Edmund Roger Delane
The Human Warlord
Edmund’s parents were part of an adventuring party before retiring to a humble farmstead to settle down late in life. His mother, Elizabeth, was a fierce fighter, and his father, Matrith, possessed magical prowess that was unmatched. After vanquishing the reign of a malevolent necromancer and beguiler, they began a new life with the riches they had accumulated.
However, at the young age of three, the Necromancer, Kashakron, returned. Bathing the fields in flames, and assaulting Elizabeth, who ran for her son, Kashakron cut a swath of bloody destruction through livestock and a traveling bard guest to the Delan’s home. Armed only with what the God’s gave her, Elizabeth fought back against the undead Kashakron had brought with him. Both of her former companions, the Gnomish rogue, Niben, and the Elvish ranger, Kelferis, were but vile shells of their former selves. Breaking Kelferis’s rotting neck with her bare hands, Elizabeth was cut down by a grimacing Niben with no remorse from the goulish gnome.
Seeing the flames, Matrith charged from town back to his home. Arriving in time to find his wife slaughtered and Niben standing with mouth agape in hunder over hie son, Matrith poured arcane destruction into Niben’s negative energy field. Shattering the magic controlling the corpse, Niben clattered to the ground. Snatching his child up from the consuming flames, Matrith fled his once tranquil home.
Seeking safety for his son, Matrith brought his first and last child to the last member of the Five Pillars of Pelor, their once mighty and heroic group, Brazzilkev. The older Dragonborn Fighter lived far from others in the foothills near the mountains. Placing Edmund’s childhood and life in the hands of his last friend, Matrith set out for revenge.
Brazzilkev Thantanos, a burly bronze Dragonborn, razed Edmund much as he might his own son. Strict discipline, honor and truthfulness above all else, speaking through actions and holding to promises, and a sense of duty to others. Working hard and training even harder, Edmund learned a variety of martial styles, a sharpness and decisiveness of a warrior’s mind, and the reflexes of a panther. However, Roger also sought knowledge of his own people, and of the other races. The few times Thantanos truly opened himself up was later in Edmund’s adolescence. Stories of adventured, men great and evil, strong and pathetic, brilliant and ignorant of every walk of life across the great lands and oceans. Old kingdoms and tales of empires long past.
Roger began reading, he traveled to the town, four days away from Brazzilkev’s humble abode. War, history, nobility, knights, chivalry, diplomacy, negotiation, battles old and fresh, studies of society and culture, stories of men and demons, heroes and shadowy figures, poetry, tactics and stratagems. Particularly fascinating to Edmund were the wars, why they began – with politics and people’s arguing and the needs or fears of kingdoms and people, and then the wars that ensued – brilliant plans and clever ambushes. The tales of great men leading others into battle for glory, gold, security, or only to buy time for their citizens to escape, these tales stuck with him. He found himself wondering what he would do differently, and analyzed other potential plans of action and why people made the decisions they did. Though not meeting people often, Roger felt that he new many others from the books he read and the tales these inspired in Thantanos.
When Edmund was nineteen, his father returned. Matrith’s skin was pale, his eyes sallow and sunken, his face a twisted grimace of death. Hellfire had seared his flesh in places, and Roger might have sworn horns protruded from his skull. Matrith sought his son’s hand as a warrior beside him. Though eager to meet his father, who was little more than a faint blur, Edmund was struck with the sensation that he knew this sort of man. Some one who had been consumed by the need to exact vengance and become a monster themselves. Thantanos stood between Roger, who Brazzilkev had considered an adult for years, his arms crossed and head held high despite the gray that tinged his scales. Thantanos asked what had happened, but Matrith only stared at his son. “I need your strength. We could be invincible, you don’t understand yet, but you will. The power will find you as it did me.” Thantanos sneered, and at the time Roger didn’t understand what was going on.
