The most legendary group of adventurers ever in the Palladium world. The Defilers were a band of over 20, of mixed races.
Members of the Defilers include Xar Xar, the leader and master of magic, Elanu, Firsar, Malkin, the Oriflammes, Bunny, Bane, Romyxx, Coake the Monstrous, Philip the Axe, Gildbrath, Perfone, & Ugh.
Here is one of their stories, told by Tyvernos.
Young, defiant, and immeasurably powerful was a potent combination for the Defilers. This band of merry men and women had united under one banner – one purpose – for but a short spell. Practitioners of various schools of magic (often those diametrically opposed), young men and women of every ilk, color, creed, and race – from all walks of life – stood together to accomplish something incredible. Incongruent philosophies, incompatible personalities (read: egos), and myriad personal agendas forced The Defilers to dissolve soon after the threat was defeated. Some folks said that this was for the best – they said that such a motley crew of talented misfits wasn’t meant to be together for long. Most folks said that they stayed together long enough. Though they never found his fabled treasure trove The Defilers rid the world of the Dread Pirate Jason and this is their tale.
The Defilers might have broken bread first as classmates but after college wayward souls often lose their ways. The Tri-Arcanum Magic Guild established within the city of Wisdom– had given rise to the most accomplished mages in this Age and they had scattered on the winds to the four corners of Palladium. Xar Xar had flung the yolk far and wide, having traveled across the globe in search of the most potent magic. Elanu had stayed closer to home and continued his education here at the College; he had immersed himself in the erudite pursuits of the Arcaenum in the Wolfen translations and his advanced tutelage. Firsar had furthered the most advanced druidic research into the Zodiac and its otherworldly ties to potential psychic energy and the ley lines themselves. Malkin, the rebellious young mage, cradled his quill and parchment close to his breast and chronicled everything – nothing was off limits. The Rod Rambler would finally begin his well-published career as an author of the Arcaenum. Ugh strayed far from home and onto the high seas where he dabbled in both dolphin songs and bubble magic before returning to the purist pursuit of his Goblin-Cobbling and Faerie magic. In all, the Defilers were a ragtag band of young, powerful, and incredibly egoistic mages burgeoning with talent and steeled by implacable mettle. Often, it was said, that they could all agree on only one thing: The majestic beauty of a dark, Elven warlock in their midst – Shaniqua Skyfury. (She had taken the surname as merely a collegiate-classmate affectation and a nickname among her peers…and it stuck).
Oren Oriflamme, an often unknown member of the Defilers, was far less prestigious than his brethren and he rather liked it that way. His exploits were no less daring or incredible or worthy of praise but he kept a very low-profile and seldom gave his true name. A tall, lanky frame that was cloaked in gray and couched in darkness – hooded even under bright lights and blue skies – had dubbed him “The Hooded One.” Oren, like Shaniqua, contributed a steadfast dedication to the terrible, destructive forces of the furious Elemental Air. He had grown exponentially in his magical prowess and now far surpassed even Shaniqua. The dark-skinned warlock took her place at Oren’s side as the voice of reason and the mother-bear of the group; her swarthy skin-tone was often attributed to a mingling of bloodlines and an infiltration of Dark Elven parentage. Oren had fallen deeply in love with her, ever since that night under the stars outside of Shadowfall, though he hadn’t acted on his impulse for marriage. Elves were a long-lived people and the prospect of matrimony demanded careful consideration and considerable deliberation. Wise men say…only fools rush in.
The Defilers, however, were headstrong, prideful, and full of piss and vinegar. Rushing headlong into danger without a care for their safety was part and parcel of their work. So it came as no surprise how quickly Oren’s request elicited responses from the four corners of the known (and unknown) world. Magic Pigeons, couriers, mystical missives, falcon sky messengers, and even the parcel post flung out at ludicrous trajectories tracing the traipsing mages all over Old Kingdom come. “The Hooded One” would never prevail upon his collegian compatriots unless the need was great and the situation dire. In some way it grated on his sense of autonomous self-preservation to know that he was incapable of handling this threat alone or even with the aid of the lovely Skyfury. Jason had to be stopped.
The Dread Pirate Jason was a cold, cruel, conniving bitch-mother of a brood of sea-wolves born from the rancid womb of a pregnant pirate whore. He whipped the sagging Dragon’s Claw into his raid-slave and navigated the hazards of the treacherous tides with uncanny seamanship. The swashbuckling pirate was both famed and feared and his reputation for savagery was unequaled; they said that every visible inch of his body was covered in scarred flesh, battle-wounds, and the memories of a thousand broken dreams. He earned both fear and respect, even from the Wolfen, as the two quickly became indistinguishable.
