14: Haldor Vingakalin, the Shadow

Profile

Haldor Vingakalin is an 85 year old ais’lun Shadow from the township Rilhindel. Standing 4’1″ and weighing 150 lbs., Haldor wears piercings in his ears and septum and has recognizable tattoos that sleeve both of his arms–symbols of accomplishments during his 32 years as a Ghost in the Order of the Charge. He keeps to himself and likes to wear a hood that shrouds his face in shadow. He was presumed dead after an encounter with pale stone put him in a coma that lasted for 10 years. After regaining his bearings, Haldor has committed to finding the subterranean locale that haunted his dreams while he was unconscious.

Background

Haldor originally hails from Rilhindel, a large township in the south of the Djenndan Protectorate governed by the Noble Bluradett family. Lord Bluradett is a powerful ais’lun with ties to the Ancient Kingdom, and his lineage has ruled over Rilhindel for more than two centuries. When Haldor and his two sisters came of age, Lord Bluradett honored the Vingakalin family by merging them to his Ghadan–the artisans of the court. Haldor’s sisters became sought-after cooks and artificers, but in truth Haldor lacked the natural gifts needed to excel in the Ghadan. But what he lacked in awareness he more than made up for speed.

Small and frail for an ais’lun of his heritage, Haldor spent less and less time among his duties in the Ghadan and more time finding clever places to hide and observe the goings on in the Rilhindel palace. He would lie in wait for hours keeping watch over the business of the court. Ten days after Haldor’s 43rd birthday, he was discovered by Zoeld, the court Acrobat. Zoeld brought Haldor into the palace gardens and recruited him as a Ghost for the Order of the Charge. There, Haldor honed his skills as the Charge’s Shadow–an elite infiltrator and careful watcher–and Zoeld came to respect Haldor’s talents.

After decades as the Charge’s Shadow, Zoeld was killed while on quest in the Forklands, which was still a dangerous and contentious area after the wars. Haldor worked for the Order a few more years, all the while searching the Forklands when he could for clues to the whereabouts of Zoeld’s killers. During one such quest, he found a mystic who was killed the same way Zoeld had died, and upon searching the victim’s home, he found several crystalline shards of a pale substance that were warm to the touch. He collected the strange crystals, and later when talking to a merchant he began to feel ill. The merchant asked “Are you okay?” but all Haldor could do was remove his shards from his purse and hold them out before he and they fell into the mud. Haldor began convulsing, causing dozens of nearby marketgoers to flee in fear.

Haldor remembers little more than feeling immense pain as he writhed in his seizure; then he fell unconscious. Some time later, though he cannot tell how long, his mind flooded with images of a strange, underground location–a geode-like cavern deep in the halfhollows where strange monsters and creeping things lingered. In his visions, he was hiding as he always did in the shadows of cavern corridors and behind damp rocks, but somehow the large, bullheaded beasts and the gnashing troglodytes could smell him, and began to chase him making loud, horrifying sounds. The beasts of the halfhollows terrorized him, always finding him, always chasing him through the dark.

In the waking world, Haldor’s merchant recognized the crystals as pale stone, and quickly brought Haldor inside. There he watched over the Shadow, feeding food to him with a tube. When members of the Order of the Charge came by looking for Haldor, the merchant told them he was dead. And the last that Haldor’s sisters from the Ghadan had heard, Haldor was off doing more work for the Order of the Charge, a line of work they found distasteful and disappointing. So when he did not return after a year’s time, his family presumed him dead. But the merchant kept feeding Haldor food and water, and wherever he moved throughout the Forklands he brought Haldor’s body with him. This continued for ten years.

Suddenly in the night on Haldor’s 85th birthday, he finally woke from his coma screaming. The merchant rushed out of bed, surprised that the ais’lun had lived as long as he had and was now finally awake. The merchant had so many questions he began blurting them out. Haldor would have fled if he could, but he could barely move. The merchant tried to calm the Shadow, and there after they overcame their shock, they first learned each other’s name. Haldor, the Shadow of the Order of the Charge, and his savior, Torichinian, Priest of the Ugal. “You cheatings Maros, me friend,” said Torichinian in broken Thelean with a heavy Bwantalli accent.

Over the next several months Torichinian nursed Haldor back onto his feet and the two exchanged stories. Standing seemed easier to Haldor than accepting that ten years had passed. Torichinian suggested that when Haldor was well enough, he travel East to visit his brother Williklantin in Burunu. Williklantin is apparently a ghost, like Haldor.

Haldor agreed, since it seemed as good a plan as any given how his entire family and Order thought he was dead. But secretly the Shadow wanted to gain the strength he needed to travel to the halfhollows and destroy the beasts who had tormented him for his years of purgatory.

014-Haldor

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Fractalform is the gaming handle of Bret Woods--ethnomediologist, author, and lead developer of Augur's Lore RPGs. Bret is Thing 1 at http://descrypt-studios.com.

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