- "Strength and steel are well and good, but magic and knowledge are the true power in this world. You appear to lack the latter two, so I wonder...which of us is truly the powerless one?"
Kareth d'Zarnagon, simply known as Kareth in Zion, is a half-demon servant of the House of Sarillius in the Fourth Age. He has mentored Princess Alexandra Sarillius in arcane studies as a court mage although many in the new kingdom view him with suspicion due to the increasing tension between Zion and the demonic Andarian Empire.
Beyond his demonic looks, Kareth harbors a dark secret unknown to the people of Zion: he was once known as Zarnagon, a cleric of Mardük who helped cause the Yamatian Invasion as well as the rise of the Godslayer in the Third Age. He is also a member of the former House of Zarnagon, related by blood to his father, Duke Omaroch d'Zarnagon, and his brother, the rogue Refan d'Zarnagon.
- "Mother, I promise you that when I grow up, I am going to slay every one of those clerics of Mardük to keep father safe. I will find a way to defeat even the mighty Mardük himself someday. That is a promise that I am going to keep, so do not worry. I shall always protect you!"
- —Kareth to Delora d'Zarnagon
Kareth was born into the family of the archdemon Omaroch d'Zarnagon and the human cleric Delora d'Zarnagon in Remonton when the Provisional Government ruled over the then-Confederacy of Remon in the Third Age. The family had to keep the connection to Omaroch a secret because both the Clergy of Cardia and the Clergy of Mardük would have considered the marriage of a human and a demon blasphemy not to mention demons were feared creatures of legend among the mortal races of the world.
Omaroch had to stay away from home simply to not draw any suspicion on the family but Kareth nevertheless lived a happy childhood. The boy was thrilled when Delora gave birth to Refan, and Kareth loved his baby brother as much as his parents while deciding to become someone Refan could always rely on.
Although Omaroch had managed to keep the clerics of Cardia and Mardük off his tail, he had not expected that his demonic brothers would come after him personally. He realized that facing his older brothers might mean death, so he appeared at Delora's home for the last time one night, saying bitter farewells to his family. He was proud of Kareth's wisdom and told him that he would become a great man someday, and he left. As Delora wept, Kareth went to comfort her, promising to look after her and Refan in his father's absence.
A few years went by, and the family waited, but Omaroch never returned. Delora became weak from grief and assumed that her husband had perished because she knew he had many powerful enemies. Kareth remained adamant, pushing his sorrow aside, and helped doing the domestic chores.
The family was getting poorer and had to remain in hiding among the populace of Remonton, so Kareth could not even go to school. Delora was a good teacher, though, and tutored Kareth at home. She often let him read the ancient tomes that Omaroch had left behind, and Kareth was eager to read the tomes and his father's diaries to learn more about him.
Kareth's happy life would come to a turning point, though. The Clergy of Mardük had somehow found out where Delora and her sons were hiding, and they sent the infamous rogues led by Derak to deal with this family that had committed the ultimate sin of having associated itself with a demon. Derak located the house and attacked the family in the evening. The 5-year-old Refan tried to protect Delora, but one of the rogues threw him at the wall, knocking him unconscious.
The now 12-year-old Kareth got angry when he saw how brutally the rogues treated his mother and brother. He tried to help his family, but he was easily subdued. Derak and his rogues beat Kareth repeatedly and forced him to watch as they raped Delora and struck her down in front of his eyes before they knocked him out too. The rogues then sacked the house and decided to take Kareth with them and sell him to the slave traders.
Kareth did not know what happened to his brother in the aftermath, and he assumed that the rogues had killed him. He swore revenge, but he was too weak to even stand a chance against the rogues who kept beating him and laughing at his expense.
He was eventually sold to slave traders near Fragnar who soon realized that he was too weak from all the beatings to work. They were about to dispose of him when a black-clad woman appeared and bought him. She turned out to be the Black Widow, a mercurial woman who was one of the most influential slave traders in Remon at that time. She had been impressed when she had happened to overhear Kareth telling ancient legends to fellow slaves in a vivid way, and she saw potential in him because of his eloquence.
The Black Widow did not give Kareth any privileges, but she did ask him questions every once in a while, testing the boy. Kareth did not initially know why she did this, but everything changed when a hooded cleric of Mardük appeared at the slave traders' camp. The Black Widow's questions had merely been a test to see if Kareth would be suitable to sell to clerics of Mardük who often visited the Widow.
The dark cleric was impressed by Kareth's knowledge and bought him from the Widow. The boy was taken to Ravensworth where he and the cleric boarded a ship which took them to Yamato and from there to Vulpengaard Keep, the headquarters of the Clergy of Mardük.
A New IdentityEdit
- "I sense great potential in you, boy. Since you're wiser than your years indicate, I shall give you the name of a demon who sought knowledge above all else. Henceforth you shall be known as...Zarnagon!"
- —Distreyd Thanadar XI to Kareth
In the deepest depths of Vulpengaard Keep Kareth met none other than Distreyd Thanadar XI, the high cleric of Mardük. Distreyd was impressed by Kareth's knowledge and took him under his wing, training him along with a special few pupils. This training was not gentle at all, though: Distreyd constantly brainwashed the boys to forget their former identities and gave each of them names according to demons which they most resembled.
