A Rising Hope
Haki (Hakin Adalric)
Haki, level 3, Ranger, Dual-wielding
FINAL ABILITY SCORES Str , Con , Dex , Int , Wis , Cha .
STARTING ABILITY SCORES Str 17, Con 11, Dex 17, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 14.
AC: Fort: Reflex: Will: HP: Surges: Surge Value:
TRAINED SKILLS Acrobatics +, Athletics +, Nature +, Perception +, Stealth +
UNTRAINED SKILLS Arcana +, Bluff +, Diplomacy +, Dungeoneering +, Endurance +, Heal +, History +, Insight +, Intimidate +, Religion +, Streetwise +, Thievery +
Level 1: Toughness, Escape Artist
Ranger at will 1: Twin Strike
Ranger at-will 1: Hit and Run
Ranger encounter 1: Evasive Strike
Fighter encounter 1: Reaping Strike
Ranger daily 1: Sudden Strike
ITEMS Adventurer’s Kit, Healing Potion, Sparkling Longsword +1, Mundane Longsword, Hide Armor, Long Bow, Arrow (40), Warder’s Cloak +1
Many years ago, in the fair city of Solanthus, a set of twins was born to Lord Duke Archard Adalric and his beautiful Elven wife, Kanlynn Moonvale. One of the children was a fair and delicate girl, who even in birth bore such ethereal beauty that her parents named her Hadara, which meant “adorned with beauty”. The other child was born a strong-willed and reserved boy. To this child they bestowed the name Hakin, or chosen son, for this boy was the sole heir to the Lord Duke, destined to become the ruler of Solanthus. Fate unfortunately had different plans for Hakin Adalric.
Hakin and Hadara spent their childhood safely within the walls of Solanthus. Therein, they were raised as children of nobility are raised, given lessons in History, Religion, etiquette, and other such things. Unlike his sister, Hakin was wont to escape from his daily lessons, often spending most of his time with his royal bodyguard, Gilgen Jardann, a kind-hearted and steadfast dwarf who served with Hakin’s father in the defense of Solanthus against marauding gnolls. Hakin often pestered Gilgen, asking question upon question, all the while running and tumbling around the old, battle-scarred dwarf. Gilgen often put on a stern face for the eager-eyed little boy, but underneath, he loved little Hakin to his fiery core.
In time, the boy grew old enough to begin martial training. Under Gilgen’s supervision, Hakin trained with the royal guards, displaying great skill in acrobatics, utilizing his natural Elven agility and grace. He also showed an affinity to the art of swordplay, wielding a longsword as if it were an extension of his own body. This pleased the Lord Duke greatly, who in his youth was himself considered a great swordsman. While Hakin was developing his innate skills, Hadara’s proficiency in hers multiplied as well. She excelled in all of her studies and showed a keen interest in the study of magic. Where Hakin showed great potential in swordplay and feats of agility, Hadara matched in knowledge and in a natural competence in the arcane arts. Coupled with her natural beauty, Hadara had become the fairest maiden in the city.
Indeed in just a few years, Hakin and Hadara had grown to become the pride of not only the Lord Duke and his wife, but of all of Solanthus. However, while the young lives of Hakin and Hadara were only now beginning to flourish, neither of them could ever anticipate that the life of the city itself was soon to be at its end.
After the fall of the Empire of Nerath, the wilderness surrounding Solanthus had increasingly grown more dangerous. By the year of the twins’ birth, the world outside the walls was shrouded in darkness. The number of surrounding villages had dwindled one by one as their inhabitants began to flock towards the city for protection against the ever-growing hordes of monsters. In time, only scattered farms and homesteads remained outside the city gates, and soon enough travel became very dangerous. Only capable adventurers or merchants with hired guards dared to venture outside the city walls. With the nearest town a couple days’ journey away, the walls were all that remained to keep the monstrous hordes away.
Then one dark and rainy night, shortly after the twins’ fifteenth birthday, the city walls fell.
It is still uncertain how the marauding gnolls managed to breach the city walls, but as young Hakin was awakened by Gilgen, sounds of terror and destruction were already beginning to rise up from the center of the city. Hakin hastily threw on his traveling clothes and rushed out of his chambers following Gilgen out into the hall. All the while the noises from outside grew closer and closer.
“Hurry to the stables while I get yer sister!” Gilgen rumbled.
