Campaign of the Month: October 2010
Wyrmshadow Campaign Setting
A confident master of sorcery. A cold heart with a dark past. A shining example of redemption.
When first recruited for the war effort against the Shadow Knight, Silas Vale was already a secret apprentice to the mysterious sorcerer named Ma’Thius PaVayne, though he had yet to don the trademark blood-red cloak and scythe of his master’s doctrine. It would not be until later, after Sir Drogyn had retired, when Vale would fully embrace PaVayne’s influence and don the cloak and scythe of the Reaper.
A human of average height and build, Silas wore a suit of plated chainmail under his blood-colored hooded cloak, with dark brown leather gloves and boots, several pouches lining his belt, and his ever-present scythe, a wicked weapon with a faintly glowing orb at the point where the blade met the handle.
Through much of his career as the Reaper, prior to his death at the end of Wyrmshadow: Good Intentions, Vale was rarely seen outside the presence of his watchful familiar, the dire raven named Vicious. Vicious was an oversized, brutish raven with eyes that reflected in stark blood red. Later, Vicious was capable of growing to giant size, further increasing his dreadful, horrifying presence.
Later, as Vale would become the new God of Death, he would take on an appearance more in keeping with his divinity, emitting a crimson, ethereal glow and sprouting black raven-like wings and a dazzling circle of lightning as his halo. He would also occasionally appear as a fleshless skeleton in long, flowing, black robes, quite similar to the appearance of his divine predecessor, Nerhul.
Silas Vale was born in the Year of the Phoenix 1,968 in a trade village on the road between the city of Imperia and the Frauss Ferry. His father was a jeweler and goldsmith in the employ of the Emperor’s treasury, aiding in appraisals and refitting the spoils of the Emperor’s many conquests for use as gifts for his triumphant knight-generals and their families. For all his work, however, Corbin Vale was not a wealthy man, and most of young Silas’s youth was spent in a state varying from minor spats of prosperity to outright poverty.
Silas was rather flighty as a child, given to hyperactivity, and had a tendency to raise the ire of some of the local townsfolk due to his overactive imagination, rampant curiosity, and utter lack of inhibitions. He became known as something of a menace to the parents of his fellow students at Ms. Charlotte’s Schoolhouse, but he was quite popular with the students themselves… especially the girls. Silas’s natural bravery made him stand up to any bullies or blowhards without hesitation. Whereas the adults in town often referred to Silas as “the Terror”, his peers often referred to him as “the Hero.” These would be extremes to which Silas would alternate throughout the rest of his life.
In the year 1,975 YP when Silas was seven years old he manifested a great wellspring of magical ability at an all-too-early age. Usually such skills had to be learned through years of intense study, but Vale was a natural sorcerer, and soon he began to gain the notice of visitors to the village from the city of Imperia. His parents, proud though they were of their son’s abilities, wanted Silas to gain the insight of adulthood before being thrust into the life of a magician. When a man came to their doorstep and asked to see the child he had heard so much about, Corbin refused, saying that his boy was not a spectacle or an exhibit. When the man offered money, enough money to pay off the loan on the Vale homestead and buy Corbin his own jewelers shop in town, just for a glimpse of what the boy could do, Corbin still refused, saying his son’s innocence held no fee great enough. The man responded ominously, saying that there was no such thing as incorruptible youth. However, his wife Anna, believing that it was the right thing to do, allowed the man to visit with Silas while his father was away in Imperia working on repairs to the Empress’s royal crown.
It was a visit that Silas Vale would remember nothing about, but one that would change this vibrant child’s life forever.
Staying true to his word, the man paid Anna Vale an impressive sum for the brief moments spent studying Silas’s abilities. He then left, and Anna had to figure out how to explain the money to Corbin when he arrived home the next day. However, it was not a problem she would have to deal with anyway, for on the night of Corbin’s return home, he was followed to their door by a robber, forced at knife point into the house. Rushing Silas out the back door and into the wooded hills beyond the Vale lands, Anna heard the brief, horrendous strain of her husband’s last word: “Run!” Silas struggled out of his mother’s arms and ran back to aid his father, Anna screaming at him to come back, chasing after him in tears.
When Silas arrived, he found his father dead on the floor, meeting his vacant gaze. Then, the words of the man who visited the day before echoed in his mind: “When you see the eyes of Death, you will already be mine.” The memory of those words faded and Silas fell to the floor, clinging to consciousness, unable to look away from his father until Anna arrived to scoop him up and remove him from the scene of her husband’s murder.
