The Fallen Lords of the Shash

The Lords of the Shash are monarchs and vassals of a bygone age, at once fae and undead.  They come from a hundred different cultures and the legends about them both abound and conflict.  They symbolize hubris, bravery against impossible odds, fatalism, war against fate, conflict with the natural order, failing of the natural order, the folly of excess, the vanity of worldly glory, the corrupting influence of faery, and a dozen other themes.  Some tellings have them once being human or of other ancient race, other stories claim the Shash merely ape the human form as do other fae.

Sometimes they appear of noble bearing, but there is always some element of corruption or death about them.  This could be a wound that will not stop bleeding, a face pocked by active plague symptoms, maggots falling from clothing, arms and head bound as with burial cloth, colorless gray skin and raiment, listlessness and fatigue when encountering sites related to death and burial, partially exposed bone on the face or extremeties, with fungus or moss growing from flesh, etc.

The Lords of the Shash are only met in one of two ways:  Riding abroad or seated in their halls.

Those who ride are born across the land on creatures only half-horse and more dream or dead thing.  They are frequently encountered in regions of mist, swamp, desert waste, ancient ruins and battle fields, fae marches, or other desolate places.  Most often they are seen hunting or riding to battle, though other activities are not unheard of.  They may seek parlay, alliance, or display outright hostility, though something about the Fallen Lords prevents them from attacking without first giving challenge or evidence of their intent.

The halls of the Shash are extensions of the lords who inhabit them, and can not be found or encountered without a lord being present in some capacity.  Depending on the given lord's tale, the keep may be empty and desolate, peopled with half-living inhabitants dining in decadence, places of gathering gloom, etc.  But invariably each sheds some light on how it's lord lived, ruled, and died.

Occasionally some item of useful treasure may be gleaned from the Fallen Lords of the Shash or from their manses.  But most credulous folk feel such artifacts are cursed.  Even in the cases where no ill comes from Shash artifacts, there is a palpable aura about such things urging the mind toward fatalism, doom, or more dismal existence.

This work directly inspired by Hinah's song Fallen Lords Were Riding Half-Horses.