|Osmond Cordae Locke|
Osmond Cordae Locke is a paladin who is the husband of Aegle Locke and father of Lucius Locke, and the son of Oscar Locke and Melana Locke. He is the heir of Fotiacles Firemaster. He was entrusted by the Mad Clergies to protect a revenant they believed to be the reborn Gaea and return her to godhood, but these hopes were shattered during the Battle of Survivor's Woods. She left his side afterwards. Osmond has since then been studying a journal he's acquired from the destroyed base of the Mad Clergies, hoping to make sense of the strange events he's gotten involved in and do some good with the information. He was possessed by a remnant of Mardük, which was then purified and removed from him.
Osmond Cordae Locke was born in Aison, in the city of Myridia specifically. He lived a fairly normal childhood, though his father left during the last stages of the Great War. He was instilled with the values of fairness and the golden rule (that is, "do unto others what you would have them do unto you") as he grew up. His father, Oscar Locke, practiced that to the best of his ability, and was well-loved by the populace. His superiors were more keen to put him on a leash than sing his praises. After Oscar left, he was never seen nor heard from again.
Then, one day, something enormous was seen flying their way on the horizon. Osmond's mother Melana Locke panicked (and was vindicated for it later) and left, taking her son, some spare weapons, packed clothes, and a wrapped bundle, and caught a ride with a departing caravan. They had had mere moments to spare.
Slowly, Osmond accepted his father's death, becoming something of a guard for the caravan and honoring his father's memory through his use of fairness and the Golden Rule. It won him many friends among the other travelers, and some enemies among the greedier of them. The caravan reached a small port, and though Osmond and Melana left the caravan to travel by sea to Remon, the ship got lost at sea and somehow found its way to Libaterra.
The fishing village was not their last stop, however. Osmond's mother took him further inland, closer to the City of Mages.
At last, they stopped in a trader's town called Ridgefort about a day or two away from Reign. The fifteen-year-old needed a place to grow up and call home, and they'd been on the move for two years. It was time to stop again. So they took up residence in the town, slowly building one there.
Finding a Purpose
Four years later, as a young adult, it was time for Osmond to grasp his inheritance. Melana drew him aside and pulled out the mysterious wrapped bundle she'd carried for years. He looked confused, but she told him, "This was your father's, and it is your last inheritance from him. He had a foreboding feeling that he wouldn't come back from the War, and so he left it with us, to pass on to you when the time came. I think you're ready to receive this now."
It was long, and by the heft, Osmond could tell it was a sword. He took the cloth away from it, and immediately was left in moderate disappointment.
It looked like any other hand-and-a-half. The sheath was pretty worn down, and the finishing was dull and scratched on it. The hilt looked nice and sturdy enough, but he began to wonder about the blade. Any notches? Still, it was his father's. That, more than anything, urged him to grip the hilt and remove it from the sheath.
It almost glowed, and he noticed old and unknown runes running up and down the blade on both sides. The blade itself was nearly perfect. Honed to a good edge and smooth as silk, it was far, far better than he expected of such an old sword. "Your father called it 'the Oath of Order.'
He had attended the town's church that had been converted from the old Clergy of Cardia ever since he'd moved in, and had been interested in being a paladin for the church for a while. The small group of paladins, led by the eccentric Petyr Jackson, gladly accepted him and gave him the armor of the rank, while he provided his own sword. He worked alongside the other six of them to protect the town from all threats and became good friends with them.
Time passed, and Osmond and a woman named Aegle fell in love. He presented her with his mother's wedding ring, and they were soon married and living in a house of their own. Osmond worked all the harder at his job as a paladin because of his radiant wife. Her belly swelled with child, and quickly enough, the paladin became a father. His strong connection to the church and his wife's own name inspired him to name the child Lucius.
Osmond was drawn into the study of the recorded prophecies in the little libraries of the church. He looked through the oldest ones until the day he found a scrap of parchment that had recorded an old, old prophecy. He mounted his trusty stallion Chadwick and left to find someone who could help him interpret it after no one in the town could, bidding his wife and son goodbye. He was bade in turn to not stay away for too long.
Heart of Darkness
While on his way to Trinity Gask where he hoped he could decipher the strange prophecy, Osmond happened upon a scarred woman. The two introduced themselves, and he learned the woman's name, Ax. After a brief discussion, Osmond proposed that since they were both headed for the same direction, they could travel together. Ax seemed hesitant but eventually agreed, and she asked if Osmond could help locate a stream so that some skins could be filled with water. After Osmond had located a good spot to fill the skins with water, he returned to Ax to give the skins back to her.
Asking for the sake of the donkey, Osmond told Ax where he'd found the stream. Before she left, though, he asked the others in the camp for any help in deciphering a prophetic set of words he had found in a book:
When the Fruit of Earth and Tree
passes into Darkness's Doorstep
to meet the Seven Spawn of Hell
When the Redeemed stand beside He Who Shines
to summon the Spirit of the Mother
and the Last Memories of Order
The Red Lion will make peace
Seven Darknesses will betray their comrades
A City of Mages stands content
Darkness breathes free of Death.
