Half-elven Alchemist, Hugged to death by a burning skeleton
If asked to describe Caldrios quickly, the easiest way would be to simply say “he’s not from around here”.
In the Lurkwood of Varisia lies a hidden city of the Elves; Celvynarien. Created by those fleeing the harsh conflict between Elf and Drow in the Northwest, the city was grown in peace for millennia. However, this peace was not to last forever. A powerful cult of necromancers and witches began rising in the darkest parts of the forest. The threat was eventually annihilated by a band of powerful adventurers, but the council of elders had seen the risk and come to an unconventional solution.
The adventurers remained for a time, during which they lay with the elf maids of Celvynarien. This resulted in the birth of a generation of hybrid elves with unusual power. Raised as an underclass in servitude to the full-blooded elves, their spirits were suppressed. They were deprived of an individual future, fertility, even a surname – additionally as they were all sterile adolescents with no knowledge of their non-elven parents, despite identifying each other as shield-siblings there were sometimes more ‘complicated’ relationships. These were not further looked into. They did their jobs, their elven masters didn’t care.
Caldrios was a standout among this generation: whilst there were mages who lacked physicality and warriors who had abysmal magical abilities, Cal was a unique blend. Whilst limber and swift he was lacked physical prowess, and despite having a reserve of magical energy he displayed no ability to shape the energy into spells. He compensated for this by being smart. Very smart.
However, as the bulk of advanced mental training was reserved solely for the full-elves who would command these guardians, Caldrios was unable to utilise his mind to its fullest. So when he was 21, barely out of childhood for a half elf, he rebelled against a life of servitude and sacrifice as a guardian, and ran away.
The Company of the Falcon
To get by, Caldrios took advantage of his knowledge of the natural world and his inherent ability to pick up new skills. Two years out of the forest, he joined up with a small band of mercenaries who specialised in dealing with dangerous criminals. Whilst his skill in combat was limited (Cal was a talented fencer, but not a brawler), the Company of the Falcon found value in his mind, and put him to use both as a budding tactician and an extractor of information from foes who were less than willing to part with it.
From these men and women Cal learned how to get by in the outside world, and gradually became grim and harsh. Whilst he never slipped into cruelty and kept compassion for those victimised by selfish authorities due to his restrictive upbringing, Caldrios began to see the world through a stark lense. He would do what was needed when it was needed. Not raised with a strong sense of self to defend against the personal consequences, this attitude came to largely dominate his mind.
Caldrios rode with the Company of the Falcon for some four years.
Havoc in Korvosa
After parting ways with these mercenaries, Caldrios found himself in the Varisian city of Korvosa when the community was sundered by the outbreak of a deathly plague. With the government unable to divert many resources to combating the spread due to the volatile nature of existence for a city-state in Varisia, Cal was once again pulled into a small band of people who were willing to do near anything to halt the disease in its path. When this meant allying with groups like the church of Pharasma to dispose of the dead safely it was done. When it meant stealing supplies from government stockpiles, this was also done.
In time, a human scholar and healer by the name of Arvon Trinius came to the city. He aided this group, and provided access to a new well of knowledge for Caldrios. Enthralled by this chance to finally gain access to an expanded mind, Caldrios eagerly worked alongside Trinius. When the plague had passed, Cal left with the man to return to his homeland of Ustalav, apprenticing himself to the man of learning.
Life of the Scholar
Caldrios was over a decade in the universities of Ustalav, the bulk of his time spent in the trade city of Caliphas at its Quaterfaux archives. During this time, Cal discovered teachings on the art of Alchemy, displaying a talent for the creation of mundane materials. Additionally, he learned how to use mundane chemicals and the remains of creatures to create catalysts for the use of his own magic. Although still unable to use spells, Cal learned to create extracts which could replicate the effects of arcane magic, as well as developing an interest in explosives that had begun during his mercenary years.
It was during these years that Caldrios met a friend of his mentor’s: Professor Petros Lorrimor. With Cal’s unique exposure to natural magic and Lorrimor’s wide travels and knowledge of many different cultures, the two got along easily. Caldrios in time came to see the professor as a second mentor, a deep respect growing.
Sadly, things were not to remain so peaceful.
