Young idealist human wizard seeking familial redemption... and revenge.
Direfall was, once, a name that commanded respect. It was a name synonymous with arcane power. The Direfall family had it’s roots in the original Bael Turath empire, where the patriarch, Deios, was one of the High Council members. Due to his prestige and unrivaled power, the family rose to prominence, and was one of the most influential in the empire. During the war against the Dragonborn, a small contingent of all sorts of arcane warriors, led by Deios, took part in many battles. What people either did not know, or chose not to comment on, was this group was entirely made of the Direfall family. While not hated, many within the empire were slightly jealous of the affinity that the family had for magic.
Which is why it comes as no surprise that, when the humans sought a way for eternal power, eventually damning themselves, Deios was eager to take part in the pact. Even though the rest of the family dissented, he still did. It was then his first son, Darrin, disgusted by his father’s actions, took the rest of the family and left with a those unwilling to take a part in the pact. Even though Darrin made it clear that he, and the rest of the family, had no interest in ever making a pact with devils, they were still slightly distrusted.
The Direfall family first resettled not far from the Bael Turath Empire, along the Cordian Crescent. Since Darrin was also a strong mage, he and his wife, Belinda, had managed to make off with most of the wealth that they had enjoyed in the empire. This, along with their natural connection to the arcane, would eventually be their biggest problem. Most of the other settlers in the crescent were distrustful of the Direfall, and chose to persecute them. For as long as they could, the family endured. However, tensions continued to grow and came to a head when most of the other settlers in the area attacked the Direfall family’s camp. During the attack, Darrin’s youngest children, Elthea and Rewald, were killed. Darrin, in a rage, killed many of the other settlers. After the attackers ran off, scared away by the overwhelming prowess of the family, they counted their losses.
In mourning and fear, the family made their way out of the Cordian Crescent and began to head north. As they traveled, Darrin and Belinda, now too old to continue the journey, eventually died. They were buried together, and it is said a single tree grows near the mound. Ever year, when the weather turns cold, it is said that the leaves become prismatic and filled with magic before completely disintegrating. For many years, the head of the family would return to this tree and take a single leaf. The leaves were collected and kept together, the only monument to what could be considered the noblest Direfalls to ever live.
The family continued to wander for many years. They still had their wealth, so that was not a concern. However, they found it almost impossible to settle. Behn, the eldest son of Darrin, was far too paranoid. After the loss of his youngest siblings, he refused to settle out of a deep fear; fear that they would be discovered and more lives would be lost. He had seen what happened in the Crescent, he did not desire for the family name to be cut short, or sullied with death. So for many years the family wandered. With Behn’s death, his son Alten took over the family mantle. Under Alten, and his son Hygnan, the family continued to wander. It wasn’t until Hygnan’s son, Jael, that the family would settle again.
The Direfall family continued to wander, eventually finding themselves in a remote settlement north of the Goldforge dwarves’ mountains. It was not a large settlement, but the open plains town of Rianda proved to be just big enough. Much time had elapsed, and most of the people living here had never heard the name of Direfall. Jael reasoned that if no one knew the name, they would not be found. So the family Direfall, after almost 200 years, finally settled again. They built a huge mansion outside of Rianda, a place of splendor and beauty. For while much of their legacy had been lost in leaving the Bael Turath empire, their wealth and knowledge of the arcane had not. And even though Rianda grew slightly, it never became large. The townsfolk grew attached to the Direfall family, eventually granting them somewhat of rule over the land. For the first time in a long time, the Direfall family had a home.
The mansion became known as Halacor, a bastion of knowledge and understanding. It’s doors were open to the townspeople and they came and went. If someone expressed an interest in the arcane, the family was glad to teach them. People were known to bring old spell books and tomes to the mansion, and in time it was said that the Direfall held the one of the greatest libraries in the world. Anytime a magic item was recovered, it was given to the family. In addition to their library, it was said that the Direfall family also had one of the most amazing treasuries. No one, however, knew where it was. It was rumored that the leaves of Darrin’s tree were kept there, along with other things almost unimaginable. Time went by, and while major events happened, the Direfall felt content to live a simple, pleasant life in Rianda. Over time, they grew complacent. All seemed as if perhaps the family had found a place that could be their own forever.
However, all good things must eventually come to an end. The Direfall family was no exception. It was under Caillius Direfall that the family would come to its ultimate ruin. Caillius had married a girl from Rianda named Sayla, and they had five children: Krae, the eldest son; Phaela, the eldest daughter; Herala and Heralon, twins of different genders, and finally Laertes, the youngest son. Laertes was only four years old when the family saw itself destroyed in one terrible night.
It was an exceptionally cold evening. The family had had some of the townspeople over for dinner, and they had been gone for several hours. It was about eleven at night. A terrible sound rung out over the small town. Before anyone was able to react, the town was overrun with the undead, and several other malicious spirits and specters. It is thought that the town was destroyed in a matter of minutes. Rianda was no more. With the town gone, the monsters turned their wrath on the mansion of Halacor.
