Player Character: Noctem
Player character from the Adventures of Thorn campaign.
Noctem's History (written by Noctem)
Noctem sat up with a soft cry, her violet eyses mirroring a maelstrom of flames that did not exist in the darkness that surrounded her. The silence of the forest was filled witht he sound of her ragged gasps and her ears with the sound of her heart hammering frantically against the prison of her chest. She tore sweat-dampened blankets away from her pale skin with trembling hands and lurched over to kneel before the makeshift hearth. As she busied herself laying kindling and coaxing coals buried beneath the ashes to life with trembling hands, the nightmare slowly loosened its hold. The fire leapt up, bright and crackling with burning sap as green firewood caught and smoked. Noctem hugged her knees and stared into the flames, her eyes bright with tears and she sagged, giving into the sorrow that clutched at her soul... The same fire, which brought warmth and comfort to her now, had forever silenced the flames of passion of her heart.
Memories of youth filled her mind, visions of her Elven home and family she had left behind to find her way through the world. She had been sixteen at her parting, traveling deep into the mountains with her master who had a penchant for disappearing at the blink of an eye, to learn the ways of Arawn. Her master was a quiet man, silent and full of secrets, though she saw through the coolness to the caring that lurked in his heart. He took her to the Sanctuary of Arawn and there she learned the Hunt, and the Sacrifice, the mastery of the sword and a powerful crossbow. She immersed herself for months in the traditions, rites and rituals of Arawn until she was deemed ready to travel to her first Sabbat celebration. She left with her master, light of heart and spirit, curiosity piqued by the smiling silence of her master as she plied him with question after question. He waved her questions away and after a time her mind began to spin with imagined wonders.
The scene that laid itself out before her when they arrived was more than she could have ever hoped for. Pavilions of every shape and color adorned with knotwork, representations of animals, and aspects of the Hunt and the Gods honored surrounded a huge maypole in a clearing in the forest.
The next few days were filled with merriment, music and incredible delicacies brought from across the surrounding foreign lands, presumably brought by Elven traders and travelers. She wiled away the evenings before the celebration listening to a red-haired youth play the lute. He played before small crowds, where he proved himself a master of the instrument. She shyly introduced herself after one such gathering and he named himself Rowen. She showed an interest in him, and his music and he began to teach her to play. He was a handsome young man she could laugh and jest with, and catching the twinkle in his eye, invited him to jump with her over the flames on the evening of the Sabbath. That night they shared the Hunt and the Sacrifice, and she found him a willing companion, a balance for her ferocity, his quiet calm weaving a harmony within her and between them.
Her master was not surprised to find the rituals of Beltane had sparked the flames of passion for the two and after some consideration agreed to allow Rowen to travel with them back to the Sanctuary of Arawn where he would later serves as journeyman music instructor.
Noctem continued her studies at the Sanctuary, becoming ever more skilled at the Hunt, her master furthering her skills with tricks normally reserved for thieves until she began to see him in a new light. He taught her the ways of silence and illusion, making a game of asking her to stalk certain members of the Sanctuary and report on their activities without them taking notice of her presence. She suspected there was more to her master than met the eye, and began wondering about a certain items kept in his rooms, tomes of magic and the like, but could never get him to confirm or deny his possession of such items.
Meanwhile Rowen's gathering of students was growing weekly and he soon had nearly all the clerics bound to an instrument that suited them, teaching them to draw the magic of music forth from the instruments. His reputation grew and he soon was called to the houses of minor noble lords to entertain, Noctem always following as his companion and protector.
Until the night of flames that tore him from her world.
Noctem had learned much of other religions and magical practices during her time at the Sanctuary, but had never understood the Fire Mages well, not caring to understand their destructive, wasteful ways. Not until the evening a band of Fire Mages attacked the home of Lord Benegris in the town of Sagamon, where Rowen and she were housed for the evening. Rowen had played a spectacular set, impressing the many lords and ladies gathered, and he and Noctem slumbered in a fine feather bed, bequeathed to them by the well-pleased Lord Benegris. Late that night she awakened to screams and smoke, finding Rowen already up and pulling her out of the room. She emerged into the Great Room and found a Fire Mage with Lady Benegris in his grasp, setting her flesh aflame here and there, enjoying her tortured screams. Rowen charged with a shriek of outrage, startling the Mage long enough to cause him to release the woman. The Mage then turned his rage upon Rowen, enshrouding the musician in the white-hot flames, sending him reeling like a flaming flower at Solstice. Noctem threw herself upon Rowen with a cry of anguish, and found herself unable to douse the preternatural flames with her hands and body. Her reward was the sound of the Mages harsh, guttural laughter as he and his band fired the rest of the home and people within, and left her behind, burned and howling with the loss of her companion.
Noctem left the funeral pyre of her lover and the others with never a look back, returning to the Sanctuary with a crushed spirit. Her master bade her take comfort in the Gods, but she found none there, instead begging him to show her the darker aspects of the religion she had grown to love. He did as she bade, teaching her how to place a blade into a man's back just so, to pierce the heart and send him quickly into Death's arms. He showed her the way a man could be paralyzed with herbs and plants carefully grown, and the way to kill a man slowly over time with poison. Her anguish soon turned to a quiet lust for vengeance against all Fire Mages who would cross her path, and then to those she could hunt down and destroy. She covered her scars with the ritual tattoos of Arawn and donned the black of shadows, believing herself now a child of the shadow realm.
She never forgot the guttural laugh of the Mage who took the flame from her heart and knew she must soon depart from the Sanctuary lest he rot away, her resolve to live slowly weakening. She bade her master's leave and he released her with a sorrowful heart, giving her three gifts upon her departure... A silver worked lute that she would never play without the shadow of Rowen's presence cradling her heart, a scroll with instructions on how to find a certain band of mercenaries that might help her in her cause. And finally, a cloak that when worn tended to hide her presence in shadows, its magic unknown to her. The last she recognized as her masters and accepted it with tears of gratitude in her eyes. She then slowly donned it and disappeared from his sight as he had done countless times from hers.