Not long before the turning of his 40th year, the half-elf was visited by two members of the city guard of Caliphas. identifying themselves as Officers Phoross and Baltrin, the pair claiming to bring warning of growing crime rings in the city. As Cal and his mentor worked a lab which contained many valuable and potentially dangerous materials, the officers showed concern that the stockpiles were insecure, and if they fell into the wrong hands could cause the gangs to grow yet stronger. When the officers’ demands that the entire stores be turned over to them uncompensated were refused, and they threatened to take it by force, Trinius and Cal sent them from the premises.
Three days later Caldrios was awakened by the sounds of a break-in. Rousing his mentor, the two descended to find some half-dozen burglars in their lab. A fight ensued, causing significant collateral damage and eventually disrupting materials enough to trigger a massive explosion. Most of the burglars were killed, as was the aging Trinius. Half-dazed from the blast, Cal was still able to recognise one of the burning bodies as Officer Phoross, and the sole survivor among the criminals as Baltrin. However, due to injuries sustained during the accident Cal was unable to give chase for long, and Baltrin escaped.
Over the coming weeks Caldrios grew increasingly frustrated with the response of the authorities to the event. Baltrin had gone into hiding, and any evidence of the involvement of the officers in the break-in mysteriously disappeared. The courts ruled the case closed, the death of Arvon Trinius was put down to an avoidable accident, and no investigation into possible corruption was carried out. Eventually Caldrios’ frustration grew into outright rage, and he began to go about gathering his own evidence, intending to hunt down Baltrin and bring him to justice, with or without the courts.
Within the week, this was put on hold when Caldrios received further shocking news: Professor Lorrimor had been found dead, and Cal was summoned to Ravengro by his estate.
Arriving in Ravengro just in time for the funeral, Caldrios and the rest of the procession were attacked by superstitious townsfolk who were aggressively driven off by several of the mourners. In the face of more obfuscating authority figures, Cal was on the verge of hunting down those involved, but out of respect for his lost mentor backed down.
Over the next few days, evidence was encountered which suggested the professor had died un-naturally, and those who remained from the funeral began to investigate the town’s goings-on. With traces of a necromantic cult stirring at Cal’s buried past, an undead menace in the region, and a series of ominous occurrences headlined by large bloodied letters defacing the town, all signs pointed to Harrowstone, the local prison, and the possibility of long-dead prisoners rising up. Upon further investigation, these concerns were validated.
The Final Days
While investigating the prison with his new comrades, the party was assaulted by strange visions. Caldrios saw an image of the corpse of Trinius, burning in the rubble, and was shaken into hysteria. Recovering, he resolved to bring down whatever forces had taken over the prison and caused such pain, yet upon re-entering they were visited by the spectres of two of the prisoners. Caldrios was imprisoned in a vision by a false priest and tortured to near-death before being dragged to safety by his allies.
The next day, with the appearance of yet another crimson letter, the party was beset by wolves while tracing a footprint trail. The party was able to dispatch these foes, but Caldrios was knocked unconscious during the fight. He regained consciousness to find the largest of the wolves raised to undeath, and lined up a shot with his crossbow just in time to see the head of one of his allies ripped off by this monster. Shocked into a rage, shouting for the others to get clear, Cal was able with some help to destroy the body of the beast in penance, and further vowed to tear apart the forces within Harrowstone by any means necessary.
Their numbers bolstered by a new recruit, the party once again journeyed into the prison. In the basement they encountered the projection of yet another prisoner, which despite being caught off guard and unprepared they were able to dispatch with the use of fire and holy power. However this came at great cost, as yet another companion was claimed by a blast from Caldrios’s bombs.
Wracked with guilt by his own hand in his ally’s death, and his failure to save so many in his life, Caldrios became increasingly reckless. That night he brewed a strange new potion, with the intention of enhancing his physical abilities to better protect his allies and prevent more deaths. However, his body was unused to such chemicals. Upon consuming it the next day it took some time for him to adjust to his changing body, and he mis-stepped in combat.
Caldrios was cleaved in two, unable to raise a hand to defend himself. He died before he could even finish the one thought that began as he saw the axe coming toward him: ‘how ironic it was, for one who had rebelled against sacrificing himself for his unfeeling commanders, to die defending people he barely knew’.
By Gil Gordon, who is determined that this story will in some shape or form be told again.