THE OLD GUARD
Gojun Pye is an aging wizard hero, once renowned for his wizardry, but now an eccentric recluse, unknown to the ruling Vitalions, and forgotten by his own Deiren people. In his younger days, he was a member of a legendary team of adventurers - the Redthorns - along with Hammerhead, though few still remember their heroics.
His greatest feat was the banishment of Szorlok, though even fewer understand the importance of his victory. A friend and peer to the mighty Gojun, Szorlok delved deep into the dark art of necromancy, aided by Gojun as they sought a purer source of power than the component-based magic they practiced. Gojun remains convinced that the power by which the Gods created heaven and earth is within reach of man, if he could only understand the unifying force behind all the elements. Blinded by his own thirst for knowledge, Gojun led Szorlok to ever more terrifying secrets, until at last he saw clearly the evil intent in Szorlok’s heart.
Gojun alone fears and watches for the day when Szorlok returns, intent on reclaiming the Darkspore stolen from him by Gojun.
Gojun serves as mentor and magical guide to Marek. At first he pities her only as an orphaned girl, but as her powers grow and her innate necromancy is revealed, his task is to discover whether Marek is destined to save the world, or bring it to its knees.
The son of a Deiren king, Szorlok became obsessed with the dark art of Necromancy as a means to protect his people from the Vitalion invasion. He delved deep into arcane practices, aided by an eager group of acolytes, and another powerful wizard - Gojun Pye. When Szorlok discovered the secret of the Darkspore - the obsidian heart of the long dead Lich King - he unlocked the key to his immortality and world domination. In an unholy ceremony, he murdered his acolytes to fuel the Darkspore, but was stopped short through the heroic efforts of Gojun Pye, who turned on Szorlok once his evil intentions became clear.
Szorlok, betrayed and broken, was captured by the Vitalions, who crucified him on the city wall. Szorlok slipped into legend when his body disappeared. Some dismissed him as dead, while the more astute, like Gojun Pye, have been watching for his return. Szorlok has secretly consolidated his power among the Golgotians, an opposing empire across the sea, and has achieved status and leadership among them, recruiting them to his cause.
Szorlok poured much of his power and soul into the Darkspore, and yearns after it with an insatiable lust. He has a single-minded goal - to reforge the broken Darkspore, and complete his metamorphosis into the Lich King, with the power to reanimate the dead into an unsleeping, unflinching undead legion. When he becomes aware of Marek, a natural-born necromancer with inherent power granted by the Darkspore, his interest and desire are piqued. If he can harness her power, he will be truly unstoppable. If she were to oppose Szorlok, she may be the only power that can stand in his way...
A cunning, battle-hardened dwarf warrior, Hammerhead is a retired member of the legendary Redthorns, though he was better known as Orrin Tuck in those glory days. Now he's keeper of Hammerhead’s Inn, a seedy tavern at the crossroads of the world, where heroes and villains gather to enlist on new quests. Hammerhead knows everyone worth knowing, and has a finger in every pie, and as such, is the dispenser of knowledge and contracts for bounty. When there's a job to do that not even the Thieves Guild will take, come to Hammerhead’s. For fortune seekers, Hammer’s big board of quests is the gateway to glory (or untimely death).
Hammerhead is no respecter of persons, and cares only for gold now, though he was once a mighty adventurer, and a revered leader amongst his own kind, before his clan was annihilated by the invading Vitalions. Deep beneath his callous exterior a hero still lies, waiting for the day when he will gather and reunite the dwarves and rebuild his kingdom. He cannot be trusted, except to do what benefits him most.
Hammerhead’s innkeeping assistant (Rawhead) is a scrawny, disfigured orc, about as pathetic as a creature gets, but in reality a brilliant partner and close friend to Hammerhead, having saved Hammer’s life when his airship crashed in the frigid mountains of the Ice Giants.
THE YOUNG UPSTARTS
Marek is a club-footed slave girl who dreams of becoming a great wizard. She does drudge work in an apothecary shop under a cruel master, Vagamal, but fortunately has all the components she needs to practice magic right at her fingertips. She has the intelligence and drive to rise above her station, but is cursed (some would say gifted) with a dark, innate aptitude for necromancy - the magic of death and the Undead.
As a child, Marek was abandoned and sold into servitude when she came of age. Only a few are aware of Marek’s parentage, but know nothing of her arcane endowment. Gojun has watched Marek from a distance over the years, more out of pity than any sense of her destiny. He humors her by teaching her bits of magic, and leads her on a path which might some day free her from a life of menial servitude.
Marek is enthralled by adventurers - the entrepreneurs of her world; men and women who carve out their own destiny by throwing society aside and heading out into the wild lands on epic quests for riches and glory. Marek dreams of starting her own team of heroes, and talks of it constantly with Egan-- the apprentice boy of the apothecary. But her deep-rooted insecurities about her own fitness for the task hold her back. Despite all her talent, she cannot imagine anyone ever taking up with a cripple girl, and fears the repercussions of being a runaway slave (dismemberment, torture, crucifixion… to name a few).
