Alaric Unwén, Human Paladin, Knight-Redemptor, Hexadite
The worshippers of the Primordials- Farore, Din, and Nayru- all particularly dislike the Mourners, and have spent whatever influence they have amongst the upper classes to brand them a dangerous cult. The Quiet Temple of Kratin publicly condemns them for their hubris when the topic comes up, but has a long history of secretly helping the Mourners, as it’s said Kratin Himself has a soft spot for a group who bear him no ill-will (not that it’s stopped the Subtle One’s followers from using them as scapegoats when needed). The Caretakers who serve the Elli, on the other hand, view the Church of the Fallen as rivals and despite not publicly opposing them will block them in any way they can get away with without looking bad. The contemplatives who seek an understanding of Vishwa either lack the cohesion needed to express an opinion or have unanimously abstained.Still, the Church of the Fallen perseveres, worshiping the Hexad in its own way, and trying to preserve and promote what it considers the good remaining in the world. Hexadites are well-regarded among the downtrodden for their active attempts to make life better, get along well with members of the druidic faith (who also have an outside view of the gods), and are frequently sought out by scholars for their records of the Fall and dead gods, preserved in the Books of the Pontiffs. They approve of steam technology but are conflicted about mist-based technology: does it honor the Fallen or is it the stuff of their enemies? Of course, all of this plus the stigma from the more influential religions means the nobility and the wealthy generally think of the Mourners as a creepy cult, and the Church of the Fallen has almost no political sway or mist-powered technology even among the members who would want it.
Further, it can claim few true clerics, as the gods are usually less than enthused with followers who acknowledge their flaws (indeed, most of the small number of Hexadite clerics who do exist are granted their powers by Kratin, which also doesn’t help the Church’s reputation). The most active and visible arm of the Church of the Fallen are its knights, heirs to a sacred Oath that predates the Church itself.
Knight-Initiate Alaric Unwén is one of those knights. His people, the Wesi (way-zee), were among the first contacted by the Vault-dwellers and have been subsumed by their society within a generation, maintaining less of their previous culture with each passing year. Only a few care about this: it turns out you need surprisingly few of the customs evolved over centuries of goat-herding in a relatively advanced society. As the vault-dwellers expanded, they came into contact with other cultures, races, and groups, including members of the Church of the Fallen. The Wesi in particular found the Hexadites’ religion appealing, and the rapidity and extent of their conversion introduced some tension into their relationship with the rest of vault-dweller society.
Alaric is a second-generation Hexadite, his parents having converted before his birth. He spent his childhood helping tend the herd, then with his parents’ blessing became a Neophyte in the Church. After learning the Roll of the Fallen by heart, he attained the rank of Acolyte, and spent his adolescence and earliest adulthood helping the poorest and learning the more esoteric lore of the Church. His mentor, Priest-Castellan Fritigern Baltha (one of the Church’s clerics of Kratin), saw the makings of a knight in the young man, and pulled strings to have him inducted into the militant wing.
Alaric passed the tests of body, mind and soul, and in the Rite of Initiation received the sacred tattoos that mark him as a Knight-Initiate: His torso, arms and lower neck are covered in an intricate memorial listing the name and domain of every god known to the Hexadites, the formal Roll of the Fallen. On two occasions since then, he’s received more, when adventurers found abandoned temples to previously-unknown gods. These obviously mark him as a member of the Church of the Fallen to anyone who can see them, and in any situation where they’d be covered, the holy symbols of his order would be visible. Combined with the distinctive hairstyle and mustache of the Wesi, and his tall (compared to Vault-dwellers and most nonhumans) and athletic build, and he tends to stand out in a crowd.
In the three years since becoming a Knight-Initiate, he’s come into his own, and is judged by those in his order to be well on his way to swearing the sacred Oath of the Ancients and becoming a full Knight-Redemptor. They keep a distant eye on him, as does Priest-Castellan Baltha. He’s an optimist, a cheerful man who lives and breathes the Light in the world and seems to genuinely believe there’s good to be found in everyone. His faith in that goodness, and how well it holds up to the stress of the outside world, are their concern. Sometimes being an exemplar of Good means showing people why the evil don’t prosper, and this seems to be Alaric’s weakness. If he can temper his optimism with wisdom without losing his faith, he will be a glorious paladin. If he can’t… none are more reviled than those who swear The Oath and break it, and rightly so. Any tavern worth the name has someone who can tell you the story of Ildeswynth the Oathbreaker: the man who broke inside, who swore a new, vile oath to find the Prisoner of Vishwa, and free it.
Alaric Unwén, Knight-Redemptor of the Fallen, 23 years old.
Formed from the shattered remains of various religions after the death of their gods in the War of the Fallen, the Hexadites are a religious order that pay homage to not only the surviving and broken gods, but also to those many who have died. They are not a popular order amongst the elite, known derogatorily as Mourners, but are generally well liked amongst the lower classes due to their active charity work. Despite their small numbers, they have spread far and maintain a presence from eastern Runedar to the southwestern shores of Uzg-Irziz; land of the Orcish plains folk.