Doing as his old friend commanded, Hakin rushed off towards the royal stables accompanied by two of the guards. They made it without incident and hurriedly prepared the saddles on the horses. Then, just as they mounted their steeds, the stable door burst open in an explosion of broken wood and iron. Several large and vicious-looking gnolls stood in the entranceway, glaring at them menacingly. Suddenly, the stables shook violently as the ceiling behind Hakin and the guards collapsed. Debris and wooden beams crashed down, blocking the door through which Hakin and the guards entered.
At that moment, the largest of the gnolls inched forward, then with a roar, charged towards them, bits of broken wood flying from its wet fur. Blood-slicked claws glimmered in the light of the stable. Corison, one of the guards accompanying young Hakin, drew his sword and shield and rushed in front of the boy. The other guard, Talma, a battle-hardened woman, drew her crossbow from atop one of the horses. In suit, young Hakin drew his longsword as well, steadying himself atop his own steed, one hand on the reins.
“No, boy, Gilgen commanded that we protect you!” Talma rumbled.
As Corison moved to intercept the charging gnoll, Talma fired a bolt into one of the others standing around the shattered doorway. The bolt flew through the air and lodged itself into the skull of the unfortunate gnoll who stood there for a second before crumpling pathetically to the ground. The other gnolls hesitated for a moment, and then began to charge as well, several of them wielding crude clubs and axes. Corison engaged the charging gnoll shortly after, the large beast hammering its sharp, massive claws against the guard’s upraised shield. The two became a blur of motion as Corison deftly blocked the swipes, attacking with quick stabs of his shortsword. The gnoll’s fur soon became a bloody mess as Corison continued to hack away at the large beast from behind his shield. Talma fired off another shot from her crossbow, dispatching yet another gnoll, but they continued to charge towards them. Just as Corison was able to thrust his sword into the heart of the large beast, the others reached him and quickly flanked the guard.
As the guard pulled his shortsword from the dying beast, two other gnolls attacked with their crude axes. Corison fended off the first axe, but the second swung past his shield and struck solidly against the man’s chest. The blade crunched through his armor, and as he swung his sword against his attacker, several more blows rained down on the guard.
“Corison!” Talma roared, as she loaded her crossbow and fired off another shot into the mass of furry bodies. The guard continued to fight valiantly against his attackers but was soon overwhelmed by the vicious onslaught.
“Follow me, boy! We must break through now if we want to have any hope of surviving!” Talma yelled.
“But Gilgen and Hadara are still in there! We must wait for them!” Hakin pleaded.
“Gilgen can take care of your sister! We have to worry about how we’re to get out of here before it’s too late!”
At that, Talma threw down her crossbow and drew her own sword. She grabbed the reins, and kicked the steed forward into a gallop. Reluctantly, Hakin urged his own horse forward and with a final glance back at the ruins of the door behind them, he rode off in Talma’s wake. Talma galloped ahead and headed towards the crowd of gnolls. As they turned to face her approach, she charged through the group, slashing left and right, trampling a gnoll or two in the process. Before the gnolls could recover, she burst clear of the swarm and continued on outside the stable. Hakin followed closely behind her, trampling several unsuspecting gnolls along the way, and managed to get through the distracted group unscathed.
The two rode out of the stable and into the cold, wet night to see their beloved city in chaos. Shadowy figures darted in the distance, screams of terrified people resounding in the night. There was no sign of the city guard to be seen. Talma brought her horse to a halt once they were clear of the stables and gave Hakin a quick look. Seeing the boy was fine, she gathered the reins in her free hand and surveyed the city street ahead of them. In the dim moonlight, Hakin could barely make out Talma’s figure, and so he could not have seen her sword arm covered in blood. Nor could he have noticed how pale Talma had gotten and how weak her grip on the reins had become.
“Come,” Talma said to the boy, “the city is no longer safe. The walls have fallen! Gilgen has instructed me to take you to Fastormel far to the North. Worry not, young Hakin. Gilgen shall meet us once he has gotten your sister. He is probably already on his way there! We must hurry before the gnolls can regroup!”
Talma kicked her horse onward and headed towards the city’s North gate. Hakin moved to follow, and as they moved quickly past all the familiar homes and shops, he said farewell to the city he had grown to love. The two rode through the dreary night with heavy hearts, stopping only once to give the horses rest. They did not dare light a fire for fear of being followed, nor could they really have done it with such a downpour. There were no signs of Gilgen and Hadara through the night, but Talma pushed onward nonetheless.
It was nearly dawn when the rain finally let up. The exhausted pair rode clear of the thick trees shortly after and brought their horses to a stop. Talma sat up weakly in her saddle and could make out a couple of farms and homesteads in the distance. The city of Fastormel would not be much further away. They prepared to set off towards the city, and as Talma leaned down to gather her reins, she fell out of her saddle and collapsed on the wet ground.
