Val (Valerian Telynor san'Celessir, if you're an elf) is roughly 5' 9", broad-shouldered and narrow-hipped, rather rangy and wolf-lean. His hair is thick and long, untrimmed in quite some time, and is a rich chestnut-brown with irregular streaks of red shot through it. The clear grey eyes are slanted up at the corners, and the shape of the face suggests (but doesn't confirm) elven blood somewhere in the family. Overall, he projects an odd combination of delicacy and trail-worn ruggedness, though he's apparently somewhere in his twenties to look at him. If you picture a half-elven cowboy, you won't be far off the mark. On his back, visible when he strips (say, to dunk in the horse-trough outside the Diamond Lady), is a precise and even pattern of white whip-scars, laid on with inhuman precision, in a downward-pointing chevron pattern that begins at his shoulderblades and ends just over his tailbone.
Val generally dresses in reddish-brown leathers, simple in style, with a long pair of reinforced arm-guards that cover the backs of his hands, similar to Japanese kote. On the hand-covering part of each is painted a cloudy hand, pointing forward. He usually wears a large charcoal-grey hooded cloak of very soft-tanned reindeer hide, and often has a piece of cloth loosely hung at his throat, bandanna-style. His gear is well-used and well cared-for : a recurve bow of laminated horn; a quiver of red cedar arrows with black falcon fletching in an X-pattern; a wide leather pouch containing healing herbs, bandage, needle, sinew, and so forth; a frame-mounted backpack; a machete tied to his right thigh; and then the most distinctive thing, always with him, always within arm's reach, the family blade, a slim two-handed sword of Elven make, ebony-hilted with a crescent-shaped guard and a moonstone pommel - a fairly impractical blade for the woodsman and guide Val appears to be. Lately, around the Inn, Val's been leaving the leather armor, bow, and pack at home and simply showing up in shirt, armguards, breeches, boots and sword.
Val's not one of Tenate's wealthier residents. He's a trailguide, a pathfinder, and sometime caravan guard. The few jobs he's had, he's completed reliably and with quiet skill, but there just isn't much work for him. He sleeps out in the woods, by and large, and has been known to pay for his bar tab with the odd deer, rabbit, or pheasant. When talking about his profession, Val's standard line is "I can find water on bare rock and keep a group of twenty townsfolk together on a foggy moonless night," said with no hint of bragging. He gets along quite well with forest animals, referring to wolves and raccoons and such as "the Other People." Recently he seems to be spending more and more time in town, often in the company of a very well-dressed and wealthy lady; rumor has it Val is spending his nights in a suite at the Creighton Arms instead of sleeping in the woods these days.
Val venerates a god he refers to as "The Windlord", or "The Rider of the Winds." (For more information, see Tenate's Religions folder, The Windlord.) The Windlord would seem to be the patron of travelers, explorers, and caravan-traders - all those who need protection on journeys. He has but one holy day each year, in late spring, when his priests are asked to ride the wind for a full day, landing wherever chance and fortune may place them. The Windlord has no Tenatean worshippers as yet, though Val has constructed a shrine on top of the mountain just north of the town. Celestial rumour has it that Elee and the Windlord are coming to some sort of arrangement...
Val's History : Born as the result of a casual liason between a disreputable elven bard and the mercenary commander Morgan Ironwolf, at birth Val was handed to one of Morgan's own lieutenants with the injunction, "Go find his father. I have a war to finish." The bard was finally tracked down to a tavern in Sembia (in the Forgotten RealmsTM), and the infant dumped in his lap. Val thus grew up for the first few years of his life under tavern tables, in the laps of a long succession of lady friends of his father, and on the run from the outraged husbands of those selfsame ladies. After a while, it became clear to Val's father that he needed some help with the boy, so he reluctantly turned to the parents he'd disavowed many years ago.
