Xorus Kul'shin is an occult philologist and Vice Chancellor Emeritus of the Hazalred Thaumaturgical Institute, one of many transient heads of the Faendryl antiquaries society. He is a specialist in esoteric lore and heterodox or apocryphal theology from the Age of Darkness, the study of extrachthonic and dead languages, the history and praxis of various branches of the black arts including forms of higher necromancy, the archaeology of cryptic and malevolent pre-historical sites especially of the Ur-Daemon or other primordial manifestations, and the recovery of antiquities or dangerous artifacts. This often involves forming necessary relationships with cults, dark figures, and unlawful orders. These are precisely those who seek to acquire that which is "forbidden."
He has often remarked that the Palestra are fine for keeping watch on the ambitious summoner, who is rather limited in what he has the power to conjure regardless, but that they are most often missing entirely those forces who would unearth long buried eldritch horrors and the truly apocalyptic hazards.
He is a member of the Order of the Black Flame, an aristocratic secret society --- also known by other names such as the Balefire Club and the Black Claw, in reference to the six-fingered talons rumored in ancient texts to have been possessed by the Ur-Daemon --- with dubious ties to both the figurative and literal underworlds, often the subject of conspiracy theories regarding the Senary. The society is thought to have been founded by the "old money" of noble families from the Age of Chaos who have chaffed under the meritocratic and novelty-driven reforms of Faendryl society since the time of the Sea Elf war.
In the past few decades Xorus has most often been seen in northwestern Elanith, perhaps as a result of the malevolent powers which kept making themselves known. In his own accounting this is ultimately a consequence of the destruction of the Eye of the Drake at the turn of the century. His principal concern is working with the hooded figures and Sheruvian Order over the ancient artifacts in the Broken Lands. However, his shadowy reach extends into cults and sinister orders across the continent, and perhaps beyond.
These forces were inexplicably wielded together in a legion aiding the Meek of this world, Nazhor, in his goal to weaken the barriers between worlds in 5119 Modern Era. This slaughter of the innocents of Mist Harbor was orchestrated through an aspect of the Council of Light known as the Flock. It is his hallmark to have ties with rivals and help more than one side in struggles, acting in some sense as a kind of weapons dealer of knowledge. He is sometimes called "Dreadlord", though the meaning is mostly unknown.
Xorus was present for the vergence of the Elemental Confluence, having discerned some time prior the true intent of the madman Alusius. He informed the Ithzir of Kol'Tarsken that Althedeus is dead. He has sought to gain control of the Talon of Toullaire, which was in the possession of Grand Magister Dennet Kestrel of the Hall of Mages. The Magister's daughter Naimorai Kestrel, who was lost in the past in a temporal accident, confessed that Xorus has taught her dark magic. Naimorai was discovered to have later become the witch Raznel. While Naimorai had been schooled by the Hall of Mages, and learned some methods from Quinshon, her influence from Xorus was perhaps greatest in the end.
Raznel is known to have committed her atrocities, such as the blackblood curse and Everblood and the annihilation of Talador, using demonic blood from the Southron Wastes. Xorus has been regarded by members of the Hall of Mages as the father of Raznel's magic. This was acknowledged by Raznel herself in a vision involving making her "paragons" out of the tortured bodies of high-ranking imperial nobility throughout history. Xorus might fairly be condemned as the grandfather of the Bleaklands, and through her credits himself indirectly for the Wizardwaste. Including the assassinations of numerous royal family members. Xorus himself killed Sentinel Happersett in 5119 Modern Era.
However, Xorus was the one whose work cured Larsya Caulfield, Heiress of Bourth, of the demonic blood curse inflicted on her by Raznel. This work was in turn weaponized by his associate "The Alchemist", Praxopius Fortney, to murder the Rook king Rysus, the Krolvin war leader Kragnack, and ultimately Praxopius killed himself with it. It was the hope of "The Alchemist" that Xorus will one day adapt the formula to commit genocide on the krolvin, with its details to be delivered in two years. Though it has yet to be given. His methods were also critical in recovering knowledge of the paragons from Pylasar, first tested on Thrayzar, who was once human but turned into an orc by Raznel. Xorus has acknowledged he knows how to break the curse on Thrayzar, and often suggests the works of Raznel cannot be undone without him. Much as Grishom Stone offered to cure Larsya, Stone has offered to cure Thrayzar.
The former protege of the Alchemist, Malluch Burdos, threatened to murder Xorus in 5118 Modern Era. But a secret deal was arranged to stay the execution, and now Malluch is a minion of Grishom Stone. Xorus has rumored ties with Grishom Stone, as well as Quinshon, the true hereditary father of Naimorai. However, Quinshon helped end her paragons as well, and Raznel would sarcastically refer at times to Xorus instead as "father". When Raznel was destroyed, there was later a future vision of Grishom Stone, where Xorus was one of several figures behind him. Grishom had been manipulating all along with visions to help end Raznel, as her apocalypse was incompatible with his own.