A young bard named Arcturius heard them, and tried to decipher it, up until the last stanza, at which point his suspicion was aroused. Ax helped as well before leaving with the donkey. Os tried to get Arc to be less suspicious, but whatever had happened to the boy kept him distrustful, and he left with Ax.
Osmond later followed them to ask about Corwin Finian's book, but was distracted when he heard Corwin's odd shout about Magic Mushrooms and not taking them for at least a week. When he got back he saw three humanoid creatures who turned out to be nymphs. When asked, Corwin said that 'no funny business went on under that tree,' out from under which the nymphs were approaching. Then he started ranting about murderous mountain goats.
Osmond had no idea how he got into this situation (three nymphs wanting him, Corwin, and Arc, the unlikely but possible threat of murderous mountain goats, and whether or not to move camp to the town of Lawfin) and no idea how to get out of it. Soon after he began his pondering, however, the nymphs pounced on him and held him down.
Thankfully, Ax kept him from being raped, and soon after Corwin gassed all three nymphs with an alchemical compound. However, at just that moment, the murderous mountain goats decided to attack, proving to everyone that Corwin's worries hadn't been entirely unfounded. Osmond set the unconscious nymphs in the wagon and readied himself and his stallion Chadwick for the onslaught, but soon after, Arcturius used some bardic magic to conjure up a nightmarish image of the Grim Reaper. This frightened the goats and held them at bay for a time while Ax hitched her ass to the wagon. Once done, Osmond held off the goats while the wagon got out of the woods.
He caught up to the wagon as it reached the gates of Lawfin and entered the elven town with the rest of the party, witnessing the military discipline nand might of the Crimson Coalition, which Lawfin had sided with, first-hand for the very first time. After stabling his horse and securing a room for the night, Osmond tried to order Paladin's Balm but was mistakenly written down for a Paladin's Breath. He failed to correct the waitress in time and the drink was delivered as ordered.
Tipsy after less than half a glass of the strong drink, Osmond retired to his room, where he challenged the glass to a duel. Last one standing once he'd drained it would be the winner.
It was the glass.
After rising to throw up out his window, he had a strange dream in the night. He couldn't recall it when he awoke, but he realized that he'd lost to the cup in his self-declared contest. It was then that Arcturius knocked on the wall, asking for his help. Osmond tried to get rid of the hangover feeling in a percussive manner, but it didn't seem to do much.
Osmond accepted Arcturius's request to train him to use a sword and purified his own blood of alcohol before putting his armor back on and beginning the training. He taught Arc a defensive stance, how and when to block, and when to dodge or parry instead. At last, however, he decided he was too tired to continue teaching the lessons for now.
He put the sword back up, and fell asleep again.
- "It's been my experience that discomfort shows us where we need to grow. I've seen these clerics' determination. They missed you personally, and though I normally wouldn't agree with this ritual, this cause of theirs, they have a point. Hope needs to be restored to this world. With Cardia's death and the Cataclysm, many have given in to despair. Despair's wake is wide and far-reaching, but hope can counteract it, if the light it brings is not snuffed out before it catches."
- —Osmond to "Gaea" and "Heath"
Osmond got dressed, put the two still unconscious nymphs that shared his room in the wagon and then offered to buy breakfast for everybody. After eating and leaving Lawfin, the group dropped off the nymphs near the forest outside Trinity Gask, with Corwin almost vehemently shooing them away while Os looked on perplexed.
At last, they arrived in Trinity Gask, dropping Corwin and his comatose elven friend Bella Sirius, who the shaman claimed to be looking a cure for, off at the Witch Elves inn. Osmond promised to meet Arcturius for more swordfighting lessons in front of the inn, stabled Chadwick and wandered through the city for hours thinking about the prophecy and recent events.
He finally found himself in the midst of an abandoned slum and chased by a mob of poor after him for his fine-looking armor and sword. Just as he was about to get found, he fell through a hole that opened up in the ground of the alley. For a time, Osmond passed out.
When he awakened, he found he was in a large chamber underground, barely lit by the hole he'd fallen through. He began to explore his surroundings, and from a dated, dusty old letter deduced that he was in an area that had been relatively untouched since the Second Age, more than a thousand years.
Continuing his exploration, he came across a glowing sword set in front of a skeleton. The skeleton had a broken-off piece of a blade through its ribcage, likely having died to someone or something. The sword was glowing orange, as if heated in a nonexistant fire. The paladin grabbed the hilt, curious. However, the blade began to burn him until Osmond accidentally struck it with his own sword.
The fire sword stopped burning him, and instead greeted Osmond inside his mind. When he spoke his name, the blade named him the heir of 'Fotiacles Firemaster,' and gave up the power it had held within it to Osmond. Most of that power was placed into the Oath of Order, which began glowing golden. When he sheathed both swords, he noticed that his skin was glowing.
