Hugon's eyes snapped towards the curtain as it began to move by itself, his hand instinctively going towards his dagger. The hair on the back of his neck began to stand up as he heard the rings of the curtains scrapping against the rod. Something awful was coming, he could sense it. He watched the servant approach the curtain, waving the man forward. Hugon's dagger was ripped out of its sheathe as the servant suddenly fell to his knees and wailed, a sound reminiscent of the screams of the dying but somehow so much worse than any Hugon had heard in his long years of violence and war. What is out there? More importantly, what is coming? Hugon thought, tightening his grip on his dagger. Maker how he wished he had his axe and his armor, but those were both carefully stored away in the manor. He had assumed that even with how bad the surrounding area was, the darkness hadn't crept fully into the town yet. That it was relatively safe for him to let his guard down in. Now it looked like he was going to pay for that foolish assumption.
Hugon carefully began to move to check on the screaming man as the orc servant panicked and attempted to run. The door was jammed by some foul magic, Hugon could hear the desperate struggles as he drew near towards the other man. When the orc began howling as well, the paladin turned around in time to see the light in the room be snuffed out, and a creature straight out of the depths of hell enter the room. The hideous screaming of the servants suddenly ceased, and the silence that followed was thick and oppressing.
Terror raged through Hugon as all the symbols of the Maker on the walls of the room fell to the ground, destroyed. He had been afraid before. When his brother was destroying the village, during battle against the orcs, hunting rogue mages, charging into the lines of heretics during the crusade, but he had never felt pure primal terror like this before. Everything in his being told him to flee this place. Flee this town, this area, this entire country before that vile thing came any closer. But he could not. He had made a promise to Lord Lochborne, and if he abandoned his promise now, not only would he be a wretched coward but what happened in Yolocto would happen here. It took all of his might, but he managed to keep the terror from his face. He wouldn't give this creature the satisfaction of seeing his fear on his face.
As the monster leaned towards him, his palms began to burn with an old pain.
He didn't hear what the creature said to the others, too focused on standing his ground to bother paying attention to what lies it was spewing. Faith was his corner stone, and he would not lose it. The Maker provided, even in dark times such as these. He glanced down at the servant at his feet. The man was dead, that much was obvious. The paladin doubted that the orc had survived this ordeal either. Hugon's eyes widened as he saw his own mutilated corpse swaying in the noose. Then he gritted his teeth. He would not let the creature get the best of him. He would not. As the monster finished his prophecy, Hugon's free hand reached up and clutched the symbol of the maker around his neck. Courage. The Maker provided. He would not be bested by such a horror.
"Begone, demon!" Hugon forced strength into his voice, making himself look the blackened skull. He would not let fear control him, or this damned monster have its way. Righteous fury welled within, giving him strength to speak past his fear. "We may not be the chosen, but we are the ones who will succeed! We will fight our way through these cursed lands, we will cut down the monstrosity that hangs over this city, and we will send you back to hell! The Maker wills it, and it will be done! Begone! You cannot turn us away from our path!"
Name of Nation: Drakon, The Fortress City of Gold, Blessed Under the Dragon Star
Species: Primarily Humans, but the mercenaries and tradesmen result in a large variety of other races.
Culture and Society: Drakon is a merchant kingdom ruled by a single Monarch and a Council of the richest members of the city. The monarch is the one who handles most decisions that affect the city as a whole, but uses the Council as advisers and can be overruled if enough of the Council oppose his decision.
Given the influx of tradesmen, artisans, and others to Drakon's wealth and security, the culture of Drakon is has very few common factors across all of its citizens.
Drakon places a high value on money and business. After all, it was how they gained their independence from Imascia, and is how they have continued their independence to this day. The most esteemed members of society are those who gained their riches through clever marketing and business strategy.
