Kestrel Etrevion was "Lord of the West Country", serving as the viceroy of a fiefdom carved out along the shores of Claedesbrim Bay. The borders of the fiefdom were the Coastal Cliffs in the west, extending east without ever going further north than The Graveyard which was built later. The "West Country" was usurped by his elder brother, Bandur Etrevion, who was serving as regent in his absence. Kestrel had built a fleet of war ships he used to plunder the rest of the Bay region, and would have had to sail very far from home in order to avoid assaulting the territories of Lorgalis the White. Though essentially acting as corsairs, they also tamed the seas, slaughtering the bellacorn. The Dark Path possibly had the support of Lorgalis or more likely the daughter of Kadaena, though its independence as a sovereign entity would have been short lived in any event. There is reason to believe Bandur was nevertheless a direct servant of the Empress Kadaena herself in spite of being long dead.
Whether Kestrel was serving Lorgalis or someone else is not absolutely indisputable, as there are symbolic references to a black sea drake in areas associated with him. This would represent either the Cult of the Sea Drake, which was an aspect of Lorgalis' forces of the Unlife, or the Dragonlord Ulya Shek who would have been a rival conqueror in the Wars of Dominion. It is much more likely he was a viceroy of Lorgalis, retired from his warlord status after a failed invasion of Saralis, but successful enough to hold the windward edge of the Bay. These would have significantly different implications for the political context of what happened following his death. Lorgalis ends up conquering the whole region in the same year that Uthex Kathiasas is killed in The Broken Lands regardless.
Kestrel was known to have sons who would have been his heirs, whom his brother gave the epitaph "princes all" who died attempting to reclaim their "ancestral land." Neither princes, nor with ancestral lands, this mocking eulogy seems to imply they attempted to reacquire the fiefdom with force. (There is some reason to believe they were actually of Zori descent, which was by that time a wasteland ruled by The Unlife.) It is impossible to know now for certain, but perhaps they were still loyally serving Lorgalis. The original Castle Claedesbrim which was within their territory was clearly sieged, but it was modified by Estrion, such that none of the archaeological evidence can be trusted with absolute certainty. There was an underground stronghold along the Coastal Cliffs housing a cult of Klysus (Luukos) as well, apparently owned by at least one royal, which would have been purged with foul hordes and extreme violence in the rise of the theocracy. Klysus was a patron of Lorgalis.
If the castle was actually unrelated to the Etrevion family, however unlikely from an internal consistency of narrative point of view (though most probable from the out of character view) given that it shared some of the same creatures as The Graveyard and others which were necessarily the work of a powerful necromancer, their epitaph could still be interpreted as having a purely religious meaning. They worshipped a death god and were killed in the purge of the cult, and so joined their ancestors in the ground. Obelisks were made historically as symbolic conduits for sending souls upward to the sun god, which in this context would be Klysus, as well as a magical warding to protect the dead. Bandur apparently constructed their obelisk out of Orhan marble (Liaboan marble) which repels low level undead, and would be implying the River of Life leading to Eissa (Lorminstra), sister of Reann (Ronan) the god of night who crusades against the Unlife (but who were not originally siblings of their sun god.)
It was thus mocking them all on multiple levels simultaneously. Their spirits are trapped in the section of the necropolis that symbolizes the other side of the Gates of Oblivion, indicated by their disquieted state, which Bandur represents as an everlasting prison of eternal hopelessness. (Indeed, Castle Claedesbrim provides the internal logic for how the phantoms were made, with the wights and mummies being the nobility.) The daughters of Kestrel (or perhaps his wife) were clearly spared in the underground stronghold, and became the source of the much debased bloodline that used the graveyard over the millennia. These graves are located near the bog where Kestrel was killed, which was made as a muck bed for trespassers cursed as ghouls, and symbolically can be considered the Spring of Youth.
Kestrel was slain by his brother in a heated argument over these issues, supposedly with a Spell of Absolution Pure, but possibly a darker absolution which would better account for the guilt and torment of Bandur. He was interred in a possibly fake funerary barge in a (capsized) warship shaped burial mound covered with toxic salorisa flowers, but he may actually be the warped skeleton used for the underground throne room of The Graveyard. It is consistent with a soul destroying curse called Kadaena's Kiss, possibly combined with an adjacent one on the list that liquifies the skeleton. This would be what Bandur actually meant by his brother waiting for him. However, he owed his soul to dark powers from his bondage to the Unlife, who would be from the past. There was a later extension of Kestrel's burial mound which includes a symbol esoterically related to Amasalen, which is interesting because the poem it is derived from implies he is an Ordainer. The theology of Amasalen was soon changed to suggest that his relationship with Luukos is actually a superficial assumption, and that he was ascended and may even be the servant of Marlu. This should be considered, however apocryphally.
