About Vasilyan Medvyed
Male human paladin (divine hunter) 1
* Background skill.
Aura of Good (Ex): The power of a paladin's aura of good (see the detect good spell) is equal to her paladin level.
Detect Evil (Sp): At will, a paladin can use detect evil, as the spell. A paladin can, as a move action, concentrate on a single item or individual within 60 feet and determine if it is evil, learning the strength of its aura as if having studied it for 3 rounds. While focusing on one individual or object, the paladin does not detect evil in any other object or individual within range.
Precise Shot: A divine hunter gains Precise Shot as a bonus feat at 1st level, even if she doesn't meet the prerequisites. This ability replaces her Heavy Armor Proficiency.
Smite Evil (Su): Once per day, a paladin can call out to the powers of good to aid her in her struggle against evil. As a swift action, the paladin chooses one target within sight to smite. If this target is evil, the paladin adds her Charisma bonus (if any) to her attack rolls and adds her paladin level to all damage rolls made against the target of her smite. If the target of smite evil is an outsider with the evil subtype, an evil-aligned dragon, or an undead creature, the bonus to damage on the first successful attack increases to 2 points of damage per level the paladin possesses. Regardless of the target, smite evil attacks automatically bypass any DR the creature might possess.
Time. I often found myself reflecting on how time has shaped my fate. My brother Vladimir came to light exactly one minute and twenty-four seconds before me, or so the midwives said. That difference in time determined our whole future. Him, the older brother, the firstborn, bound to inherit my father’s lands and lordly title; and me, the younger brother, doomed to act as a diplomat in the interests of my brother’s family. Yet was time itself to reverse everything. Had that elk lowered its head a moment after, I would have nailed it, and Vladimir would still be among us; I frequently wondered where would I have been, if it had gone that way. But it doesn’t matter; the elk did lower his head just then, and once again time shaped my fate.
—From the lost memories of Sirian the Renegade, Bandit Lord of the Narlmarches
Vasilyan Medvyed was born in Erastus the 3rd 4673 AR, in the day of the Archerfeast of a particularly gray and rainy Oathday. His twin brother, Vladimir Medvyed, came to light some minutes before him and as a result he was designated as the firstborn of Vladislav Medvyed, and bound to inherit his father’s lands and title.
During their early years of life, the twins were very close, but as befitted to the different status waiting for them, Vladimir received a far better treatment than his younger brother. Over time, this difference in treatment gave rise to envy and sibling rivalry, to the point that during childhood already Vasilyan was constantly jealous of his older brother, never missing the chance to play tricks on him and spite him. Of course, the austere Medvyed family could not help but notice Vasilyan’s irritating behavior, and regularly punished him for his misconduct. This way Vasilyan developed a rebellious character that took him to be deemed the family’s “black sheep”. It was precisely to stem this enmity between the twin brothers that Vladislav Medvyed decided to send his second son to New Stetven, so that he could grow near the Dragonscale Throne and become an excellent diplomat in the future, able to serve the family’s interests even without having any right on Medvyed’s possessions. At the same time, this option allowed to separate the rival siblings, in the hope that their enmity would be mitigated thanks to the flow of time.
There was nothing Vasilyan could do to oppose his father’s inflexible will, and starting from the age of 7 he grew within the walls of the Ruby Fortress. Here, Vasilyan received a perfect courtly education, learning how to read, how to write, how to count, and even how to ride, how to combat and how to interact with the upscale world of brevosian nobility. He was also educated in literature and etiquette, and in a short time he was turned into a perfect aristocratic. During his 7-years-lasting permanence in the king’s court, Vasilyan also forged his first friendships and romantic relationships, many of whom with the future lords and ladies of the kingdom; at the time, in fact, it was common practice among Brevosian noble houses to send their sons and daughters to the king’s court, so that they could be properly educated and taught to rule, in the future, over their families’ fiefdoms. Thus Vasilyan received the same education reserved for those young scions bound to rule their parents’ lands: he learned how to read and issue edicts and laws, how to communicate with the people and not to fear courtly intrigues and power play. He also received a quick primer on Erastil’s faith from the court priest. During the seven years of his education, Vasilyan became an impeccable gentleman, elegant, cultured and charismatic: his healthy appearance and handsomeness helped him to get quickly settled in the court environment.
When, seven years after, Vasilyan was called back to Medvyed’s castle near the Gronzi Forest, he was a completely different boy: his manners were ostentatious and aristocratic, his poise elegant and his ego overinflated. Since he was a child he had been skilled at shooting the bow, and during the time spent in New Stetven he had further perfected his skills. When he came back home, he didn’t hesitate to proclaim himself as “the best archer in the kingdom” and a far more suited candidate than his brother Vladimir to rule his family’s lands. Reality wasn’t changed though, and in spite of everything it would have been Vladimir to inherit Medvyed’s ancestral possession. Vasilyan showed himself frustrated with this fate more than once, but now he was too grown to waste himself to play tricks on his brother hoping to make him look bad in his parents’ eyes; rather, Vasilyan now tried to bring his brother into disrepute by greasing the political mechanisms, never missing a chance to eclipse his older brother in the presence of visiting nobles and local courtiers, appearing more elegant, cultured and suited for ruling than Vladimir. Medvyed were a family of ancient and strict traditions though, and in spite of every efforts made by Vasilyan, the inheritance law still was left to Vladimir as the firstborn. Rule was a birthright, not a merit. And so thought not only the Medvyeds, but also their courtiers.