Fate has its own agenda though, and Marek is compelled to the life of a renegade when, during a cruel beating, she unwittingly unleashes her necromancy upon her master. Marked as a dangerous criminal and runaway, she is thrust into the world of mercenaries and fortune seekers, and puts together a team of misfits who must prove themselves heroes as they become entangled in Szorlok’s plot to unite the four shards of the Darkspore and subjugate the world to his tyranny.
Marek’s intentions are good, but she constantly battles the inner demons of her tainted birth. In her desire to save her friends and achieve their goals, Marek resorts to her life-stealing powers of necromancy, which corrupt her and darken her soul, a growing danger to the very friends she wishes to save. She wants to become a great wizard hero, like Gojun Pye, but needs to destroy the Darkspore before it consumes her. Having grown up an orphan, Marek desperately needs familial connection and love in her life, but her dark heritage constantly drives a wedge between herself and those she loves. She seems destined to loneliness and despair. Marek was raised an orphan slave, and somehow worsens her circumstances by turning outcast and outlaw. All hope of peace and freedom for Marek lies in the obliteration of the Darkspore, but with her soul inextricably bound to the crystal, therein also might lie her destruction.
An innocent and pure-hearted young priestess, Teela appears to embody all the virtues: self-control, patience, kindness, empathy, chastity. She is a loremaster and healer, drawing on the power of her Goddess (Ana-Sett) to perform miracles of healing and protection. Once the daughter of a minor nobleman, Teela ran away from home to join her sister Caeryn at the Temple of Ana-Sett, to avoid being sold by her father for a tract of land.
Teela's exterior poise conceals the constant mental and spiritual battle she wages; caught between a very real and jealous Goddess, and her own desire and longing for love and mortal companionship. Teela’s vow of chastity (which was all fine and good when cloistered in a temple with geriatrics) is tested to its limits, far from the temple, fighting alongside strapping, virile men, healing them, touching them... The Goddess Ana-Sett demands absolute fidelity, and she punishes Teela for the slightest infractions by withdrawing Her love, protection and power, leaving Teela frightened and alone and unable to heal her friends, often at the least opportune moments.
A half-elf rogue, despised by elves and mistrusted by humans, Dagen is perfectly at home in the shifting sands of society, whether seedy or civilized. Well-known to every whore, pimp and cut-purse (having dabbled in each) Dagen operates outside even the strict code of the Thieves Guild, which puts him at odds with magistrate and thief alike.
Dagen gets through life on his good looks, his charm and his wit. And when those fail, he is handy with a dagger and longbow, though a quick (and often acrobatic) escape is always preferable. He is a creature of pure instinct, unbridled by the common constraints of humanity such as morality, compassion or fear of the Gods. He is just the sort of scoundrel beloved by rich, older women seeking the spice of life, and it is this pursuit which finally lands him in true danger. Having been caught cuckolding the Magistrate, Dagen must escape town in a hurry, and Marek’s band of misfits is a fortuitous exit strategy. The only problem for Dagen, and his care-free existence, is the unexpected and irresistible allure of Marek.
Marek is dangerous, dark and damaged with a sprinkling of insecurity and desperate need. Dagen can’t help but love her, and follow her, despite his natural instinct towards self-preservation and a free spirit. His braggadocio masks his own secret need - to be loved and accepted on his own merits. A bastard child, unwanted and outcast, Dagen has been without home and family his whole life, much like Marek, and must learn loyalty, trust and teamwork to earn the love and respect of his comrades.
Thane is a grizzled warrior and veteran of many wars. As a Vitalion soldier, Thane has marched across the known world, killing and conquering, and is now stationed in a muddy backwater in Deira - the veritable armpit of the Empire. Disillusioned with his path in life, Thane seeks fulfillment in drink and violence.
Despite the drink, Thane is unable to shake his sense of duty, and when he rescues Marek from illegal capture by Peregus Malister and his thugs, a corrupt Magistrate condemns him to die. His entire way of life is overturned, his ideals are shaken, and Thane finds himself entangled in Talyn’s conflicted destiny, forcing him to face the harsh realities of the world of outlaws and mercenaries as he falls in with the renegade Marek, comitting himself to a life of adventure with her.
But the Outlands are a moral labyrinth in shades of gray for a man such as Thane. Where he once thrived under the rule of law, chaos now reigns. Through their lawless and often desperate experiences, Thane must embrace a new moral code if he is to help Marek find her way as she is beset on all sides by the darkness.
They don’t make them much slimier than Peregus Malister. He is cruel, arrogant and petty, without a shred of compassion. He has worked his way into a position of influence in the Thieves Guild through corruption and murder, and is proud of his achievements. He loves nothing but money and power, and has gained both through his main line of business, human trafficking.
Vain and petty man that he is, Peregus never forgets an insult or forgives a wrong . He will see any perceived slight repaid ten-fold; no matter how long or how hard, he will hunt you down. With both Marek and Thane having fallen afoul of Peregus, he proves a constant threat to their lives, and each time they beat him down, he comes back harder, meaner, more vindictive… like honey badger - Peregus just takes what he wants.