The paladin was then surprised by an old man holding a lantern, who called him 'He Who Shines.' His mind flashed briefly to the prophecy he'd found, and when beckoned, decided to follow along. The man welcomed him to the sanctuary of the clergies of Gaea and Heath.
The man, whose name was Raphael, explained their purpose and some of their history. Times had come during which they could have resurrected Gaea, the slain Goddess of the Earth, but considering that they intended to sacrifice themselves down to their very souls, they needed a guardian, one who could guide their lady back to her status as a deity and restore hope to the broken world. So they had pleaded with what gods would listen to them, excepting Death, whom they intended to cheat. The clerics believed that the goddess Heath had reluctantly sent a vision to the 'High Cleric' at the time of a shining man holding a sword glowing golden.
Until that time, the Clergy of Gaea would have to wait for the promised champion. For millennia they waited, their hearts growing dimmer, and their numbers dwindling away, as a rock pounded on by the waves. A few members of the Clergy of Heath, at the death of their own goddess, found their way to the sanctuary, or were scouted out, and joined forces with the clerics of Gaea, thus forming the Mad Clergies who clung to what amounted to a fool's hope. And they waited.
At last, however, He Who Shines was here, and his coming was the signal they'd waited for. Osmond, who they believed to be their promised champion, was ushered into a room and bade to don a green cloak with magic-repellant sigils stitched into it, made to keep his life from becoming a part of the sacrifice.
The ritual began in earnest, the clerics eager and nearly ecstatic after long years of waiting to finally bring their goddesses freedom from Death. However, unbeknownst to the vast majority of the clerics, there was a traitor in their midst. A man called Breivik, one of the Totenkopfs, a cult dedicated to Death, appeared to corrupt the body of Heath before it was finished and before the clerics had time to stop him. It was thanks to Osmond burning Breivik, who had turned himself into a horrifying skeletal monster to achieve his goals, that the body that would be bound to Gaea remained uncorrupted.
Near the end of the ritual, Osmond was transported to what appeared to be a plane that was occupied by only two others: Gaea and Heath, the two goddesses who the Mad Clergies had tried to summon. Gaea was in severe discomfort, while Heath was lamenting the fact that she could not join her friends. Osmond spoke then saying that Gaea's discomfort would be worth it if the world could have more hope. Hope that she would bring to the people.
Heath told Gaea to tell Tiamat that she was sorry she couldn't see her again as her construct collapsed, and the plane shunted Osmond back out to the real world.
Gaea's constructed body was finished, and her spirit summoned into the flesh. Osmond caught her naked body as she fell, and was instructed by the last cleric to protect her before the man turned to dust. Guided by blue flame lanterns as the labyrinth was collapsing, Osmond finally got back to the surface again, Gaea in his arms. She did not like her mortal form, saying her reconstructed body was dying around her.
The first thing Osmond did was find a tailor's shop and buy the poor woman some clothes. Once that was done, he had planned to take her to eat, but was interrupted by hounds who appeared to have come to chase them. Gaea was panicking, and so Osmond picked her up and ran, running to try and find Chadwick and make himself scarce.
He found a very confusing fight between himself and the stables, and Arcturius on the other end of it, trying to kill one of the nymphs, Kleodora, whom they'd found earlier. The paladin's previous dance through the fight became a straight on charge through it. On the other end, however, the hounds began to close in, so he whistled for his horse, which broke out of its own stable. He set Gaea on the saddle and then mounted up himself. He tried to take Arc as well, but the bard refused.
Osmond rode after the fleeing nymph Arc had been trying to fight. With luck, he could negotiate a peace between the two, and find out why Arc had been mad enough to try and kill her. He ended up meeting a man named Erikur Spald after entering the nymph's destination, Survivor's Woods, but not long after he lost the nymph's trail.
Soon afterwards, Osmond, Gaea and Erikur encountered Arcturius and a travelling merchant named Ghaddar Wekufe, as well as Ghaddar's pet donkey Shitale under attack by S.O.U.S.s, that is, Spiders of Unusual Size. Erikur, Arc, and Osmond set about destroying the spiders, but the paladin kept getting distracted by Gaea wandering off to a Will o' the Wisp whose magic beckoned to her.
The spiders were soon vanquished, and while the party was recovering, the wisp got hold of Gaea's mind, Ghaddar incited her wrath, Osmond slapped Gaea, and was nearly choked to death for it. Arcturius tried calming her with a song, and that saved his mentor's life as Gaea calmed down.
Garden of Fear
Although Gaea was calmed, the wisp still posed a threat to the party. Osmond successfully distracted the wisp, allowing the party to flee its reach. Gaea was introduced first to pie by Ghaddar who was grateful for the party saving her and Shitale's lives, then to eating properly. She still had few manners, though, and kept speaking openly, referring to other people as the children of this or that god, which made many party members raise their eyebrows in puzzlement and made Osmond ask Gaea to keep a low profile before everyone would know of her true nature and potentially put the party in jeopardy.
