When I talk about giving a character backstory in D&D I’m serious…dead serious. This is the background for my Dragonborn Warlord named Abraxus. Those of you who have seen any part of the novel will recognize the name used for the wife from somewhere… (Sorry for those not particularly interested in D&D, but there is a bit of character building here for you!)
Abraxus was born during an eclipse that coincided with passing of a comet. His family was part of a clan of Dragonborn families that traveled the snow covered northern tundra of the ‘Crown of the World’. For the first three years of his life his father, Korinn, and his mother, Biri, raised him together. But in keeping with tradition Abraxus was to spend most of his time under the tutelage of Korinn after the age of three. Though he learned the ancient ways of his people from his father, Abraxus was never far from Biri’s watchful eye.
Their family unit was part of a larger clan that would occasionally come down from the North for various reasons. If the winter was harsh, food would be scarce. The clan would travel south for the warmer climate bringing them closer to civilization. During the sixth year of Abraxus’s life the clan Seer, Shamash, foresaw the coming of a once in an unbelievably long winter.
The clan made their way south until they were in close proximity to several cities and towns. Abraxus had never seen a large settlement. He had seen the camps that their clan and the other travelers in the North had set up. The large settlements that he saw in the South dwarfed all of this. For the first time the concept of cities that his father had spoken of made complete sense.
Though the clan traded with the people of the city and did odd jobs where they could help, they stayed mostly outside of the town and set up camp as they normally would have. Unfortunately the frightful winter that Shamash had predicted reached further south than anyone could have foreseen.
Frigid temperatures drove many people to the edge forcing them to take drastic measures. With the scarcity of food crime grew rampant and there was a great demand for mercenary work. Korinn and some of the other members of clan answered the call and gained recognition from the people of Caris, the town nearest to their camp. From there word spread of the clan and their work curbing the problem of thievery. But there were other problems cropping up as the winter drew on.
Disappearances began and many of the caravans along the road started being found face down in the snow, slaughtered for their goods. At first it seemed to be the work brutish bandits. But as they grew more common place talk of cultists of Orcus. Some said that winter brought them, while others claimed they brought the winter back when their atrocities angered the Raven Queen.
Korinn had already begun training his son in the ways of the sword, though he made sure that at the same time there was always instill that there should be honor in any action that one performs. Abraxus was too young for the fighting, but he was proud when his father took it upon himself to help the people of the towns and villages. But before Korinn could actually find any of the cultists they found him and the rest of the clan.
The cultists of Orcus attacked with numbers and ferocity that seemed uncanny, murdering much of the clan and enslaving the young. Abraxus tried to fight back after his father and mother were murdered, but he only had a blunt practice sword. When the cultists were done toying with him he was knocked unconscious.
Abraxus was only seven when he and the other Dragonborn children were taken. Winter never let up and people began to think that the Raven Queen was enraged. When he awakened the other Dragonborn were gone, though there were others in cages; children, young men and women, the elderly—people who had the least chance of fighting back.
Over the next few weeks the elderly were used as sacrifice to Orcus and the younger people were put to work building mundane things for the cultists. The members of the cult never showed their faces or used their names around the slaves. Some of the more skilled slaves were used to fix armor and weapons. Abraxus was taught to separate foods that had been gathered so that they could be stored and used later.
The prisoners were whipped daily and herded into a system of caves at night where they slept chained together. Near the end of the first month that Abraxus was held there a new group of children was brought in to work some nearby mines, among this group was a young girl named Ava.
With the addition of the new children, Abraxus was sent to go work in the mines. It seemed that this had been the true purpose for keeping him around. There were a few other Dragonborn there but he didn’t have any close contact with them. Ava became fascinated with him and preferred to be around him when she could manage it.
Slaves didn’t dare appear to be too attached to one another for fear that it might be used against them. Abraxus warned Ava of the possibility. She heeded his words only when the watchful eyes of the slavers were around. They worked extracting rocks from the mine for six months and where were whispers of the cultists hunting for something deep below the world.
Ava used her free time to fill Abraxus’s head with stories about her life before she was captured. She talked of her parents and their service as Clerics of the Raven Queen. She spoke frankly about how there were forces looking for this place, but a lot of the time Abraxus could only think of his outrage at the faceless servants of Orcus.
Her predictions had been correct, an assembled army of men from the towns and villages commanded by the Clerics and Paladins of the Raven Queen swept and obliterated the forces of Orcus freeing all those held captive.
Abraxus went with Ava back to the city of Giruvegan where the temple rested. Though he wasn’t being formerly taught, he learned that the Raven Queen counted Orcus among her greatest enemies. He found himself drawn to the idea of rooting out all of Orcus’s followers. One night under a steady snowfall that blanketed the city and temple, he swore an oath to the Raven Queen.
Abraxus had grown up training with his father and the training at the Temple continued where they had left off. Months of working in the mines made him slender, tough and muscular. Unbeknownst to him, that harsh life had prepared him for what was ahead. Meanwhile, Ava undertook the life her parents had left behind after she began to display inborn connections to the divine.
The two of them grew up together as they lived and worked around the temple and in the city. There wasn’t anyone else that Abraxus spent as much time with. With him everything was about getting back at the cultists and their god. But he gave special consideration to Ava. Still it was her who first kissed him by the statue of the town’s founder and it was her, years after that, who asked him to marry her.
The pair of them were married amongst much fanfare, but the following month there was hordes of undead caught roaming near the city. Ava’s first test as a Cleric was to accompany a group to an outlying farm village to see what manner of plague the people there had caught. Abraxus insisted on going. The disease turned out to be something caused by a necromancer, Karthis, that they found to be hoping to turn the village into more minions for his hordes.
A paladin was lost in the fray, but Abraxus managed to gain notoriety by slaying Karthis. Ava found her true calling as a plague healer in the midst of what Karthis had done. There were clues to the plague that had been released here having its origins in a far off city. A company from the temple asked that Abraxus and Ava go with them. The pair left from the temple for the last time in a very long time, they traveled for months on end. Ava and Abraxus parted ways in Voorhiven, where she and some other Clerics stayed to care for the sick.
Abraxus and the others ventured too close to a feywild forest and their search only brought them across countless cultists that worshiped a Blood King. Whether this Blood King was the source of the plague or not, these people were hostile and Abraxus and the others routed them repeatedly.
In the end it was Abraxus that caused the downfall of their party. A dragon that resided in the elven forest where feywild was took interest in him and killed the party with Abraxus when they attacked him. In the end Abraxus was left alone in the feywild and lost. He was without anyone who knew the way back out of the forest and at times he couldn’t tell if the woods were feywild or just angry. He had never known forests like these where the trees moved on their own and the howling along the roads at night were maddening.
For a full month he wandered the Elven forests alone and it became very apparent that being without Ava this long was a new experience. He’d been around her constantly since they met. The forest played tricks and taunted him and he began to sleep less and worried that he would never leave these Hellish woods…