Age of Insurrection
5’10", 168 lbs, blonde hair, green eyes, large for a half elf, determined, thoughtful, with an easy smile and a hint of human blood.
- STR: 18 – years doing manual labor have made him in prime shape.
- DEX: 11 – larger than most half elves, he is not especially fast.
- CON: 14 – young and hardy from hard work.
- INT: 11 – living in a small town, work and play was always more important than study.
- WIS: 17 – while not especially quick, he takes his time to make a considerate choice.
- CHA: 17 – enjoys the benefits of good looks from both parents, and not afraid to talk to anyone.
Lan is friendly and helpful, following the tenants of his order. He believes the law of his order are higher than the laws of mere men. He believes in the greater good, and finds no issue with a little evil if it brings a greater good for those around him. Especially hateful towards undead, would not hesitate to kill someone in cold blood if he believed them infected or otherwise at risk of harming others.
It began in the silent dark, before the new dawn could lighten the sky. At first, no one recognized anything was amiss. They began leaking their lifeblood where they slept or sat. The first scream ripped through the night, but no lights were lit to investigate, such was the depth of their terror. The furthest from where the screams began had a chance to awake and survive. Some did. Others were not as aware. Or as able. Or as fortunate.
Lights were lit at last, the terror visible at last. They seemed human, but wearing tattered and rotting clothing, their bodies decaying to varying degrees. Some of the creatures were simply pallid; others had flesh rotten or eaten away to the bone. The dead were walking, spreading slowly away from the village graveyard. Limping mindlessly, until a living target was identified, then charging with surprising speed, clumsily striking their victims with great strength. The shambling horrors attacked indiscriminately and began feasting upon their fresh meal, until distracted by another meal nearby. The frightened villagers who were able to spread light were further horrified to recognize some of the zombies as recently buried friends.
Those furthest from the graveyard in the village of Evralas had time to fully awaken and determine the depth of the threat. They rallied, gathering meager weapons, boarding windows and doors, and hacking to pieces any walking dead that got near. Defenders died, but so did the abominations– again. Exhausted and bloodied, dawn broke over the village; the zombies were lying strewn about town where they had been struck down. The screams of the injured and dying drowned out the usual pleasant morning sounds of birds and other small animals.
Lan was one of the survivors; his hands clenched the handle of the shovel he had used for dark purpose. He helped the survivors’ band together, to heal the sick and injured. Those that were beyond their skills, they were forced to let die, the survivors standing sadly, helplessly watching more friends pass beyond the veil.
Then the true horror began. At first it was as expected; those they could not help started passing. Then, those that were injured, even in a minor way, took drastic turns for the worse, dying painfully, loudly. The survivors were most shocked when those they had not been able to help began rising also. This second wave was much deadlier than the first. Perhaps, it was because they believed it was over. Perhaps it was because they believed there was still help for those that had been alive such a short time ago.
Later, Lan would have a hard time talking about this second attack. Ashamed by his fear, Lan grabbed his mother, Janwen and a travel bag and fled the beleaguered village, leaving all he had ever known to the hand fate had dealt the small town. They mixed walking and running, and after a couple hours upon the road, Lan’s life drastically changed for a second time in as many days. Cresting the dusty horizon were three mounted travelers, walking slowly, tiredly. As they drew closer, Lan saw two males and a female, all armored and armed. Lan firmly grasped his mother’s hand, and dragged her, running, to the mounted strangers. “Help us! Help us please!” he shouted as they drew near.
The well armed rider in the lead dismounted, held out his hands, and with a kindly, tired smile, “How can we help you?”
“Please,” Lan begged, “we need water, food. Our village was destroyed, we’ve been on the run ever since.” Lan proceeded to tell the story of what befell his village, but, as soon as he described their assailants, the stranger’s demeanor altered dramatically. The other two riders rapidly dismounted, surrounding the harried pair. Weapons came out, Lan found a sword at his throat, and at the corner of his eye he saw his mother on her knees, a brutal looking mace poised above and behind her head, held by the woman warrior.
Lan’s attention was brought around, “are you injured?!” the leader questioned fiercely, the sword brushing his skin. The determined menace in the stranger’s belied the odd inquiry to his health.
“N-n-no?” Lan stammered questioningly. The stranger’s cold gaze weighed him for a long moment, before a brief glance and a nod to his male counterpart.
“We must be certain,” he said with a small step backward, his sword still steady. Lan felt the other stranger’s hands upon him, roughly stripping away his clothing. Finally, he stood naked and shivering, unsure of what he had done to deserve this new fate or what was in store. He was inspected closely, intimately, his body scoured for any mark. Satisfied at last, the counterpart nodded to his leader, whose stance relaxed considerably. Lan was allowed to dress again, but forced to watch Janwen endure the same treatment, his protests and struggles fell upon deaf ears and strong, steady hands.
