Himmelveil's Mightiest Heroes
Ranger, Marshal, Trainer of Marshals at Fort Birchwood, Cohort of Asa
Breaking the Egg
Samwell Gafferson was born in the town of Harlhaven on the 7th of Rhavaras (the 8th month) in the year 1986 to Dorla (nee Sardou) and Pall Gafferson. It was a sign to both of them.
Pall is a man of the earth and that his first and eldest son would be born on the Autumnal equinox, the day culminating the week-long month of Rhavaras, the feast celebrating the hunt and the wood and the beasts therein, was an indication to Pall that Samwell would be following in Pall’s path.
Dorla loved the land. Enough so that she risked her familial relationships to pursue a life built upon it. Samwell’s birth on the day marking the middle of the year honoring the blessings of earth was confirmation enough that she had found her true calling and whatever doubts remained about her past choices could be put behind her once and for all.
Going to Ground
Pall Gafferson was a falconer. This was unusual in Harlhaven, the town of their births. Loving the land in any respect was.
Harlhaven was a small fishing community located on the calm waters of Stillwater Bay, sheltered from the rough waters and pounding waves of the Western Ocean by the jut of land which was home to the bustling city of Bluhaven. The Gaffersons were an old family in Harlhaven, though not the oldest. (They didn’t found the city; that was the Harls, of course!) Being so, they had built their home upon the earth. Uniquely, as the town grew, it didn’t expand inward over the land, but outward across the shallow waters of Stillwater Bay. It expanded such that now more residents than not live their lives and die their deaths without stepping foot on the earth. Boats, and homes built upon stilts offered the residents a contentment such that their feet never touched the dirt.
When Pall rejected the fishing life, like that of his father and his father’s father, he could have been easily ostracized. But as I said, his was an old family, with a home on the earth, and I guess it could be understood that one’s proximity to the dirt was enough to turn one away from the water.
Pall looked inland for his path. And he found it among the beasts of the air. He had a natural affinity for the creatures. They flocked to him, if you’ll pardon the pun. He understood them, their habits, and their needs. It was not long before word spread and he became a relied upon resource for the residents of larger Haven for any bird raising and training which was required. All kinds of birds came under his wing (ahem) from pigeons and owls to falcons and eagles. He was even consulted when the military began training the larger birds for use as mounts: emus, ostriches, rocs and even an occasional griffon. It all just came naturally to him.
Dorla loved the land, too, but she loved god the same. As the first of seven children, Dorla was encouraged and guided into the path of the novitiates at the Bluhaven Theosian temple. She was the Sardou family tithe to the Nameless One.
She didn’t mind. Truly. She was not meant for the water of Harlhaven and she would have welcomed that life. I’ve said it before, but let me reiterate: she loved the land. Putting her hands into the earth, churning it, sowing and planting, weeding and reaping the blessings of the earth. It was therapeutic work and peaceful. She met god there. And she found no stability in water-logged Harlhaven.
Then Dorla met Pall. He was a kindred spirit in the midst of Harlhaven. A lover of earth and the things it produced. This mutual affection deepened the spark of physical attraction between them and it wasn’t long before he requested her hand in making a home together, a life built upon the earth. The choice to go with him was easy. The Sardous were incredibly disappointed with her. She was stealing their gift to the Nameless One and using it for her own purposes. Dorla understood their complaint, but she couldn’t quite convince them that this was not the calling god had placed upon her heart. Rather, the Nameless One’s larger calling for her life was to start this family.
The relationship strained under the weight of the perceived betrayal, but there was strength in her. The strength of hands accustomed to labor, stained with the work of the earth. Her roots ran deep. Thankfully, the bitterness never broke her relationship with them and it was soon forgotten. Especially after Dorla’s younger brother Jodee, who had a deep commitment to the Theosian Temple, joined the priestly order.
Dorla was different, anyway, her parents reasoned. She wasn’t a water bug like the other children, who often teased her, wondering why she never wanted to go fishing or swimming, splashing her whenever they could, poking her with their wrinkled, pruned fingertips. But they came to see the truth of her path. This was her personal calling; the work of her hands was her devotion and tribute and tithe to the Nameless One. Cultivating the blessings of the earth in his name.
And it didn’t hurt that her handiwork was of excellent quality. It became the topic of much discussion and gossip within Harlhaven. “Those crazy Gaffersons,” was often heard, but no one ever declined an invitation to sup.
Samwell then was his parents’ child. A boy, born of land-loving parents: a father enamored with the hunt and the beasts of the air, a mother with a passion for the earth and everything it produced. Yes, his birth was a sign to them both.
