Rabbitt's Basement: Rise of Vecna
Paladin of the Silver Flame
Level 8 Paladin, Level 2 Fighter.
Shemuel grew up on the farmlands. The only son of a humble farmer, his father was the only doctor around, and Shemuel found he loved the healing arts far more than farm work. At the age of 18, Shemuel had had enough of farming and moved closer to the city (much to the chagrin of his family, who were left without an heir). There he met a fiery Genasi named Nyra Locke; the two fell in love and were soon married. For a time, Shemuel was content to live near the city with his wife on a small farm, while serving as a doctor in the surrounding farmland. However, as Shemuel would soon learn, all good things must come to an end.
The Kingdom was soon embroiled in war, and Shemuel was conscripted to fight on the frontlines. Shem was eager to prove himself, and just ambitious enough to think that his skills as a doctor would save lives, so he strove to become a medic. But his nominal skill at mending bones and stitching cuts was far outclassed by the magical prowess of the Kingdom’s Clerics.
So, after some months disillusioned with his ‘wasted’ medical experience, Shemuel found purpose in other protective duties. If he couldn’t save lives, he could at least defend them. His self-sacrificial nature and drive to achieve launched his successful career as a guardsman, and soon he was personal guard to the General, Maya Ordos.
By this point Shemuel was nearing 22 years old, and missing the warm touch of his woman more every day. Being a soldier far from home, there were plenty of brothels available, and he fell into multiple affairs at this time. He felt a great deal of shame at this, but never thought it would land him in any serious trouble. After all, everything would be better when he got home.
Oh how wrong he was.
The army was camped as usual outside of a new conquest; a grand, heavily fortified keep. Shemuel and his guardsmen single handedly carved a path for the rams and powder kegs to breach the wall that day, and his leadership was the talk of the town that night. Feeling confident and secure, General Ordos set up office in one of the deep chambers, fortified the keep with several dozen soldiers, locked herself in her office, gave Shemuel the spare key, and sent him and his comrades off to celebrate a job well done.
Shemuel’s buddies, feeling he deserved a treat, took him to a brothel they heard had ‘all those exotic types’ including… a Genasi! As they walked into the place, though, Shemuel brushed by a slight, cloaked figure who was on her way out. Shemuel’s heart froze in his chest as he glimpsed familiar red hair and scarlet skin. The smoldering Genasi quickly threw up her hood, but paused for a moment to glance over her shoulder in Shemuel’s direction. He could have sworn it was his wife; but his friends were beckoning, and by the time he took a second glance, she was gone.
Needless to say, Shemuel’s conscience was set on his wife and that kept him from having any fun (or sleep, for that matter) that night, but the worst was yet to come.
The next morning, when he presented himself for guard duty, he learned that General Ordos had not come out of her office. Not entirely unheard of, but as he went to open the door and give a report, Shemuel realized he didn’t have his key. The general was an early riser and should be out by now. Shemuel called out and quickly had a ram brought to batter down the door…
Ordos was gone. The empty, windowless room was bare, save for a calling card left on the desk: a pair of ice blue knives drawn on leather; one facing up, the other down. It was the symbol of an Assassin’s guild. Someone had bypassed dozens of guards, climbed a tower, kidnapped the General, AND escaped with their hostage, all without a trace.
An investigation was started immediately, and Shemuel was sent home on house arrest until the investigation was completed. Since he was the only other person with a key, Shemuel was a prime suspect. His career was in tatters for the third time in his short life, and the only thing that kept him sane on the journey home was the thought of his wife, whom he hadn’t seen in almost four years.
But tragedy upon tragedy awaited Shemuel when he arrived home. As he mounted the last hill overlooking his little homestead, the smell of charcoal met his nostrils. Horrified, he charged to the top of the hill, and fell to his knees at the sight that met him there. In his absence, his homestead had been torched. There was nothing left of his land, and naught but a charred shell where his home used to be. He couldn’t bring himself to enter, but the guards carried out a woman’s body. Even at a glance, Shemuel could tell many of their bones had been broken, but the cause of death was a severed jugular. Traveling marauders must have come to have their way with his wife, killed her, and then torched the homestead. He would never get to apologize. Never get to see her again… Never feel the warmth of her touch. If only he had been home a week sooner…
Shemuel was kept at an Inn for the duration of the investigation, and though the mystery was never solved, Shemuel was released of all suspicion. An ordinary man would have been broken by this turn of events; but not Shemuel Briarcliff. He knew from experience that every dream comes at a cost. To become a doctor, he was disowned by his family. His time as a soldier and bodyguard required that he be willing to sacrifice even his life.
Now he had been robbed of his home, his wife, and his opportunity to make amends. If the gods required all this from his hand, then he must be bound for something grand, something awesome, something unimaginably important. He seized that thought and clung to it like his life depended on it. And maybe it did; but his faith in this idea staved off the tendrils of madness and despair that were creeping into his mind.
Shemuel immediately set to work as a bodyguard, and, despite his past, quickly made a name for himself as an excellent ward. His work led him from village to village, city to city, and soon he came into the employ of a priest belonging to the order of Pelor named Ehlos. The aged priest saw potential in the young bodyguard, and as they built rapport, Shemuel shared his life story with the old man.
Moved by Shemuel’s indomitable will and self-sacrificial nature, Ehlos took him on and trained him in the ways of Pelor, and Shemuel entered training to become a Paladin.
Shemuel trained in the temple of Pelor for some 6 years before Ehlos was promoted out to Baldur’s gate. Shemuel was assigned protective duty over the man, and took the Oath of Devotion prior to their departure.
Shortly after their arrival at Baldur’s gate, however, Ehlos came into contact with a corrupt politician named Eugene, who offered him an easy life in exchange for spreading propaganda against Eugene’s political rival. The draw a life of ease was too tempting for the aged Ehlos to resist. Shemuel could protect the old man from external threats, but there was nothing he could do to protect him from his own corruption.
Shemuel wrote back to the Temple to have his master examined and stripped of position, by virtue of the fact that he had rejected the tenants of goodness he was sworn to uphold and put personal gain before the needs of the people.
However, Ehlos intercepted the letter and wrote a scathing report to the Temple of Pelor about Shemuel. It was full of lies and misinformation, but Ehlos’ long standing reputation was enough to crush Shemuel’s. The temple promised fair investigation, but Ehlos fired Shemuel anyway, and put him out of work in the city of Baldur’s Gate.
Years ago Shemuel might have cowed to self-pity; but his commitment to righteousness and justice gave him purpose; and most importantly, the greater the sacrifice, the greater the reward. He had given his family up to be a great doctor, his life up for to become the greatest soldier he could, his devotion to become the best husband he could, and his soul to Pelor to become the most devoted Paladin he could. Whatever the cost, he would still continue to strive. He would not be defeated. The greater the sacrifice, the greater the reward.
So Shemuel found himself a Bouncer at a fancy bar in Baldur’s gate. Taking time to raise some money and break free of the city; he was destined for great things. He knew another great trial was just around the corner, but this time, he would be ready.
Events of Ch 1
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