A holy warrior of great renown, and even greater virtue.
Art by Mike Scott (that’s me, but I know I used something as a visible reference for the armor)
Drogyn Martok was a tall man with an athletic build, dark brown well-kept hair and dark blue eyes. Wearing an intricately forged and well maintained set of full plate armor, Drogyn was never without his trusty flaming greatsword, a relic from the age of his ancestor Regult known as the Holy Flame. Drogyn also had a lance of war and a round jousting shield, which he normally wore slung across his back for extra protection.
During the campaign Wyrmshadow: Good Intentions, Drogyn was a middle-aged man, his hair graying at the temples, wrinkles beginning to appear on his weathered face, but his age had done nothing to dull the gleam of his armor, nor wear away his commanding presence.
When the Archangel Belthazar used Drogyn’s body as his mortal vessel, Drogyn would at times appear far more than a mere human. His eyes would glow a brilliant golden light, and even the ghostly apparition of angelic wings had occasion to appear. Also, at the peak of his power in Wyrmshadow: Good Intentions, Drogyn no longer needed to rely upon the Holy Flame, a broad blade of divine energy appearing in his hands upon command to help him slay his foes.
Drogyn died at the end of Wyrmshadow: Good Intentions, only to be brought back to life twenty years at the beginning of Wyrmshadow: Broken Home. At this time, Drogyn’s appearance was dictated largely by his self image, and Drogyn felt like a weak, old man. Thus Drogyn appeared to be a frail, disheveled man, long wisps of unkempt gray hair on his wrinkled, weary head.
However, soon Drogyn began to regain his composure, his appearance reclaiming its youthful vigor, even becoming more youthful and vital than he was during Wyrmshadow: Good Intentions. As Drogyn began to come to terms with his divinity, he came to appear more and more like the God of Justice he had become. His armor shone anew, massive wings sprouting from his back, and a dazzling halo formed over his head. His eyes glowed from within, and merely being in his presence gave the righteous courage and the wicked pause to cower in fear.
Little is known about the early life of the Drogyn Martok. He lived in a small farming village on the outer reaches of kingdom of Imperia. Villages such as his were often the targets of relentless raids by bands of goblinoids and Orcs. It was said that these Orcs were once quite civilized, but during the era prior to the rise of the Shadow Knight, most tribes had reverted to savagery.
Although those outer regions had a low level of literacy, the people who lived there spoke many different languages and were influenced by many different cultures. The constant threat of raids forced citizens to rely on one another and focus on the common enemy. The need to put aside differences with others and find common ground in order to acheive the mission would become a continuing theme in the Drogyn’s young life. This would become especially true when Drogyn’s grandfather, Hector Martok, was senselessly murdered on his doorstep by a burglar who would never be caught to pay for his crimes.
The size and extent of the Imperian Empire required a professional standing army that had to maintain a perpetual state of readiness. Drogyn as a boy eagerly volunteered to join in order to devote his life to defending the innocent from those who would exploit and destroy them. Drogyn was then taken to the capital city of Imperia and spent the next seven years engaged in constant training exercises. However, more than maneuvers occupied the young soldier’s time. He also visited the temple of Hyronius, where he was taught how to read and write in several languages, as well as battle tactics and heraldry.
After two years of training that the High Priests revealed to Drogyn the shocking truth of his own heritage for the first time. Drogyn was a direct descendant of Regult Martok, one of the most revered heroes in the history of the religion. The teenager couldn’t believe that he was related to man represented by a huge marble statue in the temple’s courtyard. However, the High Priests asked Drogyn to keep his lineage a secret. For one thing, only the most devout followers of Hyronius believed in the story of the hero who wielded the Night Sword and battled a fallen angel actually occurred. There were even people of other religions and sects who claimed that Regult was a dishonorable man who lied and stole his way through life. There had been countless theological clashes over the centuries since the story passed into myth, and the order had no desire to relive those times.
Drogyn became the youngest Imperian recruit to ever become a full knight. He was knighted at the age of twenty-one and became the captain of small regiment ordered to keep the peace in the same violent regions he was born. Sir Drogyn engaged in countless battles during this time. But since the Knighthood was better equipped, trained and organized than the goblins and Orc tribes, casualties were usually light, and the morale and fighting effectiveness of Sir Drogyn’s unit were exceptionally high. For the first time people called Sir Drogyn a hero.
