One of the more lively and fantastical elements of the Southlands are the Nurian god-kings and god-queens, rulers who sat upon the Cobra throne of Nuria for a time, and then died (as is the way of all things). But they were entombed with great wealth, not merely gold, but the secrets of passage through death and back into life. The journeys often took decades or even centuries, but in time, through their knowledge of the afterlife, the god-kings tended to awake from their sleeping death and return to the living world.
And this, of course, was a bit of a problem for their heirs and descendants, who found the arrival of ancient rulers somewhat awkward, as the Cobra Throne was no longer available. And so over time, the Nurians developed tools and traditions for what to do with these god-kings. They became the high priests of certain important cults, or generals of the armies fighting the Mharoti dragon-lords, or masters of spycraft whose secrets go back generation after generation. In time, the Nurians tamed their god-kings and made them part of the tapestry of Nurian life.
And yet some god-kings refused the honors and sinecures, and they carved their own strange paths. Many died a second death even more glorious than the first. One such was the fifth god-king, Aten-Akman.
When the River Kingdom fought to halt the Mharoti armies of dragonkin, Aten-Akman rode his glittering phoenix-pulled chariot to the enemy’s beachhead at the city of Avaris. The Dragon Empire hoped to seize this natural harbor and launch attacks from the high ground. Aten-Akman faced four blue dragons circling above an army of heavy troops plundering the city’s smoldering remains. Their lightning strikes boomed across the hillside like a storm.
With magic and with guile, Aten-Akman crushed the occupiers in a day-long battle, culminating in his single combat against the last of the dragons, Zulatil the Thunderer. Overwhelmed after such an extended fight, his grave bandages afire and his doom certain, Aten-Akman invoked his death curse. The God-King summoned a five-mile tall pillar of molten rock, enveloping house guards and nearest troops while flinging shards of obsidian to shred his foes and cripple the Mharoti fleet.
As the spire cooled, Aten-Akman’s likeness appeared on its surface, his victory declaimed in hieroglyphics and carved with figures showing the dragon army cast down. It still stands today as a monument and warning to the Sultana of the Mharoti, and as a sign of the ancient power of the god-kings.