Xorus is known to be a member of the Order of the Shadow, the Faendryl Enclave, and served as occult advisor to Mayor Cruxophim and the chief advisor Mayor Lylia Rashere, his wife and her second husband. He was a strong advocate for the Landing granting the elven village to House Vaalor as a strategy for recognition of regional sovereignty. Xorus held an unsuccessful bid for mayor in 5120 Modern Era on a "death squads" platform of law and order. While often the subject of suspicions, Xorus has seemingly never acted against the interests of the town of Wehnimer's Landing. He has pointed out repeatedly that had his plan been followed in sealing the Ithzir portal of 5116 Modern Era, rather than a course of action inevitably requiring the stealing of plinite from the Hall of Mages, the whole historical thread of events would have never happened. This is ironic as he also asserts the flow of history cannot be changed.
The Ur-Daemon Cult
Xorus Kul'shin is secretly the ecclesiastical iron fist of an Ur-Daemon cult in the Southron Wastes. Very little is known of their nature, except that if they exist, they must masquerade as ordinary members of society. Whether they "worship demons" or merely act as a false religion for some other purpose is unknown. He is thought to have been the author of numerous controversial works over the past thousand years, often with the intent of spreading dark magic and forbidden knowledge. These were mostly written under various pseudonyms and it is unclear which name is his assumed Faendryl identity. When confronted on this he typically explains that his "field work" is extremely dangerous, and that anyone familiar with such proto-linguistic esoterica would never take the associated mythology seriously.
"Xorus" is known by some to be a hereditary title in that dead language meaning "Dreadlord", while the false surname "Kul'shin" is Iruaric for "Shadow of Death." This "Cult of Kron'khaal" or "The Ageless" is thought to involve reincarnation rituals, transferring the souls and perhaps memories of dead cultists into young children. His theological role in the cult revolves around killing the gods and bringing about the end of all things. Thus, he is considerably removed from the power centers of their order, and has a fractious and often violent relationship with his brethren who hold ire over his failure with the Vvrael.
The cult has a complicated power structure of rival factions arising to supremacy over perceived favor of their dead gods. It is not usually a matter of victory through physical or magical might, given the rebirth theology underlying their theocracy. "The Dark Lord" is a traditionally vacant throne that would rule over the Synod, the black six-taloned claw around the throne, which represents the theological branches of the cult. "The Dreadlord" is more properly the "lord of the dread seers", otherwise called "lyxarulis kort", those who harrow other worlds and commune with the demonic with necromantic methods. While the majority of the cult is isolationist and confined to the southern wastelands, or other worlds, the harrowers or dread seers have long been prone to conspiring long manipulations on western civilizations.
These "Harbingers of the Abyss" were purged in the violent shift of powers near the turn of the century. They are presumably either disembodied souls or imprisoned, literally, in the bodies of very young Dark Elves. The harbingers are esotericists who make use of divination, dream walking, and occult methods. This is predominantly in the form of knowing the past and present in order to manipulate the flow of history rather than the immediate apprehension of future events. It is very common to hear the dread seers correctly speaking of what will happen months or years in advance and helping it happen.
In his youth it is thought "the dreadlord" helped orchestrate the destruction of the Kannalan Empire, as the cult has traditionally preferred to keep the westerlands in a state of chaos until the return of their Dark Lord. They claim this is Despana herself, who they believe was Dark Elven, at least originally. The origins of the cult may stem from surviving remnants of her forces around Maelshyve and splinters from the exiled House Faendryl. While they believe this "incarnation" of their order was founded by Despana, they also maintain it has always existed in some form, and that there is an inherent draw in all of the Elven bloodlines to return "home" and reacquire their birth right as Dark Elves. They believe this is the true form of the race, and that fair elves were cursed by the Arkati, who keep the Old Ones sleeping.
Often a shadow in the background, he is known to portray himself as a Faendryl loyalist, while his vision for the world is surely anything but Elven. He treats knowledge as a weapon rather than an expression of sincerity, and seems dedicated to the ideal of making the world more dangerous. Xorus is responsible for untold horrors and atrocities over the past millennium, whether by his own actions or the shadow of his influence. He regards the rise of Turamzzyrian hegemony after the Witch Winter as a personal failing.
