Sayid ibn Maimun
Sayid ibn Maimun, also known as Emperor Sayid X the Ishkahn, was one of the most important and controversial of the members of Alexandria's First Stand. On one hand, Sayid is the author of one of the earliest testimonial and the progenitor of the Peteran worship of Alexandria. On the other, he is indicted by the Canon of Orthodoxy as the Great Betrayer of Alexandria, who turned on her in the Kingdom of Shadow and caused the Martyrdom. Historically, Sayid was second only to Steros Merroand in importance in the life of Alexandria--both were early mentors and key advisers throughout her life, although Steros was more dedicated to her divine purpose. However, as an individual Sayid attained the most considerable worldly success of all the First Stand, as he first and foremost served his own interests and not those of Alexandria or the Church. During his life, he united the many tribes and city-states of Petera into a single prosperous and powerful empire--an accomplishment unique in the history of the region.
Origins and Pre-Tragidore Life
Sayid was born the youngest son in a large family of successful merchant-marines in coastal Petera. As the baby in a wealthy family, he was afforded tremendous luxury and freedom from the responsibilities of his older siblings. Growing up, Sayid was predictably rambunctious, energetic, and entitled, but also contained the seeds of competence and ambition. Without managerial obligations to tie him down, he threw himself into the most most appealing and exciting part of his mercantile heritage: adventuring, traveling, and treasure hunting.
As a young man, Sayid arrived on the mainland aboard one of his father's merchant vessels in search of adventure and gold. The ship, returning to Petera from the Sidhe-Praxen isles, carried with it the war-mage princess of the Elven Kingdoms, Marrwyn Teldandilion, who was on the run from the boredom and responsibility of her heritage. In the port city, the pair were tied to Steros and Dadtim the Younger when a holy man prophesied that the four would assist Gods with an ancient battle. It was this prophecy that brought the four to Tragidor, and introduced them to Alexandria and Arek. It was during this period that Sayid also discovered the Black Scythe, the cursed scimitar that would become his trademark weapon.
After the destruction of Tragidor, Sayid was responsible for mentoring Alexandria, and adopted several of the Children of Tragedy, including Mikos Lygit. While Steros raised the majority of the Tragidorian orphans in the disciplined and severe barracks of the Church of Tarlos, Sayid's received an upbringing more akin to his own. He taught them how to look good, gain advantage, fight, and most importantly, to win, but turned a blind eye to any trouble they caused. Predictably, this caused significant conflict with Steros and his crew of monastic law-enforcers, led by the orphan Mythrian Arabelle.
Under his tutelage, Alexandria learned a level of polish and trickery that would become essential as she rose to power and importance. Sayid, himself a deeply cunning and adept socialite, taught Alexandria to predict and exploit opportunity, to be attentive to and competent with trickery and deceit, and to carry herself with poise while doing it. Many of the political and social machinations so effectively employed by Alexandria during the Prophet's War and the Second Crusade, detailed in the Testimonial of Marrwyn, can be attributed in part to Sayid's tutelage.
The Peteran Civil War
In 34 BI, after the First Stand rescued Marrwyn Teldandilion from her captivity and forced marriage, Sayid received word of family problems and the First Stand split. Sayid, Mikos, Marrwyn, and Sharksy Seven-Fingers traveled to Petera, where they found Sayid's family murdered or or dispersed and his fortunes in ruin. Sayid petitioned Emperor Haddad VIII for aid and redress, but instead became involved in a scheme by the Princess Hadiya--a clandestine practitioner of illegal divination. Hoping to recover some of his lost fortunes, the group (with Hadiya) raided the tomb of a Pre-Peteran Pharaoh, where Sayid received the cursed Bracers of the Moon King.
While returning from this expedition, the group was ambushed by a Bedouin tribe. The Bedouins, themselves actively practicing Moon Children, recognized Sayid's newly acquired bracers and became convinced he represented the return of the old Pharaohs. Sayid encouraged these belief's, and through a combination of clashes, manipulations, and assassinations, forged an iron peace between the feuding Bedouin tribes and was declared Ishkahn, the Reborn King.
