Issarre - A D&D Character Backstory
by David Michael
Issarre could have been called beautiful once. She has scars on her face, three parallels cuts on both cheeks, another three on her forehead, carved into her flesh by The Patch in a parody of the warpaint she wore when she and her Dalan Rael companions launched their doomed attack. The scars do not make her unbeautiful. She does that herself. The proud Valenar brashness of her youth has been replaced with sullen silence.
At 16 years old, Issarre had been one of the Dalan Rael, those frustrated children and younger siblings, the ones who been too young to fight and achieve true honor in battle during the Last War. The War might be over in the minds of the weak, but for the Dalan Rael, the “nearly dead” warriors of the Valenar, the War was Eternal. They longed to fight, to bleed, to die in battle and become spirit warriors.
The halflings of the Talenta Plains held little appeal to Issarre and her companions. What glory could there be in riding down such little creatures? So the riders turned west, and rode into the Mournlands. They looked for battle, for glorious death. In its stead they found humiliating defeat.
They attacked a band of scavengers, a disgusting, motley band of humans, orcs, half-orcs and undead led by the most disgusting and horrible man of the lot, a man known only as The Patch. The riders scouted the scavengers for three days before deciding to attack. They expected an easy victory. They were wrong.
Wounds do not heal in the Mournlands. Issarre had heard that bit of wisdom a hundred times before, they all had, but the reality, the horror of what it meant, of what it could be made to mean–their imaginations had never conceived of that.
It was nearly two years before the last of her male companions was allowed to die. The two females were kept alive a bit longer. The Patch took his time with all of them, but especially the females. He lavished care on his elven pets, keeping them alive even as he ravished them, tortured them, killing them slowly, enjoying their pain, feeding on their despair.
As bad as what she endured during those two years, it is the memories of what Issarre did to escape that still torment her. What she endured, she could not control. How she escaped, though, she chose.
She skips to the end of the story, even in her own mind. She will tell no one what happened before.
She remembers it all, but she tries not to. Standing up that last time, looking down at the mutilated corpse of The Patch, leaving his tent, stinking of excrement and covered in gore, holding The Patch’s brutal sword in one hand, carrying a grisly but easily identified part of The Patch in the other, staring around her in feral rage, daring one of the other scavengers to stop her. None did.
She walked home reciting the names of her companions, hoping to lift their spirits from the mud and blood and death of the Mournlands into the light of the sun once again, that they might still fight for the glory of Valenar. All but one. That name she did not feel worthy to say.
Riders found her as she crossed the border back into Valenar. They offered to assist her, but she refused. She walked on, reciting the names of her fallen brothers and sisters in arms. Except the one name. That she did not say the one name was noticed.
Her family sent out riders to meet her before she could return to the ranch, before she could bring her dishonor into the family home. She understood.
At the end of a week, when she had been cleaned and healed and rested, her father came to see her. “Can you say her name, daughter? Can you recite her story for the Keepers?”
Issarre shook her head.
Her father presented her a new scimitar, a new bow, and a new horse.
“I do not deserve these,” Issarre said.
“No. You do not. But with them…with them, perhaps…you will be able to reclaim your honor, and the honor of our family.”
Issarre nodded. She understood.
Her father said nothing more. He turned his back on her.
Issarre wanted to cry, to beg him to hold her, but she understood. She was a warrior, of a warrior people. Even in her dishonor she did not cry. She did not beg. She belted on the sword, took the bow, and mounted up.
She is no longer Dalan Rael. Debts of honor cannot be repaid by the dead.
That was two years ago. Since then, she has drifted, her and her horse together. Sometimes hiring themselves out for different types of work, sometimes tracking undead on their own, putting the rotting corpses back in the ground where they belong. She has wandered the length of Breland.
She heard about the Champions of Whitehearth, and about their long hunt for a vampire. She found them in Trolanport.
Copyright © 2006 by David Michael. All rights reserved.
D&D and the “Eberron” campaign setting are the property of Wizards of the Coast. Used without permission.
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