The Coalition's War
The githyanki and githzerai were once one people, enslaved by the sinister mind flayers after their arrival from the Far Realm countless years ago. Their servitude eradicated much of their former culture, and the mental powers of the illithid molded their bodies over generations – strong in body and quite capable in mind as well, they were gifted with lesser psionic abilities as the result of unspeakable experiments and horrifying psychic chirurgury. These powers made them the perfect advance guard, forced to hunt down new worlds promising new and exotic chattel for their masters’ insatiable hungers.
Eventually, they grew powerful and tormented enough to pose a true threat to their masters, and slave rebellions shook the then-mighty illthid empire which knew no borders in the Underdark, and stretched across many dominions in the Astral Sea as well. The mind flayers always managed to put down their uprisings, crushing the spirits of their slaves with each new devastating defeat.
But a leader finally appeared among them, a hero named Gith, who wielded a mighty silver sword. Her inspirational strength spread like wildfire among her kind, imbuing them with the resolve to stand up one last time. All of the slaves on all of the worlds took up arms as one, and even the powerful mind flayers could not contend with their might. The empire crumbled, and what few illithid communities remain today represent only a shadow of its former power.
Legends often disagree on what became of her, but after victory was claimed, she faded away into the mists of history. Her people were lost without her leadership, and a schism formed between them forever. The githyanki believed that war was their purpose in life – they believe that Gith commanded them to remain vigilant against their foes. They sought to build a homeland for themselves somewhere in the planes, and then spend lifetimes increasing their numbers, mastering dimensional travel, and honing their blades against any foe they met. All this they would do to train themselves for the day they would seek out their old masters and exterminate them.
After arriving in the Astral Sea for the first time, the githyanki, led by a woman named Vlaakith, found a home on the dormant corpse of a dead god, afloat in the astral expanse. There they constructed Tu’narath, their greatest city. Vlaakith’s dynasty continued past her death, and over a hundred of her female descendants have taken her name and her crown. The latest of these successors was Vlaakith CLVII, the Lich Queen. In her place now is Emperor Zetch’r’r, whose driving ambition has led him to unleash his people’s hatred on the Mortal World.
Githyanki Military Tradition
The Coalition has had many run-ins with hostile githyanki, though there is only so much they can learn from facing only the sharp end of the sword.
Githyanki attempt to balance their assaults with a mix of martial, psionic, and arcane power. Many of their warriors are similar to swordmages in practice, even if their philosophy is different. All githyanki fight with a silvered blade – an homage to their first leader’s weapon, the sword of Gith herself. Although Gith’s blade was probably a longsword, githyanki soldiers have been seen carrying anything from silver daggers to silver fullblades.
As even the githyanki don’t have the resources to enchant every soldier’s sword, only the most important of leaders tend to have magic weapons. And among these leaders, even fewer of them have special swords made of quicksilver that allows them to cut rifts between dimensions – each of these were made by one of the many Vlaakiths as a rare gift to a valued servant of Tu’narath.
The githyanki, being a militant people, are taught to value in their unit (or cadre) second, and their weapons first – while they live, they don’t even allow their own comrades to handle them. But for all the value a githyanki may place on a simple piece of silvered steel, it’s nothing compared to what they see in the special blades forged by Vlaakith. Such weapons are incredible status symbols among the githyanki elite, and their owners are always buried with them. Jett has long owned one of these swords, and the fact that it stays in the hands of an outsider, rather than in the hands of one of their own leaders drives the githyanki into an indignant fury. They call him kalach – a term from Deep Speech that labels one as not just a thief of a weapon – but a thief of githyanki culture and pride.