There is always a massive battle axe strapped to his back. Its stout wooden haft is easily is five feet long and the humongous head, skillfully crafted from black iron,is almost the span of a man’s thigh.That however, is not the most eye catching thing about this weapon. Intricately chiseled on the broad surface of the axe blade is a stylised depiction of an osprey with upraised wings. This is a sacred symbol representing the totem bird of the tribe and marks the wielder of the weapon as a tribe chief and was made for Vantu when he became chieftain. Also found on him at all times are the vials of the numbing posion so beloved of his people. These are kept in his bandolier holders along with little darts made of whalebone that when smeared with the poison, make Vantu a deadly fighter capable of striking his foes down swift as any falcon.
A copper toned man of enormous stature and huge shoulders,he is an imposing sight with hair that stands up in great white spikes and eyes that burn with the barely controlled agression driving him. Throw in the massive bull elephant seal cloak and and otter pelt leggings he wears and you get the classic image of a Snake Rider chieftain. Then you notice the crippled right leg that will never walk normally again. This may not happen though, for it is something he is always careful to conceal from questioning eyes.
Vantu. This is a man whose body and mind both,are covered with the many scars he has picked up in a turbulent and violent life. But could it have been otherwise for one born to the proud Serpent Riders,the feirce people who dominate a great island chain that streches all the way from the western coast of the bizzare, submerged continent of Tarrod to the little islets that are scattered around the shores of the mighty kingdom of Caladin?
Warfare is something that every Serpent Rider male grows up doing. It is something that comes as easily to him as courtly manners and charm come to a noble or king. The men of the Hanal tribe were no exception. In fact, surrounded as they were by larger tribes that hungrily eyed their lands, repulsing enemy raids was something that many a husband, son and father had perished doing. But the Hanal under their brave and charismatic leaders, had always turned back the longboats of their foes and would continue doing so until the world ended. Never would they surrender the lands given to them by their ancestors. And into this brave tribe was born Vantu.
When he came into the world bawling and crying, so large was he that he ripped his mother’s womb open, inflicting massive injuries that killed her, despite the best attempts of the mid-wife to save her. A delicate creature, she was not of the tribe but had been rescued from a Talaharan slave vessel that had strayed into their waters. Smitten by the silken locks that cascaded around her shoulders in a glorious mane of gold and skin that was as fair and untainted as the deepest snow, the chief chose to maker her his wife. This angered many of the tribal elders who felt that the chiftain had dishonored the tribe by not only choosing to bring in one not of their people, but also making her his consort when there were others more worthy of the honor. Nevertheless, the chieftain had always been a brave and just one and thus his decision could not be questioned. The chief treasured her greatly and lavished many gifts on her to take her mind off her past sufferings and she in turn, grateful to him for rescuing her from the clutches of
her foul captors, embraced him as her husband. And so was their union a happy one. Until Vantu was born and
killed his mother in the process. The chieftain broken by the news of his beloved wife’s death, cursed the son that had killed his own mother. Before the terrified midwives that brought back the sad tidings, he vowed never to acknowledge Vantu as his son and then fell into a violent rage, hurling wall hangings and other decorations so wrathfully that the midwives fled his very presence. The reaction of the chieftain’s aged sire however, was very different. Deeply disgusted with his son for forsaking his own flesh and blood, an innocent infant that had done no wrong to anyone, he confronted his son in front of the nobles and elders, denouncing the chieftain as a cruel fool who was vile enough to accuse the child of murdering his mother. In his opinion, that pale delicate creature had been weak, frail, unworthy of being the wife of a Serpent Rider chieftain. If anyone was to be blamed for her demise, it was she. A stronger woman, one of their kind, would not have died bearing a strong healthy child like his little grandson. No, his son was so blinded by grief that he had turned his back on an heir worthy of his line.