After his son was back home, Vladislav Medvyed seemed worried about the costumes’ corruption that the prolonged period spent in New Stetven caused in his secondborn: the rigid parent then decided to subject Vasilyan to a much stricter regime than usual, forcing him to attend long-lasting catechism with Erastil’s court priest, hoping that Old Deadeye’s influence would make his son a true Medvyed once again. Vasilyan hadn’t lost his rebellious attitude though, and as soon as the chance arose, he sneaked out of the castle and went hunting in Gronzi Forest: as a child he loved hunting already, and his homeland’s wildlands ever had fascinated him. Now, more and more often he found his freedom and a bit of relief from the rigid education imposed on him by his father in reckless and lonely hunting trips in the hearth of the forest. He was punctually found out and grounded for running away, but every single time, once his punishment ended, Vasilyan returned in the forest, relinquishing his obligations and causing his parents’ and relatives’ worry.
ROLEPLAYING INTERLUDE #1 — An Hectic Hunt
Again today Vasilyan decided to relinquish his obligations and skip Father Kavken’s boring class. As usual, he had grabbed his bow, hidden it under his cloak, worn his hood and sneaked out of the castle. After an hour or so spent walking into the forest, he had patiently stationed on the branch of an old tree waiting for some wild beast to show up, ready to pierce it with his trusted bow. This time, though, things went a bit differently. Instead of the usual hare, in the small clearing appeared four hulking figures standing up on two legs, equipped with axes. Vasilyan, intrigued, nocked the arrow, ready to shoot. Only few seconds after he realized that figures belonged to flesh-and-blood men, and precisely to some woodcutters. The men looked around them with circumspect expressions and short thereafter approached an ancient oak holding a great saw in their hands. Vasilyan knew that tree: it always fascinated him. It was one of the forest’s most ancient trees, had explained to him his father during one the rare family hunts. Vasilyan stiffed. He knew that t would have been more cautious to simply stay quiet observing what the men would have done and then report everything back to his father; but he was also aware that doing so would have been the same as admitting his own guilty, confessing to have been voluntarily skipping Father Kavken’s class. The last punishment was especially harsh, with Vasilyan forced to stay in his room for an entire week, obliged to sit through Father Kavken’s sermons every single day. Vasilyan shivered at the thought of another such punishment, and in that very moment he decided that he wouldn’t follow the caution’s way.
“Hey, you!”, the guy screamed, nimbly climbing down the tree, “I cry you mercy, gentlemen, for my sudden and inappropriate interruption, but I couldn’t help but noticing that big saw you’re preparing to put in this oak that, from what I’ve heard, is part of Medvyed family private holdings, and is therefore strictly forbidden to cut it down. I’m sure that all of this is nothing else than the result of an unpleasant misunderstanding”, he said with confidence, trusting his diplomatic abilities developed in New Stetven.
“Hey, Jon, who the f!~+ is this brat?”, said one of the woodcutters with a little bit of an attitude, nearing his hand to the axe tied up to his belt.
“Let’s just put an axe through his head and continue. There’s no time to waste here”, suggested a second woodcutter, nearing his hand to the axe too.
“Woah, woah, calm down you guys…”, mumbled Jon the Lumberjack, watching his dudes and nervously smiling at Vasilyan, “This boy is Lord Vladimir’s second son…Try to restrain yourself and keep those f~~%ing mouths shut”, hissed the man through his teeth addressing his companions.
In the meanwhile, Vasilyan had already nocked an arrow and was prepared for the worst. “Gentlemen, I really hoped we could reach a compromise…After all, we’re all adults and reasonable people, aren’t we?”, Vasilyan said trying to stay relaxed, “It is clear to me that you were not aware of the prohibition, and I’m not obtuse as my twin brother is. I can tell when an honest man gets simply misled by the ignorance of an old law. If you now put down those axes, very well done moreover, I’m sure that this situation could easily be solved without dire consequences…Especially for you. Just turn around and go away. I haven’t seen anything here”.
The four woodcutters briefly whispered among themselves, but a moment after the two most bellicose of the group had put down their axer, while Jon the Lumberjack stood at Vasilyan with a humble and conciliatory expression: “Of course, my Lord…It was only a misunderstanding” the man said with a heavy rostlander accent, “Just give us the time to gather out things and we’ll soon disturb you no further”. Vasilyan’s diplomacy had worked.
In a short time, the woodcutters went away, tails between their legs. One of them gifted Vasilyan with his axe, “to apologize for the inconvenience”.
Some minutes after the exchange with the woodcutters, Vasilyan was resting with his shoulders laying against the ancient oak he just contributed to save, whistling a tune he had heard back in the king’s court. Suddenly, he felt a branch stretching out of the tree, skimming his neck. Scared, the guy quickly leaped to his feet and stepped back, so as to face the tree. What he saw left him speechless. For all the blunted arrows…, he thought while from the very tree emerged a wonderful female figure, with leaf hairs and the eyes the color of the fall. Istinctively, the guy nocked an arrow.
