All About Raphael de Montefort
Weight: 200 lbs.
Tall and lithe, with a strong jaw and a straight nose. Pointed ears and kind yet sad eyes. Soft-spoken, yet proud and unafraid of conflict. Raphael exemplifies the warrior-poet.
He had been born in the sun-washed northern reaches of the Kingdom of Mooncrest, amongst the rolling orchards and vineyards of Montefort. His father was the famous Count Simon of Montefort, who had spearheaded the King's Highland Campaign and the infamous Invasion of Minoc, and his mother was the Marchioness Serene d'Tresceau. After the vile necromancer Moghedrin assassinated his mother and stole away with his elder brother Perez, Raphael had become the heir to the combined Duchy of Montefort and Tresceau. It was one of the grandest positions in the new Empire, and his father had determined to ensure that he would be ready for it.
His training had began at the age of six, when he became his father's page and cupbearer. Raphael followed him everywhere - standing by him in court and council and watching him practice with his men out in the yard. He learned the basics of boxing, wrestling, swordplay, riding, swimming, climbing, etiquette, letters, and sums. After three years he was sent into the mountains north of Tresceau, where his mother had settled her people after a volcanic eruption had destroyed the Atavian's island home. There he'd become page to the Atavian Archon - learning the tongue and customs of his mother's people. There he'd learned how to use his wings to soar the skies, to use the whip and bola and the lasso, how to shoot the bow and play the high harp and sing and write poetry and how to dive bomb his foes. To this day Raphael looked back on those days as the freest and most joyous of his life. With the Atavians he had felt most at home.
After three years amongst his people Raphael was shipped far to the north of Minya Amar, into the western Highlands where the great Orc warrior Rognar presided as high Chieftan of the Orcish Kingdom. The brutal fighter had been an old comrade of his father, and at the age of twelve he was squired to Rognar to help solidify the alliance between the two Kingdoms. Raphael had not wanted to go to that harsh, alien land, but his father would hear none of his protests. In the orcish lands were a harsh place where strength ruled supreme: Raphael's breeding meant nothing there. All they cared about was how well you could fight and hunt. Slender as he was with an Atavian's hollow bones, he was beaten senseless by muscle-bound brutes time and time again and suffered multiple breaks as a result. As savage as those lands were over time Raphael learned much. He learned to stand up straight and look a man in the eye, to stand his ground even if it meant great suffering. He learned to channel his rage into fighting, how to fight with axe and club, the basics of runic magicks, and how to hunt and gather and navigate in the harsh environs of the highlands. At the age of fifteen he killed his first man, and was made a full member of the Waraxe tribe.
Afterward he was sent back to Montefort, to serve as cabin boy to Admiral Nemah of his father's naval fleet. For a year he worked like a commoner, tarring and cleaning the ship while learning the ropes. He also learned how to use the map and compass and stellar constellations for navigation, how to read the winds and currents, and how to swim and dive and anticipate storms. Not two weeks after his sixteenth nameday his father announced that they would be spearheading the King's latest campaign to retake the Isles and the MoonCrest Mines. The great MoonCrest Volcano had ceased erupting for the first time in generations, meaning the constant ashfalls that left the islands uninhabitable would now have rich soil which could be developed to grow the lucrative cash crops that only thrived in tropical environs. The fleet was loaded with soldiers and provisions, they bid their farewells to their loved ones, dropped sail and set out to their doom.
As they plied north through the choppy grey waters of the western sea a great storm suddenly came upon them - a gale unlike anything even Captain Nemah had seen before. Lightning arced across a furious sky of purple clouds. Winds and rogue waves whipped from every direction: tearing their rigging to pieces as the ship lurched and rolled under them. The last thing Raphael remembered was a great thunderbolt striking the center mast - turning his entire world a blinding white.