Drakon also places a high value on flexibility, innovation, and adaptability. Being able to adapt to the circumstances, find creative solutions to problems, and bend in order to make deals and get things done are considered to be the best qualities a person can have. Which is why Drakonians are often puzzled by some nation's fixations on tradition, fixation on race, or their inability to let the past go and look to the future. The only things that matter to Drakonians is how reliably you can make money and how clever you are when faced with problems.
The religion of Drakon is very small, and has little to no impact on the lives of its followers or the kingdom itself. They worship a minor dragon god of wealth, Gurthan (whose holy star the Dragon Star Bank was founded under) who they believe takes only those who have made themselves wealthy through their own ingenuity and cunning into his Golden lands. Thus the religion places a strong value on individual ability.
History: So much history happened here. Yep. SOOOOO much.
Territorial Claims: Very small claim on the eastern coast, right beneath Imascia.
Economy: Through marketing their mercenaries for hire and expanding their trade network, Drakon has established itself as an economical powerhouse. They have trade stations in every nation that hasn't outright denied them such a right, and have large land based trade routes. The city-state has gone to great lengths to ensure that even in times of war their own trade routes are not disrupted, keeping the coin flowing in and out of Drakon smoothly. Their mercenaries are available to be sent all over the world and can be seen in actions across the globe, as can their various assassin, mage, spy and thief guilds. Drakon has become very effective at producing finished products, buying large amounts of raw resources and turning them into luxury products. Along with The Grand Duchy of Rhaetia, Drakon has a firm stranglehold on the international salt and slave trades, often allying with Rhaetia to ensure that their dominance of those two very lucrative markets stays unchallenged.
Drakon's trading outposts have specially crafted mirrors that allow instant communication back to Drakon itself, allowing for mercenaries to be hired, orders to be placed, and information to be sent back to Drakon instantaneously. These mirrors are costly to place and difficult to move, and are required to all be active for the farthest ones to connect to one other (for example, if there is one in Annotilus and it wants to be used to talk to the one in Drakon, there has to be active mirrors in trade posts across Takanis to allow that connection, otherwise its just local communication) but once in place connect Drakon's outposts in a way no other trade network can.
The Dragon Star Bank is one of Takanis' largest financial institutions. They offer loans, invest in growing industries and governments, help establish trade, and a variety of other services. The bank has branches and representatives all over the world, often coming into conflict with Balk and Valiant over the markets there. More than happy to loan coin to whomever needs it, be they peasant or king, the Dragon Star Bank keeps careful accounts of who owes them money and how much. And the bank always gets its money back, one way or another.
To sum up, Drakon's wealth comes from the mercenaries (be they soldiers, spies, assassins, mages, or thieves) it sells to others, the luxury products it delivers across the world, its joint stranglehold on the international salt and slave trades with Rhaetia, and their extensive land based trade.
Army: The army of Drakon is largely made up of various mercenary companies, all from different parts of the globe. Variety is this military's greatest strength and what allows them to be sold to so many around the world. In extremely dire times, the mercenary companies can all be called back to Drakon to fight under its banner. Such times are rare, however, as Drakon goes to great extents to avoid having actual war declared on them.
The only part of the Drakonian military that isn't purely mercenary are the Wardens, a heavy infantry force whose sole purpose is to defend Drakon from invasion, serving jointly as a powerful city guard and military police for all the various bands of mercenaries that can violently clash inside the city from time to time, and to protect Drakon's trade caravans. These soldiers, as part of their training, are available for hire as mercenaries and serve in such a fashion for five years. They are available at a much lesser cost than what they're worth, as Drakon wants them to have experience in battle as much as possible and as soon as possible. Those who survive after five years are then taken to Drakon itself to be assigned either as city guards or caravan guards as necessary. The Wardens represent Drakon's most elite and well equipped force, and stand ready to hold the city against any and all invaders.
Navy: The navy at Drakon's disposal is less than the army, but still respectable. Based off of the strongest navy nearby, Sangahara they have a decent amount of warships at their disposal (300 to be exact) but the vast majority of their naval focus has been on trade ships that can fend off pirate attacks and survive the seas to deliver goods.
