Alderei the Fair
Over centuries the Volodny kept their feud alive through malign curses and spiteful sabotage. Shortly before the time of the First Empress, they launched a devastating attack against the Varushkans. While the Volodny themselves refused to use steel, they gave their support to a boyar called Alderei the Fair. Alderei raised an army and sought to unite the entire nation under his rulership, with the intention of leading this new nation to conquer the rest of humankind. Alderei was not afraid to use steel, and swept down from the north crushing everything in his path. Whenever a settlement fell to his army, he gave the survivors a simple choice “join me, or die.” To join Alderei required submission to the iron fist of a tyrant who would brook no argument, and tolerate no failure.
Many joined Alderei because, whatever else he did, he drove the monsters before his armies and protected those who swore allegiance to him from the darkness. To do this however required the aid of the Volodny and they took a terrible price from Alderei’s supporters in blood and flesh, which they used to propitiate the dark powers and fuel the boyar tyrant's armies with their malign sorceries.
It seemed certain that the Varushkans would be united under the banner of Alderei; the people lacked a unified central authority capable of resisting the conquering boyar. According to legend, a gathering of wise ones took place at this time to discuss what could be done to stem the seemingly unstoppable tide washing down from the north. The gathering lasted for a full lunar month, and eventually came down to a decision between two very different yet hauntingly similar courses of action.
The first course was to compromise with Alderei and march beneath his banner, to create a great thousand-year Empire and to offer the dark powers the sacrifices they craved. The other was to seek external aid – the Navarr had brought news of a gathering to the south where a new way of life was being discussed, one of unity rather than subjugation. In the end the wise ones took a delegation to this meeting, while the remaining free boyars who refused to accept Alderei’s yoke fought desperately against the tyrannical boyar's forces.
After days of negotiation, the wise ones agreed that Varushkans would join the nascent Empire in return for aid in defeating Alderei and his Volodny conspirators. A great host formed of the armies of the other nations rode into Varushka to relieve the besieged boyars. With the aid of ritual magicians from Urizen the power of the Volodny was matched and broken. The boyar himself was slain by the heroic Marcher general Tom Drake (who lost his life in the process), and several of the Volodny met their final ends as their army fell apart.
The body of Alderei was never recovered and at his execution one of the captured Volodny gave a prophecy saying that one day in the future the dark king would return and take vengeance for this defeat, shattering the Empire as he had once shattered Varushka.