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The Aiur Tal'darim (or "the Forged"), were a branch of fanatical Khalai who were stranded on Aiur, and split from the other survivors in the Shel'na Kryhas. They served a Benefactor named Xava'tor, who was secretly the dark archon Ulrezaj, yet despised the Nerazim. They were unconnected to the ancient faction also known as the Tal'darim.
The Tal'darim of Aiur were a splinter group of the Shel'na Kryhas (the primary band of Khalai survivors on Aiur), which they philosophically oppose, and moved into the Xel'naga caverns in order to separate themselves from the Shel'na Kryhas. They became addicted to the drug, Sundrop, dispensed to them by their Benefactor, the Xava'tor.
The Tal'darim of Aiur were similar to the Dark Templar and the protoss from the Aeon of Strife in mentality and outlook. Sundrop altered their brain chemistry to be more like the Dark Templar. Despite this, these Tal'darim hated and distrusted the Dark Templar; they had no idea they were being converted into them. This alteration enabled them to learn new techniques, such as cloaking. Preserver Zamara was able to access their memories upon the deaths of some members (which she cannot do with Dark Templar).
They served a Benefactor, whom they call the Xava'tor; however, only Felanis seemed to know more than a little about him, as the Xava'tor did not allow the other Tal'darim to directly interact with him.
The Xava'tor introduced them to Sundrop and taught them to trap zerg and bring them to him. They seemed to suffer fewer losses from the zerg. In return, the Xava'tor issued instructions, such as destroy preservers (or bring them to him) and stay away from the giant khaydarin crystal chamber on pain of death.
These Tal'darim are not actually members of the ancient faction, and were instead deluded cultists searching for meaning.
Following the devastation of Aiur by the zerg, the protoss fled through the world's sole remaining warp gate to the Dark Templar sanctuary of Shakuras. However, the zerg followed the protoss to Shakuras, necessitating the closure of the gate.
The closure, which stranded a fairly large number of protoss, left many with a feeling of abandonment akin to when the xel'naga abandoned the protoss at the beginning of the Aeon of Strife. This "racial wound" resulted in many survivors mentally "regressing" to the state the protoss existed in during the Aeon of Strife.
The schism grew slowly. Felanis, their leader, used to be a respected Judicator. He began acting strangely (according to Ladranix) and befriended the respected Alzadar (a former friend of Ladranix). Felanis and his followers began to withdraw from the Khala; they would communicate only for basic necessities. Finally the Shel'na Kryhas' unity broke; Felanis insulted Ladranix for clinging to the old traditions, then took his followers and departed.
The Tal'darim, as they came to be known, were called to vast unexplored caverns (the same xel'naga-created ones visited by Savassan and Temlaa) by their Benefactor, the Xava'tor. They emerged only at night to gain a little sustenance from starlight.
The Tal'darim came to be addicted to the drug Sundrop. They saw it as a gift from the Xava'tor, which granted them ecstasy. They knew of its painful withdrawal symptoms, but they didn't consider them harmful.
The Tal'darim were a small group at first, but it soon became apparent to the Shel'na Kryhas that they were losing fewer members to the zerg. A number of Shel'na Kryhas deserted, joining the Tal'darim.
In 2503, the Tal'darim became aware of the presence of a preserver, Zamara, on Aiur when the terran Jake Ramsey (who carried Zamara's mind within his own brain due to unusual circumstances) landed on Aiur. The Xava'tor had instructed the Tal'darim to destroy preservers.
Ramsey's friend, Rosemary Dahl, entered the xel'naga caverns in order to scout a path to its giant pure khaydarin crystal. The Tal'darim captured her and Alzadar tried to use her to lure Ramsey to them by exposing her to the addictive Sundrop. However, the attempt failed. From Dahl, the Shel'na Kryhas learned many of their secrets, and were able to arrange an ambush of Alzadar.