Economic Powerhouse: Drakon's economy is one of the strongest in the world, and very few things are out of their reach to fund. (+4 to Economy tree)
Military of Mercenaries: Drakon has a wide variety of mercenaries and soldiers to call upon to fight for them or sell to the highest bidder, but these men and women are driven by coin and power rather than loyalty. (+4 to army and navy, but the mercenaries can be more easily bought or coerced than soldiers of other nations)
Fortress City: Drakon was originally built with defense in mind, and only upgraded from there. It is a formidable location to assault, with high and strong fortress walls and numerous defenses to repel any invasions. It is also a difficult location to siege, with almost nothing to sustain enemy forces in the surrounding landscape, huge stores of food to last the population five years, and a fresh water underground lake, taking the city of Drakon would be an extremely costly ordeal. Due to the size and power of their neighbors, Drakon has become one of the most powerfully defended cities in the world.
Barren land: The lands around Drakon are not suited for growing food or harvesting resources. Drakon is forced to import nearly all of its food and raw supplies.
Communication magic: Ever interested in overcoming the difficulties of land trade, Drakon has developed magical mirrors that can allow for instantaneous communication between the two pairings, connecting their various trade posts and drakon around the world in a way not seen by other nations. This has cost Drakon dearly to develop, however, and much of their research in other magical areas has been crippled by it. (Unique tech tree, -2 on any rolls to increase magical sophistication stats)
Rhaetia: Simultaneously Drakon's fiercest rival and closest ally, the relationship between the two merchant kingdoms is complex, to say the least. They both work greatly to gain the upper hand over one another in the various trade markets, but also jointly defend those trade routes from others who would seek to eliminate one or both of them from those markets, and those who would disrupt the trade of both republics.
Everyone else: A trade partner, to some degree. (Can and probably will be changed based on other player input, but Drakon will try very hard to be trade buddies with everyone)
Rolls: (Rolled by GM in the Discord Server. Just ping me, and I’ll roll as soon as I’m able.)
For all of her bravado and cutting remarks, Andrea respected Ansgar as a mechanic. As asinine as he could be, he knew what he was talking about and wasn't prone to crying wolf. Which was why she cut back on the throttle as soon as his yelled warning came through the comms. The ship shuddered to a stop a half second before an explosion rocked it. She clung to her chair as the Lux shuddered and groaned under the impact of the explosion, and hoped that this wasn't the straw that would break the camels back and kill the ship for good. As everything calmed down and they were all still alive, she turned her attention to checking the rest of the ship's systems and her thoughts turned to what could have caused such an explosion. Andrea's first instinct was sabotage. Ansgar would've already said he was fixing it if something critical had given out in the Lux (something that had happened more times than Andrea would like to admit).
Andrea was finishing quickly checking over the ship's systems as Teg made her way out of the area. The pilot gave the mercenary a half-distracted wave just to indicate that she had be, mostly, listening. Andrea breathed a sigh of relief as she saw that none of the other essential parts of the ship had given out under the stress of the explosion and leaned back in her seat, looking over her collection of figurines to make sure that they hadn't been knocked loose, or worse, stolen by that damned cat again when she wasn't looking.
Reassured that her prized figurines were still in place, she leaned forward and activated the comms for the entire ship. She didn't know where Ansgar was and also needed to make a general check of hands anyways. "Everyone still in one piece? Groan in agony if you're dying. Ansgar, what the fuck happened down there, and how soon can we get back up and running? I don't wanna try to fly all the way to Glao space with only half an engine to putt us along." She was already getting nervous as it was. Damaged ships like this were prime targets for piracy, and she didn't fancy their chances if the wrong types of people happened to fly by.
Leaning back she rubbed the coin on her necklace again, muttering to herself, "Never should've taken on that Judge. He's a fucking curse."
