Real Name: Uester Rael
Class: Battleguard, specialist priest of war
Deity: Tempus the Foehammer
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Parents: Father was Johnnas Rael, a farmer, and mother was Kathrine Rael (nee Wainright), a housewife.
Siblings: Uester was the first of five sons, in order
of age they are Uester, Richard, Johnnas, Peter and Gattim
Uester is a massive man; tall, broad and immensely strong. He has a thick black beard and deep brown, almost black-coloured eyes, while his skin is the colour and texture of leather. His voice is booming and when angered, which he easily is, it bellows out like the roar of a great beast. He wears the armour that was given to him by Denrus, a chain coif and the metal skullcap which is one of the symbols of Tempus in civilized areas. He also wears a cloak of blood red and a holy symbol on a long chain around his neck.
Personality: Uester is unpredictable to say the least. He is prone to outbursts of irrational violence and a blood fury which if not divinely inspired by Tempus is nonetheless both impressive and terrifying. Against his enemies he is a pitiless engine of destruction whose strength and stamina have spelled the end of hundreds of warriors; he is a bold and true servant of the God of War who never flees from battle and views death as a warrior’s final honour. But Uester is not just a warrior or even a priest, his experience as a slave has made him aware of the plight of others in a few other are. The only things Uester defends more strongly than his faith are the oppressed. Where Uester Rael walks no man shall be in chains.
Background (as told by Uester himself): The desert night is soundless. In the grasslands there is always the croon of crickets and the scuttle of small animals and those that hunt them. In the forest the wind, however soft, will always ruffle the leaves and the dappled moonlit darkness is often split by shadows of night birds crossing the black earth like wraiths. The swoop. The flutter of feathers. The quiet snatch of prey in claws.
None of that is here; the light wind does not disturb the sand as your horses force themselves over the dunes. Even the perpetual clank of the Priest of Tempus in his all-encompassing armour seems hushed by the vastness of the still landscape and the deep blue sky hanging cloudless overhead.
“I think I promised you something,” Uester says out of nowhere. His head turns to face Selini and his beard scrapes against his chain coif. “I promised you a story about me, when there was time. It seems we have an abundance of time now.”
“Hrmph,” he clears his throat. “The beginning, then. Well….”
“I was born sometime about thirty or so years ago in Archendale. My
father was a Dalesman and his father and his for as long as we remember. I
remember little of my father – it is the way sometimes. He was a farmer and
spent all day, from when the sun rose to when it set, working what scraps of
land had been handed down to us. It wasn’t a lot, even by the humble standards
of Dales farms, but he owned it outright through virtue of my mother… but I’ll
come to that later.
“My father grew wheat and potatoes and behind the house was a orchard surrounded by a high hedge which served as home to a pair of goats. My earliest memory is of my father planting the apple trees out there. He didn’t need a shovel for those little holes; no, he just scooped the dirt away with one hand.”
Uester raises his own right hand slightly and flexes it inside the metal gauntlet. He looks at it, broad and large in its metal casing for only a moment before dropping it to his side again.
“A giant’s hands,” he continued. “Hands of a great giant. And then he picked up the trees, which were no more than leafy twigs then, and placed then gently in, patting down the earth like you would tuck a child up in bed.”
“I do not remember much of him.”
“My mother, or so I was told, for she would never speak of it herself, was more highly born than my father. Not a lady, to be sure, but the daughter of a merchant of some wealth and standing from one of the towns in Archendale. And a beauty too, pretty even after giving birth to me and my five brothers and living a hard life she could not have been accustomed to.”
“There is so much about our parents we never learn and I am no exception. How she came to meet a humble farmer and why they fell in love, for if she left he life for ease for him love it must surely have been, I do not know. But they did and her father, the merchant, though unhappy about the match, gave the dowry he’d promised her. It might have been enough to secure her a marriage to a knight or some lesser noble, but she took the money and she and my father used it to buy the land his family had worked on for an age. Though I suspect there would have been a string or two pulled by my mother’s father there: landlords are reluctant to part with land to such as my father even when the sum is princely. Land is their power and even the greedy ones value power more than gold.”
