Masterwork half-plate (750 solins), masterwork heavy steel shield (170 solins), masterwork bastard sword (335 solins), composite longbow (100 solins), dagger (2 solins), 20 arrows (1 solin), 2 courtier’s outfits plus jewelry and accessories (110 solins), explorer’s outfit (10 solins), silver holy symbol of Ialdabaōth (coiled serpent with the head of a lion; 25 solins), signet ring (5 solins), adventuring kit (1 lb. soap, 2 belt pouches, 10 days’ trail rations, 50’ silken rope, backpack, bedroll, crowbar, flint and steel, grappling hook, small steel mirror, tent, waterskin, whetstone; 44 solins, 6 denarins, 2 sesterins); total spent: 1,512 solins, 6 denarins, 2 sesterins; total remaining: 37 solins, 3 denarins, 8 sesterins
Varan Urquman was born the second son of the youngest brother of Rarric Urquman, Mage-King of Dard. That amounted to just about as much as one might have expected, all told. Oh, to be sure, Varan enjoyed privilege as a Dardish royal, but he grew up in the shadow of kinsmen far closer to the throne. Worse still, he had no talent for arcane magic, despite the half-dozen arcanthé tutors that his family secured for him. By the age of eleven, his father wrote him off as a failure.
At the age of twelve, Varan Urquman acquired a new tutor. Zabiya at’Salassa claimed to be a scholar from far-off Kalak Doman, an exile who fled from persecution when she was targeted for “reeducation” by a grasping cleric, and who sought refuge in the east. Varan’s father tested her for knowledge of basic scholarship and found her erudition to be satisfactory, and so permitted the strange woman to become a teacher to his disappointing son. Zabiya’s lessons were perhaps not what the family might have imagined.
Under the watchful gaze of his mentor, Varan learned that the sense of shame and rejection he felt could be turned outward, honed into a weapon against those who would underestimate him. When he told Zabiya that he had no desire to harm his family, she smiled patiently and instructed him instead to harm whomever he wished – or to withhold harm – so long as it pleased him to do so. If he could not have his father’s love, then he could at least indulge the smoldering depths of his hate, until the utter satiation of the latter finally quieted his longing for the former.
Shortly after his sixteenth name-day, Varan departed the royal palace to take holy orders in Urqumant’s great cathedral to Ialdabaōth, becoming an acolyte of the faith. Old Rarric merely shook his snowy head in puzzlement and wished his odd nephew well.
For the next four years, Varan Urquman was trained in the arts of war and in the holy canon of the Lord of Misrule. A comely youth, he attached himself to Lyssa, one of the local ranking priestesses, learning the skills of Ialdabaōth’s holy knights by day, while sharing her bed by night. When the day came that Lyssa discovered Varan using his position as a recently-anointed member of the clergy to gain favors from some of the young women new to the church, she wept tears of joy and proclaimed his schooling complete.
The two years following were spent in Tar Sequinus, in the border city of Tarina, where Varan further developed his skills under the tutelage of Ashar the Asp, chief enforcer for the faith. It was only by accepting the patronage of the High Aeon, Alia Callistia, however, that he was able to keep himself clear of the Asp’s advances. In the end, noting the unstable political climate of the church in Tarina, on account of its leader’s ever encroaching old age, he opted to pursue reassignment, taking the position of Head Archon in the Toráni city of Vól Drathac, forever besieged by the yakhte of the Shadowlands.
For two long, miserable years, Varan occupied that office, discovering firsthand why such a normally coveted station was not already claimed by some ranking knight of the church. The dour Skârthens tended to look upon him in the same manner as they did the horse-pies littering what they dared to call streets, while the dregs of every fellowship eager to claim the privilege of “battling the Shadowlands” flocked to Vól Drathac like flies swarming a ripe corpse. Varan quenched his thirst with bitter wine and fed his hunger on questionable Toráni victuals… and attended his other appetites as best he could with hard, rugged women who smelled of horses, their faces painted in the ashes of slain monsters.
When an opportunity arose to abandon his post to a youth just as foolish and desperate as he had been when he first arrived, Varan fairly leapt at the chance, riding hard for Delaram, there to receive portaling service from the Brotherhood of Magus, to the great city of Mtol Dærask. In the Great Cathedral of Il-Malokh – known as Ialdabaōth in other lands throughout Sæmyrr – Varan first beheld true magnificence. Even the temple in Tarina was as nothing next to it, while it made his uncle’s royal palace to seem a beggar’s shack by comparison.
On bended knee, before an image of his god – towering two hundred feet in height, cut from black stone by some of the world’s most skilled artisans, adorned in rubies, platinum and gold – Varan took his place as one of the scores of Archons of the faith in Mtol Dærine. The work was harder than he had imagined: while he had envisioned wine flowing like water and dining upon the finest delicacies from around the world, sleeping on silk and bathing each morning with nubile temple prostitutes, he soon discovered that the greatest city in the world was no place for laggards, and the Lord of Misrule needed him lean, sharp, and hungry. Sometimes, he stood guard, an imposing sentinel, while Aeons dined with Knights of Kashouli, bards of the Utgathain, and even clerics of Elpis. At other times, he paid visits to those who had reneged upon promises or debts to the church, and “encouraged” them to make amends. At still other times, he provided protection to valued friends of the faith.
