Halkya and His People

About six gnoll generations ago—approximately 180 years—one gnoll, Halkya by name and in vassalage to the Gatchtik in Darkcrest, claimed he had a visionary dream. In it, he reported, he saw Arkenos’s approach, two hundred years thence, and the gnolls of Thanor joining forces with the otherworldly invaders. They counted this treachery as little, for there was a common belief among them that there were gnolls on Arkenos and, indeed, some even postulated that the gnolls came to Jenoa from Arkenos in the long-forgotten past. But treachery in Halkya’s vision was repaid by treachery, and the gnolls found themselves slaughtered or enslaved by the dragons of Arkenos. And though Halkya had never before seen the light of the sun, he recognized it in the being that admonished him to give up works of evil and convince his people to follow him.

And that was exactly what Halkya decided to do the next day and, not being the canniest gnoll, he decided to do so by haranguing his cospecifics (other gnolls) on the corner of a major thoroughfare outside the gates of the primary Gatchtik estates. Needless to say, nearly the only ones not to ignore or laugh at him were the Gatchtik guards, who reported his words back to the leader of the time, Igrezki VI. Knowing that talk of Gatchtik treachery, even if supposedly prophetic, would not work in her favor; not wishing to lose the means for her people’s support to a commitment to the non-violence Halkya preached; and, in the spirit of her dynasty that faced little dissent and brooked none, Igrezki decided to put a summary end to him and his words.

When in the dawn the next day soldiers arrived at Halkya’s hut outside the city walls, however, they found no one there—not even Halkya’s closest relatives. For several months, it seemed the upstart had vanished without a trace, but slowly reports began to filter up through from informers to the Gatchtik that a renegade gnoll had made his camp, with a number that was growing every day, in the mountains northwest of the city. An expeditionary force was dispatched but, once again, found nothing save the charred remains of firepits. That was the last they thought they would hear of Halkya, as the mountains were reputed to be wilder beyond the capacity of an ill-equipped party.

The next year, however, who was to appear before the gates of the Gatchtik but Halkya, entirely nude and preaching the same doctrines as before. He did not resist his arrest. In order to discourage dissent from within and reassure the leaders of Darkcrest of her trustworthiness, Lady Igrezki arranged for Halkya to present his talking points publicly; she refuted them one by one and, at the end, ordered his execution. Halkya’s head was displayed on a pike atop the Gatchtik palace as a warning; some say the skull there now is his.

But the public repudiation of Halkya’s teachings had an unanticipated effect: the rapid and visible defection and departure of a handful of Gatchtik operatives alongside their households, servants, and allied clansmen. The situation was evolving into a true crisis. Following their trail, Gatchtik scouts found that they’d traveled along a rarely-used westward road to the sea. After some negotiations, Igrezki was able to muster a force from among the gnolls normally in the employ of Darkcrest’s nobility. After the long march to the sea, however, they were once more disappointed: they came across an abandoned camp and, to their astonishment, the remnants of a shipbuilding operation.

Halkya’s followers had fled Thanor and, unbeknowst to the Gatchtik, taken up residence on the two previously uninhabited islands halfway between Gallidus and Thanor, which they named Halkya and Yeriski (after Halkya’s minor clan). On the border of the twilight, Halkya’s people could now for the first time see the sun they had come to worship. In view of both the light and the dark, they pledged that they would become a great people and, one day, would return to free the gnolls of Darkcrest from superstition and violence.

In the meantime, they have established incipient trading relationships with some Gallidan nations, though there they are universally viewed with suspicion. They have also focused on fertility, causing a constant population boom, and technological development to support that growth. And periodically they send missionaries to Darkcrest to keep themselves apprised of the situation there and to seek out proselytes—this time, however, clandestinely, so as to avoid Halkya’s fate. The penalty of death still hangs over any who would espouse Halkya’s teachings without immediate refutation. If you visit certain parts of Darkcrest, you can find whisperings about Halkya and his people, and to this day gnoll individuals and families disappear, said to have “gone west.”

See Gnolls of Jenoa and Gatchtik.