From the Z-file: Sindisuentha

Thursday, August 21, 2008 - 6:10 PM

Note: Yes, why not? Another one from Tirilan's entourage. I promise the next post won't be another NPC.

The Aluvasein people sprawl across the lower half of the Talad region, across a wide variety of terrain, and with them are a wide scattering of customs which are long forgotten or much changed by their neighbors or their far more prominent ethnic relatives in Leandr. Half hidden by some broken marshes and treacherous barrow-mound riddled land, the province known as Blackshield spent generations apart, originally a settlement built around a keep for a war that ended ages past. But the people of Blackshield maintained their martial traditions for quite some time afterwards, being the sons and daughters of soldiers, and still having the hot Leandrite blood in them.

In more recent generations, many of the old customs have drifted away, and the once-strong regard for the landed families has grown sour. New, safe roads from the Aluvasein merchant lords opened Blackshield up, bringing with them new ideals and new prejudices against the “antiquated and often vicious” older customs.

Sindisuentha, born Lady Sindisuentha 'shtoyan Kazothmar, grew up in a society that barely recognized her nobility and had grown to regard her family with great suspicion and loathing. In past ages, the Kazothmar family had been the hereditary keeper of the shield for which the province was named, and had the once-vaunted and much dreaded honor to be the commanders of a large force of undead soldiers. These soldiers were originally regarded as the last of the last resorts to defend Blackshield. Over the years, the Army of the Broken Shield was used less as a defense and more to resolve border disputes or blood debts in symbolic combat; two members of the Kazothmar family would split the force, representing the two sides in a conflict, and send the already-dead troops to battle against each other. This ritual warfare also became an annual event, in a battle recreating the glory of past days when Blackshield province was still a place of war. The Kazothmar family became historians and morticians, antiquarians whose duty was to keep the burial grounds safe and occasionally assist in disputes of heredity or heraldry. But within the family, the old Kazothmar obligations were always taken seriously, and heirs of the line all the way to Sindisuentha were taught to be generals and warriors. Those who showed the proper sign, the unusually cold presence that was indicative of power over the dead, would be given the arcane training so that they could raise the Army of the Broken Shield.

Unfortunately, prejudice against any form of necromancy began to strangle the Kazothmar reputation three generations before Sindisuentha. By the time she was a young woman, the house was all but broken. Rumors of foul practices in the family made her a pariah, and though no one would call it anything but an accident, she was certain that the arrow that killed her father had been intended for him. Though she endured the continuing slanders, wearing her bloodline like armor, this only infuriated the people of Blackshield. They called her a proud monster, among other things, and eventually, they brought an ultimatum to her and the remains of her family: be banished and forfeit all lands and wealth, or be burned as a corpse-eater.

Sindisuentha's mother and uncle both died in the ensuing siege on the modest Kazothmar manor. She and her three siblings escaped, running off into the marshes to hide, and it was there that she raised the remainder of the Army of the Broken Shield, bringing it back to wage a guerrilla war against the rest of Blackshield, which was now bolstered by Aluvasein caravaner guards and mercenaries. Acquitting herself very well for her age and experience, particularly in her knowledge of local terrain and use of ambushes, things would not have gone well for her except that Tirilan and some of his allies arrived on a back road into Blackshield. He'd come looking for the lore of the Kazothmar family, and with his assistance, Sindisuentha salvaged what was left of her family inheritance. Sacrificing most of her undead soldiers to make the people of Blackshield content that she was defeated and gone, she and her siblings went with Tirilan, heading southward. She is the head of the Kazothmar family, now, and she intends to eventually return to Blackshield and take back what is hers... eventually.

About Sindisuentha:

Still a young woman, Sindisuentha had to grow up very fast. She's killed, and she will likely kill again; at this point, she regards it as a natural part of being a Kazothmar. Her pride in her family line is considerable, and she adheres to the family codes of honor fastidiously, which is one reason Tirilan is happy to have her as an ally. Likewise, she admires and idolizes Tirilan, and she's been caught up in his vision of the Black Sun. This is particularly true after her discovery of references to the Black Sun as part of her own heraldry (the Kazothmar's very first coat of arms, from nearly a thousand years ago, was a black sun on a purple field, which is why Tirilan originally went to Blackshield).