Hugon watched the carriage make its slow way through the crowds and the bleak city. The paladin was out of his plate armor, dressed in light furs to combat a chill he could not seem to shake, and armed with a dagger at his side. There was a symbol of the maker hung around his neck that he idly played with, partly out of habit and partly out of reassurance. He had arrived a few days earlier, exploring the town a little before making his way to the manor. It was a dark place. Hope was nowhere to be seen, faith in the Lochbornes was gone, and faith in the Maker was all but faded completely. The people were beaten down by the evil that had crept into the land, the air, the water, the very soul of Malacast itself. They felt, no , they knew that there was nothing to be done about the curse and that anyone summoned by Lord Lochborne would just be driven mad or cut down like all the others before had been.
Hugon had done what he could to ease the suffering, but there was only so much one man could do against such darkness, especially a man such as Hugon. His talents had never laid in healing or aiding those harmed by magic, but in cutting down the creatures and villains who had harmed them. The paladin's thoughts turned to the Hanged Man, and he felt a damnable, irrepressible, shiver go down his spine. He had only seen the cursed cadaver from a great distance, swaying gently from his tree on the hill, but he had been certain that the monster was looking right at him, cutting through his armor and demeanor to leer directly at Hugon's soul.
The paladin had made sure to avoid looking at the cursed creature ever since.
He looked on impassively as the crowd was ruthlessly dispersed by the guards. Fear lead to madness, and madness had to be repressed at any cost, or all would be lost. Hugon turned from the window and made his way back farther into the house to prepare for the meeting with Lord Lochborne and the rest. Hugon had not been told anything by Lochborne since he had arrived at the cursed city, simply told that he would be told more when the rest of the Lochborne family's friends arrived. That time had arrived, and despite a feeling of relief at finally being able to begin taking action against the curse that hung so heavily over Malacast, Hugon felt a growing sense of dread at what was to come.
The dining room only made the feeling worse. The symbols of the Maker, usually symbols that brought comfort, seemed to bring the hint of hysteria and despair by the sheer amount present in the room. To say nothing of how the books seemed to watch his every move with a disturbingly predatory gaze. Hugon entered the dining room right as the last of their number finished introducing himself, a young man covered in grime and dirt from the road with a heavy gaze and a scarred visage. The man seemed ready to leap out of his chair at any moment. At least he kept his gear well maintained and clean. That, Hugon supposed, was a small blessing. The other warrior of the group was a dwarf, one of the few Hugon had seen in his travels. A friendly face covered in wrinkles and a large white beard, with a stout frame and scarred face. Hugon hoped that the dwarf's age meant he was someone to be relied on when they undertook this cursed quest, for the Paladin didn't see things in the others that he trusted.
The other two were less reassuring. One was a human woman, with strange facial tattoos and jewelry on her clothing. Her clothes were at least practical, but something about her made Hugon's skin crawl. She looked like someone who had delved where she shouldn't, and that was someone to be wary of. The other was an elf, whose face and skin was as gnarled as the dwarf's was. Dressed in tattered clothes with a seemingly endless number of pouches and pockets, she seemed kind. What was more concerning was the bandages that could be seen, peaking out of her torn gloves.
Strange company the Lochborne family keeps.
"I am Hugon. I arrived here a few days ago at the same request of Lord Lochborne's as you all. He has told me nothing more than what he has told you all, I'm afraid, so we will simply have to wait for him to return."
Gender Male Age: 32 Race: Human Profession: Paladin of the Holy Order: The Maker's Fist.