Now, however, at the age of twenty-six, Varan is firmly established within Ialdabaōth’s church in Mtol Dærine. Twoscore squires – perhaps one or two of whom show any potential, whatsoever, for the calling of a paladin of the Dark Lord – are at his beck and call. On the rare nights that he isn’t already warming the bed of a princess, prominent swordswoman, or respected sorceress of the Brotherhood of Magus, the Dark Lord’s sacred whores attend his desires of the flesh. He wears silk spun in Sha’an Tzien and the finest Shalornian leather. He drinks rare Domani reds and Sylvænar whites from golden chalices, and sups at tables that would be envied by most kings.
And, still, Varan Urquman hungers for so much more, and his superiors account themselves well-pleased with his boundless ambition.
Personal: A man’s desires are his own, are they not? Still, I suppose that it could not hurt to tell you a bit. So, what it is that I want, then? Power, first and foremost. Every other commodity upon the face of Sæmyyr can be had with power enough. Oh, not a throne, mind you; as a boy, I watched my uncle sag under the weight of his crown, and Dard is a sad little outhouse of a nation as compared to the great empires of the world. I have no desire to be old before my time. No, power – true power – is both grander and subtler than that. What is it that I want? Ultimately, what I desire is, quite simply, the power to do any damn thing that I please.
Interpersonal/Group: I am a social creature by nature. I happen to enjoy the company of others: listening to their stories, learning about their lives, discerning what motivates them. People are a grand game – in the end, perhaps the only game worth playing. A man needs friends, after all. What is it? You sound surprised. And why, exactly, should it be so surprising for a holy warrior of Ialdabaōth to crave friendship? Truth to tell, perhaps it is simply that I had few companions as a boy, and one can truly long for only that which one does not already possess.
Campaign: I go where the High Archon commands and I do as the Dark Lord requires of me, because to obey is, ultimately, to feed my own desires and to give increase to my own good fortune. To master one’s ambition, one must first learn to serve, and he who would stand above all others must first conquer his pride and kneel. To do otherwise is to live as a slave, desolate and forever unfulfilled.
“Always try first to corrupt a non-monstrous foe to my service – and, by extension, that of the Church of Ialdabaōth – before resorting to violence.”
“If an opportunity to advance my ambitions or indulge my one or more of my favored pleasures doesn’t seem too good to be true, then I will take it.”
“Never betray the few real friends that I have; I need them to survive.”
Lailati Amanah: Youngest daughter of one of the scores or even hundreds of shaórah – that is to say, chieftains of the desert tribes – representing his people in Mtol Dærask, Lailati is, after a fashion, royalty, though of a very minor sort. She deeply resents her father’s continual meddling in her life, and her little affair with Varan is as much an act of rebellion as anything else. Still, he brings her pretty jewelry and rare perfumes, every now and again, and she reciprocates by hiding him from his enemies for a day or two, as needed, or providing him with some quick coin when he finds himself in a bind.
Féanalwë Loraqúendrien: A courtier from the far-off dætholayn empire of Sylvænyr, attached to her people’s embassy in Mtol Dærask, Féanalwë is one of the Qwayraith, known to humans as Moon Elves. At present, she merely an aide to an esteemed Èuraith nobleman, but she and Varan have an amicable and mutually-useful relationship. Each occasionally lets slip to the other useful a bit of information or advice which is, nonetheless, harmless to his or her respective faction, and which may be used to advance shared objectives. That they are also lovers is very nearly an afterthought to them both.
Tzengurzay: Originally from Sessrúmnir, Tzengurzay now runs with one of the many thieves’ guilds in the great city of Mtol Dærask. She does not speak of the reasons why she left her homeland, or of the vicious scar that curves down her face from the corner of her right eye very nearly to the tip of her chin, but she’ll talk about most any other subject with those whom calls friend. Neither she nor Varan especially trust one another, though they do like each other a great deal, and – despite her good looks – she has the distinction of being one of the few female associates upon whom he has no carnal designs.
”Red”: Contrary to common opinion, not all Dasun are hideous brutes; some are actually rather attractive brutes. The half-orc woman who goes only by “Red” (so named for her livid scarlet eyes) is a city ranger, making her living as a guide in Mtol Dærask, with her hulking faithful mongrel, Gasher, trotting merrily by her side. Every once in a while, Red brings Varan some interesting tidbit about a new stranger in town, and she sometimes manages to get her hands on useful gear of dubious provenance… so long as one is not terribly picky about dents, scratches, nicks, and the odd bloodstain.