About Milovic Draznoi
“Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a front-liner!”
Milovic is a human man in his late twenties, scrupulously neat and clean in his appearance—his clothes are plain, and frugal, but well-maintained, and as professional as he can afford. He is olive-skinned, brown-eyed, and wears his dark hair short. He has a tendency to develop a five o’clock shadow despite his best efforts to stay clean-shaven. Though he’s average height at best, his pressed jackets hide a surprisingly solid frame.
Past (Short version):
A much longer version is at the end of this profile…
Milo is a native Ustalavan, being the only son of a Ravengro wisewoman, and a Lastwall soldier who deserted several decades ago after being crippled in battle. Though his father passed away a few years back, he had a profound effect on Milo, who regards war as a folly and a waste in large part due to his father’s experiences. Milo considers himself a pacifist (at least as regards humanoids).
His father’s history, as well as his mother’s own work as a healer, inspired him to pursue a career in medicine-- but he might have had to settle for being a local herbalist if not for the patronage of another Ravengro native: Professor Lorrimor, who thought the young lad “rather promising” and agreed to help sponsor him to attend the prestigious University, in Lepidstadt. Through his connections, Lorrimor helped arrange a scholarship, and Milo considers himself deeply in the professor's debt.
Milo graduated around the same time his father passed, and he would have moved home to Ravengro immediately to ‘take care’ of his mother, had she not told him he would do no such thing and that she could manage herself just fine. She urged him to continue with his original plan: to make his fortune practicing medicine in one of the cities. But she did pass on his father’s things to him after the funeral—things Milo was somewhat surprised to learn his father had kept—a sword and a shield, remnants from his Lastwall service.
Milo set off for the big city, where he learned two things: 1) big cities are very expensive, and 2) accoutrements of war are heavy. Not merely physically, but mentally as well—for ever since he sold his father's sword for needed money, he has had intermittent nightmares of battle, and urges that conflict with all of his principles about non-violence. Sometimes Milo wakes and he can practically feel the hilt still in his grip.
Though Milo has yet to breathe a word of this to anyone, he is on the verge of supplicating the Pharasmins for an exorcism. Only the fear that it might not be a possession, and he might merely be losing his own mind out of poorly resolved grief, has stopped him thus far.
Present, and Future:
For the last few years, Milo has been struggling to establish himself as a healer in Caliphas, Ustalav's capital. He tends to give many hardship discounts to his clients (who in turn recommend him to their friends as a doctor who is sympathetic to the poor), and he can never bring himself to turn anyone away, regardless of their ability to pay. This is good for his soul... but bad for his ledger. He is the ‘junior partner’ in a practice with a more experienced and calculating partner, one Pyotr Valstov (who tends to foist the indigent patients off on Milo, while making sure he himself sees the affluent ones).
Ultimately Milo hopes to be able to be able to return to his hometown of Ravengro as—well, if not as a rich man, at least a prosperous one-- and to be able to use his wealth and medical training to benefit the village—perhaps establishing a school or a library, or a scholarship fund for hopeful students, as Lorrimor aided him. He would also like to buy his mother a comfortable house with a feather bed. And maybe hire a maid for her.
-Ravengro – his mother, Zena Draznoi, a formidable and sharply intelligent middle-aged woman with a stern mien and a certain tendency to doomsay, but a kind heart beneath it all; she calls Milo her ‘rabbit.’ She has been growing herbs and making poultices for Ravengro for decades.
-Caliphas – Pyotr Valstov, a shrewd and somewhat lazy physician with an established practice, who has been getting by far the better end of the deal since ‘graciously’ taking on Milo as a business partner—Milo can take all those tedious, unprofitable cases of screaming commoner brats who have earaches, and Pyotr himself can see to the more affluent patrons
-University of Lepidstadt, or anywhere the GM might choose to place him – Stefan Voroi, a one-time classmate of Milo’s. Stefan is confident and charming where Milo is… not; they struck up an unlikely friendship as students, and an even more unlikely tryst for a brief period, but Stefan has moved on to at least a dozen lovers since, and his last letter, well over a year ago, recounted a glamorous tale of romancing some countess or another
Milovic held the letter in hands that had gone numb. The day was one of the rare, perfect days that might occasionally be found in Ustalav's preciously short summers: the sky held not a single cloud, the sun was dancing bright on the waters of the Moutray, and a gentle breeze was blowing through the open window of his dormitory room, which itself felt bare when returned to simply the desk and bed that had been here when he had arrived. His own things were packed, in the chest at the door, ready for his journey home.
