Name: Ashtaroth or Ash
Real Name: Alfred Isaacs
Class: Shadow mage
Alignment: Neutral Good
Parents: Duncan Isaacs (Sembian merchant hailing from Saerloon) & Countess Christine de Etoile de Matin (Cormyrite noblewoman), both deceased.
Ash is hideously scarred by fire over his entire body and wears thick black clothing which conceals his every feature. Ash is in his mid to late fifties and stands about 5’8” tall, though he appears taller and more bulky than he is by virtue of his voluminous robes.
Personality: Ash has endured more than most and has been injured severely in acts of goodness, then given succour by those most would consider evil. His new role as a shadow mage places him constantly on the border between light and darkness, imperilled more than most by the choices he makes and the magic he wields. In conversation Ash is polite to the point of formal, a relic from his youth in the court of his great uncle. Ash has an exceptionally keen mind, which has only improved with age, and it is always employed in weighing decisions and in considering alternatives. Ash is a shrewd and pragmatic man whose clinical side is kept in check only by his indomitable love of humanity and his pleasure in simply being alive. The shadow mage extracts a little joy from even the most laborious of tasks and can often be heard humming or singing, or otherwise exercising his musical talents.
Background: Young Alfred Isaacs was the illegitimate son of a Sembian merchant and a Cormyrite countess. Alfred never met his father as the Duke Alfred de Etoile de Matin, who was the uncle and guardian of his mother, had the merchant killed in a very civilized and hushed-up way. After much pleading from the countess, Alfred once born was permitted to remain with his mother at court, though the two were not to be seen together in public and to all intents Alfred was a serving boy. But away from the prying eyes at court the Countess Christine delighted in her brilliant and handsome son, teaching him how to read, write and play the lute which he did excellently, soon surpassing his teacher in skill. The life of a court servant is relatively easy and Alfred found much time for play and lived a blissful life, protected from the intrigues of politics by his apparent insignificance, yet privileged by his doting mother.
This life of ease came to an end when Alfred was sixteen and his mother died in a riding accident, having an unlucky fall from her horse and fracturing her skull. The duke, having no time for the bastard boy, sent Alfred away from the castle without a penny to his name. Perhaps in divine retribution, or perhaps just to seal Alfred’s fate, the duke himself died only a few weeks later when a wild boar he was hunting turned on him unexpectedly and made short work of the aging noble. So well-kept was the secret of Alfred’s bloodline that the duke was one of very few who could have confirmed it and with his passing the young man was forever cut-off from the family and his noble heritage.
Working as a musician Alfred made a meagre but sufficient living while travelling through all of the civilized lands of the west. He had the opportunity to play for some of the greatest nobles of the last thirty years, powerful warriors and wise wizards among them, but his wandering spirit and his by now inbuilt distrust of nobility kept him moving faster than his reputation. During these years he enjoyed many adventures, most of them displaying a dangerously amorous streak he could only have inherited from his father, and finally, almost thirty, Alfred finally settled down.
He had saved a little money over the years, and had been given gifts by wealthy ladies who had enjoyed his company, and he used it to buy a small farm and a two-story sandstone house in a village south and west of Arabel – all except for a gold cloak pin with a single pearl which he retained for sentimental reasons. The cloak pin was a gift from Lady Hillary Blackwell, a woman of some means from the great city of Waterdeep. She was fully twenty years Alfred’s senior when they met, and though their impossible relationship lasted barely a month he still remembers her fondly as the love of his life and has composed several pieces of music with her in mind.
On the farm he proceeded to plant a vineyard from which, in the latter years, came some of the finest wine ever to pass the lips of the people of Cormyr. He made a fair amount of money, but that was soon given away or swallowed-up by Alfred’s occasional indulgences developed as a child and never abandoned. As he aged he found himself becoming ever more sought out as a wise man, though he did nothing to encourage it. Usually it was people from the village he lived near, but frequently he would find someone who had come a hundred miles just to ask his advice. This sage reputation, coupled with his knowledge of herbs gained through farm work, made many think of him as a wizard, though in truth the most he could do was simple sleight of hand tricks to amuse children. Even a local and reasonably peaceable tribe of goblins used to trust Alfred to settle their disputes.
One day Alfred was brought the daughter of the village mayor who had eaten some berries by mistake, knowing the poison well Alfred prepared an antidote, but the child who had always been sickly, died shortly afterwards. The mayor, furious and with a long-term jealousy of Alfred’s respect in the community, decried him a witch and ordered him sealed up within the walls of his own house with the ivy hanging thick on the walls, and burned to death.
The unjust sentence was carried out. But always a survivor, Alfred’s horrific wounds did not prove fatal. He was discovered by the goblins who brought him to their underground town and nursed him away from death. In time he regained the power of speech and learned how to walk again, though it was almost a year before his vision returned, during which time he was befriended by a fremlin named Hrmph who served as his eyes. The goblins renamed him Ash, for he was all that was left after the fire. In time Ash began to see, and in this shady place where he lived, underground and trapped between the world of the living and the dead, he found a new power. Ash arose like a phoenix from his own destruction, reinvigorated with the power of shadow and night, steeped in the twilight and standing forever on the cusp of day.
Weapon proficiencies: Dagger and staff.
Equipment: Ring of protection, cloak of protection and the Book of Enigmas.
Combat: Ash, having faced death, is quite fearless, but sees no reason to endanger himself with physical combat. He is quite adept with illusions and wherever possible prefers to confuse and delude his opponents rather than face them one-on-one.
Hrmph: Fremlin familiar, 9” tall, fat and grey, INT 10, 22hp, flight, confers ability to detect magical traps.