(Champion Spotlight) Battle Pass Champions
According to the Legend of Genesis, after Lumaya created the earth and skies of Teleria, she wished to see its vast realms before withdrawing from the mortal plane. Far and wide she went, through the shadowy forest of Durham and through the wind-swept wastes of Krokhan, o’er the stormy oceans and to the islands of the Mysterious East. At the very last leg of her journey, the Goddess made her way to the frozen peak of the world - the Winterlands. It was there she turned back to gaze at her creation and cried tears of sorrow, for not even she could save her children from the evils and the sorrows that would be wrought upon them. Her tears melted the ice of the glacier and formed a magical lake - the Font of Lumaya, whose waters could cure any ailment or injury. Some dared to suggest that even the dead could be brought back to life, for it was the Goddess’ own love given form.
In the millennia that followed, many villains attempted to seize the Font. Siroth’s vile spawn, necromancers and tyrants, all hoping to turn Lumaya’s power to their selfish ends. The Arbiter had intervened to thwart these schemes, but she alone could not protect the entirety of Teleria. Thus she sought help, recruiting a clan of mighty ice giants who populated the Winterlands - the Jotuns - to her cause. Their leader, Wurlim Frostking, just, for a giant at least, stalwart, and had pledged the strength of his people to Lumaya. In turn, the Arbiter granted him powers beyond mortal reckoning, proclaiming him to be one of Lumaya’s Chosen in this desolate part of the world.
For centuries Wurlim and his kin battled the foul minions of Siroth. More Champions joined him, the fierce Ursine brothers and the noble Stag Knight, and together they held darkness at bay. Alas, for all their efforts, the power of Siroth would not be denied. As the Shadow and corruption spread across Teleria, the Jotuns found themselves outnumbered and gradually overwhelmed. The Enemy was insidious, for his servants used the reanimated dead bodies of the giants to sow fear among the defenders. Some renounced their vows and fled south to join others of their kind or forge their own way as mercenaries rather than face the eternal torment of Undeath.
Discord had even been sown among the Arbiter’s own Champions; the Stag Knight proposed that the Font be encased in ice through a complex arcane ritual and abandoned - for a time - while the Forstking’s pride would not allow him to abandon the lands he swore to protect. Instead, Wurlim led his surviving warriors in a defiant last stand, bellowing challenges to the foe and calling upon Lumaya’s favour to aid him in battle. But there were no miracles to be found on that field, only despair.
Defeated and mortally wounded, Wurlim used the last of his strength to renounce and curse Lumaya for the false Goddess she was. He willingly offered his soul to Siroth in exchange for vengeance, and the Dark One accepted. In a flash of cold blue light, Wurlim was reborn. No longer mortal flesh, he turned to a creature of ice and hatred, animated only by the bitter desire to destroy.
As his first act in the service of Darkness, Wurlim Frostking cast down the Necromancer who had commanded the Undead army and took his place as well as his head. With countless minions now at his beck and call, he made haste to the Font. But as the last of Lumayans fell and Wurlim cut his way through to the arcane nexus, he saw it encased in ice that would not break no matter what spells or weapons were used against it. Nor did he find the Stag Knight and the other Champions to whom he owed a debt of retribution.
With a bellow of rage that shattered glaciers, the Frostking vowed that he would not rest until the Font was desecrated and the Winterlands belonged to Siroth. No matter how many lifetimes it would take.
The Stag Knight’s true name has long been cast aside and forgotten, just like his face always remains hidden from even the closest allies behind an ornate helm. But armour forged from the finest steel and decorated with gold and silver leaves very little room for doubt about the origins of this Champion, for such a concert of style and craftsmanship can only be found in the land of Kaerok.
On its own, the revelation means little - there are countless Knights Errant forging from Kaerok to make their mark across Teleria and win glory for themselves. For them to have displayed valour and skill sufficient to catch the Arbiter’s eye is not uncommon, yet there is an air of mystery about the Stag Knight that makes an assumption such as this seem far too convenient and mundane. Whatever the case may be, the truth will only be known to the warrior himself - and to the one who gains his allegiance.
