Friday, August 21, 2015

A New Hero



One of my players, Kintaro, is starting a new 5e campaign in his homebrew setting. Sadly, that werewolf game never took of so I still haven't gotten to be a player yet in a serious campaign this year. I've talked with Kintaro about my character concept at length, and he's allowing me to do some really cool things. In a few days I'll post a new paladin Oath I put together, the Oath of Reaping. For today here's the introduction to my new character Alistair, a cursed paladin. Enjoy!



"Never again." Alistair stood at the cliff's edge. His feet were as far over as could be without falling...yet. He wiggled his toes and nothing greeted them but empty air. Never again. It was a promise Alistair made to himself the last time he lost control. Today that promise was broken, splattered about what should have been his new home. Now it was the scene of a horrific murder.

It felt like only yesterday when he'd first met Lorraine; only a minute ago since they were married, and naught but a moment since their last kiss goodnight. Every second since awakening this morning, the image was seared into his mind: her limbs torn from her body and flung about the bedroom. Blood covered the walls, dripping from the ceiling and pooling in the center of their bed. Alistair couldn't stop seeing it, even here at the top of Widow's Peak amidst the snows of the Agneon Mountains.

The sun was well below the taller peaks yet still above the horizon. Alistair couldn't see it anyway as he was at an elevation higher than the lowest layer of cloud cover. It created an eerie orange glow in the distance while the sky above was dark enough for some of the brighter stars to shine through. The singular strangeness of it all fit the the ending of Alistair's cursed life.

He was twelve the first time he was taken over. It happened at the orphanage where he grew up. At that age, Alistair was the oldest child there. He'd been passed by so many prospective parents for other children he'd lost count of the disappointments. When a new couple would come in Alistair didn't even get his hopes up. He wasn't the only one to notice, either.

Finally a grandmotherly widow, rich and lonely, had come looking for a child to care for. Her name was lost to Alistair, but what he did remember was her kindness as she spoke with him. A flicker of hope had rekindled in his heart, only to be crushed when she left with another child only three years younger than him.

The memories afterwards were foggy and vague, but what he could remember was anger and humiliation when another boy at bedtime innocently asked him why Alistair was never adopted. The next morning the boy was missing, and a trail of blood led to the basement where his mangled body was later found. Alistair awoke before dawn the next morning covered in dried blood. Retracing the trail and finding the corpse, Alistair took flight and never looked back.

He was chased through the wilderness by bounty hunters, knights, and glory seekers alike. A few times Alistair even found himself cornered. Then he would blackout and find himself covered in blood; the bodies of his would be captors scattered around him.

Eventually, the hunters stopped coming, and Alistair found his way to Crestonia at 16. Months passed since the demon had last come out. He thought he was finally in control. So Alistair built a life, finding work where he could, and living by a vow. Never again.

Until today. It took him over and sated its lust for blood. With no provocation. Alistair's restraint and self control meant nothing. Walking away from every confrontation, being meek and mild mannered, never even raising his voice - all for nothing. The love of his life was gone at his hand. Alistair was not fit to walk among men. Nor could he go on without her. Everything he built for himself meant nothing with out Lorraine, even if there were a life to go back to.

Alistair was guilty. He wanted to die. When he awoke to find what was left of his wife, and when his hysterics had passed, he took a knife and slit his wrists. Yet no matter how much he bled he did not die. So he slit his own throat. The darkness came, and went. Alistair awoke. His wounds were gone. This time he plunged the knife into his heart. All faded to black, and then he came to. The knife was at his side, and again his wounds were gone. He threw a cloak over himself and ran just before the city guard arrived. Alistair wanted to die. What terrified him was being locked in a cell to live with the blood on his hands.

Ill equipped and ill prepared, Alistair traveled through the rugged terrain of Crestonia to the highest summit, Widow's Peak. Here he stood, at a precipice so high up the clouds blocked his sight of the ground. Before traveling far enough north of the tree line Alistair hanged himself. It didn't work. With his knife, he was unable to manage beheading himself before blacking out. Once again he awoke with no wounds. Blades would not work. Strangulation failed. All that was left was to dash his body upon the earth, and trust the force of impact would crush his body beyond any hope of repair. As painful as suicide was, it didn't compare to losing Lorraine.

"Never again!" The thought of her drove him to fall forward. Alistair pushed against the precipice to launch himself further. The clouds were cold, but he passed through them faster than it took for him to notice the sensation of being drenched in cold water. The wind buffeted him ever farther from the cliff. Sharp rocks jutted from the snowy slopes below. His heart beat so fast it left him lightheaded. The sense of weightlessness felt something akin to a terrifying joy. It was the thrill of freedom, peace, and being with Lorraine again. The ground was coming up at him faster than he could blink, and then darkness.

Alistair awoke in a realm of grey skies and mist. Above him was a figure, impossibly large, seated upon a throne of grey stone as tall as Widow's Peak. A hood obscured the being's face. Underneath the cloak was blackness. The Reaper, god of death and eternal rest, looked down upon him. In a whisper devoid of emotion, so low Alistair strained to hear it, "Death has been taken from you. The demon refuses to let you die."

"No! I wish to be with my wife, again. I will do whatever it takes!"

"Yours is not the only death denied me. Entropis robs my harvest. Reap what has been stolen from me. When what is mine is returned, so shall your eternal rest be returned to you. Then you may reunite with your love."

"What do I have to do?"

A thousand visions exploded in his mind. Of battles fought, of lives saved, of many returned to their rightful rest. At the end, Alistair found himself in a field of flowers and sunlight. Lorraine was there. The Reaper whispered, "Say yes."

"If I fight your war, at the end my reward is what should already be mine?"

"Such is what happens when the harvest goes unreaped. You are among the few who can change the balance. Will you be my champion?"

"If that is what I must do, then yes."

His eyes opened, a cloud was passing across the moon. Everything was pain. Lifting his head an inch was agony, but Alistair did so anyway. His body was broken. Every limb was bloody and scraped. His left leg was underneath his back. His right forearm was folded in half. Bone poked through the skin all over. There was blood, but his bleeding had stopped. Slowly, very slowly, his body was mending.

Pain was not the only thing Alistair felt. There was evil inside him, and it was not of this world. Not only was there evil, but he could feel the spirits floating about him. It was sensation that was neither sight nor sound, but he knew where they were and where they were going. These spirits were trying to flee the world of the living. Though he felt them trapped, like birds sucked into a tornado. They tried to move on and cross over. However, there was an omnipresent force that kept them here. It reeked of malefic magic. There was so much to do, and so much evil to undo.

Eventually his body would mend. Then he would be able to stand. When Alistair could walk, he swore a new vow - to follow this ill wind to its source. Alistair had become the Reaper's Champion, a harvester of souls.


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