The next morning, Sir Kelvan Oakburne and his partner, Drogyn Martok, arrived to investigate the murder of Corbin Vale. Silas was not able to speak, a common ailment to children forced to witness such a traumatic thing as a family member’s death. For this reason, Drogyn felt a kinship with the boy, having lost his grandfather under similarly senseless circumstances, and asked Sir Oakburne for the opportunity to spend some time with Silas and try to get him to open up. Sir Oakburne knew that Drogyn, already twenty-five and recently knighted had been studying under the priests of the Order of Hyronius to become a paladin. Therefore, he decided to let Drogyn mediate with the Vale boy while he surveyed the scene, questioned any witnesses, and gathered evidence.
Anna had found the satchel of money left behind by the burglar and, out of fear that the constabulary would confiscate the money as evidence, money they would now desperately need, Anna decided to keep the money hidden and avoid bringing up the man that had come to visit the previous day. Though Drogyn did manage to get Silas to open up about his father’s death, all he could get the child to say was “Death already has me.” It was haunting to Drogyn, but he understood the grief and confusion of such a tremendously stressful event in a young boy’s life. Silas revealed a bit of his magical abilities, purely by instinct, when he used a cantrip spell to tie his unlaced shoe before Drogyn’s eyes. Impressed, Drogyn struck up a conversation about magic, which somehow cheered Vale up enough to talk about something other than the death of his father.
Before Sir Oakburne left, declaring the case open but unsolved, Silas asked Drogyn if they could be friends. Drogyn placed a hand on Silas’s shoulder, looked the boy squarely in the eyes, and said “With almighty Hyronius as my witness, not a force in all of Wyrmshadow could sever our bond of friendship, Silas Vale. You have my word and my oath. Do I have yours?”
Silas smiled and agreed, swearing to be friends with Drogyn Martok forever, no matter the circumstances. That oath, whether Silas knew it or not, carried incredible weight, as the two would grow to become incredible friends, even when others might become the bitterest of enemies. It was an oath that would truly go unbroken for all time to come.
After three years of mourning, Anna Vale met a wealthy Imperian man and remarried, moving Silas to his new home in the Imperian District of Ouldengaard. Silas had become a shut-in during the remainder of his childhood, no longer the outgoing child, haunted for nearly a decade over the death of his father. Though he was brilliant, he neglected his studies, preferring to read in private, preferring to be left alone. In angst over her son’s diminishing mental state, Anna enrolled Silas in the military academy in nearby Eastgates. Her hopes were that Silas would blossom, overcoming this dark phase in his young life.
Anna Vale would never see or hear from her son Silas again.
In his second year of study, Silas was assigned to Master Valdoran in the Arcane Response Militia (ARM). Silas was happiest in ARM as he had ever been, his talents in magic encouraged and respected rather than feared and misunderstood. One of his instructors, a man named Ozymaris Locke, took a particular interest in Silas, promoting him far sooner than was usual, earning the young sorcerer a wealth of ardor from the Imperian Emerald Guard. Before long, Vale was selected for service in a unit of the Emerald Guard at the age of sixteen, two years earlier than anyone else had such a distinction. It was in this unit when Silas would be reunited with his old friend, Drogyn Martok.
Prior to leaving for his first engagement with Sir Drogyn’s unit, Ozymaris Locke and Master Valdoran pulled Vale to the side to introduce him to their master. Vale was confused, as he believed that Master Valdoran, as ARM Commander General, was the highest-ranked wizard in Imperia. However, they revealed that they were students of the greatest spellcaster of all time, the legendary Ma’Thius PaVayne. PaVayne said that Silas had grown much since they last met, but Vale had no recollection of ever meeting PaVayne. The old wizard simply smiled, telling Vale that his progress would be followed closely, and that nobody must know that he was now a direct student of PaVayne. Vale agreed, excited at the prospect of such a legendary caster taking interest in his education.
Sir Drogyn welcomed Silas to his unit, their first mission together an armed escort of Princess Yliah of Quae Elfien back to the Northern Quae border. Sir Drogyn’s unit was essentially there as backup for the main group, led by the Emerald Knight, Sir Nathan Gellar. It was the first time Silas had ever met Gellar, but the knight had an incredible reputation, and he was once again overwhelmed by the odds of joining Sir Drogyn’s unit just as it went on a mission with Sir Gellar. In fact, another member of the unit, a bard named Paschall Kane, teased Vale that he had only been sent to spy on Sir Gellar for the ARM, an assertion Sir Drogyn and Sir Gellar dismissed as absurd. Sir Drogyn was just as awestruck as Silas and the rest, actually. Gellar was undoubtedly the most accomplished and powerful soldier in the Imperian forces, and held the title of Emerald Knight at such a young age as a result.
Paschall Kane was the only casualty of the mission, which otherwise went without incident. The reports said that Kane was on watch when he suddenly became abnormally hostile, ran into the swamps of the Bogmire, and wasn’t found until days later, his body stripped of all arms and armor, hung from a tree by his entrails, a warning to stay out of Bogmire carved into his flesh. Sir Gellar stayed behind to investigate while Sir Drogyn’s group completed the quest to escort Princess Yliah back to her family in Quae Elfien. It would never occur to Silas or Drogyn that Paschall died because he stumbled upon the truth of Silas’s reason for being promoted so quickly and placed so hastily into this unit.
