One of the smaller and least prosperous kingdoms in the Steadfast, Thaemor is often overshadowed by its neighbors. In fact, the other kingdoms consider it something of a joke.

That wasn’t always so. Bordered by two rivers and a mountain, Thaemor was once an unnamed but very much desired piece of land, part of a three-way war between Navarene, Draolis, and Malevich. Each power wished to lay claim to the fertile triangle.

In the midst of the struggle, one man took it upon himself to claim the place he later named Thaemor. Goldguard Landon was a fearsome warrior who knew everything about how to defend a region from the onslaught of multiple kingdoms but absolutely nothing about running a kingdom himself. Under Landon’s rule, Thaemor’s borders were always well protected and cared for, even from the mightiest foes, but the same could not be said for the people and places within.

After Landon’s passing, his son Kaldon took hold of Thaemor and ran it (if you could call it such) much as his father had. He sired a number of children, but none of his heirs survived, and when he died, a man named Holiva the First took office in the Precipice although no one can quite remember where Holiva came from or what skills qualified him to rule.

Today, the way in which other kingdoms look down on Thaemor is a source of pain and embarrassment for Holiva, for he believes that his kingdom could be a land of great power and opportunity if only others could see what he sees.

Unfortunately, what he sees is very little that is real or true. Although Thaemor is a region of deeply buried riches, clear waters, and fertile lands that have not yet come to fruition, Holiva sees none of that. He doesn’t see the intelligent, hardworking people or their potential to be great leaders, teachers, warriors, and scholars.

Instead, everything Holiva sees is viewed through the shadowy lens of his vizier, the Hand of Melch, and the Hand urges him toward only one thing: the restoration of the shadow herd.

“The shadow herd,” the Hand tells him, “is a group of dark, formless creatures, born of a wicked mind older than the kingdom itself. Free them, and it is they, they, who will help Thaemor become what it once was. They who will help the whole of the Steadfast—nay, the whole of the world kneel before Thaemor’s feet and crown your head with glory.”

Holiva believes what the Hand tells him. There’s only one problem: the hand that Holiva listens to is his own. The man spends his waking hours talking with his own body part in the form of a shadow puppet. He mostly stays awake through the night, when glowglobes provide the most clearly defined shadow puppet and thus when he believes he can hear the advice of his vizier most truly.

While Holiva pools all of his country’s resources toward the single purpose of reviving the shadow herd, the people of the land work deftly and silently beneath his clouded gaze. After having successive rulers with little to no skill in leadership, the people of Thaemor have learned to become self-sufficient.

Of course, no one whispers that Holiva the First might have lost his sanity long ago—that would be treason. And no one whispers of the ancient time when the shadow herd thundered across all the lands tucked in the shade of the Black Riage—that would be superstition.

Taken from the Numenera Corebook by Monte Cook Games