At last, their clothes back in place, the trio of strangers’ demeanor totally change. Gone were the weapons and murderous intensity. Replacing it were sad eyes and apologies. “I’m sorry to put you through that,” the leader apologized, “I know how difficult the last few days have been for you. I have been there.” Utterly confused and still terrified, Lan & his mother were speechless.
“Better that we find out now if you are injured,” he continued to explain, “You know what happens to those they bite. A quiet death now is a better way to pass. Safer.” He adds, with a pointed look at his female companion. He pulls off his gloves, and extends his hand to Lan, “I am Bortas. My counterpart is Alberic, and my other companion, is Emiree” with a nod to the female. Lan tentatively accepted the firm handshake. His mother received water and food, and soon he was offered the same while the strangers listened to their bizarre tale.
Later, the trio stood guard over Lan & his mother, guarding their sleep. With the rise of the new dawn, the strangers awakened them. They rapidly travelled back towards the village; the trio was firm and determined to end the threat of Lan’s village. Reluctantly, they followed, unable to be alone on the road. By midafternoon, they arrived at the ruins of all he had ever known. Shambling about the town were the fresh remains of his friends. Slowly they meandered, stumbling occasionally. “They are weakened by the light of the sun,” Lan recalls Bortas saying.
At the edge of town, the trio left Lan and his mother with spare weapons, and bravely slipped in to town, quickly, quietly. At first, there was only silence, then a sound reminiscent of the butcher’s shop rang out. The trio began cutting their way through the walking dead, deftly sidestepping the clumsy rush of the risen corpses. But they just kept coming, and sometimes they got to their feet again. The afternoon turned to evening, and the trio began to tire. Lan watched as the dead began to pile up in their rush to get the combatants, the sun dipping below the horizon behind them. As daylight faded, the dead seemed to only gain in strength and ferocity. His eyes met the leader’s gaze briefly; a short nod was directed at land. Then, as if from within, Bortas began to glow, brighter and brighter. It seemed to burn him from the inside; he screamed in pain, the undead shied away from the light. With a final cry of agony, there was a blinding burst of light. When Lan’s eyes adjusted, he saw the leader on his knee, supported only by his sword, exhausted. His two compatriots stood behind him, their guard relaxing, but breathing heavily. Surrounding the trio, twisted broken remains lay strewn all about.
Wearily, he rose to his feet. He extends a hand to each of his compatriots, resting briefly on their shoulders. Tiredly, the walk to the only building still standing, the old tavern The Trickster and the Chalice, the doors barricaded and the windows barred. They break their way in, and are gone for several minutes. When they exit, he meets Lan’s eyes again, giving a sad shake of his head.
They rejoin the pair, and the five of them travel for a time, putting distance between them and dead village. A fire is built, rations are passed out. Emiree offers to stand first watch; the other two nod their assent, and start stripping off their armor, while Lan and Janwen gather fire wood.
Lan heard a cry of outrage from the female back at their camp, “Nooo!” He ran back to camp, the trio was just standing their staring at Alberic, who was looking down at a nasty gash on his forearm at the joint of his armor. Lan did not understand why the stout warrior looked so visibly shaken, why the woman went from outrage to horror to sadness so rapidly.
“Perhaps it is nothing,” the leader suggests softly. She does not seem reassured, and the wounded man doesn’t even seem to have heard him. Bortas extends a gauntleted hand toward the wound, covering it. A soft blue light emanates from under his hand, spreading along the arm. A few long seconds pass, and he removes his hand. The wound looks remarkably better, no longer angry and infected looking around the edges. But the wound is still there, not totally gone. “Perhaps,” he repeats, this time a sad whisper.
Lan tries but can not sleep. His mother snores softly nearby, but Lan watches the woman keeping watch, but just sees her attention on her wounded friend. As he watches, Lan sees what he missed before, the bond greater than a warrior’s mutual respect, but the love forged in the fire of adversity. By morning, the wound looks angry again. The blue light visits the wound again, and improves its state, but not as well as before. He grips the leader’s hand, a fierce whisper, “not yet”. He just stands there, gripping his friend’s hand, not saying anything. “Not yet!” Finally, a slight nod in response.
They gather their belongings woodenly, the camp is silent. Alberic’s arm seems useless; he has a hard time dressing himself, and needs assistance to get his armor on. They walk towards the town of Sirastir, only Alberic rides, hunched over his saddle. Lan feels such confusion, not understanding, and any attempts to engage the trio are abruptly brushed aside.
