Serielle (Seri): Half-elf, rogue 3 paladin 2
An unwanted bastard of an elven-human liaison, Serielle was abandoned at an orphanage shortly after birth, and kicked out of the orphanage at ten years old when an lawful-neutral mayor decided the town couldn’t afford to support an non-income-earning orphanage and closed it shortly after the local mine stopped producing ore.
Serielle formed a gang with several other orphans: two half-elves named Makietta and Salvaran, a human named Luci, a half-orc named Mac, and a halfling named Sorrow (the orphanage named kids based on the year they were abandoned, so Sorrow, Salvaran, and Serielle were all from the same year. Sorrow was relegated to the care of Priestess Wit, a gnomish caretaker who’d inherited her own parents’ sense of humor. Sorrow’d been trained to resist her namesake by the previous year’s Rancor and Rue, and the half orc Nipper, who’d never been known to bite anyone, and for most of her youth the halfling had quite the sense of humor). They took over an abandoned house in the outskirts of the city, and from there etched a living as cat burglars, breaking in and entering houses while the owners were at work, going in teams of three.
Serielle specialized in exotic animals: taking the pets from the rich stitches of the city and selling them to the itinerant gnome Kafti, who’d resell them in a different city at a huge profit. Salvaran would quickly evaluate the most expensive jewelry, while Sorrow had an eye for fine art and an eagle eye for signs of danger. On the other team, Makietta was known for her unusually talented acrobatics and fondness for fine spices and perfumes; Luci was quick to find hidden safes and was quite the jewelry specialist, and Mac could carry anything the girls handed to him. This went on until Serielle was in her late teens, and had any of the kids had any concept of basic money management, they’d have done quite well. Being kids of less-than-formal education, Serielle became quite used to the feast-or-famine lifestyle.
Dissatisfied with her life and generally angsty (as most teenagers are), she wound up at a temple during one of their free food handout days. After talking to a priest of Serenae (Goddess of the sun, redemption, honesty, and healing–Regional spelling of Sarenrae) for a few hours, she took a holy book home with her and promised in the “sure I’ll do it, when I get the chance” kind of way that she would read it. Serielle, of course, promptly chucked the pamphlet into the wood pile, to be used as kindling come winter.
Makietta, meanwhile, had discovered a new type of spice in her own late teens. She started needing more and more of it, and her standards in purity declined as her addiction became stronger. Four weeks after the priestly handout, Makietta died after taking a hit of a drug laced with something rotten.
Serielle rescued and read the pamphlet, and six months later, after much tarrying, dallying, and arguing with her friends, she left the house and entered the temple, occasionally bringing home gifts and proselytizing, although not so much of the latter as to be chased off. Mac, in particular, even felt connected and drawn to her newfound religion, and eventually joined the temple to be a cleric. But the others felt a growing disconnection, and after Mac left, Sorrow, Luci, and Salvaran became gradually distant, until by mutual unspoken agreement, Serielle and Mac stopped visiting except for an occasional awkward drop-by. Still, it was Mac that Luci asked to perform her upcoming wedding, and Serielle to be one of her witnesses.
A few days later, dropping by the house to discuss the details, Serielle and Mac found Luci’s head, and Salvaran and Sorrow gone except a couple of dark patches of dried blood. People, living or not, often were taken across borders to the necromancer’s land for cash, and everything of value had stripped from the house, with gang signs painted over the windows.
Serielle and Mac split up to find their friends. Having had run-ins with this gang before, it didn’t take her long to hunt down a couple of members. The answer was one she didn’t like: the gangsters claimed all three had been killed, and the bodies taken to be sold for cash. She didn’t have much memory of what happened after that confession, but she did have enough to know the dead men were entirely her fault.
By the time Mac found the bodies, Serielle was long gone, her book and her faith left in the blood-soaked dirt.
At first she wanted vengeance, leaving half a dozen of the body-trading ringleaders dead in ambushes. But killing criminals didn’t bring her friends back, and it didn’t fill the void that had taken over her, and it didn’t give her the courage to stop hiding from Mac when he and the other clerics went to hand out services to the poor. Then one day she heard that Mac had gone to test himself against the advancing necromantic army, with many of his fellow clerics.
Life returned to survival mode for a couple of years. Broken in spirit, Serielle wandered the streets, taking odd jobs, staying just on the right side of the law and scraping by mostly because the weather was warm and the town in need of extra hands, with so many preparing for a hopeless war against the necromancer.
One hungry day, Serielle found herself holding a horse for a man who’d gone inside for moment, and thinking it would be so easy to just ride away and sell it. Just like the old days. Just like everything she’d sworn she’d never become again.
When he came out, she handed him the reins and walked to the nearest temple of Serenae.
The ancient cleric who was tending the altar looked up to see a dirty, tired, too-thin half-elf walk in, looking weary and lost. “I’ve done so many things wrong,” she said. “Is there still hope for me?”
You don’t walk into a temple of Serenae with those words and get turned away. You just don’t.