“Ach, ‘tis done with anyway. We were happy, my brothers and I. And when we were old enough to carry a pitchfork we would accompany our father into the fields. As the eldest I was first to go and could not have been more than seven. The work was hard, make no mistake, and in the evening, when I was weary I would be carried home by my father, who had worked even harder but seemed never to tire.”
“As the years passed more of my brothers joined us and we worked together. With no rent going to a landlord we were able to buy little bits here and there. One summer I cleared an acre of forest, cut the trees down – such as they were, gnarled and unsuitable as timber, dug out the stumps and turned the earth ready for planting. The crop failed there the next year, but by the time I was thirteen it was the best field we had. The wheat was thick on the ground and dusky golden in colour.”
“I would never see one harvest from that field.”
“During the summer of my thirteenth year I was abducted from where I was working in the field by several men on horseback. I was beaten senseless and awoke days later on the back of a wagon, piled amongst other who had met the same fate as I. It seemed that I had attracted the attentions of a mercenary commander called Targ who lead the Amber Company. Targ used to ride through areas and spot boys who showed physical strength then return a few days later with a cadre of his most brutal lieutenants and steal them away. Years in the fields had made me a strong and at thirteen I was in capability already a man. I was exactly what Targ wanted.”
“The Amber Company was composed mostly of boys who had been taken in the same way and over the years had stayed, living in fear of the cruel and ruthless commander. It was made clear to me very quickly that there was only one way to leave the Amber Company – death. You would fight and die for the Amber Company or you would simply die. That is no choice to present to one so young.”
“I was trained in the axe and the shield but learned how to fight in battle. The Amber Company travelled across the realms from the Dales to Waterdeep and as far south as Cormyr. We fought the battles of petty barons and once or twice found ourselves involved in great wars. Yes, indeed; many are the places I have been and at every one I have left a corpse for the ravens.”
“Now Targ, let me speak of him for a moment. I should not think any of you would know the name. A closeted mageling, an elf-kin and a Shou; it is not a name you would have encountered, and you will hear it spoken of no more, for reasons I will relate.”
“Targ was cruel, to his enemies and his allies. His troops, myself included, feared the wrath of Targ more than we feared death. He was a known killer and a fierce and infamous warrior. Some said his acts were so monstrous that he must be a half-ogre, tainted with the blood of a savage, but I do not believe that. I have seen acts just as evil committed by mere men. He was a savage though; the dark savage of the unrestrained human heart. He fought with fury, but never let himself ignore the battle around him. In many ways he would have been a great servant to Tempus.”
“His lieutenants were worse than him; less than him. They sought to emulate him, but never understood the source of his power. They wanted to inspire fear as he did, but managed little more than disgust, except among the younger boys. Targ’s lieutenants would take their pleasure with many of the new recruits, enjoying their fear more than anything else. I was never subjected to that, for which I am thankful; I was already too large to be bullied and they would not waste time with me when there was easier prey around.”
“I was with the Amber Company for a little over a decade. I have a patchwork of scars under this armour that is testament to my days as a mere foot-soldier and more than one deep scar from that last fateful battle. Tymora is the mistress of the fates in life, but on the field of battle Tempus is absolute master and one day seven years ago Tempus turned his countenance from Targ and his life was torn from his body. Whether Targ was betrayed or not I do not know, but he did die. His bodyguards had been dispatched one by one until only he remained, atop his steed, screaming his defiance against his enemies and all the gods. I saw, from a little way off, that paragon of wickedness pulled from his black horse and his limbs butchered from his body and even those remaining parts broken and chopped. Even Targ was no match for the soldiers we fought. They wore the livery of conscripts from some western city, but that was a rouse; they were elite, without question some of the finest fighting men I have ever encountered.”
