Castle Thorn lies along the Southern Sea Road, at a three days travel from William's Rest to the sea.
This old white-walled castle sits on the sunny side of the Vale of the Deer, a narrow vale invaded from olden times by brambles and bushes and the occasional oak wood.
The castle's name comes from the numerous wild rosewoods which prosper in the vale around it, even daring to climb its ancient ramparts.
The legend goes that the blood-red flowers grow in remembrance of the tale of Thorn, a huntsman of great renown who lost his love in the vale.
Thorn the first had boasted to his lord, the king of Nivmadas, that he would bring him back the snow-white pelt of the Deer Fair, a fey creature of unsurpassing beauty sometimes sighted (and venerated) by the peasants and foresters living in the Vale of Thistles (as the place was named at the time).
Upon coming in the vale, Thorn had met a fair maiden and they had both fallen in love. She tried to convince him to renounce his hunt, arguing that the Deer Fair was the protector of the Vale of Thistles, but he was not one to be reasoned with as he had given his word to his king.
So he hunted for the Deer Fair, and one day he caught up to it, while the marvelous creature was grazing verdant grass near a copse. Thorn unleashed an arrow which felled the beast. Alas, when he came to reclaim his prize, he found that the deer, a doe in truth, had transformed back into a woman, the maiden he loved. As she laid bleeding, her blood seeped into the ground.
Broken with sorrow, Thorn returned to his king empty-handed. He told his story and asked to be punished for his crime. But the king of Nivmadas, a wise man, instead granted him sovereignty over the Vale, so that he could protect and care for its inhabitants in stead of the Deer Fair.
When Thorn the first returned to the Vale of Deer, he found numerous blood-red rosebushes had grown around the grave of his love.
He picked one of the flowers to admire it and breathe in its scent, but his flowing tears prevented him from doing either and he said: "From these roses I claimed only the thorns.".
To this day, the family motto is: Only the thorns.
The Life of Baster so far:
Baster Thorn was born to a noble, respected and preeminent family. He always knew he was destined to accomplish great deeds.
Alas, he was the last child in a family of seven, and the fourth male child to boot.
His four brothers, all able and worthy men, excelled at what they set their mind to accomplish: the eldest, Branwan, became a great general in service of the kingdom of Nivmadas. The second, Bradley, became a priest and his devotion was a wonder to behold. The third, Bergond, went to study at eldritch academies, and was known thereafter as a wizard of great prowess. The fourth, Brendan, was a weaver of tales unsurpassed, a bard who made men fell in love with his words and women fell in love with him.
These four men were faithful to the crown, and men of honor and moderation. So when Baster came of age he decided to be someone his brothers never could have been.
He left the ancestral castle Thorn of his family to go to the marches of Nivmadas. There, he allied with men of ill repute - destitute knights and bandits really - and began scouring the countryside to carve a new fief for himself. Soon, his depredations became too much for the kingdom to ignore, and a detachment of knights lead by Branwan was sent to stop him.
Battle was joined. In the midst of combat, Branwan and Baster dueled, and Baster lost. He was brought back in chains to the queen to be judged. He would surely have been executed if all his brothers had not implored the queen for mercy.
And so mercy was shown, in acknowledgement of the all good deeds his brothers had accomplished for the kingdom, and Baster was absolved of his crimes on the conditions that he would never rise against the rule of his queen and kingdom again. This he swore by the gods, prostrating himself before the throne.
Then his brothers and sisters asked him to come back to the Castle of Thorns, home of the family, where they could surely heal the rift which had grown in their midst.
Upon hearing their kind words, Baster was overcome with a great rage terrible to behold. He grabbed his trusty shield, which arbored the crest of the Thorn family, and smashed it apart against the cobblestones of the royal castle.
"There brothers ! I am a Thorn at your side no more !"
"But what could you be without us, Baster ?" asked the youngest of his sisters in an imploring voice.
"I will be myself ! I will race you - my hated brothers - to great deeds and destiny ! I will be my own counsel and I will make my own steadfast friends and good fortune. And I shall be magnificent, like the peacock strutting proudly around, untouched by the dirt and the company of those lesser than itself."
He paused. And added to the sister who just spoke: "And I will always love you, dear sister, for you care for me."
Then he left to reclaim his destiny.
Baster of the Peacock level 3
Male Human Cavalier 3
LE Medium Humanoid (human)
Init +2; Senses Perception +2
AC 17, touch 12, flat-footed 15 (+5 armor, +2 Dex)
hp 26 (3d10+3)
Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +1
Resist Cockatrice's Skills
Speed 20 ft.
