Desmond Blackburn

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Desmond Blackburn

Unread post by Aurelius »

The Road Warden
(Art by our very own wangxiuming)
Name: Desmond Alexander Blackburn
Honorifics: Sir
Origin: Leilon
Birthdate: 21 Flamerule, 1313 DR (40)
Race: Human
Sex: Male
Deity: Helm
Alignment: Lawful/Neutral
Base Class: Fighter
Height: 6’1"
In the northern city of Leilon, house Blackburn exists as declining nobility, clinging to existence through the profit eked out by their ownership of a series of mines on the western end of the Sword Mountains. Desmond was born the third son before two younger sisters, to a family that could ill afford the cost of educating even their second child. He grew up on loan, a page in the miniscule court of Leilon's lordlings, believing in ignorance that their stretch of the High Road was the most glorious and that the Lances of Leilon existed as the pinnacle of martial might. In Leilon he learned first and foremost only two things that would last beyond fleeting impressions of childhood: knowledge of what nobility ought and must be, as dictated by the glory of Siamorphe and that even in poverty, he was born better than most.

Adulthood struck a fateful blow, as entry into the cavalry troop brought him to Neverwinter, to the edges of Waterdeep and to the first-hand accounts of veteran wanderers of everything north, south and to the east of them beyond imports he couldn't afford and maps he wasn't old enough to consider. The wealth of the City of Skilled Hands and the might of Waterdeep's forces forced a new reality: Leilon was too small a cell for his mind. What began on horseback evolved into a foot militia, as he met eventual release from the Lances to instead gain citizenship and entry into Neverwinter's militia, acting as a drill sergeant for what battle experience he'd gained at the rush of a cavalry charge and hundred yard release of a line of three dozen crossbow bolts.

Conflict against Orc tribes, against bandits, against Luskan and against every conceivable thing that wishes for the downfall of civilization was met. History dictates Neverwinter overcame them. Personal experience left him wondering how much of him survived each time, as bunkmates were replaced by younger, more ignorant bodies and the drill yards filled each year with fewer familiar faces. When memory and reality became so separate as to be unrecognizable, he found religion. Helm's service was comforting in it's absolutes. There was a girl, an order of Knights and an indignant father – his life played like theatre, a squire earning the ire of a noble infinitely more powerful than his own father.

The road wasn't kinder than Neverwinter's service, but it asked fewer questions. He earned his knighthood on a muddied field, breathless and his armor tattered between Sundabar and Everlund. Time passed. In years that seemed like centuries and seconds alike, he realized he was further south than he'd ever traveled, beyond the Waterdeep that inspired his wanderlust. When he realized still that he'd not met the same person twice in over a years time, he chose to be determined when others might have reconsidered their lifestyle. Pride and a deep rooted self-reliance have taken him across every mile of the Swordcoast since, a knight mostly in name. Friendless save for those few who remember him from his youth, loveless save for a memory and godless save for the same tired sermon he offers those he fights for on the road.

When asked, he can only respond: “It’s not a bad life.”

A middle aged gentleman with more experience on the road than some dedicated caravaneers, Desmond perpetually carries with him the scents of the cultures and cities he roams. Everything he owns is a testament to adventures elsewhere, clothes soaked in equal parts by spice, drink and time spent among travelers even more strange to the land than he himself. His armor varies drastically upon circumstance. His regular kit, splint mail and leather, is more often than not covered in the filth unavoidable to those who travel by foot for the countless miles the High Road has to offer. In stark contrast, the platemail of his knighthood is kept meticulously clean and ready for ceremony.

A life without pause carries its fair share of physical tells, with sunkissed skin equally beaten and cracked by coastal winds and frozen nights spent huddled at the side of a midnight road. His back, despite its frequent protests, stands straight and at attention whenever he suspects a witness; it hunches in an elusive pursuit of respite to accompany the flaring pains at the knees whenever he knows he's alone. Tall with coal colored hair and green eyes, he's slimmer than his live-in armor would suggest, lean and built as an endurance runner.

Were it not for the refinement by which he speaks, breathes and walks he might very well blend in among the average caravan and wandering troupe. For good or ill, pride and privileged upbringing insist he stand apart and afford no misconception otherwise.

Personality Profile
Desmond is a proud man, embittered by a life of service to others. A lifetime dedicated to the protection of nobles and common citizens alike has afforded him first-hand experience with the cruelty, greed and stupidity of his fellow man. A younger man's trust evolved into suspicion, to paranoia and now – to a fatalistic apathy, with a casual acceptance of that if temptation is offered, others will succumb to it. He holds himself above these failings, but is quick to afford blame upon the nature of man and god alike wherever he meets competition or commits error.

As it is, his failures are more often than not practical rather than moral, similar to many veteran Ilmateri in a jaded perspective of their lives and careers: however much good they perform, evil, crime and immorality will endure beyond their best efforts. Despite his warped state of mind, Desmond remains a man dedicated to the pursuits of his god and his knighthood, whether or not he truly believes in them still.

Those who proclaim equal or greater station and duties are afforded much skepticism, veiled by outward respect. Anyone capable of winning and keeping his trust would be among the first to discover the hollowed interior of a robust heart and once enthusiastic spirit.