Kestrel's epitaphs were subtly mocking as well, emphasizing his lesser rule, and playing off the word "deeds" to imply his older brother was the true sovereign. This is the sense of deeds being the bond with a liege lord for special rights of intercession. Bandur supposedly told his high priests that Kestrel was waiting for him, and that they should not follow if they value their souls. It is the "Under Barrow" where sins of incontinence give way to "mad bestiality" and ultimately malice, where those who betrayed brothers, countries, liege lords, and gods are condemned.
It was a sacrificial procession ultimately leading down to the Ice Shrine, which would only originally have been accessible from the surface of The Graveyard using the trilithon portal next to the burial mound. Instead of sacrifices for deeds to preserve life from intercession by Death, who would otherwise not grant it, these were sacrifices of life to sustain the ascension of the Death Watcher beyond the pales. It might be symbolic of "the dark path" in Purgatory. The upper level of the necropolis, in contrast, is all deception. The fiefdom was probably not actually called "the West Country." Lorgalis was attempting to conquer their ancestral homeland in eastern Jaiman, and the symbolic meaning of west in the Graveyard is death. It is best interpreted as a dark joke about Kestrel's failure as a ruler. His burial mound is oriented eastward as "defying Death", in accordance with the epitaphs Bandur gave to himself, as well as the false sarcophagus of Kadaena which guarded the Black Hel.
Behind the Scenes
The possibly false funerary barge of Kestrel Etrevion, symbolically related to the sacrifice of the serpent and sun god Klysus (i.e. his sons), implying his soul continued to exist after death but not where it was intended. (If Kestrel represents Osiris and his sons Horus, Klysus is Apep/Ammit/Ra, his avatar being almost identical to the demon of Shadow Valley. "yet to find peace beyond the grave" reverses the fates of Osiris and Set. It refers further to the point that beyond the Gates of Oblivion all memory and identity wash away, where eternal peace follows from dissolving into nothingness. Kestrel may have never gone "beyond the grave.") The burial mound is turned over, failing to sail toward the sun, and away from a demonically ruined funerary gate. This is actually a trilithon portal, a Lord of Essaence style gateway, which was how granite was imported from the High Plateau. The bog was where Kestrel would have been killed, with the dirges symbolizing the inward wrath of sullenness. It is worth noting that the burial mound extension included a bone sacrifice altar, like the ice shrine of his brother Bandur Etrevion, as well as symbols of the dark gods and the weighing of the heart.
[Graveyard, Burial Mound] This is the burial chamber of a great warrior-king. There are empty chests made of precious woods, now mildewed and rotten with fittings of beaten gold and silver. Rusted weapons are scattered about. A wooden coffin, carved in the shape of a proud warship with a dragon prow, lies at the far side of the circular room. Obvious exits: west, southeast. >l coffin The coffin was pried open long ago and damaged in the process. The hinges are now so deformed that it cannot be shut. The wooden casket is carved with broad, primitive strokes and covered with faded traces of paint and gilt. A silver plaque is affixed to the casket. >read plaque It reads: Our Lord and Liege, Ruler of the West Country--Never at peace while he lived, and yet to find peace beyond the grave. >l in coff In the wooden coffin you see a kingly corpse. >l corpse The corpse wears a deathmask of beaten silver and gold, the facial features grim, determined and cruel, beneath a jewel-encrusted coronet. Swathed in a plain burial shroud with arms crossed over his chest, the warrior-king still inspires awe and dread.
The West Country is an old term for the Wessex region of southwest Britain, whose shoreline resembles that of the southern edge of Claedesbrim Bay. The murals in the burial mound made with umber and ochre, minerals used in primitive death ritual symbolism, depict Bandur hovering in the background during Kestrel's feats. This is a play on words for the fact that kestrels are a group of falcons who hover over their prey until swooping down. The symbolic point is that Bandur is acting as Kestrel, meaning that Bandur was responsible for Kestrel's accomplishments for which the fiefdom was awarded. In the Egyptian death mythology, the goddesses Isis and Nephthys (consort of Set) are often depicted as falcons searching for Osiris, and Horus the son of Osiris is the falcon god. This is clearly the motivation for "Kestrel".
[Graveyard, Burial Mound] The room is triangular, the "prow" of the shiplike structure. On the dirt walls are faded remains of strange murals. The line drawings all have an oppressive and ominous sameness about them, even though they depict different scenes. You approach one wall to get a closer look, stooping down as the elevation of the roof drops sharply. Obvious exits: southwest, northwest >look mural The disquieting murals depict a series of episodes in the life of a great warrior. Painted in earthtones and mineral colors of ochre, yellow, umbre, turquoise, green and charcoal, the panels sketch epic sea and land battles, all featuring a powerful, striking figure leading the frays. Hovering by his side, in each scene, is a shadowy dark figure, who appears to be floating just above the ground or water, the better to observe and influence the course of the pitched battles. There appears to be something written on it. >read mural In the Common language, it reads: The Deeds of Kestrel Etrevion, Lord of the West Country.