Val's grandparents were surprised, to say the least - surprised at their son's return, surprised (though in a resigned fashion) by his bastard offspring, and surprised that their wayward son would ask for help from them. They were one of the few Gold Elven families not to make the exodus to Evermeet, preferring to stay in the forest of Cormanthor near the town of Elventree. Val's grandmother, Eliennarielana chal'Tilionithalandra san'Celessir, saw her son's acknowledgement of the boy as a possible way to repair the breach in the family, and failing that, as a way, however awkward, of ensuring some continuation to a very old family line - even if Valerian was of mixed blood. From his grandmother Val learned elven culture and ettiquette, tradition, religion, and family history - and, unintentionally, a sense of his own inferior status, since he was not full elf. The family sword, older than some Realms kingdoms, was given directly to Valerian, since his father showed no inclination to accept it. But the mixed messages took their toll on the boy, and he spent more and more time in the forest, away from both human and elven society, preferring the company of the animals.
It was in his seventeenth year that Val rediscovered human society - or rather, it rediscovered him, in the form of one Maura, a young priestess of the Windlord. Slowly, over the course of a year or so, they became friends, and then sweethearts. Maura was intrigued by the night-running half-elven companion to wolves; Val was intrigued by Maura's fire and energy and free-spiritedness, her unselfconscious friendship. They were together as much as time permitted - at her urging, Val began to put his wilderness skills to use, acting as a guide and pathfinder between the Moonsea and Cormyr. They talked of gods, of course - Val to that point had largely venerated the Moon-Goddess, while Maura was one of only six clerics of her god. The Windlord's major temple of old had been in the lost city of Myth Drannor, now in ruins, the old capital of the ancient Elven kingdom in Cormanthor. The place was said to now be deadly, demon-haunted, full of thirty kinds of death for the unwary.
Val had heard such stories before, of course, in the disreputable taverns his father frequented. He had learned early on to believe at best a tenth of such tales. It occurred to him one day that it might be quite nice for Maura to have some token of the god to whom she gave such fervent dedication, a token from the old Temple itself. Thus, with good-hearted intentions and youthful stupidity he set himself his first quest.
It did not go quite as planned. The stories about Myth Drannor were, in this case, quite accurate. The Windlord's Temple stood at the very northern edge of the ruins, making it more accessible than most of the city; even so, Val barely got there alive. Clawed, battered, bleeding from a score of wounds, the young ranger collapsed inside the Windlord's house - and heard a voice in his head. It was a deep voice, a voice that commanded respect and offered friendship at the same time. A voice that, after a short while, offered a deal to the young ranger.
When Val emerged from the Temple, he was working for the Windlord.
The next two decades for Val were rather more full of activity than the young half-elf was used to; his Windrides of unprecedented length and direction - leading to the eventual unvoiced suspicion in Val's mind that the Windlord had some sort of particular plan in mind for him. His first Windride (preceeded by some heart-wringing farewells with Maura) landed Val in the Great Desert of Anauroch. After finally emerging from the desert on (to him) the "wrong," i.e. western, side, he traveled the North, guarding caravans out of Silverymoon, Longsaddle, and Neverwinter. After wintering in Waterdeep, he spent the early spring traveling the High Forest, gaining the higher slopes of the Lost Peaks in time for his second Windride. This one took him south to Amn, and to a year of learning the southern forests and caravan-guarding between the cities of the Western Plains. The Sunrise Mountains were his launching-point for the next Windride, which deposited the Northerner far to the South and West, in the tropical Jungles of Chult. The year of savage jungle survival that followed was not exactly pretty, and the following year's survival in the Nelanther Isles to the north, a small archipelago inhabited by lizard men and other goblinoid races, was even less pleasant, requiring the utmost of Val's stealth skills. His fifth year's windride blew him back east, to the coastal desert land of Calimshan, where Val quite happily took advantage of civilization - perhaps the first time he actively desired to enter a city. He spent the remainder of that year in the (to him) exotic culture of the city of Calimport, supplying mages with rare spell components, teaching occasionally at Calimport's espionage school, and doing the odd bodyguarding job. In between his various jobs, he sipped kafi in the outdoor inns, cheerfully debating religion and customs with the Calishite men, picking up a bit of the language, learning about a new culture.
The sixth year of travel saw Val in the southern Moonshae islands, working on his herbalism knowledge and helping fend off a pirate attack on the southern shores; the seventh had him in the far, far North, finding a pass through the Spine of the World from Icewind Dale to Mirabar, and once again doing work in the Neverwinter / Waterdeep area. The eighth took him back out to the Northern Moonshaes, to study medicine with Branwen ferch Artos, a naturalist and wisewoman. The Windride caught Val by surprise for once, out on the ocean west of the Moonshaes, sending him due west to land in....