Detailed Appearance: Hugon has a powerful build, sculpted by a life of war. Standing at six feet exactly, he holds himself tall and proud with his intense dark brown eyes almost constantly on the move, a habit he has picked up from his days of hunting rogue magic users. He keeps his beard neatly trimmed and his shoulder length hair typically tied back, ready for combat. He has relatively few scars, a few on his body, but the most notable are the burn scars on the palms of his hands. Hugon will absent mindedly rub them from time to time. A serious man, it is rare to see his expression shift from its usual focused and stern look. The only time it can be reliably predicted is when he is dealing with magic. When speaking against it he is passionate and driven his iron look replaced with one of fervent belief and conviction. When viewing it there is, at best, disdain on his face and at worst outright hate. When battling against it his face is twisted in rage, hatred, and a deep-set desire to kill and destroy the abomination he his facing.
When not in his armor, Hugon prefers practical, utilitarian, clothing. Leathers for warm weather, furs for cold, and always a pair of sturdy boots. He is always armed with his dagger.
Hugon was born to a family of farmers along the southern border of Baldock, next to the badlands. His family were serfs, having exchanged most of their freedom for the safety of that the local lord and his men provided. Hugon, his elder brother Leon, and his father worked the lord's fields, while his mother cleaned his castle. Hugon adored his older brother. They were thick as thieves, always together, always looking to cause mischief. Where there was trouble, there was the Goscelnius brothers. Truth be told it was always Leon leading the charge, and Hugon following. Leon had his brother wrapped around his finger, and they shared practically everything.
It wasn't a good life, but it was the life that they had and his parents were content with that. They were safe from the raids that plagued so many of the other border villages, and they had a roof over their heads. That was all they required.
Hugon and Leon felt differently. They hated being forced to work for the lord. Hated how he took so much of their own crops. Hated how his men would walk about, puffed up like roosters even though all they ever did was get drunk at the local tavern and jeer at the serfs. Hated how violent and cruel the lord was when he got into his drinks, and how on those nights their mother would come home hiding new bruises. They dreamed of a time when they would have the power to change all of that, to change the circumstances they lived in and make the lord and his men pay.
That time came when Leon turned 15, and discovered he had magic. It was completely by accident. Hugon, only thirteen at the time, and Leon were trying to fix the family plow, having accidentally broken it while sword-fighting with their wooden swords, and Leon shouted a curse and threw his hands in the air in frustration. Fire shot from his palms into the sky. Both Leon and Hugon froze and looked at each other. Then slowly to Leon's palms, then back at each other. Cautiously, Leon held a palm out and focused. More flames shot out. He jumped back in alarm, then did again and again, the smile on his face growing wider each time. "Careful Leon," Hugon begged, worry battling with excitement, "you don't want to burn the field, and besides remember what we know about magic? It always hurts you too!"
Leon laughed, waving a dismissive hand. "It doesn't hurt, Hugh! Those are just old wives tales, told by people afraid of what they don't know. If it was supposed to hurt me too, I'd already be burned. Like in the stories!" He crouched in front of Hugon and held out his palms. "Do I look burned to you?" When Hugon shook his head, Leon grinned. "This is our chance Hugh! We can finally make them pay for how they treat us, make him pay for how he treats mother! We finally have the power to do something about it!" Hugon, caught up in his brother's excitement and giddy about the idea of finally getting payback against the lord and his guards, didn't notice way Leon was a little too happy about his powers.
For the next year Leon, with the help of Hugon, trained his powers. He grew stronger and capable of more with each passing week, and also more aggressive and erratic. Their father and mother wrote it off as Leon simply being, 'that age' or perhaps they were too afraid to say anything. Leon was taller and broader than their father now, and much less of a passive man. Whenever Hugon would express his concerns at how Leon changed as he grew stronger, he would be soothed by his older brother. "It's just stress from what I have to do," Leon would reassure him, "there's a lot that they have to answer for little brother, and I want to make sure I make them pay for it all. When I'm done it'll be just like the old times, our family will be happy for once."
Hugon regrets those moments most of all, when he saw his brother slipping away but was always stopped from doing something by honeyed words, because when Leon finally 'made them pay' it wasn't at all like he promised.