Sindisuentha has grand ambitions. She has been released from a very dusty corner in her life, and through this liberation has decided that all dreams are possible. She is a voracious learner, highly competitive and firmly believes that the harder she tries, the more she will achieve. Also believing that being in Tirilan's army fulfills the destiny of her family line, she is firmly set in her loyalties. This is combined with her need to behave with honor and aplomb. She strives to always act with restraint, decorum and dignity.

Though a hard-eyed general on the battlefield, Sindisuentha loves indulging her refined tastes. She sees no reason why a woman of her standing should not enjoy creature comforts if not actively on campaign... and sometimes, why not on campaign? Likewise, her undead soldiers are clean, wearing well-polished armor and even have dress uniforms. She very much enjoys Tirilan's penchant for holding courtly events, and makes a great effort to look as good as she possibly can when meeting others.

Sindisuentha's view of the world is through a rather romantic lens, where she is becoming a legend, and subconsciously, she expects things to progress as a story would. Her honor and her family line are matters of foremost importance, and she thinks the age of the Black Sun will bring the Kazothmar heritage into the glory it deserves. Her vision is that the Kazothmar will become rulers of a kingdom as well as protectors, and she believes that Tirilan is lighting the way.

She is not so naïve as to think that this sort of dream can be achieved cleanly.

Despite her shades of gray philosophy, Sindisuentha is troubled by some of Tirilan's other allies. She knows some of them follow Tirilan only for personal power, not for some greater purpose and certainly not through any real loyalty to him. She is confident in Tirilan's judgment, however, and believes implicitly in his decisions.

Of course, that his allies deal with undead doesn't bother her at all. What does bother her is the lack of people who could be close friends.

As written, Sindisuentha represents a very aggressive, eager part of Tirilan's following. Though she is a necromancer of sorts, she is not evil, and offers a very fresh, very alive sort of contrast to some of his others. Her competitive nature and honorable behavior are also a fine foundation for some wonderful interactions with heroes opposing Tirilan. She will, after all, accept an honorable surrender.

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From the Z-File: Tirilan

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 - 3:07 PM

To understand Tirilan, one must first look at his mother, Jolani. A midwife and dragon-line scholar of the Durzani people, Jolani had a husband who was rich and powerful. Though she was a successful midwife, Jolani could not bear children of her own, and her work as a midwife began to dwindle after her marriage. The Durzani are strong believers in sympathetic magic, and a midwife who cannot herself bear children was an ill omen. Further, as time went on, her husband kept her only out of honor and respect for her and her family.

As a result, Jolani was often left alone for long periods of time, and accumulated a huge library of books on various subjects. Reading on metaphysics and magic is a tradition for high-born Durzani women, and she pursued this avidly to help her forget her shame. In her solitude she was discovered by a rather notorious magician who, walking unseen, was struck by her talent and her hunger for a better life. He inducted her into Forsaking, the strange unlife-seeking cult of necromancy, gave her the tools to continue, and then guided her to a new home where he intended her to be another tool of his own.

Unfortunately for him, his enemies discovered his location, and he was forced to flee. Left to her own devices, Jolani became the head of a large Forsaker cult, and her quiet madness was matched by her brilliance. She believed that her teacher had been her husband, off on matters of importance, and was obsessed with producing an heir for him. In Jolani's delusions, she tried many things, her powerful maternal instinct warped by the Forsaker teachings.

Eventually, Tirilan was born, cold and dead, but life was breathed into him.

As a young man, Tirilan was sent north to the Sarcophagus near Urakh, to learn further and seek out information Jolani needed for her own work. He went there with a small group of trusted Forsakers, but when he returned some while later, his mother and nearly all of his 'family' were destroyed (PCs happen). He recovered what he could, performed proper funeral rites for his mother, and left the catacombs he'd played in as a boy. Though his mother had impressed upon him the envy and hatred of the world, finding his home in ruins had made that hatred real. Tirilan realized that in order to carry on his mother's legacy, he must be prepared to meet the animosity of the world head-on.

So, Tirilan began to travel to places his mother had referenced in her work, gathering up knowledge relating to unlife, undeath, mortality and similar topics. Along the way, many were swept up in the wake of his personable, passionate nature and the strength of his purpose, which had grown to be far more than a need to learn.

