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[A woman clad in black armor asks the librarian about any books or information regarding Count Manzahar.]
A librarian, desperate for purpose beyond reading farmer's almanacs and cantrip scroll catalogs, skims a few shelves. He manages to return with a tome, covered by a few month's worth of dust and abandonment.
"Submitted by some criminal or other, best left forgotten if you ask me, but Oghma makes trivia collectors of us all, hm?"
The Rise of House Manzahar
By Samantha Greyhalo
Special Thanks to Alesszhara, Damion Latok, Eso, Angelo, Manzian Grail and Hicksman.
Second Edition: 29th of Tarsakh, 1395
Thraesus Manzahar, as many knew him, was an unstable intellect possessing a near-dead body, so imbued with necromantic energies that it blurred the line between living and dead to all but the most scholarly of arcanists. His knowledge of the Arcane had moved his perspective beyond mortality thus marking his thought processes in a way that seemed insane to the casual observer.
Throughout the author's interviews with adventurers it seems that his rise to power is primarily marked by the misinformation surrounding who, and what, he was. Bits and pieces remain available through myriad sources, but the bulk of what was learned was indeed gathered from his closest cohorts and the man himself, when lucidity and bemusement struck him. Thus the documentation exists in as detailed chronological order as is allowed.
Prior to his death, Manzahar was a noble within the King's Swamp. All that is known of this time is that he was a powerful necromancer in life, and his crimes resulted in him being confined to house arrest by multiple War Wizards under direct orders by the King. It was there that he perfected the means to create artificial Myrkandite, known as death metal. What remains of this manor collapsed as of the writing of this tome, as it was exhumed by his retainers prior to the battle for Tilverton.
It is known that during his lifetime Manzahar had a wife, though the exact time and cause of her death are unknown. The archmage was consumed by grief at her death, however, and performed a rite to Clar Banda. The rite involved the ritualistic sacrifice of a dwarven woman before the observation of her husband. In exchange, the goddess took Manzahar's grief upon herself, thus ridding him of emotion towards his deceased.
After Manzahar's death, the timeline becomes clearer. He was slain by a war wizard, and when the Necromancer was killed he sealed his own soul away in a staff, the Aegis of Necromancy. Manzahar had intended to take over the War Wizard's body, however the staffcame into the posession of the Thayan Arena's armory. A wizard by the name of Wyrmlocke succeeded the trial in acquiring it, thus falling for the trap. Manzahar eventually subsumed all of the wizard's soul into his own, consuming it entirely.
Details are scarce of his deeds after this resurrection. He acquired the divine spark of a dead deity, granting him effective immortality and immense power. His experiments are ill-detailed, though it is known he pulled the soul from a dead consort from the fugue plane to empower a weapon used by his assassin, Grail.
Additionally many had been marked by him. The arcane sigil, a weathered and black raven, had effects beyond the obvious. The only consistent reason for this marking is that his minions can properly identify "untouchable" individuals, those he either deems important to himself or enjoys tormenting.
Manzahar was a devout individual, beyond the scholarly pursuits of necromancy typical of arcanists. He often pressured those in his employ and following to pursue rituals to the goddess, and would manipulate his enemies into supplication when possible. He considered himself to be one of her greatest lovers, a term internally denoted by the faith as a Pale King. It was clear from observation that he considered himself something of a messiah of her faith.
Ultimately, Manzahar's death was the result of a tremendous amount of factors. The forces of Tilverton, marked for destruction for reasons that remain unclear, were besieged by various undead of low intellect. This was a feint, as the Fallen House was attempting to stabilize the Helmlands and it's wild magic.
The ritual failed. Interviews after the fact suggest that it may be due to Tilverton utilizing the Aegis of Necromancy in it's defense, shattering Manzahar's concentration for a single second. Manzahar, wounded, retreated to his Island with his remaining forces. Victorious, and spurred on by the preachings of the devout of Tempus and Gond, the forces mobilized against the Undead Island.
As Manzahar retreated, expecting this retaliation, he turned to Baroness Winterblood, leader of the Court of Undeath, and custodian of Vorenthia's corpse. She denied him access to the castle of the island, expecting betrayal. She was correct, as the Count laid siege to the castle, killing her and the remains of the court, further weakening his own forces.
The forces of Cormyr and Tilverton made landfall on the Island and swiftly breached into the castle. They expected a protracted, devastating siege but were instead greeted by open gates. Two followers of Manzahar, who the author was unable to document, threw open the gates and used magical artillery to cut a path directly into the keep. The forces of the crown immediately breached, and slew the entirety of the House.
Manzahar, utilizing his own knowledge of Soul Magic, abandoned his mortal form to inhabit the undead Vorenthia. This soul-bound Demi-lich was ultimately bested by the combined forces of Cormyr, Tilverton, and the two nameless Betrayers.
The island, cursed by Clar Banda for it's failures as said by some, sunk into the ocean. The remains of the undead Court, the Forgotten House, Vorenthia, and indeed Manzahar were unaccounted for following the successful siege.