“I was struck by an arrow, here,” he says, pointing to his left shoulder. “That left my shield arm numb and a sword cut me across here,” he indicates a broad sweep across his left hand side. “Finally I was struck here,” he points to the scar that emerges from his coif above his eyebrow, but obviously goes well back across his head. “I did not see the weapon. I suspect it was a poleaxe of some sort, because an axe or sword would have cleaved open my skull. From a distance it is easier to give only a glancing blow.”
“I fell, unconscious, to the ground. Believing me dead, the enemy stacked me with the fallen, intending to make a funeral pyre of the bodies. But it must have rained or some other task drawn them away, because they did not finish.”
“I cannot say how long I lay there in the bodies, trapped and unable to move. It may have been only a few hours, for I could see no light to reckon night and day. Only the slow seep of draining blood across my face and body, some from within me, but most dripping from the wounds of those piled above me. Only that gave me any sense of time passing.”
“I was unearthed, long after I had again lapsed from consciousness in preparation for death. My saviour was a Priest of Tempus, an aged man named Denrus Ulf. Lord Ulf it seemed had been hired to assist Amber Company in battle, but had been delayed by flooding and heavy rain – fortunate for him because it meant he had not perished with the rest. By the time he arrived and used his magic to search the battlefield for life I was the only soul left. Lord Ulf dug me from the bodies and healed my wounds sufficiently to allow me for transport to a place of convalescence.”
“When I eventually awoke, weeks later, it took some talking on his part to convince me that I was not in heaven. I had never slept in a feather bed in all my life and for the last ten years I was lucky to sleep on dry ground. Over the days and month that passed Denrus and I talked much. My wounds were serious and even his magic, which was far greater then than mine is now, could not heal them all so most of my time was spent in bed. He told me of Tempus and the way of the warrior and taught me to read and write.”
“Eventually I was well. Indeed I felt stronger than I ever had, like the blade which is not weakened by the fire only tempered. But I was now without a place in the world. Of the eight hundred soldiers who had marched under the banner of the Amber Company I was the only one still alive. I could not return home, for ten years had passed and the boys I left would be men now.”
“Denrus offered me a choice, I was free to leave at now, for the payment he had received to help the Amber Company in battle more than covered any expenses incurred in my treatment, or I could remain with him and learn the ways of Tempus and become a priest. I accepted his offer gladly, for surely it had been Tempus who had spared my life when so many others had been taken. And was it not the Foehammer himself who had leant new strength to my broken body? This was the will of a god and it was to become my true calling.”
“With the aid of Denrus and the blessing of the Lord Tempus I grew daily stronger in mind and body and spirit. I found that with the strength of my faith alone I could perform wonders. I had become a channel for the great god and an instrument of his holy majesty. With deepest thanks I left Lord Ulf’s tutelage and began my life as a journeyman priest; I travel from place to place lending my aid to those who take up arms in battle and I shall continue to do so until Tempus instructs me to do otherwise.”
“It was Tempus that lead me to meet you people. And make no mistake, the God of Battle watches over me even now for I have only begun to perform the great work he intends for me. I have only begun to praise his might. And I shall continue until he wills that I do so no longer and calls me to his side to fight battles celestial and eternal.”
Uester clears his throat again. “I think that brings the story of Uester Rael just about up to date. The rest you know or is of no bearing on our current adventure. I hope that satisfies your curiosity.”
Weapon proficiencies: Specialist in the battle axe, proficient in the mace.
Equipment: Plate mail +1, medium shield +3, battle axe +2, mace +1 and a heavy warhorse (Lightfoot)
Combat: Uester hates wasting time. He believes in a good plan today rather than a great plan tomorrow and often trusts to just his strength and his faith to see him through – which they always do. Despite being a cleric, Uester is always to the fore of any battle, often charging in while other advise caution and facing down opponents fearlessly. In combat Uester prefers to use his axe, believing that his mace has been jinxed by some unknown force.
Currently: Uester has retired from active adventuring in as far as a priest of the God of War may. He is resident in the town of Tyrluk in northern Cormyr and is constructing a shrine there. He spends a great deal of time in contemplative thought and has written several treatise and religious works collectively known as Raelism, which are characterised by the pragmatic viewpoint of their author.