Name: Sergeant Caius Vallenar
Hair: Dark Brown
Occupation: Former Vandregon Lieutenant – Present New Hope Sergeant, Blacksmith & Bartender
Known Skills: Blacksmithing & Professional Soldier
Birthplace: Kingdom of Vandregon, Year 232
Caius Vallenar hails from a minor city-state housed in the Kingdom of Vandregon. His father, who was born a mere commoner, dedicated his entire life to the service and protection of a local lord. In exchange for his service he was rewarded with the official bearings of knighthood, and used his noble status to provide for himself and his son. While Caius had the build and untapped skill for combat, his true passion and calling came from the smelting and folding of steel; it surprised all around him when his natural talent for the craft surfaced early on. His father glowed with pride at Caius’ skill, refused to push him towards the life of rank and nobility, and was eager to learn blacksmithing along with his son. Misfortune would not look kindly upon the young smith, however. A large group of cutthroats and bandits invaded their hometown, looting and pillaging anything they could. As the town guard was caught entirely by surprise, initial resistance was scattered and disorganized at best. Upon hearing the screams of his neighbors, Caius instinctively picked up his smith’s hammer and a nearly-finished blade, and ran to their aid with no hesitation. They discovered him kneeling with a great wound to his right shoulder, without making a sound. Upon closer inspection, it seemed he was surrounded by two of the brigands: both were dead, his right hand still holding fast to the forge hammer’s grip.
After some much needed rest and training to restore his shoulder to full strength, his father, recognizing his true potential as a fighter, immediately inquired his opinion of becoming a soldier and protecting those in need. As Caius was already fascinated with the weapons and tools of martial combat, his decision was firm; within months his combat prowess instilled great respect from his peers and set him apart from other members of the military, despite his young age. Caius took training to the utmost importance in addition to honing his skill as a smith. His aspiration: to forge the finest of armor and weapons for himself and those around him; that they may provide the finest protection during their time of need.
At the age of twenty-one, Caius was wed to the love of his life: Silvetta. The two were described as amongst the most honorable and devoted a couple seen throughout the land, and they bore two children in only a few years’ time. Caius, now with a fatherly conviction, continued his life in the military and soared through the ranks, while his wife took care of educating their children and continuing her role as a talented leatherworker.
Little is known of Caius’ life between the years of 255 to 260, save his arrival to Mardrun on one of the few ships successfully completing the voyage from Faedrun in the year 261. Upon landing, he immediately setup his small forge to accommodate the incredibly high demand for a local skilled smith. With the addition of bartending in a local tavern throughout the week, Caius was able to quickly and efficiently establish himself on the new continent. While none would dare speak ill of his work, the locals who know him best are aware of one hard fact:
..The smith came to Mardrun alone.
Caius seldom speaks of his previous life, though no one would dare fault him; people are known to block out the most traumatic and horrific events they have endured. Those who maintain relations with him have tried to appeal to his past; any attempt has been met with silence followed by a cold, hard stare. He maintains a calm, collected demeanor with a hint of ice to his personality, and the local populace respects his trade and his moderately well-known status throughout the city-state of New Hope. While none can say for certain, rumors and theories circulate aplenty: Caius’ family was killed or lost during The Fall, and he shoulders the blame alone for failing to protect what mattered most; for failing to possess the strength to make a difference. Despite his prestigious ranking inside the Vandregon military, he requested to be discharged upon arriving to Mardrun, relinquishing the titles and influence he had earned from years upon years of service.
Over time Caius’ opportunities improved, as he was offered membership in the Vandregon Trade Guild. His duties: mending armor and tending to weapons for the volunteers of Vandregon; individuals who kept the colors alive in the new continent. His duty-bound soul was somewhat at ease, for he was able to supply the Vandregon units with much-needed equipment, and the soldiers frequently spoke to him or petitioned him for advice while he repaired their armor and weapons. Known for his excellent service, Caius accepted a different bartending situation at a tavern in Baroness Catherine’s district of New Hope, though taking care of those who’ve had a bit much to drink would always be in his duties.
