In Prince Raskar Taileth’s early years, he seemed unlikely to ever achieve the crown of Horosia. Not only was his father, King Alamon Taileth, as healthy and cunning as he had been twenty years earlier, upon ascending to the throne, Raskar’s older brother, Alamon Taileth II, was the rightful heir.
And so, Raskar took up the wizard’s life, studying ancient tomes and leading research expeditions into the ruins of long-gone civilizations. The king approved of having a powerful mage in the family, and so supported these trips whole-heartedly, knowing that his more proper son would be the one to take the throne anyway.
And indeed, Raskar thrived in the adventurer’s life, developing magic to ward off the nation’s enemies, and performing missions too delicate for the army. And eventually, Raskar fell in love with a fellow sorceress, Nemithia Wesleian, known among her companions for the sea-blue birthmark on the back of her left hand.
But alas, the life he so enjoyed was to be denied him, for, in Prince Raskar Taileth’s twenty-second year, an assassin cut down the king and crown prince, and as the kingdom’s only remaining heir, Raskar was the only candidate for the throne. And as he prepared to return to the capital, he vowed to Nemithia that he would take her with him, and make her his queen.
And he was true to his word, and returned to the castle with her at his side. And yet, on the very evening upon which he moved in, a page came to him, to discuss something which had been found in the Lady Nemithia’s luggage.
What it was is not recorded, but it was not long before the prince confronted his lady over the discovery. Words were exchanged, then spells.
The guards arrived on the rooftop, where the wizards dueled, only just in time to hear Lady Nemithia’s final words:
"You vowed to give me the throne, and I shall not be denied."
Then, the guards watched as a spell toppled the lady from the rooftop, dropping her corpse into the river Horosin below.
Years passed. Raskar - now king - took a wife from the nobility, and grew to love her. His magic atrophied from lack of practice, leaving him a shadow of the mage he once was. And on the fourth year of his marriage, his wife finally swelled with child. The court grew excited, and waited eagerly for the birth.
And when it came, it was a girl, whom they named Karina, with a sea-blue birthmark on the back of her left hand. And as the princess grew, she began to manifest strange powers, a sure sign of great strength in the supernatural arts. And Karina quickly became the darling of the court, known for her endearing nature and remarkable intelligence.
And yet, King Raskar grew fearful, for when he was alone with her, she shot him cruel glances, and answered not to Karina, but to Nemithia.
And so, on the girl’s second birthday, she was put to death. The court and country were outraged, but in the end, they trusted their king’s judgement, and so did not act.
A year later, it happened again. The queen grew heavy with child and bore a daughter with a sea-blue birthmark and strange powers. The girl possessed a remarkable intelligence, and the court rejoiced in the seeming return of their favorite.
And on her second birthday, she, too, was put to death.
The king conceived no more children, fearing what might be the outcome of such births. And yet, his troubles did not end.
Throughout the region about the capital, single women, many of them virgins, began to bear children. Always daughters, and always with sea-blue birthmarks and strange powers. Always with great intelligence and charm. And when the king learned of these births, he sent out his soldiers with orders to kill all such girls. Those who knew him thought he seemed to have aged ten years in only two, and they worried as they saw him studying tomes he had not touched since his coronation.
And yet, even with such precautions, more Nemithias are born than can be hunted down, and a few are living past the age of two. And King Raskar Taileth knows that something must be done, or dire times will lie ahead.
The Princesses Nemithia
Although all of the Nemithias possess some qualities in common - the birthmark and the strange gifts - in general, they all look different, as normal children do. Some are blonde, some brunette. Some have blue eyes, some brown. Some appear to have the potential to become great beauties, others do not.
As the girls grow older, however, they begin to grow more similar. They develop remarkable beauty, and tend to favor similar hairstyles and cuts of clothing. Even their hair and eye colors begin to become the same. In theory, they would all look the same around their eighteenth birthday, but this has yet to be verified - it’s unknown if any of the girls have lived that long.
Nonetheless, each girl possesses some sorcerous ability, and this grows stronger as they grow. By the time they reach ten, a small town guard can no longer easily kill one. By age sixteen, their raw power would theoretically be equal to that of a typical adventurer, although they would lack the experience.
Nemithia (the original) was a member if the Children of Azorath, a cabal of sorcerers known for their possession tactics;.
Indeed, on the night Nemithia was killed, she had prepared herself for the possession and control of her husband-to-be. Unfortunately for her, however, one of the pages to whom she entrusted her luggage was not whom he seemed to be, and found some of her more suspicious belongings, leading to her death.
When she fell into the river, however, her corpse, prepared to possess, essentially dissolved into the flowing waters. What remained of her will kept her from flowing to far and downstream, and the river became tainted.
Indeed, all of the women who have given birth to little Nemithias have drinken from the river’s water. As the taint affects young women more easily than older ones, most of the victims have been girls who are just a bit too young to get married, or who simply never have. Of course, many married women have been affected as well, but quite often, these women are not married for long.
What May Happen
Should one of the Nemithias grow old enough (probably about 18-20-ish), they will almost certainly have drinken quite a bit of the river water, and the spirit locked within will possess them, taking advantage of their natural gifts to attempt to seize the throne.
Obviously, King Raskar has not been simply sitting around during this trouble. He has been studying all he knows of the Children of Azorath, seeking some solution, but he is quickly realizing that he doesn’t have access to what he needs. He realizes that his only chance to end the plague of princesses is to seek out knowledge on the Children, but he fears what will happen should he leave his throne.
So, he has issued orders to his more covert sections to uncover all that they can on the Children, but information is not becoming available sufficiently quickly.
Clearing the Taint
The river will not clear on its own. Nemithias will continue to be born until one seizes the throne successfully.
Simply issuing an edict forbidding drinking from the river is also unlikely to be successful. Someone’s going to do it, and the edict will only make it more difficult for the kingdom to find out.
Ways to actually clean the river are numerous - exorcism or powerful natural magic are the most likely candidates. Either, however, will free the soul of Nemithia from the river in the form of a ghost, and she’s unlikely to be happy about it.
1. King Raskar could make things easy on the GM and decide to hire the PCs as investigators. The adventurers would have to learn more about Nemithia and the Children, as well as to determine just how she’s affecting the people.
2. To throw the PCs into trouble from a different angle, the mother of one of the oldest Princess Nemithias hires the PCs to guard her daughter from the guards. Unfamiliar with the story, the PCs could easily develop interesting ideas on just who happens to be the villain.
3. To push the players into trouble more directly, one of the female PCs could become pregnant with a Nemithia while staying in the area. As travelers, the PCs may accidentally take the girl outside of Horosia, where she could grow up safely.
4. The PCs, after the Children, could uncover references to something interesting in the distant kingdom of Horosia.
5. Once the threat ends (if it does), the Queen may be too old to bear King Raskar an heir, in which case, the PCs could get involved in a completely different way.