Echo of Grand Alchemist Enricht Kouhn eb Nadar
“… Now this, THIS, this is the height of Tecal’s glory! A city of ash and cinder, and their memory scorched from this world.”
Grand Alchemist Enricht Kouhn eb Nadar is dead. An echo of him still endures in the cup left in his villa. Through it, he acts as a mischievous, flamboyant guide for the players, if they choose to drink from the cup.
When someone drinks from a cup, there is a brief flash of a man in his early thirties with a diabolical flair. His voice, equal parts boisterous and refined, makes just as lasting an impression.
Theatrical and merciless, Enricht sees the world and everyone in it as a plaything, including himself. He likes to flaunt his hidden knowledge and mastery, and won’t miss a chance to reply to a question cryptically.
If someone drinks from the cup and asks him a question, he will answer more or less honestly. He enjoys suggestive phrasing, hinting that he’s revealing just part of what he knows, but enough to amuse himself at the time. If the question is about the fate of Tecal, specifically, he’ll scoff and dismiss it as the inevitable conclusion of the mage-lords’ arrogance and pettiness.
Disembodied as he is, Enricht doesn’t have any way to be violent.
As a young man, clever and born to privilege, Enrich Kouhn eb Nadar led the ideal life of a subject of Tecal. The world was his to make of it what he desired. He used his wealth and status to join the Order of the Alchemist when he came of age. There, he was quickly recognized as a talented craftsman, quickly outpacing his peers.
In the Order of Alchemists of the tecalese empire, the few who achieved the rank of Grand Alchemists go there by either waging ruthless political warfare, or through accomplishments that are so wanton in their glory that they couldn’t be denied. Enricht was not a political animal.
He was, in his own mind, an artist. Alchemy was the means he used to express himself. He made his mark by concocting elixirs that temporarily transformed stone into malleable flesh, which he sculpted with exuberance. His statues, and other artifacts, are still among the ruins of the empire.
What Enricht’s ultimate fate may have been is uncertain. His villa, with one of his smaller laboratories and one of his lesser creations, sits abandoned in the jungle of Tecal.
His presence echoes in Tecal, and his unabashedly flamboyant personality hasn’t been dulled.
Arcanist Tolome Pavanti
(Half-orc Sorcerer/Scholar – Template Bloodfire Sorcerer)
“Why should we not claim the power of Tecal for ourselves? It’s there for the taking! They can’t stop us… and you can’t stop me.”
Tolome seeks to reignite the font of magic that lies dormant on the surface of the volcano’s caldera. At first he’ll portray himself as a bumbling scholar Whatever ploy he may be using to hide his true intentions will quickly fall away the closer he is to that goal.
Even as a half-orc, Tolome’s skin is pocked with blemishes and cured by the sun. It’s hard to guess Tolome’s age, but he is well past the prime of his youth. Clearly, he has endured some hardships, and what they’ve left behind is a look of embittered determination, often distorted with a smirk. He’s usually dressed in a traveller’s robes and cloak which, at some point, may have been blue with a red trim. Those colors have been stained and faded by years of daily use.
Tolome comes across as pleasantly arrogant at first; acerbic and charismatic, as though he is openly deceitful to everyone except the person he’s talking to. He conspires and confides, sharing a truth that others deny. Confronting him for either his deceit or his actions rips that mask away from him, revealing an all-consuming anger towards those he feels have wronged him. Those who know him best know how short his patience really is, and they tend to fear his anger.
First, he’ll try to cajole anyone he meets, convincing them that he’s seeking power for himself, yes, but that he’s willing to share. He’s quick to dismiss critics, siccing whoever obeys him to attack them. If he’s cornered or alone, he will be quick to violence.
When violence is called for, he doesn’t bother holding back; he always tries to take the most destructive approach he can without risking himself unduly.
At his most desperate, he will summon a large fire elemental and use spells in spaces where he risks destroying himself.
If he feels as though his enemy has somehow disrespected him, he will also be as cruel as possible, extending their suffering after it’s clear that they’ve been defeated. Otherwise, he will fight to the bitter end. Surrender is never an option.
Tolome’s upbringing as a villager, and the child with a “dubious” conception, was disrupted when his sorcerer’s powers manifested. He was sent to the largest city of the province where he received a passable education and was granted an apprenticeship. After he was gone, almost on the day Tolome had left, his family sent a letter, telling Tolome that he had been disowned.
Tolome’s new master was the lowest ranking member of a college of scholars. He, who harbored deep frustrations of his own, found a kindred spirit in Tolome and drew him into his obsession; the quest for a legendary kingdom with untold power — Tecal. Tolome’s studies in the arcane arts were secondary to their search.