And they weren’t wrong. Samwell took after his parents, though he didn’t want to. Like most children there is a rebellious streak in him, but there was no denying his ease with the earth and the birds which flew upon it. With so many opportunities so close at hand, he often sneaked into the stables and stole away on the back of a roc or a giant owl in Pall’s care for training. (Once, he even had the chance to ride upon a griffon!) Pall was not pleased. But Samwell never fell off. The beasts adjusted to his presence with ease. He was a natural.
What he did do, though, was fly them too hard and too far. He often ended up far off, away from home, across the fields and plains and towards the more mountainous regions on the borders of Haven. If he was lucky, he’d end up close to Greenhaven, Haven’s Easternmost city. It was easy to find his way home from there. But more often than not, Samwell roamed into the forested lands or burgeoning mountains, sparsely populated except for the creatures of the wild, unsafe for most, let alone teenage boys.
Samwell never panicked. He had an uncanny sense of direction and ability to know the right path. He always found his way home. Even flying he was skilled at this! Though sometimes, it wasn’t until the morning he reached home (and after his father was already awake, if Samwell was unlucky).
Risk and rebelliousness aside, Samwell was a help around the home and a dutiful student. He enjoyed whatever book learning Dorla provided (mostly instructional books about birds or gardening) but he truly enjoyed any books detailing the exciting histories of the Empire. He wasn’t a hero himself, but reading those epics, he could certainly see himself fighting among them, flying his griffon in support of the mighty Himmel. In the meantime, he had to satisfy himself with being a hero towards his younger siblings.
Samwell (now 27 years old) is the oldest of four children. His younger brother Gidyn (17), was born in 1996 when Samwell was 10. Sister S’Bylle (15) followed shortly thereafter. With that span of 10 years between the kids, it was up to Samwell to be that good example and he did the best he could.
This was most important during the short life of sister Râché. She was the youngest of the four, but grew ill shortly after her birth and died before her first birthday. Samwell was 15 at the time. The other children weren’t old enough to truly understand the devastation they witnessed daily in their parents so Samwell was that rock for them.
Presently, Gidyn is a budding fisherman, apprenticing on a local merchant ship. S’Bylle, skilled with birds like Samwell and her father, is learning the family trade.
The death of Râché stole away some of Samwell’s exuberance and rebelliousness for a time, as the responsibilities of the home weighed heavily upon him, but it returned powerfully when he was coming of age. Soon after his 18th birthday, in 2002, despite his clear aptitude, Samwell forwent Pall’s falconry and enlisted with the Himmelveil Marshals at Fort Birchwood.
Samwell’s aptitude didn’t wane with the Marshals. If anything, it grew with the specialized training he received. He strengthened his natural affinities for nature and birds and was trained in the ways of the Rangers. He became accustomed to the use of a crossbow and sword. He learned some of the natural magic that accompanied such a vocation. But most importantly, his skills were not hindered by his commanders, but encouraged. They recognized what they had in him and advanced him quickly to become the Marshals’ top trainer of flying mounts and their riders. He remains in this post to this day.
Four springs past, Samwell was enjoying some ale with his good friend and mentor, Captain Cynero Glass of the Marshals. They were relaxing during an evening of leave from Fort Birchwood. It was crowded that night. Melisse was approaching and the locals (besides the other Marshals freed from the fort for the evening) were raucous and enjoying the coming warmth. There was an opening at the bar. Samwell, responsible for the next round, jumped into the gap. There, next to him, was a magnificent bird. She told him her name was Rosario Rickson. The chemistry of their instant connection was palpable. He invited her to his table. She followed. Cynero wasn’t oblivious. With Samwell’s eyes locked on her baby browns, Cynero said goodbye (Rosario was kind enough to wave a pleasantry) and commiserated with his troops the remainder of the evening.
Rosario was Samwell’s first and truest love. He had had some childhood crushes and the occasional kisses which went with them, but nothing lasted. Harlhaven was a small town and he was never comfortable with all the attention that came from those adventures.
Rosario was different. She was a farmer’s daughter, a Fort Birchwood local. She was slim, tall and lithe. Almost cat-like. Which made him chuckle at the idea of her as his persistent prey. They laughed about it because he didn’t act like a predator, but more like someone showing his colors, simply attempting to attract a mate.
