Vere is a tall, slender young man with blond hair and pale blue eyes. He is wiry and fast, and a little stronger than he acts. As himself, he dresses like an ordinary servant, making him very easy to overlook.
When he is seen at court as the Shadow Champion (rarely), he wears a simplified version of the uniform of the imperial guard with a hood, and an expressionless full face mask, completely concealing his identity.
Kings always have their champions, knights who are loyal and would give their lives to defend their lords. Part body-guard, part honorable defender, they are always completely trusted. But sometimes, they have need of a different sort of champion.
In response to this need, a custom arose amongst the kings of Caele Aran. They have their Champion, same as other monarchs, who is always a well-respected warrior of great virtue and particular loyalty. They also have a Shadow Champion, who is the personal assassin, troublemaker, and troubleshooter of the King. The Champion addresses open threats. The Shadow Champion addresses threats that are subtle, or unproven.
The Shadow Champion is closer to the monarch than almost everyone, by the nature of his duties. He knows many of the king’s secrets, and is in a unique position to forment instability in the Court; he is the king’s ears. Because of this, the Shadow Champion must always be almost fanatically loyal to his master.
Additionally, in order to perform his duties properly, the Shadow Champion’s identity is kept secret from the court. (One is not going to invite the king’s personal assassin to join the conspiracy, after all.) This also serves the dual purpose of protecting the Shadow Champion from scheming courtiers who would wish to remove such a looming obstacle.
Vere was nothing more than a boy from a poor family. He was fortunate enough to be given a job as a kitchen boy at the palace of the King. It was hard work, and he was at the mercy of the cook, but at least he was fed and had a place to live. When he could, he took leftover food to his parents, although he had to be careful not to let the cook catch him at it. Two years after he entered service, a quick plague swept through the area, and both of his parents succumbed to it.
When he was ten, he met Acelin, who was the same age. The two quickly became close friends, playing together when Vere could slip away from his work in the kitchen. They were both lonely, and were the only two boys of that age anywhere nearby.
Vere had assumed Acelin was another servant, and hadn’t asked his friend about it. He was quite surprised, therefore, when Acelin turned out to be Prince Acelin, the king’s only son. Despite his father’s views of the proper place of servants and royalty, Acelin maintained his relationship with Vere, often protecting him from the cook’s wrath.
Shortly after the prince turned fourteen, his father deemed him old enough for a personal valet. Acelin was given a choice of servants, and even though he was expected to choose one of the older, experienced servants, he chose Vere. Vere was subsequently trained for the position by the head of the staff. He was very young for the job, but the prince’s requests were minimal, so there were no objections from any quarter.
The two grew closer as a result of spending more time together, and became inseparable friends. They both understood the differences in their classes, but it never interfered with their friendship. When they were both seventeen, it became something more than friendship, although they were careful to keep that to themselves.
Acelin’s father died when he was nineteen, and he ascended to the throne. He was very familiar with his father’s Champion, a man who had been at his father’s side since he was a boy, and the new King was very glad that he agreed to be his Champion as well. However, he had never known his father’s Shadow Champion, and, of course, the Shadow Champion would never reveal his identity, so he appointed a new Shadow Champion.
Naturally, his first choice was Vere. He trusted Vere with his life, and more than that, with his secrets, and was certain Vere would never betray him. Vere accepted the position at once, and quietly began to learn the skills he needed.
Some of the courtiers knew Vere as King Acelin’s personal valet, but one servant was the same as another to the great majority of them, and Vere was able to get close enough to them to overhear anything they might say. He had learned a long time ago that servants were almost always seen as nothing more than scenery, and most courtiers were not careful about what was said in front of servants. It didn’t take him long to have a very good idea of what was going on in the palace.
Vere always has at least one weapon somewhere on his person, usually a knife; more, if the occassion calls for it.
Vere is almost always dressed as a servant and goes out of his way to be unnoticable. He does not wear the uniform of the Shadow Champion if he doesn’t need to, and will only be seen in that persona at a very few major state functions, mostly just to remind everyone that he’s there.
In his normal persona, he is very quiet and respectful, particularly if whoever he’s talking to is of higher social rank. He might ask seemingly harmless questions if he thinks he can get away with it. As the Shadow Champion, he doesn’t speak very often, but when he does, he projects a harsh, almost threatening tone. He also uses very imposing body language, making himself seem scary.
Vere has been Acelin’s lover since they were in their teens, and he is utterly and completely devoted to King Acelin. He will do anything to protect the King, and anything he askes Vere to do without a second thought.
Perhaps a noble or courtier hires the PCs to find out the true identity of and/or kill the Shadow Champion "for the good of the kingdom."
Vere might have discovered a plot against King Acelin that is so far advanced he can’t stop it on his own, and if he takes it to the king, it could possibly start a war. He might approach a convenient group of outsiders he *knows* aren’t involved (as the Shadow Champion) to help him quietly take care of the problem.
Vere could be under the mistaken impression that the PCs are plotting against King Acelin, and is bringing his considerable abilities to bear against them. Not only do they have to defend themselves, they have to convince him of the truth, which may or may not be easy.