Lazarus lightward is a man breaching the second half of his lifespan. Black hair mottled with ashy grey crowns his head and a thin beard of the same colouring lines his face. The man's features are strong and commanding, yet also hold a weariness to them indicated by light frown wrinkles beside his lips and darkened bags beneath his eyes. On the subject of his eyes; those who peer into them will have the uncanny sensation that a light once shone brightly within them, but now they seem somehow... Empty, as though a great blackness were caged within.
Lord Lightward dresses in stately attire; a crisp, impossibly white long-sleeved suit cocoons him, and a silver necklace and pendant around his neck hold the symbol of priesthood in the church of Tridoa, as do the three, elaborate silver chain bracelets which denotes his high status of authority within the aforementioned church. Strapped to his waist is none other than the once holy sword of Linn Lightson - a desecrated relic which was long considered lost.
Around the sleeves of his otherwise perfectly white suit are several dozen drops of dried, faded blood which no washing can seem to abolish. The droplets aren't noticeable without careful scrutiny.
Lord Lazarus Lightward is known for being forever calm and in control of himself. He possesses the ability to think tactically and with foresight, and even when met with setbacks he takes it in his stride and looks forward to see how he can twist those setbacks to work in his favour.
History of Lazarus Lightward
"No prouder day have I had than when I first donned the whites of Tridoa. I had no idea the burden of my charge back then - so young and naive. Yes... It was nice to bear such ignorance for a while." Lazarus Lightward, on first being accepted into the Tridoan church.
Lazarus grew up within the great walled city of Kezemet; a holy hub for the followers of Tridoa, the Lunar god who holds dominion over the night. his parents - The Baron and Baroness Wardenfall - were very well off and he wanted for nothing. In spite of the fortune of his bloodline, Lazarus was a young man of great humility and respect. He was generous with his money and often donated much of his Belongings to the church or unfortunate souls of the city (in spite of his parents horrified objections).
It was inevitable, therefore, that the church soon took an interest in the young lord. As he neared the end of his teen years, Lazarus Wardenfall was approached by three priests of Tridoa; clerics Clara and Ilariel, and Bishop Tordona. The priests offered a path for Lazarus: a revered place studying under of Tridoa. The bishop saw great potential for the young Wardenfall Lord and was very curious to see what path of study the man would seek out.
Lazarus took on the studies of Warpriest - a controversial role, and one being phased out by the church since the region was relatively stable in current times and had little need for holy men trained in tactics and combat. Nevertheless, the choice was Lazarus's and he was adamant that he be allowed to study the art.
"Vento was like a father to me, when my own was too haughty to introduce me to the ways of the world. I always regret what happened to him - even knowing the path he took." Lazarus LightWard, recalling his tutelage under WarpriestVento Valance.
The next several years were spent under the tutelage of Warpriest Vento Valance; a grizzled veteran and one of the few of the Tridoan Warpriests which had actually seen war. Vento became almost like a second father to Lazarus; teaching him not only practical skills such as tactics, demon lore, weapons proficiency and righteous magics, but also lessons in humility and justice.
It was during these first years that Lazarus began hearing the voices. At first it was only unintelligable whispers within his mind, but they quickly grew. Within his head, the voice introduced itself as Azual; a seraphimic being under the charge of Tridoa himself. Azual would speak to Lazarus for hours daily, whispering sordid details of alleged horrific deeds which members of the Tridoan brotherhood were supposed to have commited. Azual demanded that the church be pulled down in Tridoa's name and reborn from the ashes, and that the young lord Wardenfall was the chosen champion to do it.
A bright man, Lazarus was unconvinced of Azual and his demands - instead fearing that the being was of demonic origin. However, worried about being cast from the church for this tainted touch, Lazarus told nobody of Azual; not even Vento. It came to be that as his training moved along and his grasp on Tridoa's teachings improved, he was able to force down the voice of Azual to a muffled whisper. He never managed to abolish him completely, however.
As it turns out, Lazarus's choice of Warpriest was wise indeed, because soon after he completed his training, war returned to the land. An undead army was marching across the lands, razing outlying villages and slowly making its way towards the city of Kezemet. The church of Tridoa was quick to respond however, and appealed to the townsfolk to donate their gold - as much as they could muster to raise an army to counter this black wave which loomed on the horizon.
Soon, the coffers were filled and an army raised. Warpriest Vento took leadership over the army and in a surprising move, made Lazarus second in command. The war raged for months; many battles were joined and many friends lost, but this is not the place for that tale. With the leadership of the two priests, the war was ultimately won and the land purged of evil. It is within this defence of Kezemet that Lazarus earned his fame and took on the name of Lightward - he who is a ward of light against the encroaching darkness.