Upon returning to Imperia, news reached Sir Drogyn’s group that violent insurgents ion the island of Freel were raiding Imperian colonies built there after the previous war twenty years prior. These colonies were a part of the treaty ending the Impero-Freelian War, and the raids were an act of war. The Imperian Emperor ordered all main forces to amass on and around Freel for an intense, full-force invasion. Sir Drogyn’s unit was assigned to the haunted mist-fields of Fen Elghann along the western continental border, the shores of which could be used as a staging ground for a Freelian naval invasion. Boris Silverstem, another member of Drogyn’s unit, wanted to stop in Bogmire to continue the investigation into the loss of Paschall Kane, as the two had been good friends ever since Boris joined Drogyn’s unit during the Orc Uprisings of 1,978 YP. Drogyn agreed to allow Boris and two others to break off and investigate for a period not to exceed seven days, after which they would have to report to Fen Elghann in compliance with the Emperor’s orders.
Silas Vale was eager to gain the trust and admiration of his fellow troops, so he volunteered to join Boris in his hunt for Kane’s murderers. Boris, Vale, and the elven pikewoman Laurelynne Gyldaire, split off from the rest of Sir Drogyn’s unit as they headed into the forests of Ilras, veering toward the Eastern Bogmire where Sir Gellar reported the trail of Paschall Kane’s killers went cold. After three days of searching, Silas discovered latent magical energies that betrayed the killer’s more of escape, a dimension door. There was also a distinct smell on the wind, fouler than even the dank Bogmire itself: a smell of excrement and human filth potent enough to sting the eyes and wrench the stomach. Fearing that they were under a stinking cloud spell, Silas attempted to dispell the foul odor, but as Boris pointed out, it was on the wind. Upon reaching the scavenger’s town of Blakhmere on the Eastern shore, it was already the seventh day of their trek. Drogyn would be expecting them back. For their efforts, they did gain the name of a hideous smelling druid who had passed through Blakhmere nearly a month before, the stench of whom still clung to the town like a pox. The man’s name was Tempake. For now, it was all Boris and Silas would gain from the trek. However, the journey did serve to form a solid bond between the young Vale and Boris, a bond that would see much strain over the coming years.
Upon rejoining Sir Drogyn’s unit in Fen Elghann, Silas would see first-hand Drogyn’s prowess as a leader of men. A large Freelian invasion fleet had made landfall near the edge of the Cape of Sau in the South. Sir Osar Argentix, a contemporary of Sir Drogyn’s and fellow knight in service to Imperia, had merged his forces with that of Sir Drogyn in order to rout this invasion force and drive them back to the seas. In what would become known as the Battle of Whirlwater, Sir Osar led a majority of Imperian forces South to pin the Freelians on the peninsula and into the Cape itself. Meanwhile, Drogyn led a smaller, elite group along the Ragged River to the Whirlwater Falls, the most powerful, tallest waterfall in all of Wyrmshadow. The Freelians would not expect a force to come from that direction. Using Lodestones charged with a modified form of the Feather Fall spell, Sir Drogyn essentially invented the concept of para-troopers, rowing canoes to the edge of the falls only to have the Lodestones activated just as the canoes began to fall, archers rising over the boat’s edges to rain arrows down on the Freelian forces pinned in the cape below. Imperian losses were few, Freelians lost a great many, and the invasion was successfully routed.
It was the year 1,989 YP at the farthest point they could get from Imperia, that word reached Sir Drogyn of the end of this war, and the beginning of another. Someone calling himself the Shadow Knight had slaughtered the royal family and assassinated the Emperor, declaring himself the ruler of not only Imperia but of the entire world of Wyrmshadow. The Freelians were released to return to their island, Sir Drogyn seeing no purpose in keeping them captive. In response, a large contingent of the Freelians volunteered to join Sir Drogyn’s unit in their efforts to retake Imperia from the Shadow Knight. The eighteen-year-old Silas Vale felt overwhelmed by all this, but was reassured by Sir Drogyn and Boris that everything would be fine if they stuck together.
Over the next nine months, Silas got more and more secret visits from Master PaVayne, and the effects of these visits began to manifest in a more dour, aggressive Silas Vale. Sir Drogyn chalked it up to war’s effect on youth, but Boris was concerned that it may have been something a bit more substantial. However, until the Shadow Knight was dealt with, there was naught to be done about Vale’s accelerating personality issues. Vale grew ten times more powerful in the nine months of war against the Shadow Knight’s forces, but still the resistance fighters grew weaker and the Shadow Knight’s empire grew greater by the day. At one point, over 70% of the globe was in the Shadow Knight’s control.
MORE BIO TO COME!