Sir Arden Hardane

   Here we have the background for one of the early, playtest, Eclipse characters – in this case a young nobleman from a vaguely Arthurian world who possessed a modest (and quite acceptable) healing talent – and a legacy of far darker infernal powers that he struggled to keep hidden even as he was forced to use them.

   Sir Arden Hardane II, Keeper of the keys of Carnevon, Initiate of the Order Of Diancecht, Count Of Garloth.

   The dark gate opened in the corner of the room… The castle guards, wards, and defenses, had been easy enough to bypass; few such barriers extended into the realms of the dead. Among mortals, only the most powerful necromancers could walk those realms while yet living – but the unholy power inhabiting the slowly-cooling flesh of the sacrifice which had helped to call it forth was neither “mortal” nor, perhaps, truly “living”.

   The deaths would be untraceable… Even if, by some miracle, the killer could be located, they would find nothing but the rotting corpse of an unmourned thief and murderer, slain by a thrust to the heart.

   The Hellspawn’s burning eyes surveyed the room… There were several deaths to bring about – and several spirits to devour as the it had already devoured the sacrifice’s. Few things were as pleasurable as feeling a mortal’s essence writhe and die within the hellfire grasp of it’s psychic talons. The youngster first. His fresh, adolescent, spirit would help replenish the power it had expended to cross the realms of the dead – and he possessed enough magical potential that he might sense the deaths of the rest of his family if they died before him. The pact of summoning had called for no alarms…

   Arden grasped frantically for a dagger from the bedside table and tried to yell for help as the creatures hellfire touch fell upon him – but his blade was casually knocked to the floor while he choked on the burning, smothering, darkness which cloaked his assailant.

   The demon amused itself with Arden’s struggles for a moment – and then, in a spray of blood, casually rammed it’s hand through his abdomen to seize the pulsing organs in his chest cavity, The zone of silence was discarded – no longer necessary – as the demon opened the channel between them which would allow it to consume the dying boy’s spirit and life force.

   Arden’s eyes rolled back into his head as his lungs spasmed and filled with blood, his entire consciousness collapsing to a bright point under the pressure of ultimate agony – and then flared, as onrushing death brought his potential power into focus. Arden drew suddenly – instinctively – and with desperate strength, at the roiling, searing, core of infernal life force that had suddenly opened up to him – and the scream he was no longer able to voice burst from the flesh of the demon’s stolen throat, as Arden drank the Demon’s infernal life-essence to heal himself and replace his own lost vitality…

   When the servants and guards arrived they found Arden – blood-spattered, bruised, and in shock, but otherwise unhurt – collapsed next to the corpse of an armed assassin slain by a dagger-strike to the heart. With boy, corpse, and dagger all lying in a pool of fresh blood, the “investigation” didn’t get very elaborate…

   The house healer and magician dismissed the traces of dark magic as remnants of the portal which had let the would-be assassin in – but noted that Arden’s healing talents had erupted into operation. Evidently he’d taken a serious wound in the attack – and had healed himself in a traumatic eruption of power. He’d need some training – but it showed excellent potential.

   No wonder the would-be killer had been startled enough to leave himself open to a mortal blow

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