The Rise of Ragodosh, The Stone Face King

Before there was the Stone Face King – the unyielding and granite-willed Raegh of Ghe’Domn – there was only Ragodosh of clan Gwerhygsûn. Ragodosh’s rise to power begun as any good tale should: ignited within the crucible of glorious combat and subsequently tempered by the bloody detritus of greater battles. Ghe’Domn – a hold known for housing multiple clans under the same roof – did not always have the luxury of being ruled by a worthy leader: to reach the position of Raegh within a Dweghom hold, one must first gather the appropriate Aghm, and there were pockets of time within Ghe’Domn’s lengthy history where such individuals were nowhere to be found. Ragodosh’s rise to prominence began amidst such leaderless and unstable times, with the hold of Ghe’Domn having no Raegh to steer its denizens and tensions between clans being at an all-time high as a result.

To settle tensions and arguments between clans, the many Dhaens, the clan heads of Ghe’Domn’s unusually numerous clans, had agreed to a grand gladiatorial bout. Within the Hold’s central throne room, which lingered without a living occupant and housed the ruins of Ghe’Domn’s first Raegh and founder, Anaghallosh, each clan’s warriors fought to settle disputes in their clan’s name. For clan Gwerhygsûn, Ragodosh was deemed worthy to fight as one of its champions: the young, at the time, warrior was known for his incredible physical fortitude and battle resilience, making a notable addition among the gathered warriors – but not the favorite. Early through the event, Ragodosh bested his opponents through his methodical and reserved fighting style, never overextending or succumbing to gladiatorial theatrics and wearing down his enemies bit-by-bit – softening them up before he could deliver the final blow.

Unlike the other duelists that fought in this multi-tiered bout, Ragodosh never boasted or showed his bloodlust to the gathered crowd; in fact, the champion of clan Gwerhygsûn rarely made a sound when he fought, something that caused many observers to remark this as strange. When others were toiling and grunting amidst the heat of single gladiatorial combat, Ragodosh appear near statuesque in his lethality and fighting style; his features showed no strain or outlining emotions, being mostly emotionless and unmoving. Whispers circulated that this warrior of clan Gwerhygsûn had, in fact, a stone face – a characteristic, speculated by some, that led to the creation of his infamous title many years later.

On the third day of the event, Ragodosh was among those that were still able to fight and was set to fight a champion of clan Temhoksûn next – Belmortan.  Belmortan, by all accounts, was a warrior of immense strength and skill, having overpowered all of his opponents and being the favorite to win the great combat event within Ghe’Domn. The bloodthirsty warrior had been a clear crown favorite during the dules, going as far as to kill some of his opponents – even when he was the clear victor and they were on the verge of collapse. In the eyes of everyone, Ragodosh – the strange and silent warrior from clan Gwerhygsûn – was about to meet his end at the hands of a terrifying foe.

The duel began as expected: Belmortan used his mighty war-pick to overwhelm his opponent, unleashing a flurry of lighting fast blows that were meant to overwhelm his opponent. Ragodosh was defensive at the beginning, using his shield and armored body to absorb most of the punishment that was unleashed towards him. Bones were cracked and flesh was ruptured and bruised, but Ragodosh remained standing regardless. Eventually, Belmortan became sluggish and tired, feeling his muscles become heavier with each blow; it was then that Ragodosh found his opening, smashing his axe’s shaft behind the enemy’s skull with one well-aimed blow that sent the feared Belmortan to collapse like a powerless automaton. Picking Belmortan’s bloodied war-pick, Ragodosh raised it over his defeated foe but merely planted it next to his head instead of granting Belmortan the same mercy that he had shown to his enemies. Turning to the Mnemancers, a panting Ragodosh waited patiently for their nods to confirm his victory – but his defeated foe had other plans. As Ragodosh walked to the center of the arena to be declared victor, Belmortan, dizzy, stumbling and desperate, picked his war-pick and rushed to strike from behind. Exhausted in his own right, Ragodosh had little strength and no weapon to defend himself – but his clansmen did and a sword flew from the balconis to be planted in Belmortan’s chest. Then, all hell broke loose. Two of Belmortan’s kin jumped from the arena’s balconies, screaming that clan Gwerhygsûn had cheated and rushing to kill Ragodosh – and Gwerhygsûn responded in kind.

From that point on, things escalated as they always do with the Dweghom. One by one, the clans threw their warriors into the arena, siding with one or the other or simply for the Aghm to be had. For two weeks did this chaos last, as clan after clan decided to settle their disputes en masse. And for two weeks, Ragodosh stood in the middle of the arena, surrounded by his clan, waiting for the Mnemancers to confirm his victory. They never did for they never had to. When at the end of the two weeks they distributed Aghm based on the deeds they had witnessed, few would doubt his worth.

It must be noted that Ragodosh was not declared Raegh after those events. While the Memory of the Small War marked him for greatness, it took over half a century before the clans elevated him to that position. During those decades, he displayed not only Aghm and prowess in battle, but the ability to inspire, remain collected and answer challenges without bravado or cruelty but with unquestionable efficiency. Not until the insult of the insurrection of the Fire Thane, Alekhaneros, would his rule be questioned – and that challenge too, most believe he will answer in the same, cold and efficient, manner.

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