Real World History
The first non-human D&D character I can remember playing, Avanimorel is a Second Edition Dungeons & Dragon’s character played in a campaign in Long Island. The campaign is presently gearing up.
In many ways, Avanimorel fits the stereotype of Delleb clergy: educated to the point of elitism, bookwormish, aristocratic and so on. While she is comfortable in such a mode and does spend a lot of time in it, she also has the ability to “switch gears” into other social modes when the situation calls for it. She tends to pick up on the social norms of her surroundings for the most part, so, for example, she feels very comfortable letting her hair down a bit in a bar in a rough neighborhood, or exploring the city (or a forest) with a friend.
This is not to say that she blends in when in these situations. Generally her appearance, dress and vocal manner will mark her as an outsider, but often her polite charm, genuine interest in learning about the people around her and ability to adapt herself to converse with people on their own terms tends to dissolve their typical suspicion of strangers quickly. She tends to become that rare tourist who the locals find themselves wanting to help.
Her ability to switch demeanor based on her surroundings can be very off-putting to the few people that know her from multiple settings (such as both the library and a bar), as it seems that she acts completely differently in the two places. Often, if someone gets to know her in one setting, seeing her in another will cause that person to re-evaluate Avanimorel completely, and not always for the better.
Though Avanimorel loves meeting people and asking them about themselves and loves to help people, she trusts almost no one. Generally, she will steer conversations to the other person rather than answer questions about herself. She nearly always rejects proposals from men who hit on her, but not in a rude way. Her typical response to someone offering to buy her a drink is “No, I’m afraid you can’t, but sit and talk with me a while.”
Avanimorel cuts a striking figure, combining human and elvish features in a unique way that most find extremely attractive. Her violet eyes, pointed ears, angular features and regal bearing come from her mother, while her human side endowed her with long jet-black hair, an easy laugh and a slightly curvaceous figure. Though extremely tall for a half-elf, Avanimorel is not powerfully built, possessing long, slender limbs.
Favoring the black robes traditional to the Delleb clergy, Avanimorel wears these most of the time. She is not averse to other clothing however, particularly when riding or when expecting physical exertion or contact with dirt (such as when harvesting herbs, for example). Though she rarely gets the opportunity, she enjoys formal dress and, for such occasions, favors clothing that accents her legs and neck. She is fully aware of the effect her body can have on others, particularly men, and knows how to accent or conceal it as appropriate, particularly at official occasions.
Whatever she wears, Avanimorel tends to be meticulously groomed, with her clothing in immaculate condition. She takes pains to avoid getting dirty when possible, though this impulse is completely cast aside if she is called upon to heal.
Avanimorel Vincreo came into the world surrounded by opulence and finery, none of it hers. Born exactly at midnight, she was delivered in the residence of Illiria Morningmist, Lord of the High Elves of Highfolk. Before running off with her father, Avanimorel’s mother Maltacaliel (whose name means “gold light”) was once part of Highfolk’s council, having served as a lady in waiting to the Countess Willowtree. Vague comments made by her parents over the years have led Avanimorel to believe that some degree of political intrigue led to her peculiar birth surroundings, but her parents never told her the story. She is also fairly certain that her name, which means “beautiful darkness”, was given to her by someone other than her parents, but does not know who.
She does know that her father Darnius was born a commoner in Bissel and grew up in poor but otherwise unremarkable circumstances. A very religious man, Darnius instilled a sense of faith and morality into Avanimorel at a young age. Darnius was particularly devout towards Merikka and Trithereon during Avanimorel’s youth and always stressed justice and fairness. Part of this was undoubtedly because Darnius bore the scars of a public flogging he received years before in Bissel. He refused to ever talk about it, but Avanimorel managed to learn that it had something to do with his being accused of a crime that he did not commit. He was eventually exonerated, but not before being publicly shamed and beaten.
Though she never discovered the particulars, Avanimorel assumes that this event led her father to leave Bissel and eventually find his way to Veluna, where he came under the employ of Bespigio Antolini, an elderly wine maker. Though Bespigio had four sons, within a decade all of them had been killed in battle, leaving him heirless. By this time, Darnius had become crucial to both Bespigio and his winery. In failing health, Bespigio soon died, leaving the winery to Darnius.
Taking the last name Vincreo (“wine maker”), Darnius renamed the winery Unbound Vinyards. Over the next fifteen years, Darnius experimented with all aspects of wine making. Eventually, Unbound produced a number of notable vintages. One of these became a favorite of the elvish family of Morningmist, leading Darnius to be invited to the residence on occasion. It was during one of these events that Darnius and Maltacaliel caught each other’s eye. Happy and swift, their romance began secretly, but soon became well known within the house. Some disapproved of the elvish Maltacaliel marrying a human, resulting in her being shunned by some council members. Even so, the wedding, held on the grounds of the vineyard, soon followed and enjoyed happy attendance of the more freethinking of Highfolk’s leaders.
