Fey, Distant, Enigmatic; Can be Very Warm but Routinely Waxes Cold & Colder; her Deep Green, Penetrating, Fathomless Eyes stare into Your Soul; Light, Slightly Wavy Hair always falls in a 'casually, perfectly-fetchingly’ manner; Timeless before Her Time
One my tormentors is revealed and shamed before an entire city and I feel little, if any, different.
No great joy. No great sorrow. No relief of a great weight lifted. No great sense of one step closer.
No great feeling of any sort – nor lesser ones for that matter.
That which seems most on my mind is my swearing of allegiance to a king – and a king whose position seems perhaps a bit more tenuous than one would expect to be connecting to the title of ‘king’.
Perhaps someone like me and this merry bands of travelers is exactly what he needs …
The Forging of Vengeance Incarnate
Born just over a half-score of summers ago in the small village of Celaneddog, Morwen was an extremely beautiful young girl, blessed with deep green eyes and auburn colored hair. Even for her age, her body was shapely, suggesting of a form which would turn many heads as she grew into adulthood. Silky hair which easily falls into place, and always in a becoming way combined with soft, fair, unblemished smooth skin made her the envy or desire of many of the villagers and others in and around Celaneddog.
Unfortunately, fate (or was it destiny?) decided that Morwen’s physical charms were to be the only blessing she would get to enjoy in her early life. In fact, Morwen experienced enough evils in her young life for her entire village – though they would share many times more than any one place deserved. Morwen’s mother died giving birth to what would have been a younger sibling (a brother, who also perished during the birth). Raised by a lonely, grieving father, who tried but routinely fell short of giving Morwen the attention and direction a young girl needs, Morwen’s life – and all those of the village of Celaneddog – became even more tragic.
Celaneddog lies within the territory of the Arlain of Blackfork, in the Barony of Coluddyn. Two winters ago, the Arlain of Blackfork became ill, a hoarse cough settling into his chest. Then last spring he began coughing up blood and passed away in the autumn. The old Arlain was an old man when he died and he had outlived all close-blooded his heirs. While blood can play a factor, the Arlain serves as the Baron’s pleasure and, as is his want, the Baron Coluddyn elected not to appoint some ditant relative of the old Arlain. Instead he appointed his right-hand man, Cidum, as the new Arlain of Blackfork. Having grown up in Blackfork but been away more than a dozen years, the people had hope that their new Arlain would be sympathetic to their needs and they would be well looked after and cared for.
Alas, it was not to be so. Cidum, a Halfling, returned to Blackfork and its lands with a demeanor and manner different than those who knew him expected. Having brought a small number of soldiers already loyal to him, he first sent many of the old Arlain’s soldiers off to serve in the King’s army and sent the pressers out, to go through his lands, give him an account of the people and send even more off to serve in the King’s army. As the pressers did their work, they made no attempts to keep families intact as they had under the old Arlain. Though Morwen’s father was a single parent with few other close relatives, he was selected and sent with the many others also chosen.
Morwen’s care fell to her grandfather, Hendad. The pressers had been gone barely a fortnight when the new Arlain embarked on a progress around the territory and villages he now ruled. Arriving in Celaneddog, Cidum’s eyes were quickly drawn to young Morwen, who was getting close to being on the verge of blossoming into womanhood. Cidum approach Hendad, requesting marriage to the girl. The new Arlain looking for a wife from the local stock? Surely this was a good sign for the people’s futre? But alais, no. For when Hendad agreed to the offer, saying in two or three years when Morwen was of age she would be sent to Blackfork, Cidum became enraged, saying intended to wed the girl immediately. Hendad could only refuse while the other villagers looked on confused by this demand. Incensed at this ‘snub’, Cidum departed Celaneddog with all his soldiers but without the girl.
A week later, soldiers from Blackfork returned to Celaneddog and confiscated several of the finest livestock in the village claiming the proper level of taxes were not paid and a debt was owed to the Arlain. This continued every fortnight until all the cattle were gone, then all the sheep were gone, then all the chickens were gone. Just as winter began to settle in, with no livestock left, the soldiers began taking portions of the grains and other food stores. Starving, with nothing to do an no one willing to listen (the representative they sent to the Baron returned badly beaten and with directions for the village to submit to the will of their Arlain), the villagers themselves started both disappearing and leaving. Several families departed the village, intent on reaching Millston only to return many days later telling of fierce winter storms and attacks by misshapen creatures of death, some of them having the semblance of the lost villagers.