The day Leon enacted his plans, Hugon would wake to the smell of burning flesh, wood, and fields, and the sounds of screams. He ran out of his families home, skidding to a stop and vomiting in horror at the sight in front of him. His mother and father, burned almost to being unrecognizable, lay on the ground in front of him. The village around was on fire, with burned bodies everywhere. People were running to and fro, either on fire, attempting to put out the fires, or simply trying to run away. In the center of it all was Leon, ranting and raving about payments and what he was owed and how they all deserved to burn as he unleashed blasts of flames at anything and everything.
That was when the old warnings were finally hammered home for Hugon. Magic always had a cost, and the cost for Leon was his mind and his humanity.
Hugon needed to do something. He had done this. He had helped create the monster that was now his brother, and now it was his responsibility to stop Leon before he hurt anyone else. Looking down Hugon saw the burned corpse of one of the lord's men. He had managed to draw his sword before being blasted with fire, and the burning hot weapon itself was on the ground.
The hilt burned Hugon's palms as he tightly grasped it, but he ignored the pain. He had to end this, no matter the cost. He sprinted at his brother and ran Leon through the back with the sword, yanking it out. Leon turned in surprise, blood beginning to pour from the wound. "Hughy? Why-" Hugon's next swing caught him the neck, catching on the bone and Leon gave a gurgled scream, falling to his knees. Hugon swung again. And again. And again. He didn't know how many times or how long he swung, stopping only when his strength failed him. He pulled his hands from the hilt of the sword, skin being ripped off where it had stuck to the heated blade, and then began walking, leaving the bloody mess of his brother's corpse and the devastation of his home far behind.
Hugon didn't know where he was going, didn't care, and truth be told doesn't remember all too clearly most of that time. Flashes of crying and grief, stumbling through woods and along roads, the aching burn in his hands, and the need to atone, to find purpose. The next clear memory Hugon has is waking up in a tent, bandages on his hands and a kind face over his. It was a healer, and Hugon had somehow stumbled his way into a Baldock military encampment. After explaining where Hugon was and how they had found him (nearly dead and incoherently weeping), the healer asked Hugon why he had walked all this way.
Hugon stared at him, dumbly, for a long moment before slowly responding, "To find purpose...I suppose." The healer nodded understandingly. "Well, there's plenty of purpose in the Kingdom's army and a need for men who desire purpose." Thus marked Hugon's start in the Kingdom of Baldock's military, and the path that would lead him to the Paladins of the Maker's Fist.
He was shipped off to a kingdom training camp, and threw himself into the training there with a single minded determination. It gave him something to focus on, other than the grief and the pain. He took well to the military life, the structure, camaraderie, and focus helping him forget what he had helped his brother do. He was convinced that his purpose was in serving the kingdom of Baldock.
Eventually he and the rest of his unit were shipped off to the Orcish Badlands in an attempt to push the barbaric orcs farther back. They were met with vicious resistance almost immediately, and every day became a fight against the fearless and ruthless Orcs. Hugon discovered two things during those times of nearly constant battle: 1) He was very good at killing things and surviving battle, and 2) His purpose wasn't in the army. He didn't feel anything while cutting down the orcs in the name of the Kingdom. It was just rote memory, reflex, and a desire not to die. There wasn't anything more too it. No passion or reason.
That all changed when he and a few others from his unit were assigned to aid the Maker's church in hunting down a magic user who had gone mad along the border with the badlands. The situation was disturbingly similar to Hugon's own experience six years ago. A young woman from a small village gone mad with power, destroying all those she thought had wronged her. Hugon finally had chance to redeem himself, to atone. He planned to be the one leading the mission, and slaying the girl, orders from his superiors be damned.
The paladins intimidated Hugon immediately upon their arrival, with only their presence.
He fell to the back of the group, bravado gone and speech about how he was in charge forgotten. Hugon followed the paladins in quiet awe, watching how they interacted with everyone and went about the business of hunting down the mage. Hugon realized he wanted what they had. The confidence and peace they had on their faces, the good will they exuded, and the iron behind their eyes. They knew that what they had to do would not be pretty, but had to be done and did not balk from their duty. These men had purpose, where Hugon had none.