Ironically Kareth's name became Zarnagon, a demon who had sought knowledge. Maybe Distreyd was unaware of Kareth being a member of Clan d'Zarnagon or perhaps he knew about it and used the name as an ironic echo of Zarnagon's origins as the son of Omaroch. Whatever the case, from that day onward Kareth ceased to exist and only Zarnagon was born in his stead. Zarnagon was given Inferno, the Ruby Blade, to use as a weapon as a symbol of his obedience to the clergy.
Zarnagon proved to be a great pupil and was among the most intelligent and cruelest clerics of Mardük in his class. He also got to know Drakhal and Lahkard, the Dark Twins, who became his bodyguards from that day on. Distreyd was pleased with Zarnagon's progress and as soon as Zarnagon reached adulthood, Distreyd sent him back to Remon, this time to serve under Count Frederic Drima who was one of the most loyal supporters of the clergy in the Confederacy of Remon.
Zarnagon met not only with Drima but another cleric named Jonathan Ferron. The three were instructed to find the Dragon Diamond which Distreyd wanted to use for the benefit of the clergy. However, it turned out that the trio of Drima, Ferron and Zarnagon were more ambitious than even Distreyd had assumed because they decided to find the diamond but would use it themselves instead of handing it over to Distreyd.
While the trio were searching for the diamond, they also used the opportunity to covertly spread the teachings of the dark clergy around Remon while using the corrupt Provisional Government to do their bidding. One ranger named Mori'sul Agara could not be bought, however, and he caused problems which made him a target for Zarnagon's machinations.
Zarnagon slept with various women during this time. One such relationship with a Sinlarine woman eventually resulted in the birth of his eldest son, Xerathas d'Zarnagon. Zarnagon was not willing to let anyone know of his son's existence, however, so he managed to bribe some clerics of Mardük to take Xerathas to a hidden place where he would be kept safe. He also ordered the mother's relatives to take care of the boy in secret until the right time would come for Xerathas to reveal himself to the world as Zarnagon's heir.
The dark cleric's journeys throughout Remon led him to the elven Korath Brothers known as Egendaul, Firion and Maiyr. He was delighted when he found out that Egendaul had been serving Mardük for a long time, and he used Egendaul as a means to manipulate Firion and Maiyr to side with him as well. Zarnagon eventually experimented with Maiyr with a variant of a certain magical plague which he had discovered, which resulted in Maiyr's transformation into the dreaded Beastmaster.
Zarnagon ordered the Korath brothers to act in different ways that would benefit the clergy in the long run: to escalate the racial conflict between elves and humans in Remon in order to keep the few non-corruptible members of the Provisional Government focused on the racial conflict instead of the Clergy of Mardük itself. The actions of Egendaul did have a desired outcome as Mori'sul Agara was forced to spend more time in Southern Remon, thus letting Zarnagon to operate freely in the north.
Stirrings of ChaosEdit
- "Do you really think that you can challenge me? You do not know the power I possess!"
- —Zarnagon to Refan d'Zarnagon
While Jonathan Ferron took care of things elsewhere in Remon, Frederic Drima funded Zarnagon's research on the Dragon Diamond and its whereabouts. Zarnagon eventually managed to use the journal of Arawn Losstarot to recover the Dragon Diamond but found out that only those who were direct descendants of the elven sage who had created the diamond could use the diamond to locate the valley where the Dark Dragon Frazzn'korth resided in. The dark clerics decided to do what they could to release the dragon but they had a dilemma: how to find the descendants of the sages.
However, it did not take long for Zarnagon to learn that a certain half-elven thief named Izael Korath happened to be the chosen one to use the diamond. Unlike his half-brothers, Izael possessed the powers needed to locate the diamond thanks to not only his father's but also his mother's line. Zarnagon quickly found out that Izael was working for the Ravensworth Thieves' Guild, so he and Drima decided to set a trap for him. They spread a rumour that Drima had the invaluable Dragon Diamond onboard his ship in Ravensworth, and many thieves got interested in it, including Ravensworth's guild. Everything was going as planned.
As Zarnagon had predicted, Izael took the bait and was among the first thieves to enter the ship late at night in the hopes of stealing the diamond with his friends Sullena and another thief who was, ironically, none other than Refan. When the thieves were caught, Zarnagon and Drima mocked them and fell into an old cliché that would come back to bite their asses: they were so thrilled to have Izael in their mercy that they revealed their plan to use him. The thieves chose to resist the clerics. Although Sullena was killed in the skirmish, the thief Refan managed to escape, vowing to hunt Zarnagon down and make him pay for killing his mentor.
Refan's sword Smaragdos caught Zarnagon's eyes, however. Zarnagon could feel immense power in that strange sword and he felt a somewhat familiar aura around the young thief that he couldn't quite pinpoint. Unbeknownst to him the reason he felt this aura was because he was in the presence of a brother he had thought had perished during Derak's attack years ago. Zarnagon decided to keep the thief and the sword in mind for the future, hoping to possess the sword at a later date.
Drima, Zarnagon and the captured Izael sailed to Remonton to report to Ferron before continuing the journey to avoid any possible pursuers. While they stopped at Remonton to resupply, Zarnagon instructed Ferron to find and dispose of Refan as well as get the young thief's sword for further study because he felt there was something strange and powerful within the sword, something he could use to further his goals.
