The Internet Vagabond

Here’s the character backstory for one of my older characters from a game long since forgotten: Azulien Blackblade. This character was a fighter-sorcerer, built for a custom 3.5 game run by my friend Bill. He was loads of fun to play, though I may have spoken up when I should have stayed silent. He died as a pile of pieces, after taunting a demi-god and, expectedly, being eviserated. Enjoy!

Character Backstory: Azulien Blackblade

I was a prestigious man. Once I wore the robes of a wizard. I studied at the greatest libraries, spoke with the most intelligent scholars, and kept company with the Archmages. But one day that all changed. The day I will never forget in all my life: the day the Urdeshi attacked.

We were travelling through the northern regions of the desert, making our way to ruins located among the dunes. As we stopped to drink and rest, our party was beset upon by raiders, shielding their faces with wrapped fabrics, and attacking us relentlessly with blades and spears. Of the 15 in our band, only 3 lived through the attack. We were the unlucky ones. My robes were bloodied and torn, my spellbook was burned before my eyes, my components along with it, and my knowledge of the arcane became a secret lest I beg for death. Many times I had considered revealing my talents, and welcoming the purge that would follow. The particular group of Urdesh we found were skeptical of magic: they broke all our potions, our wands, anything that didn’t smell normal. My familiar, my dear raven, was roasted and force fed to me. I didn’t eat for days afterwards.

They tought me how to fight. How to use the weapons they used. They tought me how to skirmish with only a scimitar to defend myself with. How to cast aside blows, how to use a handful of sand to distract my opponent from my incoming blow. They taught me pain. They taught me to not fear an incoming attack. Not to fear death. From that, only rage grew. My hatred for the Urdesh slowly filled my now-empty mind. Where once was scholarly knowledge and magical aptitude there stood only revenge. A lust that was never fulfilled. A hunger that was never sated.

For 5 years of my life I was haunted and tormented by the Urdesh. I was made a puppet in their games; a gladiator in their arenas. My skills with the scimitar and spear grew to legend. Armed with my rage and my revenge, I would let no other gladiator steal from me the potential to see my captors destroyed. I would never bow, never break, never surrender. My blade grew black from all the blood and sand and grime. With each fight, I became more. I was no longer a slave, now I was a name: Blackblade; the Raven Swordsman; Death. Names appropriate to my appearance and my promise. The old me was dead, and the new me was never alive.

My insatiable revenge crept into the corners of my mind, revealing the locked-away arcane knowledge. The fury of hundreds of gladitorial battles, thousands of cracks of the whips, and millions of possibilities of better lives all converged on the power I had stored away. No longer was I afraid of them. No longer did their skepticism seem like a threat. Now it was their weakness. Now, vengeance was mine.

With the cover of darkness, I scoured my memories for every shred of arcane knowledge I could muster. I found my cantrips, my little tricks I had used to harass the pretty girls at the college. Flares and dancing lights wouldn’t do what I needed, but they could help. I needed more power. I crept deeper. There I felt it. The coldness of death, but the screaming of life, entwined. I could feel the grasp of skeletons and ghasts, but they did not scare me; it was almost like familiy. I could see the faces of people I had never known. They seemed familiar, almost connected to me. I could feel their anger, their undying need for vengeance. Like me, they were captives of fear and torment. Their rage was almost unbearable, but I would not turn away. I would not submit to an illogical existance as a mindless machine of death. I would overcome the rage, channel the rage, harness the anger, focus the vengeance. I would take their blessings of undeath and turn them upon my enemies as a curse. I knew now that the power I had was not from study. It was always within me, welled up like a great lake, full of untapped resources. I felt the presence of their blood grow, their power now released. They were now me. I was their vessel. The scimitar I used, Raven I called it, was now a weapon of death.

Their time had come. They had no reason to fear the unknown, until now.

The first to go was the guard. As he came, right on schedule, to deliver my food, I offered him a choice. I had grown to like Mukeesh. He was stupid, and because of that he was compasionate. He was too afraid. He was too loyal. He died. From him, I lifted the keys with magic, commanding them into the lock, releasing me. As I left, I could feel his blood calling to me. With his head-wrap and Raven I made my way to the barracks. It was night time. There were little defenses around those who defend. They died one by one. I would cup their mouth, and slit their throat just enough for them to wake before they bled out. Their last moments were all the same: horror, struggling, moaning, pleading, acceptance, sorrow. They wept occassionally. There were a few who were unsurprised, and stared into my eyes until their’s went dark. They were the brave. They had faced death. But none can win against death. The blood running from my captors veins was unbearable. I tasted it, the nector of life. It was ambrosia, life itself, sustaining me. Their lives were my feast.

I made my way through the camp, finally settling on the gladiator pits. Some of my bretheren ran, some clung to some twisted form of loyaly and fought. The all died. I drank in their life, their essence, and their sacrifice healed me. Through the death of my enemies I grew strong, through the blood of the fallen did I reclaim my dominance. Not only were the powers of death mine to harness, but the fruits of its labor were sweet and nourishing.

The last to fall was my teacher. He was the only one I awoke before I killed him. I waited for him to pray, to be ready for his gods. He tried to fight me, but the master had become weak. His attacks were predictable. His tactics were rotten. His flesh was soft, and my blade was sharp. He died a warrior, as he had lived. His blood was the most satisfying of them all. I have no remorse for him. It is pathetic to pity anyone; death comes for all.

I gathered up all the resources I needed, took all the coin I could find, and left. To this day I still hear tales of the Swordsman of Death who slaughtered an entire Urdesh gladiator camp. “They are right to fear him.” I always reply. “Death is patient but swift. It may come on the wings of an angel or the sword of a stranger. But death always comes.” I escaped that night and found a human settlement. My scars and tattoos I covered as best I could, but they always found me out. A run-away slave, an escaped prisoner; a fugitive. The humans would at least treat my as their own. I found temporary refuge, but left quickly. In the following days there were many hunters that I encountered. One of them gave me the scar that marks me today. His name was Al-Kadaf, and his blade was called Plight. It cut me from above my left eye to my right cheek. He told me that wound would stay forever. My blade ending his life was my only response.

Still I am hunted. Still the Urdesh search for the Raven Swordsman. But I go by a different name now. I am Azulien Blackblade, Scourge of the Urdesh. Send your hunters. Send your armies. I walk with death. I hunger for your life. And tonight, I will feast.

Bill Niblock 2018-01-12
[ gaming writing ]