“Relax and lower your bow, young human”, said quietly the figure, with an ethereal voice. Vasilyan stood speechless, too stunned to act anyway. “Oh I see, your relatives haven’t told anything about me, it seems. Well, you can calm down, young Medvyed. I’ve met your grandfather’s grandfather, and his grandfather before him, e all of your forebears since they came into this lands. I know your father, and I’ve knew his father, and now, for the very first time, I meet you. What’s your name? Oh, wait, let me guess…Vladislav? Vasily? Vlaceslav? Oh no, no…It must be…Valery! Oh, no of course, it cannot be…Oh, oh, here I am. Vladimir! Is it right?”.
Reassured, Vasilyan lowered his bow and erupted into a laugh. “I’m sorry, but you’re off course you strange creature of the woods. Vladimir is my twin brother’s name, that inept. My name is Vasilyan”, the guy underlined with a bit of irony.
“Oh, I see… But this is strange indeed. In my visions…But just let go. If I grant you with my sight is because I want to thank you for having saved my tree, avoiding me the unpleasant task of having to kill those tree-killers. You proved brave, and you solved the problem without resorting to violence. It’s not something one sees frequently, especially when your volatile race is involved. Tell me, young Medvyed, there’s a way in which I could repay your for the favor?”.
Vasilyan thought about it only for a moment. Though the creature in front of him was strange, and the whole situation was strange indeed, he chose to try to get the best out of the circumstance. “Can you fire a bow?”.
“If I can fire a bow?”. The fey creature laughed joyously. “Young Medvyed, it was me to teach your ancestors how to shoot a bow, so they could protect these woods from invaders coming from the South. Didn’t they transmit you that knowledge?”. Vasilyan shook his head. “Oh, it’s such a pity”, commented the strange creature, “Something doesn’t figure out of your story, young Medvyed. You’re bound to perform great deeds with that bow, but you cannot still use it…”.
“Hey, hey, hey, hold your tongue, you fey woman”, halted her Vasilyan, “I only said that they didn’t teach me how to fire a bow. This doesn’t mine that I’m not able to do it better than anyone else in these lands, even before their help. I simply learned on my own”, proudly specified Vasilyan.
“Oh, wel, well…What do we have here? A young, presumptuous Medvyed. Nothing new. So tell me, young boy, why you’re asking me if I can shoot a bow if you already can do it?”, asked maliciously the fey creature.
“Because…Because I’ve got the feeling that you can teach me something that no one else could. Come on, show me what you’ve got”.
The strange creature laughed, amused, and shaped a wonderful bow from the very log of the oak, as the wood was obeying its command.
It was only during the punishment which punctually ensued his unauthorized hike in the forest that Vasilyan managed to comprehend with whom he dealt in the woods: the woman he met was a dryad, as he learned consulting the numerous books in his family’s library regarding fey creatures. His family had from centuries a long tradition linked to the woods and to the fey creatures inhabiting it, and Vasilyan found truly amazing to have had the privilege of meeting one of them in person. In the following months, he spent more and more time studying books on fey creatures, so much that his father grew suspicious: he feared that his son could have encountered someone in the woods who could have twisted Vasilyan. The boy, however, never admitted to have had such an encounter, blatantly lying to his father instead. As soon as his punishment ended, Vasilyan began to visit the woods more and more frequently, and every time the oak’s dryad taught him something new: not only how to fire a bow, but also how to know the land, how to follow tracks, how to shape wood and so on.
Roleplaying Interlude #2: The White Elk
To celebrate the sixteenth birthday of his two sons (the third, Bogdan, was born in Sarenith the 7th, 12 years after his older brothers), Lord Vladislav had arranged a grand hunting tournament. Initially, Lord Vladislav had forbidden to his young scions to take part in the tournament, but faced with the insistences of both of his sons, for one time, he had given up, conceding them to participate. The fact that the tournament was held in coincidence with the Archerfeast, and therefore that a profane competition was held in the same day of a religious festival, drew a lot of challengers in Medvyeds’ lands. Vasilyan had been waiting for that day to come for months, and now that the moment was finally come, he was ecstatic.
The boy was in his room: he had already worn his hunting attire and for a thousand times he had imagined the prey he would have hunted. He had no doubts about the fact that he would have won: thanks to his innate ability, further perfected from practice and the dryad’s teachings, he was sure to obtain victory and eclipse once again his brother Vladimir. Maybe this time his father would have had to recognize Vasilyan’s superiority, giving a second thought on the succession matter. His sixteen years old mind didn’t allow him to understand that would never happen, especially due to the strict traditionalism characterizing his family from centuries.
Vasilyan tested the bow, held it, nocked an arrow; he hunched his shoulders, and with a certain nervousness bit his lower lip. Calm down, Vasilyan, calm down. Have you forgotten what the dryad says? The most important virtue of an archer is serenity: “Shaky is the arm of the restless archer”. I’m going to win for sure, there’s no reason to be nervous. In fact, you know what? I don’t need this useless trinket to win. Is not faith that guides my arrows, but my arm and my eye. This is worth nothing. I’m sorry, my old Erastil, but I don’t need you, thought the boy while untying his wooden necklace depicting a bow made of elk antlers with a nocked arrow. Then, after holding it tight in his fist for a bit, Vasilyan threw the holy symbol on his bed, looking down at it in disdain. A moment after, a servant called him, inviting him to go out to attend to the inauguration ceremony preceding the competition.
