Your fathers, grandfathers, the fathers of your grandfathers, and their own fathers….They came into the Wastes, and tried to make them their own. They took our ancestors as slaves, and tried to use them to master the land. They used my fathers as tools to reshape the wastes to their desires. That was their mistake. I will not repeat it. We do not make the Wastes. The Wastes make us. The Waste is the tool, it is the people I shape. The Waste hones our edge, makes us iron men.
We do not farm, growing fat on grains. We do not bank, fond of money for money’s sake. We do not lie softly in palanquins, losing strength to sloth. We Hunt. We Take. We Run. Any one of my warriors can survive in the harshest environment. Any one of my warriors can hunt for his belly. Any one of my warriors can run a full day and still fight. Any one of my warriors would rather die than lose their honor.
I have seen your cities. Great works, you call them. Faugh! I call them monuments to decadence and weakness. Can your courtiers even fight? Can your fat merchants navigate an ash storm? Can your men fight until all their strength is gone, and then keep fighting? Can your women be mothers, wives, warriors, and traders all at once? No! They have servants to do this, to do that, so they may remain slow and stupid.
Your people are weak. Comfort has made them weak. Complacency has made them weak.
For too long your people preyed on mine. And you were right to do so. My misguided children were as a pack of dogs, yapping and begging for scraps. They deserved a weak foe like you. But no longer. Now the yapping dogs are gone, and a unified pack has taken their place. We are not the weakling bands of your fathers and grandfathers.
You are weak. We are strong.
My children are mighty, and the Waste is our home. We will suffer no invasion. We will suffer no violation of our lands without tribute.
This is your only warning.
-Message from Armen Drek to the Lord Protector of Escalan. This message was received shortly before the massacre of the Escalan 5th Column of Foot, in a punitive expedition into the Thorbian Waste.
In 143 AU, Armen Drek was born to the Yazny Khum (Bone Claws), a raiding band that roamed the eastern Thorbian wastes.
Life was hard for the Yazny Khum, as the pickings were scarce in the region. Their lot was further made miserable by the tyrannical rule of the warlord, Bordak Suum. Suum was a cruel and selfish leader, and kept his tribe in fear of his brutal habits and muderous enforcers.
in 162 AU, at the age of 19, Armen Drek challenged Suum, carved his way through Suum’s enforcers when he refused the challenge, and beheaded the warlord in front of the entire warband. He immediately took charge of the band, vowing that the Yazny Khum would never again suffer as they had under Suum.
In 168 AU, as his band moved through central Thorbia, Drek took a small band of followers to investigate some ancient ruins nearby. The ruins had never been fully explored, and there were often squatters or other small bands within. Drek led a group of 10 warriors within the ruins, and did not return. The tribe waited for 3 days, but eventually moved on. The wastes are a harsh place, and survival depends on movement. A band cannot sacrifice the well being of all for the sake of a few.
One year later, Armen Drek emerged alone from the ruins. He has never spoken of what happened within, or what happened to the warriors that accompanied him. His experiences had changed him, however. Gone was the warlord who dreamt of only battle for the sake of battle, who thought only of his small band. Armen Drek entered the ruins as a warlord, but emerged as a visionary. He located the Yazny Khum, and took his place at their head once again.
What followed in the next year was near unheard of in Thorbia’s history. Through tactical genius and discipline, the Yazny Khum became a lethal force. Drek wielded the band like a surgeon, making precise strikes against hie enemies, and withdrawing before they could react. Within 4 months, the band had conquered another, and absorbed their members. In a rare political move, Drek offered membership in his house to any who would fight honorably by his side. Within 6 months, he had conquered a second tribe, and by the close of the year, a third.
The Yazny Khum, the core of Dreks warband, his most trusted warriors, kept their ribal name. The rest of the warbands conquered became instead the Ild Salkhi, the Wind of Swords. The Wind swept through the south of Thorbia, growing stronger with each enemy defeated. Yazny Khum warriors were dispatched as mercenaries to other nations, under instruction to learn other ways of war. Finally, in 178 AU, Drek gathered what could now only be called an army, and spoke before them.
Drek spoke of their harsh home, spoke of the rivers of lava, the harsh mountain ranges, the ash wastes and their storms. He spoke of his love for this harsh land, for it had made him hard. He spoke of making his people hard, and then making those around him hard. They had been forged by the land into a tool. He stated that a tool with no purpose has no meaning. He then stated his meaning for the Ild Salkhi. The Wind would sweep north, then spread to Thorbia’s borders. The Wind of Swords would be the tool that brought their land together. No more would warband prey on warband. No more would the raiders stalk the wastes as lone wolves. They would come together, as a pack.
7 years later, the last warband was defeated, and brought under the rule of the Salkhi. The dream had been achieved. The Thorbian people were of one purpose, and the world would tremble at the sound of their coming. At the age of 42, Armen Drek was made the Emperor of Thorbia.