The Kalnach Inquisition / A Better AgeRelic Description:
Named simply the Standard
by its wielder, this relic is a lacquered hardwood staff with a sharp point and long, high crossguard of the same wood, inlaid with metal rings. When used, the cross manifests a brilliant, ghostly banner depicting the emblem of the archaic warrior culture the Standard was produced by. At that point the wielder can freely though very temporarily summon Einherjar -warrior spirits- to attack, defend, or otherwise help him. While Einherjar can cry out, they cannot speak, and they last anywhere between a couple of seconds and a few minutes. They possess all the skills they did in life, though whether these apparitions are the actual spirits of the warriors or merely imitations is unknown. There are two limitations: first, the Standard drains not the wielder's energy, but his life, and extended use actually shortens his own life. Second, the wielder must have a very high degree of knowledge about he warrior he is to summon; until he has certain information he cannot summon at all, and any Einherjar is stronger the more he knows about his or her life. Beyond its extraordinary properties, the Standard is fairly usable as a nigh-indestructible spearAppearance:
Well-suited for high society in Kalnach's cold climate, Harold gives off every impression of a well-bred scholar. His long overcoat, predominantly dark blue, sports patches of gray-brown leather on the edges of pockets and across the shoulders and upper back. Tucked beneath the pronounced collar is a decorated white sash that extends in either direction to his knees, prone to flowing in the wind. Just visible above where his coat is tied is his vest and tie, and he wears dark trousers with ultra-thin vertical stripes in dark blue. As for the man himself, he is white with thin features, a sharp jaw, green eyes, and medium-long auburn hair perenially slicked back and tucked behind his ears. 'Pretty boy' describes both his appearance and physique reasonably wellFlaws:
Easy to Hate – both Harold's appearance and attitude make it easy to dislike him, whether out of envy, disgust, resentment, or whatever
Suboptimal Build – for a warrior-scholar, Harold is unremarkable in physique. While not weak or slow, he is not strong or fast, and will be beaten out by most fighters in straight combat
Proud – with his mantra of embetterment, as well as his upbringing, Harold's constructive criticism usually come out as condescension, he can be blind to some of his own errors and flaws, and one often feels that he is looking down on them
Unhappy – having learned from and grown to idealize the past, Harold despises the stagnation, oppression, and violence of Kalnach culture, yet he is a part of it, it having made him who he is, and he is too afraid to openly oppose it. This contradiction creates guilt and self-loathing, which in dark times gives rise to despair
Selfish – while driven in part by duty and principle, Harold tends to act in whatever way will better himself. This comes out most strongly when his own life is at risk, making him very cautious and pragmaticSkills:
Smart – sharp of mind, a quick thinker, observant and studious, able to figure things out, pragmatic and persuasive when necessary
Learned – boasts a wealth of knowledge, especially about the past and many of its interesting figures. This translates directly to power where his Relic is concerned
Trained – though sound enough of body, he utilizes training in dexterity to fight effectively with a crossbow, his aim true
Suave – stylish, elegant, proper, and clean, he fits the bill as a respected member of upper society
Discreet – Harold knows how to keep himself from standing out, to disappear when necessary, and to make things happen indirectly. He endeavors to avoid attracting attention, or giving information on himselfBiography:
A scion of the Valedine family, part of the Lower Noblity, Harold discovered his penchant for learning at a young age. Faced with a country mired in rigidity and callousness, he found fascinating refuge in tails of a glorious past, where magic filled the world and legends were real. While his elder brother Florence followed the path of their Inquisitor father Viscount Leonard Valedine from the start, Harold pursued the path of the scholar, educating himself in a reality long since passed. It was there, in the timeless tales of old and myriad societies with different principles and ideals, that Harold solidified his imperative: that life was about growth and betterment, never stagnation under the assumption that one was perfect as one was. His initiation in the histories as a potential career, during his teenage years, came from the interest of Countess Marian Revret, the wife of the Count to whom the Valedines were vassals. An ambitious and temperamental woman famed in the region for her beauty, she held her own wistful regard for humanity's better eras, and through correspondence with her -and convincing of her husband- Harold was able to secure admittance to one of Kalnach's institutes of learning. It was with sorrow that, a year later, Harold learned that Countess Marian seemed to vanish off the face of the earth. Rumors of delving and discovery in ancient Relics -taboo for a woman in Kalnach- circulated for a while, then were gone.