Zarnagon and Drima eventually reached Fragnar where Zarnagon brainwashed Izael with the methods learned from Distreyd XI to make the half-elf join the clergy. He also briefly talked with Egendaul about his plans to further his career in the ranks of the clergy. He used the opportunity which had been presented to him and became the official leader of the group by manipulating his minions, forcing even his former boss Drima to become his mere subordinate. The cowardly Drima was too weak to resist Zarnagon's threats and charm, and thus Zarnagon was one step closer to climbing the ladders to the higher echelon of the clergy.
As if that wasn't enough, Zarnagon soon found out that Refan had survived the encounter with Ferron's minions in Remonton and was on his way to Fragnar with a bunch of misfits who were led by none other than Mori'sul Agara who was investigating the mysterious anti-elven movements which the Clergy of Mardük had secretly been backing up. Zarnagon understandably got annoyed by this sudden development but found a good way to twist his opponents' mind when he happened upon a meeting between Izael and his former thief companion Jessica on the streets of Fragnar.
Zarnagon immediately brainwashed Jessica and sent her and her friends after Refan. He thought that maybe a friend-turned-enemy would work better in acquiring the thief's sword and even if Jessica's deception failed, Zarnagon could at least emotionally scar that annoying thief who had survived too many encounters with his minions. Everything went as Zarnagon had planned as he used magic to observe the confrontation between Refan's companions and Jessica's brainwashed group.
He used the opportunity to possess Jessica and took one of Refan's new companions, Bella Sirius, hostage, threatening to kill her if Refan didn't surrender and kill his friends. To his surprise Refan showed surprising courage and morals when he refused to accept Zarnagon's offer and instead killed Jessica, forcing Zarnagon to leave her dying body. Zarnagon had not expected the thief to show loyalty to his new companions and strike down his beloved friend in cold blood, and he realized that he had underestimated the thief's determination.
Zarnagon was surprised, however, when he was approached by a mysterious bearded man who referred to himself as the Wanderer. The man seemed to know an awful lot about Zarnagon's past, which troubled Zarnagon greatly. Before Zarnagon could properly act and question the man, the Wanderer vanished but not without stating that he would keep an eye out on Zarnagon. Not sure what to think of this stranger, Zarnagon promised himself to make sure to capture this Wanderer the next time he saw him and make him spill out all the information he had. He didn't like that a new piece had appeared on the board and could potentially jeopardize his mission.
Just when things were beginning to get interesting, Zarnagon found out from Egendaul and Drima that they had to leave Fragnar and travel to the mountains as long as Izael's visions of the Dragon Diamond were still accessible and before the blizzards of the season would arrive.
Although Zarnagon would've wanted to stay behind and get Refan's sword himself after so many of his pawns had failed to do that, he realized that this was the only chance for him to locate the resting place of the Dark Dragon at this time, so he reluctantly began the journey east. However, he left a mocking letter for Refan as well as Sullena's head in a glass jar just to spite the thief because he couldn't help but act theatrically at times.
The group eventually located the Ruined Kingdom and the dragon's prison but it didn't take long for them to figure out that possessing the Dragon Diamond was not enough. Using the information on the tome of Arawn Losstarot to translate the old runes, they realized they needed many magical artifacts from various kingdoms which needed to be used in a dark ritual to revive the Dark Dragon.
Zarnagon thought to simply postpone releasing the Dark Dragon and instead he would concentrate on getting Refan's sword. For some reason that blade had become an obsession for him for reasons even he didn't quite understand at first. It didn't take long for Zarnagon to realize that his own sword Inferno and Refan's sword Smaragdos were connected and were actually important items needed to release the Dark Dragon. This gave Zarnagon even more of a reason to hunt Refan down.
However, when his group was on its way to Fragnar to confront Refan, he met clerics of Mardük who had been looking for him. The clerics had grave news: Distreyd XI had been slain and his son, now titled Distreyd Thanadar XII, had become the new high cleric of Mardük and had allied himself with Shogun Masamori Hyuga. Many clerics, including Zarnagon, were to travel to Yamato immediately to pledge their loyalty to their new overlord but also because Distreyd XII seemed to have great plans for the future of the world.
Zarnagon realized that it was pointless to resist orders from the high cleric and so he reluctantly travelled to Yamato, hoping that he could eventually return to Remon to finish the job that he had begun by capturing Refan and acquiring Smaragdos, the Emerald Blade.
- "You really do think you're adding to the glorious Empire of Yamato, don't you? You...sad little man. I'm sorry to jar you from your delusions of grandeur, but you and your people are nothing. Nations, empires...inventions of man. No, all of this will be swept away under the glorious reign of Mardük!"
- —Zarnagon to Yasuo Fukuda
Distreyd XII was impressed by Zarnagon's efforts to improve the clergy and appointed him as his right-hand man. While Yamato was ostensibly trying to negotiate a treaty with Libaterra, its forces were actually getting ready for an invasion. Zarnagon was tasked to lead an assault force to Libaterra. He managed to use both brute force and clever tactics to make Libaterra fall on its knees. The task was made easier by the fact that the Libaterran Civil War had left both the Locken Loyalists and the Rebels weak and easy for Yamatians to deal with. Lutherin fell not soon after, and Distreyd XII was pleased by Zarnagon's efficiency.
Zarnagon had begun a pet project during the invasion of Libaterra. He had used ancient magics, which he had learned while studying the Dragon Diamond, to give birth to a shadowy reflection of himself which would act as his eyes and ears. He knew the incubation would take some time, but he would use this Shadow as a means to locate Refan's sword Smaragdos which was essential to his plan to release the Dark Dragon.