After about six months of Serielle doing mindless chores and cold waterfall meditations, feeding the poor, cleaning the temple stables, and a doing bunch of really sucky chores to test her sincerity and repentance, the cleric, sensing the end of his natural lifespan coming to a close, agreed to cast an atonement spell, with the stipulation that she undertake a journey to use her skills for good.
Unfortunately, life-end was drawing near a little faster than he expected. The spell took most of his remaining strength, and he died soon after. “I have faith in you,” he said as died, “Serenae calls strongest those who were most lost.” He meant something like a 10-year vow of poverty and spiritual dedication, but that was sort of lost in the whole dying-breath thing.
So she swore on his hand-dug grave (seriously, there was a shovel. A perfectly good shovel. She just ignored the thing.) that she would obey Serenae’s summons… and go kill the necromancer or die trying.
The temple, of course, was more than willing to equip her for this. Hey, the more suckers–er, warriors–fighting, the better chance every non-dead person had to remain not dead or enslaved.
Serielle: Half-elf Rogue 3/Paladin 2. Big, sad brown eyes, thick curly hair chopped ear-length, pouty lips and an aura of angst that sends half the teenagers sighing in her wake, and half avoiding her (because nothing’s worse for an angsty teen than getting out-angsted). Devoted to Serenae. Has sworn to use her ill-begotten skills for good. Thinks if she swerves from her oath to kill the necromancer (or die trying), she’ll be damned and Serenae will never love her again (two chances, right? There’s a max on this sort of thing?) As far as she knows, everyone she’s ever cared deeply for is dead, so she’s not really too concerned about the whole “or die trying” thing.
(a cheat-sheet provided by a high-ranking cleric before she leaves; this is standard procedure, no matter how experienced the paladin going is, really, just take it, kid):
- All undead secretly yearn to rest in peace, and should be given their rightful rest by any means possible. This means ambushing and even sneak-attacking them is a-okay. (Same with constructs, which don’t have souls to save so if you can figure how to sneak attack them, go for it, and outsiders, who really just want to go home and will thank you for it later. Abominations are considered biological constructs or outsiders, depending on interpretation.) Devils/demons/etc are to be destroyed in manner possible, and then the ground where they died or were last seen purified by fire, holy water, salt, or sunlight. [Students who try to point out the problems with these methods are made to clean the temple toilets. Few question long.]
[There seems to be a small wine spill here. Cleric must have been blessing something. Surely there’s no way he’d be drinking when sending off yet another young person to near-certain death.]
- All living should be faced with honor, unless they’re evil. Sneak-attacking a living, non-evil, intelligent being is wrong, and if done knowingly, another atonement spell will be needed.
- Living non-evils who look too much like the undead in an undead nation? Two hours of prayer for their lost souls. My bad, sorry; maybe dressing up like a zombie was a bad idea. I’ll pray for you. Hope I didn’t kill you too badly.
- Monstrous humanoid? Is it intelligent? General species intelligence 7+ must be treated with honor. No backstabby. Unless you didn’t know it was smart. See above.
- If possibly, a chance for redemption must be offered. This doesn’t mean letting a murderer get away, or stopping defending oneself. It does mean that if an enemy surrenders, the greatest care should be taken not to further injure them, to restrain them as necessary for party safety, and then the “religious discussion” may begin.
- All non-evil, non-chaotic religions should be tolerated (well, chaotic good is okay, just misguided). Serenae doesn’t mind them too much, as they’re potential future converts, and she’s on okay terms with most of the other good deities anyway.
- Serenae offers non-devotees who don’t go to her deity allies second chances in the form of reincarnation.So killing evil is really just giving it a chance to do better next time. However, it is a last resort, as Serenae would rather have her converts NOW, in this life.
[or so her holy book proclaims: there seems to be some link between being killed by a devotee and Serenae being able to grant them reincarnation, but the exact connection is unclear].
- The innocent must be protected if at all possible. So should not-exactly-innocent, non-evil non-combatants.
- Clerics and holy people of Serenae or her allies should be protected. This is slightly lower priority than protecting the innocent. But, in battle, a paladin’s job is to sacrifice herself to keep holy people safe.
- Try to keep the spellcasters out of melee, even against living creatures. Their contribution to Serenae is different from yours, so don’t judge them for it.
[another wine stain. Handwriting starts getting a bit shaky.]
- Lock-picking and sneaking your way into an undead empire is called “Using your ill-begotten skills for good.” Sneaking your way around elsewhere in the world? Not so much, unless it’s done to save lives. You should probably pray for a couple of hours before or afterwards, for guidance or forgiveness, just in case.
- Heck, just pray a couple of hours each day. The stains on your soul could use a little cleaning, girl.
- Serenae loves you anyway.
- Don’t steal. You may, however, confiscate goods that will aid you and your allies whilst in the evil empire. Or just deprive them of those goods, that’s okay too.
- For Serenae’s sake, let one of the others do the buying and selling, if you have to trade in that evil place.
Serenae thanks you for your service and hopes you have a fruitful and productive trip!