The party continued deeper into the forest, being joined first by a mighty treant and then by a mob from Trinity Gask led by the brothers Jason O'Harris and Jacob O'Harris. A battle ensued when the enraged treant, which the party learned had been sent by a mysterious witch of the woods who the mob was after, attacked everything in sight.
The battle turned even more hectic when the wisp from before returned and joined the fray as well. Osmond used his magic to hurl the wisp at the treant, hoping to neutralize both threats at once. This plan turned out to be a success as Arc and Jacob joined forces from Jason's suggestion and helped bring the treant down with their respective skills while the treant was distracted by the wisp. After the treant had been defeated, the wisp absorbed its lingering magic into itself, after which Jason took the wisp for himself for safekeeping.
Osmond began suspecting that one of the O'Harris brothers, who had led the mob, were actually manipulating people to face the treant and the witch for some reason. Based on how Jason had acted and spoken, Osmond eventually came to believe that Jason was the true manipulator of the two although he couldn't guess at the boy's motives for doing all of this.
Osmond and Gaea followed the path the treant had made in its rampage through the woods and were followed by the rest of their party who left the O'Harrises and the enraged mob behind. They discovered the half-elven adventurer Erai Dalfar along the way, and Erai began following the party on Osmond's suggestion.
When they reached the clearing, Erikur, Osmond, Gaea, Erai, Ghaddar and Shitale were confronted by Befana, the witch of the woods whom the mob had been seeking and who appeared to be behind the threats the party had faced in lately. While her form appeared aged and elven, Osmond was able to figure out her identity as one of the mysterious Faerfolc, fey-like creatures who had rampaged through Libaterra before disappearing into the woods a decade prior. He was honored to have seen her, but he was rebutted when he tried to bargain for knowledge on how to ascend from one existence to a higher one.
The mob had, by now, reached Befana's barrier, and Osmond explained the situation to them, but most of them were blinded by fear. Arcturius was, however, willing to listen even though he also sympathised with the O'Harrises. He went into the clearing and spoke with Befana.
Meanwhile, Jason set the wisp he had caught free and shattered the magical barrier Befana had erected around the clearing during the conversation between her and Arc. Osmond, recognizing the danger Jason posed and now believing him to be something inhuman, set him on fire with a holy flame. The mob, shocked at this brutal act against the seemingly innocent 'boy', charged and attacked Osmond while Gaea began to have a splitting headache. After fending off his attackers, the paladin galloped part-way back down the trail, unsure whether to fight the justifiably angry mob or flee. Arc, Erai, and Erikur all fled, and Osmond untied Virgil from his saddle as they all followed the trail.
Something happened in the forest at that moment, however, and the trees re-arranged themselves into a path for them to follow, deeper into the woods. Although confused and suspicious of this sudden miracle, the party had no choice but to keep moving forward unless they wanted to get caught by the mob.
The path ended up leading to the grove of the nymphs, Elysium. The queen of nymphs, Huldra, was in the middle of a ceremony that resembled a wedding, and in the middle of this wedding were none other than the real Jason O'Harris and one of the nymphs, who were to consummate their union after the ceremony. During their sojourn in the grove, Osmond met Huldra, several other nymphs, and what appeared to be the elven court musician of Huldra's realm, Aibell, who provided music for the wedding that was now in process.
Things in the grove got hectic as Osmond, for reasons of marriage, resisted the charms of the nymphs who tried to seduce him, though for some reason, Erikur was paranoid about it as well. Erikur had no reason to be resisting them, as Osmond pointed out, but still did for reasons that remained unclear. Osmond spotted Ax and Corwin in the grove, along with an unfamiliar silver-haired man. They exchanged greetings briefly before separating. Things escalated quickly as the nymphs grew more aggressive when the men kept rejecting them, and Arc began singing for reasons unknown. Aibell summoned Gaea to herself, and chaos broke loose soon after.
Aibell then revealed herself to be a fae and rival to Befana who had been manipulating Huldra and the nymphs. She told everyone present that "Gaea" was not in fact a reborn goddess, but a kitsune revenant by the name of Inari Okami, who had once been Gaea's high cleric in charge of the Isle of Yggdrasil before her untimely demise. She also revealed that Osmond had been prophesied to bring the kitsune to the grove and to Aibell herself who planned to use Inari for her own ends and break free from the forest which had kept her imprisoned for over a decade. Once man and nymph would become one in body and soul, Aibell would have the necessary love magic, combined with other magic in the grove, to begin the true ritual she'd been after.
Betrayed and wounded to the heart at the loss of his ultimate hope and having been played for a fool, Osmond would have wept and fallen into despair had not the Jason imposter, Befana, and the rest of the mob from before suddenly appeared in the grove. Arc descended into gibbering madness when "Gaea" turned into a bipedal fox creature that triggered memories of what he had witnessed in Malperdy. Erai had managed to get on speaking terms with one of the nymphs without triggering her passions. Erikur had been subdued from his rage.
