A World In Chaos
Hardren is a man of average height with a stocky, muscular build. His dark brown hair is cut short, just above his ear, with a slight curl that gives it a wild, unkempt look. He has steel blue eyes that gleam with intensity and determination. He wears a suit of plate armor that shines brightly in the sun. Inscribed on the upper right side of the breast plate is his family crest, a hawk clutching a feather quill in each talon. He moves remarkably well in the plate armor, almost as if it were a part of his body, and the plate placement provide little restriction to his movement. As added protection, Hardren also wields a large heater shield that is emblazoned with his family crest. The hawk is colored dark gray and brown and is clutching two lily white feather quills. When not in battle the shield is slung across Hardren’s back. From his belt hangs his simple yet deadly broadsword. It’s wide blade provides extra mass, dealing devastating slashing blows.
Hardren was born to Tarith and Jalia Ulithian in the City-State of Farensin. Hardren’s father, Tarith, was a minor noble who oversaw a handful of scribes in the government’s Ministry of Archives. The family has been scribes for the government for generations, but was elevated to nobility when Hardren’s grandfather, Dovisus, was appointed the Chancellor of The Archives. Tarith was promoted to his current supervisory position when his father suddenly passed away, but has not shown the same ambition of his father. Tarith enjoys very little about his work, the security, monotony and ritual are all boring. He has longed for excitement and adventure and, as a result, spent a significant amount of time at the arenas.
Hardren’s mother died in childbirth and Tarith vowed to her that his son would not have the same fate as he had. Tarith would regularly take Hardren to the arena to watch the gladiators do battle. Tarith wanted Hardren to be exposed to martial activities and the various weapons and fighting styles. The gladiator life was much to brutal and Tarith did not want this for his son, but he did want Hardren to gain an appreciation for survival and combat skill. Also, Tarith would take his son to the annual Tournament of the Rose, a week long festival where knights from across the land would gather to compete in various martial events. The knights participate in jousts, armed combat with swords, maces and axes, archery, riding events and games of strategy. Tarith would take Hardren to meet the knights and listen to their tales of daring and adventure. The knights would spend most of the year on military campaigns or hunting down the foul beasts that harassed local villages. They always had fantastic tales of valiant deeds and horrible monsters.
Hardren always looked forward to tournament time. The knights would parade through the city with the cheers of the people, colorful plums dancing in the wind above their helms. He would watch the battles intently, trying to mimic every thrust and parry. He would practice at home with his wooden sword, pretending to be the tournament champion. When Hardren turned eight years old, Tarith bought him a simple short sword. Hardren would swing it about wildly, no real skill involved but he was building up his strength and training his muscles. Tarith was glad to continue to stoke the fires that were slowly building in Hardren.
When Hardren turned ten years old, the age when youth began their apprenticeships, Tarith began speaking to the local knights. He was able to find one, Sir Rothgar, who was in need of a young squire to train. Tarith told Hardren the news as a birthday present, ”I have a wonderful surprise for you.” Tarith took Hardren into his arms, ”It might be scary at first but in the long run I believe it is the best for you.” Hardren looked eagerly at his father, ”What is it? What is it?” Tarith replied ”Well son, I’ve been asking around and it appears Sir Rothgar is in need of a new squire.” Hardren’s eye opened wide as his father said, ”He wants to train you to be his new squire.” Hardren leapt in the air with a yelp then it donned on him what it would really mean. ”Will I be leaving you?” he asked, with a slightly nervous look. ”Yes, you will.” Tarith gave Hardren a big hug, ”But it won’t be that long. You will be seeing the world, having adventures and living the glory. Before you know it you will be back home telling me all your tales of daring.” Tarith pulled Hardren back in front of him, looking him in the eyes, ”I will miss you and I love you always but you have a chance to live your dream. Take this moment and make me proud.”
Hardren traveled the next several years with Sir Rothgar. They visited many villages performing meager tasks that provided little pay and even less glory. The road was long and hard but was not unproductive. Hardren absorbed all the information Sir Rothgar provided him. Hardren would continually pester Sir Rothgar for combat training, regardless of how badly he was beaten he always came back for more. Sir Rothgar began to see in Hardren the same potential his father, Tarith, had tried to develop. As Hardren became older, his strength grew as did his skill. It wasn’t long before Hardren was besting Sir Rothgar in their martial training.
By the time Hardren turned eighteen, both he and Sir Rothgar knew there was not much more Hardren could gain as a squire. It was time for him to take the next step. Given his nobility, however minor, and the recommendation of Sir Rothgar, Hardren was knighted back in Farensin. When he returned to see his father, the sight of the estate shocked him. It was rumored that Tarith had taken to significant gambling in the years since Hardren had left. From all accounts, his obsession had left the other aspects of his life, work and home, as little more than minor annoyances. He gambled away most of the value of the estate, with only the family home remaining. It was said his unreliable behavior was not tolerated at the ministry and it was not long before he was out of work. Hardren arrived at the estate only to find his father’s body hanging from a rope in his bedchamber, apparently the strain and depression pushing him over the edge. Hardren spoke to his father’s best friend as the ministry, Keden, about his father’s mental state. Keden confirmed that Tarith had been troubled at the end and Keden had been concerned about Tarith’s life.
When Hardren heard about the murdering madman, Grinning Death, he felt obligated to assist in the capture of the criminal. Much of what he had done prior to returning to Farensin involved protecting others from various evils, he could not then turn his back on the same troubles here.