The Light of a New Day
Malik bin Khalil al Zahir
The suddenly-found offspring of the Grand Caliph, most of his rule was spent in war
Malik actually lived most of his life in a Mosque of Kor, in some of the rare farmland to the southeast near Nog. He grew up thinking his parents had been killed, and that the Korrites took him in as a charity. They treated him as one of their own, and he had a quiet and content life, playing in the green fields with children in the sparse farming community, and serving as an acolyte of Kor. It was a quiet life of friendliness, compassion, and relaxation.
Shortly after the Grand Caliph was killed, he was approached by a group of wizards and priests from Huzuz. They came in a grand caravan, and filled the mosque to bursting. They told him he had been hidden when he was a baby, the heir to the throne secreted away. The had been threats on his life, evidently, and various prohetic magic said he would be murdered if the baby were known to be alive. So the was left in an out-of-the-way village, where he would learn the true tenets of Enlightenment and wisdom and his fellow man. Now he must come take his rightful place as Grand Caliph.
His mind spun, but he was convinced these words were true. He reluctantly took the throne. There were murmuings in the populace of the bizarre circumstances surrounding the situation, of how unfair it was to Princess Jaliah. However, he looked so like a young version of the Grand Caliph, almost like a replica when he himself was a young man. The population yearned for Khalil to still lead them, and so they readily accepted the story and were content to have this hidden gem of a successor lead them.
For two years, Malik did his best to rule. He had no formal training, but the charisma and quick-wit of his father evidently ran through him, as he took to rule quite well. His popularity soared, and all seemed soothed. The only sand in the oyster was that Malik was even more porgressive than his father, wishing Zakhara to change with the times and adopt more modern sensibilities. The Moralists rather despised him, but they tended to be a smaller political group in Zakhara.
When the arrow that that started the War of Ash struck him, he didn’t know what to think. He knew he was not some golem monster as the arrow seemed to show; he knew his life, remembered cvutting his knee while climbing a tree as a boy over ten years ago, his first stolen kiss with a girl on the Feastday of Kor. But yet when the arrow hit, he momentarily felt… different. His advisors assured him the arrow merely cast an elaborate illusion, and that the population would calm down and see this as a misguided attempt from a jealous sibling.
Some in the population did indeed feel that way, but just as many seemed to support this woman and her band of bandits. Malik felt tortured every night, a failure. It was his job to safeguard these people, and yet under his rulership, more Zakharan blood had been spilled than could be measured. The nickname given to him by the Purists, the Ash Caliph, haunted his very dreams, as in them he looked down at his arm and say the soot and ash that made a huge, hulking golem arm right after the arrow struck him.
Malik and his Loyalists fought bravely, and he tried to keep all public works and amenities available to Zakharan citizens throughout the war. Eventually, his forces could no longer stand against the Purists, and he was executed as the stormed the palace.