That search, however, was fruitless; all they accomplished was being shunned by other scholars as wild-eyed fools. For years, Tolome and his master chased after rumors of that forgotten empire and questionable artifacts. They were seeking that power, Tolome’s master argued, so that he could finally be vindicated, and bring down the other scholars who mocked them. In time, Tolome came to share his master’s single mindedness resentments, and isolation.
It was on one of those expeditions that they finally found something that hinted at the truth of Tecal. Tolome’s master paid a steep price for that discovery. They came across the remains of a ship that washed ashore centuries in the past. It had a figurehead in the shape of a bird, a sign it came from Tecal. On that ship, they found a lantern which had a gem inside of it. The gem was dull, seemingly worthless, but when Tolome’s master took the gem in his hand, it suddenly shone with an inner light. Tolome’s master convulsed and collapsed. He spent the rest of his life, a few days, tormented by hallucinations of living sacrifices and an erupting volcano. Tolome was alone, but now he knew the source of Tecal’s power.
Armed with that knowledge, and with nothing else left to lose, Tolome began to experiment with the other worthless artifacts in his master’s collection. A handful of them were, in fact, genuine. With them, he was able to find the island of Tecal. With the power that they granted him, he was also able to hire a ship to take him there, and a mercenary company to provide him with more fodder for other Tecalese relics.
Thus, he set out to realize his master’s dream, to claim Tecal’s power for himself.
Captain Anielle Desyardin
(Human Mercenary leader – Template Mercenary Captain)
“I refuse to die for something as cheap as loyalty. But, I’m more than happy to give you the chance to do so.”
Anielle is in it for the money, pure and simple, and Tolome is paying the bills. She commands the mercenary company “Third Cavalry”, which was hired by Tolome to provide muscle and ‘kindling’ for his attempts to reignite Tecal’s font of power.
Captain Desyardin is a veteran of more of her fair share of battles. A scar along her neck tells a vivid story of a life of violence, and yet it’s her severe, implacable demeanor that makes the strongest impression. She commands attention by the sheer weight of her glare. She never wears anything other than the full set of light cavalryman’s armor — studded leather, along with a feather’d helm she keeps near her — as well as a saber strapped to her side.
Captain Desyardin is well beyond anything other than military — and now specifically *mercenary* life. She lives right at the edge of her sword, seeing everything as a tactical situation, an ambush or a flanking opportunity. Survival, her own and no one else’s, is what truly drives her; her employers, her troops, the money she earns, they’re all just tools for her to break through the next barricade that’ll be thrown in her path. She pretends that her unit’s traditions, loyalty, glory, valor and the chain of command are important to her.
Her authority is the main tool she uses to relate to the world, and she uses it as a cudgel. If she can’t bark an order at someone, or order her soldiers to beat them to death with impunity, she will pretend that that person doesn’t exist. That is, unless they’re an employer. Employers are just barely above her own troops in her consideration — and sometimes below, if they’re aggravating enough — demanding clear orders and obeying them without hesitation or nuance.
When she engages in combat, she prefers to be on the offensive, seizing the initiative and setting the tempo of whatever confrontation she may be in. Depending on her orders and the situation, she may attempt to outflank her enemy, or simply use hit-and-run tactics to pull away from an unnecessary engagement.
If she is cornered, there is nothing she won’t sacrifice to survive, but she’ll never surrender as long as there’s even a sliver of a chance to escape or overcome.
Born the daughter of a minor noble in a tiny kingdom surrounded by rivals, Anielle had few prospects other than a military career. As the petty kings of a clutch of neighboring realms jockeyed with one another for supremacy, their usual sport, Anielle could bring glory and improve her station through war. With her family’s blessing, she left home to seek her fortune and joined her kingdom’s light cavalry.
Within a year she had fought in a dozen skirmishes along the valleys and mountain passes of her minuscule nation’s enemies, earning herself some scars and reputation. She had the bravado of someone who was young and skilled, but still hadn’t been stung by failure. She also had a knack for finding weaknesses in her adversaries, along with the cruelty needed to exploit them; this served her well on the battlefield as well as in the banal intrigues of an army. As a result, she rose through the ranks with relative ease, though she made enemies along the way.
During a particularly successful war season, catastrophe struck. By then, Captain Desyardin’s king, who had favored her by granting her command of a small army by then, died without a clear heir. In the ensuing chaos as pretenders tried to claim the throne by assasination and betrayal, enemies of the nation pounced on the chance to claim its borders for themselves. Anielle’s army was left isolated. She dug in on one of the mountain passes leading back home, trapped between two enemy armies from nations and sent a messenger back to the capital. Without supplies or hope, Anielle and her men held the pass for nearly three weeks. When they saw their homeland’s banner flying over the pass, Anielle, along with her starving troops, called it a miracle.