Realizing the situation, Osmond understood he did not have time for sorrow or questions. Wiping his tears and expressing some last sorrowful sentiments to Inari, he picked up Arc, and walked to Ax and Corwin. Erai, Erikur, Ghaddar, and Shitale were heading towards them as well. The paladin took charge of the situation, and organized a plan to rescue the injured Befana and defeat the Jason imposter who had revealed himself as Aibell's accomplice, a monster called Fear Dearg. He could only hope it would work.
While Jason was prevented from having sex with his nymph bride, Osmond spotted the dwarf Krauss from the mob who was already getting intimate with another nymph. He set the dwarf's hair on fire so that Aibell and Fear could not use his passion with the nymph he was with for their rite.
Osmond was then set upon by the mob which was now fully under Fear's mind control as the creature had fused the wisp and the treant into himself to grow into a nightmarish leshy monster. After Arc incapacitated a few people from the mob with his song, Osmond incapacitated a few more with his sword, before setting Fear's method of controlling them, his flowers, aflame. Erai got the mob into the healing water, and then to Corwin, before rejoining the group. Fear was gloating by then, not focusing on his opponents and seemingly not worried about Osmond's magical attacks. Osmond used the opportunity to his advantage, took the opening and slipped Befana off the distracted Fear's claws.
Befana had lost a lot of blood, and Osmond began healing her as he retreated from Fear. Befana connected to him through his magic, seeing that he had the necessary ingredient to complete the 'Rite of Hivena' as she put it. Before Osmond could question what exactly Befana meant by that, she threw off her disguise as an elderly elven woman, transforming into a beautiful Faerfolc. She asked him, for the good of the world, to break his oath to his wife, and kiss her with all the love in his heart. Fear begged him not to, and antagonized Jacob O'Harris by holding his brother, the real Jason, hostage. The monster charged Jacob with seperating the two in exchange for the life of Jason.
After hesitating so that he could think on his decision, Osmond complied, kissing Befana for a long while and making it somewhat erotic. He ended the kiss before he took it too far, and then stopped the charging Jacob. With the gathered power, the fae woman summoned three treants to their aid to attack Fear, while Ax saved Jason from the monster's clutches and returned him to Jacob while telling the two to start working with the rest of the party. Osmond finished up his fight with the older O'Harris by shoving him towards his freed brother.
Osmond tried to set Fear on fire, but the monster manifested the power of the will-'o-th-wisp yet again and leeched his magic. The paladin cut the flow of his magic, but the tentacles of light which Fear had grown had already found him. Befana deflected the attack just in time, however, and the paladin thanked her and went back to healing the still-injured woman.
He saw a strange portal that Corwin had opened, to what turned out to be the Void paths. He saw also the portal that Aibell and Inari had opened; the rogue fae's scheme was nearly complete. Osmond approached Inari and had a long, circular argument with her in hopes of swaying her to stop, but eventually realized he couldn't get through to her, and went instead for Aibell, whose powers had been weakened by the ritual and Befana's counter rite.
Osmond found out that Aibell and Befana had been at odds for a long time, though he wasn't granted the knowledge of why by Aibell, and was unconscious when Befana later revealed her side of it: All Aibell wanted to do was to escape from the forest Befana had been keeping them in and open a portal to the Void so she could summon her fey lover Curdardh back to the Land of the Living. Out of desperation at being so close to seeing her lover again, Aibell revealed that she almost had her beloved back, refusing the paladin's directive to close the portal. Osmond was almost able to sympathize with the fae's desire to be with her beloved, but steeled his heart at the last moment and tossed her into the dark portal rather than wait for another powerful fae to intrude. The argument he'd had with Inari had paused her dance long enough that the interstices of the spell-weaving were undone, and the portal closed behind Aibell.
The paladin passed out soon after, and didn't witness the rest of the battle. He awoke some time later outside of the woods, where he decided he needed to do some explaining regarding the surprisingly-still-present Inari, who had returned to her humanoid shape. Osmond learned that while he'd been out cold after banishing Aibell, Befana had sacrificed herself to trap Fear in the woods and allow the survivors from the party and the mob, as well as nymphs, to flee from the cursed forest and return to the safety of civilization.
Nymphs were now freed from their cursed home and decided to disperse and travel around the world after Huldra, who had been persuaded by Ax to aid the party escape from the forest, decide to renounce her status as their queen and make up for the mistake of being manipulated by Aibell earlier. The mob, now freed from the effects of Fear's pollen, ended up with short-term amnesia and wandered cluelessly back to Trinity Gask, not remembering what had happened in the woods except that the hostages had apparently been saved and the witch of the woods they'd been after was now gone. Luckily for Osmond, this also included them not remembering how the paladin had been killing their brothers-in-arms, which saved the paladin from a certain lynching. Not that he thought of that at the time.
After everything was said and done and the different groups went their separate ways, the core group that stayed behind heard Osmond's tale as he told them of his misadventure in Trinity Gask while trying, fruitlessly, to find an interpreter. Ax told her equally complicated story of adventure in return while introducing the group to his silver-haired companion Signan Weinstein. She revealed that she was heavily involved with the campaign of the Grand Alliance in Libaterra and was sought after by the Crimson Coalition.