Vasilyan was perched atop a branch of his usual tree. Two hours were passed already from the beginning of the contest, and everything he was able to catch was a rabbit. Vasilyan did tried to ask the dryad for help, but the fey had answered him saying only “Today your fate shall be shaped, young Medvyed. My task is complete. The white elk will guide you towards your future”. Right then and there, Vasilyan was angry for the lack of help on the part of the dryad, but then he had ended up to read her words as a prophecy: today he would have killed a white elk for sure, and his father would have finally recognized his superiority, proclaiming him his legitimate heir. Still, there was only one hour left before the competition ended, and Vasilyan was starting to feel nervous: he would never have won the hunting tournament with that miserable rabbit. No, he had to search for an elk. A white elk. He had never seen anything similar to a white elk, but Father Kavken told him about it during his boring sermons. In that place, though, he had never seen elks at all, so he decided to venture deeper into the forest.
About thirty minutes passed. Vasilyan had stationed himself behind a thick bush, in front of a clearing in which flew a quiet stream. Suddenly, he believed to have received a vision: he saw a white elk, majestic, higher and bigger than a war horse. The elk seemed to be watching him, even through the cover offered by the brush, as though its eyes could penetrate the bush itself. It was weird: the elk seemed to show up out of nowhere, suddenly appearing as in a dream. Vasilyan didn’t hesitate: he quickly got back on his feet, abandoning the cover offered from the brush, nocked the arrow and shot it. With a prideful smirk, he tasted the flavor of victory. The elk, however, lowered its head in the very last second, and instead of the death rattle of an elk, all Vasilyan heard was a suffocated bubbling of a human shot to death. The elk fled, letting Vasilyan see the shocking scene the elk was hiding with its body: his brother Vladimir, its bow still in tension, was spitting blood. An arrow, his arrow, was lodged in his brother’s chest. Vladimir dropped the bow and put his hand to his hearth, incredulous. He looked hatefully at his brother while Vasilyan moved closer, desperate and with his eyes covered in tears.
Vasilyan knelt down near his brother’s body, trying to remove the arrow from his chest, but it was all useless. Vlamidir held him tight and tried to speak to him, but each word was suffocated by the blood flowing out of his mouth. In a matter of seconds, Vladimir breathed his last between his twin brothers’ arms.
Vasilyan was traumatized: he had just killed his brother, Medvyed’s heir, firstborn of Vladislav Medvyed. His hands were shaking. Sure, he didn’t do that on purpose, but that didn’t change the truth of the matter: he had just killed his own brother. In his mind frantically alternated confused images: his brother’s death suddenly opened the floodgates to succession for him, but the blood covering his hand condemned him. He would have been judged guilty. He would have been processed and condemned. He would have been mocked and humiliated, blamed and hated. And then they would have killed him. And all of this in front of his father’s austere eyes. No, he couldn’t let that happen.
Vasilyan only had 16 years: he was a rebellious, posh and envious youngster, but never wished to kill his own brother. And above all, he wasn’t ready to die. Not now, not so soon. Not for doing something he didn’t did intentionally. No. He would have fled. Far away. Never to return. Somewhere where no one could never find him.
Eight years were passed from the terrible incident culminating in Vladimir Medvyed’s death. Vasilyan fled, and his father, desperate for losing both his heirs, had instructed every honest man of the kingdom to hind his second son who went missing: the story Lord Vladislav told at court and was convinced of was that criminals funded by a rival noble house had used the chance offered by the hunting tournament to kill his firstborn and kidnap his second son. Lord Vladislav triggered a real manhunt to track down and punish those who dared threatening his lineage. Reality was very different.
They were eight years since Vasilyan was living as a bandit in the Stolen Lands. Soon after fleeing, he joined a group of local thugs as a low ranking mercenary, but his skill and natural charisma soon granted him a promotion and then the chance to abandon his old companions and build his own company of bandits. In those eight years, overshadowed by anger and pain, and mislead by bad companies, Vasilyan committed the most disgraceful acts: he assaulted and robbed merchants’ convoys, ambushed innocent explorers and raped women. All honor was dead in his heart. He had never killed anyone, he simply had refused to; but all his other actions weren’t worth of the education he had received nor of his noble name. It was precisely for this reason that he had presented himself simply as “Ilyan the Renegade” to the other bandits. Over time, his nickname was distorted and changed, in an unintended association with one of the most common names in Rostland, deriving from Baron Aldori, in “Sirian the Renegade”.
Sirian the Renegade was the leader of a group of bandits which had its hideout in the Narlmarches. Thanks to the numerous assaults, the Black Elks, that was their name, had gained a good loot with years, a welfare that had allowed Vasilyan to indulge in vices of all sorts: above all, he had started drinking too much.
Roleplaying Interlude #3 — The Calling
Sirian quickly analized the object: it was a small wooden manufact depicting a bow made of elk antlers with a noce arrow. A holy symbol of Erastil, no doubt about it. That sight caused an unpleasant thoughts’ association in him, which Sirian didn’t hesitate to manifest with violence, kicking his underling in his chest. “Have you slugged the hunter? What the f~!@ did I told you about killing people?! We’re bandits, not murderers, you little son of a b~$$+!”. The other bandits swiftly intervened to separate the two. Sirian, nervous both for his underling disobedience and for the unpleasant memories awakened by the necklace, put the holy symbol in his pocket, grabbed a bottle of Corentyn’s wine recently took from a mercantile convoy, and retired in his private cave in the grotto. He spent the night drinking above all limits and kindled his frustration beating Eva, a bandit who for some time had been his lover and concubine. Then he took her many times, without any sensitivity.