The young Paladin didn’t think of himself as a hero, though. He simply considered himself to be a vessel for the God of Justice to exercise His will. The High Priests were careful to teach Drogyn a Knight’s humility. They were afraid Drogyn would become arrogant or develop a messiah complex, which was the reason they chose to reveal Drogyn’s heritage only after several years of guidance.
It was during this time that Drogyn met the man who would become his best friend for the rest of his life—Boris Silverstem. Drogyn met the ranger while riding through a forest while the man was seemingly having a conversation with himself. Drogyn would later learn that Boris was actually being visited by an avatar of the God of Nature that only he could see and hear.
Despite the two men’s many differences, they became allies and close friends. Not long later, war would break out. In the Year of the Phoenix 1,990, the Shadow Knight committed regicide, declaring himself Emperor not only of Imperia, but of all Wyrmshadow. Within less than ten months, the Shadow Knight and his armies had conquered over 70% of the globe, his influence and power growing by the day.
Captain Drogyn Martok and the captains of many regiments refused to pledge fealty to the false emperor and fought against the Shadow Knight’s legions. The war went badly for the enemies of the Shadow Knight. During the years of endless battles, Drogyn fought alongside his best friend the Ursite Weren Boris, the Wood-Elf Lord Ryndrik of Sud Ilras and fellow Imperian Knights, such as Sir Osar Argentix.
Toward the end of the war, Drogyn would meet a young sorcerer named Silas Vale. Drogyn immediately recognized the boy, as he had met him years earlier when Vale’s father was murdered and a Knight that the young Drogyn was apprenticed investigated the murder. The murder went unsolved and Drogyn felt an immediate kinship with the young man since his own grandfather Hector Martok was killed in a similarly senseless burglary.
Drogyn became a mentor of sorts to young Vale, however, Drogyn was unaware that Vale had also fallen under the influence of a mysterious sorcerer named PaVayne. Vale often felt as if the two men were leading him down opposite paths.
When Sir Osar mysteriously disappeared before a major battle, Drogyn had to take command of both his own troops and Osar’s units. Drogyn led the combined forces to a major victory that was critical in turning the tide of the war. Not long afterward, the Shadow Knight was sealed away, supposedly for all eternity. Now, people all through the southern lands were familiar with the name Drogyn Martok.
The war was over. Even though he knew nothing about the Guardians who actually sealed the Shadow Knight, or the Archangel that had manuevered them into doing so, Sir Drogyn was one of the most respected and visible symbols of the victory over evil. Then, for the first time in his life, Drogyn found himself not knowing what to do next.
The details of how and why were unknown and yet, the ultimate evil in the world was gone. And Drogyn Martok was approaching his fortieth birthday and so tired of the warrior’s life. He decided he would settle down and live a quiet life in a tiny village called Silverton. Tiny villages were about all that was left standing by that point as pretty much all major seats of power were gone.
Although the sudden disappearance of Sir Osar still bothered him, Drogyn bade farewell to his two closest friends, Boris and Vale, and rode off the battlefield for the last time… or so he believed. There were still some adventures yet to be had as he journeyed north. First, Lord Ryndrik offered Sir Drogyn the hand of his youngest daughter, Rynn, in marriage. Drogyn politely declined. Then Ryndrik confessed that Rynn was his illegitimate daughter; she was the result of an affair he had with a Nymph, and her life was in jeopardy due to the delicate political situation her lineage posed. Drogyn agreed to take Rynn with him and protect her, as a favor to his comrade-in-arms. Later, she would become very important in the life of Drogyn’s friend Boris.
Drogyn would meet two more allies on the way to Silverton. The first was a halfling named Tarrik. The starving boy tried to pick Drogyn’s pocket, and when Drogyn caught him, instead of turning him over to the guards, he decided to buy young Tarrik dinner. Tarrik followed Drogyn loyally for the rest of his life.
Finally, Drogyn came across a mortally wounded gold dragon who gave Drogyn her egg and made him vow to protect it with her dying breath. The egg hatched a day later in Drogyn’s arms. Drogyn fell asleep cradling the hatchling and woke up to find a baby girl lying in his arms. Drogyn named her “Caerdwyn” and as far as both were concerned, she was his daughter.
