Age: 17. Born Theramel 3, 154 IR.
Eyes: Dark brown.
Height: 5’11″ and still growing.
Origin: Risholnis, High Country Kerrindryr.
Parents: Dernyel and Liska.
Affiliation: Risen Phoenix Empire.
Organization: Crimson Claw Army (slave-worker).
Religion: Imperial Light.
Notable Traits or Possessions: Slave brand (KRD1184), wraith-crystal arrowhead pendant, related scar.
History: Born in a cliff-home above the village of Risholnis, on the High side of the border between High and Low Country Kerrindryr, Cob was raised mainly by his mother Liska — his father Dernyel being frequently away on mysterious business. The family lived as subsistence foragers and herders on the steep slopes above the village, and Cob spent most of his youth alone among the goats, except for those times when his one villager friend, Lerien, would visit and lure him into adventures.
This quiet life ended in 162 IR, when Cob was eight. During one of his father’s infrequent visits, the cave-home was assaulted by Imperial soldiers seeking Dernyel for crimes against the Empire. In the ensuing conflict, several soldiers were killed and Dernyel was pitched off the cliff to the valley below; the remaining soldiers took Cob and his mother into custody and delivered them to the local Imperial outpost to be processed as slaves.
Liska was declared a criminal slave, a party in her husband’s treason. Cob, too young to be charged with a crime, was declared a legacy slave — to be held in place of his father until his age of majority at eighteen, at which point he would be freed. Mother and son were then transferred to an Imperial-held Low Country quarry to begin their service.
For four years, Cob worked in the quarry among the men while his mother served their Imperial guards, all the time being preached at by the resident priest of the Imperial Light to abandon High Country Kerrindryr’s spiritist practices and embrace the cleansing judgment of the Empire’s god. Liska disdained the preaching, but Cob sometimes listened — and, after fatally fighting off an assault by an adult quarry-slave, felt guilty enough to seek guidance from the priest.
The black-and-white Imperial Light worldview, with its emphasis on redemption and purification, resonated with twelve-year-old Cob to the point that he decided to formally convert. Shortly after he declared this intention to his mother, Liska committed suicide.
Now alone in the world, Cob clung to his newfound faith as he continued to serve in the quarry, and soon gained a reputation for rigidity, hostility and bursts of violence. The only person who could temper him was a recently-transferred camp guard, Darilan Trevere, who reminded Cob enough of his lost friend Lerien that he was willing to tolerate the man’s presence.
His quarry service ended three years later in 169 IR, when he was drafted into the Crimson Claw Army at age fifteen as a legacy slave-worker. He and many other newly-drafted quarrymen, as well as many of their guards, trekked south to join the army in Jernizan just in time for the end of the Jernizen campaign.
From there, he took part in the second siege of Savinnor, the surrenders of Bahlaer and Fellen, the first assault on Kanrodi and subsequent rebuff to Fellen, and the riots that consumed Fellen for much of that winter. During the riots, he was pressed into service as a watchman by his slave-worker camp-mates so that they could assault Fellen citizens. Though he was too paralyzed to act against his fellows at the time, the incident cemented his opinion that most slaves were criminals and deserved what they got; it also firmed up his interest in the harsh judgment of the Light.
The Crimson Army did not have any priests in residence to continue his spiritual education, so he could only cling to what he remembered of the Light’s mantra — Redemption through Service, Purification through Sacrifice — and attempt to apply and enforce it on his own. He started by assaulting the ringleader of the Fellen incident with such violence that it put that man and several of his cohorts into the infirmary, and might have drawn murderous retaliation on Cob if not for Darilan Trevere’s constant freesoldier presence.
The continuing friendship between freesoldier and legacy slave was an oddity, but Cob didn’t question it; Darilan seemed just as antisocial as he was, and they had no problem being antisocial together. Cob’s growing number of enemies — made as much by his own hamhanded proselytizing as by his violence — dared not bother him when he was with the freesoldier, and for his part Darilan seemed to appreciate being able to escape whatever his duties were as an Imperial scout.
This uneasy peace was broken on Brin 11th, 171 IR, when Cob and his camp-mates crossed the Losgannon River to do logging work at the edge of the Mist Forest. The siege camp outside of Kanrodi was going up swiftly, but it demanded more lumber than could easily be imported; thus, chopping their own from the supposedly wraith-haunted woods had started to seem like a good idea.
It wasn’t. Within a few marks of the logging operation’s start, the logging team was attacked by forest wraiths (airahene), who used crystal arrows and combat-magics to cut down the entire crew and their guards. Cob was shot through the midsection with a silvery arrow that froze his flesh, and retained consciousness just long enough to see the wraiths emerge to look down upon him…and then depart.
When he eventually regained lucidity, he learned that he’d been the only survivor, and that he’d spent a month fading in and out of a coma. Darilan had stayed at his side the whole time, but after his awakening, their relationship changed; what had been a friendship now seemed more like custody, as Darilan began to question him regularly on his mental and emotional state and about his dreams.
Cob tried to shrug it off, but he was in fact having strange dreams: some of them about the mist that had presaged the wraiths’ assault, but more about a dark shape on his ancestral mountains, reaching for him. When he confessed this dream, Darilan became distant, yet at the same time obsessed with the dream and any other change in Cob’s perceptions. Cob tolerated it, but uneasily, unsure what to think.
Two months after awakening from his coma, Cob woke again to the sound of a Kanrodian strike on the Crimson camp — not yet knowing that everything had changed.
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