Source: Campaign Setting, pg(s). 110
Faced with extinction due to the many deprivations visited upon Golarion by Earthfall and the subsequent Age of Darkness, the horse lords who controlled the land now known as Nidal made a pact with the darkest of deities: Zon-Kuthon. They traded their own survival and that of their people for eternal subservience to the Midnight Lord. The horse lords became the earliest members of the Umbral Court, and their descendants continue to maintain this agreement, in constant fear of disappointing Zon-Kuthon and losing their divine mandate. The Court assumed control of Nidal as early as -5275 AR.
Even though Nidal was once a subject of Cheliax, the Umbral Court has regained most of its power in the last century. In exchange for supporting House Thrune in the Chelish civil war at the beginning of the Age of Lost Omens, Egorian rewarded the Umbral Court by withdrawing all Chelish agents and handing over sovereignty in 4640 AR.
Structure and Authority
Meeting three times a year in Pangolais, the Umbral Court rules by the divine decree of the god Zon-Kuthon himself. They work diligently and desperately to maintain that mandate by opposing the local Desnans, diabolists, and any others who would dare challenge the authority of the Midnight Lord. Few outside of the highly secretive streets of Pangolais know the identities of individual members of the Umbral Court, although there are rare exceptions. One distinguishing feature that all Umbral Court members seem to share are dull black eyes; a sign of their eternal bondage to Zon-Kuthon.
The common people of Nidal obey even the lowest member of the Umbral Court without hesitation or question, as anyone disobeying them is quickly, or even worse, slowly executed.
- Eloiander of Ridwan: Head of the druidic cabal in the Uskwood
- Kholas: A vampire currently serving as ambassador to Cheliax
- Black Triune: Ancient rulers of the city of Pangolais
Even though the Umbral Court is autocratic and acts with impunity throughout the nation, not all of Nidal is under its direct control. The region of northern Nidal known as the Atteran Ranches has largely been policed and governed autonomously by the local great ranching families for a very long time. As long as order is maintained and local Desna-worshipers are hunted down, the Umbral Court seems to be willing to let the people of the Atteran Ranches make many of their own decisions.
Umbral Court Agents
Umbral Court agents are skilled operatives who enforce the rule of the Umbral Court both openly or undercover; they work both in Nidal and its neighboring nations. They spend most of their time hunting heretics and apostates, or work to rid their monolithic nation of corrupting foreign influences.
The shadowcasters of Ridwan often bring creatures through the rift in the center of the city from the Plane of Shadow. These are generally tortured and broken to make them obedient, but occasionally the Umbral Court itself extends invitations to the more intelligent and powerful of the Shadow Plane's inhabitants. In one such case, they called several families of shadow giants to come take up residence in Nidal's wilder places. These hideously evil giants still live in Nidal, and occasionally perform tasks assigned to them by the Umbral Court.
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