The Baroness of Craithweith; Friend to the Adventurers.
8 Paladin/ 1 Aristocrat
Note: She is not an active member of the party currently.
From Runaway to Refugee
Rossla is a Dark Elf, possessing the stereotypical black skin and white, shoulder length hair of her race. She was not born an Adventurer; before becoming a Paladin, she was little different from the average elf. She is a member of the Do’Veznar House, a prominent family in Craithweith, and grew up on their estate.
She was very young and naive the day she abandoned home and kin to pursue the life of a paladin. She did not desire adventure or fame; she merely felt that it was something she had to do. Her brother, Gaul Do’Veznar, was the de facto leader of the Do’Veznar Clan at the time (there is no official leadership among elves), who was heartbroken to learn that his most beloved sister had run off and declared herself a paladin. Despite being siblings, Gaul is a couple hundred years Rossla’s elder, and thus more experienced and powerful; he considered her foolish, spurred on by the recklessness of youth, so he pursued her.
Rossla headed south through The Wood, a cursed, wicked place, where she encountered a powerful demon. She was just able to escape with her life, but the encounter had cast her decision to leave home into serious doubt. She pressed on however, and eventually was directed to an enclave near Arcades, the City of Mages, where a group of knights train would-be paladins. Rossla was not initially admitted to enter the enclave because of her lineage, but she was not even a day’s travel away from Arcades, and easily enlisted the services of an illusionist to mask her identity.
Rossla adopted the lifestyle and creed of a knight quickly and effortlessly, for she had found her calling. She devoted herself to a life of conscience, opposing tyranny wherever it is, uplifting the downtrodden whoever they are, and living nobly. She was taught how to fight with a shield and sword, and became close to a fellow elf at the enclave, Valmir.
Unfortunately, Rossla’s past caught up with her too soon. Gaul tracked her down nearly a year after her departure from Craithweith. He, after she refused to leave, dispelled the illusion masking Rossla’s identity, expecting the knights to cast her out. But the knights had a change of heart since her first appearance at the enclave a year ago, except for Valmir. She was allowed to remain, but Valmir, her lover, felt betrayed, and so left. Gaul was enraged, so that night, Gaul attacked the enclave, slaying many a knight as he attempted to capture Rossla, but she was able to escape him.
Now she lives on the run, pursued by her brother who has become the very thing she swore to oppose.
Return from Exile
During the next months, Rossla traveled the land, righting injustices and taking quests, meeting many valiant adventurers along the way. However, it was time for her to return home; she would face Gaul, though she knew not what would happen. However, to return to Craithweith, she had to pass through the Wood once more, and this time would not be content with fleeing from the demon.
Aided by courage, she entered the haunted wood, and hunted for the fiend. It did not take long for her foe to find her, mounted atop his dreaded Nightmare and clad in black save his brilliant crystal sword. The two had a fierce battle, but when the rider toppled from his foul steed Rossla smote the creature for good. She kept her foe’s crystalline sword as a reminder of her courage that day, for she certainly would need that courage in the days to come.
Upon her arrival to Craithweith, Rossla was confronted by Valmir who had come to settle the score with Gaul. Valmir suspected Rossla of being in league with her brother but dismissed the notion when she refused to provide him a duel. Instead she explained her task and, despite Valmir’s initial wariness of her, Rossla’s true spirit shined enough to dispel any lingering doubts he might have had, and so the two were reunited.
There was little time to rejoice however, for their task was not yet complete. Rossla knew even with Valmir’s aid that they were a far cry from capable of defeating her brother. She feared for Valmir, for he was young and headstrong, more so than even she. He would not be persuaded away, and so Rossla and Valmir together ventured forth to her family’s estate where Gaul was waiting for her.
Gaul allowed for the parley for it was never his intent to murder Rossla out of cold blood, nor was it hers to do the same to Gaul. What Gaul wanted was for Rossla to renounce her foolish crusade for “good” and take her rightful place by his side. When it became clear that Rossla would not be persuaded by words, diplomacy broke down and battle erupted. Just as Rossla dreaded, Valmir, in his recklessness, fought too rashly and was slain, his throat cut at the edge of Gaul’s sword. Rossla too was bested, and given one last chance to renounce. When Rossla refused, sure and resolute, prepared to meet her own death, Gaul could not bring himself to slay her.
When Rossla ran away, Gaul had believed his sister to have been acting on some foolhardy act of rebellion against authority, as is typical of the youth. He had thought that if he slew those Rossla claimed to love, she would return to her senses. However, upon witnessing Rossla’s conviction to her new found faith in the face of her own death, Gaul had a revelation. He saw then that Rossla was no longer the person he had thought she was, or rather perhaps she never was, but instead a champion of justice, a defender of the down trodden, a divine crusader. He became filled with guilt and shame for the atrocities he had committed in his sisters name. And so Gaul went into self-imposed exile, and Rossla, heir of the estate, was alone once again.
Gone too Soon
Rossla, the only remaining member of House Do’Vezar in Craithweith, stayed for a while longer at her family’s estate. The estate itself consists of a Rosethorn keep and the town of Wybury, founded long ago by Arundelic lords vying for power in the western reaches of the First Empire. Dark Elves are native to Craithweith, but by being a predominantly subterranean race, had naught but a few outposts on the surface of the world in those days. Nevertheless, for centuries the Dark Elves prevented the rise of any major, long-lasting human settlement in Craithweith. However, once the First Empire was firmly established and it became clear that man-kind’s migration southward was inevitable, many of the Dark Elves took to Arundel’s lifestyle, or otherwise withdrew further underground. During the ensuing centuries, the Dark Elves of Craithweith came to be considered no less than citizens of the Empire, albeit a minority.