Melee Light Shield Bash +6 (1d3+3/x2) and
Dagger +6 (1d4+3/19-20/x2) and
Lance +6 (1d8+4/x3) and
Masterwork Cold Iron Longsword +4 (1d8+3/19-20/x2) and
Masterwork Lance +7 (1d8+4/x3) and
Whip, Scorpion +4 (1d4+1/x2)
Ranged Longbow +5 (1d8/x3)
Special Attacks Braggart, Cavalier's Charge, Cockatrice's Challenge +3 (1/day)
Str 16, Dex 15, Con 12, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 13
Base Atk +3; CMB +6; CMD 18
Feats Combat Expertise +/-1, Dazzling Display (Braggart), Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Whip), Paired Opportunists, Two-weapon Fighting
Traits Rich Parents
Skills Acrobatics -2, Climb -1, Diplomacy +7, Escape Artist -2, Fly -2, Handle Animal +6, Intimidate +7, Knowledge (nobility) +3, Perception +2, Perform (wind instruments) +5, Ride +4, Sense Motive +6, Stealth -2, Swim -1 Modifiers +4 Ride while riding your bonded mount.
Languages Common, Elven
SQ Animal Companion Link, Tactician (Paired Opportunists) 4 rds (1/day)
Combat Gear Arrows (20), Dagger, Lance, Longbow, Masterwork Cold Iron Longsword, Masterwork Lance, Quickdraw Shield, Light Steel, Scale Mail, Whip, Scorpion; Other Gear Agate, Azurite, Case, map or scroll (5 @ 0 lbs), Case, map or scroll (5 @ 0 lbs), Flint and steel, Ink (1 oz. vial, black), Inkpen, Noble's outfit, Paper (sheet) (5), Paper (sheet) (5), Platinum piece, Pouch, belt (5 @ 2 lbs), Sealing wax, Signal Horn, Signet ring, Waterskin, Whetstone
+4 Ride while riding your bonded mount. (Ex) Cancel your armor check penalty of -4 while riding your mount.
Animal Companion Link (Ex) You have a link with your Animal Companion.
Braggart (Ex) Demoralize as a standard action, +2 to hit demoralized targets.
Cavalier's Charge (Ex) Mounted charge grants +4 to hit and -0 AC rather than +2/-2.
Cockatrice's Challenge +3 (1/day) (Ex) +3 to damage target, -2 AC vs. others when used, +1 damage when you are the only one threatening the target.
Cockatrice's Skills +1 (Ex) +1 to DC vs. demoralization.
Combat Expertise +/-1 Bonus to AC in exchange for an equal penalty to attack.
Dazzling Display (Braggart) Your skill with your favored weapon can frighten enemies.
Prerequisite: Weapon Focus, proficiency with the selected weapon.
Benefit: While wielding the weapon in which you have Weapon Focus, you can perform a bewildering show of p
Paired Opportunists +4 to hit for AoOs if you and an ally with this feat both threaten the target.
Tactician (Paired Opportunists) 4 rds (1/day) (Ex) Grant the use of your Tactical feats to your allies within 30'.
WAR-HORSE SKEIN, BASTER'S MOUNT:
ANIMAL COMPANION CR 3
NN Large Animal
Init +1; Senses Low-Light Vision, Scent; Perception +1
AC 20, touch 10, flat-footed 19 (+5 armor, +1 Dex, -1 size, +4 natural, +1 improved natural)
hp 22 (+6)
Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +2
Spd 35 ft.
Melee Bite +4 (1d4+3/20/x2) and
Hooves x2 +4 x2 (1d6+3/20/x2)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Str 16, Dex 13, Con 15, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 6
Base Atk +2; CMB +6; CMD 17 (21 vs. Trip)
Feats Improved natural armor (+1), Light armor training, Medium armor training
Tricks Attack any target, Combat Riding: Attack, Come, Defend, Down, Guard, Heel
Skills Acrobatics +2, Swim +3
SQ Attack Any Target [Trick], Combat Riding [Trick]
Combat Gear Scale Mail; Other Gear Saddle (Military)
Attack Any Target [Trick]
The animal will attack any creature on command.
Combat Riding [Trick]
The animal has been trained to bear a rider into combat.
See twice as far as a human in low light, distinguishing color and detail.
Detect opponents within 15+ feet by sense of smell.