A Gathering Storm
Osmond followed the others back to Trinity Gask and took a room in one of the inns while Inari helped support him. He fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow, exhausted from all the physical and magical activities he'd performed in Survivor's Woods. He had strange dreams, one of which involved the Land of the Dead, and the other of which involved the High Plane, although he couldn't make much sense of them at the time.
Some time later, Osmond awoke refreshed yet sore due to Arcturius singing the Song of Awakening. He noticed that Inari had vanished without even leaving a note behind, but he decided that this was not the time to worry about that. He resolved to finding out what exactly Breivik had hoped to accomplish by fooling the Mad Clergies into believing that they had resurrected Gaea, and why he had attempted to corrupt the constructed bodies. To find answers, however, the paladin would have to return to where it all began: the now collapsed ruins where "Gaea" had been brought to "life".
As he was walking and gathering a rope and grappling-hook for the mission ahead, Osmond overheard one Coalition soldier say to another something about 'the Keiran woman' leaving a tailor's shop and to report to a Countess immediately. Coincidentally, the tailor's shop that they were referring to was the one Osmond and Inari had visited before their adventure in the woods. He needed to go there anyway, and now he had an additional reason to do so: find Ax and warn her that the Coalition was now onto her.
Asking which way he'd come from before entering, the apprentice tailor told him, and then Osmond asked after Axikasha, who was undoubtedly 'the Keiran woman' those two had mentioned before. Their response pointed him to a tavern not far away where he found Ax socializing with Signan and Huldra. The paladin hid himself under his cloak before warning her and her companions that they were followed. Ax arranged it so that Osmond could get away without pursuit from the Coalition by punching him in the face, pretending he was an ex-lover.
Osmond left the tavern and found out that Ax's plan had worked: the Coalition agents had apparently believed the act, or if they were still keeping an eye on him, they at least hadn't apprehended him yet. He then met up with, in short order, Erai, the half-elf's new nymph companion Shiel, and Arcturius. Surprisingly enough, Corwin's formerly comatose elven friend Bella, who was now fully awake, fell on the half-elf not long after, and another elf, Illyria, landed not too far away. The paladin, successfully finding the path he was looking for and deciding not to ask them why they were dropping out of thin air, ushered them all underground, where he began healing Illyria of the wounds she had suffered at the Coalition's hands as their prisoner.
Once done, Osmond left the others, searching for something, anything, that he could use to find out what happened here in the underground of the Mad Clergies. His search led to the acquisition of two tomes, one a journal, and the other a compendium of planar knowledge. He also met two Sinlarine teenagers, Tearlach Custenin and Liosa Aeryn, whose coitus he interrupted at the climax. After speaking with them, they confessed their love to each other, and Tearlach proposed to her.
The next day, after Osmond and party had fled Trinity Gask before the Coalition's agents could catch them, the two Sinlarine joined the party, having been exiled from their respective clans. In consolation, Osmond joined them as husband and wife and offered them a place to stay at his home town Ridgefort.
The party, using information provided by Arcturius and Bella, made contact with thieves from the Union Workers and asked for their help in outsmarting any potential pursuers from the Coalition. The thieves, recognizing Arc as their old ally and Bella as the missing wife of their business associate Fehr Sirius, chose to help them. However, they also had ulterior motives involving Illyria but chose to keep that information to themselves although Osmond noticed that Illyria was a bit uneasy around them.
During the journey, Osmond gradually learned what Arc had been up to since the adventure in the woods and how the young bard had helped free Bella and Illyria from the Coalition and made a daring magical escape, after which he and the elves had bumped into Osmond in the alley. Bella filled in the blanks through her side of the story, although she didn't reveal everything that had transpired to the paladin. Illyria remained mostly quiet, only giving sparse answers when questioned.
Osmond and party met the Grey Guard on its path to Osmond's home, and had a confrontation with Helena the Grey who Osmond learned was Arc's mother. Arc and his mother parted ways on cordial terms, and while the boy was out of earshot, Erai learned that he was, in fact, the father of Arcturius from an old one-night stand with Helena. Osmond chose to stay quiet and let the family drama unfold on its own terms.
After two weeks of travel, Ridgefort was finally in sight. Osmond's wife Aegle rode out to greet them, tackling the paladin off his horse, before being introduced to the rest of Osmond's traveling party. After the introductions, Osmond led the group to his house, and was greeted by his son Lucius on the front lawn. Osmond's mother Melana was cooking stew, and they all had a nice dinner and a well-needed rest from their travels.
Osmond woke up early and decided to study the tome and the journal he had acquired. He gradually discovered Breivik's dark past from the worn pages and learned of the cult the man had been working for called the Totenkopfs as well as how they were linked to a being called Death and how the incident with the resurrection ritual had apparently been part of a larger, enigmatic plan. Osmond was furious that he had been played for a fool by Death, for what amounted to his entertainment.
