The year was 4686 AR….
Ecthelian Talamar was born in the town of Solku, Khatapesh, alongside his twin sister Saera. The two were almost identical, both in looks and personality. And when they were growing up, their parents, Epstein and Ilyena, would often have difficulty telling them apart. When Ecthelian would climb a tree, Saera would climb too. When Saera learned to ride, so did Ecthelian. They did everything together, and they were inseparable. That was, until Rath Sandstalker marched his gnoll army down from White Canyon, brandishing the Brazen Claw, and laying siege upon Solku…
The year was 4701…
Epstein Talamar awoke late in the morning. Rays of light shone down onto him lying in his bed – Sarenrae offering her morning blessing – heating him to the core. He rolled over to face his wife, still asleep next to him. He watched her silently. Ilyena had curled blonde hair and a peachy complexion, just like the children. He adored her more than anything in the world.. She gently stirred as she gradually woke up, and her eyes opened, revealing brilliantly blue eyes. “Ilyena, I love you,” he told her. Her smile back at him told the same thing.
Ilyena sat on a vibrantly orange chair. The large chuch around her was a sanctuary for all those with ailments to come for a cure. It represented Sarenrae’s helping hand. Ilyena ate lunch at her desk. Lined up beside her were two small portraits. One was of two shaggy blonde haired children. They were her twin children. The other portrait was one of Epstein, dressed in a full suit of armour, a medallion of Sarenrae hung at his chest. She touched the painted faces of her two children, now both 15 years of age. “I’m so blessed to have you two to keep me company on these quiet days.” Her solitude was interrupted by a loud alarm, sounding in though the doors to the street. In through those same doors ran another priest of Sarenrae. “Gnolls have been spotted in large forces to the east! They are sending the army out to meet them. The Healers of the Dawnflower have been requested to move to the sanctuary at the gates! Hurry, get your things!”
Looking back to the painting of Epstein, dressed in the Army’s garb, fear pounded Ilyena’s heart. I do hope you are okay my love. “What of the children? Have they sent them to the safe house?”
“Not yet. They are unlikely to do so. The town watch still patrol the street, and the Gnolls are still a few miles to the East. The children will be fine. Now hurry, and come with me.”
Ilyena took one last fleeting look at her family, before grabbing a backpack off the shelf beside her. She ran outside with her compatriot, and down the street, as fast as her halfling legs would allow it.
Epstein Talamar rode alongside 1000 finely armed men. The whole of Solku’s guardhouse had been called upon. Together they charged directly into an army of Gnolls, nearly double their number, but instead of hearing steel on steel, the huge gnoll army disappeared into black whisps of smoke, which had the acrid smell of trickery. Behind them, in the town of Solku, another alarm was sounded, and Epstein saw large plumes of smoke billowing upward. “We have been tricked! Get back to Solku”, He called.
When the alarms sounded, Ecthelion and Saera ran outside to see what was happening. The army was quickly on the move throughout the city, and the children were told to get to the centre sanctuary. Together, they ran with a throng of panicked children toward the centre of town. There was a large clearing in the centre of town, which looked onto one of the Sanctuary’s of Sarenrae. The children ran toward the open doors, but a mysterious energy pushed them closed tight before the made it inside. Struggling to open the door, the children heard a crackling of energy behind them, and turning around, they gazed upon a swirling vortex of lighting which pushed air around the clearing, tossing papers, and leaves around. Many of the children screamed for a moment before everything went still. Children were fixed with a screaming expression, yet not a sound was made, except for the crackling of energy. The papers had stopped in mid air, unmoving. The only movement came from the two siblings, who watched a number of fiery figures launch themselves from a space in the middle of the vortex. They had wings, and hurled fire down upon the town. Saera edged closer to her brother, as an even larger figure stepped out last. A whip in it’s hand, and horns on its head, the two children trembled as the creature spoke. “Saera Talamar, you are mine. I have come to collect the debt owed to me, by your father, Epstein Talamar.” Spittle sprayed from the creatures mouth. Ecthelion screamed ‘no’ as the beast brought whip down, to connect with Saera. It wrapped around her, and flung her in toward the creature and vortex, and with a large crack of energy, the vortex, and beast disappeared, and the moment of Stasis ceased, but Saera was no longer there. The winged creatures continued to wreak havoc, and Ecthelion was stunned by what had happened. The children around him had begun to disappear through the door, which now seemed to be open. Ecthelion bent down to knees and wept for his sister.
Ecthelion lay on the cold slate floor for hours. He has lost his dear sister Saera, and he felt as though a chunk of himself had been ripped clear out of his body. What was it that this demon spoke of? How could his father have made a deal with such an evil? Such a thing was unthinkable. Yet he lay there thinking about it, until the fires outside died down, and the last of the winged creatures were thrown back to their plane.
That night, the Talamar’s ate food in silence. The mood, rightly sombre. Not a word was uttered, until Ecthelion could not hold it any longer. “WHERE IS MY SISTER?”, he burst. “YOU KNOW WHERE SHE IS! I CAN TELL BY YOUR MANERISMS! WHAT DEAL DID YOU MAKE?”
Ecthelions father shifted uncomfortably under his sons stare. At what stage had his son become so observant. Epstein resigned to telling Ecthelion the story, which he knew would break the family.
Ecthelian stared harshly into his fathers eyes. It repulsed him that his father, had done such a thing, that he could not look directly into his own sons eyes. “You sold your only daughter so that you might prolong mothers death? To no less than a devil? You repulse me! Such a deed reeks of selfishness and betrayal to your family, to your morals, and to Sarenrae herself! You say that mother was dying, and that this was the only way that you could save her life?” Ecthelian looked up at his mother sitting in the corner. Her teary eyes hidden in arms and legs. “How foolish you are father! For a deal with the devil for a life, can never give such a thing in true form! She has but a half life! Tainted by the evil that you have brought to her. Better to have let her go in peace!” Stepping toward his father, Ecthelian pulled his fathers sword, the Sunraysia Razor, from the scabbard at the older mans belt. His fingers traced over the symbol of Sarenrae on the hilt. “You do not deserve this” he sneered at his father, before looking up at his mother. “Just as mother does not deserve the tainted life which you left her with”. Ecthelian raised the sword over his mothers neck. “I love you mother. I would never let you live with the dark ones touch on you.” The sword came down swift and sure, and his mothers sobs were no longer heard. In their place, were the deeper sobs of his father, “how could you son? How?”
Ecthelian looked up once more at his father, with fury written across his face, “How could I? HOW could ‘I’? Do not deny that your actions are what have brought this. I will find Saera, and I will slay the Devil who you have brought into our family.. to whom you have fed your innocent daughter!… I despise you for what you have done, but I will spare you the grief of living with what you have done.” The blade came down once more, and then there was silence across the room."
That night after the room was cleaned, and the Sunraysia Razor was placed on the mantle, Ecthelian dreamed of a dream, in which he was visited by Sarenrae herself. She had seen his devotion to her, and now offered reward for how devout he had been. She told him that to find his sister, he would need to first look to the ‘way that whispers’. She said that he needed to travel, for many years, and that when he found the Sunraysia Razor, he would know that he was close."
Ecthelian awoke late in the morning. Peering toward the mantle, he did not see a sword, but an empty place, where the suns rays shone from the window.