Keepers of Arden
A piece of Linux's past
Being a tiefling, Hidalgo Jones’ background is writ in grief; however, unlike most that share his bloodline, his is also one of redemption and hope. Hidalgo’s mother was a young fair maiden born to a storefront owner named Maximillian Jones in the village of Darkon’s Rest. His store was named Maximillian’s Mercantile. The line of Jones was established by the infamous bard, Valdivia Jones, who inspired morale to the frontlines of Arden, along with his trusty dancing steed, Giro, but that tale is neither here nor there.
The village of Darkon’s Rest was quiet and normally the regular patrons of the store were just town citizens needing odds and ends and using the store as a local rumor hub. Occasionally a traveler would pass through, stock up on the goods needed for life on the road and leave.
There came a strange traveler, who hung around the outskirts of the town. No one was quite sure where he lived and no one ever really spoke to him. He also had a strange, intimidating aura from afar; however, he could quickly turn the intimidation into a beguiling uncomfortable charm. Like many others of the town, the man named Randall would also frequent the store, but unlike the other patrons, his interest was not in rumors and town gossip, but in the owner’s daughter, Estela. She had taken a curious interest in the outsider as well, and she was the only person in town with whom he ever spoke. Maximillian did not approve of his daughter’s curiousity in this stranger and he warned her to stay away, but Estela was young and still naive to the dangers of this world.
There came an evening when Estela went missing. Upon the morning, when Maximillian noticed her disappearance, he launched a village-wide search. All were present but Randall. The village hounds and trackers descended on his hovel on the outskirts of town, but found nothing. Maximillian was distraught but determined that his daughter was somewhere out there. The local Sentinels searched far and wide for a man fitting Randall’s description, but no trace of his appearance had ever been noticed anywhere outside of Darkon’s Rest. Little to all’s knowledge, he had never left Darkon’s Rest, and neither had Estela.
The man known as Randall possesed uncanny supernatural powers. Among which, were powers of illusion, which he used to mask his true appearance and the true appearance of his hovel. In actuality, his hovel was a many-roomed, magically contructed tower, which no one in the village was able to discern. And Randall was no man at all, but a balor demon lord, who had travelled from the Abyssal realm into the material plane through a once-dormant gateway amulet stored in the burial chamber of the hero Darkon. Randall had become trapped in this plane and only the lifeblood of an abyssal creature would activate the amulet again.
The maiden Estela had fallen victim to the monster’s magical charm. The evening she disappeared, she had followed him in a trance to his retreat. She fell under a strong magical spell for many months and was only awakened from this daze by the pangs of childbirth and the cries of an unfamiliar child.
Estela cursed her curiosity and and the monster named Randall. How could this happen to her? She begged for Pelor’s light to shine upon her and rescue her from her confinement. The monster had told her his plan. He would leave this plane behind only after the child had grown to sufficient age to sacrifice and open his gateway back into the Abyss. Until then, Estela was his ward, imprisoned to raise the child to full health in the shrouded fortress.
She did not hate the child. It was not his fault for being born and she promised she would still raise and care for him and teach him the ways of Pelor in secret. This was still her child and she would protect him in every way that a mother protects a child. Though his appearance was unlike any human child she had ever seen, the baby had her eyes. He was hers and she would keep him safe from this monster. Somehow she would leave her confinement and escape with this child that she grew to love more every day.
Estela’s daily prayers for rescue had finally come to fruition. After two years of imprisonment her rescuers had come searching for her in Darkon’s Rest. The warriors were from a holy sect named the Light of Pelor.
This detachment was led by their champion of light, the dwarven Celestial Knight Corikelcos. In his morning prayer more than one year ago, he heard the cries of help from a maiden in distress. The cries reverberated into his dreams and he saw a vision of a terrible evil holding the girl captive. Corikelcos rallied his fellow Pillars of Light to answer the calls of distress. Every morning he would hear the calls of Estela, but never was enlightened to her exact location. The dreams that followed were cryptic and only led his squad into a general direction. Upon arrival to Darkon’s Rest, there was no doubt they had reached the correct location. The clerics and paladins were overwhelmed by the power of evil that they sensed from the outskirts of the village.
The demon Randall had also sensed the coming of Corikelcos. The monster knew he would have to plan his escape immediately. He had not planned for interference through the years of quiet containment of the girl and the child. In this plane he had become slightly weakened from his extended stay. He would need assistance to hold the approaching forces of Pelor. The demon made haste to the village catacombs, which were not far from his hideaway, for both the amulet and his new army…
Corikelcos led the forces of Pelor’s Light towards the darkening skies of the demon’s lair. More evil was arriving, and he worried that his forces were not ready for what lie ahead. As they crested the hill to the valley where the monster had been hiding for all of these years, he held back a gasp. An army of undead lie between his warriors and the magically shrouded tower.
