Ragnar & Victor
From Riches to Rags:
Born into a noble family from Hazeldon, the capital of Eldenshire, Ragnar Raolin started his life in the lap of luxury. His family made their fortune during the days of the Kolgrund Empire selling weapons and magical goods. Because of their wealth they quickly came into a place of power. However, that was hundreds of years ago and the family wealth was dwindling. Ragnar’s father had lost the fortune with bad investments into shady schemes. The noble families of the city were quick to cut all ties with house Raolin. His mother quickly disavowed all ties to the family and returned to her own noble line. His father disappeared one day and suddenly at age 12 Ragnar was living on the streets.
Friendship is Rare:
Victor Cloudgarde was also born into a noble family of Hazeldon. His family was one of the older and more powerful noble houses of the shire. Victor was only allowed to play with children from other noble houses and he quickly became good friends with Ragnar from house Raolin. Because they both had no other siblings they were almost like brothers.
Victor was very interested in pursuing the arcane arts. It seemed like he was a natural, picking up the skills even at a young age. But his father was adamant that Victor learn the way of the sword as it was tradition. All men in the Cloudgarde line were to learn how to fight with a sword and master military tactics. Victor couldn’t officially attend the mage’s guild because of this. Many of the teachers would let him sit around in classes and watch during training sessions anyway, happy to help the young lad.
Everything was going well until house Roalin fell out of favor with the other noble families. Ragnar was no longer allowed to visit Victor. However, this did not stop the two friends from seeing one another.
A Brotherly Pact:
At first Ragnar tried to secretly stay with Victor on the Cloudgarde estate. Victor took extra food at meals and let Ragnar stay in his room at night. This worked for about a year until Victor’s mother found out. A non-noble child playing with a Cloudgarde was unacceptable, never mind actually living in the house. She had Ragnar banned from the noble’s quarter. Ragnar got his first real taste of living on the streets. At night Victor would sneak food and supplies to Ragnar, while making trips to the nearby mage’s guild. Eventually Ragnar had to steal and beg to survive.
Despite their now different classes the two children stayed close friends. Victor would help Ragnar whenever possible and in turn Ragnar would tell him grandiose tales of his own adventures on the streets. Victor hated the fact that the shire’s social structure “prevented” them from being friends. This was when the two friends made a pact that they would leave this town when they were old enough. But for now this was how Ragnar lived, that is until Victor’s parents found out that his daily trips to the mage’s guild also included spending time with Ragnar. Fearful that Ragnar was a bad influence on their son, they sent Victor to a very strict military school in the northern province of Warlingtonshire.
The Great Escape:
Victor learned all about combat at the school even though he missed his friend. He didn’t like the school but it wasn’t the worst place. He focused on learning as much as possible. If he learned quickly maybe he could get out of the school faster. Although it didn’t come to that.
Victor had always wanted to study magic and Ragnar knew it. Since it was his fault that Victor was being sent to military school Ragnar decided to use all of his skills to help his friend. He snuck into the Cloudgarde estate and forged a letter that would get Victor out of school and then sealed it using the the Cloudgarde seal. He then stole a courier’s outfit from the estate and set off to help his friend.
After about a year at the military school a courier showed up dressed in the markings of house Cloudgarde. The headmaster at the school informed Victor that the courier had a letter stating that Victor was to come home immediately due to a family emergency. Seeing the courier in the headmaster’s office Victor knew the letter was fake for the courier was Ragnar in disguise! Victor played along with the story until the two of them were on the road heading away from the school. Finally they were free to do as they wanted. With very little money and no real plans Ragnar noticed the traveling circus of Maxius Skoulnst and the two of them applied for a job telling stories and acting in the circus. They figured it was a good way to get around and still make some money.
Traveling with the circus allowed the two of them to see the world (or at least part of it). With every new town Ragnar would try to learn new stories and seek out the best story tellers. This is how he met old man Obthic. He wanted to be like Obthic, an adventurer with real stories of battles and magic!
Byron & Tessarana
A Boy and his Pendant:
Byron was a young child, a boy of maybe four or five, when he was found by a group of performers from the Circus of Splendiferousness. He has little memory of the troupe stumbling upon him, very nearly mistaken for a corpse in ragged clothes among the rushes on the banks of the Brightwood River. He recalls even less from his time before that day.
Uncertain what to do with the boy, Maxius Sklounst gave him to the crew in charge of the circus animals. For the cost of providing a bit of straw to sleep on, three meals, and the occasional article of clothing, Maxius would gain an unpaid laborer. The foreman in charge of the animals was a grisly old man named Jon who had once lost a wife and child during the traumatic birth of his first son. He named the boy Byron after the son he had never had and took him under his wing.For many years, the arrangement worked well. Byron often wondered whence he had come and what the symbol meant around the pendant that he wore. He prayed every night, clutching the pendant, hoping for answers as to who he was.
