Asem Character in Kelbonnar | World Anvil


Chosen of Zazmaan

A greatly respected prophet and leader amongst the Ma’Jalis, Asem, known as the Chosen of Zazmaan rekindled the sense of identity amongst the Ma’Jalis people, who have long been exiled to the wastes of the Kaldara desert by the Empire of Turelion and gave them hope that one day they might rise up and take back the parts of the Plains of Gold to the north that their ancestors once lived and roamed in, and once again have a voice in the world that is heard and respected. Though he died brutally at the hands of those he sought to oppose, he has left a lasting legacy amongst the Ma’Jalis, who even now wait for the coming of the one Asem predicted would lead them to independence and freedom from the Empire of Turelion.

Mental characteristics

Personal history

Like most Ma’Jalis, Asem was born deep within the sands of the Kaldara within the confines of a birthing tent, but unusually, at the exact moment of his birth a Desert Samaban, one of the giant, flying serpents that stalk the dunes for prey was seen by many witnesses to fly over the birthing tent. Desert Samaban are held in high regard by the Ma’Jalis, and believed to be holy animals who serve Zazmaan, the serpent god of the desert, who all Ma’Jalis, along with their neighbours across the Serpent Strait, the Jem’Menar worship. The appearance of the Samaban was taken as a sign that the child born within the birthing tent had been marked by the deity as one destined to serve them, and so, as is the custom of the Ma’Jalis, when the mother and her babe Asem a month later, a Priest of Zazmaan was waiting to take the child into their care.   From that point on, Asem grew up, never knowing his parents, instead being raised by the priest Tawanit, and accompanying him as he travelled between the isolated and nomadic desert communities, administering to the spiritual needs of the Ma’Jalis they encountered, offering sacrifices in their name to Zazmaan and divining their fortunes and fates. Asem grew up quickly, as all who are taken into Zazmaan’s service are expected to do and by the time he was fifteen, Tawanit deemed that he was ready to be taken to one of Zazmaan’s holy houses, hidden deep within the Kaldara, to undergo his initiation into the priesthood proper.   On arrival at the holy house of Bayt-Al’Raml, Asem was tested on his knowledge of the faith along with his conviction, and the story of how Zazmaan had marked him out for service was scrutinised by the High Priests of the temple. Satisfied with the boy’s answers and their own discussions, the High Priests allowed Asem to go through the initiation ritual, and he was sealed in a lightless cave deep in the bowels of the temple, so that he could commune with Zazmaan alone.   No one knows what the Great Desert Serpent said to Asem, or what happened to him whilst he was in the cave, but for days he remained sealed inside, the door immovable to the High Priests who remained without, and who waited with baited breath for Zazmaan to allow Asem to leave. Eventually, the stone rolled back of its own accord, and Asem was revealed, but not exactly as the boy who had stepped foot in the cave all those days ago. His eyes had been transformed into those of a snakes, his tongue had become long and forked and two fangs protruded from his upper jaw, and his skin had taken on a scaly, desert-brown tinge. It was at that point that the High Priests knew that he had been marked for greatness, that he was the Chosen of Zazmaan and they fell to their knees in veneration of him.   From that point on, Asem set to work on the secret task that had been given to him. He spent years travelling the sands of the Kaldara, seeking every group of Ma’Jalis known to exist, and many that had been lost from the rest of the collective. After thirty years, in the year 221AIF news spread across the desert that the Chosen of Zazmaan was calling the first full council of the Ma’Jalis people there had ever been, and thousands turned out to the Opal Oasis, a place regarded as the centre of the desert. There Asem declared that the Ma’Jalis would go to war with the Empire of Turelion, the regain their freedom and that with the help of Zazmaan they would eventually prevail. Amidst cheers and celebration, the Ma’Jalis collected their strength and marked north towards the Plains of Gold.   At the time of the Ma’Jalis uprising, Salastar I, known as ‘the Savage’ due to his particularly cruel ways, sat on the Imperial Throne and he had no qualms about crushing the rebellion. He ordered the Satrap of Turelion Province to send out the Provincial Army and waited patiently for news of their victory. To his consternation news returned a week later, saying that the Provincial Army had been routed, that the Ma’Jalis had fought like wild beasts, that they had been aided even by the foul creatures of the desert and that they being led by a twisted, mutated sorcerer, who spat poison and conjured serpents out of thin air. Determined not to let any rebellion spiral out of control in his lands, Salastar ordered the mustering of the Emperor's personal army, the Imperial Drakes and he set out at their head to crush Asem and his followers.   