Vayle Syndur, a Human Confessor, was one of my original characters in Shadowbane. Called ‘The Mad Prophet’, he was one of the founding members of ‘Vengeance Agenda’ which included many members from my old Ultima Online guild ‘Spirits of Vengeance’ and some members who followed me from the Shadowbane guild ‘Council of the Apocolypse’. This is basically his introductory story.
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“So, you have heard of me… the one they secretly call the Mad Prophet?” A large man sits at the windowsill looking outside as the moon peers between the clouds. “My name is Vayle. It was the name laid upon me at birth, although some names are bestowed even before that. Am I mad? Perhaps not… but perhaps so. I’ll leave the judgment up to you, my friend.”
Vayle looks into the dark room… the only light illuminating it is that which sneaks through the clouds and the window pane. In the farthest corner is a table with a chair. One could barely make out the shape of a man there.
“So you think me a little large to be a Prophet? Well, it is not fate that has led any of us to be what we are… nor is it entirely by choice. But it is up to us to have faith that what we do is for a higher purpose. We must believe.
“With that said, I did not choose to follow the path of vengeance or to be a Templar, unless I made the choice in the heavens before my birth.”
Vayle slowly opens up one side of the window, letting a cool breeze sweep across his face and through his hair.
“I remember when I was but a young boy… how many years ago that was… just before the Turning. The Church of the All-Father was very powerful in our small kingdom and my father, the Duke of Syndur, was one of their most ardent supporters. My brothers Arioch and Feyd… twins… they were praised as omens of a promising future and the Church proclaimed them a sign that the All-Father was not abandoning the faithful. But when I was born… ”
Vayle stopped in mid-sentence, opening up the other window as he gazed out at the night sky, lost in his thoughts.
“But when I was born… I was what you might call sickly. My birth cast doubts on the ‘omens of a promising future’. I was a happy child all in all… I laughed and played like every other young boy in the region, except for the sickness. The nurses said it was the sleeping sickness caused by a bad birthing. I was prone to lose consciousness and lay silent for hours, and sometimes days at a time.
“The locals claimed that it was the work of the underworld trying to bring me back from life. That I was touched by darkness. My brothers quashed such rumors ruthlessly. In private, Feyd would tell me at night, that the greatest conquerors of our history were stricken with the sleeping sickness. That it was a sign of greatness. Arioch thought I was touched by the gods, another sure sign of greatness.
“What does a child know of great things? I knew of toys, sweets, and mischief. The townspeople though, saw in me not greatness but strangeness, and something to be feared.
“I tried not to let it get to me… for a short time, these ‘fits’ would disappear and I was a normal child. I aspired to be a Crusader and fight for the Holy Church like my brother Feyd. In part, to redeem myself and to become a man. Things went well for several years in the duchy and I continued to grow and dream.
“But then one day… in my fifteenth year, the so-called sickness returned but now I knew it for what it was… Visions. On my birthday, while walking through town, I was seized by another vision … I screamed about the coming doom and bloody wars, as well as the deaths of several prominent men of the Church…
“It was a disaster. The Church was openly talking about my being possessed and witchcraft. It was then our family decided to send me away from the duchy before the Church could request my banishment. In the middle of the night, I grabbed my blade and a few provisions and became one with the night.
“I traveled for many weeks, hunting and fishing when my provisions started to dwindle. I would sleep in the forests and hills and only visit towns for needed supplies. Finally, I made my… home in the hills near a small hamlet. The locals did not like me… they thought me to be odd. How little they knew. I mostly kept to myself and continued my training in the hills. Oh, I still had my Visions… sometimes when I was awake but mostly when I slept… and every time I had one, it was more horrid than the last. In them, I saw chaos and war which I already knew of. One did not have to be a prophet to know of the High King’s war with the nation of Elves and that it would be bloody indeed. And the Holy Church… it was loathe to speak against the High King but at the same time, remained Neutral during the War of Tears.
“And when I wasn’t training or having visions… I would torture myself with questions. What use was it to train as a Crusader… when the Crusaders could not stand beside Cambruin the High King… the man many professed to be the All-Father Himself or at least the mightiest of His Archons.
“But, at the same time, there was no love lost between myself the the Holy Church for it was they who drove me from my homeland… from my family… and how I hated being away from them… far more than I would have admitted at that time.
“And then one day, It showed me what would become of the Duchy of Syndur… disease and starvation would strike hard, turning the duchy into little more than festering wounds… my father lay dead in his bed… and the rest of the House of Syndur was imprisoned. When I saw this, I knew it had yet to occur – so I hurried back to try and stop it.
“After weeks of travel, I finally made it home… I walked towards the duchy but before I could step foot in it, I was captured by the Crusaders of the Holy Church.
“I would awake the next day to find myself in a cell; my hands covered with blood. I came to learn that I was imprisoned and suspected of bringing about the chaos that came across our small duchy… I was accused of killing my own father as a sacrifice to some dark force. They labeled me a witch and said I would be burned at the stake in the days to come.
“My brothers, who professed my innocence, were also imprisoned. I know not what exactly happened afterwards… I remember Havok coming with those still faithful to the House of Syndur and freeing us… and that we went north… far north.
“During our travels, we learned what truly happened. The day the world was torn asunder became known as the Day of Woe when the Betrayer lifted the Sword known as Shadowbane and drove it through the High King’s heart, pinning him to the Great Tree, which brought about The Turning.
“And with this knowledge came yet another reason to hate the so-called Holy Church… the so-called Church of the All-Father… not only did they drive me from my home and label me a perversion… not only did they have some hand in my father’s death… and I know they did… not only did they force the rest of my family to flee the lands that have been rightfully ours for generations… it was because of it’s ‘neutrality’ that they were unable to prevent the Great Betrayal and the Turning! It was because of them that the All-Father’s voice has become silent!
“But all was not lost… word also traveled forth of how Malorn the Just, one of the Shining Champions of Cambruin the High King, called forth flame from the blade of his mighty sword and slew the High King’s assassin! And how Malorn founded a sect devoted to avenging the dead king and redeeming the world. He called this sect the Temple of the Cleansing Flame and split it entirely from the Church of the All-Father. It is Malorn who told all that the All-Father is not dead but that He has turned countenance from the world because of the rampant sin of all His children.
“And who’s sin could be worse than that of the Church of the All-Father? Only by cleansing the world will the All-Father return and for that to happen, we must destroy the corrupt Church!
“Since that day, I still have my Visions… I still hear the Voices… and I still follow the path of Vengeance. I have turned away from the path of the so-called holy warriors known as Crusaders and instead have followed the ways of the Cleansing Flame as a Templar. For is it not fire that creates light and warmth? The Cleansing Flame shall illuminate the innocent, drive away all shadows, and expose the taint of evil. Once the wicked, pagan, and impure have been destroyed and the world purified by fire, the All-Father will return and reward those who kept the Faith.”
The door to the room slowly opens and with it, the light of a candle… illuminating the room and driving back the shadows.
“Who are you talking to?”
“Arioch,” Vayle says, still looking out the window. “I’m just talking to the man in the corner.”
Arioch looks to the table only to see a chair with a high back on it… covered by a cloak.