That the day should be so beautiful made the letter impossible. It made no sense. He read it again.
My dear little rabbit, it began. His mother's firm, angular script. There was no mistaking it for anyone else's.
My dear little rabbit, your letter arrived. I am very proud that you have passed your exams and are now a doctor, Milovic. Your Papa is smiling, as well, but he is not with us, now.
There is no well way to tell you this. Pharasma beckoned him. He went in his sleep. You know his heart was always a trouble to him, no matter the teas I made. It was peaceful.
But he read your letter, before his time came.
The church has set the funeral for the 5th of Sarenith. Since your letter stated you would be traveling home by the end of the week, I trust you shall be with us by then....
It did not matter how many times he read it. The words became nothing, a sea of letters that held no meaning, that did not form wordsor sense. Perhaps he was tired, Milovic thought distantly. He had studied too much. The words did that, when you studied too long and too hard without a break.
He sat down on the bare mattress of his bed, in his emptied room, and read the letter again, and again, while outside the sun continued to shine and the river continued to flow, these things being impossible, if his father was dead, and yet, they did so all the same.
An expanded biography, for those with obsessive interest:
Some thirty years ago, a patrol of Lastwall soldiers sought refuge from a battle with orcs by crossing the Bleakwall and entering Ustalav, in Canterwall County. Their wounded were left to recover in the small village of Ravengro, where a local woman, Zena Draznoi, was known as a healer. One of these soldiers was named Davian. While Zena was able to save his life, she could not save the man's injured leg. Davian slowly recovered in the charity of Zena's house-- but chose not to return to Lastwall and to his duty as a soldier. Ravengro seemed an idyllic place to him, isolated from the horrors of war, the deaths of comrades, and the carnage of the endless battles of Belkzen.
That he had fallen in love with his healer might have had something to do with as well.
In time, Davian did father a child: with Zena the healer, who eventually agreed to the former soldier's persistent courting. They agreed that the boy Milovic would be raised Ustalavan, without Davian's family name attached.
Milo's childhood was as peaceful as any might be in haunted Ustalav. He helped his mother with her herb and vegetable garden and his crippled father with the chickens and the goats and their single cow; he climbed trees and waded in streams. His parents loved him, with Zena the firm taskmaster and Davian doting and indulgent. Though the border wasn't so terribly far away, war seemed a very distant thing.
When he was ten, Milo found an old sword, and a suit of scale mail, both with the insignia of Lastwall, while he was rummaging in the old shed behind the family's cottage. Thrilled with his discovert, the boy proudly ran into the cottage in armor that draped his small body like a robe, and waving a sword much too big for him, eagerly shouting that he was a hero!
Neither Zena nor Davian were best pleased. Davian took the boy outside and sat him down, and a long conversation followed in which Davian showed Milo the stump of his leg and his other scars, and told stories of men and women bleeding out in misery, or crippled soldiers left on battlefields, and of the cruelties of war-- grim tales for a child, but Davian felt them necessary. And that it was also necessary to disabuse young Milo of the notion that his father had been some valiant “hero,” to have such souvenirs of war.
The conversation had a deep and lasting impact on the boy. He never sought again to play at dragon-slayer with his father's sword, which was locked up in any case afterwards, nor to play at wearing armor. Even when the other children sought to play games of orc-and-soldier, Milo was quick to earnestly repeat his father's pained words about how war was not a game (this of course made Milo a real popular kid). Milo was determined to follow in his mother's footsteps and to become a healer.
As he grew older, his mother taught him how to set a bone, and what herbs were good to bring down a fever. When his questions reached beyond her store of knowledge, she sent him to badger Professor Lorrimor-- the local obligatory eccentric academic. Lorrimor was reasonably indulgent of the youth's questions, loaning him books and charts on occasion, and it was Lorrimor who first suggested that the boy might do well to study medicine at the famous University of Lepidstadt.