Along came a Half-elf:
Shortly after Byron celebrated what the circus believed to be his thirteenth birthday, a new woman was hired by the animal handlers. She looked mostly human, but her eyes were an almost unearthly blue and her intricately braided red hair did little to cover the fact that her ears came to an inhuman point. Her name was Tessarana, and she was a half-elf, raised among the elves of the Thunderclap Plains. She had brought with her a young bull elephant that she had tamed from the savanna, and her ability to have it perform tricks that awed the crowds was the primary reason she had been invited to join the illustrious crew.
Tessarana recognized that Byron had a charisma about him that was wasted behind the scenes in the circus, and she also saw that he bore a remarkable resemblance to a renowned adventurer, Rainald the Wizard Bane.
As she learned more about Byron, she slowly began to incorporate him into the elephant act with plans to eventually bring together a group to perform the Ballad of Caius Itifaris, a poem that she had learned from an old adventuring dwarf, about members from a group named Emerald Vengeance who had fought against a dark and powerful mage.
The Gathering of Friends:
After a number of years earning her place among the performers, Tessarana had finally assembled a ragtag group who were willing to perform the Ballad with her. During that time, she and Byron became closer as she taught him how to better care for the animals and how to ride one of Jon’s horses. It was at this time in their friendship that he confided in her about the pendant, showing her the symbol in hopes that she had seen it. Despite her travels, she did not recognize it, but she swore to help him decipher its meaning.
To play Rainald, they enlisted Byron, who even Obthic believed looked like his old friend. For the part of Caius Itifaris, they chose Ragnar’s friend, Victor, whose skills with the arcane arts would enable him to embrace the role of the Eldritch Knight. To play the evil sorcerer, Palenor, they found another bard by the name of Emeric Gibby.
They practiced for many weeks, using Tessarana’s skills with the animals to control the various creatures that fought in the “battle” and Victor’s magical prowess to add dazzling effects. Maxius was impressed.
Their show was to debut in the great amphitheater at New Eldenshire during the circus’ annual visit to the city. The amphitheater was located within the nobles’ quarter of the city, and the wealthiest of the people of New Eldenshire would be attending.
The show went off without a hitch. Rainald and Caius fought valiantly against the evil Palenor but were outmatched. Nearly beaten, they continued to fight in the face of certain defeat, simply trying to hold on until the rest of the Emerald Vengeance could come to their aid. Rainald’s strength was drained by a powerful negative energy, and it was then, when the mighty warrior was unable to aid his friend, that Palenor lashed out at Caius. Palenor summoned a huge lightning bolt and struck Caius through the heart, killing him. Filled with grief and fury, Rainald found a reserve of strength he did not know he possessed and swung his sword. The blade of the weapon sliced Palenor’s head clean from its shoulders, and Rainald became the Wizard Bane.
The crowd went wild with enjoyment at the end of the piece and continued to cheer for the rest of the circus’ acts. Maxius was pleased. The circus packed up and left the next morning.
But they had traveled only a few miles when a courier from the town came. There had been a massive theft. While the nobles had been enjoying the circus, the townsguard had fallen under a powerful sleep spell and the houses had been emptied of valuables worth thousands of gold pieces. The circus was to return immediately to New Eldenshire to meet with an investigation.
Maxius was displeased. He ordered the circus to halt, and he called upon the performers to assemble. Emeric Gibby was missing.
Furious, Maxius brought the remainder of the act into his office. Spittle spraying, he cursed and yelled until he was red in the face but there was no evidence and the rest of the group had no knowledge of what had happened.
With no other recourse, he threw all of them out of the circus. They were given a few minutes to collect their belongings and then they were left on the side of the road, in the custody of the New Eldenshire courier, who had witnessed it all. The courier brought them back to the town, where they spent the night in prison.
It was that night that Tessarana told Byron what she had done. After their act, she had snuck into one of the noble’s homes – not to steal but to look for an ancient tome that she knew the man owned in an impressive collection of rare books. She knew that he would never allow a commoner to view his books, so she had used the cover of the show to break into his library and read. It was there that she found what she was looking for: the meaning of the symbol on Byron’s pendant.
It was an old deific glyph, the symbol of one of the Forgotten Gods: Emos. That was all she knew. The book was too deteriorated and too difficult to decipher in the short time she had.
Tessarana vowed to confess to everything so that the others would be able to go free. She didn’t know about the theft, but it was obvious that Emeric had done the dirty deed. There was no evidence to prove otherwise.
Ragnar would have none of it. Using a bit of parchment and some ink, he was able to quickly put together a voucher from the circus ring leader. It was a promise of payment for duties performed during the show. With the forgery as their alibi, Ragnar and Victor persuaded the magistrate that there was insufficient evidence to hold them against their will. Many of the townsfolk sided with the act, as they had liked the show and hated to see the stars as the bad guys. Though Byron didn’t want to lie, he kept his mouth shut. He could not stand for Tessarana or his new friends to be found guilty for a crime they didn’t commit.
Without ample evidence, the magistrate ruled that the group was not guilty, but as they were troublemakers he banished them from returning to New Eldenshire.
The group headed west along the Lion Tail Path, hoping to find word of Emeric’s location so that they could capture him and clear their names.
And that is when Obthic contacted Byron with a sending.