They give the wounded man some water, and some food, but he vomits the food back up in short order. His color fades, he slumps in his horse, barely able to stay mounted. As evening approaches, they find a new campsite and begin making due. The leader keeps trying to catch Emiree’s eyes, but she is pointedly avoiding him at all costs. Unsure of what to do, Lan and his mother gather firewood again, then refill the water skins.
When they return to camp, Alberic is stripped down and clearly feverish, a damp cloth on his forehead, all but his underclothes stripped. Bortas is squatting next to him, “It was my deepest honor,” he says with intensity. He reaches and clasps the wrist of his friend, but his friend can barely even grip him in return. After a long moment, he rises and turns to Lan and his mother, and ushers them away.
Lan’s last view of the camp is of Emiree rushing towards the prone man. He turns away, and they walk away. The agonizing cry the woman lets out tears at his soul, a sound he can hear clearly until he is very old. They walk for a time, watch the sunset, the land around them at peace. “What is happening?” he asks the armored veteran at last.
The man sighs tiredly, his gaze dips from the horizon to the ground, and he fidgets for a moment. “Sometimes, the injuries the dead inflict upon us, grant us the same fate. Sometimes not, sometimes it can be healed. But if it can’t be healed, no matter how minor, it is always fatal.” He stands straight and looks Lan directly in the eyes, “Always.” He says firmly and with finality. “This is why we had to be sure when we first met you – an infection left unchecked can change a person rapidly, and then they turn on their friends.”
“What will happen to him?” Lan asks, bewildered.
Bortas looks down and spits in frustration. “Always fatal,” he mutters, and trudges back to camp.
“But you healed him, he will be fine!” Lan argues, desperately. But, the stranger doesn’t seem to hear him, determinedly making his way back to camp.
“Not yet!” Emiree cries when she sees their return.
He shakes his head, “It is time.” With Lan’s assistance, they peel the distraught woman off the wounded man. Janwen tries to soothe the sobbing warrior, walking her from the camp. Lan squats down and looks at the stricken man, sees the labored breathing, the loss of skin color. The wound is an angry color; a foul smell surrounds him.
Lan looks up at the ringing sound of steel, Bortas’ sword being pulled from its sheath. “Stand clear, young Lan, his journey is at an end.”
Confused, Lan rises and steps back. “Wait, stop!” he cries, too late. The paladin’s sword rises swiftly, and falls, the point through Alberic’s eye down and through, pinning his head to the ground. Black, foul blood soaks into the ground. Lan angrily confronts the older man, but his arguments are brushed aside.
“One day, you might find understanding, peace, but not today. I hope when you do, you can forgive my perceived transgression. Please understand, I did what had to be done, it is better this way”. He cleans his sword, and loads Alberic’s possessions onto the unused mount. “Perhaps, we should move on.” He suggests and abruptly turns, and starts walking the two horses on, leaving the body near the flames of the campfire.
Lan leaves to find his mother and Emiree, and when the warrior sees him, her sobs renew. “It is time to leave,” he tells the women firmly. The distraught woman nods her agreement, and with Janwen’s help they all walk back to the trail, collecting the remaining horse. Before long, they encounter the leader, walking the two horses slowly ahead, as if making sure they could keep up. They walked for a time, and then Lan pushed to catch up to the tired leader. At first, he seems unaware of Lan’s presence, and Lan would later swear the stoic façade was cracked by a solitary tear. Perhaps it was a trick of the broken moonlight.
Months passed. Janwen found work cooking at The Triumphant Serpent an inn in the large city of Caer Tarielve. Lan followed his gut, and listened to the stranger’s recommendation went to the temple. His eyes now open to the world, he was accepted and trained. Many others were turned away, their view of law and goodness so strict, so narrow so… naive to the reality that surrounds them.
His is training now complete; it is time for him to make his mark on the world. Lan kisses his mother’s cheek good bye, then checks that his saddlebags are secure. “You take care of yourself, Lanmorian,” his mother chides him. He blushes slightly at the admonishing use of his full name. Lan partially unsheathes his sword to be certain it is clear in its scabbard. His eyes pause on Alberic’s old sword briefly, he allows the memories to wash over him, stealing his determination to do what he knows must be done. He mounts and urges the beast in to a slow walk. He looks back at his mother briefly, but her tears make him uncomfortable, and he looks on to the journey at hand.
Eventually, he arrives back in Sirastir and takes a room at The Thief and Mug on the Drunkard’s Passage. He asks briefly around about his old home of Evralas, but no one knows what befell the poor village, only that they avoid it now. He suddenly feels directionless. He drinks from his cup, wondering what he should do now.