Alzadar was captured and detoxified, then told the truth about the Xava'tor... he was a dark archon, Ulrezaj, trying to convert them into something like the very Dark Templar which disgusted the Tal'darim.
Alzadar agreed to enter the Khala again and work with the Shel'na Kryhas. He joined a party of Shel'na Kryhas, Ramsey and Dahl heading into the caverns. Zamara needed to acquire a piece of the extremely pure giant khaydarin crystal before escaping through the warp gate. The group stealthily entered the chamber and acquired a piece of the giant crystal, avoiding the strange vats in the chamber. However, Alzadar opened another chamber's alcoves and discovered his former friends; Xava'kai, but they had been drained of their lives. Alzadar realized the depths of the Xava'tor's betrayal. This also set off an alarm.
The Tal'darim attacked, but their numbers had been culled by the Xava'tor, and so didn't outnumber their opponents. (Many had been taken as Xava'kai.) Alzadar relayed his astounding information to them. Felanis didn't deny the accusations, instead claiming that Ulrezaj was a demigod who offered Felanis the power to save himself and the Tal'darim. Alzadar had influence among the Tal'darim, so he elected to remain behind and try to convince them to change their ways. Half of the Shel'na Kryhas "warriors" remained with him.
The Group Splinters
Ramsey, Dahl and company used a secret passage to escape the caverns, only to be ambushed by the zerg, led by an intelligent infested terran, Ethan Stewart. The ambush was ruined by Terran Dominion forces sent by Valerian Mengsk to rescue Ramsey. The group boarded a dropship, but Dahl hijacked it and flew it towards the warp gate. Now that Zamara had her precious crystal, they had no reason to remain on Aiur. Upon reaching the warp gate, Zamara and Dahl tried to repair it when the zerg fell upon them again.
Alzadar and at least some Tal'darim arrived at the warp gate in time to assist Ramsey, Dahl and the Shel'na Kryhas in their battle against the zerg... and Ulrezaj! Most of the Tal'darim, saying they were not Xava'kai, seemed only interested in escaping. The Xava'tor had come to punish his wayward students and destroy Zamara.
Ramsey, drawing upon memories of Adun's final moments, showed the Tal'darim how to use their Dark Templar powers to defeat Ulrezaj. The Tal'darim would create "uncontrolled" psionic storms (a Dark Templar ability), while the Shel'na Kryhas would control and direct the storms. Many protoss from both factions died, but their life energies fed the powerful blue nimbus which fed off of Ulrezaj. Only a few protoss were able to escape through the warp gate (along with Ramsey and Dahl).
In the end, only members of the Tal'darim made it to Shakuras, and many died trying to defeat Ulrezaj. Alzadar died shortly after the battle from mortal wounds.
The loyal Tal'darim defended Ulrezaj from Ethan Stewart's zerg as Ulrezaj regained power, in part from draining Tal'darim. The zerg exterminated more of them as they swarmed after Ulrezaj, forcing Ulrezaj to escape in a xel'naga vessel. He was unable to return, having been trapped in a khaydarin crystal by Zamara.
- Xava'tor (secret founder)
- Felanis (acknowledged leader)
- Alzadar (influential former Templar, renounced the Xava'tor)
- Korlendir (made it to Shakuras, former member)
- Vartanil (made it to Shakuras, former member)
Deceased Xava'kai Membership
- Initially, Chris Metzen stated that there was a connection between the ancient Tal'darim and the Aiur Tal'darim, and implied the former may also be under the influence of Ulrezaj. Valerie Watrous later confirmed that the Aiur and Slayn branches of the Tal'darim were unconnected, and the Aiur Tal'darim did not serve Amon.
- When Korlendir left the group and traveled to Shakuras with Rosemary Dahl, he was detoxified of Sundrop. However, he felt lost and ill at ease. At the xel'naga temple of Shakuras he met Taarim of the guardians of the xel'naga temple of Shakuras and was introduced to Sundrop again, suggesting a tie between the groups.