Era of Upheaval - Of Legends and Heroes
Darius moved to Saeed with his family, at the age of 16, a student in arts and, secretely, quite a talented psionic personality. His father, Xeer, was a trader in fine beverages, with some reputation in Val, but also with substantial unpaid debts, hence the good reason to move. His mother, Raiy, the oldest daughter of the Knight Senechal of Val, had been disinherited by her father for marrying into a merchant’s family of low origin and discarding the noble prospects that had been arranged for her. Darius’ family was completed by Cyra, his two minutes younger twin, an equal psionic talent with whom Darius shared a strong mental link.
Soon after their arrival in Saeed, Darius and Cyra went to the Academy of Arts, while their father set up shop on a narrow, sloped street, very close to the Rift Circle and the Titan Castle.
Not a month later though, the first sign of trouble befell the family, when Rayi, who had lately become her husband’s best customer, fell asleep in the cellar, leaving a barrel of fine spirit uncorked and a candle lit. The vapors caught fire some time into the night, burning the entire reserve — and Darius manifested his first power, Control Flames, which he had never learned before, in order to save his mother’s life. He didn’t fully realise the extent of his natural power, but his sister did, as she also learned Control Flames instantly, through her link with her brother.
The fire brought his father’s business on its knees though, and he was forced to invest his remaining assets into a caravan, which he decided to lead himself. In his absence, Cyra became more and more independent and consumed by her obsession with psionic power, while Darius became the only provider for the family, selling paintings and sculptures made under the supervision of his Academy teacher, Master Yeolon the Clairvoyant.
When the Summer Plague hit Saeed, the weakened Rayi was among the first afflicted. Cyra claimed she knew how to save her, using her psionic powers, but instead turned her into an frothing abomination seered by pain. Cyra and her brother were barely able to induce a deep sleep to their regressed parent, but that night Cyra disappeared with the slumbering remains of Rayi.
Darius joined the next caravan out of Saeed, following in his father’s path, in his attempt to bring him the dire news, but was ambushed not two leagues out of the city by a band of rogues. He found himself locked in a wide, damp cave, with two dozen other misfortunate travelers from various caravans – including Xeer, his father. The rogues were holding them for ransom – Xeer had not told them he was broke, lest they might kill him on the spot. Instead, he gave them a wrong address where they delivered a useless ransome note — and he had been stalling them ever since.
To pay off both of their ransoms, Darius agreed to join the bandits for two years, or until he would be able to pay 10000 gold. During the first year, he learned all the secrets of the shadow trade and spiced them secretly with his own psionic talents, making him by far the most accomplished rogue in the band. With the money in hand, he attempted to pay off the contract, but the rogue leader, one Maugsly Shortstep (nicknamed after his favourite phrase, “you are one short step from [some grim fate]”) refused and threatened to kill Darius, his father and whoever else objected. As it turned out, most of the other gang members objected and Maugsly was deposed, tied by his ankles and hanged head down in front of the public outhouse in Saeed, one fateful night (as the two bards in the gang would later sing).
Darius instead gave the money to his father, who returned to Saeed a rather wealthy merchant — and then left the city for good, in search of his sister.
His first destination was Val, their city of birth, where he felt the presence of Cyra, but only dim and fleeting. He realized that his best chance of finding her would be to master his psionic powers, so he quietly slipped into the Chancery of the Psi University and took part in every psionic study, for several years. He would sometimes pick a talented student from the final year and ambush him with psychic powers, without causing any injury, just to test his abilities. Finally, at the end of his second year of studies, he sent a mind missive to the Dean of the University, inviting him to a friendly duel. Slightly curious, but otherwise dismissive, the Dean sent one of his assistants. The latter returned shortly afterwards with an unbent conviction that he was a chicken — which he maintained for the rest of the semester, militating for poultry rights, to the despair of the chef. Determined to put an end to the mocquery, the Dean himself agreed to meet the perpetrator. He put on every defense in every manual and donned his ultimate magical robe, then he walked on the wide balcony of the fifth floor of the University, where the meeting was to take place, and waited for his opponent. Several minutes later, an invisible force lowered him gently to the second floor, where the actual balcony was. Without revealing himself, Darius explained to the professor how he used his powers to convince him that on the fifth floor there was a balcony, then to create said balcony in his mind and give him the illusion he actually walks on it, then, finally, lower him to safe ground.
Darius had found something worth pursuing during his incognito studies. A secret door. Neither his rogue skills, nor his psychic abilities were able to properly locate the door, let alone open it. Sometimes, one person or another from the University would simply push open a wall, or a floor, or a mirror — and pass through. Everything seemed random, until small details started to add up. The month, day of the week, the time of the day, the direction of the door, the person, the opening gesture — a pattern seemed to emerge from chaos.
Darius was soon able to predict who will enter next, at what time and where will the door be located. One day, he shadowed the one who would enter and pass through the door. On the other side was a vast library, filled with books about the planes of existence, about Anarchy and Chaos, books that were forbidden by various edicts and by the sheer danger they would exact upon the readers and those around them.
There is no telling how much time Darius spent reading the books, hidden atop one of the bookshelves. Slowly, he began to get some grasp on the Outer Power that lay inside him, the Chaotic Surge which had always existed there, the familiar feeling he shared with his sister. He felt the clamor and unbalance of the world finally harmonious, making sense — thus easier to set aside. And for the first time in years, he felt his sister’s psyche clearly. She was far, but not beyond reach.
Darius took only a couple of tomes in his backpack, then slipped back with the next unsuspecting door traveller, then out of Val and off to where he had felt his sibling was.
Quiet and barely noticeable, or the soul of the party, as the situation would dictate, Darius is an actor with a mind behind the mind that is presented to his public.
Xeer (Darius’ father)
Cyra (Darius’ sister)
Master Yeolon the Clairvoyant