If any other man had done this, he would have been challenged to a death duel by the chief. But even in the grip of his grief induced wrath, the chieftain was aware that slaying his own father, a man that been respected as a wily warrior and chieftain in his prime would shock and outrage the tribe. Instead, he declared that since his sire seemed so fond of the whelp, he was more than welcome to raise him, an offer gladly accepted by the affronted old man. Taking the infant Vantu in his arms, brought the child before the Omen Reader in the temple of the Wave Godess, the wizened priestess who was blessed by the godess with the gift to read the thread of each man’s life.’‘Hear me!’‘,she keened in her errie, high pitched wail. ‘‘This child will slay one that hates him dearly, a death for which he will be resented, but all will be forgotten when the fates compel him to do what he must. Reknown will he be for this. And die he will, only when he has done what he is destined to do’‘. Overcome by those powerful words of destiny,the old warrior fell on his knees, eyes brimming with feirce tears of joy and pride. Yes, his grandson would do his bloodline proud. His fame would eclipse those of his ancestors and that of his foolish sire who would one day regret forsaking his son. For though born of a pale northen wench, the blood of the Hanal undoubtedly ran strong in the veins of the infant who would one day make them proud with the great feat he would do. And so, the young child was taken into the house of the old man and raised by him. Vantu’s grand sire, well aware that his father, the boy’s greatest foe, would do anything to prevent his hated son from succeeding him as chieftain of the tribe, was careful to keep the boy out of his father’s sight, knowing that doing so might end with the boy dying a brutal death as the chieftain’s hand. In the safety of his house, he raised Vantu to be a true warrior chieftain, teaching him two very vital lessons. Firstly, that a true leader would not be afraid to do something neccesary even if that decision proved to be unpopular with the people of that tribe. That the old man would say, was true courage. Secondly, that in order to fulfill his divine destiny, he had to be ruthless enough to shove his consience aside and destroy anyone that stood in his way. And as if to impress on Vantu’s mind how wise he would be to follow this advice, he would keep repeating the tale of how Vantu’s sire had cast him out of his house with no remorse. It achieved its desired effect very quickly. Vantu’s heart would smoulder with a dark, scorching hatred as he remembered the heartless monster who had abandoned his infant son. The day would come when he would inflict his vengeance on the vile lunatic of his father that had condemned him for a crime he did not commit. But his grand sire was also careful to teach his grandson that a true chieftain never abused his authority and always meted punishment only to those who deserved it.
Eight years later, Vantu’s beloved grand sire passed on to the afterlife. Vantu by now a hulking warrior of great stature, wept openly as he watched the funeral boat carrying his grand sire pushed by the priests into the sea for the Death Godess to collect and lead into the underworld. And even as the boat dissapeared over the horizon, a clod of mud struck his face. His heart filled with anger at this insult, he turned his head to see his sworn enemy scream at him that a fiend capable of murdering his own mother had had no place here among the deacent honorable people of the tribe. And as those vicious, barbed words were flung at him, Vantu felt the ever simmering hatred consumed him utterly with its ravenous flames. Drawing his axe, he challenged his father to a duel. His father answered that it was unseemly for a chieftain as noble as he was to duel with a cowardly killer. Only when Vantu proved his worth against his best warriors, would he care to face him in a death duel. Vantu, now with the hatred screaming in him for blood to quench its thirst, agreed to this. One by one he struck down the fighters his father sent against him, until at last the chieftain was forced to confront the son he had unjustly forsaken, before the horrifed eyes of those gathered. It ended quickly, for even though the chieftain fought vailantly, he was no match for the fearsome strength of the young giant eager for his blood. But he did not go without delivering his final curse. Even as Vantu’s axe swept his head off his shoulders, his own weapon bit deep into the right leg of his foe. As both slumped to the ground, Vantu’s followers rushed in and grabbed their hero, bringing him to the village healer to have his wound treated.
To Vantu’s great frustration, despite her best efforts, the leg never recovered from the crippling blow it had received. Years later, Vantu would often ironically refer to it as ‘‘my sire’s parting gift’‘.