As a boy, Tirilan had increasingly frequent and vivid dreams about the rise of a black, seething sun that cast shadows in indescribable shades of darkness. These dreams filled him with wonder and exultation, and in later dreams, he saw himself in armor, flying a wide, white banner, while an army marched behind him. The black sun would rise further into the sky the further he and his army marched. While studying in Urakh, he discovered a brief reference in a decrepit document about the 'signs of the Black Sun', and he was astounded and intrigued. From then on, he dedicated himself to martial arts as well as the esoteric, moving research of the Black Sun to the top priority.

Tirilan's study of the Black Sun has long since turned to devotion and conviction. The more he discovers about the Black Sun, the more he believes he is its herald, the one who will return the unlight of the Black Sun to the world and balance out the sun which currently exists. He intends to destroy the shackles of life and death. Though originally he was regarded with a great deal of skepticism, Tirilan has evinced the ability to call miracles from the Black Sun. The more he studies it, the more he uncovers about it and the more people he convinces of its power and importance, the more powerful he gets.

As a result, Tirilan has become the center of a fractured cult, composed of Forsakers, undead, necromancers of all sorts, and those who are merely interested in such things as spiritualism and life beyond the borders of death. His utter faith in the Black Sun along with a tremendous force of personality and years of arcane study have drawn the interest of many, and Tirilan's following continues to increase.

Given that Tirilan's closest followers organize themselves in a militant fashion, there is considerable worry about what the Black Sun might call Tirilan to do next. This worry has spread to some who follow him, also, and there have been a couple of attempts on Tirilan's life.

Notes on Tirilan:

Tirilan's mother was highborn Durzani, and she raised her son to be a gentleman, a warrior and a scholar. He was thoroughly educated in literature, arts, sciences and courtly manners. The importance of honor and courtesy were impressed upon him. He is unfailingly polite, sometimes almost deferential in his manner, and adheres strongly to a chivalrous code of conduct. Those who meet him are often astonished by his open, generous bearing, and his attention to formality and social ritual.

However, Tirilan's philosophies come from a Forsaker background. His mother treated her controlled undead as if they were her children, and after his birth, the undead were his family. When he learned dance, his partners were undead. His playmates as a boy were often undead, as well. Now, the ones that he creates or controls are his friends and sworn protectors, and even the mindless ones are accorded a certain respect. Tirilan has no problem with creating and consorting with the dead, pressing evil spirits into his service or killing those who would impede his quest. If his enemies meet him with courtesy and fairness, he'll fight them accordingly, but the horrors he inflicts on traitors are enough to discomfit some of the necromancers in his following.

Thus, Tirilan is a study of bizarre contrasts between a reserved and genteel noble and a death-obsessed necromantic templar. He holds salons of philosophical and arcane debate, teaches courtly manners and arts to his followers, and pays artisans well for their work. But he also recruits from crypts and graveyards, tortures and then binds the spirits of those who defy him, and fills his court with the walking dead. He treats women and children in particular with generosity and profound respect, even though he knows that many of them will die when the Black Sun rises. He kills those who torture the helpless, but he often recruits from some of the darker corners of necromantic study.

Tirilan himself is efficient, very intelligent and a born leader. He is filled with the certainty of his quest, though he does not yet completely understand the Black Sun's purpose, and he acknowledges that he has much to learn. It is a mistake to think of him as a fanatic; Tirilan approaches his faith with an open mind, and he rarely loses his temper. He is a clever strategist, and very good with people (at least, those who can get past some of his affectations). He has an astonishingly casual attitude towards the macabre, and has absolutely no fear of death except as an inconvenience to his plans. Supremely confident in his duties to the Black Sun, Tirilan may seem arrogant, but he ultimately regards himself as a true knight-protector; a servant, not a master. His friends find him completely trustworthy, and so do his enemies.

As written, Tirilan is focused on raising a great army in order to seize lore that is being hoarded or otherwise kept from him, and to secure a hold for the faith of the Black Sun. To that end, he is actively drawing in as many allies as he can from various ostracized communities, schools of magic, and outcast priesthoods. Though it disgusts him to associate with certain sorts of necromancer, he weeds out those he can and makes use of the rest. He is secretly committed to slaughtering the most wicked of them when his work is done. Tirilan is meant to be the honorable but relentless adversary, someone that the heroes could easily respect as much as they fight against him.

Some of his lackeys, on the other hand, are pretty foul. If the heroes don't kill them, Tirilan will eventually.