As Brazzilkev stepped forward, Matrith brought forth a wave of black flame. Diving out of the way, Thantanos rolled clear. Roger stumbled backwards, caught off guard as flames licked his chest. Thantanos stood and bellowed lightning over Matrith. But the arcs of electricity were deflected away as if light redirected by some unseen mirror. Matrith hadn’t even noticed, for he had just struck his son down. “I am sorry my child-” but Edmund rose to his feet. “I am no child of yours. You made a deal with demons didn’t you? Is revenge for mother’s death worth your sanity and your soul – are you so far gone you do not recognize your own son?”
Matrith only shook his head. “If you will not join me, then I can do no more. I shall not raise my hand again, but next time we meet, you will no longer be my child. Any who stand in the way will be cut down. Remember this, great things will happen here soon… very soon.” And with that, he disappeared in a torrent of black winds, leaving behind only the strong scent of sulfur. “Ill tidings if that man had fallen to the influences of darkness.” was the only comment Thantanos made before heading back to his home. He spent the evening sitting at a shrine in quiet contemplation.
Roger had learned that all the great kingdoms, empires and rulers had fallen. The time of civilization was nearly over, the spark of life in these rough lands nearly engulfed by a deluge of death and sorrow. But in all the stories, Edmund came to understand one thing above all else – hope. There was a chance that the world might be remade, security restored, trade routes re-established, the land tamed again and the monsters pushed back. Like the mystical phoenix, man could rise from the ashes again. That was Roger’s hope, for without that – what else was there? A slow demise to all that had been built and learned over thousands of years? That was worth fighting for, and dying for. Edmund knew it was his time to leave, he was grown and Thantanos was old. The world was open before him, though he had no clue where to begin pouring over his books each night rubbing the black scars on his torso that would not heal.
Early one summer morning, Thantanos spoke with Roger, sitting him down outside their home by the small garden Brazzilkev maintained. “I have grown old before my time, early though that may be. Listen to me. You are strong, sharp, and bright of heart mind and body. Each person in their time must seek purpose. It cannot be given to you, and no one can take it from you, it must be found and pursued of one’s own accord. Beware the fatal flaw in your people. Humans have been both the noblest angels, and the most malevolent devils. The capacity of Humans is indisputable, but be ever weary of the corruption that can overtake the most pure of heart – your father Matrith was once the greatest of us. He would never raise his hand against an innocent, even our enemies who had surrendered or been disarmed – let alone his own son. Power and pain have consumed him, that being that came here one month before was not a man, but a fiend. He stunk of death and hell with no regrets or remorse. Your mother was pure of heart, he has dishonored her memory and you. Though it pains me to see the last legacy of the greatest Human’s I have ever had the honor or serving with go alone into this cruel world, it must be done. You are destined for greatness, I have seen it marked in the sky at night… and… I am old. Once you depart, we shall likely never meet again. I know you were an unknowing son who had an unprepared father, but I hope that I have tempered your potential into a shield you might carry with you until you build your own armor.” He smiled at this metaphor. “The world cries out for better, and I know the sins of the father cannot be passed onto the son, however I fear you must deal with whatever evil your father has wrought and not on your own terms. I can give your a sword and some food. Supplument it with hunting and you’ll do fine. You are marked, you will weave the threads of fate around you as you forge a destiny.” He seemed to wish to say more, but held his tongue.
Edmund bit his lip, then hugged the huge warrior. To Roger, Thantanos was his father. The warlock who had come earlier did not compare to the valiant hero in Brazzilkev’s stories. Magic could bring great corruption to a man, and Edmund would remember that well. Gathering his things in a bag, Edmund stood at the doorway to his home. Thantanos stood beside him. Roger began to bow, but Thantanos stopped him with the firm grip of his taloned hand. “I am no longer your teacher, and no longer your better. In my eyes we are equal. One day you will see the same. If you are naive you will see yourself below me, and if you are a fool you shall see yourself above me. Unlike myself, all may not be equal with you, but no man is worthless enough to be cast aside, and no man nor army impenetrable, remember that no task is impossible, your learnings have shown you that, but there is much yet for you to understand. Go forth, and know the world. Build your legacy, my son.” Thantanos bowed his head as Roger did.
He smiled softly in response to Brazzilkev’s warm expression. Edmund Roger Delane turned and began the long walk towards town. He never looked back, and would never see his father again. Matrith would be another story.