Pathfinder: The Kingdom of Darkness
The Plot Within the Plot
Last night you has strange dreams of a life you never lived, through the eyes of someone else…
There was once a Human boy named Taven Shadespin. He was a strong boy from Taldor. He grew up in the town of Oppara, the capital of Taldor itself, born to a wealthy family with all the luxuries a boy could ask for.
That said, Taven had a lust for adventure. Contradictory to the stiff and honored traditions, ceremonies, and custom of the now failing empire of Taldor, Taven instead sneaked out when his parents looked away, content to leap across the rooftops and seek victims of muggings to deliver justice with bricks, wooden table legs, or anything else he could find to protect the weak. He also was known to hand away his parent’s money to beggars on the street, claiming they needed it infinitely more than he did.
Little his parents said could move him to put on Taldan suits, visit the long dinner parties, or socialize with the high-class culture of the aristocracy. Taven dismissed them all as wasteful and meaningless, he also pointed out his parents’ disdain for many of their guests or hosts. He sometimes did this publicly. His parents were ashamed of his behavior, and threatened multiple times to disown him, even once telling him they would hire the Lion Blades to keep tabs on him or imprison him in his room.
Taven’s patience thinned as his renown as “the rich beggar” grew. But as his parent’s promised, one day a trio of Lion Blades came to drag him from a soup kitchen that he had help build. In the commotion, a number of people were injured by the Blades, and Taven couldn’t fight them off. He was dragged from the building, kicking and screaming, weeping at the blood of his friends in the kitchen.
Taven was imprisoned in his room and instructed that he would be joining the Lion Blades to learn discipline, or they would see to it that his soup kitchen was burned to the ground. Taven fought every chance he could get, but couldn’t break his chains. He was relocated to the appropriate room in one of the Shadow Schools of Taldor where spent several miserable years leaning to become a Lion Blade.
Taven’s training was long and hard, leaving him gasping for breath, beaten on the floor, but never losing his desire to escape. His instructors were brutal and callous to his struggle and frustration, instructing him to leave his rebellious nature behind or he would bleed it out. They subjected him to beatings from multiple training partners, obstacle courses filled with painful fire and razor traps, and tests of cruelty and coldness that Taven could never feel. His reputation also earned him very few friends in his new hell, save for one.
A young Half-Elf woman named Shale Withe was his sole companion. Calling him the “beggar prince” at first, they became fast friends and Taven’s temper was lessened. He made it clear to his instructors that he was going to become stronger and more famous than any Lion Blade had been before him, just to show them his worth. His masters laughed, but accepted his challenge. The next years were surprising for many, as the “beggar prince” climbed the class to the top of the swordplay, arcana academics, and even the social trials. His final test was to take on a mission for Taldor itself, before he could become a Lion Blade.
Taven was asked to slay a thief who was being held captive in one of Taldor’s towers. He strode up the tall staircase to where the culprit was barricaded. He burst the door in, eager to face his final trial, only to see Shale was standing amongst a group of warriors who she dispatched one by one before him. Taven was instructed by the men around him to kill the thief.
Taven asked what she had stolen, and she showed him a small amulet with an eye. It was a family heirloom that had been left with her by her parents. Her parents were traitors to the throne, and the artifact was an instrument of some magical persuasion that the Taldan nobility feared. Taven refused to kill her, blocking the door again and fighting to help Shale slay the remaining guards. Taven was wounded in the fight and lay bleeding out when the final guard was slain. The door he barricaded burst down as his father, clad in gold-rimmed armor held a spear to his son. Taven pleaded for his father’s compassion, but this final insult had been enough. He had turned his back on one of the greatest traditions in Taldor for a traitor’s safety, and his father would execute him for it, regaining his family’s honor. His father remarked that he had a brother born while he was away, and he would become everything the “beggar prince” would never have been.
In the moment, something in Taven’s blood stirred. The amulet began to shroud him and Shale in a dark veil, and the next thing they knew they were outside the kingdom’s walls.
Taven had a gift for magic from a dark place, and it reacted to the amulet and saved them both, but Taven passed out soon after from blood-loss. Shale hoisted him up and carried him to the Ruins of Nazilli before collapsing herself, just in time for a group of vicious fey to find them. Before the fey could kill them, a harmonious voice called to the aid of a great wolf, who fought the fey in time for a Halfling druid named Goslander Albi to whisk them away from the fey.