Although Zarnagon would've wanted to move to Remon next, he found out that another cleric, Dante Albrigant, was already leading the invasion there. Instead Distreyd XII gave Zarnagon an order to take Aison next while Dante was busy consolidating the Yamatian rule in Remon. This development was a hindrance but it was beneficial for him to be on Distreyd XII's good graces so he followed orders.
He was not too thrilled when he found out that Distreyd XII had sent Richelieu, a cleric of Mardük, to act as his closest minion. It was obviously an act to keep an eye out on Zarnagon's activities and ensure that he remained loyal to Distreyd XII. A few weeks later Zarnagon, Richelieu the Yamatian Admiral Yasuo Fukuda launched a surprise attack on the Aisonian capital of Myridia, which caught the Aisonians unaware.
Zarnagon's bodyguards Drakhal, Lahkard and Izael were with him to witness the victory as the scattered Aisonian forced fled while facing the might of the superior Yamatian army. The only downside to this invasion was that King Byron Kagawest had managed to escape alive and was nowhere to be found.
Admiral Yasuo appeared in the throne room of Castle Myridium after the battle. He accused Zarnagon of taking his place as the steward of Aison and that the Shogun had ordered him, not Zarnagon, to command the Yamatian army in Aison. When Zarnagon openly mocked the Shogun, Yasuo was angered and was about to attack. However, the Yamatian admiral never managed to strike Zarnagon down because Richelieu hit him with a lightning bolt and then framed the murder by placing the blame on one of the Aisonian prisoners.
Zarnagon was now the lord of all of Aison and had gotten rid of Yasuo who could've turned out to be a dangerous rival. He now had one of the largest armies in the world at his command as well as resources to send his minions to locate various artifacts that were needed to resurrect the Dark Dragon. He knew that Richelieu might turn out to be a problem in the future but for now everything had gone better than he had dreamed.
All he needed now was a symbol of his power to show off. He called in various architects who would build him the Dark Tower where he would conduct his experiments with magic and use it as a place of incubation for the growing Shadow.
Witch King of MyridiaEdit
Zarnagon became a controversial figure in Myridia during the years of the Yamatian occupation of Aison. He was feared as the Witch-king of Myridia but he occasionally showed a softer side, especially towards the dozens of lovers he had. Fathers whose daughters became members of Zarnagon's harem eventually felt proud to be able to get closer to Zarnagon and gain more prestige in return, and Zarnagon was eager to impregnate as many women as he could. The women found him to be a great lover as he never neglected any of his multiple wives.
He took in and trained the dark cleric Shyralis at this time, manipulating her feelings for him. He used her as a spy, and she turned out to be one of his best servants in a long while, which pleased him. Some whispered that they were involved romantically but these rumours were never confirmed one way or the other.
Zarnagon also got to know a few other clerics better, including Dmitri Tytla who became one of his closest advisors. Now that he had secured his power base and gained valuable allies, he gathered twelve dark clerics who had taken care of Xerathas in these past few years. The reunion of father and son was rather touching, and Zarnagon was proud to see how Xerathas had been trained well in the dark arts despite being so young. However, there was another reason that Zarnagon needed the dark dozen and Xerathas to be by his side: he was preparing for an essential ritual which would bring him one step closer to reviving the Dark Dragon.
Things soon had a darker turn, however. The Shogun had heard of Admiral Yasuo's death and had sent a new representative, an elven captain named Varalia Earthhaven, to Zarnagon's court. Zarnagon immediately noticed that Varalia was no pushover and was far more resourceful than Yasuo had been, and he began to regret that he had killed off Yasuo too soon. His eyes did notice, however, that the young lieutenant Hiroshi Takamoto seemed to be close to Varalia, and he planned to use this information and the officers' friendship to his advantage eventually.
One Step CloserEdit
The news of a rebellion in Remon spread to Aison in 1003 AE, and Zarnagon also heard a juicy piece of gossip: Refan had been seen working for Marcus Sarillius, the leader of the Remonian rebels. Zarnagon immediately sent Izael and the Shadow to track down Refan and to inform Egendaul and Drima of Zarnagon's plans. He knew he could trust those four to carry out the mission, and this let him concentrate on Aisonian matters especially now that Varalia was constantly harrassing him with questions about the details of Yasuo's death.
The Shadow failed to capture Refan, but Zarnagon didn't mind. He knew the Shadow would grow stronger after every defeat so it'd only be a matter of time before it would bring Smaragdos to him. Not wanting to pass an opportunity, though, he decided to send Shyralis to Remon to find out what Refan and the Grand Alliance were up to.
While his servants were busy in Remon, Zarnagon peformed the ritual of Malakhia, which was also known as the Rite of the Revenant, in the Dark Tower. This involved draining his most beloved person, Xerathas, of life for a brief moment in order to let the spirits of the Fire Lizards possess the twelve acolytes.
The ritual was a success although Xerathas's spirit almost didn't make it back to his body from its trip to the Land of the Dead. This experience left Xerathas emotionally scarred, barely able to express emotions. Zarnagon considered it a fair price to pay because he now possessed the knowledge of the Fire Lizards, the powerful warriors and sorcerers who had once tried to resurrect the Dark Dragon. Zarnagon made the twelve resurrected Fire Lizards to swear loyalty to him and Xerathas and then began writing down the information they had.