Samwell got the sense he was an opportunity for her, a chance to prove to her father she could make her own choices. He got that. He didn’t mind. Even when he learned her father had someone else in mind for her: Jean-Piero “JP” DeMonde, the youngest brother of the local baron, Samel DeMond, Lord of the Alcarin plains surrounding Fort Birchwood. Rosario had rejected the match, and discovering some suitability in Samwell, Rosario became the predator seeking her prize.
They were inseparable. And ultimately they married. And she resides now with the other soldiers’ families at Fort Birchwood. They have not yet had children.
It wasn’t always easy dealing with the fallout. Both families were on board, but the DeMonde’s didn’t take it too well. JP’s older brother Samel took whatever opportunity he could to stir the pot and make life hard on the Marshals and Samwell in particular.
Bird of Prey
The Summer and Autumn of 2013 brought with it war. But not for Haven. Outside of a couple trouble spots of small incursions, mainly just Hydran testing the readiness of the regional forces, Haven remained largely unscathed by the War with Hydran.
With a sense that war was brewing back East, Samwell was tasked with creating small units of mounted flying cavalries, strike forces to sortie wherever they were needed to fight back against Hydran. He handled himself well. His teams were incredibly successful and Samwell led them in a number of small skirmishes, flying in and then out again, dispossessing Hydran troops of their timing, their organization, and ultimately some of their lives before escaping back to their front lines to fight again another day. They could strike anywhere and fast and though they suffered losses like any unit, Samwell’s cavalry units were a brilliant success in stalling the advances of ground troops across the front.
He earned recognition from his superiors and some local renown (as well as in the war reports sent up the ladder), but Samwell never earned any wider acclaim. He was fine with that. His men knew what he brought to the fight and that was enough for him. And besides, acclaim was best reserved for those where the fighting was more heated.
It was in the reports of the heavier fighting where Samwell first heard of the exploits of the so-called “Heroes of Himmelveil.” He had heard rumors of them before, mostly from the odd reports coming out of the Battle of Himmelveil and the White Dragon invasion, but this was the first time he’d heard anything more substantive. The stories of their power and success were difficult to believe and though details varied in their telling, enough consistency remained to ferret out the kernels of truth. The heroes were real. And they were spectacular.
Samwell was drawn to Asa Murica, in particular. There was something about his leadership, his example, his integrity and his morality which deeply appealed to Samwell. Whether from the lessons of his mother, the strength of character of his father, or something else entirely, Asa’s reputation called to him.
So when, following the War with Hydran, Asa Murica was named by the Empress to be the new Imperial Grand Knight Marshal of Himmelveil — and Samwell’s boss! — he was even more thrilled to be a Marshal. And whether conscious or subconscious, Samwell emulated that bearing with Asa Murica as his example.
• Samwell is a permanent resident of Fort Birchwood among the Marshals. He has been posted there for 9 years.
• Born and raised in Harlhaven. Lived there for his first 18 years.
• Samwell is Asa Murica’s cohort (via Leadership feat). He has developed a loyalty by proxy to Asa.
• He encountered and adventured with Galon, Quarion, Caroline Hala, and Natasha – along with what he came to learn was the imposter Asa Murica – on the days leading up to the Empress’ assassination by that same imposter. He assisted the team’s rescue of Stephen Murica and the identification of the other Black Watch soldiers lost to time at Blackreach within the plains of Alcarin.
• Group – Samwell is an outsider, inserting himself into situations for which he is neither trained nor ready.
• Group – Also, as exceptionally loyal first to Asa, he might not be receptive to the leadership of the other Heroes.
• Military – he will be faced, upon learning of Asa’s resignation, with a decision of how to proceed. Will he follow Asa and resign as well? Or stay connected to him as an access point to military resources?
• Follower of the Nameless One and member of the Theosian Temple
• Not quite devout, but a believer
• Adheres to his own moral code, especially as demonstrated in the behavior of Asa Murica
• Will not abide evil
• Neutral to the other religions; agnostic, indifferent
• Doesn’t abide evil or the purposeful destruction of life or property
• Local schooling at Harlhaven; much homeschooling, informal lessons
• Samwell learned much from experience, watching his mother Dorla and her relation to the earth and watching his father Pall and his relation to the birds
• These lessons as a youngster deepened his natural affinities towards things of nature and birds, specifically.
• Much of his early experience with birds and flying them was self-taught by just doing. He’d fly them, often without permission from Pall, just for the adventure of it. He’d fly them as far as he could before turning back and often farther than that. Too far, in fact, so that he would have to navigate his way home, by foot, escorting his tired mount home.