Milo's parents were not initially convinced. Lepidstadt was well over a hundred miles away, after all, and besides, they had no money for such a thing! But Milo was enraptured by the idea, once Lorrimor put it into his head, and as he grew from boy to young man, he announced his intent to apply to the famous university.
Professor Lorrimor's connections proved invaluable; he was able to assist Milovic in obtaining a scholarship, and thus at eighteen Milo set out on a long and bumpy coach journey fully prepared to take the University by storm.
Of course, there both culture shock and sticker shock when a young man from a tiny rural village arrived at Lepidstadt's gates, with the brightest and best of Ustalav's noble sons and daughters in attendance. Milo quickly learned that a scholarship was not precisely the recognition of his talent that he had naively thought, but instead something not to be mentioned, not unless he wished his humble origins widely announced to his peers-- though his clothes, accents, and general mannerisms already did a fine job of that. There was also the unpleasant discovery that while Lorrimor's scholarship paid for his tuition, it covered little in the way of anything else.
Mortified, Milo nearly turned around and headed right back home. Fortunately, he stuck it out, scraping by in his university years on whatever odd jobs he could manage around his studies. He made very few friends during his years at the University, however, as his initial embarrassment faded into a sort of pervasive shyness and lack of confidence. While he worked hard to shed the broad rural accent of his hometown, and was careful to take up a more stylish grooming regimen, there was no way he could imitate the fine jackets and silk shirts many of his classmates wore. His only friend of note was a young man from a moderately affluent family named Stefan-- not quite rich enough to fit in with the upper crust himself, gregarious and outgoing-- with whom Milo roomed for part of his university years. They were briefly lovers (and quite awkwardly, on Milo's part, though he bears Stefan no ill will).
Milo ultimately did graduate, news he shared in a letter home. He received his mother's message in reply: proud indeed of her son, but with sad news to share in turn: his father had passed, in his sleep.
While his classmates drank to celebrate their graduations, Milo once more took a long, solitary coach ride across Ustalav's moors, returning home to Ravengro to attend Davian's funeral.
Zena, ever a practical and self-sufficient woman, wouldn't hear of Milo staying to 'take care' of her, and urged him to return to the cities, where he could make good money with his new degree. She did send him off with two items, however: his father's sword, and armor.
Bemused first off that these had been kept, Milo wanted nothing to do with them, and asked his mother what on earth he, a healer, might need with a suit of soldier's scale, or a notched and battle-worn blade.
Zena had looked up from the potatoes she had been peeling, with her gray eyes full or mourning, and had said that Even if a man chooses a path of peace, it doesn't mean the world itself stops being dangerous, Milovic, my rabbit.
Use them, if you like. Or sell them, and gain coin to start your practice. As suits you. But they are your father's inheritance to you, however little he would have chosen it: not all things that come to us from our blood come to our tastes. Do with them as you will.
At a loss, Milo packed them with the rest of his things, and did indeed set out for the big city-- Caliphas.
That was five years ago. Shortly after his arrival, Milo sold the sword, for Caliphas was an expensive place to try and make a living. The coin he made enabled him to pay his way long enough to find work at the practice of an older, more established physician, one Pyotr Valstov, where he works seeing the patients Pyotr doesn't care to. Money is still tight, but Milo lives frugally, and each day he manages to save a little more.
If not for the dreams, he would say his life is going well.
But ever since he sold his father's sword, he has started having strange dreams.
They do not come every night. But enough of them. Dreams of battles, troop formations, flapping pennants, the ringing of signal horns. Steel on steel, and raining arrows, and the moans of dying men.
And when he wakes in a cold sweat, he finds himself reaching on automatic for the hilt of a sword, his father's sword, the sword he sold. In that half-state between dreaming and waking it almost feels real, when his fingers close around it.
Soldier, report to your post! Your oaths are forsworn and you have left your comrades in their hour of need! Stand to, and die with honor before the gods!
But then he wakes, and there is no blade, and Milo shakes himself from such nightmares, and pulls the bedsheets over himself against the chill of the night and the bloody memories.
He's afraid to sell the armor, for fear of how much worse the dreams might get...