“Talma!” Hakin yelled. The boy jumped nimbly out of his own saddle and ran over to where the guard had fallen. He gathered her as best he could in his arms and in the pale gray light of the early morning, Hakin could now see the bloodstains that covered most of the woman’s armor. He half dragged, half carried her away from the horse and propped her against a nearby tree. He knelt beside her and finally noticed the large wounds along her chest and legs. Her face was drawn and pale, her lips crusted with dried blood. With a painful grimace, she lifted her face towards the boy and spoke in a weak voice.
“Seek out Douven Staul… He is a friend… of Gilgen… He will take you in…”
Talma coughed a spurt of blood, and as Hakin tried to get her to stop and rest, Talma continued in a soft and pained voice, “Tell him what has become of our fair city… our Solanthus. Gilgen made us swear… should anything happen to him… that we would take you to Fastormel…”
Talma shook violently and trembled as she coughed up more blood. It was a while before she could continue, and when she finally did, her voice was barely a whisper.
“I’m honored to have served you… young Hakin… Live well… For all of us… For all of Solanthus…”
Hakin watched as the woman slumped down against the tree as all the energy and life left her body. Pained and grief-stricken, the boy began to weep. He knelt by her side for what seemed like an eternity before finally getting to his feet and returning to his horse. He hopped onto his saddle, and noting the area around him, made his way towards the farms they had spotted earlier. He rode through the farms and homesteads and did not stop until he reached the city gates of Fastormel. There, he found Douven Staul, an old hunter, and told him the events of the night.
The events of that night would be forever branded in the mind of young Hakin. In the years following the fall of Solanthus, Hakin sought to discover the truth of how the city gates fell. The walls provided protection for the city for decades only to be overrun in a single night. Hakin knew in his heart that there was more to that night than it seemed and vowed that he would not rest until he discovered the truth. He owed it to his mother and father, and to Talma, and to all the brave souls that lost their lives that night. He also swore that he would not rest until he found Gilgen and his twin sister, Hadara, for he believed that they were alive and well somewhere. Gilgen was much too clever for the gnolls and must have somehow found a way to survive.
As the years drew on in Fastormel, Hakin could not find any new information about the attack nor the whereabouts of his old friend and sister. The destruction had been too thorough and other evidence would have surely been washed away by the rain. Douven Staul and the dwarf, Munbar Doomer, tried their best to console the young Hakin, but nonetheless, the boy grew more reserved and hard-willed. Despite his detached disposition, the boy continued to train hard under the guidance of the old hunter. He learned the ways of nature and found companionship with the dwarf training at his side. He swore his loyalty to Kord, the lord of strength and battle, and continued to strengthen his bond with Douven and Munbar. He further honed his skills in battle, and in honor of the twin sister he had misplaced, he began to wield a longsword in each hand: twin longswords to grant retribution against all those who sought to cause harm to others. The life he knew had been destroyed, and he believed a part of himself had been taken that night as well. He could never return to the life he once had, and the future that was meant for him could never be returned. Thus, from this point on, Hakin Adalric would be known as Haki.
Years later, Douven Staul came upon an old map revealing the location of a dragon burial site far to the north near a village called Winterhaven. Being the old explorer that he was, Douven ventured off to search for the burial site in hopes of finding the dragon’s hoard buried there as well. Haki and Munbar bade their old friend farewell and stayed in Fastormel to continue their training. Time passed, and the old hunter did not return. It was not like Douven to disappear for such a long time, and so the two companions began to fear the worst. Fearing that he might lose yet another close friend, Haki decided that they must travel north to find Douven.
Thus, Haki and Munbar made their way north to find their old friend. On the road to Winterhaven, the two companions surmised that they would have to pass through a town called Fallcrest, a fallen city from the days of the human empire of Nerath. As sunset drew near, the pair found themselves a few miles within the gates of the town. As they continued down the road, they heard a loud crash and several screams just beyond the trees in front of them. They could just make out the flicker of firelight through the trees. Remembering his vow to help those who were in need, Haki rushed forward past the next group of trees and entered a clearing. Dominating the center of the clearing was a wagon in flames, the crumpled body of what appeared to be a caravan guard lying in a heap beside it. Directly ahead of him were several little reptilian humanoids bearing spears. As Munbar finally caught up and slowly moved to Haki’s side, the creatures turned towards the two companions and bared their sharp, little teeth…