As winter progressed, with the villagers starving in their homes, the ghouls the failed travelers had encountered began attacking the village. Every night the villagers would bar their doors and shutter their windows to try and keep the dead out but one by one the populace were being killed – or worse, for too often one of the slain would rise up and return the next night with soulless eyes and an unnatural hunger. Morwen witnessed all of the horror – the attacks, the death, the friends and neighbors killed or transformed. It was too much for the villagers, let alone a young girl. and slowly the folks withdrew into themselves, seldom talking, rationing their too little food, dreading the night and dreading the dawn which would reveal who had been lost that night.
Then one morning the Blackfork soldiers returned. The villagers begged for help, implored them to destroy the ghouls, but the soldiers laughed, saying the village had brought this upon themselves. One soldier said that he was sure the villagers now wished they had agreed to Cidum’s proposal and sent Morwen back with the Arlain last fall. Perhaps … he said, trailing off, leaving the obvious implication left to the villagers. One of the villagers then spoke up saying the village needed to atone. Hadn’t the Baron commanded them to follow their Arlain’s will? And wasn’t their Arlain’s will that Morwen be sent to Blackfork to be his wife? Hendad (and many others) protested, saying this was no way for the village to act. As the discussion turned into argument, the soldiers became involved. And when blows started to fall, as he tried to defend himself, Hendad accidentally struck one of the soldiers. That set the entire troop upon him, beating him unconscious. The soldiers then departed, taking both Morwen and Hendad, leaving the villagers to their fate, laughing as they road away.
Once in Blackfork, Morwen quickly found that Cidum had no desire for her, but instead wanted her for some other purpose. Instead of a too-young marriage, Cidum gave Morwen to his soldiers, telling them to do as he had directed them earlier. Unspeakable violations and horrors beyond imagine were inflicted upon the girl by the soldiers. And all while not just Hendad but many of the village were forced to watch the entire ordeal. It was worse for Hendad, for he was her blood kin and was also warned that if he tried to shut his eyes, look away or turn his back, they would slit the girl’s then his throats.
Once the soldiers had their fill of Cidum’s dark sport, they murdered Hendad anyway, cutting him down right in front of Morwen, his blood splattered by the blows landing on her then leaving him for the crows, vultures and other scavengers. Morwen was then thrown into a pit which was rank with offal and rotting garbage. The next day Cidum called for the girl, had her bound, gagged and placed across the back of his horse, then took her north into the woodlands. Many hours of rough travel later, they meet a horrible looking crone. Throwing the girl to the ground at the feet of a horrible looking crone, Cidum stared at the crone who merely smiled a gaped tooth grin and said “This will do Cidum.”
Cidum replied dispassionately, “Remember our bargain Trilleste.”
The crone was not kind, yet nothing like Cidum and his thugs. Trilleste told Morwen she would either learn what Trilleste had to teach, or she would die. Trilleste said she cared little one way or the other. Trilleste then lead Morwen to a crude hut with an outdoor fire smoldering, the occasional ember spitting and sparking. Trilleste sent the young girl to a nearby stream to clean herself and then ushered her into the tent. Shortly thereafter the old, smelly, crone began to tell Morwen of secrets and power. Morwen listened but felt she absorbed little of this lecture, her eyes staring blankly at the wall as the events of the too few months since last Fall swirled in her head.
After a few hours, the hag left the girl to her thoughts. Trilleste gone, Morwen began to sob, salty tears streaking her pretty face as she curled up into a ball and wept. She cried until fatigue finally won over her exhausted body and she fell asleep. Yet sleep proved no refuge as the horrible nightmares she had had since the events in Blackfork again came to her.
Over the next several weeks the cycle was repeated daily. Minor mundane chores to start the day followed by Trilleste tutoring Morwen about arcane this and eldritch that. With the hag seeming either to not notice or not care that her student felt herself oblivious to the lecturing. And once the session was over, Trilleste would leave Morwen alone with her thoughts. Try as she might, she could not keep the breakdown and its coming tears away. No more than she could prevent the nightmares. She dreaded the hours of the night and only less so the waking hours which followed.
Seven weeks later, on one wet and damp morning, the routine unexpectedly changed. No morning chores, instead Trilleste took Morwen farther into the forest. A half hour later they came to a dark, unsettling place within the tress. Trilleste gave Morwen a strange piece of carved wood, with arcane sigils chiseled into all its surfaces. Trilleste looked at the young girl sternly then turned and uttered three words that boomed through the air. A voice filled the woods, seeming to ring within Morwen’s head.