Alaric is well versed in theology, at least well enough to complete the Recitation. The Recitation is a ritual which one must complete in order to become a Knight of the Fallen in which the name and title of every known god, the motto of their order, and the means by which they died (if known) is recited. The true trick of the Rite of Initiation is that as one completes the Recitation, the names of the Fallen are seared into flesh, a permanent mark which covers the torso, arms, and lower neck. Should one lose concentration and falter, the marking is incomplete, and the individual is forever barred from the Knights of the Fallen. So high is the level of mental discipline necessary to complete this ritual that the majority of attempts end in failure. Still, this is not viewed as a mark of shame, and indeed members of the clergy can sometimes be seen comparing their markings, to see who made it further. (A generally friendly sort of contest; simply having been selected for the Recitation is a great honor).
The mists of the western continent first appeared shortly after the war of the Fallen, and have only grown over the centuries that followed. Vast plots of land and crops withered and died, while strange new plantlife flourished in their place. Bizarre, dangerous creatures appeared, and within only a few generations all the former inhabitants had either died, fled, or simply dissappeared. There are a few trade routes following the mountain peaks, but only the brave or foolhardy travel these willingly.
Recent innovations have blended steam technology with the arcane, and found that the mist in these areas is a potent source for all manner of technology. There is a massive railcar leading up the once impassible slopes of the Juren mountains, which allows travelers and merchants to bypass months of dangerous travel to the northern pass. There are great moving gates and bridges which facilitate travel between peaks and through mountains. There are even rumors of strange mechanical constructs and transports under development, all powered by mist technology.
Because of these innovations, would-be prospectors are lining up by the hundreds to reclaim the mist lands. As a Knight-Redemptor, Alaric is expected to maintain at least a passing knowledge of the political happenings within the domains of the church. However, his primary focus over the last eighteen months has been to explore the misty realms of the Ukyrim hinterlands, protecting the businessmen and laborers seeking to exploit the newfound resource in exchange for church funding. It has been a harrowing experience, to say the least.
Assigned to the unscrupulous Aether Co., you and your men have witnessed horrors the likes of which you had previously believed the stuff of nightmares and fairy tales. Living in a constant state of hyper vigilence, attack could come at any time and from any direction, and rarely with warning. The deeper the prospectors pushed, the richer the mists became; but also the more deadly. Even the plantlife was hazardous. Your latest push was the hardest to date, leading to the deaths of more than half of your accompaniment. Aether Co. had to pull out completely, abandoning both men and equipment. Even worse, you were pursued by some unseen entity. Laborers, prospectors, and warriors were picked off daily over the month-long journey to the shoreline, a flash of movement through swirling mist and a terrified scream, suddenly cut short, the only indication of what had happened. In the end, you arrived with only one quarter the numbers you had upon setting off.
In light of these events, you have been summoned to your deployment command post- a Hexadite embassy in Krorykard, a city on the far eastern border of Fallen territory, surrounded by the mountains and fjords that covered the continent of Runegard. Travel was slow as you skirted south of the Sea of Knives. The mid-size steam ship upon which you booked passaged was loaded down with cargo, and had to fight the fierce current pulling northward from The Drift. Upon making port in the trade city of Varr’Ankor you were able to procure cheap passage along a monorail headed to the capital. From there, it was only a few weeks journey by caravan.
A cold rain accompanies you between the filthy buildings and muddy streets of Krorykard. Rats- both dead and alive- are everywhere, feasting on the rot and detrius discarded by the city denizens. Sickly sweet smoke puffs from the chimney of a crematory, thick greasy ash coating the tar and ceder slates of the roof. You are reminded of a procession you saw while disembarking from Varr’Ankor, a funeral ceremony for a Woetion sailor. Carried in a casket reminiscient of a ship, the six most proficient sailors and navigators from the crew would take the body to sea to ensure the soul did not get lost en route to its destination. The corpse would go out with the next available ship and be dumped in the middle of the ocean. Failing the funds for all that, they would simply carry the casket to the shoreline and set it adrift with the tide. Usually when that happened the body would wash ashore a few miles along the coast, consumed by local wildlife shortly thereafter. Funerals are expensive.
You wind your way through the still familiar streets of Krorykard, and eventually find your way to the Cathedral of the Hexadites- a small, glorified basilica previously used for the affairs of local government, appropriated by the Church of The Fallen as their local embassy. Hexadites mill about on their daily business, some smiling genuinely, others appearing lost in contemplation. Despite being younger than many of the priests, your position as Knight-Redemptor is obvious, and you are given a respectfully wide berth by the others. You are home, safe, for the first time in just shy of two years. Little has changed yet, to you, nothing looks the same. With a deep sigh and clenched jaw you adjust your pack. Best to report in, and see just what the Exarch has in store for you.