Melanth the Outcast
Belt, Riding Boots, cloak, shirt, pants, hooded cloak, mask.
The half-elven priest stared at the tableux in front of him. A young woman, far too young, belly swollen, screaming; a midwife, deeply harried, obviously scared. He moved to help, calling on Helm to bring him strength, to give to the girl. The birthing...
The midwife looked at him. "The child is too large. She can't hope to survive." Her eyes were bleak with despair.
The priest prayed a moment, and the girl sank into sleep. "If nothing else, her passing will be painless." He looked at the poor girl. He sighed. Augeries had pointed to this area for months, but it wasn't until now that they'd indicated thing were critical. If he'd been sent earlier... who know? She might not have been brought to the point of dying.
The midwife began to work, as the girl lay in her enchanted sleep. Then, suddenly she sat up, screaming, and collapsed in a boneless manner that the priest knew was death. He turned to bless her passage, when the midwife found her voice, and began to scream. As he caught sight of the infant, he knew why. The blood drained from his face, rendering the pale skin even paler.
It had grey skin covered with a faint sheen of its mother's blood. Its mouth was open to cry, revealing teeth already formed. A cap of black hair covered it's head, and the ears flopped out to the sides, almost elven, but much longer. He prayed for a moment, and was rewarded with a moment of guidance.
"Give me the child, goodwife. I know what must be done."
The midwife stared at him. "So do I!" She turned to throw the infant into the fire... and it stopped and floated to the ground in front of the fireplace. A glowing gauntlet with an eye on the back appeared over him. The priest dropped to his knees, as did the midwife.
"Lord... I don't know what to do...
He shook his head. "I will handle this." He handed the woman a small pouch, as the gauntlet disappeared. "Use this for her burial, and tell them nothing but that I took the infant away, to have it dealt with as it should be.
As he rode away in the silence of the morning, he shook his head, and looked down at the infant. "And why does Helm see you as so important, little one? You cannot hope to find peace." Then he shrugged. His god had spoken, and he would follow the commands.
Eighteen years passed. The small infant was brought up in a church of Helm just outside Baldur's Gate, away from others. When he was ten winters old, he began to train with other boys, in weapons. He was stronger than many of them, and when he commanded them in squads, he was able to bring them to victory, time and again. He was also a faster runner than most of them. All this brought him victory, time and again. But he had what some saw as a great flaw - he did not have great respect for order. Time and again, he argued with his tutors about the differences between "good" and "orderly". The priests had laid spells on him to keep his darkest nature and powers locked away, but at the same time, there were underlying aspects of it that shone through.
"Which is the more evil," he would ask, "stealing to feed your starving family, or the taxes that took away the money that would have fed the family?" One of his tutors ruefully noted that he'd prefer to see Melanth across a blade in combat than in a debate. For his part, Melanth spent his limited free time organizing the fellow student - clerics-in-training and paladin-candidates- in squads to help the poor of Baldur's Gate.
When his 18th birthday came, he kneeled before the altar of Helm, alone, as all did. When the morning came and the doors were open, he walked out of the chapel, and turned to his adoptive father, the half-elf that had brought him from the small town in the mountains.
"I will be leaving within the week, father. My calling is come. I am to be an Outrider." The Outriders of Helm were a small group of people who were worshippers of Helm, who found the best way to guard was to see the danger coming.
Three days passed. Melanth had chosen to take with him a bastard sword, a bow, and a suit of chain-mail, as well as clothing. As he pulled up the hood of his cloak and fitted the mask to his face, he mounted the horse he had been given, and rode into the wilderness.
Five years would pass before he returned.
He rode for the Dalelands on the advice of his father, and sought out the ranger Storm Silverhand, who showed him good cheer and hospitality, and was the first to regard his face with curiosity rather than fear. She taught him some tricks with the blade and bow, and sent him off to check a few things. The resulting battles he entered used every trick she'd taught him, and then some. When he returned with the information, she would not take it unless he dueled her. He lost, of course, but did manage to surprise her - he apparently threw a wild swing at her, but instead broke the branch above her, which fouled her blade for a moment. Once he gave his report, she gave him his Harper pin, and sent him to Cormyr to watch a few things there.