A battle ensued and the forces of Pelor smashed into the raised villager’s of Darkon’s Rest. The holy light of their maces and spells washed the monsters back into the realm of the dead. Corikelcos arrived at the tower with his best men behind him. The stormed through the tower, battling the undead the whole way. They had arrived to the top of the tower. The porthole to the roof was ajar and the Knight with his warriors in tow climbed their way to roof, coming face-to-face with the demon in his true form, standing beside a large undead warrior holding what appeared to be a small half-demon boy. The maiden that his quest had spurred was laying yelling in anger at the demon’s feet.
“Foul creature, you will be banished from this realm by the Light of Pelor!” shouted Corikelcos as he charged towards the monsters. But the demon was too fast as he brandished a large blade and made his way to the boy.
“I shall free myself from this realm you fiddling fly!!!” With this, he stabbed the boy through the heart and held the amulet against the rushing flow of blood. A loud rushing of wind buffeted the warriors from the tower. Estela screamed for the boy before being knocked backwards by the sonic boom of a large pool of green light opening from the amulet. “WHAT!? NO! THAT IS NOT THE ABYSS!!! DARKON, YOU MUST FIND ANOTHERRRRRRRRR” The monster screamed before being pulled into the bathing green light. The amulet pulled all towards its opening. Estela, screaming for her child was pulled in after the monster before the thundering clap closed the portal back into the form of an amulet of the roof of the tower.
Corikelcos rushed to the boy, but not before the raised abomination of the warrior Darkon grabbed the amulet and dove from the top of the tower. It took an act of divine intervention, but Corikelcos managed to revive the boy. He was meant for greater acts in the name of Pelor. Where the lifeblood of a demon would open the amulet to the Abyss, his human blood had caused the amulet to open on a different realm, the good lands of Elysium, where the monster Randall would be imprisoned by the angelic beings that lived there.
The village of Darkon’s Rest was in bedlam. Once laid to rest residents were swarming the streets as their new master called them to destroy all. What monsters were not destroyed by the warriors of Pelor’s Light escaped to the hills. Corikelcos carried the boy with him back to Darkon’s Rest, but with no mother and a grandfather who did not know of his existence, he decided to take the boy and raise him. As was seen on the tower, the boy was more than just a half-demon. Pelor had blessed him with a new life and a cause for good.
So he was raised to be a holy warrior of Pelor. He traveled with his adopted father, first receiving proper education in the blessings and holy spells a cleric of Pelor should know, then after years had passed, he properly squired under the great and aging dwarven warrior. The boy’s appearance was not that of any normal person in Arden. He was a tiefling and his stronger demon blood caused more of his human features to become recessive. To keep those he chose to protect unfearful of his appearance, he wore a mask and large hat and garbed much of his appearance.
Eighty years had passed before the message came. He was saying his morning prayers near the lake of Yorkin. A glowing orb bobbed and weaved its way across the lake, up to the hill where he prayed. It stopped in front of him him and hovering it said: “Son, I have returned, and so has the monster. After years of his imprisonment, he broke out. I chased him through Elysium, but he was able to get out somehow. I followed him through the portal and am at our old village. Son, be strong, he is out there somewhere, but I’m afraid that I can’t chase him anymore. I love you and am glad that you have turned into a strong brave man….Goodbye” And the small messenger orb disappeared.
The holy warrior charged his stallion to Darkon’s Rest at breakneck speeds where his life began. It appeared to be a ghost town now, what people lived there were hiding in their houses. He made his way to the now-ramshackled Maximillian’s Mercantile, where Corikelcos had once told him that his mother grew up. He opened the door to see an aged and battle-worn woman sitting at a table. She had a grave wound on her side, but the largest smile on her face. The reunion between him and his mother was short, but she was able to again warn him of the demon being loose in Arden, and of his vile henchman who was now know in the town as Darkon the Undead.
He laid her to rest on the edge of the village. There he made a vow to find these monsters and rid the world of them forever. If that meant leaving the order of Pelor’s Light under the banner of his new quest, he would.
“Before the shining light of Pelor, I make this solemn vow, as a warrior of the light and man of honor, I will find you and I will destroy all evil that you have brought into the realm of good. Demon known as Randall, I shall allow you to pass from this realm, but not to your home in the darkness of the Abyss, but into the void of Oblivion. This pledge I make on my name and the name my mother gave me: Hidalgo Jones!”