27 (Born 13 Alturiak 1327)
Tymora, Waukeen and Helm
Light brown, wears a short beard
Manners, Amnian Slang
Common, Thorass, Chondathan
Weapon of Choice:
A Very Sharp Rapier
- Adventuring Garb: A golden yellow overcoat and firm, marching boots.
Social Garb: Fine clothing, often of silk, usually in white and gold tones.
Mel is a graceful, nimble swordsman, he wears little to impede his movement whether adventuring or socialising. Almost always, a golden broochshaped as a Wagon Wheel, with a symbol of Waukeen on the hub, is pinned to his right breast, and a finely made rapier hangs from his left him. A golden circlet with a pale blue sapphire completes the ensemble, even in battle. No expense is spared on appearance.
Mel has a confident, if somewhat detached, manner which just about falls short of swagger. He is social, and will greet even strangers with a pleasant "Good Business." He is social, and has a ready wit. He particularly enjoys those who will prick him with barbs back.
As an Amnian, Mel can seem mercenary and greedy to some, although as Amnians go he is a moderate example. Mel displays many of the cultural traits of Amnians, including using the country's strange phrases, a general distrust of magic users, and a broad, but shallow, faith in the gods. His officer background gives him a certain elan which can, initially, conceal just how Amnian he is.
Mel in fact has a large streak of "foolish" honour, something which was eroded over time but which he is keen to win back. He dislikes breaking his word "as a gentleman" and if he asks another to trust him, he is sure not to break that trust. He values highly those who treat him in the same way. Mel has a keen eye for threats, dangers or insults to those he considers under his protection (particularly children or those vulnerable) and likewise, he can take umbrage if he is himself belittled or insulted, although in acting upon this he can display patience.
Despite this sense of honour, Mel is not above dancing with words and deceit when his word is not given. He dislikes outright harming others who have done him no wrong, or who don't deserve such and there are certain deeds and practices he will not partake in - the list of which has changed, and continues to change, over time. The times in which it has been short are times that he looks back on with regret. Yet Mel will readily intrigue against or duel rivals and threats and can be quite ruthless in such situations.
Mel was born nearly thirty years ago in Athkatla, the son of an Amnian army officer and his wife, the heiress of a minor merchant. Mel's father was a decorated soldier and a devout Helmite, and the boy long hoped to follow his father into the legions. He did, enlisting at the age of eighteen and taking to his service with relish.
Mel Darendas, on the right, serving in the Amnian legions.
Then came the Amn-Gate war, and the bloody suffering that ensued. Mel's unit saw some combat in a supporting capacity, and he acquited himself well enough to earn promotion, especially on the back of his father's good service (and no doubt, words said on his behalf). Yet Mel's experiences of war, and the friends he lost, were enough to tarnish the thought of fame and glory.
The newly minted young officer was already rather jaded when he was posted to Athkatla, joining a set of similar young veterans in carousing and high living once peace arrived. Mel was well liked among his peers, if having a reputation for a sharp tongue - and a sharp rapier, when challenged. Duels between the officers were not to the death, but he left more than one scar on those he crossed words with.
His back to the viewer, Mel's hand lingers near his blade as he watches an accusation of cheating being made.
Into this mix stepped Amarella Rias, wealthy heiress and prominent Athkatlan socialite. Beautiful and the life and soul of many social events, she came to be much desired by many of the officers in Mel's social circle, and Mel was no exception.
A formal portrait of Amarella Rias, from about the time that Mel first met her.
It took some time for Mel to get a formal introduction to the lady, and by then she was already being courted by one of Mel's superior officers, a captain by the name of Inigo Mandas. This, however, did not deter Mel in pressing his suit; and in a sudden attack of randomness Sune blessed Mel and Amarella, with them immediately falling into a passionate, yet hidden affair.
It was several months before the secret came out, and a humiliated Captain Mandas immediately sent one of his troopers to challenge Mel for the affront to his honour.
Gaston Beaquis, Captain Manda's equerry, challenges Mel before his peers to a duel of honour on Captain Manda's behalf.