- "OUT OF MY WAY, FOUL HALF-BREED!"
- —Richelieu and Zarnagon
One day Zarnagon realized something he hadn't even considered during his reign as the steward of Aison: there was a group in his court planning to overthrow him during these uncertain times. The plan was revealed when he discovered that Dmitri's brother, Vladimir Tytla, had been spying on him during the ritual. He quickly finished Vladimir off but not before finding out a few crucial names who were behind the conspiracy. Although he couldn't find solid evidence of Varalia being part of it, his instincts told him to stay on guard.
Zarnagon couldn't afford to have traitors in his ranks and began a great purge in Myridia, killing off would-be conspirators one person at a time. He also made it clear to Varalia in an indirect manner that he knew about her and Takamoto's part in the would-be coup. To emphasize the point he separated Varalia and Takamoto from one another and sent his spies to keep an eye on any other people he suspected of treason.
It didn't help matters that Richelieu out of all people had acted in a suspicious manner in the past few days. When Zarnagon had wanted to hear his counsel as well as to use him to translate a few documents which were written in a language Zarnagon didn't know very well, his guards told him that Richelieu wasn't in his room.
Using his powers, Zarnagon immediately found out that Richelieu was fleeing. He had also read a dossier which Dmitri had given him and realized how dangerous Richelieu actually was if he were to defect: Richelieu actually possessed the powers of an oracle, which was an ability Zarnagon had many uses for. He couldn't allow Richelieu to leave so he decided to confront him on his own.
The two dark clerics met at the gates of Myridia and had a brief, heated conversation during which Zarnagon tried to plead Richelieu to stay. When he found out Richelieu couldn't be persuaded, he attacked, preferring to kill Richelieu instead of letting his power fall into the wrong hands. Just when he was about to win, Richelieu surprised him by calling him a half-breed all of a sudden. This gave Richelieu enough time to send Zarnagon flying off his horse, and he fled from Myridia before Zarnagon could give chase.
After sending soldiers after Richelieu, Zarnagon retreated to his chambers. Richelieu's words troubled him and he wondered if he was in fact some half breed or if it had just been a taunt used to distract him. The words of the Wanderer returned in his mind, and he couldn't sleep well since then as he began asking questions about his identity. Something nagged in his mind but he felt as if that information was hidden behind some spell. At the time he didn't yet know how right he was about it.
He began having stranger and stranger dreams from that moment onward, and he often acted erratically. This troubled many people around him, and soon he became paranoid about who was friend and who was foe. He was losing his grip on reality slowly but surely, but the brainwashing spell prevented him from finding relief in his true, hidden memories which he couldn't yet access.
The Storm ApproachesEdit
- "It's time to wipe that arrogant smile off your face, my dear. Let me show you what real power is like!"
- —Zarnagon to Varalia
Zarnagon soon found out that some of his paranoia was justified: Varalia was still defying him and plotting in secret with a few remaining Yamatian officers in Myridia. Zarnagon made sure that Takamoto and the rest of the high-ranking Yamatians were busy elsewhere, and he decided to make his move. Too long had Varalia defied him, she was the only woman to ever do so. This defiance turned him on, and he decided to rape her to prove his superiority.
He appeared in the elven captain's room one night and did exactly what he had intended to do. Varalia tried to protest but found herself helpless because Zarnagon's power had grown immensely thanks to the power he was leeching from a shard of the Dragon Diamond which he was keeping in his necklace. The power also had a drawback, turning Zarnagon more feral and made him act more on instinct than on cold logic as he usually did.
Just as Zarnagon had finished his act, he noticed something in the corner of his eye. He was surprised to see a group of people, who certainly weren't members of his court, sneaking into the room and taking Varalia's sword Dawn. Zarnagon's instincts warned him about these people and he gave chase, leaving the shocked Varalia sobbing behind. The palace guard soon joined him in the chase and killed many of the interlopers. Despite this a few of the infiltrators managed to escape, but Zarnagon managed to catch the name of their leader: Axikasha Keiran.
Duel with RefanEdit
- "It's time to finish what we began years ago, thief. I'll squash you as easily as I squashed your pathetic little friends. No one can stop me from fulfilling my destiny!"
- "The only destiny a bastard like you will face is an agonizing death! I'll make you pay for all the suffering you've caused!"
- —Zarnagon and Refan d'Zarnagon
Zarnagon had hardly time to recover from the unexpected theft of Dawn before he found out that the army of the Grand Alliance had followed the thieves and was launching an attack on Myridia. Because he had killed off many of his senior lieutenants during the purge, Zarnagon didn't have nearly enough skilled officers to help him out and he could barely set up defences around the city. That, however, wasn't enough, and soon the Alliance's forces moved the battle inside Myridia's walls. He had severely underestimated the cunning of his minions and the power of the Grand Alliance.
Wasting no time, Zarnagon ordered the Dark Prophets to take Xerathas to safety: the last thing he wanted was to see his beloved son in the hands of the enemy. He, the Dark Twins and his pet griffin remained in the throne room, knowing that the decisive battle would soon be at hand. Zarnagon leeched on the power of the Dragon Diamond shard, promising himself that he wouldn't lose no matter what happened. He was so close to seeing his dream come true, and no hero would be allowed to stand in his way. He thought briefly about Varalia but brushed the thought aside; he would worry about her later.