In Harold's later years of study his father and brother began to push for Harold to think about taking up the family occupation of Inquisitor, and after some reluctance the young man elected to agree. His long hours of poring over books and manuscripts became diluted by lessons in discipline and combat, and after an internship at Kalnach's inquisitional headquarters that introduced it to its workings and notable members, Harold discovered something of his own. An aged inquisitor, having been revealed as an Evoker and due for death, owned a Relic that intrigued Harold in particular—a Standard able to call up visions of warriors long dead. While a harsh critic of the Inquisition's methods and leadership, he found it hard to resist the temptation, and ultimately decided to enroll as a warrior-scholar once his studied were complete in the lofty hopes of reforming the organization from within. Of course, he was present at the old Evoker's execution and was chosen by his commander for his historical knowledge as the perfect candidate to bring an end to the inflammable, unbreakable Standard. He turned in a few splinters bearing chemical scars and was commended for his achievement, though what really happened to the Standard is not hard to guess.
Before long, Harold found himself fighting alongside his brother and father to quell violent disturbances inside the nation. Firsthand he witnesses the cruelty of the Inquisitors, and despair clawed at him—both for the permanence of his society's damage, and his inability to part from it. To retreat now, however, was to invite death, so work he did. When alone he wielded the Standard, having acquired it from the afflicted elder, with unprecedented mastery, bringing fragments of the history he loved to life, but whenever under scrutiny he fought from afar with an ordinary crossbow. During that time, he met a stocky, bearded man who was to become his good friend: Levi, an imaginative, worldly, good-humored brawler who complimented Harold's stoic wit perfectly. Levi and Harold's family, who shared to lesser degrees his disgust for the Inquisition's ignorant violence, were his only lights.
Before long, Harold's mission of helping to reform the Inquisition from within led him on a nebulous path. Persecution of those who should by all accounts be innocent, though never absent, had surged in recent months. In particular, annihilation of forbidden female evokers was on the rise—more seeming to appear than ever before. More worryingly, inquisitors who spoke of corruption and conspiracy began to disappear, one by one, along with random male citizens across the entire spectrum of classes. Though security was doubled and redoubled, no bodies were ever found. In the course of one wretched week, during the bitter winter, both Florence and Leonard disappeared, leaving Harold the sole living male Valedine. Dread gnawed at Harold's mind as he found his search subtly obstructed by agents of High Inquisitor Derenguer, a cruel man whose rise in the ranks over recent years had been startling to behold. His gaze turned to Derenguer himself, and the utter lack of information about him prior to his appearance and subsequent ascent. Similarly shrouded in mystery was Derenguer's Relic, purported by furtive men in shadowed stairwells to be deadlier than any weapon.
Unable to progress with his investigation for fear of his own sudden disappearance, Harold turned his mind elsewhere. Less than a week later, something strange took place. During one of his visits to an oft-overlooked book store, Harold found himself accosted by a ragged woman with short, red-brown hair and terror in her eyes. While even in this state many would have thought her pretty, Harold realized that a bizarre, lingering feeling of familiarity prevented any kind of attraction. That sensation convinced him to hear what the woman had to say, and in hushed tones she gushed forth mad, seditious ravings. Harold went home amazed and disturbed, filled with doubts and apprehensions.
The next day, he turned his research once again toward ancient Relics. Poring over the records, he found -to his surprise- mention of a decadent lost civilization's bizarre, indulgence artifices, including a curved dagger alleged to swap the sex of its victims
. Such a thing was an oddity in any other land, he realized, but an object of nightmarish potential in Kalnach, particularly where Relics were involved. Puzzle pieces began to fit into place, about his strange visitor, about the talks of corruption and many disappearances...about High Inquisitor Derenguer.