After months of travelling, Drogyn and his three companions reached Silverton. Drogyn released his war horse into the wild, and entered the nearest tavern for a mug of ale. When the barmaid came to serve the travellers, Drogyn took one look in her eyes and knew this was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Soon Drogyn purchased the tavern, and the barmaid became Drogyn’s first wife, and the surrogate mother to Caerdwyn. Sir Drogyn’s life as an adventurer was over.
For nearly a decade, Drogyn and his wife led a peaceful existence, surrounded by loved ones, blissfully ignorant of the role he would play in shaping the future of Wyrmshadow. Boris visited every few years as well. He was no longer traveling with Vale, telling Drogyn only that he had no idea where their old sorcerer ally was or what he was doing. However, Boris rarely stayed for long, spending less and less time with Drogyn on every visit… and more with the lovely half-Nymph, Rynn.
Those years were among the happiest of Drogyn’s life. The coming years, by contrast, were among the most tragic.
Suddenly, Drogyn’s wife came down with a wasting illness, a disease that even Drogyn’s formidable healing abilities were unable to treat. The disease slowly stole Drogyn’s lovely wife away from him, his heart sinking with every passing day as he watched his one, greatest love pass away. Drogyn would never fully recover from his grief over the loss of his precious wife, and his golden decade of happiness was forever lost to history. He found less and less reason to continue the charade of a civilian’s life, what with his one, best reason for settling down buried in a pleasant plot on the hill where they wed a decade earlier. No. Drogyn paid less and less attention to the day-to-day operation of his bar, and more time pining for those crusading days long past.
Less than a year after Mrs. Martok’s tragic death, dreadful tidings came to reach Drogyn’s ears. Local scouts had found that Orcs, serving a master called the “Manslayer”, were amassing in great numbers in and around the old Burning Star Mines a day’s march North of Sylverton. These Orcs appeared to be searching for something, the nature and identity of which the scouts were unable to determine. However, if there were Orcs gathering near Sylverton, it could be naught but trouble for these people. Drogyn felt those old urgings returning, his hero’s blood racing through those old veins once again. When Mayor McCaseus requested his presence in Sylver Hall early one autumn morning, Drogyn had already laid out his armor and sharpened the edge of his trusty sword once more.
Unwilling to allow Drogyn to go charging off on his own, McCaseus gave Drogyn a stipend to hire others to aid in the investigation and removal of these Orcs from the nearby mines. Drogyn was no fool, however, as he had already sent word for his old allies to meet him at his bar by week’s end. Boris arrived soon after, along with a fellow Weren, the young monk Sharakh Hexan. Sharakh had heard stories about Drogyn’s heroism during the war from Master Gara, the monk who trained him.
However, Boris was not the only adventurer Drogyn had summoned. Silas Vale arrived in Sylverton shortly after Boris and Sharakh. Though Drogyn was eager to see Vale, Boris was audibly displeased with his decision to do so. He had held back his contempt for Vale in Drogyn’s presence, believing Drogyn had earned the peace such ignorance would bring. However, as Silas Vale stepped into Drogyn’s Bar, Boris cursed under his breath as Drogyn walked over to greet him once more.
This was the beginning of the campaign Wyrmshadow: Good Intentions
Though the man who had walked into Drogyn’s Bar was unmistakably Silas Vale, it took Drogyn a moment to come to terms with how much Vale had changed. In fact, he was barely recognizable. He shed his old gray and tan robes for a blood-red hooded cloak over a set of plated chain, which was far more aggressive a look than he had ever displayed when Drogyn knew him last. Adding to his menacing appearance was his choice of weaponry, an ornate scythe rather than the curved oaken staff Drogyn remembered so well. Flying overhead and perching a roost in the roof beams of Drogyn’s Bar was Vale’s familiar, Vicious. A dreadfully baneful dire raven with eyes as blood-red as Vale’s cloak, its presence sent any customers scurrying for the door, leaving only Drogyn, Boris, Sharakh, Rynn, Tarrik, young Caerdwyn, and Vale in the room for Drogyn’s announcement.
