Jarrod Duskford

Character Sheet

I used to cry, ‘By the Blood of Vol!’ I no longer do. I cry, ‘By the Divinity Within!’ I was the youngest ever Marshal of Rekkenmark. I was the youngest ever excused my post. I was a Paladin of Vol. Am I still? I do not know. Is my road to this juncture unique? Am I the only Karrn to stand aghast, torn by our country’s needs of war and history?
For me the first fateful day on the journey to perdition began on that ridge top in Cyre. It had no name then, it is of even less consequence now, a blasted fragment of the Mournland. We were told to hold it at any cost against a unit of warforged, battalions of shiny new models from the furnaces of Canith. We fought and we held and we died for Karnnith. In the end we failed, not because we were over matched in skill, but the remorseless ‘forged needed no food or rest, they simply kept coming till we collapsed in exhaustion; heroes lay down before the foe, unable even to raise their shields, barely registering the fatal blow as it fell. The army commander arrived and with a blast of magic cleared the enemy from around our standard, which I had been commanded to hold unto death. “Wonderful!” the mage exclaimed, the surprise in his voice clear to all. Surprise not that we had died, but that we had taken so long and so many with us. Our unit was raised, no longer fighting with skill and valor, but stumbling forward to hack mindlessly at any foe as instructed by the necromancer behind them. An ‘improvement’ on the lifetime of training and martial dedication of the living men they had been in another life. Sacrificed ‘for the good of the country and the war’ at the whim of the dark-arcane wielding wizard.
Our regiment commander was a Bone Knight, knowledgeable in the ways of undeath, the paragons of our nation’s military, paragons of our accommodation with the never dying and the soulless. I asked her, where might I find understanding? Who can teach the mysteries of this world so I may realize why we Karrns consider this undeath an honor, an opportunity to continue serving our country beyond the grave? ‘The Blood of Vol has the answers’ was the reply.
I felt my new calling, there arose within me a righteousness that could not be denied, its holiness an aspect of self never to be doubted. It needed a name and a definition which I found in the Divinity Within. He was a good man, my mentor in the doctrine of the Church of Vol. He came from Sharn on a pilgrimage to Karrnath, a fine upstanding scholar and a pillar of the congregation of Vol in that city of Breland. Of course there were many sects of the church my mentor had explained. Do not expect to find goodness and kind hearts in every worshipper of the Divinity Within. The Blood of Vol sheltered many in the strength of its faith. Do not look to see evil in its teachings when like all religions evil people rise to grasp secular power. We made a fine pair, me the sacred knight, he the humble servant of the people. Impressing each other and reinforcing each other’s beliefs. A convenient arrangement by the church the cynical might mutter.
I received my baptism. I sat with the vein in my arm opened and the red liquid trickling down through my palm into the offering bowl. Yes, they were right the priests of Vol. Life, the blood of which coursed through us, made us what we were, separated us from the soulless, without it we were no more divine than the stone chair I was sat on. Then the sickly sweet smell of my blood reminded me of the butchery of the battlefield: I shuddered in horror even in the midst of my epiphany.
And now I have witnessed something I can only tell here, in the secret memoirs of our noble house. Set down for the next generation of ir’Duskfords to read, to attempt to understand and be warned should I fail to return to our ancestral manse. I am a holy knight of the Church of Vol, sworn to protect the people I serve. I was in the City of Night unexpectedly, there was a disturbance in a secret temple of our faith. I rushed to combat whoever our enemy may be. Myself, a Red Cardinal - a man so far above me in the church hierarchy I barely knew his name - and two assassins battled behind sealed doors. We were defeated, the Red Cardinal was unfrocked and slain. I saw the unredemable evil that was the Cardinal with my sacred sight. I was spared by the assailants who simply left me with hard questions to answer. I had been duped they claimed. Not in my divinity but in who and what the church was, its purposes in this country. The evil I saw in the Cardinal was not the exception but the rule I was told, this was the true head of the Church I had chosen to follow. Should I doubt the assassins? Of course. One claimed to be an Inquisitor of the Silver Flame, our long time foes. Another looked more undead than alive, all too similar to the Bone Knights. She claimed to be a member of a secret organization, the Deadgrim, dedicated to eliminating the undead from this world. But they left me alive to find my own answers, and find them I shall. The Red Cardinal was linked to the illegal Order of the Emerald Claw. Is this possible? I fear. I am not skilled at connivance or subterfuge.
Evidence of the Red Cardinal’s doings with the Emerald Claw I leave here in our secure vault. I have reclaimed my opal signet ring of the Rekkenmark Academy I left behind before. I may yet return to the Rekkenmark, my leave to become a paladin knight was one of the few honorable discharges available. I am still listed as a commissioned reserve. I wear my uniform and medals with pride, regardless of the travails of war. Even the Church of Vol will hesitate to strike openly at a member of the Academy. I will not longer serve as a pretty diplomatic facade for the church, skilled at glossing over the underlying truth, all the more plausible because of my ignorance. They will now want me to forsake my paladinhood to become a Bone Knight. I will refuse. I suspect my superiors are considering my usefulness at an end even as I write.