However, the Ma’Jalis retreated, falling back into the Kaldara and for nearly three years, Salastar and his army trailed them fruitlessly through the desert, their numbers being slowly whittled away by the guerrilla raiding tactics of the sand’s denizens. Eventually, in the year 224AIF, the Ma’Jalis revealed themselves in battle order in an area of compacted, flat sand known as Rocksand Plateau and Salastar marched to meet them, eager to finally rid himself of this nuisance once and for all. The battle of Rocksand Plateau lasted nearly three days, with both sides sustaining heavy casualties. Eventually the fighting came to a halt in a stalemate, and the Ma’Jalis sent a deputation to Salastar asking for talks to take place to negotiate a truce. The Emperor agreed and a tent was set up in the middle of the battlefield for the meeting to take place.   But Salastar held treachery in his heart, and saw the meeting as an opportunity to cut the head from the snake. When Asem arrived in the tent, the Imperial Drakes surrounded it, killed Asem’s escort and brought the Chosen of Zazmaan’s before the Emperor. Eye witness accounts state that Asem did not waver or show any sign of fear as he watched Salastar gloat over his victory, nor did he move to attack or escape, even though it was commonly accepted that he had many arcane tools at his disposal that could help him. As Salastar drew his sword to execute him, he asked Asem if he had any last words and received the simple reply:   “All has been foretold.”   With that Asem bowed his head and without struggle let Salastar ‘the Savage’ behead him. As Asem’s blood flowed around his feet, the Emperor was said to fall into a fit of mad rage, hacking at the body with abandon, and eventually cutting the top of Asem’s head and tipping his brain out onto the pile of gore on the floor of the tent. When Salastar emerged from the tent and proclaimed the news of Asem’s death to his army, he found that the Ma’Jalis had already left the field, but dismissing the warning from his advisors that something might be a foot, the Emperor ordered that the flesh be burnt from the skull and it made ready so that he could use it as a cup to toast his victory.   Salastar’s orders were duly carried out and that night, Salastar reclined in his tent and drank his victory toast from the fanged skull of Asem, now blackened from the fire used to strip the flesh from the bone. As soon as the wine touched his lips, Salastar flew into a mad rage, killing nearly everyone with him in the tent, before slitting his own throat and letting his blood drain into the skull of Asem.   At some point after the horrific event, the details of which are enshrined in the memories of both the Ma’Jalis and Turelites, Asem’s skull was spirited away back into the desert, some say back to the temple of Bayt-Al’Raml, which has now long since vanished beneath the sands.   Other details and stories that have grown up around Asem are very much within the realm of myth rather than history, and the story of the Skull of Asem is much repeated, debated and scrutinised for its truth and meaning. The actions of the Ma’Jalis and Asem at the close of the battle of Rocksand Plateau is perhaps the most continuously and vigorously debated part of his life. Many scholars argue that Asem and his people must have known what he was doing, hence why they had already left before news of his death could possibly have escaped the parlay tent and that Asem, must truly have believed the convictions given to him by the deity Zazmaan as he was prepared to die for it. What the truth is, the scholars tucked away in their Houses of Learning have no idea.   As for the Ma’Jalis, Asem has left a lasting legacy and it is whispered among them that a successor to him will be born amongst the dunes one day, just as he did and that Zazmaan will mark them as their own. Should that successor manage to find the lost temple of Bayt-Al’Raml and drink the blood of Emperor Salastar from the skull of Zazmaan’s first chosen, they will gain the power to topple the Empire of Turelion once and for all.
176 DW 224 DW 48 years old
Circumstances of Birth
At the time of their birth, a Desert Samaban was seen to fly over the birthing tent, taken as a sign that Asem was the Chosen of Zazmaan.
Circumstances of Death
Murdered during peace talks with the Empire of Turelion.
Related Myths


Please Login in order to comment!