Keraptis was one of the Ur Flan mystics, a powerful sorcerer with unusual ties. He ruled Thryllis some 1300 years ago. On his assumption of leadership, the dwarves of the region bestowed upon him “Whelm,” a powerful hammer, which became the emblem of Keraptis’s rule.
Keraptis, though, ran into problems.
As was common with the Ur Flan mystics (including Lagoates, Shatado, and Loralie among others), was their thirst for power and domination. In his persuit of power, Keraptis began delving into necromancy, and his eyes turned toward Nerull.
Keraptis’ power and influence grew slowly. From his mountain stronghold outside the city Marikest, he gathered a small army of depraved gnomes and filled their minds with talk of dark prophecy and ancient rites.
Realizing that his devoted followers amounted to an army within the shadow of Marikest’s walls, and that his rapid rise in magical power made him one of the most powerful men in the region, Keraptis began to exert his agenda in more profound ways than money could offer. His proposal was simple: He and his army offered to protect Marikest from marauding monsters (a much more significant threat before the migrations than today) and bandits, in exchange for a simple tithe. At first, the offer was presented as a benign ploy to help a valued neighbor. The astute among Marikest’s elite saw it for what it was: blackmail.
In the beginning, Marikest found the cost of Keraptis’ protection worthwhile. Though most suspected that his enemies met unspeakable ends, those enemies were also seen as the enemies of the city. Common cause made siding with an evil man palatable. Within a year, however, Keraptis’ demands became ever more severe. Those lords who would not capitulate to his demands found themselves the targets of frightful threats—threats which were all too often carried out in full view of the public. A few disjointed attempts were made to break free of the unholy pact with Keraptis, but these would-be uprisings were put down within hours of fruition. Keraptis’ power was indeed strong, his yoke unbearable. The only mitigating factor, in the eyes of the pragmatic people of the region, was the relative safety they enjoyed from anything but their powerful protector.
During the years of this relationship, region aristocrats and rulers in name only put forward an appearance of displeasure, all the while arranging wagonload deliveries of the region’s spherical gold coins twice a month. So endured Thryllis for decades, its powerful shepherd growing more influential by the year. With every jump in power, however, came a jump in depravity. Eventually, a portion of everything that was grown, made or sold in the region, including the newborn young of livestock, went to the terrible keep of Keraptis, where it was used for unknown purposes.
Soon, demons and devils appeared in the region, perhaps drawn by the increase in evil, or perhaps by the summonings of a desperate people. Dragon raids increased, and Manticore flights were a monthly occurrence. Undead creatures of all descriptions poured from ancient, abandoned mines and barrows. Unknown terrors lurked in the darkness of every shadow. Still, Keraptis and his servants defeated them all, protecting all who paid his taxes. Some said these evils were defeated too easily, as if they had somehow been ordered to fall beneath Keraptis-led blades and spells. Those who suggested as much indiscriminately were publicly executed, though few doubted the true origins of the orders.
At the height of these outrages came Keraptis’ tax collectors with word of a new levy—one third of all newborn children would henceforth be turned over to the wizard! As if this final insult had been too much even for the corrupt leaders of the region to bear, the people of the cities and valleys rose up against their “protector,” overthrew his armies and laid ruin to his holdings. Led by a powerful cleric of Pelor named Tostenhca, the united folk purged the darkness from their lands. Those loyal to Keraptis soon fled or surrendered. Somehow left without power in the hour of his failure, Keraptis barely escaped with his life, taking with him the fanatical gnomes that had been so crucial to his overlordship as the only testament of his once absolute power.