It didn't take very long to find the mage. She had left a trail of destruction and chaos in her wake, and they came upon her as she was attacking another town. The paladins directed Hugon and his comrades to save what villagers they could, while they dealt with the mad mage. Hugon's fellow soldiers agreed and took off, while Hugon himself ignored the order and charged the mage himself. Rage pulsed through his entire being as he focused on the mage, her image being replaced by that of Leon all those years ago. He was going to redeem himself, before anymore lives were lost due to his inaction.
The woman whirled around at the sound of Hugon's heavy plate running at her. Lightning shot from her hands as she screamed something unintelligible, and Hugon barely dodged out of the way in time as the hair on his body stood on ends. He had to end this quick because he wouldn't be able to dodge everything, and then he would fail. He couldn't fail. He wouldn't.
Hugon put on a burst of speed and power, barely reaching the mage as she brought her hands up for another spell. His axe caught her in the side, nearly severing her in two. She screamed in agony, lightning crackling along her body. His vicious grin lasted only a moment, as she let loose a bolt of lightning square in his chest and he knew only blackness.
Hugon awoke in a bed with one of the paladins sitting vigil across from him. They were in one of the few standing buildings in the village, after the mage had been slain. "Don't worry," the paladin said as he saw the panic in Hugon's face, "the mage was slain. You dealt her a terrible blow, and we were able to cut her down because of it. That was very brave." His next words were curt, cutting Hugon's inflating sense of pride down. "And very stupid. Had we not been right behind you, you could've caused more unnecessary destruction with her death throes. The fact that your plan worked does not change the fact that it was stupidly risky and foolish."
The paladin paused as Hugon seemed to shrink in on himself at the words. "That being said, we can temper that foolishness and rage of yours, and the order could use someone like you to help curb those cursed with magic who are drawn away from the Maker's Light. If you want to leave the army, that is."
It took Hugon a moment to realize what was being offered, and then he stumbled over his words agreeing. The chance to have a purpose, and prevent what happened to his village from happening to others was right in front of him, and he wasn't going to let it slip by.
For the next ten years Hugon would train to be, and eventually become, a Paladin of The Maker's Fist, a holy order dedicated to destroying those who used magic for evil and discouraging all others from using magic. Hugon would go all across Baldock, hunting down magic users who harmed others with their unnatural powers, and marking others who needed to be watched. The Maker had decreed that magic was not meant for mortal hands, and those who dared use it despite those warnings needed to be watched and, occasionally, eliminated. Hugon was content and happy during those years. He had finally found his purpose, and he was helping the kingdom. Not by murdering barbaric orcs in the Badlands, but by purging those who would use their unnatural gifts for cruelty and evil.
During this time, tensions between Yolocto and Baldock rose. Yolocto had discovered gold in a series of heavily forested hills on the border with Baldock, and Baldock claimed those hills were actually on their land. A claim decried as false by Yolocto, for obvious reasons. There were a few border skirmishes when it was first discovered, but nothing major. Baldock didn't have the military resources to pursue a true war against Yolocto, and the mages of Yolocto were encouraged and actively recruited into the military for war.
The Maker's church was often denied access to Yolocto for this very reason, their doctrine clashing with the government's recruiting plan and cultural acceptance of magic as a necessary evil. Hugon and his order mostly ignored the tensions, aside from the occasional disdainful comment about the 'heretics to the east.'
The straw that broke the camel's back came two years ago when the Maker's church sent a delegation with Baldock to those hills to see about setting up a church in the area. The Yolocto military killed all but two, and when those survivors brought back word of what had occurred, fury was sparked across all of Baldock and the Church. It was one thing to kill soldiers who you believed were trespassing on your territory. It was quite another to murder churchmen who were on a mission of peace. The Church of the Maker called for a crusade against Yolocto, and Baldock was the first nation to rally to the call. More followed, and soon the crusade was on its way. The Maker's Fist was to be on the front lines of the crusade, cutting down the Yolocto mages before they could do damage to the crusaders and themselves.