The youngest of three, Avanimorel was always distant from her siblings, particularly the oldest, her sister Murian. Both Murian and her brother Maltrius were much older than Avanimorel. In addition, Avanimorel always seemed somehow separate from her siblings, touched in an unidentifiable way, perhaps she inherited more of her mother’s elvish features than did her siblings. This, combined with the remote location of the vineyard, left Avanimorel alone growing up, finding friends in her mother’s collection of books.
When Avanimorel was a young girl, an inexplicable accident claimed the life of her mother. She had been out riding in the vineyard, but did not come home. After not returning all night, the family split up to look for her at first light. Avanimorel found her body about a mile outside of the vineyard in the bed of a stream. Her neck had been broken and when she was found, a feral dog was gnawing on her arm, an image that haunts Avanimorel to this day. Many assumed that Maltacaliel had fallen from her horse (which was nowhere to be found), but even though there was no real evidence of foul play, Darnius suspected her death might not have been accidental, a suspicion that rubbed off onto Avanimorel.
Darnius took his wife’s death very hard and began to drink his wine more and more heavily, after a time becoming almost like a ghost in his own home. His son Maltrius assumed the day-to-day operations of the winery. Murian attempted to perform motherly duties in the house, but she and Avanimorel fought constantly (with Avanimorel generally being sent to her room).
Avanimorel took to sneaking into the delivery wagons, hitching a ride into nearby towns. Usually, she would stay in the wagon the whole time, peeking and listening. During one of these trips a trio of bugbears attacked her wagon. Rather than surrender the wine and money, the two men on the crew chose to fight, though they were badly outclassed. A lucky blow on behalf of the wagon driver allowed the crew to recover from the initial surprise. Avanimorel began to pray to the gods to protect the two men. Later, the wagon driver, William Yeever claimed that during the battle he felt incredibly strong and swift, and nearly invulnerable, nearly shrugging off a few well placed blows. Harold “Beefeater” Cottonwood, the other member of the crew grudgingly admitted also feeling something, though was happy to take full credit for the crew’s eventual victory. Avanimorel’s yelp of surprise when one of the bugbears lifted the wine crate she was hiding behind surprised two of the bugbears enough to expose them to lethal strikes from the crew. The third bugbear had been moving in to attack Avanimorel when he heard his comrades scream. Avanimorel, completely petrified, watched the bugbear run away.
Upon their return to the vineyard, William and Harold gained a reputation as minor heroes in the local area by virtue of beating off the bugbears, a significantly stronger force. With Avanimorel as their witness, their names spread as being people who could be called upon in times of trouble and the two eventually left the vineyard to become professional adventurers. Avanimorel, on the other hand, got severely punished for sneaking into the wagon in the first place. She never forgot about the bugbears, though, impressed by the strategy of their attack and their communication during the fight, which seemed to fly in the face of information in a book she had read.
Avanimorel stayed out of the wagon for a time but, inevitably, resumed her covert tours the next summer. During one of these trips, a chance comment changed her life forever. She overheard a conversation about a local temple to Delleb and its library. A huge room full of books was too intriguing to pass up, so she crept out of the wagon and into the temple. Five days later, she was discovered deep in the library, asleep, surrounded by books and a little pilfered food. After a brief interview with the chief librarian, Avanimorel was returned to the vineyard and her frantic family.
At the suggestion of the Chief Librarian, Avanimorel was invited to learn in the temple. Murian, happy to be rid of her, agreed. Avanimorel spent the next few years in bliss, reading as much as she could. Shortly after hitting adolescence Avanimorel was reading in the library and was struck with a vivid vision of Syrul. Reporting the vision to her teachers, Avanimorel became something of a celebrity within the clergy, who debated endlessly on its meaning. This notoriety, in addition to excelling in her studies, led her to be transferred to the Savant’s Hospital, where she was invited to join the clergy.
At the Savant’s Hospital, Avanimorel picked up the healing arts quickly. On occasion, Avanimorel would feel Delleb working through her to heal even better. For some reason, she kept this to herself for a time, until others in the Hospital recognized her gifts for what they were. This elevated her reputation within the clergy even more.