“Ah so young, but so much pain,” said the strange, strong voice.
“Enough pain to prove useful to the pact, useful in the way you require.”
Morwen started at the voice, this exchange and what the voice said next.
“You have power within you young one – enough to bind the pact. In turn, I give more power – to stop the nightmares, to make your way, to choose for yourself instead of others choosing for you. Perhaps even enough power to, as you would say, heal your soul. In return, you bind yourself to me and give me power. Not your power. Part of the power of those you defeat, of those who oppose you and fail. Not all of it, just a fraction of their power, enough to maintain our pact. Consider this wisely. I will be … here.”
And with that the voice faded. Morwen was light headed, dizzy, quite disoriented from the contact. But oddly, she suddenly the lectures of the last weeks came to her, all of what Trilleste had told her formed in her mind, like a murky sky being lit up my continual lightning flashes all the lessons crystallized in her mind, into who she was, into thoughts and memories which she knew would now always be a part of her. Trilleste simply looked at her seemingly uncaring and said “You can have this power which is offered and join me. Or you can stay here in the forest, pathetic, wounded, weeping until you die – and then likely after that weeping for all eternity.”
Trilleste lead the stunned girl back to their camp. Disappearing in the hut, Trilleste reemerged, a strange looking dagger in her hand. “Here. Use this to complete the ritual. Or not. Use it to empower yourself. Or end your life. Or not. The choices are yours to choose from. Perhaps this is the first choice you will truly make for yourself. If you do complete the ritual, return to me. There is more to learn, more for you to know if you are to truly have power. Or not. If not, do not return to me. Stay in the forest to die or go elsewhere for the same. Perhaps back to Blackfork, where you may feel you died.” And with that Trilleste heading into the forest, leaving Morwen to herself.
That night Morwen wept as she always wept, cried herself into exhaustion and its fitful sleep, the visions of the abused by Cidum’s thugs as vivid as any she had had. Three times she woke as she cried out “STOP!!!” Panting and sweating, the tears again coming, falling asleep exhausted only to wake again.
“I will not live like this,” she intoned softly, “If I have I choice, I choose not to be like this anymore. It is not right. The lack of justice for those like me it not right. This world has become cold and heartless to me. That is not right. I will either complete the pact & take the power promised or I will die trying.”
That morning, she awoke early, the sun’s glow bathing the horizon in colors of gold, rose, and silver. Trilleste was still nowhere to be found. The dagger was where she left it last night. Taking the blade, she left the camp and made the trek to the doleful glade where she first met the Strange Voice.
Morwen began the ritual as it was taught to her, summoning the voice to return. A cold wind blew and swirled, and fell silent. Suddenly, bluish green fire burst forth from the ground. The strange arcane fire did not consume the grass and shrubs around it. Instead it settled right in front of the young girl, growing in intensity as Morwen chanted the ritual words. With the last of the arcane words shouted out, Morwen raised the gleaming dagger and plunged the blade into her hand, right through the palm so the blade stuck out the back of her hands. Oddly enough, with bright red blood bubbling from the wound on both sides of her hand, as she let go of the blade, leaving in stuck in her hand, all she felt was a tingling, a feeling of power rising within her, spreading through her veins. She turned her hand, beads of blood from both sides falling into the strange blue-green arcane flames that burned without burning before her. A voice echoed in her head, strong, passionate, and cold as winter’s night.
“So, you have performed the ritual young one. Do you know what it is you ask for?”
“Yes!” Morwen cried. “You said you can stop the nightmares! And that my soul can be healed!”
“Do not misinterpret my words young one. I said I can give you power – what you do with that power is your choice. But to give you that power, I will ride you like a nightmare and in doing so seal that part of your soul into itself. Your dreams will no longer haunt you, they will be visited upon others. And you will, perhaps, have the ‘restful sleep’ you have asked for. And if you are strong, the power in you will grow, maybe grow enough to allow you to fully diminish the memories. It may even grow enough for you to be able to undo the seal, reveal all your soul and, as you would say, your soul can be healed. Beware – the suffering and pain you have endured has brought out the power in you, power enough to make this deal. If you agree to the pact and always uphold your end of it, I will care little for any suffering or pain you may endure in the future just as I will also care little for what you do with the power you receive. Do you understand?”