So, Rossla retired from the road to take up her family’s responsibilities and govern the land. She decreed just law reforms and protected the land from beastly threats, garnering much love from the people and becoming known among her peers. This was not to last, however, for one day Rossla was paid a visit from a friend she had met in her travels. He goes by a number of names but Rossla knows him as Alistair, a man of unworldly beauty, not quite elvan nor human or anything in between. He had come to summon Rossla to a council, for her actions of the past year had not gone unnoticed. She was instructed to travel to Lost-Arda, an old citadel which marked the western most extreme of the First Empire’s civilization, but was, by all accounts, abandoned centuries ago. Rossla had many questions, but Alistair had no answers, and could not accompany her on her journey for he had another errand at hand.
Travel through the Western Wastes is slow and dangerous to say the least. No authority exists to maintain the roads, so they become overgrown, and are made the hunting grounds for wild beasts. Many ancient bridges have long since collapsed, forcing travelers to divert days off course in search for a passage across the treacherous canyons. Also, abandoned fortresses dot the landscape, where troupes of bandits take up residence, pestering any who venture into this godforsaken land. Lost-Arda was once the final bastion on the rim of the known world, capital of the vast realm that is now the Western Wastes, but that was long ago.
Rossla, through tiring adventure, made her way to Lost-Arda along the Grey Top Mountains. Even by horseback, the journey was long. Negotiating treacherous ravines and warding off the occasional bandit or monster attack, she had been traveling for months before reaching the ruin. It had kept its essential grandeur over the ages. The ruin was little less than a city of old, with white stone spires towering above in clear blue skies and immense paved roads lined with beautifully sculpted colossi.
Walking along the avenues, Rossla spotted a congregation of flying beasts circling around the tallest spire and through its wide windows. As she approached the base of the structure, she was greeted by Alistair, garbed in his customary ancient Elvin armor, and they walked together into the antechamber. She learned that the council had been going on for some time, discussing a great evil present in the south. Upon reaching the spire’s summit, she met the host of the council, Papsukkal, a creature with the golden body and mane of a lion, the wings of a giant eagle, and the face of a noble human. He was a Lamassu, and was accompanied by a number of other Lamassu, but Papsukkal was the noblest.
Papsukkal described to Rossla that a great darkness, hidden from the world, was on the verge of consuming it and she would have to stop it. She would have to travel far to the south and meet familiar allies in the strange land, but she would not make the journey alone; she was given Venya the hippogriff, Papsukkal’s servant and friend, so that her journey could be made as hastily as possible. Also, she received a shield bearing the semblance of a lion’s head, his symbol. Rossla would have liked to have stayed a while, having many questions, and she enjoyed the prospect of exploring the ruined city. Time was pressing, however, and had to be on her way within a day.
The Journey to the South
The journey south was arduous; Venya would fly for two days and nights without rest before setting down in some lonely dale for a few hours respite before another charge across the skies. Not with the swiftest of horses could Rossla have made such haste. In only about the span of a week did the pair traverse the height of the continent and meet the great bay, at some point west of the Blue Lands. From there Rossla and Venya followed the coast further south, across lands likely unseen by the likes of men for centuries.
There was a noticeable spike in climate; Rossla had lived in the valley of Craithweith all her life, where in the spring and summer the mountains to the east pour forth chill winds with the seasonal defrost, and in the fall and winter the bitter gusts that sweep across the northland lock the valley in snow and ice. But as she traveled south, nearing the eldritch forests of Kyrinthia and then entering the bay area, conditions were much warmer and pleasanter. It was late summer in Nirvalin and Kyrinthia, and if Rossla were travelling by foot instead of by air, it surly would have been a more unpleasant journey. However as Rossla passed south, she neared Halden, a land of never ending oppressive heat.
Rossla entered the Gold Lands, an idyllic savannah where roam beasts the like of which would never be seen in Nirvalin by nature. The people of Freeport, a great shipping metropolis to the east of the Gold Lands, have exported these exotic animals to the far ends of Nirvalin, however. But seeing these creatures wander freely as they were meant to was something else, and Rossla’s first impression of Halden was a fond one.
Rossla soon realized that she was hopelessly lost and alone in this foreign land. In all her knowledge of her people’s history, she had never heard one story regarding Halden. Who were the people of Halden? Were they men who ruled great kingdoms as they did in the north? Were they Elves, descendants from the Elder Days who were mysteriously missing from the lore books? Rossla wondered, but she would not meet any of the locals for many days, as Venya, guided by some inner instinct, knew just how to traverse the strange land. She flew south, resting during the day and more frequently as the heat of the Halden sun was too oppressive to do otherwise.
The duo cut east so to not go straight into the Vast Dunes, as that would surly spell doom. As it was, Rossla was already expending the holy energy she garnered from her meditations just to keep up the quickened pace. That pace was needed, as it had been some number of weeks now, and she had no idea how much longer this ride would take. They cut back south once they met the coast to the Southern Sea, having no choice but to enter the desert then. The coast gave Rossla some reassurance in that she would at least know they were heading in the right direction.
They had been traveling for nearly a month before they laid eyes on Rycia, a city Rossla might have heard of in passing once. Nevertheless, seeing such a large example of civilization in this seemingly deserted land lifted Rossla’s spirits, despite not knowing whether they were friendly or loathsome. However, she sensed that their journey was nearly at an end, and they had no time to explore a city. Venya darted inland towards the setting sun, and within an hour did the pair arrive at their destination.