Gos and his wolf Gabardien healed the injured Taven and fed the exhausted Shale. He was moved by their story, and agreed to help them reach their next town if they agreed to help the druids of Verduran Forest with a fey problem. The fey had become very restless as of late, and had been disturbing the peace of the forest more so than usual. Taldan emissaries offered little promise for aid, so Taven and Shale were likely the only outside help they could get.
Taven and Shale found in the darkened heart of the forest there lay an unconscious pair of adventurers. One a Dwarven woman and one an Elven male. When they approached, they noticed a tall man in the treeline. He had no face, but stod tall and dark in the background. Taven, Shale, Gos and Garbadien were then ambushed by the Dwarf and Elf, who’s eyes had gone a milky white. All attempts to calm them failed, so Taven focused her attention on the tall man, while Shale and Gos tried to subdue them harmlessly.
Taven’s blows failed at every swing, his blade seemed to sweep through the creature’s tall dark frame. Nothing at the Shadow College had prepared him for a creature of this caliber. His highly trained tactics were near-useless against this specter, but the specter was certainly capable of dealing pain, both physically and psychologically. Taven fought the specter’s many hands and terrifying presence until the Dwarf and the Elf were unconscious at last. Shale and Gos could help the worn-out Taven little. Gos suffered a powerful injury during the fight, which angered Taven. His blood boiled again, and the creature locked its non-existent gaze on Taven. It suddenly became ruthless, batting Taven into trees and racking his mind with horrifying images of bodies, gore, and fear. Taven, when he seemed to be beaten, tried to call upon this strange power in his blood, and then he threw himself at the creature once more. The forest went black as night for a moment, and then it was gone, and Taven was carried back to Gos’ enclave along with the now conscious Dwarven woman named Erigga Syorn, and her apparent fiancee: Malasten Syorn.
Taven was brought to Andoran, to the city of Almas, where he was treated yet again. His new companions, Erigga and Malasten, were a team of Pathfinders from the Pathfinder Society. They offered him a chance at membership. Taven nearly leaped from his bed to take the chance, and he met with the venture captain in Andoran to join. Shale, having nowhere to go, followed suit. Gos was ashamed to admit that his enclave had been destroyed by the creature they had faced days before, and had nowhere to call home now, but pledged his loyalty to Taven for saving his home. He elected t offer his services to the Pathfinder Society as well.
This group: the Lion Blade, Taven, the weapon master, Shale, the druid, Gos, and his companion, Garbadien, the Dwarven cleric, Erigga, and the Elven Rogue, Malasten, became a reputable band of Pathfinders, exploring the mysteries of Golarion for years. Erigga and Malasten became married, Gos found a new druid enclave, and Shale began seek her own fame, leaving Taven on his own for a year.
These good tidings came with equivalent dark consequences. Erigga and Malasten’s marriage was cut short by bandits with a grudge against the party from their earlier adventures. Malasten was grievously wounded in the ensuing fight, and didn’t survive the wound. Taven beat the bandits until they revealed who they worked for, and they revealed the name of a Cheliaxian lord they had aided in a previous escapade with consolidating his power to “restore the peace.” The widowed Erigga made sure to make ironic use of the magic artifact they had secured for the lord, and turned him to a sentient silver statue to deny him the life he had denied her.
Gos’ enclave was logged by a misinformed order from Kyonin. The one responsible for carrying out the order coincidentally happened to be a cult that the group had unwittingly created when they revealed the nature of tablets in an old Kyonin ruin. The cult’s leaders were dealt with quickly, and with strong teeth marks on their necks.
Shale went missing soon after Taven, Gos, and Erigga were asked to help the war effort in Nirmathas. Before the fight could begin, Shale was brought to the front lines by Molthune men and a man in golden armor.
Taven’s father smiled as he directed the battle around them, demanding that the Molthune soldiers leave Taven and his companions to him. Taven’s father slew Garbadien as the wolf lunged for his throat, and Gos and Erigga were soon to follow. Taven pleaded with his father again to stop, but his pleas were unheard. Taven’s father executed Shale in front of him, and Taven finally lost it.
Tormented that his past had caused the death of his friends, a dark power began to flow from him. A dark veil consumed him, and he found himself wearing a blank mask of white, on top of his Taldan uniform. He took one look at his terrified father, and cut him to ribbons.
No one knows what happened to Taven after that. He has gone missing, and numerous Pathfinder Society expiditions have proven fruitless.
Monuments to him and his allies can be found in Absalom in one of the wide market squares…
Many people today know the names Taven, Shale, Gos, Erigga, and Malasten, and only a few know of what happened on the Nirmathas-Molthune border, and only a handful know of a dark amulet that did not always shed a tear…