Hello and welcome. This is the first installment in a series of tales which will cover heroes from around the globe and across the ages who helped shape the world as we know it today. The first subject of this new series will be Ghilly Markov, brother of legendary King Markov, co-founder of the Kingdom of Glasteel and the establisher of a great many laws and institutions, the most important of which without a doubt would be the Blood Lottery.
It is said that Ghilly Markov was born under a red star and indeed, Mars had a heavy influence on his life. His mother died giving birth to him, something his father and brother never quite forgave. Unlike his gregarious and boisterous brother, Ghilly was quiet, standoffish, and preferred being alone. What he lacked in social acumen he made up for in brilliance. As a boy he read voraciously, consuming the works of many of history’s great geniuses. But the quiet placidity of his life would not last. When his thirteenth summer had barely begun, his father was strung to a tree and ripped apart by wild folk while on campaign and the Markov clan suddenly found themselves leaderless.
Normally this would have signaled the end of a clan’s dominance, but the Markov brothers had something else in mind. Ghilly’s genius and his brother’s glowing charisma kept the clan unified and even drew other clans into their fold. Less than a decade later, the brothers found themselves rulers over all the lands between the Green Sea and the Silverback Mountains. Again, lesser minds would not have been able to hold such a domain together, but Ghilly was more than up to the task.
And so it was, on the plain where their greatest battle took place, that the Markov brothers founded the Kingdom of Glasteel and set the first foundation stone of the new capitol on the hill where they slew Wurgoten Kesselnacht, the Worm King. Glasteel quickly grew into a formidable power under the brother’s co-rule. While King Markov was an able statesmen, it was Ghilly who set up the vital institutions that would let Glasteel not only survive, but flourish. These included the Postman Guild, the Fighters of Fire, the Apothecary’s Union, whose headquarters in the capitol would become the first hospital, the Office of Public Works, which was a cult dedicated to the god of infrastructure, a reworked brothel system run by the Virgins of Lesba which essentially made prostitution a church sanctioned activity, and the School of Records where teachers from around the world gathered in order to instruct eager Glasteelians on the fine art of bureaucracy.
But one of Ghilly Markov’s greatest achievements by far must be the Blood Lottery, a fine institution which exists to this day. The practice of the lottery dates back to time immemorial, but the official founding of the tradition is marked by Ghilly’s own attempt. The story of the Blood Lottery is well known, and surely many of you fine readers have given a loved one to the Lottery, but what isn’t known is that the Lottery was established in order to solve a problem. The problem known as Ghilly’s quandary. Yes the very same! It began one night when Ghilly was ruminating on the shape of the cosmos while wiling away the late hours in his study. The story goes that Ghilly burst from his quarters, startling his Chief Advisor who was showing the Bodyguard in Chief how to ride senior advisors.
“IT is here!” Ghilly sang out.
“What is?” the Chief Advisor asked, picking up his staff as he tucked his other staff away.
“IT. IT who would turn the Sun the other way across the sky. IT who would eat the stars to calm a hunger pang! IT who would make love disappear from the world with a thought. IT!”
“No harm will come to you. I swear it,” the Bodyguard in Chief said as she hastily slipped her breastplate on.
“There is no hope! No solution. The stars have shown me the future! IT will come to feast on the all sweet meats our souls generate and fling through the aether so carelessly. We draw IT here. Damn you, listen to me!” Ghilly shouted.
The Chief Advisor tried his best to calm his master, but no amount of back, neck, or groin rubs would put Ghilly’s mind at ease. Finally, as the servants mopped up the Chief Advisor’s latest attempt to calm Ghilly, an idea took hold. Yes of course! Tension demands release! Release demands action! IT would be appeased and so stave off the evils of this world.
Great King Markov, rest his noble soul, was the first to give to the Lottery. Screaming merrily as he was dragged from his bed, the king cried tears of joy as the priests slowly, arduously prepared his body for the ritual until he passed out from screaming so much happiness. Once the ritual was over, night turned to day and the whole kingdom saw that the world did not end and praised Ghilly for the heroic deed of saving all life. Thus was the Blood Lottery born.
Ghilly ruled Glasteel as King for twenty years before dedication and perseverance consumed what was left of his vast and powerful mind. Ghilly passed peacefully in his sleep, with only three daggers plunged into his heart, a sign of great respect at the time. As he was incapable of siring heirs after the events of the third great Blood Lottery, rule of the kingdom went to his nephew, Bilderbonne Markov, also known as Bilderbonne the Simple and Bilderbonne the Fuck-up. It is a testament to Ghilly’s genius at urban planning and institutional development that Glasteel was able to weather the suckitude that was Bilderbonne’s miserable two year reign which ended in a Blood Lottery so intense that Bilderbonne had to be buried fifty separate times. Ghilly’s stern visage still watches over the capitol in the form of a statue dedicated to the Bloody King, judging all who pass his gaze.
This concludes today’s Heroic Classic. Join me next time for another tale of heroism. Stay safe and have a happy Blood Lottery!