Despite his newly acquired power, Sayid was deeply unhappy during this period. In part, he was uncomfortable with the religious zealotry and nomadic life of his Bedouin subjects and wished to return to the city. Also, Sayid learned the dark truth behind his family's downfall--his eldest brother had turned on his family and people, allied with servitor elves, and was attacking the Empire. Sayid sent two of his Tragidorian wards, Thidrall and Klane, to the Emperor to offer an alliance. The Emperor--convinced that Sayid had kidnapped his daughter and was unifying the tribes against him--instead executed the two wards and Sayid's remaining family.
Furious with grief, Sayid stirred his forces into a religious rage over the incident, forced a marriage on Hadiya, and made war with both the forces of the Empire and the servitor armies. Again, waging a campaign of assassinations and strategic military clashes against the two weakened armies (famously neutralizing Peteran firearms using storms summoned by powerful Bedouin elemental magics), he quickly defeated both. Sayid himself indicates that he kept the Emperor alive until the very end to "witness the entirety of his ruin" before executing him and his remaining family and declaring himself Emperor Sayid X.
Sayid and Alexandria Reunited
Sayid spent the majority of the next decade solidifying his power as Emperor, and took no significant part in the Prophet's War beyond providing Alexandria's forces with material support. In 21 BI, after Alexandria returned from the West and finished the War, Sayid immediately recognized Alexia but did not return to her side. To regain her advisor, Alexandria was forced to leave her forces in the hands of Sterros and Mythrian and sail the Lost Fleet to Petera and personally convince Sayid to return. Oddly, Sayid mentions nothing of what they spoke of the night her fleet arrived, but when the sun rose the next morning, he was convinced.
Sayid returned to the mainland and commited considerable forces to her cause. The alliance of Alexia, Petera, and Ubrekt began the task of uniting the nations of the mainland under one banner to resist the Dark Lord. Shortly thereafter, Alexandria assumed the Omnity after entering the Ivory Obelisk. This action released the bonds on the Dark Lord's prison, and the resulting invasion of the Shadow Horde quickly united the other kingdoms in her Crusade. During the Crusade, Sayid acted as one of the Omnity's key generals, and Alexandria's forces repelled the invasion and launched a counterattack into the Kingdom of Shadow itself.
What happened in the twisting and illusory confusion of the Kingdom of Shadow differs markedly from account to account, even within the Canon of Orthodoxy itself. Sayid escaped the Martyrdom Blast, and returned with his remnant forces to Petera. As accounts of the battle began to spread, and survivors began to write their own testimonials, the general consensus was that Sayid critically wounding Alexandria as she battled the with the Dark Lord, forcing her into the Martyrdom. Sayid's own account lays the blame on Antioch, the former Sorcerer-King of Hakan Free City.
Final Years and Death
In the years following the Crusade, Sayid guided Petera through 28 years of peace and prosperity. Although both Petera and the Mainlaind had struggled with war in the years leading up to the Crusade, Petera had fared far better. Sayid's quick and decisive victories, with their focus on breaking morale and assassinating generals, was far less devastating to the general population than the more expansive Prophet's War. Also, his strong and unifying leadership, as well as Petera's smaller land mass, allowed him to quickly transition into national recovery. As a result, Petera was able to recover more quickly, and many merchants were able to acquire significant fortune, especially from the more desperate mainland. This exploitation of the weakened mainland was a source of serious friction in the years following the war.
The unified Peteran empire, however, would die with its creator. Sayid's controversial vision was to pass his crown not to one of his many biological, royal, and native children, but to his adopted Tragidorian son Mikos. The Empress Hydia, furious over this decision, rallied the urbanized, secular Peterans to usurp Mikos and have him exiled. Mikos incited many Bedouin and rural Peterans into revolt, and his forces harassed the empire for many years, eventually becoming the fractious religious peoples known today as the Tribes of Ulan. Sayid's intentions are once again shrouded in mystery, as he certainly understood that this was a likely, if not inevitable, consequence of his decision. Whether he was motivated by greed, loyalty, corruption, or insanity are the subjects of many Peteran literary works.
