LAIROCHAL CR 1
Female Light Horse NLargeanimal Init +2; Senseslow-light vision, scent; Perception +6
-------------------- AC 11, touch 11, flat-footed 9 (+2 Dex, -1 size)
hp 15 (2d8+6)
Fort +6, Ref +5, Will +1
-------------------- Speed 50 ft.
Melee 2 hooves -2 (1d4+1)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
-------------------- Str 16, Dex 14, Con 17, Int 2, Wis 13, Cha 7
Base atk +1; CMB +5; CMD 17 (21 vs. trip)
FeatsEndurance, Run SkillsPerception +6
Anwel would be well-camouflaged if he lived in the Crown of the World. His pale skin varies litte in tone over different parts of his body. His hair is long, straight, and white. He lets it hang free most of the time. Folk who know him well know that his tucking his hair behind his ears signals his being deep in thought or needing to concentrate intently on something. His eyes are large and gray, the large pupils the only accent in his pale face.
Anwel's face and hands, meanwhile, form white accents in a mostly dark ensemble of clothing. He wears black robes that go down to his feet. Silver threads run through the fabric, and the hems are electric blue. Over this, he wears a black mantle and hood, also trimmed with electric blue, and two wine-red tabards. One reaches down almost to the hem of his robes, while the other barely reaches lower than his belt.
Anwel prefers to stand in shadows more than he does the light.
Your people name the white, glacial expanse north of Avistan, Casmaron, and Tian-Xia the Crown of the World. Your mapmakers draw the boundaries of this region at the edges of rulers’ terrestrial claims, making “Crown of the World” mean as much it does “lawless expanse” or “to be taken” as much as it does “endless winter”. My people draw no such line. The white ebbs and flows with the seasons and, more drastically, with the ages. We call it “Lossendor”. To us, the land you name Issia, and all the lands around the Lake of Mists and Veils, can become part of Lossendor, despite being ruled by human kings.
When my parents, Arnal and Yureltanel, landed in Port Ice, they told the harbormaster their family name was “Lossio”. They had chosen it anew on the voyage south. They had to: their old families had cast them out, driven them into exile. They never told me why. But to them, the name reminded them that they belonged, just a little bit, in Issia, that the seasons would from time to time make it their home despite the humans. The humans, of course, took it as another reminder that they were outsiders. But to this day I can tell you without guile that my name proclaims me Brevic despite my race.
I was born there too. Somewhere in Port Ice the records are on file, and if you can get to Greengold you’ll be able to ask my parents for corroborating testimony. I do not remember much of it, though. I was very young when we moved away. My parents wanted to raise me in Kyonin, reasoning that though the ways of the Sovyrian elves differed from theirs, I would be better off if raised among elves. Maybe they were right. I did get to know some of the younger Forlorn growing up, and I don’t know whether I could have borne what they did. But I hadn’t gotten interested in politics yet. I was more fascinated by Iadara itself, and, it being an honored pursuit, I took to the study of illusion.
What did get me into politics were several cataclysmic storms that blew into the Fierani Forest off Lake Encarthan. Many perished, and many trees fell to the gales and downpours. Some time after they passed, we learned that they were connected somehow with the death of your god Aroden. You might imagine that never having granted him much deference, and living in isolation from human lands, that the elves were immune to the changes his death wrought. You would be mistaken. In fact, isolationism bred opposition to itself, and these internationalists, who convinced me, were quick to point out that the death of the divine patron for human supremacy gave us an opportunity to open up to the world. The isolationists argued in return that it was in times like this that humans were most degenerate and that if opening up was a bad idea in the best of times, in this circumstance it would be tantamount to putting a blade to our throat.
The queen, as was and remains her wont, decided to temporize, moderating isolation but not ending it. Many of us internationalists, particularly the young and the Forlorn, decided to leave Kyonin and do what we could to influence events in the human lands. Some I know crossed Lake Encarthan into the Imperial heartland. Others passed into the chaotic riverine states to the north. The group I was with passed down the Sellen into what was then eastern Cheliax. We numbered little more than a dozen. I can still remember their names: Venyanel, Corindhon, Alcardhan, and Rinal, and our leader Anadhon. We left the Sellen at the outpost of Elisia, where we were hosted by Lord Alavar. He did not like our plan, and would not lend the outpost’s resources in support, but he did give us two pieces of advice. First, since we were elves, he would let us return to Elistia whenever we wanted. Second, he bade us not take our leave of the lands near about. Cheliax as only beginning to spiral out of control, but Alavar predicted the troubles would be less severe in the Galtan-Andoren periphery than in the Imperial core in the west.
