************** Warning: Spoiler alert! ****************************
Tardyn the Slayer b. 4349 SY d. 4587 SY
Having wasted the nights of his youth with harlots in smoky dens, an ill-prepared Tardyn took the Pearl Throne at the relatively young age of seventy-two. Even now, millennia and worlds later, I can hardly believe that such a weak willed, sniveling man sat upon the throne of the greatest empire in Sangrar’s history for a whopping one hundred sixty seven years.
Tardyn held the reins of power longer than most God-Emperors, but longevity alone is insufficient for entry into the Gloryngael hall of fame. Solely on his merits, Tardyn wouldn’t pass the first ballot. Throughout his reign, Maelryn was the true power behind the throne and Tardyn, well, he made as many decisions as the statues of Thar and Raena. Too much booze and too many hits of the pipe left Tardyn malleable and open to the Vizier’s suggestions. The same weak will made him easy prey for the curse, which took root early. By Tardyn’s one hundredth birthday, he didn’t control the madness. It controlled him.
Darmyn the Righteous was Tardyn’s father and I think he always knew that his son wasn’t cut from the same cloth. Maybe that helped Darmyn fight off the curse? Darmyn had to know that Sangrithar would suffer under his son’s rule. Indifference followed by madness, that’s what the future portended under Tardyn. Darmyn confided his concerns to Maelryn, never realizing the Vizier’s hidden nature, and paid the ultimate price. Maelryn preferred the more easily controlled Tardyn and made suitable arrangements that conveniently pointed elsewhere. When Darmyn was discovered in his room, most of the accusing tongues wagged in Tardyn’s direction.
Tardyn of course, knew nothing of Maelryn’s plan. As far as he was concerned, his father’s premature death was a mixed blessing. God-fire would be nice, a great gimmick for impressing the ladies, but those sessions in Tintammil were a bore. He sloughed most of it off on the Vizier and amused himself with visitors from the palace flesh stables.
Once the curse had him, and that didn’t take long, it didn’t let go. It made him prone to unpredictable fits of rage and led to his nickname, which if you ask me was a joke. About all Tardyn could slay was defenseless slaves. Without god-fire, he’d have struggled against a declawed tabby.
During the last decades of Tardyn’s life, the curse rendered him incapable of ruling. He lived like Howard Hughes in his private chambers, making less and less appearances in Tintammil. The Vizier made excuses for him and managed the court in his absence, gently steering events towards his endgame. He’d served the Pearl Throne more than four thousand years, his other master more than two. If anyone could afford to be patient, it was him.
Tardyn’s son, Prince Torval also stepped up. Most of what you’ve read concerning Torval was set after he was deep in the curse’s throes. Before then, when he was young, Torval was formidable – shrewd and well versed in all aspects of power. He’d studied with scholars and Wardens, traveled extensively and had more leadership in his left pinky than Tardyn ever had. The nobles attending Tintammil recognized Torval’s authority and starting coming to him with their problems as often as they came to the Vizier.
Maelryn missed his opportunity with Torval. When the prince was young, his attention was fixed on Tardyn and by the time he turned to Torval it was too late. The prince was too strong for him to control. I’ll give Maelryn this though, he did learn from his mistake.
Some have wondered whether Torval knocked off Tardyn to gain the throne. Tardyn died a few days shy of his two hundred fortieth birthday, a little on the young side by God-Emperor standards, but not exceptionally so. He did wield god-fire longer than most, which had to take its toll and, when you factor in his innate shortcomings, it’s a miracle he lasted as long as he did.
Taking all that into account, I lean towards Torval’s innocence on this one. In the court of life, he was guilty as sin, but I don’t think he took out Tardyn. He had more to lose than gain. He’d seen what the curse had done to his father and knew it would do the same to him. Murdering his father would only hasten his own descent into madness. Yes, Torval did covet the throne. He also appreciated the virtue of patience. The throne would be his soon enough and until his father died, he could enjoy the perks due the prince of the realm without the curse’s downside.