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King Ho'than'shi II of Gla'shoo'ath

Ho'than'shi II
Image from Steve Bowers
King Ho'than'shi II, carrying his rattle-staff of office

Ho'than'shi II was king of Gla'shoo'ath, a culture which existed in what is now the region of Kaze'hntis in the early Post-Eruption (or Pre-Contact) Epoch1 on the planet Tohul, home of the xenosophont To'ul'hs. Named for his grandfather, Ho'than'shi II was the second-eldest of four (surviving) children born to King Bash'tho the Great2, a king fondly remembered by the Gla'shoo'aths for protecting the Kingdom from Dal'ja invaders. Following Bash'tho the Great's death, Ho'than'shi's brother, Bash'tho II (known to historians as the One-Day King) assumed the throne, only to be found dead in his chambers the morning after his coronation, in what historians suspect to have been the same disease which killed his sister. Ho'than'shi, who had always been far more interested in literature and the arts than in politics, was as surprised as anyone to find himself ruler of an entire kingdom.

Shortly after his coronation, the time came for Ho'than'shi to select a bride.3 Longing to experience the kind of fairy-tale romance he had read about in books, the young king selected the beautiful 'Shal'tha, a woman three years his senior. 'Shal'tha found Ho'than'shi to be incredibly charming, and the two bonded over their love of fiction. A short time later, the two were wedded in the traditional Gla'shoo'ath manner (with the congregation reciting the Chant of Love, and a large quantity of sponge-wine). In the months following his wedding, many would remark that Ho'than'shi appeared to be in a state of perpetual bliss, to the point that some believed him to have taken a sudden interest in drugs. When asked this, however, the lovesick king would reply "only love" prompting much (metaphorical) eyerolling from his peers. Many nicknamed Ho'than'shi "King Udabo"4, due to his tendency to speak very highly of, and spend much of his time writing poems for, 'Shal'tha. Just over a year following the birth of their son, Cholssa5, Ho'than'shi and 'Shal'tha took a long journey together, only to encounter one of the planet's famous "steam hurricanes", causing the two to be flung into the air and tumble to the ground. Although Ho'than'shi had suffered only minor injuries, 'Shal'tha had landed much harder, and was dead.

Ho'than'shi was found after some time by several Royal Guards, who had witnessed the sudden turn in weather from the city center, and had set out to retrieve the king and queen. During the journey back, Ho'than'shi howled constantly, and insisted 'Shal'tha receive urgent medical attention, despite being assured many times that she was indeed quite dead. The following evening6, 'Shal'tha was disposed of according to Gla'shoo'ath tradition, her flesh consumed by her family (with her heart fed to her young son), and the remains buried. To the shock of many, the king insisted that his dead love be buried in the plot reserved for him, next to his father. Knowing that he was in great pain, Ho'than'shi's mother asked him very calmly not to go through with that idea, although her son (who had always been very close with her) insisted he would have her executed if she would not permit it.

In the days following 'Shal'tha's death, Ho'than'shi became quite isolated, and took very little food and drink. Nearly one local week after 'Shal'tha's funeral, Ho'than'shi confessed to several of his closest friends that he had been suffering from intense nightmares since his wife's passing, typically involving his beloved screaming in agony, and begging for release. Ho'than'shi expressed the belief that 'Shal'tha had not entered the Underworld, but had instead become trapped inside his own head. His friends, however, were convinced that these nightmares were being caused by 'Fash, a Gla'shoo'ath demon who entered the heads of the dreaming, and (literally) stir up nightmares with his bowl and spoon. A Gla'shoo'ath high priest instructed the king to consume four Jul'shos7, and go three days without sleep. Ho'than'shi did as instructed, only to find that the nightmares had become far more vivid and frightening.

It was after this that Ho'than'shi conducted his first ever execution, which was that of the high priest that he claimed had deceived him. Still fearful that 'Shal'tha was communicating with him from beyond the grave, the king ordered that his late wife be dug up on no less than two occasions to be sure that she truly was dead. After several weeks, with no sign of his nightmares clearing up, Ho'than'shi ordered that his own head be drilled open, to release 'Shal'tha's soul into the afterlife. After having been administered a plant-based solution (which numbed the pain of the procedure somewhat), Ho'than'shi claimed to have felt his beloved's soul escaping. Unsurprisingly, however, the king died due to blood loss mere hours after the operation had taken place. Shortly before his death, Ho'than'shi retired to his bed, and was not observed to twitch or scream in his sleep, it being his last peaceful slumber.

Following Ho'than'shi's death, his only son, Cholssa became king, aged only one local year.

Footnotes

[1]. c. 37,500 years BT.

[2] Two of Bash'tho's sons died during shortly after birth, and one daughter (initially the eldest) died in her teenage years from illness.

[3] The Gla'shoo'ath Kingdom was unique among the Eastern Kingdoms of 'Tana'jan in that it did not practice arranged marriage.

[4] Named for the ever-faithful character in a satirical play penned by Gla'shoo'ath author Lojato' the Elder, (similar to referring to one as "Romeo" on Old Earth)

[5] Named for 'Shal'tha's father, this figure was later known for the so-called "War on Tho'rahl'shothan", after his own son, Cholssa the Younger, died from ingesting the drug.

[6] Funerals were always held during evening time in this culture, symbolizing the end of life. [7] A rare kind of mushroom which grows only in Kaze'hntis, regarded as sacred to many local cultures, including the Gla'shoo'ath Kingdom.
 
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Development Notes
Text by James RogersInitially published on 08 August 2016.

 
 
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