By her 23rd birthday, Avanimorel had been named a full scholar and was on her way to becoming a teacher, particularly in herbology. She had been assigned some official duties at the Savant’s Hospital as well. During a traditional Freeday pub-crawl with fellow clergy, a fight broke out in a tavern, resulting in the stabbing of a young human man. Through Delleb, Avanimorel healed the man, a young apprentice named Jacob Switcher.
Jacob became somewhat smitten with Avanimorel but, though she enjoyed his company, she did not share his feelings. The two remained good friends for about half a year and she would regularly sneak out of the temple at night to explore Chendl together. During one of these nights, in a part of town they really should not have been in, the two were separated briefly, and three men accosted Avanimorel, forcing her into an alley. Two men held her while the third padded her down, first for money, then for more lecherous purposes. Just as the men began to rip her clothing, Jacob appeared from the shadows, stabbing one of the men in the back and killing him instantly. The other men scrambled for weapons, but he cut a large slash in one of their throats and the last man ran. Covered in the man’s blood and heavily shaken by the experience, Avanimorel began to see Jacob in a new and confusing light, particularly over the gentle way he helped her home contrasted with the brutality used to dispatch her assailants.
One of the results of this was that the next night, the two began a torrid love affair. She took pains to keep this secret from the temple, but most of the clergy figured it out anyway. One went so far as to anonymously drop a “pillow book” and other erotic literature from the restricted part of the library on her desk, with particular pages marked with ribbons and a note that said, “it may not be in the curriculum, but it is all part of your education”.
Avanimorel determined that the note and books came from Scholar Evelyn, a well-respected, matronly teacher of botany, animal biology, anatomy and (oddly) cartography. Scholar Evelyn turned out to be quite sought after by woman (and some men) for advice in the bedroom and also created potions on occasion as well. Avanimorel was quickly approaching being a teacher herself, and she agreed to be her sponsor for her final stage as a student. The two became good friends.
Jacob and Avanimorel’s passion continued through the next year. As summer approached, both grew increasingly distracted—Avanimorel in finalizing her teaching position and Jacob in completing his apprenticeship and starting out on his own—but continued to make as much time for each other as they could. Then, one day before being named the Savant’s Hospital’s teacher of herbology, Avanimorel was called home to attend her father’s funeral.
Unlike her mother’s death, there was no mystery surrounding the causes of her father’s: grief and alcohol. The funeral was something of a happy occasion, with family and friends alike viewing it as Darnius finally being with his wife again. In reality, Darnius had been dead to most of them since her death and had moved on. Murian, now married, no longer lived on the vineyard but, like her brother, seemed to be in touch with it in a way Avanimorel never was.
Avanimorel’s brother Maltrius asked her to look through a number of chests their father had kept locked and stored in the attic. The chests contained a number of elven gowns that Murian cooed over and took with her (though Avanimorel knew she would never wear them), a number of journals from Darnius’ early wine experiments, a little jewelry, love letters between Darnius and Maltacaliel’s courtship, a pardon from the ruler of Bissel tied with a ribbon to a set of manticles, some rare bottles of elvish wine and so on. Avanimorel liked one of the chests quite a bit, so kept it.
As she was packing, Avanimorel discovered a hidden bottom in that chest that concealed a simple, leather bound book, with elvish writing embossed on the cover, and strange writing inside. In an instant, Avanimorel knew four things, without knowing how. First, the book contains spells. Second, the book had been her mother’s. Third, she could somehow read the writing in the book. Fourth, the book had been left here specifically for her to find. Avanimorel forgot about packing and read through the night.
The next morning, Avanimorel took the book outside. She was fairly certain she could work one of the spells in the book and spent time memorizing it. When she was ready, she stood up, spoke the works, worked her hands just so, and when she spread her fingers, jets of fire spread out from them. This excited her incredibly, but when she tried to repeat it, it was like the knowledge was no longer there. Quickly, she reread the book, remembering it again. And again, jets of fire.
After the fifth time repeating this, it was well into the day and Avanimorel suddenly realized she was being watched. A young colt stared at her from behind a retaining fence across the clearing. Born the previous year, this horse had a reputation on the vineyard for being a little moody. Avanimorel tried to go back to her studies, but kept being distracted by the staring horse, whose name, she suddenly remembered, was Tornius. Unable to concentrate, she started back to the house, but Tornius matched her pace, still staring. She walked over to the horse and began to talk to him. Pretty soon, she was riding him bareback around the grounds of the vineyard. By nightfall, she had decided to stay an extra week to get to know both the book and the horse better.
By the end of the week, she thought she had figured out another spell, but it didn’t seem to have any effect. In addition, though she had never been a strong rider, she was becoming comfortable in Tornius’ saddle. She was also dying to tell Jacob what was happening, as well as make up for lost time. Making the choice to bring Tornius with her was easy. Convincing Maltrius to part with him was not, though he eventually relented.