When he woke up, Sirian the Renegade’s head was causing him a terrible pain. He looked at the miserable scene in front of him: Eva was lying sleeping and beaten on the meager straw still set in his humid cave; an ale barrel was lying sadly to the ground, along with the shards of the bottle of wine. His cavern was a depressing scene. Sirian searched his pockets, seeking something to throw against the rocky walls to kindle his frustration; what he found, however, was the holy symbol of Erastil. Sirian focused on the symbol. All my problems began when I threw away my necklace. Erastil punished me for my presumption. He guided my arrow into my brother’s chest. I have been such a stupid! If only I had payed attention to Father Kavken’s words, now I won’t be in this seedy underground hole, with a b#+!# as a partner and my drunken head spinning around. Vladimir would still live and I would be his diplomat. Perhaps now I would have been in New Stetven with my noble wife trying to negotiate a fruitful compromise regarding the Gronzi Forest’s deforestation. But instead I’m here, in this putrid hole, with my hands covered with the blood of a woman whose only fault was to fall in love with me. Oh, Erastil, if only I wouldn’t have been so deaf to your calling!
His bitter meditations were abruptly interrupted by Anatoly’s (one his bandits) entrance. “Boss, quick, come and see! There’s a hooded guy outside the grotto who asks to speak with you”. Vasilyan followed his underling.
When he reached the cave’s entrance, the hooded guy Anatoly told him about was not there anymore. The bandit, foreseeing a hars punishment, tried to justify himself kneeling down and rising his hands to protect his face. “Boss, I swear it, ‘till a minute ago he was right here. He expressly asked to speak with you. I know it seems like a joke, but truly boss, I sweat that…”. Anatoly abruptly halted his pathetic whine. Sirian the Renegade was not looking at him. He was staring at the empty space in front of him, with an absent expression. Anatoly raised his eyebrows, perplexed. “Boss? Is everything all right?”.
“Anatoly, I appoint you as the new boss of the Black Elks. Starting now, you will take my place. Tell Eva I’m sorry. Tell her that someday I will repay all the horrible things I have done to her. Take care, boy, and leave this miserable life while you still can”, was the surprising answer coming from Sirian the Renegade, pronounced with a serene and nigh ecstatic voice, while his eyes kept staring at the forest. Without waiting for an answer, Vasilyan Medvyed, also known as Sirian the Renegade in the Stolen Lands, walked towards the forest, without any discernible reason. He didn’t carry with him anything except for his trusted bow, last link to his past as Vasilyan Medvyed. While he was stepping away, he heard Anatoly screaming: “Have you heard what the boss said? I mean, the former boss! Now I’m in charge here, you filthy pieces of s$. From now on things will be different here, I’ll…”.
Vasilyan apparently inexplicable behaviour was due to a vision: the man saw a white elk, similar in all respects to the one which appeared to him during the hunting tournament eight years before. He saw the white elk getting away in the woods, as it was inviting him to follow his steps. And that Vasilyan did. He felt something had suddenly changed in him. He wore Erastil’s necklace and after hours and hours spent following the elk, he collapsed at the feet of an ancient redwood.
When he woke up, Vasilyan found himself in a smoky hut, in the company of a man in his 50s, with thin white hairs and deep wrinkles digging into his face. The man explained to be an erastilian priest who had found Vasilyan’s body in the depths of the Narlmarches, deciding to bringing him back to his hut to heal him. Vasilyan didn’t remember much of what happened the previous day, stunned as it was from the hung over and from the white elk’s vision, so he believed to what the man told him, thinking to have slumped over after hours of unsuccessful researches. But Vasilyan felt something inside of him was changed. He had felt something when he first had seen the elk. He had felt a warm sensation, a momentum towards something more shiny and pure than his meager existence. He checked his neck: the necklace was in his place. The priest explained him that he would have never rescued him if it hadn’t been for the holy symbol: “You know, with all these bandits roaming around here, and that miserable riff-raff under the guidance of the so-called Sirian the Renegade, I would have never risked to bring an outlaw into my hut. That symbol allowed me to recognize you as an honest person.
“In truth”, explained Vasilyan inspired by an all-new sense of honesty, “I am Sirian the Renegade. This necklace belonged to a hunter killed by one of my former underlings, even if against my will. Unfortunately, many things happened in my life against my will. Father, if you would concede this humble soul the honor to listen it, there’s a story I would like to tell you”. The priest, not worried at all (and indeed almost relieved and proud), nodded.
Vasilyan told him all of his story. Starting from his childhood until the incident during the hunting tournament. He confessed even the lowest excesses he indulged in. The tale lasted for days. It was winter, and the rigid weather didn’t allow the two hut’s denizens to venture outside except for very short times. Vasilyan hunted for both, and the two spent many days speaking in front of the big boiling cauldron. To Vasilyan, it was a cathartic experience. He felt his soul easing up as his story progressed and his guilt were confessed. The priest listened patiently, and at the end of each tale explained Vasilyan with a paternal attitude how and where he had erred. The memories derived from Father Kavken’s sermons came in handy to find a common ground with the priest, who refused to reveal his name. Only on the occasion of the tale regarding the incident in which Vladimir had lost his life, the priest didn’t charged Vasilyan with any guilt.