Personality and Testimonial
Sayid's personality was, first and foremost, driven by his powerful, deadly, and occasionally brutal prowess. Sayid epitomized the ideal of the Peteran warrior, and was a fast and highly maneuverable combatant that focused on launching a devastating attack. On the battlefield, he would often push deep into enemy forces, targeting key individuals and quickly destroying them with his two powerful magic scimitars--the Black Scythe and the Maimun Family Crescent. His defenses were negligible, and he relied more on luck (and the considerable risk associated with getting close to him) to stay alive. Socially and politically, he employed virtually identical techniques, relying on a quick and decisive aggression to neutralize potential threats.
Sayid coupled this prowess with a swashbuckler's flair, and was an unrepentant huckster and gambler. His decision making was often poorly planned and erratic, as he was far more likely to rely on a decisive gambit or a brash attack than wisdom, patience, or council. In his often long monologues about his own importance, he made it clear that he lived his life with a vaguely monotheistic devotion to Fate. He put his life in her hands over and over, and he survived because he was simply destined for greatness. To Sayid, tremendous personal risk and an immeasurable ego were necessities in the life of a man who drove Emperors, Gods, and Ancient Evils to their knees.
Sayid's testimonial reflects this personality clearly, and is a largely autobiographical and self-aggrandizing document about his personal accomplishments. It is clear that his primary purpose in writing it was to draw attention to himself and his own importance, and Alexandria is mainly a vehicle to highlight this. There is little in this text of theological significance, most of which is focused on Sayid's tremendous disdain for the mainland religions and old gods. However, this derisive perspectives does address a hugely significant historic event in Petera--after Alexandria's ascension divine magic suddenly returned to the largely secular empire. Sayid's texts spin this as a scathing indictment of mainland polytheism and proof of the righteousness of Peteran monotheism.
Controversy and Conflict
More than any other member of The Stand--even the enigmatic Antioch--Sayid is surrounded by controversy and conflict. At the core of this conflict is his role in the Martyrdom. The two branches of Alexandrian worship differ fundamentally on this point, with Sterros's Orthodoxy claiming that Sayid betrayed Alexandria, while Sayid's Peteran version claims Antioch was the offending party. However, this fundamental controversy is augmented by a number of qualities of Sayid's personality and history.
The most significant cause of controversy surrounding Sayid is his dubious moral integrity. Even in the most glowing descriptions (which are usually autobiographical) he is a violent and unpredictable bully who felt entitled to amass considerable power through deceit, warfare, and assassination. In addition, he proudly displayed and frequently used two incredibly powerful and evil cursed artifacts--the Black Scyth and the Bracers of the Moon King--which seemed to drive many of his personal ambitions and further compromise his already suspect integrity. While there is little doubt that Sayid had tremendous affection for Alexandria, he was a man with many secret and not-so-secret ambitions and influences that may have directed his actions.
Also, many of the accounts of the First Stand chronicle the deeply personal conflict between Sterros and Sayid. By all respects, their personalities are diametric opposites, with Sayid as a irreverent and chaotic gambler building a cult of personality, and Sterros as a highly structured and devout zealot forcing the disparate remnants of the demi-pantheon faiths into a single church. Direct confrontations between the two over leadership of the Stand, mentorship of Alexandria, and raising of orphans are well documented. This conflict could, on one hand, have cause Sayid to become resentful and jealous of Alexandria as Sterros became closer and more powerful, coupled with her frequent reliance on Sterros' strategic advice, despite Sayid's own significant military accomplishments. On the other, it casts doubt on Sterros's motivations in fingering Sayid as the Betrayer of Alexandria.
- Sayid famously refused to give the secret of firearms to Alexandria, even under heavy pressure and demands. That secret, even to this day, is only known to Peteran alchemists.
- Matt's description of the Empress Hydia's feeling on Mikos running Petera: "[she] wasn't about to see that shit run by some guy from moronland"