Rise and Fall of Arela
Gaius Cerris is a white-haired, venerable human male from the city of Ceres. At one time the commander of the Ceres army, and then High Lord of Ceres during the 30 year war, the shadow of his formerly stout and impressive figure is still visible upon his frame as a frail old man. While his skin hangs loose where once thick muscle had lain, his hair thin and white and face wrinkled with age, his mind however has stayed sharp, and no one can mistake the physical weakness in his voice for mental atrophy when they consider the weight of his words. He is often seen in fine loose-fitting robes, the crest of the House of Cerris upon his chest alongside the icon of Light Bringer, denoting him as its past wielder, and an embroidered crown denoting him as a past monarch. He is currently the eldest member of the Cerris family and the only living former monarch of Ceres.
Gaius Cerris is most known for ruling the city of Ceres through the 30 year war, at the conclusion of which he passed on the title of Highlord of Ceres to his eldest son, Octavian Cerris. He famously stated before his assembled court, “Go, bring light to darkness and peace to this land. Free Shivar from the cruelty of Branthus of Kharlin.” and passed on to his son his sword Light Bringer, the symbol of command for the whole of the Ceres Army.
Gaius Cerris is a direct descendant of General Lucius Cerris, leader of the Army of the North Road, conqueror and founder of Ceres and the first Highlord of Ceres. Gaius, as is tradition, was given the sword Light Bringer by his father prior to inheriting the throne himself. In the years after receiving Light Bringer and before taking on the throne, Gaius spent several years touring the North Forts and fighting the undead and monsters found in that region. It is during this time he married and had his first son, Octavian.
Gaius’ rule would be defined by his handling of the 30 year war. In the early years of the conflict he was criticized for appearing to favor Shivar against Kharlin, actions which the nobility feared would draw Ceres into the war. However, Gaius was a known friend of Septum Gantor, and despite the idea of entering the war on the side of Shivar being unpopular he openly supported them in the conflict. Though Gaius’ official reason for entering the conflict after the taking of Shivar was opposition to the occupation of the city and the threat against Ceres’s trade interests, It is often suspected that the real reason for Ceres’ entry into the thirty year war was the murder of Gaius’ friend Septum Gantor by the Kharlin Blades. Many of his court advised Gaius not to lead the war himself, fearful that there could be protests or even rebellion if the greater population believed he was entering the nation into a long and bloody war for personal reasons. However, instead of leading the command of the army to one of the ranking generals, or another senior member of the royal family such as one of his brothers or nephews, Gaius made the bold and at the time heavily-criticized decision to give command of the army to his oldest son, then merely 18 years of age and only just beginning his compulsory military service.
Throughout the war Gaius mostly stayed in Ceres, managing the wartime economy and defense of the local territory, as well as matters of state as normal. The hardships of the war were tempered by his son’s popularity in the military and his remarkable logistical abilities. Still, at the closing of the conflict his was a rule known for war and hardship, and the perceived victory of the compromise did little to help his popularity as most of the credit was given to his son Octavian. Throughout the war Gaius had maintained an outward ‘hands off’ appearance to the war, despite privately having regular strategy sessions with his son and giving regular council. Unknown to most this was an intentional and calculated move on Gaius’s part, who was determined that any success be granted to his son Octavian, but any blame for the wars hardship not stain Octavian’s name and future rule. As a result, at the close of the war Gaius was considered a competent but unpopular ruler, whereas his son returned a conquering general and was universally loved as a hero, tactical and strategical genius, and born leader.
For these reasons, at age 63 Gaius relinquished the throne to his son upon his return and entered his retirement in the palace. He spent the first few decades of his son’s rule sitting as the head of his son’s advisory council and has since given up even that. Now at age 89 he spends most of his time in the palace, enjoying his last years among his family.