We did as he asked, and found to our chagrin that the isolationists had been right about some things. At least for a group of our size there was virtually no space for our voice. Between the upstart diabolists and the human-supremacist traditionalists that formed the two blocs in the civil war there was little choice for us. We ended up hiring ourselves out as mercenaries more often than not, to smaller warlords not affiliated with any big side. It was disheartening. As the war wore on, more and more took Alavar up on his offer. After the first few desertions Anadhon wanted to go back to Elistia as a group, but I still believed we could make a difference. He took almost everyone with him, and I didn’t prove as good a leader to the rest. By the Thrune Ascendency I was the only one left.
I wanted to go Elistia then, to join my friends, but with Thrune agents and hellknights patrolling the Sellen border I could no longer leave. I was, however, able to avoid capture. The wizardry I had studied in Kyonin served me well, and though I was far from knowledgeable or skilled at the time I could hide my movements from the few and unskilled hunters the new regime bothered to send after me. Time was my ally, and eventually the few humans who had remembered or cared that I existed either forgot or died. I made my home in the forest near Woodsedge, and made a living as a supplier of herbs to more expert herbalists than myself.
I dwelt there almost thirty years. During that time, I made the acquaintance of Darl Jubannich. I had worked for many would-be rulers, some of them just and honorable, during the civil war and recognized in Darl just such a person. When he turned from poetry to sedition, I helped him devise ciphers that his printers could read but that the nobility and Thrunites would not. When the Red Revolution began, I travelled with him to Isarn. I even held a minor position on the Revolutionary Council alongside him, working on cultural matters. Mostly this meant trying to preserve Isarn’s beauty by re-interpreting various symbols to carry Revolutionary meanings. Looking back on it, I am proud of my work, and still honor Darl for granting me the responsibility, but the presence of an elf and an outsider on the Council cannot have prolonged its life. And both emigres and Galtans who stayed behind would now revile me.
In the end, I was forced to flee with Darl when the first Council fell. He planned to seek refuge in Andoran, while I would rely on Alavar’s promise for safety in Elistia. We were separated before we reached the Sellen, but I promised him as we had to part that I would seek him out in Andoran. Lord Alavar tried to get me to stay, and for a while he succeeded. I’m afraid I lost myself in the long-missed company of my people, and especially my old friends. There were few magic-users in Elistia, and when one, named Meldon, took notice of me and offered to take me with him to the edge of the Vale of Shadows to help him with his experiments I was both too honored not to accept and too cowed to refuse. But a promise was a promise, and finally I could put off going no longer.
Unfortunately, by the time I pushed my canoe off the bluffs below Elistia, Darl’s trail had gone quite cold. His face, backed by and eventually disappearing into the surrounding forest, appeared to me in a dream in Bellis. Taking that as an omen, I stayed a long while in that town, combing it again and again for clues. Unfortunately, the townsfolk maintained stubbornly that they had never seen him, and that I should seek him in Almas. There was more than a little xenophobia in their exhortations, but I eventually accepted that they could not tell me anything more. I made it through the Verduran Forest mostly by camping on the Taldan bank of the Sellen, taking refuge with the druids of Arenway when I could. Eventually I made it to the mouth of the Sellen and the city of Cassomir.
From there, it was a simple matter to book passage on a ship bound for Almas. Unfortunately, the barque was attacked and captured by pirates north of Kortos. They slaughtered most of the crew, but took me and a few others captive. They wanted to sell us into slavery, and more than one of the scallywags joked that an elf like me would be “as good as a woman” until they reached port. The men knew not how base I had to consider them in order to subject them to a Sleep spell, but their fellows had enough wit to move on to jokes about how...inadequate they must be if the mere thought of a woman exhausted them. They also had enough wit to toss my spellbook into the sea.
The rest of the voyage was equally pleasant. I spent most of it in the brig, so I did not know until we made port that we passed Almas by, that we slipped through the Arch of Aroden, and that the port we eventually reached was Nisroch. Neither do I know why the sea rats chose that port. I do know that neither the captian nor the crew was happy about it, and the captain seemed the most put out of them all. He may have been contacted during the voyage and told to make port there, by whom for what purpose I do not know.