After a few week’s absence, Avanimorel was aching to see Jacob and decided to surprise him by dropping by unannounced, as she had done a dozen times before. Before she left, he had been working on getting a lucrative contract and he should have found out about it by then. As it turned out, he had a meeting where he was introduced to Lawrence Tellman, a prosperous merchant, who did offer him the contract. The meeting also introduced Jacob to Melina, Lawrence’s daughter who, at first opportunity, used the threat of ruining things between Jacob and her father as a way to get him into bed with her, though only a little unwillingly. Avanimorel naturally discovered Jacob and Melina in the act and, after making her presence known, fled back to the temple.
Heartbroken and crying, she found herself thinking about the bugbear attack and the night Jacob saved her. She vowed never to be that defenseless again. She knew that one of the library bookkeepers, Senior Librarian Nialo, was well trained in the use of the staff. She woke him up and convinced him to teach her until dawn. He took it in good humor, even though he far outranked her (and, in fact, was thought to be on the fast track to becoming the next Chief Librarian at Savant’s).
Not wanting to face the situation with Jacob, Avanimorel decided to throw herself into her studies and service to Delleb as well as training with the staff. This turned out to be easier than she thought when she revealed her mother’s book to her superiors. They immediately called for a radical change in her training and position in the clergy. She was demoted back to student status (though since she had never actually gone through the ceremony to become a teacher, this wasn’t really a demotion) and then promoted into the magical studies program. She was extremely pleased with this. After all, when you can shoot fire from your fingertips, learning about that seems much more fun than teaching kids about plants.
Her magical studies went well, and she took to them as well and naturally as her healing studies. Within weeks, she had learned most of the spells in her mothers book, and had practiced several others.
Her months of work learning the staff, though initially promising, didn’t turn out as well, though for reasons unrelated to her now respectable ability with the weapon. After a later than usual training session, Senior Librarian Nialo made a pass at her. A slight spark had been growing between them over the months and though she wasn’t entirely sure about it (and maybe to get back at Jacob), Avanimorel accepted his advances. Within hours, Avanimorel knew she had made a colossal mistake and snuck out of Nialo’s bed while he was asleep.
Before their next training session, she informed him that she regretted last night and apologized, but that it wouldn’t happen again. He, having considered the night a great success, took the rebuff personally and reacted badly. She reacted badly to his reaction and they were soon yelling at each other, exchanging insults, until some passing students interrupted them.
They both showed up for the next scheduled lesson, feeling foolish, and genuinely interested in putting the event behind them. Though they started with the best of intentions, both of them used some unfortunate phrasing in describing how they were feeling during the argument of the night before, as well as the night they spent together. This led to more bad feelings and, ultimately, built to even more screaming and insults. There would be no more training session between them, and over the next few weeks, the distrust and slight enmity between them grew into a festering hatred. This was particularly true from Nialo’s point of view, as he considered Avanimorel quite beneath him in station.
This soon became even more true when the Chief Librarian, who was very old, died in his sleep. As most expected, Nialo was elected to the position easily. Upon this event, Avanimorel confided the situation to Scholar Evelyn who counseled her to be careful. She related that, years earlier, Senior Librarian Nialo was involved with a woman who he caught cheating on him. He eventually made her life so unpleasant that she left the city to be rid of him. Avanimorel embraced her only real option: to stick to her studies until whatever happened, happened. She did not have long to wait.
Two weeks later, a massive fire erupted in a poor section of Chendl and healers from the Savant’s Hospital, including Avanimorel were called to help. Hundreds of people were injured, most with severe burns. Avanimorel treated most of them with an herbal mixture that she and Scholar Evelyn had developed. A number of soldiers had also been mobilized to care for the wounded, and one of the officers asked Avanimorel what the mixture was. She told him the ingredients and thought no more about it.
The next day, Avanimorel was brought before a council in the temple to answer to charges that she had distributed restricted information. Chief Librarian Nialo led the offensive, charging that the formula should have been kept out of the hands of the military, as the ability to heal burns might lead to the spread of more fire based weaponry. Avanimorel was given one day to prepare a defense against the charges. Nearly all of the teachers and most of the librarians considered the charges ridiculous, and several of the law teachers helped Avanimorel form a defense. It hinged on three basic arguments: 1) Avanimorel had given the soldier only the ingredients of the remedy, not the entire formula; 2) the treatment had not been listed as restricted previous to the fire; and 3) the supposition that being able to heal burns leads to fire weapons had little precident in past church dogma.