Krae and Caillius, aware of what was happening, went to battle the menace head on. They mowed through many of the minions and it seemed that all would not be lost. While their friends were gone, the family would endure. It was folly to believe, for as the last ghoul fell, the doors of the great mansion swung off the hinges. What entered then was not human, not undead, not a devil, nor anything in between. It was a monster to be certain, but what exactly it was is unknowable. Krae and Caillius stood no chance. The monster felled them with one mighty spell, as simple for the creature as a flick of the wrist. The creature looked on Caillius person for something, but was unable to find what he searched for. With disappointment, it instead took the ring from Caillius hand and laid a deep curse into the brilliant emerald on it.
Sayla, seeing her husband’s dead body, ran at the creature. Surprised, it was knocked into a room and with a quick spell, Phaela placed an enchantment on the door. They both knew it would not last long. Sayla found the ring on the ground, grimaced, then handed it to Phaela. She told Sayla to take the ring and Laertes, and leave. Phaela didn’t know what to say, but obeyed her mother. She went upstairs to get her young brother. The twins saw her and she pleaded for them to come with her. They told her no. They refused, even as she pleaded. They reasoned that with just Laertes, Phaela had a chance to escape.
Back downstairs, the creature broke free of its makeshift prison. Sayla put up as much of a battle as she could, but the creature killed her as well. Feeling its quarry escaping, the creature headed for the back door. It ran into the twins. Herala and Heralon, knowing that they could not defeat the creature, did all they could to stop it. They were able to force it back, but in the process were turned to stone. It is said they still stand at the back door, arms outstretched. No one knows if they are alive or dead, or perhaps just existing in another plane. But they achieved their goal.
Phaela ran with Laertes as long as she could. When they stopped, the sun was coming up over the horizon, and she lay exhausted in the grass. For a brief moment, she allowed herself to believe she was safe. Laertes awoke and asked what had happened. She told him that the family was gone. It was up to the two of them to keep the name alive. In that moment, the creature appeared before them. What happened next is something that Laertes will never forget. Time slowed to a crawl. It seemed as if both he and Phaela were going to die. However, in that moment, the Goddess Ioun smiled upon the Direfall. A huge flash occurred, and when Laertes regained his senses, he awoke to an empty field. His sister was gone, as was the creature. All that remained was the cursed ring, the brilliant emerald clouded by a dark malevolence.
Laertes wandered for several days, in a malaise. Everything he ever knew was gone. He was but a child. It seemed as if things could not get worse. It was then that he found he had wandered back to his home of Halacor. Already it had been gutted, much of the belongings stolen. However, the family had been wise enough to seal the library and the treasury with enchantments. The library could be opened by any family member, the treasury required more. What that more was, Laertes did not know. He wandered about the house, looking at the destruction. He stared at the statues that his twin siblings had become, filling him with absolute melancholy. When he came upon the rest of the family’s bodies, he wept. After a long time, he used the magic he could to give them a proper burial. Returning inside, he sat in his father’s chair, staring at the ruin that had once been his home.
In that moment, a dragon born walked through the front doors. He was not young; this dragon born had been out in the world for quite some time. He was somewhat of a sage. He spoke to Laertes. When Laertes responded in draconic, the dragon born laughed. He asked what the boy was doing there alone. Laertes responded with an empty glance. The dragon born was named Theratus, and he would become Laertes guardian. Theratus had grown weary and old, and felt it was time to settle down. So he raised the boy. Laertes spent every day in the library, reading as many books and tomes as he could. The Direfall family may have been torn asunder, but the legendary connection to magic had endured.
So they lived in the ruined mansion. For the next fifteen years, Laertes spent every day studying and training. On his nineteenth birthday, Theratus gave Laertes a letter that he had received many years before. It was a letter from his father, Caillius. In the letter, it was revealed to Laertes that Caillius had had a dark premonition, several months before the creature attacked. He had sent away for Theratus, because he knew that the family would not survive much longer. How his father got into contact with a dragon born was beyond Laertes, but he was glad he had. After reading the letter, Theratus explained the curse of the ring to Laertes. It was two-fold; until the curse was lifted, Laertes would never be able to open the treasury in Halacor, and recover some of his family’s lost treasures. He would also never be able to carry on the family, for any child he would have would die soon after birth. Shortly after he finished explaining, Theratus slumped over dead.
Laertes buried his body outside the home. He then stood in front of his home. He stared at it for quite some time. Memories flowed through his mind, and he let it all wash over him one last time. He looked up at the sky. Phaela was still missing; he would find her one day, he knew that for sure. But where to begin? There was no indications, nothing to go on. Finally, he resolved to go to his ancestor Darrin’s grave and take one of the leaves, and then go where the wind takes him.
Now he wanders the land. Above all else, he wishes to raise the curse and give the family a chance to continue; as well as find his long lost sister. In the process, he wants to become one of the greatest wizards the world has ever known… and to find the creature, whatever it was, and destroy it. The emerald in his ring swirls with an unseen force, and he will not rest until it is clear once more.