As soon as the rigid witer days conceded a break, the priest proposed Vasilyan to reach a village named Velinstadt, in Mivon, River Kingdoms. The priest who was guiding that small community was searching for someone to help him. Enthusiast for the new chance but reluctant to accept a task of whom he deemed himself unwhorty, Vasilyan showed some resistance, but in the end had to give up to the insistencies of the priest, who bluntly revealed him to have important matters to attend to in spring, and to not have time to dedicate to Vasilyan anymore. The guy then accepted, although reluctantly, and the two traveled together to Velinstadt, where, once they arrived, Vasilyan was quickly accepted by the community as “village protector”. After a short trial, Vasilyan’s skills and natural charisma cleared any doubt about him being suited for the role.
The mysterious priest’s last words before saying goodbye to Vasilyan were the following: “This is fairwell, young Vasilyan. Out path won’t never cross again, not in this life at least. There’s only a thing I want to tell you: that day, during the hunting tournament, the white elk was only a vision. It wasn’t really there. It was a manifestation of Erastil. You were chosen, boy, and you still are. Even if you think not to deserve it, gods’ criteria are unfathomable for our small minds. What you saw was not a true elk. White elks does not exist, to tell the truth. Yours was a vision. Do you know what does it mean? Reflect on it, and release your heart from your burden”. Vasilyan understood immediately: if the elk was not really there, his brother Vladimir could not have been aiming at it; his brother couldn’t see the elk at all, as the bandits weren’t able to see the white elk in the Narlmarches. The deduction was obvious: his brothere was aiming at him. He wanted to kill him. Hadn’t he killed him, Vasilyan would now be dead. The white elk had saved him. And now he had to repay Erastil.
Vasilyan stayed in the small hamlet of Velinstadt for 8 years. Here, under the guidance of Father Dimitrii, the local Erastil’s priest, he learned a lot on Erastil’s faith and above all on the practice of his worshipping. During his stay in Velinstadt, Vasilyan read more than once the Parables of Erestil, learned how to read the turning of the seasons, how to know when to sow and reap, how to tell when livestock are sick or gravid, how to poultice a wound and set a broken leg, how to spot a straggling sheep or the signs that a dog has gone rabid. In the meanwhile, he protected the village from bandits’ raids and monsters’ assault, taught the local men how to fire a bow, madehis skills in working the wood available for the villagers and helped in building houses, in mediating disputes between villagers and in solving the most acute questions arising in the community. As time went by, he felt his vocation to serve Erastil growing stronger day after day, and he became a new man: he learned the value of respecting laws and traditions, and a new sense of goodness and protection of the members of his community animated every single action made by him. His goal was not to earn gold, power or prestige: he just wanted to strive to allow the villagers to live their own lives in peace respecting their own traditions. During his permanence in Mivon, Vasilyan changed deeply, and gained the respect and the admiration of the people of Velinstadt for the zeal he put in defending the village: he was even appointed as sheriff, and his law management was never contested. He put some local stragglers back on track and managed to bring together again families on the brink of separation. Now, he had become an Erastil’s servant in all respects, and every aspect of his life conformed to the strong faith he felt inside.
Released from the burden of the guilt for his brother’s death and now a full man, Vasilyan felt, however, that there was something undone in his life: he had to come back in his homeland and reveal his family the truth about the hunting tournament’s incident. For many years he hesitated, fearing to abandon his new community, but when he stumbled across a passage from the Parables of Erastil in which it was written: “the first gift you ever receive is your family. We all grow from the seeds of our parent’s plant”, he decided that the moment to come back home had finally arrived.
After a long journey through Mivon and Rostland, passing from Restov, Vasilyan returned to his ancestral home. When he arrived, no one recognized him: after all, 16 years were passed from when he fled as a terrified boy and with a guilt weighing down his conscience; now, the Vasilyan who was coming back was a full-grown man, inspired by a strong and genuine faith. A just and honest man. The first thing Vasilyan did was to ask audience to his father in the castle. During their dialogue, Vasilyan confessed him everything about the hunting tournament, including the reading that the mysterious erastilian priest had suggested hi, The now-old Vladislav Medvyed welcomed his son with open arms despite all of his guilt and in spite of the disdain for the time spent as a bandit. He told him to have feared to have lost both of his direct heirs, but that with Vasilyan’s come back the young Bogdan, his third son, wouldn’t had to bear the responsibilities to rule Medvyed’s ancestral lands anymore. But Vasilyan was now changed, and despite there was nothing impeding him to take command immediately (he had never been deemed responsible for the assassination of his brother, and the entire court believed that Vladimir’s death was the result of a political attack), Vasilyan humbly refused that privileged role his father was offering him on a silver platter, a role he had yearned for his entire childhood and adolescence. He didn’t feel worthy of such an honor, and beside the time spent far away from home made him unsuited to lead the lands of his ancestors: Bogdan, born and raised in those lands, would have made a far better ruler than him. Vasilyan, with his past as a bandit, his rostlander education and too much of his time spent wandering, was not a suitable leader.