Knowing he would not know a wise action from a foolish one, he sought counsel from his master, Petyr Jackson. He was told to calm himself, and that if he must make an enemy out of Death, he had best learn about him. The planar compendium he'd retrieved might hold some of this knowledge.
And it did indeed contain knowledge. He found that there was a chapter on each of the gods who was recorded to exist in the Land of the Living. He skipped over Gaea's with a bitter frown, his heart still too freshly wounded by the debacle with the Mad Clergies and the Fae. He learned surprising things regarding the dead god of Chaos as he had been in the morning of the world.
Before the paladin could think more deeply on these revelations, he was greeted by the freshly awoken Erai. The two men had a brief discussion about whether Erai should tell Arc the truth about his parentage. After that, they ate a quiet breakfast, being joined by Arc and Bella. Illyria was conspicuously absent, but Osmond decided that he'd check up on her later. She'd never explicitly stated where her drop-off was, after all. She might need more rest, as well.
Once they'd eaten, Arc and Bella got ready to continue the journey and head for Reign to return Bella to her husband. Osmond decided to accompany them as far as the gate of Ridgefort. On the way, they met with one of Osmond's paladin friends, Derek Hawthorne, whom Osmond introduced to the rest of the party. He silently accompanied them to the gate, where Arc and Bella bid them farewell. The paladin gifted Arcturius the sword he'd found underground in Trinity Gask so that he'd have a decent weapon even when he was older.
After Arc and Bella were out of sight, Osmond retrieved the two Sinlarine exiles and took them and Erai to meet with Petyr Jackson.
Osmond was given a break from his duties as a protector for a few days to get reacquainted with his family, Erai was allowed access to the keep's library, and Tearlach and Liosa were told to keep enjoying each other for the rest of the week. With free time now, the paladin walked back to his home and instructed Luke a little bit in how to swing a sword before sending him off to play. He caught his wife just as she was heading home from the market, having bought many sweet things for their contributions to the Winter Festival Feast. She reminded him of his responsibility to contribute as well, and he agreed to get some meat for the Festival and cook it.
When he went to hunt it, two of his brothers in arms, Drake and Bertram, suddenly appeared, along with a monstrously huge, and old, wyvern. It took them hours, and a lot of effort, but the three paladins brought it down, and ate the old beast during the course of the Festival.
Some days later, Osmond was being tested on what abilities he had learned during his sojourn to Trinity Gask. His magic had improved by a vast margin, and he nearly won the full contact spar, but Drake knocked his sword away and he revealed the white flames he could summon. Petyr pronounced the ability to be an old one, rediscovered after the last of the Chaos Knights had died.
When they were returning to their homes, Osmond was suddenly possessed, apparently through Osmond's long-thought-dead father, Oscar. He was knocked out twice, purified, and then the being was coaxed out of Osmond and into a sword. He was taken home to rest.
Osmond helped build Valencia into what it became. His father returned after six years, and he found out he had an 'uncle' and a 'cousin' who were both pirates. He found an albino wyvern hatchling abandoned by its species and began to raise it. Lucius, and then Aurora, his daughter, were trained to defend themselves and their city/nation. Demons were allowed to settle in Valencia with the signing of the Great Trade Charter.
Then, the Andarian Scare and the Great Fires happened. The first incident, while doing nothing to the Locke Family as a whole, caused a great deal of stress for Osmond. The second saw his wife die saving someone else. He admired her for her courage and her sacrifice, and the Locke family mourned their loss. Then, only three years later, Susumu, Melana, and Oscar all died, with Oscar leaving a warning that signaled troubled times ahead.
Even so, Osmond decided that he would face what lay ahead.
Herald of the Dawn
Osmond went through his morning routine, got breakfast for his white wyvern, Dragon, and then ate his own. Then he went on a morning flight so as to clear his head of depressing thoughts.
Aliases and Nicknames
- What he is called.
- A common nickname. Anyone that says he has or is a wizard gets punched, however.
- He Who Shines
- What he was called by the Mad Clergies and Befana. The same text appeared in the prophecy he was trying to have interpreted, and Osmond suspects a link between the clergies and the prophecy, but can't be sure of one. Befana's use of it puzzles him.
- A title he feels he has not earned yet, if called as such, he will counter that he is not a hero, merely a brave man doing what he thinks is right. He despises when people call him that merely because he has a sword and armor.
- Royal Liaison to the Holy Inquisition of Cardia
- His title within the Kingdom of Valencia and the Castle Valencia.
- High Inquisitor
- His title within the Inquisition and the Castle of Inquiry.
Tall, strong, and handsome, with striking scars from battles he had with bandits. His hair shines like polished wooden banisters, crowning a strong brow, under which is a straight nose, green eyes, and very dull-colored lips. He stands at 6'2". His hair has silver streaks in it, and he has grown out his beard and moustache.