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Paths, pt 7

Thursday, August 14, 2008 - 10:42 AM

The nexus point between certain groups of similar destiny has dispersed somewhat, so the Paths installments are now to do with any background NPCs during my current campaign cycle. This one has to do with an NPC the players haven't had contact with in a while, but they sure do remember him fondly.

Hanging upside down, several hundred feet above the streets of Yhelm, Iolo carefully slipped a thin knife through the window to nudge the latch free and prying the window open. Arching upward, he wrapped his arms firmly around his leghold, and uncoiled his legs to slip a foot outward, pushing the window fully open.

A moment later, Iolo slipped in, silently, and carefully closed the window behind him. Pausing to listen, his ears told him this tower was as quiet as it was supposed to be, and he strolled down the hallway, keeping close to the wall.

For several years, Iolo had made a living getting into places people thought he couldn't. His ability to get in and get out again so swiftly was regarded as near-supernatural by many in Yhelm's underworld. They wondered how he managed to get so much information, and there were a lot of stories: Iolo has a pact with a tiny demon, Iolo gets strange inspiration from the duskshade liquor he drinks, Iolo has a highborn lover who gives him secrets.

The truth was very mundane. Iolo had simply been to most of these places before.

Raised as a pickpocket by his father, Iolo joined a group of Kishune performers at a young age, and found himself quite a talented acrobat. When they left, he chose to stay, and found performing paid better than pickpocketing. He was a frequent guest at aristocratic households as his reputation grew, and he even went by a different name, hoping to leave his criminal roots behind him.

Idealism fades in the face of the truth, he thought, unrolling the map of his mind and moving swiftly down a flight of stairs to a well-lit hall. Pausing to listen again, he padded to a hardwood door, slipped his lockpicks from his belt and was surprised to find a very good lock waiting for him.

Grinning at the small challenge, he wheedled the lock open with well-oiled arguments, and was through the door in another moment. He locked it behind him.

The offices beyond the door were what he expected. Someone had left an oil lamp burning, which made him particularly wary, but the light was necessary for his search in any case. He had only come here for one item, after all.

As a performer, he'd eventually grown annoyed at the exorbitance and self-satisfaction of the rich. He noticed everything during his times performing on their estates, and after time, his struggle to remain honest and law-abiding failed. He started to steal again, aiming ever higher for greater prizes which he would sell outside of the city, distributing a good deal of money among the needy or poor. However, he certainly kept enough for himself, building alternate identities and fronts, originally to fulfill dream of legitimate power and wealth.

These days, Iolo didn't care. He worked because it was art. He had enough to retire, but he would still take jobs that he saw as a challenge. The riskier the better, and in one case, he even paid other people to try and stop him from succeeding in a job.

Now, that had been a challenge, he thought to himself, and then froze. Footfalls outside.

Moving swiftly, he settled close against the wall where the door would open towards, and waited, slowing his breathing. The door did open, after a key scraped in the lock, and a man wearing magistrate's robes stepped in, shutting the door behind. Iolo listened intently, and hearing no one else outside, sent a poisoned dart into the man's back with a single deft movement.

The older man made a shocked sound, whirling and grasping at his back, but dizziness overcame him, and Iolo drifted forward to catch him before he fell. The magistrate mumbled something before his eyes rolled back into his head, and he passed out.

Lowering his target, Iolo plucked his dart free, and resumed his search. The magistrate wouldn't wake for at least an hour, and his recollection of events would be foggy when he did.

Iolo was a thief, not a murderer.

Finally, half-hidden under a pile of legal notes, he found the wooden case that had been described to him. Quickly wrapping it in dark cloth, slipping it into his tiny custom-made backpack, Iolo took the magistrate's keys, exited, locked the door, and then moved swiftly up the stairs.

Only a few minutes later, he was another shadow, moving across the rooftops. He moved quickly to the designated drop point, a decrepit alley behind the now-disused tanner's factory near the city wall, and slipped down to place the box there, still wrapped. The payment would come later, as would his contact to take the box... so Iolo left, dodging along a few older rooftops to slither into another alleyway and walk back to his theater residence like a fine, upstanding citizen of Yhelm, draped against autumn damp with a travel cloak.

He considered, and decided he would celebrate by taking in a play. He also made a mental note to call on that unruly quartet for their assistance in his next job; certainly he could have used them this time, even for as long as it had taken to get to his target.