Years went by. Soldiers came and went. Stories circulated amongst the soldiers, and then to Caius’ ears. The colors of Vandregon were still at the forefront of battles. Their leader: a knight by the name of Sir William, commanded great respect from his men. However, it was not to last: the once-compelling stories heard at the tavern eventually turned to stories of worry and dread from the locals stationed at the nearby barracks.
Vandregon was dying.
The last embodiment of order and solidarity was strung out, low on supplies, and its people beginning to starve. Dismissing such tales at first, Caius would settle the locals, retelling with vigor and pride the stories of prowess he had heard about the Vandregon forces on the continent; the stories of Sir William leading the way, of lighting the ever-darkening path for his brothers and sisters in arms. The travelers and locals always left reassured; perhaps not from the stories themselves, or even the manner in which they were told. Something about the look in Caius’ eyes inspired them; it made them believe.
As time continued to pass, so, too did the tales of worry; this weighed heavily on the smith’s mind. For as the rain heaped down upon the roof of the forge one night, it was simply mirroring the arm of the smith, blow after blow raining down upon the cherry-red steel. Caius’ mind was restless, and the forge was the only place he could collect his thoughts. He worked faster, taking half the time he normally used to heat and pound the steel into its final shape. The hammer soared through the air, resounding with a plethora of ringing throughout the structure. Faster and faster he forged, until finally he made his mistake.
With one final strike of the hammer the blade itself broke in two, shards of metal scattering across the floor of the smithy.
Looking down at his work, he examined the broken half of steel. He wasn’t angry; he was empty. Staring into the distance, his mind could think of nothing but Vandregon.
Picking up the broken piece of metal, he held both halves of the blade in each hand. It was at this moment the zeal returned to him – His brows furrowed, and his eyes were set ablaze. Placing the metal pieces next to each other, he heated them in the forge and began his task; for this next blade would be his own.
For too long had he carried the burden of his family’s fate. He abandoned his pride and his post in Vandregon. He had become the one brand of individual he despised above all others: a coward. As the night went on, each hammer blow to the blazing orange steel further solidified this newfound purpose.
Caius renewed a vow to himself alone: he would reenlist with Vandregon. He would assist in their struggles, protect them from harm, and regain his lost titles. This would be how he honored his family. If they were alive, he would work to find them. If they were dead, he would become a man, a father, and a husband they would be proud of.
Filled again with conviction and purpose, Caius ran out in the middle of the night to reenlist.
Upon his arrival at the Vandregon Headquarters, Caius was astounded by what lay before him: The survivors of the battles were packing up the offices and structures of the Vandregon Headquarters…
The rumors were true in their entirety, and worse than previously imagined.
The people were rioting. All of the supplies were gone; Sir William of Vandregon vanished without a trace. The overwhelming stress and high expectations of his performance had finally bore their way to his mind. Without his guidance and presence, the soldiers lost faith and began leaving the ranks of Vandregon in order to find work elsewhere. Vandregon, and the entirety of its influence on the continent of Mardrun, was dissolved.
Caius stormed back into the smithy, picked up his hammer, and cleanly threw it across the room into a wooden pillar, the scraps of wood splintering across the floor of the workshop. The fire burned deep within him, but now it had changed: a fiery vengeance against one who betrayed his people. How could the one man he could look up to in these dark times, the one whose stories turned fear on its heels in the hearts and minds of the people… How could he turn his back on his own men? Caius gazed across the room, blankly staring into the smooth stone wall. Despite trying desperately to push it from his mind’s reach, the thought finally settled upon him:
He, himself, was no different.
His own men…his own battalion of soldiers; he had abandoned them. The honor, devotion, loyalty and integrity he once stood for meant nothing because of his cowardice.
Kneeling down and firmly grasping the hammer, his will was finally tempered. Fueled now by a reformed sense of purpose and a fury against his previous self, Caius left the Vandregon Headquarters and set his path upon the military barracks of New Hope. Knowing his previous training and rank would never transfer, he refuted the doubt from his mind: he would rise in the ranks and prove to his family, himself, and to the citizens of Mardrun a truly noble cause was still worth believing in.
Caius enlisted as a soldier in the New Hope Army and thus began volunteering for duties and additional training whenever the opportunity presented itself, tackling every challenge or obstacle presented to him; he would become a leader to the people of Mardrun, and shine his light for others in the dark times ahead.