The Dragon’s Claw was the only inland sea in all of Palladium where the tides could ebb and flow, rise and fall over forty feet in fewer than six hours. The onrush of water into the Dragon’s Claw was quick enough to catch even the most seasoned old salts off guard and turn rime-crusted ancient mariners into sea-sundered scallywags. Unpredictable tides and arrhythmic white-water swells turned a treacherous neap-tide into raging river-rapids in the blink of an eye…or the bat of an eyelash. The Dread Pirate Jason had mastered the Dragon’s Claw, using the ever-changing sea to his advantage, and striking with the alacrity of an erratic blitzkrieg. Uncertainty turned hesitation into trepidation while the Dread Pirate remained at large. The stage was set.
So it was pleasantly surprising to Oren when, over the next few months, members of the Defilers (his peers and former classmates) began to trickle in to Me’zfii Onh. He and Shaniqua had rented the entirety of Fred and Wilma’s Bathhouse, converting it into dorm-style living that revolved around the wading pools, sulfur baths, hot-springs, and massage parlors. Their generosity had sent the proprietors (Fred and Wilma) on an extended vacation to warmer, more tropical climes for their inconvenience and trouble. The staff remained behind to attend to the needs of the Magical Prima Donnas and, for that, Oren was grateful.
Elanu, the first to arrive, greeted his former classmates with excitement. Unlike the others he had stayed much closer to home and spent his time pent up in the Library of Bletherad or at Wisdom. He had become an indispensable asset to both the Library and the College and made repeated mention of how difficult it had been to take sabbatical. Oren sighed while Shaniqua grinned. This was only the beginning. Firsar and Malkin appeared a few days later and only scant hours behind one and other. Each regaled his friends with majestic tales of grandiose adventures replete with exploits, menaces, and hyperbole. Firsar counted the druidic community among friends and family while pontificating on the spiritual ramifications of ridding this world of its most-feared nautical marauder. Malkin had already published his first three treatises and couldn’t help but sing his own praises, kiss his own knuckles, and clap himself on the back. Writers! Oren and Shaniqua promptly forbade him from recanting this tale and committing it to anything other than memory. They would, once all were present, swear an oath of silence and adhere to the sacrament of secrecy regarding the activity of The Defilers. Anything less could jeopardize their entire mission…their very purpose…and their lives. In the next month the Cobble-Gobbler waltzed in on black wings with a riotous reputation for Ugh’s Unclothed Unguents, and Xar Xar reappeared from seemingly out of nowhere and claiming to have studied with the Mountain Slayer himself. The Defilers had come together and they were heroes after a fashion.
Oren’s carefully crafted plan was one of subtlety, manipulation, and illusion combined with unbridled force and arcane fury. The Dread Pirate Jason was ruthless! He would stop at nothing – even death – and he had terrorized the Dragon’s Claw for so long that he could rest on his laurels. But, like all dog packs, if you make enough noise you’ll eventually catch the attention of a bigger, stronger, and meaner dog. That dog, in this case, was the Wolfen Empire. Jason had no problems raiding fishing villages and merchants and small communities who were unorganized and weren’t assembled enough to defend against his lightning-strike onslaught. He had no problem raiding the druidic sanctuaries and stealing rune weapons from their holy reliquaries. He had plundered enough gold and magical weapons, items, armor, and trinkets that he could afford trained mercenaries and outfit his own men in incredibly rare equipment. The Dread Pirate Jason was a whirling dervish of death and debauchery whom no sane man would stand up to. However, fleets upon fleets of Dragon Longboats of the Wolfen Empire’s Imperial Navy wouldn’t so much as blink at dashing the Dread Pirate upon the rocks of his crimes and drowning him in the very same tide he hid amid.
Few forces in this world were greater than the Dread Pirate Jason’s lust for treasure and his greed for self-aggrandizing chicanery and shenanigans. Perhaps the only desire greater than his lust for treasure was his desire to actually keep the treasure he had already plundered. Every pirate knew – even the bad ones who died salty deaths on the spears of failed fishermen – that booty was no bounty if you couldn’t hold onto it: Treasure was no good if you constantly feared for its safekeeping and couldn’t accrue wealth and amass a hoard. For Jason, the location of his super-secret subterranean undersea lair was the ultimate deterrent to the average treasure-seeking skullduggery-scavenger. However, when rumor spread of a traitorous sell-out, Jason went berserk. He murdered his crew indiscriminately and paid incredible bribes to buy the loyalty of his mercenaries, bureaucrats, officials, and even the Quatoria; the financial reach spread far and wide and did nothing more than fuel the superstitious sedition and generate even more publicity. The interrogation was swift and decisive and decidedly nerve-wracking. Who could he trust? The answer was easy: no one.