Distracted by Vale’s uncharacteristic overconfidence and assertiveness, Drogyn had to be prompted to tell them why they had been collected here. Drogyn filled them in, announcing the end of his retirement. Boris and Sharakh eagerly agreed to aid in Drogyn’s new quest without hesitation. Boris was glad aid his old friend, happiest that Drogyn had something to take his mind off the loss of his wife. Sharakh had hero-worship issues and, as such, was utterly speechless when the offer was made. However, Vale’s demand of a hefty reward came as a disappointment to Drogyn. The Silas he knew hardly cared for such material gains, instead eager for the experience.
Rynn and Tarrik insisted on joining as well, and after settling the division of rewards offered by Mayor McCaseus, the party left to investigate the Orcs. In the first skirmish, everyone was spectacularly efficient in dispatching their foes. However, Drogyn was taken aback with Vale’s aggressiveness. When unleashing spells on foes during battle, Vale would let out a stacatto laugh that was unsettling to anyone within earshot. A glance at Boris earned an shamed cower from Drogyn’s gaze, as this was something Boris had hoped Drogyn would never have to see. It was, in fact, something Drogyn deeply wished he had known about sooner, that he might have been able to stem Vale’s drastic slip into such a brutal, heartless mindset.
After a fashion, the party confronted the Manslayer itself, a twisted, fiendish Orc with an unnaturally enlarged build, brandishing a strange, glowing sword the Manslayer would speak to. During the battle, something seemed amiss, as the Manslayer seemed to be arguing, even pleading with the weapon in his hands. Drogyn severed the arm holding the blade when, before anyone could react, Rynn unexpectedly took the sword’s handle and disappeared with it in a flash of light. The Manslayer was confused in that last moment, but before it could be interrogated, Vale killed it, raising Drogyn’s ire. It was obvious that Rynn had also been possessed by that weapon, as was the Manslayer, and now the only source of answers was dead.
As an uncannily gifted tracker, Boris led the party into the Burning Star Mines themselves, through a recently unearthed complex of caves that led beneath Sylverton itself. These caves had been dug long ago, but Boris noticed signs that there was activity here about ten years ago, around the end of the war. The sword had led Rynn toward something deep within these caves, toward whatever it was the Manslayer and his Orcish horde had been searching for.
After a battle in which Vale had to be restrained from using his full power on the powerless Rynn, the sword was destroyed. However, before that particular mystery could be resolved, the party encountered another presence within the caves, one who had been laying in wait for over a decade. From the shadows within the caves emerged a massive silver dragon, Luminus. Luminus was one of the Guardians who sealed the Shadow Knight into the “keys”, each Guardian having taken one key and hidden it somewhere in Wyrmshadow, guarding it until the time came for the keys to be reunited once more. Reuniting these keys was the only way to release the Shadow Knight from his imprisonment. That was why these Orcs were here. They were hoping to find the keys and, apparently, to bring back the Shadow Knight.
Realizing that there were dark forces plotting to return the Shadow Knight from exile, Drogyn vowed to collect all the keys so that the Shadow Knight couls never return to Wyrmshadow. Without hesitation, even from Vale, everyone agreed to pursue this quest. Drogyn found that he was able to sense when a key was close. Perhaps it was for this reason that he had settled in Sylverton in the first place. Although he didn’t realize it at the time, the reason why he was able to sense the keys was because they were, in fact, fragments of the Night Sword, which the Martok bloodline was eternally bound to protect.
Drogyn and his allies set out to find the keys and prevent the return of the Shadow Knight. However, things were never quite as they seemed, and despite all good intentions, the heroes would unwittingly precipitate the Shadow Knight’s return.
This was the Era of Good Intentions.
Although returning to a life of adventure at the age of forty-nine was not easy for Drogyn, he knew he would never lay eyes on Sylverton again. Despite the sadness this loss caused him, this was a sacrifice he was proud to make; his quest was to ensure that others would be able to live peaceful lives. Caerdwyn, the dragon child that had very much become Drogyn’s daughter, accompanied her father in the form of a little girl. However, she sometimes played with Boris’s bear cub companion, Koda, in the form of a cub herself.