After arranging a meeting with the mysterious woman and his friend Levi, Harold made a plan. Letters were sent, their warnings and explanations read by certain authorities, and before long word came of an inquisitional raid on the home of Derenguer and his subsequent arrest. Little is known about what occurred in those trials, but Derenguer never reappeared, and instead Countess Marian appeared and was denounced to the public as an Evoker. The next day she was duly obliterated, just as Derenguer had so many others -whether guilty or not- in an ingenious pursuit of vengeance. However, her knife, meant for the same oblivion, disappeared.
Life for Harold, however, returned to normal—even a bit better. With the scare over and its toll taken, things were quiet in Kalnach. Murmurings of war brewing within Kheris, however, and the assumed death of inquisitors sent there, hinted of chaos and war in the near future that threatened Kalnach's status quo. Harold, known far more broadly as a historian rather than a fighter, was selected as one of a number of discreet men to go undercover and enter Kheris in order to find out just what was going on. Glad to get away from Kalnach, he did not object, but neither did he, as the mission stipulated, go alone.Personality/motivation:
While 'enigmatic, haughty genius' is the best summation of the impression Harold has left on others, and one that he does not try to dissuade, it does not tell the whole story. He's definitely intelligent, with a tongue as quick as his wit often put to use in cutting jokes, sarcastic observations, and general condescension. In addition, he is faster to be critical of women, though predominantly in psychological matters. That said, while he may make idle fun of others and put them down, any kind of malice more than teasing is only meant to be constructive, and anything more malicious than that does not exist.
Beneath the somewhat pompous exterior is a man who wants the best for himself and others, whether or not they realize it or want his help, this attitude even extending to those of lower class—which itself hints at his profound dissatisfaction with the stagnant state of Kalnach. It is one of life's imperatives, he believes, to continue growing and changing, becoming better every day. His behavior, characteristic or a slightly inconsiderate perfectionist, stems in part from his own self-loathing for not being able to be a better, more altruistic person, and for being a part of the system he has grown to despise. Though quick with words when he feels like it, he is more often quiet and reclusive, skirting around talk about himself at every opportunity. While he seems perfectly at place in a cathedral or a ball he's far happier in a library or the archives. Less prideful than others might expect of him, though not quite humble, he does not treat others with open scorn, and is genial with the friends he does earn. Learning is one of his great pursuits, with history and its incredible characters as his chief passion.
In terms of motivation Harold is not so driven by principle that he is not self-serving, desiring both to be respected as a warrior-scholar and to live a exciting, interesting life, but to that end he is also motivated by the preservation of his nation against possible chaos and war, even if he does not approve of its way of life.Relations:
Levi – a good friend. Stocky, black-bearded, and bald, his is a powerful and commanding presence, but his companionable good nature and military sensibility balance it out to make him an excellent companion. Nevertheless, he is quite the fighter, and sports a hot temper. In battle he wields a great cleaver
capable of splitting into pieces along a central rope, making it into an enormous, deadly whip.
Flora – a steadfast accomplice. Not dissimilar from Harold in appearance, she is supposedly his half-sister, but even a little time spent around her gives the impression that she has lived a very different life, for she seems broken in some inexplicable way. If asked, she tells that she was enslaved at a point in her early adulthood and barely managed to escape alive. Though shy and untrusting, with an aversion to being out in the open, she is dependable, rational, and a capable fighter with an axe
that, while clearly wielded with experience, is oddly ill-suited for her hand.
Humphrey Swallowtail - an inquisitor, and Harold's commander. Humphrey is a man who has suffered much, thanks to Kalnach life, Evokers, and even the inquisition itself, making his drropy, mustached face as grim as his deeds. Yet, one might get the idea by looking at him that he's tired of the excessive burning and bloodshed; of the strong crushing the weak just because they can. His judgment in cases is slightly less fanatical than the others, though he's more than willing to give the order to annihilate evildoers. Humphrey himself fights with extreme talent, using a rapier shaped like a needle, its pommel a ring with attached thread that winds around a retractable drumFinal Point - Secrets: