Terate Niebelun

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Terate Niebelun was the Prince of Anwyn. His mother was the sorcerous Queen of Castle Anwyn, who had gone mad and executed everyone in the kingdom. She then committed cannibalism by eating her own cook. The kingdom was originally in homage of Onar, whose source of power was said to lie deep underground, deriving from living stones. Terate's true age was indeterminate as he was himself ancient but sometimes young again, sustained magically with dark power, slumbering for a long time on a chair of bones. He was the 4th Chosen of Lorminstra in the Vvrael quest, but was corrupted by the Vvrael.

In his youth he found a "wondrous stone" that spoke through the heavens, later turning out to be the first Stone of Virtue, which was found in a locked box under Castle Anwyn. He was driven to obsession and madness by the corrupting power of a Vvrael scroll found in the belongings of a wandering traveler. This scroll had transformed his mother into a demon, and would later be found by adventurers.

Terate's Appearance

Depending on his level of Vvrael corruption or their control of him, Terate would appear in two forms.

You see Lord Terate Niebelun the Fallen One.
His age is indeterminate, he has long, straight white hair, black voids for eyes and luminous pale skin.
He is holding a flute of sparkling champagne in his right hand and a black ur-Vvrael warsword in his left hand. 
He is wearing a black scaled scabbard, a black diamond shield that draws light into it like a void, a black ivory wrist sheath, a midnight-black cloak that shifts occasionally with no breeze or motion to prompt it, a braided rift-silver circlet inset with small pulsing stones of unknown origin, some soft grey velvet breeches, some tall black leather boots, a black leather jerkin worked overall with finely-embroidered elven sigils, a black scaled belt pouch, and a black leather shoulder satchel clasped with a ki-lin horn carved in the shape of a sickle. 
You see Terate Niebelun, an Elf of purest Elven blood.
He is in his 20s, he has long, curly silver hair, multihued eyes and healthy tanned skin.
He is in good shape.
He is holding a flute of sparkling champagne in his right hand and a black ur-Vvrael warsword in his left hand. 
He is wearing a black scaled scabbard, a black diamond shield that draws light into it like a void, a black ivory wrist sheath, a midnight-black cloak that shifts occasionally with no breeze or motion to prompt it, a braided rift-silver circlet inset with small pulsing stones of unknown origin, some soft grey velvet breeches, some tall black leather boots, a black leather jerkin worked overall with finely-embroidered elven sigils, a black scaled belt pouch, and a black leather shoulder satchel clasped with a ki-lin horn carved in the shape of a sickle. 

Behind the Scenes

Void Blade and Rift Ring

The Void Blade is most likely an allusion to the "Lord Implementor" blade of Lorgalis, who conquered the region of Castle Anwyn in the I.C.E. Age history, which is called the "Blade of the Void". Its actual appearance resembles the "Knife of the Void" possessed by Ondoval, the Lord of Essaence obsessed with ending the world by destroying the Eye. The features of the veil iron, perfectly fitting hilt, and probably the black stone refer to the Griffin Sword which seems to be based on the Grail Sword, which is alluded to with the veil iron Stone of Virtue. His ring refers to the "ring of the Nibelung."

Void Blade Description

In one version of the story where Gawain is the one tasked with resoldering the broken sword (of the dead knight on the bier) at the Grail castle, the Grail King tells him: "Great is the loss that ye lie thus, 'tis even the destruction of kingdoms: God grant that ye be avenged so that the folk be once more joyful, and the land repeopled, which by ye and by this sword are wasted and made void."

The void blade is frightening, not only because of its length and deadly edge. But as you gaze at it, the thing seems to shift, blinking slightly as if it is winking out of existence then reappearing so quickly your eyes cannot follow its progress. The blade is flat, dull black with archaic sigils etched into its surface in a haphazard pattern. The weapon's hilt is veil iron, cast in a simple, elegant curve designed to perfectly fit the hand. A single black stone is inset into the hilt's end, but its type, like the metal of the blade, is unidentifiable.

