D&D Next: The Desert of Desolation
A paladin of Osiris, Percivilis seeks to rid the Desert of the Efreet’s influence in the name of a waning god.
Percivilis is a human paladin from the Durpari port city of Orphel, Jewel of the Golden Water (a large Mediterranean-like sea). He is of rugged build, his features burned bronze with the sun, with dark hair and piercing eyes. The son of a minor noble, Percivilis was given a position in the retinue of a minor city official.
The official was corrupt and cruel, delighting in tormenting and belittling those beneath him. When the young man discovered his master torturing and disfiguring a slave girl, Percivilis snapped and killed the official in a fit of righteous rage.
Knowing that he had overstepped himself, Percivilis fled Orphel bearing north towards the Dustwall, the great range of mountains that served as a buffer between Durpar and the Raurin, or Desert of Desolation, to the north.
Penniless and nearly starving, the young man was then captured by slavers as he fled north. Seeing the strength in the young man, the slavers began training Pervicilis in the combat arts, intending to sell him as a novice pit fighter. The plan however backfired, and Percivilis led an armed revolt which resulted in a pitched melee where many slaves and slavers alike were killed. Taking advantage of the confusion, Percivilis fled once more to the north, this time in possession of a stolen camel and scimitar.
He fell in with a nomadic band of Symbayans, tribesmen who were cousins to the more civilized Durpari, and found a place amongst them as a shepherd and warrior. For years Percivilis travelled with the Symbayans. He was given the opportunity to hone his growing combat skills battling Thune tribesman, slavers, marauding gnolls, and the savage beasts and monsters that preyed upon unwary travelers. As the years passed, Percivilis became known far and wide as a great warrior and protector of the Symbayan people. It seemed then that this was to be his lot in life, and in truth, he began to feel a sense of contentment.
One night the Symbayans made camp in the shadow of a complex of ancient ruins, and Percivilis was haunted by dreams of all-consuming flame which devoured first the desert and then all the lands beyond. He awoke with a start to find himself alone, with no sign of the Symbayans save scattered campfires, their ashes now cold… as if they had been gone for days.
Percivilis was suddenly overcome by a vision of a humanoid figure clad in strange garb of gold and white, wielding an ornamented crook and flail. The enigmatic being revealed itself to be the forgotten deity Osiris, once worshipped in these lands millennia ago, before the Desolation consumed the region. The dreams of fire, explained the deity, were not mere night terrors, but a prophecy of things which might come to pass. Overcome by the sheer aura of truth and righteousness that seemed to emanate from the god, Percivilis prostrated himself before Osiris and swore from the moment on to serve him, swearing to prevent the prophecy from coming to pass.
Further visions revealed that the harbinger of the all consuming flame would be the great Efreeti Pasha Kalitharius, Vizier to the Fire Sultan, who would lead an army of monsters born of fire and the undead, but that there was one who might stop the Efreet… the long-presumed dead arch mage Martek. Osiris provided Percivilis with a vision of Marteks tomb, and bade him seek out answers there.
Percivilis located the tomb, but became trapped in a strange and verdant garden of thick vegetation and spiders the size of cattle. He soon discovered that there were a number of human tribesmen who also inhabited this arcane jungle, two factions known as the Guilders and the Palan-teen, who maintained an uneasy truce. The Palan-teen, though degenerate, proved to be of noble bent and welcomed Percivilis into their ranks. Not content to sit idly by, the paladin continued to seek out the means to enter the Tomb of Martek, which remained sealed behind great doors which no amount of force would open.
Just as he was beginning to fear that he would be forever trapped, another band of outsiders, adventurers by all accounts, appeared within the garden bearing the sacred Star Gems which proved to be the key to opening the great doors. Again Osiris came to him in a dream, revealing that these adventurers shared his goal, and that they would be the key to undoing the machinations of the Efreet.
To complicate matters, Percivilis learned that yet more outsiders, thieves and mercenaries posing as holy men, also sought to plunder Martek’s tomb for their own gains, and would doubtless prove to be a hindrance to the quest…