J is for Janissary #atozchallenge

Osman is the King’s closest friend and trusted warrior.

When they were young and involved with worldly affairs, the two men bonded during a war with another rival nation. They fought side by side and conquered many ancient foes and uncovered dangerous secrets in the ruins of the Ashen Wastes.

Osman followed the Grey King into his homeland and played an integral role in usurping a brother monarch and taking the Throne. Osman’s curved sword , made of strange metals, fulfilled a prophecy in slaying a previously unkillable man. The King’s brother was said to be immune from harm by weapons made from materials of this world. Osman’s sword was made from meteoric iron.

The Janissary, like most of the folk of the Grey Isles, is no longer a mortal. His physical form is that of a Wight, and his ghostly voice is enchanting. He is completely unaware of his ghostly nature; his life is a cloudy haze of jumbled memories.

Five times a day (dawn, noon, in the mid-afternoon, at sunset, and at night), he materializes inside of the highest tower of the Palace and sings an otherworldly call to prayer. It is the only connection that he has with his homeland and faith. In this state he is not much more than an ghost-like apparition. If interrupted, he will disappear and the intruder will be struck with a blast of freezing cold air.

Some kinds of characters might be able to befriend him: noble warriors, paladins or people from a similar background, culture or faith (Turkish, Al-Qadim, etc). But like most Undead trapped in an endless dream, his memory and mood are unpredictable…

However, if commanded to protect the palace from intruders, his warrior nature manifests and he becomes a fearsome force: his blade drains life, his touch paralyses the living with cold and his gaze terrifies even the most stout-hearted (us a Death Knight’s stats). He is also accompanied by 2d6 wight soldiers who are heavily armed and armoured and obey his every command.

 

 

 

 

 

G is for Grinning Gauvain #atozchallenge

Gauvain serves the powers-that-be of the palace. Desdemonia is his employer and he reports to her directly as he his forbidden from speaking directly to any of the Maidens (no one sees the King much anyway).

When he is nervous or edgy (which is nearly all of the time), he grins hideously. To make matters worse, when he speaks, his mouth does not move and his voice is heard from behind the person to whom he speaks. What makes this even more unnerving is how he always looks nervously at the source of the voice as if someone is there.

Otherwise he is a dutiful and polite worker, ever cleaning, cooking and maintaining the interior of the palace. If there are guests, he guides them to their rooms and often startles them with his soundless appearances (usually to bring fresh linens or to invite them downstairs for dinner).

If ever he is in peril, or is commanded to apprehend someone, he attacks with his gaze: his eyes become bloodshot as they glare at his target. The victim gets a splitting headache and hears a high-pitched scream in their ears (they must pass a Constitution saving throw each round that Gauvain stares at them or else they fall unconscious).

Gauvain knows the layout of the palace very well. He even knows about the secret doors and passageways, but rarely uses them.

He is desperately in love with Cadaveria, whom he spies on all of the time through secret rooms. He openly weeps at the sound of her voice, especially at her incantations. The Steward, Desdemonia, knows this and is waiting for the right day to use it against him if his loyalty is ever in question.

D is for Desdemonia #atozchallenge

Desdemonia is the Steward of the King’s palace. She has worked there since she was very young, quickly rising in rank and power through her subtle cleverness and guile.

As Steward, she is in charge of all of the servants, cleaners and workers maintaining the palace. She has profound insights on everyone and anyone and knows the layout of the palace and grounds like the back of her hand, even the secret doors and passages.

For years she gave secret counsel to the King in matters of courtly intrigue and political manipulations. No one knows this, but the King trusts Desdemonia more than anyone else, even his own Maidens. Her view of the King has evolved over the years: he has been like a father, a brother, a husband and currently as her son. She will stay at her Lord’s side forever, loyal and steadfast.

She is ageless and immortal; an intrinsic part of the ancient grounds of the Grey Island palace. Hidden in her gown are a handful of magical skeleton keys that allow her to enter any door to exit any other door on the grounds (essentially, she can teleport through doorways). Only she knows the secret of the keys; using these items without first “unlocking” their secrets is very dangerous. Some poor servants have become forever lost to the mists this way.

In truth she is a Revenant; a undead creature of great power. She cannot be destroyed as long as the Grey King exists. She can command any of the creatures, undead or demons on the Isles as if she were the King himself; she often does in his stead because he has entrusted her with the safekeeping of the Grey Isles.

The Well of Souls

Desdemonia has access to a secret chamber in the palace that is unknown to even the eldest of servants. In this place is a sinister stone fountain called the Well of Souls.

Gazing into the Well grants visions of anything or anyone on the Grey Isles. Essentially, it allows one to spy or scry on any location or individual. Each time it is used in this way, it drains one year of life from the one using it. In Desdemonia’s case, her endless un-life has already paid its price and she can use the Well freely without any cost.