The next things he knew he awoke on a rocky shore. As he opened his eyes to the sun's blinding light he thought for an instant that he was still on the deck of the Chivalry, watching the mast go up in flame. As he came to his senses he wondered if he had made it to the Isles, and if anyone else had as well. As he feebly wandered the shore he found himself face to face with a group of massive four-armed primitives, who soon had him bound in chafing hempen ropes and dragged him away from the shore and from any hope of seeing his friends and family ever again. He could not understand their tongue, nor they his, and so he was forced to walk silently through a land of ravines and rope ladders until the reached the edge of a great rolling desert. It seemed to him that he had washed up on the shores of the far northern reaches of Minya Amar, but he could not comprehend how that was possible when they had been sailing in the western sea. Eventually they met a caravan of tall, coal-skinned men wrapped in white silks. After much back and forth, gold exchanged hands and he was given over to them. I've just been sold, Raphael realized with horror. He was a slave.
Fortunately these men could speak the Common Tongue. Every time Raphael attempted to protest his entanglement or explain who he was he was visciously beaten, but over time he came managed to glean some information from the slavers as they traversed the dunes. They had never heard of Montefort, or MoonCrest, of for that matter Minya Amar or even the world of Dae Luin. This was the great desert Harena of northern Canelux, in the world of Revaliir. Could that storm have been magical? Raphael wondered. It certainly had been strange enough. Could it have ripped open a gateway to another world? If so, then he was truly alone. Perhaps he was doomed to be a slave.
At least he would be an expensive slave, he could tell from his slaver's excitement as they discussed them. Apparently elves fetched a high price: a well-educated winged elf would be worth a small fortune. Over the course of weeks they worked their way southeast, the ground eventually becoming hilly and shrubby, rising into great wooded mountains. At the foot of the Antiga range they came upon a group of men not unlike the highlanders of Minya Amar: bearded, skirted, bearing axes and riding shaggy palfreys. They had a harshness of tongue and eye that told Raphael that they were men of ill repute. Their captain, a man named the Hull, grinned when he saw Raphael, flashing a set of rotted yellow teeth. "What a beauty. I've always wanted a hawk like them high Lords o' the South. This'n would put theirs all t'shame." I'll be no hawk of yours, Raphael thought imputently.
More back and forth, more clinking of gold… and now he was climbing into the mountains with this band of rugged men. Luckily these men seemed to be amateurs compared to the desert slavers: Raphael saw many chances to escape under their care, and he took each of them. Unfortunately, he was caught and put back into bondage each and every time. Each time they whipped him, until lash scars crisscrossed his back. The Hull also tried to turn him into his personal hawk - ordering him to scout and hunt and sing for his pleasure. Every time he refused, and every time he was beaten savagely as a result. Once he pretended to break down and do his master's bidding, only to fly off until his bonds were removed. Unfortunately he was weak and did not know the land, and once he stopped to rest they quickly came upon him. That beating had been the worst of all, and had broken several ribs as a result. He'd had to sleep sitting against a tree for weeks afterward. After that they started to deprive him of food, then sleep, and finally water in an attempt to break him.
And break him they did. Raphael realized he did not have the strength of his father, who would have surely died rather than live as a slave. Raphael simply wanted to live, even if that meant living with the shame of his cowardice. He began to follow the Hull's orders, though now he was paired with a gangly redheaded boy of an age with him known as Anguy: one of the best sharpshooters Raphael had ever seen. He hardly even had to aim - just pull and release and the arrow would find its mark even at great range. If Raphael flew too far afield Anguy was ordered to shoot him down before he got out of range, and thus was the Hawk leashed to his master.
At first Raphael resented the constant presence of Anguy by his side, but over time he came to appreciate the lad's company. He lacked the cruelty and harshness of the other bandits - he was simply the son of a huntsman who had died of a pox. With nothing else but poaching as an option, he had thrown in with the bandits as a way to make his fortune and see the world. In battle he would shoot down fighting men but his arrows never found unarmed smallfolk, nor did he partake in the rape and torture that the others so loved, though he did a fine bit of drinking and looting when able. He had many stories of his times adventuring in the highlands, small distractions from his current situation that Raphael was thankful for.