Played by Nick
James Landsman met Lynnai alThae on a crisp spring morning during his 5th year. She was to take a trip from Gloomwood to somewhere out East, and had stopped into James’s father’s shop in Zinnaa for some final supplies (James Landsman Sr.’s shop was the premiere place to stop for traveling goods). Her trip turned into an annual occurance, with her gone the better part of each year. She would show up in Zinnaa shortly after her departure from Gloomwood in early Spring, and arrive back in Zinnaa on her way to Gloomwood as the leaves of fall were nearly all spent. She and James Sr. shared intelligent conversation, which brought her back to the shop during each stop in town. As he grew older James Jr. found that he was catching up in maturity to the enigmatically charming elf, and a deep attraction formed.
Before long he was finding excuses to chat alone with her, and the two soon became close. Each year she ended up staying an extra night in town, or emerged from Gloomwood for an evening visit. By the time James was a young man of 20, they were seeing each other almost every day during her stay in Gloomwood from late Autumn to early Spring. Several years passed this way, and Lynnai and James found themselves drawn closely together, despite only seeing each other for a few short months each year. Every Spring James would try to get her to stay, but with hushed sad tones she would tell him that she had no choice. There was never an explanation on where she must go, only that the decision was not hers to make. James eventually stopped asking, and took to calling her his “Winter Star”.
Then one Autumn she returned with a surprise – Thae. He was named Thae Landsman (Thae after Lynnai’s Surname, and Landsman over James’) and he brought his parents great joy. Springtime came and went, and Lynnai insisted that this year she didn’t need to leave. While James was surprised at this, he chose to not question his fortune. She moved in with James and the small family prospered.
Then came the Spring when Lynnai suddenly left. Thae was 5, and the event burned itself into his brain – the only real memory he still has of his mother. In the memory, he would sit near the fireplace, listening to but not comprehending the passionate argument between his mother and father. His mother then emerged from their bedroom (her visage barely more than a blur in Thae’s mind) and walked to the front door. His father came running from the bedroom but stopped a few feet from his mother. A moment of silence was shared, hands extend to touch, and then she was gone. His father turned and muttered “winter star”, ending the memory.
The following fall James grew more and more anxious in waiting for his love. But by the time Spring had come and gone without Lynnai’s return, he had become a shell of the man he had been. The years progressed and Thae grew into his teenage years. James, unable to find any light remaining in his life, became a cold taskmaster. He took great care in making sure Thae received an education, learned his manners, and grew into a healthy young man, but there was little affection shown towards Thae directly. Eventually the young man grew frustrated and angry at his father who “couldn’t understand”, “is unfair”, and “doesn’t even care” (oh to be an angsty teen).
Their relationship eventually degraded enough that Thae actually left home for a few months. He returned after realizing that he wasn’t capable of actually making it on his own yet (as a youth of 14), and the two managed to reconcile their differences. Their relationship bloomed, and James managed to open up to his son. He told him stories of his mother and for the first time Thae grew to know the woman she had been. He also found a new appreciation for the stars from his grandfather (who was still quite sharp in his elder years). At 18, Thae was asked to make a journey to the city for his grandfather who was no longer able to make the trek. On his way back, he traveled with a merchant who was heading to a small village nearby Zinnaa. They took to chatting each night around the fire and discovered their shared love of the stars. One night Thae pointed out the “Winter Star” – a star he had named for his mother (it’s visibility in the night sky closely matched her yearly pilgrimages). He explained his mother’s story in detail. The two sat in silence for a moment after he had finished talking, then the merchant rose and walked to his wagon. Thae assumed the eccentric merchant had decided to go to bed without finishing their discussion, but after a few moments the man reemerged with a small cloth in his hand.
The merchant sat back down next to Thae, and from inside the cloth revealed a breathtaking crystal attached to a silver chain by an intricate golden clasp. He explained that he knew his mother well, and from her knew of his father also. The amulet had been hers, and while he wasn’t at liberty to talk about the events that brought the necklace into his hands, he knew that it should be given back to James and Thae. Upon leaving the merchant and his guards as their paths diverged, Thae still felt overwhelmed by the amulet he now wore about his neck.
His emotions were to take another unexpected swerve, for when he returned to town he found that his father had taken quite ill. The local healer had been unable to find the cause for the sickness, and though he had only been sick for 3 days it was predicted that James wouldn’t make it through more than another day or two.
Thae spent the night on the outskirts of town staring up at the stars. His mother’s star shone brightly almost in the center of the sky. He eventually broke down, which was when he heard footsteps approaching. When the merchant emerged from the darkness, he wasn’t sure what to expect. After standing their for a silent moment, the man began talking in quick, hushed tones.