While the Second Battle of Myridia raged outside, a group of skilled heroes led by none other than Ax, the woman who had stolen Dawn, eventually battled their way to the throne room of Zarnagon and ordered Zarnagon to surrender. When Zarnagon only smirked in response, the heroes attacked and quickly defeated Zarnagon's bodyguards.
However, despite outnumbering the black mage and having elite heroes at their disposal, the heroes were beaten. Zarnagon used the powers of the Dragon Diamond to mop the floor with various heroes, killing them left and right. It was then that Zarnagon noticed that Refan, who was holding Smaragdos, was among the heroes. It was just like the Wanderer had told him so many years ago: his and the thief's paths would cross, and then Zarnagon would finally see his dream envelop the world.
Despite Zarnagon's awesome power, Refan was not willing to give up without a fight. Using the opening provided by his fallen friends, he directly engaged Zarnagon in a fierce duel. He was surprised to see that Zarnagon was wielding the Ruby Blade, Inferno, which was like a darker version of Refan's own sword Smaragdos. Zarnagon proved superior at first and severely beat Refan. It was then that Refan chose to take Zarnagon with him if he were to die, and he transformed into his powerful demonic form which caught Zarnagon completely by surprise.
As Zarnagon lay bleeding, the demonic Refan prepared to cut him down. The pain was so intense that Zarnagon felt like he had entered a new world. It was then that the shard of the Dragon Diamond began glowing, and Zarnagon dropped whatever civility he might've had as the instict to survive grew within him. It was that fated day when Zarnagon transformed into a demonic form, losing all control in his newfound fury, and the duel began anew.
Zarnagon and Refan were equally matched in their demonic forms and fought long and hard until both of them managed to impale each other with their bloodstained, glowing blades. Both were tired but neither was willing to give up. They looked into each other's fiery demonic eyes and waited for the other to make a finishing move. Nothing else mattered.
- "You two are brothers...my sons...members of a powerful demon clan! Search for that familiar feeling deep within your hearts and cast aside your doubts, and you'll know it to be true."
- —Omaroch d'Zarnagon to Refan and Zarnagon
It was at that crucial moment when Ferron attacked, revealing his true colours. Zarnagon could barely react to this sudden act but then memories of Ferron flooded into his mind. When Ferron had been betrayed by Zarnagon, he had sworn to make Zarnagon pay. It quickly became apparent to Zarnagon that Ferron had been following Refan all this time and had waited until both men were too tired from battle so that he could finish both Refan and Zarnagon off to pay Zarnagon back for the earlier acts of treachery.
Ferron would've succeeded in the assassination but the surprising arrival of the Wanderer ruined his plans. When he tried to attack again, Refan and Zarnagon were already free. Refan's demonic form had regenerated enough to pose too big a threat for Ferron who escaped, cursing Refan as he left.
The Wanderer revealed himself as Omaroch d'Zarnagon, the long-lost father, and calmly told the two men of their demonic heritage, explaining to Refan the reasons for the dark voices Refan had heard throughout his life. He also revealed that Zarnagon was in fact Kareth, Refan's long-lost older brother whom the Clergy of Mardük had bought from slave traders and brainwashed to serve Mardük. Smaragdos and Inferno in fact housed the fragmented spirit of Malakhia d'Zarnagon, Omaroch's father and the boys' grandfather, who had guided Refan and Zarnagon through all these years. The struggle of Refan and Zarnagon had been one of the last prophesied events needed to release Mardük, the God of Chaos, who could now take over the world at long last.
Zarnagon accepted the facts calmly as everything finally made sense to him now that Omaroch's words had triggered the last pieces of his memory. He had finally solved the puzzle which he had suspected had been there all along. He was once again whole, no longer Kareth or Zarnagon but Kareth d'Zarnagon.
While Kareth was pondering the weight of this revelation, Omaroch turned to Refan, saying that he wanted his sons to be by his side when Mardük would return to the Land of the Living and deliver it to demons who would then rule over the lesser races as they always should've been. It was then that Refan realized that his father had changed and become a pawn of Mardük just like everyone else. The world was doomed and worst of all, Refan's family were in fact his worst enemies.
Refan, unable to accept this horrible truth, fled the battle in terror, deserting the Grand Alliance in the process. Omaroch and Kareth left as well, leaving the mangled bodies and few heroic survivors behind while the rest of the Alliance's army took over Myridia.
- "Let the blood of the gods spill forth on the soil of their creation!"
- —The Godslayer before devouring Cardia and Mardük
Kareth and Omaroch travelled to the Ruined Kingdom after the Battle of Myridia. Once he got to the temple in the middle of the ruins, he used ancient rites to unlock the power of a mysterious artifact, the Dragon Diamond, which released the spirits of Frazzn'korth and Malakhia.
However, at this point Kareth betrayed his father with his amplified demonic strength and skewered him. Now that his memories were restored in full, he had no intention of letting the dark dragon become Mardük's pawn. He wanted to use the dragon to avenge his mother's death by slaying Mardük. However, he also wanted to destroy Cardia whom he considered to be a pathetic being who had tried to force people to live under the One Truth with no free will. Kareth was also disgusted at his father for twisting his and Refan's life all these years and thus lashed out at Omaroch in rage.