Void Blade Loresong

The elderly journeyman is probably Daephron Illian using Terate to decipher the Vvrael scroll, which in turn is probably an allusion to Merlin pretending to be a wandering beggar. The loresong clearly implies that Terate was responsible for unleashing the Vvrael, even though Daephron Illian had done so in the very distant past. This is an example of the deep paradoxes in the timeline put into the Vvrael quest.

Images begin to seep out of the void blade, filling your mind with brief flashes at first, that gradually grow into complexity and form. You see an elven youth, fair of feature and gifted with unusual intelligence. He follows in the footsteps of his Queen and mother, learning the sorcerous arts, pushing further and further into arcane theory researched within ancient tomes found in the castle's extensive library. His fame is further augmented upon the day he finds a wondrous stone which speaks through the heavens. Then one day, an elderly journeyman happens by, begging to winter within the castle's protection. The unknown traveler is found dead the following morning, having succumbed to age and the elements, and leaving behind nothing but his ragged clothing and meager belongings. Included in these is a satchel containing a collection of scrolls.

The scrolls are found to be covered with archaic writing, which piques the young prince's interest when brought to his attention. He begins to study them, an occupation that gradually consumes all of his waking hours. He labors over them for months, painstakingly translating them, and finally they begin to reveal secrets old and terrible. To the youth, the knowledge to be gained seems well worth the risk of putting the lore into practice. He could never have foreseen what cataclysmic malevolence his decision would release upon the world.

The elf travels distant lands, the strange potency growing within him, until one day he finally finds that for which he is searching, a dwarf of great skill and fame. The old one dwells within the bowels of the mountains at the top of the world, protected from the cold by the stone he loves. There he makes weapons imbued with magic and great might. The elf convinces him to forge a weapon, and standing behind the dwarf's shoulder as the old one works, the elf recites words of magic gleaned from the scrolls, releasing into the ore a malign talent. As the dwarf finishes and holds the weapon he has forged aloft, it hums into life, tearing a hole in the fabric of reality. Terrible fingers of anti-matter erupt, enveloping the blade and killing its maker with its first evil breath.

Void Blade Properties

The messaging apparently says "anti-matter" instead of "anti-mana", which is an interesting repeated typographical error. The veil iron of the sword is telling because veil iron is meteoric and almost indestructible or impossible to be forged, whereas the Grail as "wondrous stone" is described essentially as a meteor and the Grail sword is easily shattered but can only be resoldered by its maker.

Rayyne waves her blade in a slow arc over her head. Its velocity builds, circling faster and faster as a deep rumble begins to resonate. In the next moment, the blade seems to shift out of existence, swallowed by a hole of darkness although you still see Rayyne's arm convulsing so rapidly, it's a blur. You watch with horror as tendrils of black anti-matter erupt, carrying an implosion in their wake like pestilence after death.

Rayyne casts into the air above her head and a rip appears in the sky! The fissure begins to feed on the air around you!

Abruptly, the void blade slides back into sight in Rayyne's hand, its length still caressed with a flicker of hissing anti-matter.

Rayyne welds the rip in space together with a flow of essence.

Rift Ring Description

The world dominating power of the ring of the Nibelung in Wagner's opera derives from the denial of love, which is the origin of vices in Dante's Purgatory.

The thin, dark band is forged of a metal so rare, its properties are barely known. Around its circumference, a few words are etched, scripted in flowing elven characters. They read, 'A love held close and true in the heart can never die.' 