It was there he formed his first adventuring party. He met, in a small fight in a bar, the ranger/cleric Cedric; the mage Myrjatma; and a trio of thieves. They ended up working together for a while, clearing a remote monastary of Helm of undead that had taken over (an adventure where he found his mace). They defended a small town from an overwhelming force with tactics and trickery - Cedric scouted them out, then reported when they were coming. Myrjatma used magic to hover over them. When they appeared, Melanth stopped them, offering to let them leave... or die. The leader began to charge, and Myrjatma dropped a Fireball on his troops. None survived. In the duel that followed, Melanth beat the leader of the bandits, just barely clinging to life himself. In the wake, he claimed the leader's magical haversack for his own.
After an encounter with some drow, Myrjatma was found dead, and the party disbanded. Melanth travelled to a church of Helm for guidance. In the wake of that, he went to seek out information on his now-dead mother. A chance encounter with a necromancer gained for him his bracers and his Rings of Readiness. Another encounter shattered his blade against a stone wall, and gained him his opponent's enchanted bastard sword. Finally, he encountered a glowing portal that seemed to draw him closer. He stepped through, not knowing where it led.
It led into the Abyss. It had been created twenty-four years before, so a demon could cross from the Abyss to the Prime plane. The mere act of entering the Abyss shattered all the spells that had been placed on Melanth to keep his fiendish nature in check, driving him into a maddened fury for a week before a tanar'ri stunned him and brought him to a great fortress of black stone.
That fortress was the home of the Demon Lord known as Graz'zt, who was Melanth's grandfather. The Cambion Falar'zan was there, as well. Together, they explained to Melanth, who was recovering his wits, the truth about his existance.
Graz'zt wanted a link to the Prime plane, from which he could gain power, slaves... or bring humans through to train them as priests, then send them back to the Prime. Graz'zt had intentions of Godhood. But he could not travel without being summoned... but Falar'zan could. He crossed over, forming the gate, and sired a child to link the gate permanently. But the priests of Helm had gotten in the way, and the spells that they had placed on him had locked the gate, but could not close it. By entering, Melanth had partially reopened the gate.
"And now, Grandson, when you return... you will open the gate fully." Graz'zt smiled with great sharp fangs, as did Falar'zan. Melanth turned and left the room, begging a need to rest before doing this. Instead of returning to his chambers - opulent as any in the Abyss - he crept through the castle. In the deepest dungeons, he saw things that bent his sanity - other spawn of Graz'zt, ones not as lucky as Falar'zan and himself. And he found someone else.
Her name was Irudathae, and she was an alu-fiend. Her heart was not dedicated to the darkness, and for that, she had been chained. Melanth was smitten immediately, and she with him. He drew his blade and raised it to strike her chains away... and at the blade's touch, the chains unlocked from her wrists and ankles. The sword spoke into Melanth's mind:
"I am the Blade of Freedom. You have used me to free one held in bondage, and awoken me."
With the Blade of Freedom's magics, and Irudathae's spells, they made their way to the portal's exit in the Abyss, chased by Graz'zt's minions. In a moment of Abyss-inspired madness, he was able to cast one spell. He cast it on the portal, then dove through it, pulling Irudathae with him. A flash of light, and he realized he was standing in the courtyard of the temple he'd grown up in, Irudathae at his side. One of the guardians of the temple approached him, blade drawn, and Melanth looked at the man. "Call the high priests! This portal MUST be closed, or we will be overrun with fiends!" The paladin lifted his visor, and then his eyes went wide. "Melanth! I will call them!"
Irudathae looked at her love, confused. "We grew up togeher," Melanth explained.
The battle was bloody, and the only thing that kept it from being worse was the fact that only a limited amount of beings could come through the portal at once. The high priests finally closed the portal... as a wavy black sword, dripping acid, began to come through. It was cut in half by the sealing.
In the wake of the battle, Melanth and Irudathae officially set forth their betrothal. After the ceremony, they went forth into the wilderness to find a quiet place to call their own.
But that tale is not yet written....
The Blade of Freedom:
The Blade of Freedom is a +3 Bastard sword. It has the following additional powers:
If the wielder is killed while wielding it, the sword becomes dormant until it is used for the purposes of freeing another in some way. Melanth is currently its chosen wielder.
The Blade is dedicated to the cause of freeing those unjustly imprisoned. If none are currently available, it is almost chatty, enjoying talking about previous wielders and things it did in their hands. It also has a pleasant singing voice, and knows a number of rousing battle songs.
Currently, it has one of the matched pairs of Rings of Readiness that Melanth possesses, allowing him to summon it to hand from up to a mile away.