Many had been shaken to their core by Vantu’s brutal slaying of his father before their very eyes. There were even some like the slain chieftain’s bastards and the nobles that had respected him, who swore to slay Vantu Kinslayer, that had killed first in his infancy, his mother and then in his prime, his sire. But none of them, after witnessing the fearsome prowess of Vantu, could screw up enough courage to face him in a death duel. Even when crippled in one leg, he could not be bested. And thus did the leadership of the tribe pass unchallenged into his hands.
For a decade he ruled, sternly but also justly, having remembered his grand sire’s exhortations to never allow the power of his position to corrupt him. But foes, both within and without, that sought to attack his power, inevitably met their ends in violent duels at his hands and Vantu sat securely on his throne, confident that none would ever be powerful enough to unseat him. Then came the great crisis that made him do what he had never done before. Bow to another and acknowledge him as his lord.
Sweeping like a great wave over all who stood in their way, came the tribes of the extreme south. No longer venerating the sacred Serpents, they claimed to have encountered in a strange, watery land, the dimunitve and bizzare beings that had revealed to them the visages of the true gods. Calling themselves the Cuada, these things were the messangers sent by their divine masters to enlighten the other races of the true gods. Moved by the visons the Cuada had given them,they had banded together to spread word of the true gods to the rest of their people and convert them to their new faith. By force if necessary. Entire tribes that resisted them were slaughtered mercilessly.
As tribe by tribe fell to these zealots and their new alien gods, Vantu knew it would not be long before they arrived on his shore and demanded that he and his people submit like the rest before them, to their tyrant faith. This was something that he would never agree to and neither would his people. But he also knew that this was not a foe he could force back into the sea. No, if his tribe were to ever escape slavery or death at the hands of these hell-spawned fanatics, they would have to call on the help of the only force strong enough to aid them in their plight. The great kingdom of Caladin, a place that the Serpent Riders held in grudging awe for its mighty fleet. If anyone could save them, it was Caladin. Now came the moment for him and his people to cast their famous Serpent Rider pride to the winds. Convincing his people of the great need for this,he sent an emissiary to the great King of Caladin, humbly requesting that he send his great fleets to aid them against their foes. In return, the Hanal would recognize the King of Caladin as their overlord.
The answer he recieved to this proposition was a strange one. As much as the King of Caladin regretted the plight of Vantu’s people, his nation did not wish to get involved in a conflict that would greatly sap their resources. But that did not mean that they would leave the Hanal to their fate. Caladin desired new lands to bring under its sway and to this end, was sending a great feet of its people to colonise unexplored land. Now their main worry was that many of the colonialists, unused to building settlements in the wilds, would perish in large numbers. Here was where the Hanal came in. If they came with the fleet and showed the Calan how to cope with the perils of living in such harsh conditions, the King of Caladin would only be too glad to give them some land of their own to settle in.
Though distraught to leave the land that generations of Hanal warriors died defending bravely, Vantu knew that he had no choice but to agree. The survival of the tribe was at stake. Bracing himself and urging his tribe to do the same, he now prepares to leave with the Caladin fleet. But he has sworn a sacred vow. One day, he will return leading a large horde and slay the foul heretics that forced him and his people to flee. But for now, all he can do now is pray that the Warrior Spirit will take pity on them and see to it that the Calan honor their promise of providing the Hanal with a refuge until they are strong enough to take back what belongs to them.
(Scras must take a subsantial share of the credit for this character.Without his help,it is doubtful that I would have been able to bring this into existence.)
Vantu is not the ruthless tyrant that many think he is. Deep in his heart, he is actually a very lonely individual, knowing that everyone is too scared by him to truly become his friend. Of course, he could solve this by mellowing a little. Unfortunately,his past with his father has left him convinced that many despise him as a tyrant who murdered his own kin and would like to see him go. It is this deeply rooted insecurity which causes him to react violently when he thinks that his authority is being infringed on. And of course, he himself sometimes feels that he should have stayed behind like a true Serpent Rider to fight his foes, instead of taking his chances with the Calan, although the pragmatism and common sense incalculated in him by his grand sire, tells him that would have sucidal.
Note:This character will be used in the upcoming Voyage Rp.