He explained that whatever caused Thae’s father’s illness did not appear to be of this world. He was more in tune with the arcane than he let on at first, and knew of a way to heal James. At the man’s request, Thae handed over his amulet. After speaking a few unintelligible words the man handed it back, and told Thae that he must place the amulet around his father’s neck. He then gave him a piece of shimmering cloth, which he instructed Thae to place the amulet in after he removes it from James’ neck. He was adamant that Thae be sure not to touch the crystal after it had touched James. Once it was done, he was to return to the man.
Not sure if he should trust the “merchant” but aware that his father would be dead within hours, he decided to take a chance. He diligently followed the steps laid out by the man, and returned with the cloth covered amulet later than night. The man took the cloth, then stoically addressed Thae.
“I will now be able to purge your father’s body of the infection, but to do so will cost me greatly. A portion of my life force will be expended during the process. I am not a young man, and I don’t hesitate doing this favor for you and your father. In return I was hoping for a favor from you. The details are still in the works, so I can’t say more at this time. One day in the future though, once plans are finalized, I will need your help. I assure you it will be nothing compared to this task I am about to do, and will likely grant you an additional reward.”
Feeling exposed but unable to turn away from the prospect of saving his father, Thae agreed. The man laughed slightly, utter a few words while grasping the amulet, then handed the crystalline necklace back to Thae.
“Very good Thae. The process is completed. Your father would have died anyway, there was nothing I could do for him. What you hold is his essence – it will not bring him back to you by any means, but by wearing the amulet you will have access to the powers of the heavens. What exactly that means for you is up to you to figure out. I’ll be calling on you like I said, sometime down the road, with that “favor” I mentioned earlier.
“Oh, and Thae. One last thing. I would get angry and do anything brash with that amulet. I’m not one to be philosophical and speculate on what happens after we die, but whatever it is your dad isn’t there. He is effectively in that amulet, safe. If it were to crack, become disenchanted, fall into the wrong hands…well I wouldn’t want to think about having my soul torn asunder. Ta ta”
James spent the next few months running. From town to town, city to city he traveled. Across the seas and then back. Every time his eyes closed he saw his father lying there dying, with the old man standing at his side cackling. Not wanting to be known, and feeling that he had brought infamy and pain upon his family name, he adopted “Starsworn” over his real surname of “Landsman”. He wore his amulet like a medal, and sneered when people paid him or it too much attention. It was because of this that he discovered his power.
Walking home, drunk on cheap wine and fermented cider, he was assaulted by a thief for his necklace. Thae slowly fell backwards as the killing blow drew nearer to his quickly beating heart. His felt the malevolent presence of the thief wash over him. Repulsed, he imagined what it would be like if that darkness was suddenly washed away by light, as if by a wayward star. He was not expecting the streak of light that formed somewhere above and slashed down into the thief. Thae quickly grabbed the knife and did his best to stumble back to an inn for much needed sleep. He had his first nightmare that night. He lay in an open field, chained to a giant slab of stone with arcane symbols carved around his prostate body. Hooded figures chanted in a dark language. Then one by one, the stars above started to fall from the sky. With great speed, they slammed into his chest, one by one, until he finally jerked awake – unscathed but drenched in sweat.
Thae regained control of himself over the next few weeks, and practiced his abilities. Eventually he had a firm grasp of his capabilities, and he took to wielding that power for something to give meaning to his torturous life. He also kept his amulet hidden under his bottom layer of clothing, to better protect it and himself from others. He took down thieves. He tracked down men he knew to be con artists and smugglers and rapists and murderers. And yet with each righteous act he found more horrid nightmares awaiting him at night.
Finally Thae reached his breaking point. Laying awake for the third night straight with sunlight only a few hours away, Thae finally felt himself fall into sleep. Again he was chained to the stone slab. Again robed figures surrounded him. But this time, he was shocked to discover that it was he that was moving, and not the sky above. The robed figures started to panic, as the stone slab quickly rose off the ground and took to the sky. Thae, still attached to the stone, was flying towards the heavens. Unable to look around, he saw only the black sky growing clearer and clearer as he flew. After what seemed like ages, one star grew ever brighter. Ever larger. Until he saw it not for a pin prick in the sky, but for a massive white ball of churning fire and light. And yet he was not burned, nor were his eyes in pain from the blinding light. He felt only…peace, and a yearning for more.
He awoke what could have only been a few short hours later feeling more rested than he could recall feeling in quite some time. He experienced a moment of clarity as he descended to the common room and saw three men of the cloth saying prayers over their morning meal. He introduced himself to the clerics of pelor, and began his new life.
Back story Bonus: +1 to Arcana Checks involving deceit.