Exarch Lysvita, The Lady of of the Galans
The Lady of the Galans is not human. She is the last of the Angelos, a now-dead people reknown for their radiance, and their unmistakable wings, great branches that, when fully extended, can measure up to 20 meters across. Tall by human standards, she is almost six feet in height. Her eyes are shining light, the iris a burning fire where one would expect dull brown or blue. Her features are more handsome than beautiful, giving her an air of nobility and wisdom. Finally, she permeates a faint light at all times, setting her apart from those around her.
Personality and Drive:
Lysvita is at once both selfless beyond measure, and yet deep down selfish. She does genuinely care for the lives of others; her mission in this world, since the fall of Old Galenave, has always been to protect her people and the lives of humanity at large. For this cause, she would lay down her own life without hesitation. She sees herself- and is seen by others- as a paragon of virtue and nobility, defending the weak from the strong in this cruel world.
Nevertheless, she has the unfortunate tendency to disregard the wishes and decisions of others, imposing her own vision of "good" on a world that does not necessarily share her views nor desire her protection. Her greatest such act was abandoning Old Galenave to its death in days of old, her decision to ignore the consensus of the Elders to stand against Izalith, perhaps dooming that great city to destruction. Her arrogance in her world view has often blinded her to harm she has committed inadvertently.
Lysvita was born an Angelos. Her people were a magical and proud, their kind not succumbing to the touch of age or illness. Their purpose, given to them by the gods, was to shepherd the souls of the dead in Ethica to their final resting places. Their city in this world, Old Galenave, was a wonder to behold, a gilded work of art of beauty unmatched then or now. Though few in number, they ruled over their own principality in the east of what is now the Empire. In exchange for tribute and labor, the Council of the Elders, the ruling body of the oldest and most powerful of the Angelos, saw to the protection and well being of their human subjects.
Lysvita never conformed to the ideals of her kin. Where the Angelos were focused on the celestial world, on the affairs of spirits, souls and gods, she was enthralled with the material world in which they lived, and argued vehemently for the cause of the humans their kind ruled over, the Galans. Because of her unorthodox views, and also her relative weakness compared to the older Angelos, she was not influential nor particularly noteworthy in their order of the world.
And then the legions of Izalith came.
Near seventy years ago, the Elders, alarmed by Mother Night's aggressive expansion and offended by the interference of a deity in worldly matters, resolved to stand against the dark goddess. Having been the masters of their corner of the world for thousands of years, they assumed their arcane might would be sufficient to defeat her. They were wrong. Rather than risk the damaging of their beloved metropolis, the Angelos departed from Old Galenave with all their power, a shining army of light that marched to confront the dark. It was on the fields of Infernath that the Elders chose to meet Mother Night in battle.
What occurred on that field is remembered by few, those who could boast to having survived that terrible day being rare. The Angelos weaved their magic to crack open the land and turn the grass to ash, turning Infernath into a field of fire that still today burns hot from their residue. But they had, in their vanity, opposed a god; the Angelos were nearly wiped out there and then. The few survivors- Lysvita included- limped back to Old Galenave a shadow of their former selves. The surviving Elders decided to close the gates and make a stand in their golden city.
However, Lysvita had seen first hand the horrors their war had inflicted upon the Galans, of the rape and ruin brought onto every village between the Empire and Old Galenave by the fighting. She knew that a siege would condemn thousands of innocents to death for a hopeless cause. Therefore, she rallied all those who would follow her, and fled the city, earning her infamy among the Angelos as a craven and betrayer. She was not there when the imperial armies arrived at the walls of the city, when they stormed its walls and put its inhabitants to the sword. The Angelos fought to the last, and were killed to the last. The city was sacked savagely for days, ending only when the spires, no longer supported by the magic of their builders, began to crumble into the sea. And so Old Galenave was swept away, the golden city now a ruined blight on the land.
Meanwhile, Lysvita led her host as far away as possible, making their way south along the coast. Hers was not an army, but rather a starving rabble that devoured everything in its path. Conditions in their long march were terrible, and thousands died of disease, starvation, thirst and exposure. Still, they continued, until they came face to face with an army sworn to Izalith, led by an Archon. The galans were too weak to lift a spear, even if they had the ability to fight, which they didn't; all the warriors had died at Infernath, or on the walls of Old Galenave. Seeing no other way to save her people, Lysvita committed an act that would surely have the Angelos spitting on her from beyond the grave. She bent the knee to Mother Night, and the Empire.
The Galans were permitted to settle on that spot. There, they founded New Galenave. In the many years since then, what was once a collection of huts and tents has grown into an important Imperial port, and one of the major cities in the south of the Empire. The Lady of the Galans has ensured their safety by fighting on distant battlefields in the name of Izalith, spreading death to protect the lives of her people. The irony is not lost on her.
Currently, Lysvita owes her fielty to Soraya, Archon of Change.