Vasilyan told his father his opinion, but before refusing, asked for his suggestion: if his father would have insisted, Vasilyan would have stayed and ruled his ancestral lands; if his father would instead have accepted his request, Vasilyan would have left the lands immediately. His request was simple: when he was in Restov he had heard that the local government was seeking someone to clear the Stolen Lands from dangers such as monsters and bandits to make them suitable for a new community. Vasilyan deemed that task to be perfect for him, due to the fact that it coincided perfectly with Erastil’s tenets. The chance live on a frontier, to fight to make it livable and establish a new community therein was just the best chance he could have ever longed for. His father agreed.
After leaving his homeland, Vasilyan reached Restov, where he long discussed with some agents of the Aldori Swordlord about the task he was willing to apply for. In the end, his motives and his abilities were judged proper, and he was given an official charter marking the beginning of his new adventure. Now mature, and inspired by a strong and unshakeable faith, Vasilyan prepared to his greatest deed in the name of Erastil, aware that even dying in the attempt would have been a far more worthy fate than what a humble servant of Erastil who too late had gone along with his calling deserved.
The most prominent aspect of Vasilyan’s personalità is without any doubt is innate charisma. Since he was a child, he always had the natural ability to get what she wanted, convince others with his words and catch everyone’s attention. Growing up, he learned how to use his charisma in the complex political environment of the royal court, learning how to use words and his natural charms in coordination to get what he wanted. Even during his period among the bandits, Vasilyan’s charisma allowed him to build his own bandits’ gang. During his stay in Velinstadt he further perfected this gift, learning how to put his natural charisma into community’s service, and understanding the responsibilities deriving from a leadership role. Trained to rule since his childhood, Vasilyan knows how to inspire those around him and hopes to use this ability in the new endeavor in the Stolen Lands.
For the rest, Vasilyan is an elegant, polite and very devout man: he loves company and wouldn’t be able to imagine his life without a community to live it, be it a small settlement, a great nation, a group of bandits or a party of explorers united by a common goal. His faith guides almost any action he performs, and he tries to follow Erastil’s tenets every time it’s possible.
Although as a child and adolescent he was rebellious and haughty, growing up (and in part due to the traumatic experienced the fate reserved him) Vasilyan has completely lost this traits: now he’s a humble man ready to recognize his own limits, both intellectual and physical, although he’s still very self-confident and never shows weakness in front of people who look at him as a model to emulate. Thanks to his deep faith in Erastil, Vasilyan has also recognized the value of laws and traditions: therefore, he firmly believes that without rules one’s life quickly degenerates, as he had the chance to experience on his own skin. Of course, Vasilyan is aware that he cannot impose this conviction to others, and his personal experience taught him that is only setting a living example that one could lead a soul to the righteous path: therefore, unless criminals against whom he’s authorized to act by law are concerned, Vasilyan never forces anyone to comply with the local laws and traditions, nor he demands that everyone who surrounds him shares his opinion about what’s right and what’s wrong. In these situations, Vasilyan simply expresses his opinion, frequently mentioning his own personal experience, without forcing anyone to adapt to his convictions, but hoping to somehow influence that person in order to guide her on the way he judges the best one.
Since he received his calling, Vasilyan is also inspired by a strong sense of protection towards those who surrounds him: he maintains that the abilities granted to him by Erastil are not a personal gift, but rather something to share with a community and use to make sure that innocents and those who aren’t able to protect themselves can live their own lives in peace and serenity, without their community being constantly threatened. In his pursuit of good, Vasilyan is not driven by utopian ideals, and as Erastil’s faith prescribes, Vasilyan do not conceive himself as a crusader bound to eradicate all the evil from this world: all that he longs for is to make possible for people around him to conduct a quiet life in peace and harmony, personally facing the forces who would like to see this order disrupted if necessary.
Vasilyan is also a very strong-willed person, frequently quoting his family's motto ("Endurance Overcomes All") to encourage himself to fight even in the middle of adversity.
In his relationships with others, Vasilyan is guided by the conviction that is personal experience what truly shapes one’s soul. Therefore, he doesn’t have any illusions to change one’s mind simply with his inspiring presence nor with his powerful words; he rather believes that setting an example of righteousness and virtue could inspire others to reflect autonomously on their own lives and improve them if they deem it necessary. His personal experience taught him that everyone makes mistakes, and even Vasilyan himself is well aware to have committed horrible acts before receiving Erastil’s calling. Therefore, he’s much morte tolerant than a standard paladin of Erastil, and much more inclined to comprehend the weakness of human soul. Vasilyan knows that everyone makes mistakes, and that even an evil person could improve himself if given the chance. Although he doesn’t see himself as a “redeemer”, Vasilyan believes that redemption is available to all, but that at the same time it is the result of a long and troubled inner path that an individual must undertake in the depth of his own conscience, without too invasive interference on the part of others.
When he decided to join a group of explorers bound to map and settle the Stolen Lands, Vasilyan was well aware that he probably would have had to work together with people who he could find himself at odds on many aspects: this, however, does not scare him. His goal is not to convert others to his world-view, but rather to find every time a reasonable compromise to continue pursuing the common goal despite the differences in race, creed and personality. What matters the most, to him, is that the Stolen Lands get cleared from the dangers and that a community can be founded within their borders: as long as all of his companions share this goal, there will be no difference capable of disrupting their collaboration. Is indeed the same Erastil’s creed that suggests that collaboration is one of the strongest glues of the society, and that a community without collaboration can’t last long. Vasilyan also tends to think that his group of future companions could turn into a sort of “smaller community” to him, a “family-in-law” within whom is necessary to keep harmony and serenity.