"If there was any one specific point where I lost my control on the world it would have to be seeing the look on Vento's face when I confronted him in his quarters, and learning that he was corrupted all along. A piece of me truly died that night - and I have never gotten that piece of my humanity back." Lazarus Lightward, on the betrayal of the Church.
The next year following the war was a great time for the church of Tridoa; the excess funds raised for the war were used to make the priests very wealthy and to open up additional chapters around the region, spreading their influence even further. The fact that the Tridoan chapter was profiting from the finished war did not sit well with Lazarus, but Bishop Tordona assured him that the gold was best spent within the church, because it was only the church who could be trusted to wisely spend the money for the good of the community.
Lazarus reluctantly accepted this, but some months later learned a foul truth - while performing his evening prayers in the chapel, he overheard Bishop Tordona and the High Priest Alogain talking in a side room. Bishop Tordona was congratulating the High Priest on their profits made by creating the invading undead army! The Tridoan church had created the undead themselves to scare the townsfolk into donating their gold!
Aghast, Lazarus stormed out and sought his mentor and teacher; Vento. Finding him in his quarters performing his own prayers, Lazarus retold what he had overheard to the grizzled veteran.
The younger Warpriest was shocked to see that Vento Valance was not surprised by this fact. Vento knew about the conspiracy!
Lazarus fled from the room, his head reeling; he could hear Azual's laughter in the back of his mind - the being had been right all along about the church's corruption! Vento soon caught up with Lazarus on the darkened streets of Kezemet, along with the Bishop and High Priest. Together, they gave Lazarus an ultimatum: either get on board with the plot, or suffer extermination. Lazarus was given until dawn to make his choice or be hunted down, but the young Lord could not bring himself to join in on such corruption. Driven by desperation, Lazarus fled.
His mind burning with betrayal, Lazarus took to the wilderness, wandering aimlessly. With his faith shattered, the bindings keeping Azual's voice at bay were loosed and the creature shed all illusions of being angelic in nature. Azual barraged Lazarus's mind with derision and mocking laughter, a cacophany of sound which brought the fallen Warpriest to the brink of insanity. For two days he wandered in a disoriented daze, until he happened upon a village which was abandoned and still in ruin from the undead force a year ago. Lazarus collapsed at the edge of the town, and as his mind focused he realized Azuals taunting had stopped - the demon had fallen silent. Lazarus peered around and saw he was in the midst of the graveyard shoddily erected to lay the townsfolk to rest.
Azual then spoke once more, with Terrifying clarity. The demon spoke of the betrayal the Tridoan church had made to these poor souls. He made a bargain with Azual to ease the burden on his soul: Summon Azual to this mortal plane and he will see that the deceased have their chance for justice and vengeance. In return, Lazarus must surrender his body to Azual after the assault. Lazarus accepted.
Guided by Azual, Lazarus followed the foul rites required to summon the demon to this plane. From the midst of the Summoning circle the demonic form appeared; humanoid, but seemingly made of dried branches, briars and brambleweed given form.
Wasting no time, Azual sent his demonic roots deep into the ground and unearthed the bodies from the graveyard. Using his fel magic, Azual fed life back into the corpses. A reanimated army of vengeful townsfolk. Hatred replacing zeal, Lazarus led the ghastly troupe with Azual towards Kezemet.
One with the Devil
"The presence of Azual in his corporeal form was suffocating - simply being around the devil soured the air! The power the bramblebeast held was immense, and his authority unwavering. But to bend a force such as that to my own will? Well, that was simply too tempting a prospect not to attempt!" Lazarus Lightward, remembering Azual's attempt at possession.
The siege of Kezemet lasted for days, and need not be detailed here; suffice it to say that the town was nearly overrun, and would have been razed if it were not for the clever creation and deployment of the deadleech by Tridoa's top priests and bishops.
Suffering a bitter defeat, Lazarus and Azual retreated back into the wilderness. It was in there that Azual turned on Lazarus; betraying his own promise of destroying the Tridoan faith, Azual caught Lazarus in brambled roots and lashed the struggling Warpriest to the ground. Using his own demonic blood, the beast drew a circle of power around Lazarus, and then spoke the words of the demon language necessary to bind his form to the priest's body and soul.
But the demon underestimated the clever Lazarus. Anticipating this betrayal, Lord Lightward had created a trap! Using his knowledge of demonic attacks learned by his old mentor Vento Valance, Lazarus was able to devise a counter to Azual's circle of power. During the assault on Kezemet, Lazarus had used a knife to carve out demonic symbols on his own chest! Hidden by Lazarus's clothes, the symbols altered the end product of the circle of power. When Azual merged with the wiley Warpriest it was the demon's soul which was caged, not Lazarus! Lazarus absorbed Azual's occult powers and chained his demonic essence deep within the recesses of his mind, locked away until such a time as Lazarus wishes to call on him.
