Last Stand of the 5th Crusade
4572: Among the first non-human citizens to be recruited by the gold dragon Mengkare are two high-born elves: Kellen Xathariel, a 160-yr old arcane scholar of Thassalonian relics from the Mordant Spire and Ha’reyth Leony, a 120-yr old sorcerer guarding the edges of the Tanglebriar swamps of Kyonin against the forces of the nascent demon-lord Treerazer. Both elves possess the keen intellect and fierce beauty reminiscent of the Elves of ancient times.
Mengkare invites both elves to found the Promise Academy of the Arcane Arts, knowing that their combined knowledge, wisdom, perspective and leadership (especially by Ha’reyth) will provide a strong foundation for training Hermea’s first and future human citizens.
Mengkare also encourages the two to form a familial bond and provide generations of elves to breed with humans on the island nation, deepening and strengthening its genetic diversity. Kellen agrees immediately, yet it takes a couple decades for Ha’reyth to come around.
4643: Two years before the end of the Second Crusade, Kellen and Ha’reyth, long since married and the parents of four elven children, have their fifth child. Rather than yet another noble specimen of Elven perfection, however, the newest Xathariel is a Tiefling boy with black hair, red and black eyes, and onyx-colored skin dotted with faint white dots, like the stars on a clear night.
For a moment, those present in the birthing room are still with shock, even horror. The cry of the infant as he gasps for air startles his parents, the midwife, and the nurses back into action, and as the young boy squirms, he melts the hearts of both his parents. It is clear they will love him, perhaps more than usual, for it will take all their social and political skills to convince the residents of Promise that their son, while an aberration of breeding, is no abomination, and that he deserves the same chance that all children born on Hermea are given.
4708: Kyrk reaches the equivalent maturity of 16 human years and passes his Citizenship Test with the highest written score and oratorical thesis defense of the last forty-two years. He does well, though not to the same degree, in his physical and athletic evaluation. Artistically, however, the young Tiefling is judged likely to contribute next to nothing to the creative or performing arts community on Promise, and his diplomatic skills are middling at best. But there is a fierce drive both for knowledge and its efficient application that burns behind his red eyes, and there is a strength of heart and loyalty clearly evident in his carriage and bearing. As for his integrity and character, those on the Council most given to kneejerk prejudice towards those with an infernal taint have their doubts.
It is clear, though, that this young man will make some kind of mark on the world. Perhaps it will be for the betterment of Promise (and it is for that reason alone that his Citizenship is granted), and perhaps it will extend far beyond the Steaming Sea in ways no one can imagine and in ways more suspect and insidious. Hopefully, however, the boy will maintain the focus and perspective to stay on a proper path.
4713: Kyrk is nearing the end of his formal arcane studies, having already made substantial early progress as a Wizard specializing in Conjuration (with a focus on Teleportation) and becoming quite close with his Greensting Scorpion familiar Takk who almost never leaves the folds of his cloak or jacket unless it is to forage for food or scout ahead for the intrepid Tiefling. But on one fateful day, Kyrk makes the biggest mistake of his young life to date and also the bravest, most clouded by emotion error thus far. He gets in trouble for a girl.
Not just any girl, of course, but Keeya Olinva, the Sylph Occultist not allowed to study formally at the Promise Academy of the Arcane Art alongside Kyrk and the other Wizards in training. Kyrk had always been drawn to the beautiful yet painfully shy introvert, but not for quite the same reason as other boys and girls at the school. It was her Outsider nature that equally attracted Kyrk to Keeya, for she was the only other person similar to himself in that respect in all of Promise. Plus, she was a natural conjurer, something to which Kyrk had to devote hours of study to learn. For this reason, they managed to form a bond of sorts, though Keeya did not form much of a bond with anyone. She did appreciate Kyrk’s fellowship and common interests and similarities, and she very much liked that he never pressured her into anything remotely like romance. And yet, without meaning to do so, Keeya nearly cost Kyrk his place in Hermea.