Jarrod rode away from the Duskford estate on the outskirts of Vurgenslye, the grey mists of the Mournland large in the imagination of the eye across the Scions Sound. He was not sure of his next move, he was not quite ready yet to completely cut his ties with the church of Vol, there was more to learn and uncover there. Should he choose to return to train at the Rekkenmark there was one path he liked the thought of that was sure to cause consternation, the closely guarded secrets of mage combating. But that was still some time away yet. In the meantime he would be patient, to go with the flow till the right moment appeared. As he passed by a small treeless knoll Jarrod smiled. Iztari, his unusal exotic tutor of his youth would be proud of him now. The kalashtar had constantly preached the value of mediation and discipline and Jarrod had spent many an hour on this very knoll top studying with the wise man. The morals he learned here now chained Jarrod as effectively as a band of iron. Will I ever be free? he asked himself. The moment you took upon yourself the mantle of paladinhood you knew you never would be again, he answered. You gave up the rights to your heritage, the ir you dropped from your name for the total commitment to your knighthood. You can reclaim this name but you can not toss away your sacred vows that are now fused into your marrow as surely as bonearmor. Who needs our small estate? I am a Duskford, we have served Karrnath as long as Karrnath has existed, that is enough. Jarrod chuckled - my younger brother would not be so happy if I reclaimed my inheritance.
Something like the fire of vengence seemed to overwhelm his soul, he bit his lip as he brought these strange turbulent emotions to bay. This flame had no outlet yet, there was no direction to focus the slow build up of ire; retribution that was left begging. There was a righteous rage accumulating within him, he did not know why or whence it came but it lay in him like a capped volcano. One day this angst would have a target, and Jarrod hoped his spirit would survive the unleashing of passion.
Jarrod shook himself out his musing and focused on the road to Karrlakton ahead. He had written his diplomatically couched letter declining the invitation to join the Order of the Sons of Vol, the only person to have ever done so that he knew. He had also written to the Rekkenmark Acadamy stating he was now returning to active participation in the Order of the King. A weight had been lifted from his furrowed shoulders and for the first time in a long while he looked forward with pleasure to the future, come what may.

Jarrod could at a distance be taken for some champion of terror, his skeleton embossed armor, inherited from a priest of Vol, and wicked massive war mace creates a fearsome martial aspect. He is however an expert in nuances of body language and poise: his steady gaze and gentle demenor immediately generates a non-violent ambience, while his impact of personality overwhelms even the accoutrements of Vol on closer association. He keeps his long blond hair neatly groomed and plaited in a short pigtail tucked away into his helm. Tall, robust, of no particular good looks, there is nevertheless something about this knight of Vol that demands respect. Nobody could imagine Jarrod actually slouching, or caught lounging around with his hands in his pockets, let alone seen with an undone button or loose breech. The drill sergents had done their work well, and the aura of command of generations of Duskford officers is indelible.

Jarrod's real feelings are hard to discern he has such a strong outward focusing personality. He is, for himself, moody and reticent much of the time, though nobody but his closest family would notice it. He is so well trained in command and diplomacy he could put on any act without effort and presenting to the world the valorous knight persona comes as naturally as breathing. Even now he has taken a new path it will be some time before the kind and light hearted young man he was returns. If it ever does, his self discipline and private ethics are imperious, a strength of character that is nigh unbreachable. This bastion of spirit can be heard in the power of his voice. He can throw a simple whisper the length of a farm, while his full shout penerates even the cacaphony of the battlefield. His virtuosity of tone and modulation a true bardic voice, the envy of many in that profession, he can change the mood of the moment with half a chuckle. Others of course forget the prerequisite of being a successful Marshal is the necessity of vocal impression and only wonder at this gift, which is in fact native ability plus the result of many years professional training.

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