Scales of War
General Zithiruun was a great hero one of the most respected military leaders of a militant race. From the great city of Tu’narath, he led armies of the Githyanki on raids across the Astral Sea, and into a dozen different regions and kingdoms of the mortal realm. From the deck of the astral galleon Siun’kara or the back of Rathoraiax, his great red dragon steed, Zithiruun proved an unstoppable force a champion among a race of champions. Even Vlaakith, the fearsome githyanki lich queen, acknowledged his greatness, heaped great praise upon him.
And then the great General Zithiruun took on a foe beyond even his own prowess. That it was a dragon, a dragon far greater than Rathoraiax, everyone knows, but tales of the confrontation differ as to whether it was a black wyrm, one of the fearsome scourge dragons, or something else entirely. But while not everyone knows precisely what it was Zithiruun faced, everyone knows what happened as a result.
A hideous burst of something—acid, perhaps, or pure necrotic energy—ripped the life from the red dragon Rathoraiax, shredding flesh and obliterating entire portions of the beast. And it was this attack that felled Zithiruun as well. It stripped the strength from his limbs, rotted bits of flesh and even weakened bone. Any lesser warrior would have died in that hideous moment, but the general clung to life through sheer force of stubborn, malignant will.
It took years for Zithiruun to retrain and reinvigorate his broken body. Even today, he is a shadow of what he once was weaker in body, far less sound in mind. His own people have all but turned their backs on him; though his great achievements prevented them from executing or exiling him utterly, they scorn his weakness and hold him in contempt for allowing himself and his mount to be so soundly defeated. Today, Zithiruun serves as a lowly operative of Tu’narath’s forces and he leads only lesser warriors into battle while answering to and obeying Githyanki who would once have feared even to speak in his presence.
Zithiruun’s native powers have mutated through his years of effort as he attempted to reinvigorate his body at the expense of his mental prowess. The ambition all githyanki share has been subsumed by a burning need to prove himself and to regain the position and the respect that were once his by right even as he nurses a resentful hatred of the very people whose adulation he so desperately craves.
Zithiruun has been large for a githyanki, but since the destruction and atrophy of much of his musculature, he now appears almost impossibly tall and gaunt. Mixed with and attached to the traditional leathers of his people, he wears a contraption of braces and harnesses, constructed of leather straps and iron joints. These braces, supported at his shoulders and by a strap across his chest, run the length of his left arm and left leg, as well as a portion of his right leg. It is the straps that give those limbs rigidity; without them, they could scarcely move, and not support his weight. This harness also grants him full mobility; charged with both magic and psychic energy, it permits him motion and grants him strength he would otherwise lack.
His flesh clings tightly to his skeleton and puckers away from old wounds, exposing muscle and even charred bone. His left cheek gapes open, revealing a bit of metal plate that replaces a fragment of skull. A leather strap holds the left side of his jaw in place, replacing obliterated muscle.
He appears weak indeed, and in some ways he truly is. Yet Zithiruun wields his great silver saber with an astonishing, impossible precision, and his eyes burn with loathing and ambition to shame even the other githyanki.
As a sign of his shame, Zithiruun was never granted the honor of a new dragon mount. Rather, he must make do with the animated body of Rathoraiax. This is yet another insult that burns in Zithiruun’s craw, yet he’s too intelligent a fighter to abandon a useful weapon purely out of spite.
Rathoraiax is clearly dead; most of his scales are a dull, rotten gray, gleaming with a faint red only in the brightest light. Many are missing completely, revealing desiccated, leathery skin. The entire top half of Rathoraiax’s snout was destroyed in the attack that slew him. This left behind a “shelf” of his lower jaw sticking out from beneath the broken skull around his eyes, fangs protruding upward, and a dull, dead tongue lashing slowly above.
Zithiruun was slain during the culmination of his assault on Overlook during the events of The Temple Between