States of Light
A smooth, handsome dark elf whose charming demeanour belies a wild and dangerous talent for magic
Even as a lowly male in the matriarchal society of the drow, life was quite good for Amalaun Melep. Hailing from a strong ruling noble family in the realm of Chessendup, Amalaun discovered early on a penchant for manipulation and deceit; he also discovered how useful a tool it really was, for a lowly male, to position himself as advantageously as possible. His older sisters all adored him—he made sure of that—and through them, and the influence of his mother, he secured a position in the Academy of the Arcane, for he did show some natural talent towards magic, as unpredictable as it was. And once entrenched in the most presitgious and least demanding apprenticeship he could find, Amalaun was able to pursue his goals most rigorously—namely, debauchery and experiments in vice of all kinds.
Yet, more often than not, Amalaun found himself to be his own worst enemy. Marked by erratic mood swings, Amalaun would on one day be the Acadmey’s brightest student, the next it’s enfant terrible. He used charm to navigate the treacherous rivalries of both fellow students and instructors, which managed to insulate him somewhat from the repercussions of his whims. But even the drow, chaotic creatures personified, had a difficult time adjusting to his capricious nature.
Whether it was one of those whims that found Amalaun accepting a role in a raiding party to the surface world, or advance warning of academy discipline, it mattered little when the ambushers found themselves ambushed. What did matter was Amalaun’s silver tongue, which saved his life, and his alone. One gnome in particular, a Master Juan de Fuca, took interest in the intriguing elf, and instead of slaughtering him, made Amalaun a slave instead.
For an entire year Amalaun existed in the de Fuca court as a hidden secret. Juan de Fuca was fascinated by Amalaun’s chaos magic, and allowed—even required—the drow to expand his prowess. Amalaun was equally intrigued by this surface world and it’s low levels of arcane powers, and revelled in his place as a singular man of mystery.
All that came to a wrenching halt one fine summer morning. The Inquisition was not an organization to be trifled with, or ignored, and Juan de Fuca imagined his position of status insulated him more than it did. All in one sudden afternoon, Amalaun went from pampered pseudo slave to a very real prisoner of a ruthless cabal, watching his friend be torn apart upon the rack in the process.
His incarceration with the Inquisition did not last much longer than Juan’s torture, however. Unleashing hidden reserves of raw power, Amalaun literally blasted his way from the Catacombs of Calamity and headed straight for the nearest point of escape on an island—the docks. He secured flight from Madrieira on a slave ship bound for Shibi Mal Tan in an unexpected fashion, especially to the Captain. Amalaun convinced them to take him on as a slave. Even for a drow, this was not difficult.
It’s hard to say if the fever Amalaun plunged into was a bluff of which he managed to thoroughly convince himself, or truly a reaction to the mass amounts of power he’d so suddenly released. Regardless, a day into the trip to Shibi Mal Tan, the captain of the slave ship was regretting his decision immensely to bring the drow aboard, now facing a near mutiny by both his slave cargo, and his superstitious crew. Amalaun was hauled from his cell finally by two crewman he dubbed Short Straw One and Two, and dragged to the main deck.
When he awoke, he’d no idea where the goliath had come from, nor how he came to be strapped over the half giant’s shoulder. Or why. Or, for that matter, where the water had gone, to be replaced by a steep and rocky mountainside. Introductions were made, and, after Gorun had put Amalaun back onto his own two feet, the goliath told of how, during a brisk three mile ocean dip—“Just a short one”—he came to find the drow floating in the water, barely conscious and clutching a single oar. Rescuing him was the natural thing to do. And he did not feel right about turning the drow over to the guards at Shiba Mal Tan, where he knew the drow faced certain slavery. So, he decided to bring the dark elf with him as the trade caravan he was guarding returned to Mergut, his home.
“Caravan?” Amalaun looked around. Up ahead he could only see some more goliaths, laden with backpacks, walking along at random intervals. “Where are your wagons? And horses?"
“Horses?” Gorun snorted a laugh. “You speak like a Batorian. We have no use for horses here in the mountains. Besides,” he added, “they are a pain in the esek to carry. Too skittish.”
Life was very different in Mergut than it was in Madrieira, and it took Amalaun some adjusting. Gorun was not normally a caravan guard, as it turned out. He held a highly respected post as a Barbican Guard, and had only accompanied the rare trading expedition to Shibi Mal Tan in order to test his mettle against the ocean waves, a feat he’d never accomplished. Physical challenges were an important way of life in the remote alpine fortress of Mergut, and Amalaun, with the spirit of embracing a new culture, enthusiastically and wholeheartedly managed to avoid each one.
Noting this obsession with physical prowess, as well as the abundance of military occupations within Mergut, Amalaun decided in a lucid moment to keep his magical talents to himself. Boredom during a rock throwing contest, however, lead him to demonstrate his ability to disintegrate the rocks in mid air with his chaos bolts. It took some quick talking to convince Gorun that his ability wasn’t really magical, per se, just an innate talent that all drow possess. You know, like jumping, for Goliaths. Gorun’s friends were somewhat more skeptical.
Thus it was that Amalaun found himself on the move again, more from desire than from worry. Despite it’s reputation for slavery, Shiba Mal Tan was becoming more and more intriguing to the dark elf, as stories surrounding it’s thriving hub of magical activity were common (albeit told with a derisive snort). Also, rumours abounded over the whereabouts and the exploits of one Korin Jiki Mal, a brigand/poet who plagued the plains surrounding the city from whence he’d been exiled. Perhaps, he thought, if he brought that bandit to justice, especially through magical means, he might gains some leverage within the walls of Shiba Mal Tan. He set off with a burning zeal.
A month later Korin Jiki Mal and his band of brigands were splitting their most profitable haul to date, thanks to the addition of the new, dark skinned, magic wielding elf. Amalaun found that he had much more in common with the Koran Jiki and his life as a bandit than the dark elf had expected. That most other people he came across after leaving the high mountains around Mergut already assumed he was a bandit from the underworld, and treated him thusly, also influenced Amalaun’s change of heart.
Despite the excitement and riches, however, certain aspects of banditry life began to lose its appeal. The whole sleeping on the ground part, for instance. Or the frantic, middle-of-the-night, desperate escaping from bounty hunter ambushes. And while Korin Jiki followed a strong set of moral guidelines, the same could not be said for all his thugs. Amalaun was surprised to find that made a difference to him, as he blew the head off of one thoroughly bloodthirsty half-orc who had started to torture one of their robbery victims. This understandably created some tension between the dark-elf and some of Korin Jiki’s posse.
Always interested to find out more about this new surface world he was living in, Amalaun took to engaging their marks in conversation. It was through one particularly incensed merchant that he learned of The League—apparently Amalaun and the other bandits were all going to be “hunted down mercilessly and thrown to the dogs!” At least we’ll enjoy some wonderful Merlot in the process, Amalaun quipped while they relieved the merchant of his valuable cargo of wines. Nevertheless, the drow was quite intrigued.
Enough so that he eventually took his leave of the bandit group, returned to the heights of Mergut, and convinced Gorun’s superior that Gorun had been summoned to the fair city of Salerno to become one of the famed members of the League. And with his silver tongue (backed significantly by Gorun’s glowing credentials), Amalaun talked their way into the junior ranks of the company. Not a moment to soon. Amalaun soon discovered The League to be exactly the kind of organization in which he could thrive. Decent pay, travel benefits, relative autonomy backed by a certain level of diplomatic immunity—Amalaun was sure he could find the best way in which he could put the power of the League to abuse AH use.