Oren’s well-placed rumor spread like wildfire until the veracity could no longer be challenged. The Dread Pirate Jason was forced to lend it credence or risk losing the sum-total of his life’s work – a treasure trove of amassed wealth that rivaled the kingdoms and nations of the known world. The only option he had was to relocate. If the lair had been compromised then he had no choice but to move the treasure south or die trying. In fact, if he made a credible show of moving his hoard that would act as another very real deterrent to the Wolfen Empire seeking out the original, actual location. Jason was easily lulled into this false sense of security. He fell prey to his own susceptibility to conniving plans, double-crosses, and an indefatigable ego. The only thing he needed now was to put on the big show of moving a sizable caravan of treasure overland. It was a ruse of epic proportions and it was bound to work! The only fatal flaw that he could see, knowing full-well the risks of such a ruse, was how large a target that would paint upon his head. At home upon the seas he was a serpent, slippery and wily and elusive. Traveling the Northern Wilderness that was thick with Pine Barrens and forests would be tough enough. Traveling through that same terrain when it was practically crawling with Wolfen was a death-sentence. The Dread Pirate Jason had no choice…and that was exactly what Oren was counting on.
Alas, the best laid plans seldom come to fruition. Oren and The Defilers had worked off of the Dread Pirate’s counter-rumors and setup camp in the area while integrating with the natives. Local Wolfen were hesitant since they were under the dominion of the Imperial arm but some were complicit. With the onset of the harshest winters in the century the Dread Pirate’s caravan was forced to stall its departure. Time had once been Jason’s ally but now it worked furiously with the elements against him. Xar Xar had offered mother-nature a friendly, little helping-hand in mustering up the energy to decimate the area. Oren and Shaniqua pooled their magical resources and beseeched the Elemental Air to whip a torrent of gale-force winds in the tempest of a tornado to ravage the land. The very elements themselves were at war with the Dread Pirate Jason and many of his men died tragic deaths to hypothermia, frostbite, wind-lash, and even starvation. Firsar called upon his gryphon-heritage and summoned the zodiacal powers of celestial bodies in a sign of damnation that heralded the Dread Pirate’s death. Malkin, the Rod Rambler, infiltrated unseen into the encampment to scout under the cover of darkness. Elanu harnessed his considerable scrying powers to monitor Jason’s troop and treasure movements. They could do naught but dig in in an attempt to weather the continual storms.
All the arcane fury the Defilers could muster served only to entrench the Dread Pirate’s mercenaries even deeper until their magical energies were spent and exhausted. Jason would live to fight another day for the Defilers didn’t have an army. They weren’t a trained company of mercenaries. They didn’t have the resources to wage a war against tyranny – not without the aid of the Wolfen Empire. But the big dog was slow to anger and even slower to move. Oren knew this – and so had Jason – so The Defilers’ gambit was an attempt to take the Dread Pirate before he could outrun the ponderously slow imperial armies. The gambit would fail.
Until, at the eleventh hour, Ugh swooped in on the black wings of a raven, heralding death and calling-to-arms with little dogs nipping at his feathery heels. A local horde of coyles had easily fallen prey to the prophetic ramblings of their shape-changing oracle. He had come to them in the form of a bird and spoken their language with fluent proficiency. He had awed them with the mending of broken wood and the creation of hovels and homes that rivaled their underground warrens. Ugh, the Gobble-Cobble Prophet had whipped his diminutive people into frenzy and would lead them to unimaginable wealth! With the promises of baubles and trinkets and weapons and treasure beyond compare the coyles had turned the whitewashed forest into a roiling blizzard of vicious canine combatants. They struck hard and fast, guerilla style, and raided the Dread Pirate’s entrenched caravan without mercy or quarter. It is said that Jason’s mercenaries were slaughtered to a man and that the coyle horde was overly dismayed when the treasure-ruse proved false. Ugh had disappeared into snowy oblivion to let their primitive prophecies steep and marinate once again.
The Defilers parted ways soon after their victory and the dispersed coyles returned to their warrens. The treasure-ruse deflated certain egos but a menace had been eradicated and the Dragon’s Claw was made safer. For Oren and Shaniqua that was all the reward they needed and in the ensuing weeks before Fred and Wilma’s return they consummated their mutual respect and love and christened every room in the bathhouse. They left Me’zfii Onh to find secluded lands to settle in peace and raise a family, deep in the Northern Wilderness.