Mel, at first, laughed it off, but when he heard that Captain Mandas had struck Amarella in a rage, he accepted the challenge without reservation. In the days before the duel, several other officers tried to intervene, and indeed eventually Captain Manda's superior officer forbade the duel being to the death. And yet it went ahead, both men set on their conflict.
Only one would walk away, however,. After a long, testing conflict, Mel disarmed Captain Mandas, declared him a dog for his mistreatment of Amarella, and skewered his rival through the heart in cold blood.
Mel (left) and Captain Inigo Mandas duel to the death.
In Amn, justice is often a measure of money. Both Mel's family, and that of Captain Mandas, threw their accumulated wealth at Mel's trial. Captain Mandas' family proved the richer, and Mel was convicted, although the sentence lessened to one of exile from Athkatla only.
Amarella and Mel were forced to part by her family, due to the scandal, and with much of their wealth spent on the trial, the Darenda family had little to offer their convicted scion by way of support. Those of his friends who did not abandon him entirely had little to offer but their good wishes.
A bereft, unadorned and wigless Amarella Rias is taken by her brother to an Ilmatari mission to treat her "heartsickness".
Cashiered from the army, and cut off from friends and family, Mel set out to seek service to one of the merchant houses that truly control Amn, hoping to send coin back to his parents to pay them back for his life. His talent for swordsmanship and military training, as well as his father's reputation, opened many doors for him at first. Yet wherever he went, the money of Captain Mandas' vengeful father paid for rumours, slander and allegations both true and false as to Mel's character.
With each period of employment coming to an acrimonious end, Mel was forced to accept more and more dangerous, and more and more salubrious, employment. From captain of a household guard and declining to a mere sellsword and bravo, Mel struggled to maintain the dashing, honourable outlook he had projected during his time as an officer. Dreams of paying back his parents turned to dreams of his next meal.
Mel fights for his life in a bloody, sordid mission for an Amnian border baron.
Gradually a life of violence and grubby survival took its toll on the young officer. Cynicism sank deep into his soul. His only shields against despair were the illusions he clung to, of his honour, of how he had done the right thing; and when those illusions faded, there was always the bottle to drown out the pain.
Mel in the throes of the despair.
Finally, when conducting a job in the south of the country that was tantamount to paid banditry and kidnapping, already something that offended him greatly, Mel decided enough was enough. That contract came to a bloody end, most of it not Mel's, and he realised he would have to put some distance between himself and Amn's heartlands in case anyone looked into it too closely.
Mel's reputation might cast a s hadow over him in his beloved Amn to the point that the fame and fortune needed to counter the Mandas family would always be out of reach, but in the north, he would just be another Amnian: wealth would be his for the taking...
...and honour, his honour, could be restored...
...and so, Mel Darenda headed north to reinvent himself.
Not long after, the Golden Wheel Trading Company was formed.
- Seek adventure and riches.
- Seek a return of his honour, perhaps in conflict with the above.
- Win a duel (not to the death!) with the famed Mealir Ostirel, as he once bet his mess mates he would.
- Make the Golden Wheel Trading Company a success.
- Make so much money that he can reestablish himself in Amn, free of harassment.
- Captain Mandas' family remain very angry for the death of their best and brightest. Their vengeance following him north is not out of the question, by means of slander or violence.
- The loose ends of his last job in Amn proper are still frayed. If someone finds out what happened, what Mel did, and how things were left, he may have trouble follow him north.
- How does Amarella Rias fare? And how do her family, and those who know her now, feel of what happened?
- Mel's wartime service against Baldur's Gate may become relevant at some point.
- What will happen if Mel is reunited with his family? How are they all doing over these past years?
- Despite the depths to which Mel nearly sunk, his sense of honour remains, and it can be an inconvenient obstacle to his pursuit of wealth.
- Mel has a sharp tongue and a sense of pride. These also conspire against his pursuit of wealth.
- Mel's recent life has been one of danger. With little but his sword to provide for himself, he has become good at using it.
- Rather un-pragmatically, he can be a romantic soul.