Then again, he pondered that it might be time for a change of pace. Maybe they could hire him?

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Campaign Twists

Saturday, August 2, 2008 - 9:30 PM

So, next in line for my valiant dnd campaigners is an adaptation of Nicolas Logue's 'Library of Last Resort'. As much as I tend to enjoy Logue's material, this one didn't really touch me at first; it seemed to be a very straightforward (if dramatic) dash across rugged wilderness to slay this monster or that in order to gain access to a boss fight and the big Plot Cookie. Sometimes those adventures have their place, certainly, but the recovery of some piece of ancient lore utterly forgotten by the rest of the world seemed to warrant something a bit deeper.

This is particularly true when you take a look at my playing group. Though they enjoy a terse combat from time to time, they are really there for the character interaction, the plot, the unwinding of the riddles and the strategy. I knew that, as is, I could make the scenario exciting, but I didn't think they'd really appreciate it as much as other groups.

So why not just come up with something different?

First and foremost, I like to give credit where it is due. I modified quite a lot of the 'Prince of Redhand' adventure, but it was still the Prince of Redhand. The two portions of 'Library' that hooked me were as follows: the notion of a library of lore literally encased away from history, and the notion that it was druids that created it, not the usual wizardly scapegoats. These were Logue's ideas, and so the basis of the adventure stays to credit him

The idea of the library outside of time very much intrigued me. I thought about this quite a bit. The Lodge of druids responsible for it, I decided, were caretakers of knowledge of all kinds, and locked away all of the material in the library because it was horribly dangerous to know, or horribly useful. How they figured out a way to lock it up wasn't important to the general plot, but the impact of what happens to the world when the library is opened is... you see, when the Library of Last Resort is accessed, you better absolutely NEED the information you want, because there's no such thing as browsing. ALL of the information in the library is returned to the world at that moment. Facts are reinserted into historical books, books written and vanished reappear as if they'd followed the path they would have if they hadn't been removed from history, and so on. Stories that would have been told over generations are suddenly remembered by people who would have known them.

That's what I call earth-shaking magic, and that sort of decision (do we dare open the library? do we really need what we think we need from here?) is exactly what my players love to deal with.

So, rather than set it up as a series of combats, I decided the set encounters were going to be with druidic sects that had been removed from the world as well, for some reason or other. Perhaps they had teachings which were in danger of being wiped out. Perhaps they were traditions that were frightening and violent, in compared to other druidic groups. Whatever the reasons, the Elders who watch over the Library will send the players out to contend with these groups. A different trial would be warranted for each of them: win the respect of, convince another group, outright battle this group, and so on. This is done so the characters can prove themselves worthy of the library, but also because the Elders want them to see first hand what else they'll be releasing into the world.

Part of telling a good story is telling a story the listeners want to hear, but keeping it twisting enough that it grows into something new for them, something new within them. This particular arc is going to be very significant for the group, being the culmination of over a year and a half of plot buildup, and I certainly want them to feel the weight of that.

Edit: I wrote this a while back, but didn't want to post in order to preserve surprised for my players. I'm now posting this shortly after the first actual session at Tilagos, and the interparty debate over some of the decisions to make was the fiercest I've seen it in a long time. They've also had a lovely time exploring some of the unusual druidic traditions lurking there.

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From the Z-File: Shalis

Friday, August 1, 2008 - 10:19 AM

Shalis is one of several examples of potentially-never-used characters currently sitting in my z-file. Periodically, I'll be posting some more of these people here.

Outlawed in most of the known world, blood magic is condemned for its addictive nature and the deteriorating effects it tends to have on both morals and ability. The swift and terrible power it can offer is a strong lure, however, particularly to those who have little aptitude or patience for arcane arts and sciences.

Temni and Admeia were two apprentices to a Bindsu Curator, one of those who quelled the spontaneously occurring undead in Urakh and watched over the tremendous fossil-and-bone edifice known as the Sarcophagus. Temni, like most apprentices, had been taken from a poverty-stricken home at a young age, whereas Admeia's mother had served the Curators for nearly twenty years before resigning from exhaustion and strain. The Curators have a relentless meritocracy, full of tests both intellectual and moral in order to assess who might stand as a Curator, and competition is quite fierce among the apprentices to prove themselves worth the position.

