Githyanki

In an age before mortal reckoning, there was war. A world, long forgotten and held in thrall by illithid overlords, groaned under the mind flayers’ influence. From this realm, the illithid’s slave-warriors sailed the Astral Sea, scouring the infinite plane for new worlds to conquer and new chattel for their masters’ unspeakable appetites. For eons, these mortals endured losing generations to endless conquest and endless war.

Yet for all the crushing oppression, these thralls were no meek servants, and time and again, they rose up to fight against those who would control their destiny, and each uprising met devastating defeat. So these people endured, gathering strength, fighting the illithid, yet always feeling their shackles tighten. Their suffering might have continued unabated until the end of days, but a hero rose among them, uniting them and revealing the weakness in their decadent masters. A few joined her at first, but her legend would not be contained and not long after, the slaves on all worlds rose up as one to topple the illithid empire. A mighty achievement to be sure, but what would follow would secure Gith’s place as one of the most dangerous mortals the worlds have ever known.

The Eternal Crusade

Gith’s uprising achieved what had before been impossible. Her cunning leadership and singleminded purpose helped her deal the deathblow to the mind flayer masters, giving her people the precious gift of freedom.

Even with the success, Gith knew others languished in the illithid’s clutches. If her people surrendered their hatred to rebuild their devastated world, the mind flayers might return with even more numbers and with other warriors to fight their battles. Gith had no doubt the mind flayers would exterminate them all. The answer to this lingering threat was to hunt down the illithids and destroy them root and branch.

Gith declared an Eternal Crusade, calling her people to join her in her genocidal mission. The githyanki were warriors, and fighting was all most understood. The people were past being farmers and crafters; they were killing machines. The promise of vengeance gave the githyanki something to do and also gave them a way off their desolate world, which was scorched and ruined by their uprising.

Zerthimon and the Civil War

Gith’s people despised the mind flayers, but not all agreed the Eternal Crusade was in their best interest. The people had just come through a devastating war, their world was destroyed, and few among them had the wherewithal to begin the process of rebuilding. Furthermore, not all wanted to perpetuate the warrior society that had gained prominence because they saw it as an aberration forced on them by their former masters.

Although not widespread, these misgivings had already taken root among the people, owed in part to Gith’s most outspoken critic: Zerthimon. A philosopher and warrior who had distinguished himself in the uprising and thus gained a small following of adherents, he taught a different path. He agreed the mind flayers would return, but argued that the same methods used to overcome them would be of little use in stopping another invasion. He taught the best defense was to embrace the new power within and unlock its secrets. Only then could the people fight their oppressors. Zerthimon’s position gained adherents as it spread throughout the camps until he amassed a sizeable following— enough to dismantle the Eternal Crusade before it began.

For a time Gith tolerated Zerthimon; she would not see the freedom she had won dashed with a new tyranny, even if tyranny was for her own people’s good. Her followers did not share her patience, however, and soon heated arguments erupted into open violence to silence the voice of opposition. Before Gith could react, the sporadic skirmishes exploded into civil war, and once started it appeared that it would find no end until one or both sides were destroyed.

The fighting raged for years, and terrible magic reduced what was already a wounded world into an uninhabitable cinder. With no end to the violence in sight, both sides withdrew. Those who followed Zerthimon, the githzerai, fled to the Elemental Chaos, and those sworn to Gith, withdrew to the Astral Sea. Though the plane divides them, the old hatreds burn still and the people have stood sundered, with little hope of reconciliation for thousands of years.

The One in the Void

Adrift in the Astral Sea, the githyanki had their burning hatred and their arms, but no home and few resources. They wouldn’t wander long though before fate, luck, or circumstance put a new home in their path. Githyanki scouts discovered the petrified remains of some dead god, perhaps a casualty from another war, or a god whose people were destroyed. Gith led her people to the floating hulk and there established [[Tu’narath | Tu’narath’s]] ancestral encampments.

As fortuitous as finding the hulk was, the githyanki who settled in the folds and rocks knew they were much diminished from the war against their kin. In such small numbers, they couldn’t hope to fight the Eternal Crusade, let alone raise new fortresses or even feed themselves. The situation was dire, but there would be a glimmer of hope in the sacrifice of the githyanki’s glorious leader.

Githyanki

FR Scales of War caneton