In more than one conversation, Keeya had mentioned recurrent dreams she had been having of some sort of relic. From her description, Kyrk recognized it to be a relic of great power – an ancient Thassalonian bowl locked away in the Conjuration wing of the Academy. Kyrk knew about the bowl because he had seen drawings and writings about it in his parents’ journals. Not that he had been granted access to them, but the inquisitive Tiefling had more than once crept into the study to peruse his parents’ private musings. The bowl had been brought from the Mordant Spire by his father to Promise decades ago, and had some connection to the Abyssal plane. But what the connection was, Kyrk had not yet been able to determine.
Wanting to impress Keeya and intrigued by the fact that the bowl was making its presence known to his friend, Kyrk snuck both of them past the Academy’s protective wards one night and into the antechamber where the bowl was kept. Instantly, Kirk was captivated by something only he could hear, and before Keeya could react, Kyrk reached out to touch the ancient relic, his throat issuing forth the guttural speech of the Abyss and his eyes glazing over. A low rumble energized the room and the hideous form of a terrible creature began to shimmer into existence: a Glabrezu, a demon of great and obscene power and treachery!
Recognizing the danger, Kenya slapped Kyrk’s face once and then again, forcing him out of the trance. It was the first time Kyrk ever had bodily contact with her, though he wasn’t even aware of it as it happened (and not knowing it’s violent (though necessary) nature was probably a good thing for the smitten Tiefling). The Glabrezu roared and lashed with its giant pincers at the two teens, but the beast missed, and the teens fled.
Screaming, the Glabrezu tore through the walls of the chamber, destroying room after room in the school trying to find Kyrk and Keeya. The two friends evaded the beast long enough for Kyrk’s parents and a full complement of arcane and divine casters to arrive.
The Glabrezu took the measure of the forces arrayed against him. Suddenly, the minds of all present were violated by his telepathic voice: “For aeons uncountable, has Stirkash Reksha’avu’unur been imprisoned in that bowl, poked and prodded by generations of you midgets and gnats.” His mucous-rimmed eyes swiveled to Kyrk. “Thank you for my freedom, young cousin! I shall enjoy despoiling this planet and killing all there is. Perhaps I will even let you watch,” he barked.
With only the slightest and briefest hint of arcane symbols forming in the air to betray his action, the Glabrezu laughed triumphantly and teleported away before any harm could be done to it.
In the investigation that followed, Kyrk asserted his culpability, taking full responsibility for the incident, saying that Keeya had tried to dissuade him from breaking into the antechamber of the relic.
Because of Kyrk’s outstanding academic record, the prominence and importance of his parents, and his wholehearted devotion to atoning for “his” actions, as well as Keeya’s testimony to his kindhearted protection of her, the Council sentenced him not to death but exile. Kyrk requested that his exile take him to the Worldwound to take part in the nascent Fifth Crusade as an official representative of Mengkare, swearing to give his life if necessary and to spread the word and recruiting reach of the Glorious Endeavor. The Glabrezu, he said had cemented his desire to battle the demonic forces facing Golarion and all of the Material Plane. The Council agreed.
Overcome by guilt and fearing for a friendless existence in Promise, Keeya volunteered to accompany Kyrk in the Crusade. The two Outsiders would leave the only home they had ever known and perhaps the safest place on Golarion, for adventures that would almost certainly mean death for both of them.
Being a secret worshipper of Nethys, Kyrk could think of few places outside of the Academy or of Absalom itself, where there would be such an opportunity to witness, study, and perhaps master the arcane power for which he longed. He told himself it was for the good of all, but a part of him knew that there was selfish motivation there too. Keeya suspected as much and swore to herself she would protect and guide her Tiefling friend as best she could, repaying his loyalty and trust with guardianship of her own. What Keeya didn’t know was the shame and fear Kyrk felt for having been singled out by the demon. Was he somehow kin to that mendacious creature!? Kyrk had to find out for himself if that were true or just some malevolent insinuation by the beast to torture his mind and sow discord in his family. So to the Worldwound it was.