Temni had the ambition, but magic did not come easy to him. Admeia adored his ambition, having little of her own, and the two fell in love. Admeia's mother had secretly taught her the seeds of blood magic, telling Admeia to use it just enough to get ahead, and then put it aside. But Admeia, during a particularly brutal year, shared these secrets with Temni, and at first, magic seemed very simple.

Unfortunately, the headiness of power overwhelmed them, and their blood magic was discovered. They barely escaped with their lives, and ran off to hide in the deep forests of Urakh. Like most novice blood mages, they had fallen prey to the arcane lassitude of their art, and they never became great magicians.

They did, however, bear a son: Shalis.

From conception, Shalis was subjected to the ebb and flow of blood magic. From birth, his parents realized that he had inherited their arcane addiction, and in a fit of conscience, attempted to create a ritual involving a captive vampire to transfer the 'hunger' to the undead creature. Their lazy innovation worked, but only in part.

Shalis lost the hunger for blood magic, and gained a hunger for vampires.

Shalis, to the disappointment of his increasingly muddled parents, had little talent or interest in magic. He held them in contempt for their addiction, and was content to leave their fog of failed ambition and high expectations when he was fifteen. He found his way to Urakh's slouching capitol city, and learned quickly that the world was as merciless as his parents made it out to be.
He also found that he had talents beyond other young men, the foremost of which was an unusual magnetism that could inexplicably lure people to him or send them shivering in terror.

Enjoying his new sense of power, he started a ragged band of street urchins to pickpocket for him, and began a small network of allies in Urakh's stifling underworld. As he grew older, however, the unusual traits unwittingly given him by his parents became both more apparent and harder to repress. When he slew a vampire's bound servant for coin, he was compelled to glut himself on the man's blood, and instinctively realized the nature of the gnawing that he'd carried within him for years.

Not yet skilled enough to fight a true vampire, he nonetheless killed the man's master later. This event surprised both of them; it was a combination of luck and an unusual resistance to vampiric powers. When Shalis drank the vampire's blood he felt complete in a way he had never known. Unfortunately, the vampire had many allies in Urakh, and Shalis was forced to flee.
Since then, Shalis has grown in skill and talent. He wandered through Urakh's countryside for some while, tracking vampires and killing them, and eventually left Urakh because of restlessness.

Notes on Shalis:

Shalis is sarcastic and daring. He is one of those people who seem like they'd be awesome to be around in a book or movie, but in real life they aggravate everyone. He doesn't care about the opinions of others, and doesn't particularly care about anyone as a rule. Despite this, he is periodically dapper and courteous, and he can be very eloquent when it suits him; Shalis makes friends easily and drops them just as easily.

In general, Shalis trusts people to be self-serving, and that is the only way he trusts them. His own goals are simple enough: make profit in order to purchase or obtain comforts, find vampires or vampire-bound creatures to persuade them to give up their blood, and stay alive. This last has turned into a game for him, and his contempt for most people shows best when he deals with vampires. In general, Shalis prefers to find vampires, cater to their whims, and play on their arrogance. He is very careful and methodical in this process, wheedling his way into their servitude, learning as much as he can and then planning their destruction. He mocks and despises vampires for being what they are, and sneers at their sense of superiority.

Shalis has another motivation that he is not entirely aware of, however. Though his uncaring nature is quite sincere, Shalis would very much like to care about something. His ceaseless wandering is an outward sign of his restless search for someone or something to believe in, something to prove his cynical view of the world wrong at least in some small sense. He knows he's strong, and he knows he could be a hero, but he doesn't believe in anything worth fighting for except himself. Shalis is, essentially, a loner by nature, but he doesn't like it.

In the plot I wrote him for, Shalis has found some purpose in Tirilan, who is nothing like the stilted, dreadful necromancers Shalis grew up knowing in Urakh. Tirilan certainly raises undead and commands them, and he certainly is capable of foul deeds, but he comports himself as an officer and a gentleman. Shalis originally thought Tirilan's sense of courtesy was to catch foes off-guard, but he has come to realize that Tirilan is chivalrous because it is the proper way to behave. Honor is all-important to Tirilan.

Of course, Shalis also enjoys the luxury of being a companion to one who can literally summon vampires and make them do his bidding... but Tirilan's utter devotion to the coming of the Black Sun has intrigued Shalis, and the hollow within is beginning to clamor for purpose.

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