- Lysvita's Armor: Of the same kind that every Angelos received upon coming of age, Lysvita's armor is no mere suit of bronze. The power imbued in it deflects blows aimed at her, by muddling the mind of those who would do her harm and making them miss. Of course, this effect scales depending on how focused the foe is on the attack: a hail of arrows, not being aimed at anything in particular, would pass by her harmlessly, while a single attacker utterly concentrated on striking her down would not be affected. Additionally, this power declines depending on the target's own power. Archons are completely immune to its effects. Still, even without this magical phenomenon, the suit is of the finest quality, and can resist blows very well.
- The Sword of Akasha: One of the few things Lysvita managed to save from the destruction of Old Galenave, the Sword of Akasha is an blade as old as the Angelos themselves, its material neither bronze nor iron, seemingly indestructible no matter how many blows are rained down on it. Tied to her will as its wielder, the Sword of Akasha bursts into flames when she is enraged in battle. Such a sword can cook a man alive.
Though a mere shadow of what the great Angelos elders wrought, Lysvita does possess her own magical powers that mark her as an exarch. Her touch cures sickness, heals flesh and mends bone, and she has been known to bring the dying back from their deathbeds from time to time. Additionally, she the ability to link her own life with another, as she has done with Aethelhelm. This is a power she has only used once, however.
Aside from these, she also has mother mundane abilities. She can, of course, fly, thanks to the great wings that sprout from her back. This is very tiring, however, and she can't make long distances like that. She is also skilled with the sword in a way that only one who has trained in that art for a hundred years can be.
- Mother Night: "Galenave was a wonder in this world, a shining gem and beacon to humanity. And now it is dust, due to Izalith's mad ambitions. She has no care for how many die in her cursed drive for worldly domination. Would that I had the strength to oppose her... Alas, the folly of that course has already been made abundantly clear. The best I can do is to soften her tyranny by working within the system."
- Soraya, Archon of Change: "Archon Soraya is unpredictable and mercurial, certainly not somebody I would trust. Her whims change with the wind. Still, she seems to at least care about the welfare of her subjects, a refreshing habit considering the vile behavior I've witnessed from the others of Izalith's chosen. My fealty to her, though wrung at sword point, has been earned over the years, and keeping her in the Empire's high echelons is a cause worth fighting for."
- Kabius Grim, Archon of Shadow: "The man is a mystery. I've seen him little, spoken to him less... and heard more rumors than I'd cared to. Intrigue and deceit are as bread and wine are to the common man, they say. Any man willing to soil himself with such dishonorable activities as spycraft is no more than a rat in human form. The less I have to deal with this rat, the better."
- Kuth Irkalla, Archon of Blood: "I've only ever seen the Archon of Blood from distance. Though I've rarely felt the fear so common to mortals, that man- if he can be called such- unsettles even me. The tales coming from his decaying isle are not fit for repeating. And though I might reject the more extreme stories as embellishment and hearsay, it is evident that the man cares only for his own advancement. Such kind as he would send ten thousand to their deaths if it advanced them an inch. If the heavens are good, he and Kabius will slay each other, and this world will be rid of both."
- Manuel Skleros: "The scum of Ardaza. He is little better than a thug, a petty, sinful waste of blood and bone who thinks only of his own gain. The day this villain reaps his due is the day true justice will have been served."
- Sergius: "Say what you will of the man, he is a fine soldier. He is one of the finest generals of the Empire, and his loyalty is unquestionable. His way of war is pragmatic, avoiding bloodshed where it is unnecessary. If nothing else, he has my respect."
- Kalon: "I've known Kalon for quite a while, as we both owe our fielty to Archon Soraya. Though his actions are selfless, his obsession with the letter of the law troubles me. A law which causes suffering to the common man is against the interests of the Empire, but he insists on following every damn regulation in the codes. He all too often seems to enforce the law for its own sake."
Aethelhelm 'the Undying'
Hero of Galenave, the Sword of Lysvita
Hero of Galenave, the Sword of Lysvita
"I never asked to be given this curse. Then again, none of us ask for the 'gifts' with which fate mocks us."
Aethelhelm is old in body, and older in mind. Though still as large as he was in his prime, his mop of black hair has withered away to slivers of silver, and his skin is taught on his bones. Notably, he is covered in scars, the marks of a dozen deaths. All over his body, one can see marks where spears have pierced him and blades have bit into his flesh. His right eye is missing, leaving only a stitched patch of skin there. The remaining eye is sunken, and his gaze is weary.
Personality and Drive:
The Hero of Galenave is a dour and serious man, not one prone to smiles or joviality. He views the world in with jaded lens, and is perpetually pessimistic. Though he sees evil everywhere he looks, he still strives to protect the defenseless of the world, even though that seems more and more like a fool's errand with every passing year. He takes no precautions for his own life, and throws himself heedlessly into danger to protect others, knowing that no matter how many times he is struck down, he never truly dies.
He is tired of the world and its horrors, and his only remaining wish is to die in the service of others. The Lady's touch prevents him from dying, however, and so he goes on and on, serving her in the hopes that one day she will release him form what he views as a curse. He never asked to be chosen by Lysvita; all he can do is keep going.