Hugon and his brothers were in high spirits as they marched. They believed they would cut down the unholy heretics in the name of the Maker and drive them before the armies of the crusaders with righteous fury. They were convinced that the Maker was behind their cause and that no foe could stand before them. They were convinced it would be a route.
What actually happened was hell on earth.
Instead of rabbles of heretics fleeing before divine justice, they were met with legions of soldiers with iron discipline and cold resolve. Well trained men who defended their most powerful assets, the mages, with unflinching courage. Hugon and his brothers often had to kill dozens of men just to see the mage, and often times were driven back. No matter how many times Hugon cut down one of the Yolocto soldiers with his axe, another would appear to take his place and he would make no progress. Magic would crash into the battle all around him, and his brothers would be cut down as they struggled to stop the heretics from abusing powers they did not understand, and should not have had.
Hugon had thought the constant fighting on the border with the orcish badlands had been brutal. He had thought that he had seen all the evil humanity could achieve when hunting down rogue mages. He was wrong. The crusading armies pushed forward despite horrific losses, pushing the armies of Yolocto back through sheer numbers. Every time they took a city, they enacted a terrible vengeance upon the civilians and the city itself. Hugon's only light in those dark times was his faith, and he clung to the idea that what they were doing was right and just with all his might as his brothers were cut down and he witnessed monstrosity after monstrosity.
A year would pass before the crusade was called off, and peace was made with Yolocto. Yolocto agreed to give up their claim on the hills disputed with Baldock, and too allow the Maker's Church to set up missions in the nation itself. By this time, Hugon was the only survivor of the initial Paladins sent to Yolocto, and he was a changed man. The crusade had shown him what happened when you let magic infest a culture, allow them to be fooled into thinking that it was a gift rather than a curse and left him stern and cold. Joy, once a frequent guest on his face, was now rarely seen. All that was left was his conviction, his faith, and his hatred of magic.
It has been a year since the end of the crusade. Hugon had been patrolling the lands of Baldock for rogue mages once more, when the call from Lord Lochborne came. Hugon left immediately. He had not been planning on dealing with the curse, as Lord Lochborne had not sought help from the order with his problems, but he owed Lochborne an old debt that he plans to pay in full. Hugon also fears that if the Hanged Man is not cut down soon, what happened in Yolocto will happen in Baldock and he cannot let that happen. Hugon has decided that he is going to end the curse on the Lochborne lands, and prevent a catastrophe.
No matter the cost.
The Crusade was nothing more than a deal between Baldock and the church to get what they both wanted. The Kingdom wanted the hills with gold and the church wanted to convert the heretics, and the best way to do that was to convince all the other nations to attack Yolocto in a holy war. So they intentionally sent a group of Baldock soldiers and Priests of the Maker into Yolocto territory, provoking the desired response to call a crusade so they could steal land from Yolocto and force the nation to let priests of the Maker in.
Most people assume that the reasons the church gave (an unprovoked attack on men of the cloth) was the real reason, though a few who aren't close to the church of Baldock might have guesses as to the real motives.
Weapons: Heavy two handed axe and two daggers, one at his side and one in his boot. Armor: Plate, mail, and leather usually worn together to maximize his protection. General Provisions: Flint and tinder, food for a week (grains, nuts, and dried meats), a book of the word of the Maker, supplies to maintain his weapons and armor, and a bedroll. Magical Items: TBD
Magical Affinity: Hugon has zero magic affinity and greatly prefers it that way. The mere idea of mortals possessing magic is revolting to him. Spells: N/A
OKAY. That took entirely too long and it isn't my best work, but I've got the CS up and ready for review @Lauder