Lazarus Lightward had overcome one of his betrayers. Now it was time to overcome the rest. Lazarus had his sights set on Kezemet, and more specifically, those who betrayed him within.
"My compassion for mortals ended when Bishop Tordona accused me of causing Vento's suicide. It was his lack of remorse and his hatred for me which finally opened my eyes to the truth of the world: All life is tainted. We are all imperfect, perverted beings whose own selfish needs outweigh the needs of others. To fight this is without point. This is why I now consort with devils. This is why I now use mortals as my own lab rats." Lazarus Lightward, rationalizing his current ideals.
Weakened and battling with his freshly caged demon, Lazarus rested within the wilderness. During his time in the wild, he found that he had access to some of Azual's demonic abilities. More surprising to him, however, was that Tridoa had not severed his ties to the priest; it seemed the Lunar god was either uncaring about the demon soul within, or perhaps he approved of his motives behind purging the church of the corruption. A fiery conviction in his soul, Lazarus turned and ventured towards Kezemet.
Kezemet was still recovering and rebuilding from the undead attack, so Lazarus found it easy to slip back in through the walls unnoticed. The fallen Warpriest found Bishop Tordona and High Priest Alogain conspiring in the High Priest's private garden behind the church of Tridoa; foolishly they had posted no guards, as they thought the danger was over! Lazarus confronted the two scheming men. Neither showed any guilt about the slain villagers; in fact they informed and accused Lazarus of causing the death of Warpriest Vento Valance - The old veteran was found hanging in his quarters, noose around his neck mere hours after expressing his remorse at finding out Lazarus was behind the newest undead invasion. Bishop Tordona lashed out at Lazarus and called upon Tridoa's blessing, but Lazarus simply laughed in a voice not quite his own and raised his hand towards the moon.
The fallen Warpriest drew upon the demonic powers of Azual, and before their very eyes the moon itself changed! From the pale blue it darkened, a crimson haze fell over the skies and all the land was bathed in a bloody hue. The last thing to come out of the mouths of the two clergymen were blood-curdling screams.
The High Priest and Bishop were found the next day in the garden. Impossibly, it seemed that thorned roots and vines had erupted from the ground itself and coiled themselves around the two - their skin and flesh was flayed, and blood soaked the garden. Lazarus Lightward was nowhere to be seen.
With the corruption in the Tridoan church ended, Lazarus severed his ties with them. It is said that he and the lunar god Tridoa have no more affiliation, but hold a distant respect for each other.
Today, Lazarus Lightson has grown hard and uncaring. He has a disdain for all symbols of purity and righteousness - He believes that all such things are lies and a mockery of humanity which is, itself, perverted and impure. It is said that he has been recruiting a group of like-minded individuals to further study the nature of demons, devils and the occult - their cabal is growing quickly, and Lazarus's end goal is to demonstrate to the world the true nature of humanity.
Lazarus still wears the holy whites of a Tridoan Warpriest as a mockery of the religion - he finds that a diabolist such as himself wearing such clothes delightfully ironic.
Lord Lightward loves perverting symbols of holiness and purity; in fact, he has dredged up an artifact from forgotten ruins which symbolise this: Livegiver. Though he doesn't use it in combat, he finds that it is a suitable symbol for his beliefs.
Having been betrayed by his faith, his closest friends and even the bargaining demon, Lazarus is determined that it never happens again. As such, he is always mistrustful of anyone, and meticulously sources out information about anyone or anything he has to interact with from several independent sources. Never assume you know something Lazarus doesn't know; you are likely wrong, and hiding information is the fastest way to face his ire.
Lazarus Lightward may have a blunt sword at his hip, but he still has many abilities at his disposal. Which make him a formidable individual:
Through the power of his chained demon, Azual, he has gained several powers;
Lazarus is able to cast a crimson haze in the sky which bathes the land a bloody red in a two kilometre radius. Any abilities associated with the moon or moonlight are nullified while under this haze. This includes the Lycanthrope curse. He is also able cause rugged, barbed vines to burst from the ground and wrap themselves around a target. Finally, using the malicious will of Azual, Lazarus is able to breathe false life into a single corpse, causing it to return to life. Lazarus usually finds a suitable, powerful creature to reanimate, and then thrusts Livegiver in it to grant it the ressurection boon from the sword.
Lazarus Lightson Still has clerical spells but with a demonic taint. Healing sears wounds shut with fire - causing agony as injuries are mended. His blessings have a side-effect of tainting those blessed with a vile bloodlust, and summoning creatures calls upon imps and other demonic creatures which respond to Lazarus's call.