Omaroch was not dead yet, though, but before Kareth could deal the finishing blow, the spirits of Frazzn'korth and Malakhia broke free the chains that kept Frazzn'korth's frozen dragon body in place. The spirits entered the dragon's body as Kareth had planned, but there was also an unintended consequence: Kareth was sucked into the dragon's body as well. This traumatic experience made the dragon's body transform, and it took a shape that looked like a giant hybrid of a dragon and a demon. This new being would be known as the Godslayer.
As the final battle of the Great War took place at the very heart of Yamato and the gods Cardia and Mardük began their intense duel, the Godslayer sensed the released energies of the gods and flew to Yamato. It managed to surprise both the Grand Alliance and the forces of Darkness completely, and before either side could react, it attacked and devoured Cardia and Mardük. The demons who had been fighting for Mardük began running amok now that their master was gone, and the Godslayer began killing everything that stood in its way.
These sudden events made both the armies of Light and Darkness to panic, and they fled to their countries of origin. The Godslayer eventually ended its rampage as it felt its power being drained, so it headed to Aison where it felt a familiar presence. It turned out that the person the Godslayer had sensed was none other than Xerathas d'Zarnagon, the son of one of the Godslayer's three personalities, Kareth.
The beast let Kareth's personality surface for a brief moment as it told Xerathas everything about its origin. The Godslayer gave the boy a mission to proceed with Kareth's original plan, and then it fell into a deep sleep. This marked the end of the Great War and the beginning of the Age of Emptiness.
The Godslayer would remain in its deep slumber for years, slowly gathering its strength. Kareth's essence would be absorbed into the Godslayer during this time, and he would become an integral part of the beast, barely retaining anything of his former self apart from a grisly, half-demonic body of an appendage in the beast's chest. Kareth d'Zarnagon would be no more after the Cataclysm which he had caused finally ended; he was now a mere part of the Godslayer's flesh.
- Main article: Godslayer
Some time after the Catastrophe had rearranged the world and ushered in the Fourth Age, Kareth awoke in an unfamiliar place, alone and confused, trying to piece together what had happened to him since the last time he remembered being awake. He had little on him as he had been robbed by bandits who had passed his unconscious body by. He was trapped in a mockery of his half-demon heritage: humanoid but with black skin, red eyes, pointed ears and now completely white hair, which made him look monstrous as opposed to his more alluring human self.
Starving and injured, he found his way to Sarilstad, the recently founded capital of the new Kingdom of Zion where he was taken into questioning. He might have been lynched by the scared townsfolk who were worried about the expansionistic and demonic Andarian Empire if not for the intervention of Desdemona Sarillius, the Queen of Zion, who sensed great magic within the half-demon.
Kareth answered his interrogators and explained that he was a half-demon outcast with nowhere to go. After more questioning, the queen made an offer that surprised both the townsfolk as well as Kareth himself: Kareth would be treated and allowed to recover if he aligned himself with the kingdom from that day forward and served the queen with zeal. Grateful for the queen's mercy, Kareth agreed to her terms and became a court mage in the Sarillius household from that day onward.
Although the citizens of Sarilstad continued viewing him with suspicion, Kareth did what he could to stay on the side of Zion and do what he was told in order not to provoke the ire of people. Among his many duties was to assist the queen's daughter, Princess Alexandra Sarillius, in arcane studies.
Aliases and NicknamesEdit
- Used by his family and loved ones and, since the Fourth Age, by the people of the new world.
- Lord Zarnagon
- Used by clerics of Mardük.
- Witch-King of Myridia
- Used by Aisonians during Zarnagon's reign as the Steward of Aison.
- A derogatory nickname given by Refan.
Kareth is 6 feet tall, lanky but muscular.
In the Third Age, Kareth wore a black robe which was commonly used in the Clergy of Mardük, but his robe differed slightly because it had a mix of green and a sigil of a green dragon. He had dyed his hair a mix of white and black, and thus it was easy to recognize him wherever he went.
In the Fourth Age, Kareth appears more demonic than in the past age. His ears are now pointed, his eyes are burning red, his skin is black, and his hair is completely white. He wears a greyish cloak with a golden trim to signify his position as a servant of the Sarillius household.
Personality and TraitsEdit
Before his brainwashing by the Clergy of Mardük, Kareth was a caring brother who wanted nothing more than see his brother and parents to live in peace and had promised to protect them by any means necessary.
When acting as Zarnagon, he was an ambitious and manipulative schemer who was willing to backstab his allies to get what he wanted. However, he did show affection to his eldest son Xerathas from time to time.
After his return as Kareth, he appears to have become more reserved and humble, doing what he is told instead of giving orders due to his current status as a servant. He doesn't want to pick fights although he often finds himself as a target for people's hate and fear, and he chooses to face accusations calmly, perhaps to atone for the past he has kept hidden from others.
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
Zarnagon was quite skilled in many forms of black magic and reached the high level in relatively short time. When he possessed the power of the Dragon Diamond, he could transform ravens into monstrous griffins although such transformations always resulted in gruesome deaths. He could appear in dreams and communicate with his adversaries, although doing this for too long drained him.
The Dragon Diamond gave him other tremendous powers as well, but it also got him addicted, and he eventually had to wear a shard of the diamond on his neck all the time to leech more power. Accessing the diamond's powers also made him lean closer to his darker side, and it eventually made him realize his demonic heritage.
Since his return as Kareth, his powers have lessened, and he is now a slightly above average black mage. His knowledge of the arcane is respectable, however, and he often puts it to good use as a court mage.