Regarding women, Vasilyan doesn’t share the traditional and rigid stereotypes of some Erastil’s priests and faithful: in his life he met warrior women and women far more able to protect themselves than most men. Therefore, he has not any problem at all with accepting the presence of one or more women in this group of explorers nor to consider the possibility of a woman assuming a leadership role in the future community. Furthermore, Vasilyan hopes to meet an honest and kind woman, perhaps noble-born, to marry: after all, the fact of still being a bachelor at his age is a sort of scandal for his faith, and Vasilyan would want to remedy as soon as possible to contribute personally to reinforce the valor of family as taught by Erastil.
Vasilyan always valued friendship, and he hopes that his new adventure could give him the chance to forge durable friendships. He can tell the value of a friend, and because he thinks to be bound to spend the rest of his life in the Stolen Lands, to him trying to forge friendly or at least pacific relationships with the highest number of people is very important.
Vasilyan’s faith in Erastil is strong and deep, and he believes that his life wouldn’t now have any sense at all without his faith. Of course, the way in which Vasilyan thinks of Erastil is largely due to his personal experiences: his family had worshipped Erastil for generations, and the cult of Erastil has always been part of his life. Thanks to the lessons with Father Kavken, Vasilyan acquired the basics of the fait, but it was only thanks to the encounter with the mysterious priest of the Narlmarches and with Father Dimitrii of Velinstadt that his knowledge of Erastil has truly deepened. In his own view, Vasilyan tends to view Erastil as a protector god who inspires his faithful to protects what they care for. It’s his faith in Erastil that drives Vasilyan to value concept as family and community. Of course, Erastil embodies many of the things Vasilyan has loved since its childhood, such as hunt, archery and the ability to lead a group as a leader.
Vasilyan’s faith is not theological or too rational: as a result of his personal experiences, he gave up to comprehend Erastil’s motives. He only limits to forward his deity’s goals, serving Erastil to the best of his abilities based on the limited comprehension that he has of him.
Code of Conduct: Vasilyan follows a precise code of conduct deriving from his understanding of Erastil’s faith and from the teachings received in his life. His tenets includes the following (see Inner Sea Gods 54).
• My community comes first, and I will contribute to it all that I can. If I don’t give back, who will?
• I must offer the poor in my community assistance, but I may not do the work for them—instead, I must teach them to rely on themselves. It is only through cooperation that a community grows strong.
• When danger threatens, I am not a fool. I seek first to make sure the weak and innocent are safe, and then quell the danger.
• I keep to the old ways, the true ways. I am not seduced by the lure of money or power. I remember that true honor comes from within, not from the accolades of others.
• I remember that reputation is everything. Mine is pure and upstanding, and I will repair it if it is broken or tarnished. I stand by my decisions, and live so that none shall have cause to blame me.
• I show respect to my elders, for they have done much. I show respect to the young, for they have much left to do. I show respect to my peers, for they carry the load. And I shall carry it with them.
• I am honest, trustworthy, and stable. If I must leave my lands and community, before I go, I ensure that they will be tended in my absence. Even when duty calls, my duties to my home come first—letting them lapse makes me a burden on my people.
Vasilyan is capable of filling many roles within a nascent society. His rich personal experience and his gifts make him particularly suited to fill the following leadership roles.
Ruler —For his whole life Vasilyan has desired to rule. Nonetheless, due to his past errors, he doesn’t deem himself morally worthy of such an honor, and won’t personally propose himself as the ruler of the new nation to come. However, should he be selected by his companions and people to act as a ruler, he would happily accept the responsibility. Vasilyan is especially suited for this role thanks to his 7-years permanence in the royal court, where learned how to conceive and promulgate laws and edicts, how to negotiate with neighboring nations and how to handle the relationship and communication with his people. Is an expert in the art of politics thanks to his education, and he’s gifted of all the charisma necessary to be an inspiring figure and at the same tame a strong and respect-worthy leader. Being still a bachelor, the possibility to marry to promote new territorial and monetary annexations, is another arrow in his quiver and would allow the birthing nation to acquire new allies and lands. Furthermore, his noble birth would make him a leader recognized even by other nations, apart from granting the allegiance of Medvyed’s family to the new nation. Vasilyan learned first-handedly what does it mean to take care of a whole community during his stay in Velnstadt, and therefore considers himself ready to guide a forming community.
Councilor — Vasilyan is also willing to act as a councilor for a guide other than himself, so long as he personally esteems that individual and can count on the fact that his opinion will be listened. His rich personal experience makes him expert in a large number of situations, and his political education make his particularly suited for this role.
Gran Diplomat — Vasilyan was educated to become his brother’s diplomat, and therefore he has got a strong and solid education especially suiting for this role. Furthermore, he’s exceptionally able with words and capable of negotiating with nobles and commoners alike, without forgetting his innate ability to deal with feys, thanks both to his family’s ancestral bonds with fey creatures and his friendship with the Gronzi Forest’s dryad. Vasilyan is charismatic and able to put up complex negotiations, but knows also how to threaten someone without resorting to violence when his community is threatened, all skills that could come in handy to a grand diplomat.