• He was naturally apt at knowing where to go, at which way was home. Nature’s gift from Dorla?
• His later education and training continued within the military at Fort Birchwood where they expanded upon his natural abilities and shepherded him into Ranger training.
• Soldier, lead trainer of flying mounts and their riders for the Marshals at Fort Birchwood in Haven
• Captain Cynero Glass – Samwell’s immediate supervisor at Fort Birchwood. They are more peers in relationship, than commander/soldier. Cynero directed Samwell on his brief assignments during the War with Hydran but was honest enough to know Samwell’s success came from his own ability than any direction he provided. They don’t hide their camaraderie and often share an ale or two when their schedules allow for it.
• Birds – Training, communicating with them. Much like his father, Samwell was born with a talent to connect with them. It is not work to him, but a passion.
• Joy riding on Redwing, exploring new territory
• Target practice
• Reading histories
• Doing his job
• Supporting the Empire
• Protecting Redwing and Rosario
• Following Asa Murica
• Rosario Rickson – She’s the daughter of a farmer, local to plains surrounding Fort Birchwood. She’s 24 years old now. Samwell encountered her one night three years ago when he on leave from base. He was 24 years old at that time. There was an instant connection and they grew close. Samwell spent as much free time as he had spending time with her. They married. She lives at Fort Birchwood with Samwell.
• Unfortunately, Samwell’s responsibilities with the Marshals and the War with Hydran and strained the relationship lately and they haven’t seen as much of each other as either would like.
• Harlhaven was a small town and there were few options for romance growing up; mostly just the occasional crush or playful kiss. Nothing serious prior to Rosario.
• Jean-Piero “JP” DeMonde – Brother of Samel. Cocky youngest brother of the baron, carouser. Believes he could have what he wants and he wants Rosario. He courted her for a short time prior to her meeting Samwell. She was a grudging participant primarily to please her father who was excited at the possible match to the local Lords. Samwell has encountered him while courting Rosario.
• When he was of age (18), Samwell enlisted with the Himmelveil Marshals at Fort Birchwood, the Haven fortress of the Empire’s Marshals.
• Samwell was quickly recognized as having aptitude with nature and birds and he quickly gained stature among the commanders at Fort Birchwood. He strengthened his natural affinities and received training in the ways of the Rangers. He became accustomed to the use of a crossbow and sword. He learned some of the natural magic that accompanied such a vocation. But most importantly, he advanced to become the Marshals’ top trainer of flying mounts and their riders.
• Haven, outside of a couple trouble spots of small incursions, was largely unscathed by the War with Hydran, but Samwell pushed East with smaller cavalries to sortie wherever needed to fight back any Hydran forces.
• Samwell handled himself well, successfully leading those small flight teams, and gaining recognition among his superiors. He gained some local renown (and in the reports up the ladder), but he never earned wider acclaim as that was best reserved for those where the fighting was more heated.
• At 15 years old, at the death of his youngest sister, Râché
• Learning the Asa Murica he met was an impostor and had assassinated the Empress
• Joining the Marshals
• Meeting Rosario Rikson
• Connecting with Redwing as his animal companion
• Meeting Asa Murica
• Alignment: Lawful Neutral
• Disposition: Brash, high-spirited, witty
• Moodiness: 5 even-keeled, but likely to get ramped up, excitable when faced with a fight
• Generally optimistic: Samwell is utterly confident in his ability to find what he needs and survive on land or in the air and to be successful in his job
• Integrity: Samwell abides by the law of the Empire of Himmelveil; he holds to this and frets if faced with compromising that ethic; he typically patterns his morality after his upbringing in the Theosian Temple and from what he’s learned of Asa Murica; he’s not afraid of causing harm, especially with a designated enemy of the Empire, but he will respect the laws of war, that is, accepting surrender and the like
• Stubborn, can be considered so, because of his confidence
• Warm towards others, but business-like if encountered in a military capacity
• Comportment: Relaxed, at ease with himself and his skills
• Disclosure: Open, wears his heart on his sleeve
• Conformity: Conforms to the law of the land and the order of authority but isn’t afraid to speak his mind and let his opinion be known; will work to not disobey orders
• Sense of Humor: Enjoys bawdy stories, leave, likes to laugh
• Magic: He doesn’t quite understand it and is surprised he is able to wield it, even in a small capacity
• Nature: Loves nature, animals and the land, especially birds. At home on land or in the air
• Military: Proud to be a Marshal
• Politics: Appreciates the separation of politics from the military; “do your job” mentality
• Other races: Accepting and indifferent