Nodun Moldanniar. An axe of superb quality which was made by the Monksmiths of Moldan for an ancestor of Niavon, six generations ago. It is a family heirloom.
The first thing that strikes people about Niavon is his height: at 5ft 1' he is exceptionally tall for a dwarf. He is powerfully built, and still moves with the strength and grace of a warrior, despite the fact that he is approaching middle age. He is typically dressed in full armour, and Nodun Moldanniar almost never leaves his side. He wears no garments that indicate his rank as supreme ruler of Torridon.
Niavon is the younger son of a minor noble family of Torridon. Upon reaching adulthood he joined the army as an officer - an unremarkable decision for a young dwarf in his position. He showed a great deal of talent, having an intuitive grasp of tactics and strategy as well as being a superb warrior.
11 years ago, war broke out once more between Torridon and Siluria, its ancestral enemy to the north. Niavon led 1000 men when the armies of Torridon marched north to meet the invading Silurians, and it was Niavon who held together the broken remnants of the army after the rout at Karst. With all superior officers dead, Niavon managed to lead his remaining forces in a counter-attack that shattered the Silurian flank, forcing them to consider overtures of peace. A treaty was signed shortly after, with neither side gaining much advantage.
Niavon blamed the Council of Seven (who ruled Torridon) for the debacle of Karst. Many of his friends had died in this battle. With his victorious army behind him, he marched on the Torridonian capital of Cadom and seized power, brutally executing all seven members of the Council. Since then he has ruled as absolute ruler.
Niavon's rule has been harsh, but just. He is respected but not loved. Lacking any great gift for statescraft, he has been wise enough to realise this, and has surrounded himself with intelligent advicers, the two chief amongst them being Alianor Mosali, a fiery elven mage, and Father Nathan, a human healer cleric. It is in large part due to their advice that Torridon has largely accepted his rule (the fact that the Council of Seven were also not particularly loved).
Niavon's major civil changes have been a partial reform of the justice system (making it harsher) and a strengthening of ties with the free trade city of Ludlow to the west (which has brought increased trade). His most significant endeavour though has been a radical overhauling of the army, modernising it and increasing its numbers. Six years after gaining power he embarked upon a major military campaign to the east, and in the space of three years he has conquered the four small countries of Rhaetia, Varangia, Zechstein and Rotliegendes. These countries have been allowed to retain much autonomy (a shrewd move, which has helped to stop many rebellions). His foreign adventures have gained him popularity in Torridon, as well as bringing wealth to the country.
After the conquest of Rotliegendes, for three years Niavon continued to build up his army. Earlier this summer he launched a large scale invasion of Siluria - the country which had always been his primary target. Siluria, however, was ready: with the aid of three allies (Tournais, Santon and Allende), it defeated Torridon, though took heavy losses. Niavon was stopped in his tracks, his first major defeat in battle.
This circumstance seems to have unhinged Lord Niavon's mind. Since his return he has had a psychotic obsession with defeating Siluria. Taxes have been greatly raised, and the army is rapidly being made larger than ever. He is listening to his advisers less and less, and has become erratically irrational. He has been driven a noble who dared to argue with him from the room with his axe, threatening to kill him if he returned. A protest about the taxes and lack of food in Cadom last month was put down by the army; over 100 people were killed. Whether or not his madness is natural is not known.
Niavon is an extremely powerful warrior. He is not superhuman, but there are few within several hundred miles who could defeat him in single combat. In combat he is a great leader who leads from the front and can inspire those around him to follow. He is also a berserker (though does not go berserk in every battle, or even most). Since his madness, the berserk element of his nature appears to be coming to the fore even when he is not in battle.
He typically fights using Nodun Moldanniar, his axe. He usually wears full plate armour and carries a large shield, though he has been known (upon going berserk) to discard the shield and fight double handed, using a warhammer in his left hand.
He has had no contact with his family since gaining power.
Though he was not (until his madness) a disliked ruler, there are plenty of people around who hate him (for example, the families of the Council of Seven, or a lot of people in the conquered territories).
His power over Torridon is such that even since his madness, there are not even any rumours of plots to overthrow him (however, he has only been mad for less than 3 months).
Though he is 'mad' or irrational, he is still in general in control of himself other than the overriding obsession with Siluria. In particular, there is no evidence that his military capacities are impaired. If he drained Torridon dry to build a sufficiently large army it is very likely that he could win, though he might well lose most of Torridon to rebellions in the process.
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? Responses (3)-3
Nice history. I like where you suggest the madness could be magical.. or not. How did Niavon come to find human and elf advisors? Is the land multi-racial, or is this unusual (and how is it seen by others). Why does Niavon want to defeat Siluria (before he went crazy)? Does he feel it is unfinished business? Do they have riches? Is it revenge? He took over for people who waged war carelessly, and then did so himself... so I guess he was more upset at the council for losing than for philosophy...
Thanks for the comment and questions. To answer them: you're right - Niavon was angry at the Council for their blunders, rather than for their overall aim. Siluria and Torridon are long-term enemies (thing England and France in the middle ages): there are a number of ongoing territorial disputes, there is a lot of economic rivalry and, of course, there is (because it's a long term rivalry) the whole 'They committed atrocities against us 20 years ago at place X' (on both sides). Niavon wanted (before craziness) war for all these reasons but also for revenge. It was also quite a populist policy.
Re. human and elf advisors, the land is multi-racial (I have all the racial languages being dead languages and the races, most of them, integrated for millenia in this part of the world). This could be easy to change if your world isn't that though.
I think elaborating on the madness would have brought more to the table. Right now we have an Alexander/Napoleon type leader and hints he is going mad. Giving more insight to spring off with would be good.
Edit: See the linked subs to properly position this here leader.