Over the coming months the party would encounter three notable adversaries: a fallen druid called Tempake “The Filthy” (due to his aversion to regular bathing), a mercenary called “Dead Aim” who used a new weapon called a ‘gun’ and was rumored to work for a shadowy organization known as the Ebon League, and an unliving creature the party would refer to as “The Lord of Locusts.”
Legend had it that the Lord of Locusts was once an evil wizard, and when he (or she – the legends were unclear) lay dying cast a spell to cheat death by sending their soul into a swarm of locusts consuming a nearby field. Its body composed of a living swarm of insects and, if even one survived, the entire swarm would regenerate. This made killing the Lord of Locusts seemingly impossible.
As the party continued to collect the keys, tension between Sir Drogyn and Vale continued to rise. When Vale killed one of the guardians, a gnome named Zook, over a minor insult, Drogyn became so enraged the two nearly came to blows. Sharakh began to slip slowly into madness after his master, Gara, was killed by Tempake. Tempake was free because Sharakh had previously allowed himself to be distracted during a battle, allowing him to escape. The guilt and shame were too much for the young monk to bear, and he soon opted to follow Vale’s dark path instead of the Paladin’s.
Shortly after, the party was joined by a new member who Drogyn was less than enthused with. Cordelia Nes’Nuvel was a Drao who was an expert in summoning creatures from other planes. She claimed that she had admired Silas Vale for years and begged to become his servant. Vale eagerly agreed, making Drogyn uneasy. It would be years before the others would learn that the reason Cordelia was an expert in summoning extra-planar creatures was because she was half-demon herself, and her true desires for Silas Vale were far more sinister than mere admiration.
Not long afterwards, the most important encounter of Sir Drogyn’s life would take place. The party found their way to the key guarded by an archangel of Hyronius, the God of Justice. Upon entering the chamber, the angel became non-corporeal and entered Drogyn’s body. The angel told Drogyn that the Almighty Hyronius had sent the paladin and his band to lead him to all the keys and ensure the Shadow Knight could never return. According to the angel, the God of Justice ruled that only Sir Drogyn could succeed in this quest. It would be far too late that the party would learn that the angel needed Drogyn to lead him so that he could assemble the keys for his own purposes. The angel’s name was Belthazar.
The next piece of the key was hidden on a distant island known as Paradisla, an island future generations of exiles would come to call their Stonehaven. When the party arrived on its shores they were surrounded by natives. The primitive tribe had a tradition in which they could only aid people from outside the tribe if they were joined by blood to the tribe itself. The native chief’s beautiful young daughter, Ayla, suggested that she marry Sir Drogyn so that her tribe could aid the adventurers. With their aid crucial to his progress and seeing no attractive alternatives, Sir Drogyn reluctantly agreed. He could sense great kindness in Ayla’s soul, and told himself that if he fell in battle, someone would need to raise young Caerdwyn to adulthood. Although he wouldn’t admit it, he was desperately lonely since the death of his first wife. In a ceremony in the center village, Ayla and Drogyn wed.
Their happiness was not to last long. Soon after, the party would battle a Raksha demon named Shakaar. After he was slain by the adventurers, his three sons swore revenge. Shakaar’s daugher, Shaleria, was not evil. She had grown close with Sharakh, but her brothers followed her, intent on making her pay for her betrayal of their clan. During the battle, Tarrik Spindel, the loyal halfling rogue who had been Drogyn’s confidant for over a decade and whose friendship was so crucial during his grieving over his fallen wife, was slain. Sir Drogyn was devastated by the loss of his dear friend and blamed himself. He refused to listen to Rynn, Ayla and Boris when they insisted that Tarrik gladly gave his life for his friends.
Although the quest had taken one ally from him, it had given him another at the same time. Crossel was a young lizard-man whose tribe was slaughtered by the sons of Shakaar on the way to their attack on adventurers. The Zardian Blackscale warrior had come to the aid of the party during the fight and, afterwards, adopted the party as his new tribe. Although he was barely more than a child in age, he was already the largest in the group save for Boris. That night, Ayla told Drogyn she was with child.
Not long after Drogyn was surprised to learn that Cordelia was carrying Vale’s child as well. After a battle with a band of raiders, Boris found a strangely glowing sword. Drogyn recognized it as the same sword that had possessed the Manslayer and Rynn. He warned Boris not to touch it, but the ranger picked it up anyway and soon became overwhelmed with aggression. After fighting all of his comrades, Boris somehow managed to throw the sword down a ravine and then collapsed sobbing.