In recent years he has more brazenly used his own "name" for some unknown reason, which masks his identity in civil society with respect to Ta'Faendryl. He was almost killed by flow storms trying to breach the Drake's Shrine in 5098 Modern Era, which he confesses has considerably weakened his power over magic. (This was a failed attempt to reach the Eye of the Drake first. They have shared theological roots with Marluvian and Vvrael cultists, but these are considered schisms or heretical sects.) While his powers over the flows of essence in terms of conventional sorcery have largely returned, he still has little to no power over pure anti-mana and some of the other black arts. He would hope his powers might be fully restored within a century, but he intends on "waking up the Ur-Daemon" with his wicked researches much sooner.
In the past few decades he has seemingly taken to using the name "Xorus", but there are perhaps countless older works under various pseudonyms.
* The Dead Language of Iruaric and the Philology of the Broken Lands (5121 Modern Era)
* The Age of Darkness (lecture) (5120 Modern Era)
* The History and Language of Dark Elves (lecture) (5120 Modern Era)
* The Malevolent Incarnated: Dark Spirits and the Demonic (5118 Modern Era) ["warped vruul leather grimoire"]
* The Exsanguination of the Ashrim Isle (Lecture) (5118 Modern Era)
* The Broken Lands and Ki-lin (Lecture) (5115 - 5117 Modern Era)
* Letter to the Argent Mirror (and Patriarch) (5115 Modern Era)
* The Inevitability of the Exile (5114 Modern Era)
* The Dark Path (essay) (5102 Modern Era)
* Interventions and Restoratives of Epochxin Affliction (5118 Modern Era)
* Concerning Extrachthonic Flora and Chthonic Concerns (5117 Modern Era)
* Charters of Banking Reform (5115 Modern Era)
* Correspondence of the Dreadlord (various times)
Dark Elven Horror Stories
* The Dark Mirror (5119 Modern Era)
Behind the Scenes
Xorus is intended as a mixture of a Lovecraft cultist, the Priests Arnak, and the Drow. His perspective is influenced from a wide range of sources, including Hegel, Nietzsche, Machiavelli, and other things. The character is an occultist in spite of the context of a setting where the powers of the world seem to be known. He emphasizes "other powers", dream walking, and accessing (or merging) "higher realities."
His eyes by his natural bloodline should be violet, but his powers have returned enough for them to turn black. This was an homage to the Lords of Essaence.
(1) Wandering Cultist You see Xorus Kul'shin the Warlock. He appears to be a Dark Elf. He is tall and has a gaunt frame. He appears to be ancient. He has brooding black eyes and dark skin. He has shoulder length, flowing silver hair. He has a gaunt face, a sharp nose and a spider-shaped birthmark on his wrist. He is in good shape. He is holding a blackened serpentine scepter in his right hand and a chalice of venom in his left hand. He is wearing a shadowy black hood, ora-chained dark obelisk crystal embellished with an attractive Scalu symbol design, a high-collared black leather coat, an enruned deep black armband, a blackened leather wand harness, some vruul skin casting leathers etched with horrific images of demonic slaughter, some blackened spiked glaes arm greaves, a bleakstone-set black faenor ring, a small abyran'ra skull, a pair of studded black leather pants, and some thigh-high black leather boots. (2) Faendryl Scholar You see Xorus Kul'shin the Scribe of Elanthia. He appears to be a Faendryl Dark Elf. He is tall and has a gaunt frame. He appears to be ancient. He has dark-rimmed violet eyes and dark skin. He has shoulder length, flowing silver hair. He has a gaunt face, a sharp nose and a spider-shaped birthmark on his wrist. He is in good shape. He is holding a twisted orase runestaff capped with a smoky crystal orb in his right hand. He is wearing a velvet-piped grey satin cravat, an enruned fiery red longcoat, a crimson flame-shaped pin tipped with yellow sunstone, an ivory-striped black satin waistcoat, a slate grey silk shirt fastened with round onyx cabochon buttons, a grey silk pentacle-stitched armband that reads, "Team Lylia, Campaign Manager", an emerald-set black faenor ring, a blood red damask scabbard, a trio of plaited cream suede belts, a pair of loose stygian black leather trousers, and some polished black leather boots. (3) Mocking "Rone" You see Xorus Kul'shin the Tormenter. He appears to be a Dark Elf. He is tall and has a gaunt frame. He appears to be ancient. He has brooding steel grey eyes and dark skin. He has shoulder length, flowing silver hair. He has a featureless white porcelain mask fully covering his face and a spider-shaped birthmark on his wrist. He is in good shape. He is holding an etched dark urnon longsword in his right hand and a white gear-covered prism in his left hand. He is wearing a pale white chambray greatcloak, a luxurious snow white cape, some luxurious ivory white gloves, some white studded leather, a pair of black imflass gauntlets, a trio of plaited cream suede belts, a white leather sheath, a white leather sheath, some pale white pants, and a pair of ivory leather boots.