The man today known as the hero of Galenave was not born a Galan. He was born seventy five years ago among the Caester, a northern people who resisted the Empire's march rather than be absorbed by it. Their homeland was destroyed, and their people displaced, Aethelhelm included. As a young man barely out of boyhood, he was thus forced into exile far away from home. On his wanderings, he came near the city of New Galenave, and in that region saved a traveler's life from a group of brigands, at the cost of a spear in the gut. The wound was mortal, and the Galan healers were unable to do anything for him.
Lysvita heard of his plight, however, and healed him with a touch. In his heart, she saw something she approved of, and left her mark on his flesh,a pair of outstretched wings. Grateful for his life, he swore himself to her service. He did not truly understood what the mark on his neck meant until the day a foeman slit his throat on a battlefield. To his own surprise, and certainly that of his enemy, the wound closed itself, and he found himself rising. The gift the Lady had given him was one of life: she had tied his life to hers. From then on, he could never die for good.
For decades, he has killed for the Lady, for some archon he never met, and for some god he cared nothing for. Every time he has come back from death, he has felt more and more drained, almost fatigued. He can no longer bring himself to look upon the world with wonder and optimism. Everywhere he looks, he sees death and meaningless pain. He continues to serve, however, as he always has.
Aethelhelm does not have any particular magical equipment. Instead, he wears a suit of iron, a rarity almost beyond price in the Empire. In battle, he wields a giant two handed sword, which he uses to deadly effect.
Though trained in the spear as any warrior is, his main expertise is with a blade. Specifically, a very big one. Almost since the day he was born he has been defending himself with his sword arm, and he has become one of the great swordsmen of the age, facilitated of course by his unnaturally long lifespan. He knows how to survive alone in the wilderness, as often required by those who ride to war. His skills in matters other than bloodletting are much lesser; though intelligent, he has always felt his place was in danger, with a weapon in hand.
"You're damn right we're mongrels. This city was founded by the downtrodden, and built up by heretics, beggars, and defended by cravens. And we're still thriving, because we stick together."
Among cities, some are ancient, and some newborn. New Galenave is most definitely newborn; it takes pride in its youth, its enthusiastic tradesmen and merchants ignoring the thinly-veiled contempt of the old established cartels. Founded some sixty years ago by refugees fleeing the Empire's conquests, it is nowhere as wealthy or expansive as other imperial metropolises, but it is growing year by year.
A bustling port town of around 19 000, it is one of the main stops for trading ships sailing to Lesmiana. Most of the city is little more than a shantytown, a collection of ill-built huts in a mire of muck and mud. Of defenses, there is only a pallisade built around the keep, an old ruin repurposed as the seat of the Exarch. The Hillside is a much more refined section, with respectable manses and paved roads. One cannot visit New Galenave without hearing the sound of construction. It's often said that the Galans could expand their city to the ends of the world, and would still commission a new district.
Of note is the Hall of the Ancestors, a large stone temple dedicated to the dead, and which acts as a hospital. The town is renown for its healers, the art finding great patronage with the Exarch, who herself uses her powers to mend the wounded when they are required.
Galans are not a single unified people; or rather, they have not been for many years now. As their people fled the destruction of Old Galenave, many outsiders joined the host, and the growing town has further diluted the original people. Some customs, however, are held in great esteem by the inhabitants. Charity and compassion are key virtues. Even though the Galans are not particularly rich as far as townspeople go, most still make annual offerings to the community, whether it be food, coin, or service.
Additionally, its people insist on the holiness of sanctuary and hospitality. It is abhorrent to deny someone the right to rest in your home, and those who would harm guests are seen as some of the worst possible sinners. Finally, Galans are not a warlike people. Few chose to be warriors, a fact which is a continuous source of friction with the imperial authorities. This is not to say that they they are unwilling to defend their homes, or meet outlaws with steel; as a people, they are simply averse to violent solutions, and the taking of a life, even that of a fiend, is seen as a tragedy.
Of course, the laws of both Izalith and the Archon of Change, Soraya, rule in Galenave. Being a comparatively small settlement, it has few laws of its own, apart from the usual codes on property ownership and petty crimes. The Exarch does not usually implicate herself in the legal process, seeing herself more as a protector than a participant in the system. Instead, she oversees a council of respected members of the community, who make laws and pass judgement on matters of law.
Visitors should be aware that veneration of the dead is held in very high regard by the Galans, death being something of a religion for that people. Desecration, graverobbing, and - worst of all- necromancy are harshly punished, being some of the few crimes for which Lysvita has no mercy.
The Galans are not a warlike people, and have little in the way of martial tradition. They provide the Empire levies as tithes for Mother Night's wars, but these are not so much soldiers as they are farmers, armed with clubs and rusted scythes for the most part. Most cannot afford to purchase expensive iron, or even bronze armaments. The militia garrisoning the town itself are a better equipped, though are few in number for a settlement of its size.
When truly roused, the Galans prefer to fight by avoiding battle. They have come to excel at guerrilla warfare, and Galan skirmishers serving as auxiliaries are well respected by Imperial generals for their wiles. After all, when all one has to fight with is a throwing spear, a knife, and the clothes on one's back, creativity is required to survive.
Galan skirmishers executing an ambush