When the army flying their banner charged into them Anielle nearly got cut down where she stood, dumbfounded. By the end of that day, she was waist-deep in mud, still on the saddle of her dead horse, as three armies fought around her and her men as though they were scraps of meat thrown in the middle of a pack of mongrels.
The day’s miracle came that night when she was able to rally the last few remnants of her army, and led them in a desperate charge to break out of the encircling armies under the cover of darkness. One of her old enemies, as luck would have it, was able to assassinate his way to the throne. Seen as a threat, her nation’s new king sent an army to make sure she perished.
Anielle’s luck held out as she was able to lead her men through an enemy nation to a port city. There, she commandeered a ship with those who remained loyal, and escaped. At that very moment they became mercenaries. Since then, driven by no other loyalty than to each other and to coin, they have spent years as sell-swords with a reputation for competence and bloodthirst.
(Half-Orc Village Chieftain – Template Shaman)
“We do not harbor false hope. We know our time is running out, but we will still live our lives. And I fight for everything that we have left, for as long as I can.”
Aratoah is the leader of the last village of the descendants of survivors of the cataclysm that destroyed the Tecalese empire. Tolome ordered Anielle to take hostages from Aratoah’s village. Anielle killed the villagers that seemed capable of putting up a fight in an ambush, and took the youngest villagers hostage. Aratoah managed to survive, but she wasn’t able to stop Anielle. Now she’s looking for ways to rescue her people and, ultimately, escape the island with as many of her people as she can.
Aratoah reflects the burden she carries in her demeanor. With her youth softening the dour expression she often has — the fact that there were happier days in her past is obvious — she presents herself as a figure of maternal authority. She is tall for a half-orc, but still with the heavy-set frame of her people. She’s also dressed with the ornaments of a position of power as well. Aratoah is painted and crowned as a shaman of her people as well, though with a strange amalgam of traditions, with dwarven runes and orcish glyphs inscribed with one another tattooed onto her forearms.
She lives with purpose, and with no other goal beyond guaranteeing the survival of as many of her tribe as she can, no matter how hard the choices she has to make might be. She comes across as standoffish, but present; as though she’s listening to every word that’s being said very carefully, while being able to let the uncomfortable silences last forever. And yet, her emotions are always written on her face. When she actually speaks, she doesn’t indulge in frivolities. She gets to the point, saying what must be said so that what must be done can be done.
Aratoah doesn’t try to be deceitful or misleading — she doesn’t have time to play those games. However, earning her trust is nigh impossible without making some kind of personal sacrifice; she won’t reveal where her village is if she can help it, or do (or say) anything that could potentially bring danger or harm to her tribe. If asked, she’ll refuse, and be direct as to why. If she doesn’t have a choice due to circumstance, her displeasure will be -blatant-, but never spoken. Conversely, gratitude isn’t a choice but a duty to her, at least for those who help the tribe.
Aratoah uses her magic defensively, relying on her physical prowess to attack. However, she will refuse to be drawn into a fight she can win. And, if there is no other choice, she will surrender.
Aratoah learned how to lead from her father, who was as noble a man as any could be in that situation. Her family has been the leader of the survivors, and the descendants, of the night that the Tecalese empire fell. That night, as a cataclysm was unleashed over the island, wiping out the capital city and robbing almost all their artifacts of their power, was also the night that the slaves rebelled.
It was the glow of the lava rushing down into the palaces of their masters that made the slaves out in the fields, villas and jungles, turn to their masters, and claim their revenge. Aratoah’s great-grandfather was among them. He took control, violently, of the revolt, and led them from villa to villa in a massacre of their helpless masters. For months after that night, in fits of paranoia and steeped in the island’s aura of malevolence, the survivors turned on one another, continuing the bloodshed as they accused one another of being former masters. Their numbers dwindled to nearly nothing. Aratoah’s village, still under her great-grandfather’s yoke, was the only one left. No one dared challenge him for command, or his son, who had also been a slave.
Aratoah’s father was part of the first generation of survivors who hadn’t been a slave of Tecal, and the first to confront the reality of their situation. The island was not just deadly, it was poisoning them. Most children didn’t survive past their third birthday, and the village had gone from a few hundred to a few dozen during his lifetime. He understood what was happening, and he knew he couldn’t save them. Without really knowing how she could do it, he passed that responsibility to Aratoah, one of the precious few descendants to make it to adulthood.
Having watched her father be quietly consumed by his desperation at their plight, Aratoah internalized the urge to save their people. She knew that there was a greater world beyond the spines that surrounded the island. She could see the foreign ships be impaled. There had even been a ship that made it thorough; pirates, with one of Tecal’s lanterns and the secret to use it. The island eventually killed the pirates anyway. The villagers found the ship some time later.
After Aratoah had taken the mantle of chief, more ships made it through. Led by a scholar who knew how to rekindle it, those foreigners came prepared to revive the island’s power.