Evermeet. The Elven Homeland. Jealously guarded by naval and aerial patrols. Non-elves banned completely - including half-elves. Val was treated as worse than human, something that shouldn't even be. He took to the woods once more, just trying to live out his year, and trying to figure out why the Windlord had sent him here of all places... until once again a lady intervened.
Her name was Minarielathalesana chal'Telurien san'Darien, daughter of an Evermeet noble, a Moon Elf, and she was the most beautiful woman Val had ever set eyes on. She came to the forest, curious about the stories she'd heard of this "wild-elf halfblood". She was surprised to discover a young man who spoke the elven tongue fluently, who had traveled, who knew of healing. Val was surprised to discover an elf-maid who talked with him as a person. They drifted into a tentative friendship; Val ached for something more, but knew that it could never happen. And then, in mid-spring, fate lent a hand. Mina's father and a large group of other assorted elven nobles were stag-hunting near the part of the forest where Val had made his home. The tumult and noise roused a young boar, a compact bundle of hard muscle and sharp white tusks. The horses panicked at the boar's charge; Mina's father, directly in the path, was doomed. Val leapt between, taking a hard gash in the thigh, but managed to plant his machete between the boar's ribs before going down.
In tales and legends, such an incident immediately leads to acceptance from the father, respect from those who previously scorned the hero. Unfortunately, such did not occur here. While they could not precisely ignore Val, the common consensus was that keeping him from dying of the thigh-wound was payment enough of the debt; Val's recuperation would have been long and painful. Would have been. It was still long, but the pain largely disappeared when Mina quietly defied family authority to slip out and tend to the wounded half-elf out in the forest. The discrepancy between what "society" was saying and what she was seeing with her own eyes was not one she could countenance any longer. Courtly romance blossomed under the willows as Mina determined to help Val be the best elf he could possibly be - why, it was hardly his fault for being disadvantaged by his parents...! Val was guilt-stricken for missing the Windride, but supposed that possibly the boar and subsequent injury had been sent to make it impossible for him to ride the winds this year, so that he and Mina might have their time together.
The next spring, however, Val had no excuse. He and Mina parted at the mountain's foot with tender regret. Mina's cousins, with a few members of the Home Guard, met Val a ways upslope. In no uncertain terms they informed the half-elf that if he ever were to return, even accidentally, he would be "accidentally" mistaken for an elk or imprisoned for life. On that rather ominous note, Val took to the wind once more, which again took him due west at a hellishly rapid speed, landing him at sunset in...
Thay. Let's be blunt - Thay is a nasty place. In brief,
it's a xenophobic mageocracy that runs on a slave economy, and anyone non-human
(or indeed non-Thayvian) is considered slave material. Val generally
has no concept of where he is when he lands, and over the past few Windrides
had depended on taking a few days to figure that out from the plants, animals,
weather, and people. Here, he's pretty quickly captured by a band of
slavers, and put up on the block for sale. A fair-skinned redhead in
a country where dark hair and tanned skin is the norm, a half-elf in a country
of humans, Val was quite the exotic.
The wind took Val North again, far up into the icy lands beyond the Spine of the World - and the winds were to keep him there for the next six years, taking him all over the North but never south of those ice-fanged peaks. There he met The Old Man, a priest of the Windlord living among the nomadic northern tribes. After the three years he'd just had, the idea of sitting quietly in the ice and cold all day learning to see the wind was pretty appealing to Val. The Old Man taught him more than he'd ever known about the ways of the Rider of the Winds, and living in icy solitude among the Tribes brought a small measure of peace to a very troubled person.
At last, toughened by wind and ice and harsh survival conditions, the Wind brought Val south and east, over to the vast uncharted Plains of the East, where he again worked as a caravan-guard, and learned something of a new fighting style from the warriors there. Another year was spent among the nomads of the southern steppes, the horse-people. And then the wind brought him through cloud and storm to a little seaport city called Tenate...
Page Updated 7/20/99