Mythological Subtext

Terate itself could refer to Art-ri, the Old Irish root of Arthur, an anagram of "Arttee" or even a contraction of "obliterate." In context it may be based on Telete, the daughter of the naiad nymph Nicaea and Dionysus the satyr wine god. Nicaea is a vampiric lamia in Clark Ashton Smith's Averoigne stories, specifically "The End of the Story", where the character becomes obsessed with a cursed forbidden manuscript. His last name refers to the Nibelung dynasty of Worms that ruled the Kingdom of the Burgundians, which was sacked by Attila the Hun and later incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire. One possible motivation for this is the fact that the historical King Arthur is sometimes thought to be Riothamus, or often equated with Ambrosius Aurelianus (Ambrosius is the last name of Merlin), who was a "King of the Britons" who died in Avallon of Burgundy. However, the more central idea is the story of the Nibelung in works such as the Nibelungliend, where Siegfried (the Norse demigod Sigurd) acquires their magic ring from the fairy dwarf Alberich. (Alberich means "elf king" and was originally the legendary brother of the founder of the Merovingians, which is related in pseudo-history to the "holy blood" conspiracy theory of the Holy Grail.) Richard Wagner notably made famous operas of both "Parsifal" and "Der Ring des Nibelungen", where the latter is most famous for its song "Ride of the Valkyries", where the ring's power to dominate the world derived from the denial of love, and was associated with Ragnarok where all of the gods are killed. Terate gives his magic ring to his great love Rayyne. This might also refer to Wagner's opera "Lohengrin", the son of Parzival, who also gives Elsa his sword and horn. Terate's shield may refer to Prince Arthur's blank diamond "adamantine" shield in Spenser's "The Faerie Queene".

Rayyne had received visions of Terate dying but being restored by dark power, and then slumbering on his throne of bones in Castle Anwyn. This throne with the light it throws off appears to be a reference to the Siege Perilous from Arthurian legends, where only the Chosen knight of the Holy Grail was able to sit on it without being killed. (The severed heads on the pikes probably refers to the third continuation of the Perceval cycle where the Grail King is rejuvenated by vengeance, where Perceval slays the knight and the Grail procession follows mounting the head.) It is thought to derive from Celtic magical seats associated with the longevity of kings. In Ireland this is the Lia Fail at the Hill of Tara near Dunsany Castle, often conflated with the Stone of Scone, and so the Stone of Jacob which was also claimed to have been a meteoric rock found in Dunsinane. The Grail knight would eventually become the Grail king, a figure derived from the earlier Bran the Blessed. Usually this knight is Perceval, who Terate was heard quoting by saying "it is like fighting ourselves", or sometimes Gawain who is relevant to the cavern under Castle Anwyn. The illness of the king being tied to the ruination of the kingdom and eventually its restoral is called the Wasteland myth. Terate had to sacrifice himself and his sustaining power at the end of the Vvrael quest. His "Fallen One" motif refers to the German version of Parzival, translated by Jessie Weston, having the Holy Grail as a "wondrous stone" from heaven in the fall of Lucifer. The theological theme of apocatastasis where the devil is redeemed is alluded to in the climax of the quest by Risper quoting an obscure poem, and Terate referring to Stoicism, where it is associated with the cosmos working itself out cyclically in the mind of Zeus who ponders endlessly on Mount Olympus.

The end of the Vvrael quest made heavy allusions to the Book of Revelation, specifically the breaking of the sixth seal, such as when the sun went dark in the final invasions. "Sealing" the Rift played on this point. Lorminstra gave her Chosen special orbs with the power to teleport to the Drake's Shrine, whose loresong also quoted from the Book of Revelation directly. (Lorminstra appeared as a "weeping young lass", where the Grail bearer in Perceval is a "weeping young maiden", and first appeared to Ardo as an "old hag" or "old crone" which may refer to "The Dreams in the Witch House". However, the Gerbert continuation of Perceval refers to a woman with healing balm in a cask as an "old hag" and "lass", and she points out his name means "pierce the vale" or "veil" which is a metaphor first used in the Vvrael quest. More generally, it is the "loathly lady" archetype, where an ugly woman undergoes a transformation to beauty. The most famous example is Chaucer's "The Wife of Bath's Tale" from The Canterbury Tales, which is set in Britain under King Arthur. However, the loathly lady appears as the quest bringer in the Perceval/Parzival/Peredur stories, which is the most likely intended meaning.) In terms of the Shadow World and I.C.E. Age subtext of the Vvrael quest, Terate corresponds to Ondoval and Schrek, who want to end the world using the Eye of Utha in a fortress at the northern edge of the world.

See Also