Though perhaps not surprising to those that believe in a chivalric cause and take the appropriate oaths, more world weary veterans of life might find it suspicious that Desmond is and has largely remained chaste while on the road. In reality, abstinence is due simply to circumstance and the severe dedication by which Desmond lives his life. Half-measures and sweet nothings are more offensive than not. While not a typical romantic, he’s sworn off the trouble of having a fleet of bastards find him or his family down the road.

General Health
Ravaged by sickness, poor diet and countless injuries in battle, road-side skirmishes and honest labor has left him in what often seems like perpetual recovery from his last health issue. Were it not for his absolute refusal to rest longer than is required each night and take a week or even a day apart from his self-appointed duties, he'd likely be in fine health. As is, he's always a day away from his next cold and infection, suffered as always by an attempt to reach the next town over during a storm. He weathers the regular minor illnesses with quiet perseverance, but age old injuries are less accommodating of his ‘suffer in silence’ personality. In particular, the displacement of his right shoulder from the repetitive use of a lance against armored opponents and the strain of pulling a longbow past the point of exhaustion threaten to numb his arm to the point of uselessness. Frequent trips to clerics of Helm and Siamorphe for patchwork treatments are all that keep his body functional.

Though traditionally raised to exalt Siamorphe, the Divine Right and Chauntea, the Grain Goddess above all others, Desmond is as polytheistic as circumstance demands. Like most god-fearing mortals, he’s prone to say a prayer to Tempus before a battle, offer coin for mercy from Myrkul when sickness strikes and seek the blessings of Waukeen before a trade.
As primary devotions go, Siamorphe and Helm keep his closest allegiance, with the latter being the deity to whose service he has devoted himself and to who his knighthood is sworn under. Perhaps unavoidably due to his occupation as a Road Warden and the sheer amount of time spent travelling, he has a special appreciation for travellers that roam the world with Shaundakuls name on their lips.

Road Warden, Knight-Errant of the Order of the Watch. Desmond is dedicated to the protection of the roads and established trade routes, focusing his duties as a Helmite on the protection of any law-abiding traveler against monstrous creatures and bandits.

Reading. While a far cry from a scholar, Desmond takes a unique pleasure in the personal accumulation of knowledge. Whatever the subject and whether or not he truly understands it, he's prone to read anything that comes his way. Pride plays an equal part as pleasure, as a life on the road has left him too often uneducated of the evolving ceremonies and events he was raised in among the nobility.

Military drills and stratagem. You don't live by and through your weapon and not become obsessive of it and it's applications in the process. A cavalryman and an archer, Desmond spends what little time at rest he affords himself replicating small and large military events on parchment and in imagination, often pausing off a less traveled road to consider how best a battle would play out in that stretch of territory. He's stopped a few times during his career at struggling villages and small towns for a season to train up a militia or empower a local sheriff as a liaison of distant nobility. He enjoys few duties more than exercising military routine on a dedicated group. While not a true hobby due to how rare the opportunity is, he's never entirely opposed to taking command of an underperforming squad.

Mead/wine appreciation. Having been once in the service to a Neverwinter noble with primary investments in Neverwinter Ice-wine and previously engaged to his eldest daughter, Desmond considers himself a connoisseur of similar beverages. Had his early life turned out even slightly different, he may very well have dedicated himself and his estate to the production and trade of alcohol unique to that region.

Desmond may be considered reasonably well read, his younger days in Leilon and later in Neverwinter’s service affording him a reasonable grasp of elven and espruar. More conventional human dialects include Illuskan and Chondathan.

Weapon of Choice

A cavalryman to the last, Desmond is best at home with a crossbow, bow or lance in his hands while on horseback. Absent a charger or worthy mount, his fallbacks are a longbow and handaxe.

Due to a set of unusual circumstances and the request of a deceased friend, Desmond gained a squire the last time he traveled to Baldur's Gate. While he became separated and has thus (accidently or intentionally) neglected her education and training, raising Heron Rhayne to be a Knight of Helm and of the Order of the Watch has become one of his primary goals for the foreseeable future.

Possible Plot-Hook Ideas and Misc Facts
Protecting the roads is not a reticent duty or casual hobby for Desmond, it is a sacred obligation he's placed upon himself. His obligations as a knight regularly intertwine with this, in ensuring Helm's law is afforded to those incapable of protecting themselves in the wilds and on the trade routes. One of the stranger and more urgent issues he's made himself aware of is the state of the Hellriders out of Elturel and their declaration of intent against Darkhold. Ironically, due to the Baldur's Gate treaty, Desmond may consider himself obligated to contest fellow Helmites if they take to raiding Banite caravans on the trade route that passes through Elturel. Alternatively, he's quietly hopeful that the group may sway him into believing military action is a necessity against any Banite determined to use the same road.

Desmond has been an exemplary Road Warden for most of his career, but has continually avoided the summons of his knighthood order and keeps as far afield his sword brethren as possible in favor of traveling alone. The Order of the Watch could be content to let him roam and send semi-regular updates on his work by courier to the varied holdings they keep, or they may wish for him to take a more active stance: whether in matters political, economical or religious and no longer choose for himself what his best next task should be.

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