Delora and Kareth loved each other, and Kareth was shocked to see his mother's death in front of his eyes. Although he was brainwashed some time later, these deep feelings never vanished. Once he got his memories of Delora back, it drove him to plot the downfall of the Clergy of Mardük by using the dark dragon Frazzn'korth as his vessel of revenge.
Distreyd Thanadar XIEdit
Distreyd XI made Zarnagon one of his students and was responsible for brainwashing him. However, he couldn't erase Zarnagon's deep, hidden feelings which made Zarnagon resent the Clergy of Mardük on a subconscious level. Zarnagon didn't mourn Distreyd XI's death and instead used it as a means to get closer to Distreyd XI's son Distreyd XII in his bid for power.
Distreyd Thanadar XIIEdit
Zarnagon's intelligence and ruthless actions impressed Distreyd XII who made Zarnagon his right-hand man. Zarnaogn used this opportunity to gain more power while he ostensibly served Distreyd XII loyally. Distreyd XII seemed to anticipate Zarnagon's eventual betrayal, however, and began his own plot to keep Zarnagon in check. This plan was never finished, however, thanks to the actions of Jemuel.
Dmitri and Zarnagon instantly got along. Dmitri was wise enough not to mess with Zarnagon and became one of his most trusted advisor. While Zarnagon was often busy sleeping with women or worrying about finding the artifacts necessary to revive the dark dragon, Dmitri took care of administrative duties as Zarnagon's right-hand man. Once Zarnagon had become Godslayer, Dmitri remained loyal to him.
At first Drima was the higher-ranked cleric among the group but soon Zarnagon managed to wrestle control of the group from him and turned him into his servant. Drima was too weak-minded to resist Zarnagon and served as his pawn from that day onward.
Ferron respected and feared Zarnagon and continued to work with him because he was as ambitious as Zarnagon and wanted to gain the powers of the Dragon Diamond. However, Zarnagon betrayed him during the Yamatian Invasion, and from that day on Ferron swore to make him pay for it. Ferron began plotting and used the Grand Alliance as a means to get close to Zarnagon. His plan to make Zarnagon and Refan kill each other failed when it turned out that the two men were in fact brothers and Zarnagon's true name was Kareth. Ferron could do nothing but see his old ally and foe slip through his fingers, and he never heard from him again after that dreadful battle in Myridia.
At first Zarnagon only knew Omaroch as the mysterious Wanderer who seemed to know more about him than he thought was possible. It was thanks to these encounters that Zarnagon eventually remembered his past life one bit at a time and could break free from Distreyd XI's mind control. He found out during the climactic battle of Myridia that Omaroch was actually his father. He immediately saw his father's love as a means to fulfill his goal and pretended to help Omaroch release the dark dragon until he betrayed Omaroch at a crucial moment and merged with the dragon, creating the Godslayer in the process. Omaroch was hurt by this betrayal and barely survived, and from that day on he swore to atone for his bad deeds now that he had unleashed a terrible evil to the world.
Refan's relationship with Kareth is complex. They began as loving brothers until they were separated as children. They grew up in different environments, and Kareth was brainwashed to become a member of the Clergy of Mardük. As fate would have it, the two became bitter archrivals although they did not know their relationship as brothers at that time. Kareth tormented Refan as Zarnagon both emotionally and physically in order to guide the thief to a confrontation which would help him fulfill an ancient prophecy which he could then use to release the dragon Frazzn'korth. The two finally confronted each other during the Battle of Myridia and were close to killing each other when Omaroch appeared and revealed that they were brothers. Refan could not take this information in one sitting and fled in terror, but Kareth assessed the idea calmly and decided to carry out his plan anyway. It seemed that Kareth's hatred calmed down a bit after the revelation, but Refan still has to confront his brother and settle the animosity between them once and for all.
Richelieu and Zarnagon never quite got along. Both were ambitious men who saw each other as dangerous rivals. By the time Richelieu chose to abandon his post in Myridia, Zarnagon was more than happy to strike him down, but Richelieu surprised him by referring to him as a half-demon. This revelation led Zarnagon to ponder his true identity which was fully revealed during the confrontation with Refan.
The relationship between Shyralis and Zarnagon was shrouded in mystery. Some rumours said the two were involved sexually, others whispered that Zarnagon saw her as a worthy minion to keep nearby. Whatever the true reason, Shyralis rose in rank and eventually became one of Zarnagon's deadliest servants. He sent her to spy on various members of the Alliance and trusted in her skills and manipulation. Shyralis's loyalty to Zarnagon seemed to be unwavering for a time but she later reevaluated her path and appeared to abandon her former master's cause completely.
Kareth, at that time known as Zarnagon, performed the summoning ritual and accidentally fused his shadow with Taliesin's essence. The Shadow remained as Zarnagon's loyal servant until Zarnagon became part of the Godslayer, at which point the Shadow became the minion of Zarnagon's son Xerathas. After being reborn, the Shadow Taliesin betrayed Xerathas--and by extension, Zarnagon--because he believed the Godslayer's cause to be unjust and a threat to the existence of the gods. Zarnagon never knew of the Shadow's treachery and would never see him again as the reborn Taliesin disappeared from the world after the Catastrophe.
Xerathas considered his father to be a god on earth. He worshipped the ground beneath Kareth's feet and was thrilled to find out that his father had become part of the Godslayer. Xerathas would do anything to keep his father safe. Kareth saw Xerathas a worthy heir.