The party appeared to be splitting in half. In every situation Drogyn would attempt to use diplomacy and Vale would threaten violence. Ayla, Rynn and Caerdwyn were utterly devoted to Drogyn. Cordelia, Crossel and Sharakh supported Vale’s leadership. Boris, in the wake of his experience with that cursed sword, had suddenly became conflicted and indecisive. He was deeply in love with Rynn, yet close friends with Sharakh.
Surprisingly, the group was confronted by Sir Osar Argentix along with several of his comrades. Osar claimed that Drogyn was endangering the world by collecting the keys, warning that by trying to prevent the Shadow Knight’s return, Drogyn was actually making it inevitable. Drogyn couldn’t understand Osar. A fellow knight of his order should understand that a messenger from the god of justice had come to Drogyn telling him it was his fate to keep the Shadow Knight imprisoned forever. Osar replied that he was forming an army of the Shadow Knight’s sworn enemies to destroy him when (not if) Drogyn’s foolish actions allowed him to return to Wyrmshadow.
Nearly all of the keys had been collected when Rynn was once again possessed, this time by a glowing spear. A part of her never recovered from the first time she was possessed and, this time, her very soul was corrupted. In the ensuing battle, Rynn nearly killed Vale and Caerdwyn. However the cruelest was done to her true love. Rynn used her powers as a nymph to blind the ranger with her beauty. From that point on, Boris could only see through the eyes of Koda the bear cub. Rynn would escape, her true self lost to the corrupting possession of the spear, and the party felt the impact of another tragic loss.
Later that night, both Ayla and Cordelia went into labor hours apart. Cordelia gave birth to Vale’s daugher; Silas Vale named his daughter Lucinda. Ayla had twin boys – Tarrik and Melchior Martok. As the youngest warrior in the group, Crossel considered it his duty to protect the children since they were the future of his ‘tribe’. Drogyn made Crossel promise to get Ayla, Caerdwyn and the babies away from this place, to some haven where they would be safe. It would become Crossel’s sole purpose to fulfill this promise, as he would soon return his tribe to Ayla’s home on the island of Paradisla and build the refuge Stonehaven with his own two hands. Caerdwyn promised to look after her two brothers, and her new little sister. Drogyn said his farewells to his wife and children and set off with Boris, Sharakh, Shaleria and Vale for a final confrontation with the Lord of Locusts and the evil Rynn.
The two were standing between the group and the final key, the final shard of the Night Sword. Inside Drogyn’s mind the voice of Belthazar assured him that the quest was nearly complete. The battle was fierce, and by its conclusion both Rynn and the Lord of Locusts had fallen, along with Shaleria. At that exact moment, Sir Osar arrived with his army. Drogyn warned the knight not to interfere with his sacred duty. The warriors entered the chamber of the final piece of the key only to find the last ‘Guardian’ was the Shadow Knight himself, trapped in a non-corporeal form.
As soon as Drogyn assembled the keys, they reformed the Night Sword. Drogyn learned that Osar was not who he had been claiming to be. He was in actuality the Nameless one who served the Shadow Knight during his reign, a Living Polymorph. Sharakh was mortally wounded, leaving Vale and Drogyn the last two standing. Perhaps they still would have triumphed over the Nameless one, but there was one more problem.
Belthazar revealed himself as the one who had been manipulating Drogyn all along. He had betrayed the God of Justice he once served and now had the two things he needed to return the Shadow Knight from exile: the complete Night Sword and the blood of a Martok. Belthazar WAS the fallen angel who battled Drogyn’s ancestor Regult over the Night Sword centuries earlier! Drogyn and Vale made a valiant last stand, but to no avail.
Vale, in a final act of heroism and friendship, dove in front of Drogyn, sacrificing his life to save that of his best friend. However, moments later, Drogyn was run through by Belthazar with the Night Sword, and as he lay dying Drogyn watched as the Shadow Knight was released from the blade where he had been imprisoned for ten years. With the death of Sir Drogyn Martok the second reign of the Shadow Knight.
The Age of the Shadow had come.
MORE TO COME.