant warfare, and wanted a new path, but one that did not involve being subjugated to either the Shinigami or the Alabastrian Empire. He took his people into the Dead March and from there into the Free Kingdoms to found Winteren.
For three hundred years after Harald's death, the various tribes of the Northern Reach warred against one another, occasionally attacking tribes in Duat proper or raiding other kingdoms across the Nereid Sea.
Then, in 2467, the Ghilan Warlord Haaken managed to reunify the Northern Reach under his banner. His dynasty lasts for nearly a century, until the Reach again divided into three parts, named after the Lynx, Bear and Elk tribes.
The Reach descended into chaos again for 78 years until reunited by the Chieftess Margreth of the Bear Tribe, who conquered the Lynx and Elk. Chieftess Margreth was a powerful necromancer, as well as a master strategist. However, she was also a woman of great hubris. She decided to build a vast palace of bone upon the very Shinigami mound that King Harald had razed. The edifice was said to be monstrous, larger than any mound or fort anywhere else in Patronage. There she ruled from her castle, overseeing her holdings and the entire Northern Reach.
She ruled for 40 years. Then, without warning, the Mound beneath her castle reawoke, and grew, destroying the castle from its foundation. Nobody know what happened to Margreth or any of her court. However, since that day, all of the Shinigami Mounds have given off an eerie hum and radiate a dark aura. The Northern Reach died that day as ghilan armies from Duat relentlessly attacked the remnants of Margreth's kingdom, reintegrating the lands into Duat. The armies claim to be directed by the Shinigami, although still there are no confirmed sightings of the Patrons of Duat.