Savage Tide; Pathfinder
Skald de Styes
Grim and Mysterious Tiefling Demon-Hunter
Description: Skald is a dark, brooding man in his early thirties who bears features that would mark him as an elf on more casual inspection, but those who know him better and know the world a bit more know what his lavender eyes, pale skin, and well-hidden tail mean: he’s a tiefling, the genetic descendant of a demon and a mortal. His face is frequently sullen or downtrodden, and he rarely smiles or speaks to anyone unless spoken to first. An Inquisitor of Sarenrae, he fights with a scimitar and bow, and tends to dress in muted fashions befitting his grim work.
Being given the benefit of a little faith during their initial travels paid off quite handsomely to the Gang of Five, as Skald gradually began to go out of his way to make himself more accessible to the party and – to a lesser extent – the other people on the ship. Following orders dutifully and leaping to the aid of anyone on the vessel who is in danger, Skald proved himself to be a serious-minded and noble soul.
His recent marriage to Lirith Veldirose appears to have softened his demeanor somewhat, as well, and now that he travels as a member of the group and Othar’s cohort, he is even known to smile from time to time.
Biography: One of the hands Lavinia hired back in Sasserine for the first voyage of the Sea Wyvern, the one initially bound for Farshore, Skald entered the scene as a quiet, brooding man who seemed to be haunted, although by what, nobody could guess at the time. While most on the vessel avoided the morose man, Dorian’s attempts to make friends with Skald were appreciated, even if it seemed as though he was making no progress in penetrating the man’s shell. Concerned with nothing so much as protecting the passengers on the vessel, his efficacy as a shiphand and lookout, and maintaining his own personal privacy, he had mentioned at the time that he was passing through Sasserine when he heard about the job and that he was “just looking to keep on getting as far away as possible”, though he hasn’t said why, or from what he might be running.
During Rowyn Kellani’s campaign of sabotage aboard the vessel, there were many aboard who believed the suspicious Skald was behind the acts. But the Gang of Five, who had come to know the man, vouchsafed his credibility, and won themselves the man’s respect and appreciation, even if he didn’t make it known. It was for this reason that – along with Lirith – Skald took a well-provisioned rowboat out to attempt to rescue the party while the Sea Wyvern remained stuck in the sargasso of Journey’s End. While the party found the ship, Skald and Lirith were lost, and it was assumed that they had either washed up on some exotic shore or else tragically died of exposure at sea.
Othar, Dorian, Traxen, and Kizziar believed, to their disappointment, that they would never cross paths with Skald again, and it’s for this reason that when Dorian and Othar returned to Farshore after vanquishing Cold Captain Wyther at his home base, they were shocked to find Skald and Lirith, having a meeting and reunion with a radically changed Avner Meravanchi. Overjoyed to see Dorian and Othar again, Skald explained that he and Lirith survived at sea for three weeks before washing up on the shores of the southwest Kaidan peninsula, and had, after months of traveling through that exotic land, had at last been able to procure the services of a spell that would allow them to travel to Farshore, where they hoped to at least be able to see if their shipmates had survived Journey’s End and made it to their destination and, had hey not, shed some light on what had happened, before continuing their journey.
After catching up on the last several months, Skald and Lirith together decided that, in absence of any clear direction and hungry both for adventure and to aid in the noble, desperate, and arguably futile task of saving the world put before them, that they would travel along with the party into the Abyss.
Prior to this, however, Othar and Dorian regaled the pair – now married – with their travels, including the insidious cult of Sarenrae perpetuated by Noltus Innersol. On this note, Skald became visibly agitated, and at last revealed the source of his secrecy when they first met: Skald was an impoverished youth, the bastard son of a minor noble from a nation called Cheliax, and had spent his youth in a small and embattled church of the goddess Sarenrae. It was here that he first met Noltus Innersol, an infected zealot whose mad interpretation of the commandment to “spread the light of Sarenrae” was more like setting the houses of infidels on fire than lighting candles against the darkness. Noltus, however, was rather adept at rhetoric and creating the illusion piety, and Skald, an attentive and devout student, had seen Noltus performing some particularly odious form of evangelizing that he believed was worth reporting to the church. Rather than create a scandal in the church, Noltus was quietly given a “mission” to visit prominent churches of Sarenrae throughout the world: Skald, for his good deed, was quietly told that his “involvement” in the scandal required he take his leave from the church body. When he arrived in Sasserine, deliberately following Noltus and only three weeks behind him, he continued to labor under the impression that his race made him an outcast and pariah, and that he had been cast out of his church. He feared Noltus’ reputation would taint him, and that the people of Sasserine may already have heard of Noltus and been poisoned against those who would challenge him.
Ultimately, Skald was wrong to believe that he would be judged for the deeds of another or for his history in the notoriously wicked, cultural viper’s pit that was Cheliax. After explaining all this to Dorian and Othar, he resolved, in the time before the Sea Wyvern arrived in Farshore, to accompany Lirith to the caldera of the island where he could attempt to resolve and help the unfortunate cargo cult Noltus started. Thankfully, his mission was a success, and while most of the lizardfolk opted to remain on the isle and resume their lives before Noltus and his brainwashing, the lizardfolk chieftain, formerly known as Goodluck Dorian, expressed a sincere belief in the doctrine of Sarenrae and requested to come along as a hand on the trip to the Abyss.
While in the Abyss, Skald proved himself a fierce combatant almost without peer when it came to the hunting and slaying of demons. His own personal demon, the demonic blood within him, pushed him on to greater and greater feats of martial prowess against his sworn enemies. Scores of demons fell to his expertly-wielded blades even as he bolstered the combat prowess of those around him with his righteous anger. Just as relevant, Skald was an expert on matters regarding the planes, and his insights were invaluable in helping his friends to navigate the treacherous politics of demon lords, and he was instrumental in helping his wife formulate her revelation that Demogorgon was dancing on the strings of another, himself.
Before the Prince of Demons, however, Skald’s righteous fury wavered. The demonic blood inside him permitted the Demon Prince a measure of control over the tiefling, and for every action Skald attempted to make, he found himself fighting the contrary promptings of his own boiling, demonic blood. In spite of this, Skald won out against his own demons, fighting the influence of the Prince of Demons and even overcoming it to strike a ferocious blow for his own humanity. As the Prince of Demons bled out at Skald’s feet, he knew at last he had achieved catharsis and true mastery over the evil inside him.
More assured than ever in his sense of self and the control he has over his demonic blood, Skald and his wife returned to Sasserine with Dorian, who – thanks to his encounters with the depredations of the Abyss – had become more resolute than ever to hunt and cut out the demonic taint that infects the planes, and asked for like-minded fellows to pursue that goal. Both he and Lirith desirous of another great quest to hurl themselves into, Skald enjoyed a few moments of peace and rest before moving to commit himself anew to his hunt.
With his wife at his side and good friends to join him in his never-ending hunt to free the planes of the corrosive taint of all those who would seek to rob mortal life of its dignity, its purpose, and its ability to determine its own fate, Skald’s battle will never end. He will always bring a light to the darkness and drive those who would seek its succor into the day, and he would have it no other way.