In all, the people helping Avanimorel considered the case to be won easily in Avanimorel’s favor. Most of the clergy thought even the Chief Librarian knew that the case was weak, and was really just using it as an excuse to make a political statement that helping Avanimorel would be considered by the Chief Librarian to be against him. In some cases, it already had this effect. Others thought Nialo’s plan was to slowly tarnish Avanimorel’s record so that when a minor offense really did come along, it would not seem so minor. Most were very interested to see how the Chief Librarian would react when the council ruled against him. Avanimorel, however, had other plans.
She stunned the entire temple with her opening statement the next day: she intended to mount no defense at all, and surrendered herself to the will of the council, of which the Chief Librarian was a key member. Scholar Evelyn was the only one that understood Avanimorel’s motive. They both knew that sooner or later, the Chief Librarian would get his way. Better to be done with it sooner than later. In addition, Scholar Evelyn realized, even if Avanimorel didn’t, that because the charges were so flimsy, the council would have a big political problem if they ruled too harshly against Avanimorel.
In the end, the council’s decision was as unsurprising as it was bureaucratic: they “promoted” her. They announced her days as a student were complete, and that she would be made a librarian in the small temple at Jurnre in the County of Ulek. While technically now higher in rank and officially a member of the clergy, the temple in Jurnre was about as far in prestige from the Savant’s Hospital as one could get. In effect, she would be made an important player in a nearly insignificant church.
Avanimorel made a show of being tremendously upset and hurt at the trial, but this was purely to placate the Chief Librarian. In reality, she was more relieved than anything else. She packed up quietly, and made the rounds to say goodbye. She also sent a letter to Jacob containing just one word: “Farewell”.
Once she reached Jurnre, her relief slowly turned to boredom. The temple was run by Chief Scholar Gavin Rowtan, a rotund man who serves Delleb primarily by experimenting with eating various foods. Avanimorel made the mistake of mentioning that she grew up on a vineyard to the Chief Scholar, and so her primary task in the temple is to make wine. While the temple does provide a number of services for the surrounding area, Avanimorel is prevented from participating in most of them by the Chief Scholar, to keep her free to tend the grapes, in spite of the fact that the grapes do not grow particularly well in the County’s soil type.
She has been learning and experimenting with the local flora, but is dying for something to happen. Further, she knows that if she does not do something to distinguish herself to Delleb, she will remain in an unknown temple for the rest of her life.
With a strong sense of self, Avanimorel knows her strengths and limitations very well. The strongly self-reliant, she has no problem getting help, and will usually seek help before she needs it, particularly if doing something she’s never done before.
Due to her experience in finding her mother, Avanimorel has a low opinion of dogs, finding most of them disgusting. This is a nearly sacrilegious attitude for a priest of Delleb to have, so she tends to keep this opinion to herself. Though she has met some dogs she really liked, she tends to treat most domesticated dogs with terse politeness, but no real enthusiasm.
Recent events have left her somewhat disillusioned about the Church of Delleb, but her devotion to Delleb himself remains resolute. She runs her life according to what she considers Delleb’s primary principles, even though these sometimes violate specific church dogma. Generally, she feels that it is important to follow the spirit of the principle rather than the minutia of the guidelines that surround it and feels that many in the church hierarchy incorrectly believe just the opposite.
In particular, she believes that nothing is more important than the discovery and accumulation of knowledge. Anything that gets in the way of this effort is an obstacle to be overcome, eliminated or ignored. In Avanimorel’s opinion, this sometimes (though not often) includes the guidelines or members of her own church and fairly regularly may violate local laws.
Avanimorel fully agrees with Church dogma that there is some information that just should not be given to certain people (or, in some cases, any people) and has no problem with the paradox that many see in this stance. As such, others may perceive Avanimorel with the “elitist” stereotype applied to many in Delleb’s clergy. She does not always agree with Church decisions on what information should be suppressed and, in particular, why such suppression is necessary. She does, however, defer to the will of the Church in such matters and obeys any such restrictions of which she is aware.
Barring such restrictions, Avanimorel’s next important priority is the dispelling of ignorance. If an action will teach a lesson, she will generally consider this more important than adhering to social custom or even local laws.
Otherwise, Avanimorel considers it important to follow local laws and looks down apon those who do not. Still, she is not a stickler for the absolutely letter of the law. For example, she will have more sympathy for someone who is starving stealing a loaf of bread than, say, a well-dressed pickpocket.
Avanimorel lives to serve Delleb and, since she feels she isn’t really doing that in her new assignment, seeks a way to become relevant to Delleb again.