As a knight, he wears white armor that he prefers to keep immaculately clean, though it has been roughed up, and a cream colored cloak. His sword is worn on his right hip. His shield is worn on his right arm in combat, but on his back when not.
His sword, the Oath of Order, is a hand-and-a-half sword, cruciform and double-edged, with runes in a language he doesn't understand running down the fuller on either side of the blade. The blade has taken on a divinely golden glow since it absorbed the power of the Sword of Fotiacles.
Personality and Traits
Osmond sees the world in a less than pure light. He feels that it needs to be cleansed of the gods of darkness's influence, let the darkness and its chaos out and let the light make things flourish. Yet, he finds children, chaos in human form, to be the symbols of purity. His own child, Lucius, reminds him of that every day.
Osmond is dutiful on the job, willing to do things for others. He tries not to judge others although he can succumb to doing so at times, and though he might keep an open mind, he often subconsciously gets a mental image of the aspects of others, which can often be proven wrong. He is less cheery than he used to be, ever since his wife, parents, and 'uncle' died, though he still finds joy in his children.
He is perceptive of certain things, but his decisions regarding what to do about the things he perceives is not well thought out (e.g. when he was confronted with the impostor Jason, rather than sway the mob to his side and go the peaceful route one would expect, he immediately attacked the impostor without convincing the mob of its falsehood, turning the mob against him and his party). He is also prone to frustration and anger when those he speaks with do not see his point or refuse to respect his views (e.g. his attitude regarding the nymphs of Elysium ignoring his wishes to be left alone and refusing to empathize with his viewpoint). Generally, he is a kind, friendly, trusting fellow.
Powers and Abilities
He's skilled in the use of a hand-and-a-half sword in concert with a shield, and has a rudimentary grasp on white magic spells regarding shields, illusions, and healing. Due to finding a magic sword from a thousand or more years ago that awakened his innate talent with fire, his magic comes to him easier now. In addition to healing, casting illusions, and creating and manipulating shields, Osmond can now conjure holy flames.
His beloved wife of five years. Osmond wishes to return to his wife quickly, believing his quest for an interpretation to be a short matter. Now that he is returned to her side, he is overjoyed. Aegle, while teasing Osmond, seems fine with him going on adventures as she takes care of their son in his absence.
When Osmond learned that Aibell was a fae, he was in awe at first. However, he realized later that she didn't even see him as a person, but as a tool. At this, his respect for her waned and he realized that the even the legendary Faerfolc were merely people, each with flaws and strengths which could just as easily be used for good or evil. He eventually resolved to effectively toss her into a certain death in order to save his companions from a worse fate. Aibell initially saw Osmond as a pawn and treated him indifferently, but when Osmond started thwarting her plans and arguing against her, she began seeing him as a self-righteous hypocrite whose warmongering ways would cause more damage than good to the world in the end.
Though the two had a rough start, Arcturius has come to see Osmond as one of a very few honest and good people in a dark world, and Osmond has offered him a home in Ridgefort if he ever needs one.
Osmond made her somewhat flustered with his show of chivalry at their introduction, and since then, when they've encountered each other, they have been able to work well together, as well as hold a decent conversation. There is an easy trust between them, or so it seems.
Osmond treated Befana with respect, seeing her as a powerful force for the Good of the World. Befana saw Osmond as an instrument she could use to help restore balance even though by interfering with him she ended up breaking the laws of her race.
The two seem to get along well enough, although Osmond's lack of experience when dealing with strange monsters is apparent when they come up. The shaman seems not to trust Osmond, leaving the paladin confused.
Coincidental companions at first, the trials they went through, as well as traveling together for two weeks and their interest in the arcane, has bonded them as friends.
Erikur and Osmond met in the woods and got along at first, feeling they could work together to figure out what was going on. However, Erikur ended up being affected by rage fueled by the voice he had been interacting with, and ultimately Osmond turned against him, doing his best to quell the blacksmith's anger even by violent means if necessary. They parted ways after the adventure in Survivor's Woods, and whatever camaraderie they might've had was gone.
While suffering from amnesia and partly believing herself to be Gaea, Inari saw Osmond as an arrogant, errant child of Nergal who overstepped his bounds regarding her. Likewise, Osmond saw her as a childish woman undeserving of the power of a deity. Despite this occasional banter, there was some respect between them as Inari, while under the aliases of Gaea and Rose, came to see Osmond as her guardian. The revelation of Inari's true identity during the events in Survivor's Woods has left her and Osmond's future relationship uncertain.
His four year old son. The light of Osmond's world. He's proved to be a young rascal, though not in a bad way. Just the way that involves mud-spattered clothes after a hard day's play. Osmond is overjoyed to be home with his son again.
Osmond cares for his mother deeply, and Melena returns the sentiment.
Before leaving to fight in the war, Oscar instilled Osmond with the values of fairness and the golden rule as he grew up. Even though Osmond hasn't always lived up to his father's standards, he does his best to honor his memory as a paladin. Osmond believes his father to be dead and is unaware that Oscar is still alive in a far-away land waiting to see his family again.