“I understand. You will use me and experience my memories, which will also block some of the memories. You will give me power, power to use as I choose. And you will siphon power through me, not my power but the power of others. As they oppose me and fail, their power will flow through me and a part of that power will go to you.”
Morwen reached for the blade in her hand, the blood still pouring into the arcane fire. Firmly grabbing the blade, she said,“Yes, I understand” as she yanked on the blade. “And I accept this bargain,” as she pulled the blade out of her hand.
“The pact is sealed,” echoed the voice, the words fading as quickly as the fire. As she heard ‘pact’ quietly subside in her mind, Morwen felt a flush of power rush through, starting at her damaged hand she felt it move up her arm, through her body then into her other arm, her legs but mostly she felt in flow into her neck then head. As it exploded behind her eyes, her mind whirled, arcane energy swirling through her. She felt dizzy, nauseous; felt a weight on her body and a desire to move. The energy continued to flow, increased in intensity as the feelings of weight and motion increased. Finally, the feelings left her and the power began to subside, reducing itself as it flowed through her body until it was little more than a small stream where once it had raged like an overflowing river.
Though the vertigo passed, she was left with a warming flow all throughout her. It felt good and comforting. Morwen looked at her hand – there was no sign of the wound, like the pact, it had been sealed. Looking around she saw that, where morning light had flowed into the glade when she began the ritual, it now shown twilight. How many hours – or was it days? she felt a hunger like she had never felt, not even over last winter when her village was starving – has passed?
She closed her eyes, breathed deeply of the forest smells, and drank of the energy she could feel around her but also inside her. As she focused on the flow, she felt it increase, felt it flow through her middle, felt her hunger subside. The power had faded but was not gone. Like she just had, she knew she could call upon it and it would return – as strong as she had just felt, as strong as she could make it, the only limit on its flow would be her ability, her will to wield the power. She tried to think of the horrid memories of Blackfork. Even as she tried, she felt them fading away from her. The fear and loathing she felt at the soldiers … she could barely remember what they had done, what she had experienced.
But the memories were not gone completely; more like a dream barely remembered, a story told to one when they were but a baby or a tale overheard on the wind. She knew what had happened and that it had happened to her. But that knowing no longer held any power over her and for the first time since Cidum had seen her in Blackfork, she knew – without a doubt – that she would not have to cry herself to sleep tonight and that the nightmares would not come when she was asleep. She knew without doubt that those who harmed her, those who hurt her, those who had made the decisions for her which caused her pain and suffering, those who took and murdered the only family she knew, those who turned their back on her village when in their desperate need, she knew they would suffer & come to regret what they had done. Perhaps not right away, perhaps not for a while. But in this seemingly cold, uncaring world where justice appeared to too often be little more than a word, Morwen knew she now had power. However small her ability to wield that power right now might be, she had it. Power not just to survive in this world, but to be the voice of vengeance for all she had endured.
And for all those who were denied justice, perhaps for them, she might even be their
Voice of Vengeance
Morwen, Human, level 7 Fey Pact Hexblade (Warlock)
AC: 22 Fort: 19 Ref: 20 Will: 22
HP: 57 Surges: 8 Surge Value: 14
Arcana +9, Bluff +13, Diplomacy +13, Intimidate +20, Stealth +10, Streetwise +16
Acrobatics +5, Athletics +1, Dungeoneering +3, Endurance +4, Heal +3, History +4,
Insight +3, Nature +3, Perception +3, Religion +4, Thievery +5
At Will: Icy Skewer (Hexblade At Will)
Eldritch Bolt (Hexblade At Will)
Piercing Shard (Hexblade Encounter)
Piercing Shard (Hexblade Encounter)
Winter’s Retributive Escape (Encounter 7, Immediate Reaction)
Armor of Winter’s Grasp (Daily Attack 1)
Roaring Storm of Cania (Daily Attack 5)
Beguiling Tongue (Warlock Utility 2)
Master Diplomat (Warlock Utility 4, Diplomacy Skill Power)
Walk Through Darkness (Warlock Utility 6)
Soul Step (Fey Pact)
Heroic Effort (Human Racial Encounter Power)
Majestic Word (Bard MC Daily Power)
Level 1: Rod Expertise
Level 1: Bardic Dilettante
Level 2: Arcane Familiar
Level 4: Shared Speed
Level 6: Skill Focus (Intimidate)
Potion of Healing
Potion of Regeneration (heroic tier)