At least, as the captain put it, the port contained a slave market. Even if the dogs couldn’t have any fun, they could at least make a profit. One Nidalese noble in particular was particularly keen on buying me, so the slave merchant probably made a profit too. The noble, who introduced herself to me as Shadowcountess Dima, also felt she had profited by the acquisition. When we returned to her home, she revealed that she valued me beyond the normal prestige having an elven slave would give to one such as her. She was a wizard and shadowcrafter of some repute in the Umbral Court, and had sensed my magic, depleted though it was. He had also sensed that I had spent many months, for that was how long it turned out to be, probing the energies around the Vale of Shadows and that I had been touched by a powerful shadowy being from another plane. I told her I had never met such a being, and she revealed that the dream in Bellis could only have come from such a source.
Dima wanted to train me in the ways of the Umbral Court, as a powerful and obedient servant. Accordingly, she treated me for the most part well and with respect, but still with constant if unstated authority. However, in order to strengthen my connection with the shadows she hired a priestess of the Brotherhood of Bones named Laori, who subjected me to many of the cruel practices of the Kuthonite religion, practices which I endured at first and then came to accept. I was responsible in part for the flow of blood in Galt, and for abandoning my promise to Dral. I had caused pain. I deserved it as penance. I embraced it as absolution. And I grew through it. My experiments with the energies of the Vale of Shadows pale in comparison to my connection to shadow now.
I trained with Dima for almost thirty years, rebuilding my spellbook as she aged and accumulated contacts. One of these contacts was a lich named Arcil, who lived near my old haunts in Galt. He had learned that Rostland was sponsoring an expedition to claim the Stolen Lands. He had sent an apprentice of one of his followers to apply for a charter, but Restov wanted people loyal to Brevoy—and to itself. Arcil’s followers, being from Taldor and Galt, were considered neither, and untrustworthy to boot. Dima, knowing everything she did about me already, had divined my heritage as well, and saw an opportunity.
She took me into the Plane of Shadows, and together we journeyed towards Restov. Along the way she explained her plan. It was basically Arcil’s plan, with the only refinement being that I was from Brevoy and could establish my heritage, so the Swordlords would accept me more easily into their expedition. Once ensconced, I would leverage the resources I had accumulated towards claiming the Vale of Shadows for the Umbral Court, increasing the Court’s influence over Arcil’s cabal and any other indepedent-minded shadow wizards in eastern Avistan, and making contact with the entity that had shown such an interest in me. I accepted this. Eventually, Dima would die. Arcil would not, but I had a better chance than most to grow enough in power to dispose of him. Distance would weaken Dima’s hold on me, and if I could befriend the other explorers, and the folk of the Stolen Lands, they would shield me against their influence. Maybe I could also find redemption.
Lord Alavar. Captain of Sentinels at Elistia. Twice sheltered Anwel from his enemies. Believes Anwel rash and in need of protection from himself.
Anadhon. Leader of the company that operated in modern-day Galt during the Chelish Civil War. Parted with Anwel when he believed further struggle hopeless. They met again in Elistia, for a little while.
Meldon. Introduced Anwel to shadow magic in Elistia. A domineering individual who values knowledge more than people, but has no compunctions about sharing what he learns.
Shadow Being of Bellis. Name, kind – beyond its extraplanar nature - and intentions unknown. Attempted to make mental contact with Anwel during his search for Darl.
Laori Vaus. Employed by Shadowcountess Dima to convert Anwel to Kuthonism. Succeeded thoroughly.
Elyin Ursage. Aided Anwel’s search for Darl while in Bellis, to no avail. Retired by now.
Arcil. Lich and leader of a cabal of shadow wizards in western Galt. Inspired Anwel’s assignment to the Stolen Lands, and is both the subject of Anwel’s attentions and a looming threat.
Shadowcountess Dima. Anwel’s owner and true mistress in the art of shadow magic. Stationed Anwel in the Stolen Lands to gain control of Arcil’s shadow wizards in the name of the Umbral Court.
Galtans in general, émigré or not. Émigrés hate Anwel for being part of the first Revolutionary Council that overthrew the old order. Those that stayed hate him for being part of the first Revolutionary Council that failed to live up to their expectations.
Darl Jubannich. Whereabouts unknown, but it’s been so long since they’ve seen each other that Anwel assumes he’s dead.
I huini hehtëar lyë, pan inyar narantë!
I 'waith gweriarch, an hyn mîn!