The Nerek were a people from the continent of Lether, subjugated by the Letherii. Their homeland was on a vast plateau on the eastern edge of the mountain range separating the lands of the Tiste Edur from the Letherii. They were organised into clans.
The Nerek had believed they were originally all the children of a single mother (known to the Nerek as Eres'al, Eres or N'eres) and a serpent, which still dwelt in their bodies vertically as their spine. However, the mountains wanting this 'serpent' to return to its slithering form, the Nerek began bending over, which caused their spines to curve more and more towards the ground as they aged.
The Nerek civilisation collapsed at the hands of the Kingdom of Lether. Their mercantile focused neighbours lured them into chains of debt and made them dependent on Letherii-supplied Durhang, White nectar, and alcohol. They destroyed the Nerek's holy sites to weaken the connection to their goddess. The Nerek buried their dead beneath flat stones prior to being forced to convert to the faith of the Holds by the Letherii. After this subjugation and forced conversion, the Nerek began leaving their dead lying where they fell. The Nerek villages became deserted cemeteries and the Nerek were described as a destroyed people with no chance of rising again. Letherii scholars justified the Nerek's subjugation by claiming the Eres'al was a false goddess. Those Nerek that the Letherii enslaved were scattered throughout the empire far from their traditional homelands.
The Nerek believed the Tiste Edur were the children of demons, their skin stained by the ash in their blood. Looking into an Edur's eyes, a Nerek saw the greying of the world, the smearing of the sun, and the rough skin of night. Consequently, Nerek fell to their knees, began to keen, and beat their faces and chests with their fists when in the presence of an Edur.
They feared the sea as the site of their netherworld, a place where drowning was eternal and home to betrayers and murderers.
In Midnight Tides
It was revealed that the Nerek had been unintentionally brought low by the efforts of Hull Beddict. The former Letherii Sentinel had been sent to study the Nerek by King Ezgara Diskanar, ostensibly to further the two neighbours' peaceful co-existence. Hull was heartily accepted by the Nerek and developed blood-ties with them. In reality, Hull's observations were used to exploit and subjugate the Nerek. Hull was so distressed by the Nerek's downfall that he resigned his commission and turned his back on his own people. Despite their fall, the Nerek worshipped Hull.
The Letherii exploited the Nerek's weaknesses so that the goddess never truly awoke and defended her people. After their subjugation, the Nerek lost their dreams and the knowledge of the old paths that allowed swift travel between realms. But the Eres'al appeared to be awoken when Mayen unwittingly consecrated the ground beneath a group of Nerek Indebted brought to the Warlock King's village by Buruk the Pale. When war broke out between the Kingdom of Lether and the Edur, the sacred earth shielded their band from the Letherii sorcery that destroyed the rest of the village.
Afterwards, the dreams returned to one youth, and with them knowledge of the ways between worlds. The youth and his knife-brother set off on the old paths in search of Hull. They found him in Letheras where he had helped the Edur army conquer his own people. The youths claimed Hull had been judged for standing with the Edur, his heart poisoned and unable to forgive. They wept as they stabbed him to death.
Many Nerek refugees found their way to Letheras where they lived on the streets with other indigent tribes. Hull's brother, Tehol Beddict, resettled many on a string of islands he purchased for his brother's sake.
In Reaper's Gale
Ublala Pung identified the Draconean Sea as the location of the islands Tehol Beddict had purchased to resettle the Tarthenal refugees from the Letherii Empire, so the Nerek were likely there as well.
- "Their name is mentioned in the annals of the First Landings...They are the indigenous people whose territory spanned the entire south. There were Nerek watching the first ships [of the human First Empire] approach. Nerek who came to greet the first Letherii to set foot on this continent. Nerek who traded, taught the colonizers how to live in this land, gave them the medicines against the heat fevers. They have been here a long, long time."
- ―Hull Beddict to Seren Pedac
Notes and references
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 7, US TPB p.181
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.62
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 6, US SFBC p.209
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 7, US TPB p.184-185
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 2, US TPB p.53-54
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.67
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.432
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.478
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 6, US HC p.149
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 4, US SFBC p.120
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 6, US SFBC p.191
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 12, US HC p.339
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.416
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.545
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.724
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.91
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 12, US HC p.302