Wounded honour is the reason for this secrecy, but the Stag Knight has more reason to abandon his lineage than most. Far from a mere wandering paladin, he was once the younger brother to King Guarin, known as the ‘Bloody’ to scholars of Teleria. Though his innate talent allowed the Stag Knight - the Grand Duke at the time - to master the arts of war with ease, he had little interest in following the ideals of chivalry. Spoiled by riches and sheltered from the woes of the world, he spent his youth jousting, hunting, and feasting away in the company of his peers.
It was hunting that he excelled at the most, and his massive undertakings often led groups of young nobles into the forests for weeks, allowing them to pursue the most exquisite game royal lands had to offer. It was then he earned the nickname ‘Stag Knight’ from some of his closest comrades, and it was then he learned to the ropes of leadership and strategizing. But so engrossed was the young Duke in his little pleasures that the truth of his brother’s reign eluded him for years.
Meanwhile, King Guarin grew increasingly paranoid and violent, his extortionate taxes bled the peasants and citizenry dry and his constant fear of a coup led to a number of influential nobles being imprisoned or even executed. Eventually, Guarin’s own uncle rose up to lead a rebellion. The Stag Knight, unaware of the truth, joined his brother as honour demanded and battled the rebels on numerous occasions. His strategic talent had proven to be instrumental in securing key victories for Guarin’s armies and saw the rebellion defeated after a year of bloody fighting.
But victory was not enough for the insane King, he personally devised excruciating forms of interrogation and execution for the nobles involved in the failed uprising. Such was Guarin’s cruelty that even his brother finally started to realize just how far he had fallen. Alas, an attempt to reason with Guarin saw the Stag Knight accused of high treason and thrown into the dungeons of Kaerok Castle, there to await his own execution alongside his uncle.
But the bloody spectacle Guarin planned was never to take place, for there were other forces at play. Something odd transpired in the dungeons the night before the last of the rebels were to be put to death. Every single sentry guarding the prisoner cells collapsed in an instant, still alive but trapped in deep slumber. Before the Stag Knight realized what was happening, a woman of cold unearthly beauty, clad in glimmering armour appeared before him. Knowing her to be the Arbiter - a chosen herald of Lumaya herself - the Knight fell to his knees in reverence.
But the Arbiter had no use for worship, she sought a Champion to undo the evils wrought upon the Kingdom of Kaerok. She bid the Stag Knight to rise and revealed to him that his brother, King Guarin, had unwittingly served the designs of the Dark One by weakening Kaerok and allowing insidious cults to rise through the land. She promised the Stag Knight a chance to redeem himself in exchange for service as Lumaya’s Champion. Without any hesitation, the Knight accepted.
In a flash of arcane energy, he was transported to Guarin’s throne room - his arms and armour returned to him by the Arbiter’s will. The bewildered royal guard fell to the Stag Knight’s halberd and, though it pained him greatly, he put Guarin out of his misery before more guards arrived to the commotion. In the days that followed, news of the King’s death spread through Kaerok like wildfire. Celebrations were held in most major settlements, the late King’s uncle was freed from prison and installed as the new monarch - his rule is said to have been the start of a new golden age for the people of Kaerok.
As for the Stag Knight himself, he was not there to see Kaerok return to normal life. With his duty done, he had solemnly cast his name and former life aside and pledged himself to Lumaya’s cause. Whatever duty the Arbiter had for him remained a secret, though Norr tribes who dared to venture into the Winterlands oft spoke of a warrior clad in armour of purest white in the centuries that follow. Who this warrior was or what his purpose could be, they did not know. But the legend holds that seeing the stranger’s silver antlers and luxurious azure mantle in the blizzard was sure to be a good sign for those who are pure of purpose - and the doom of those who hold darkness in their hearts.
Of the savage Norr warriors, there are many tales. Their reckless bravery and disregard for death are legendary even now when most of the Clans have long assimilated into the greater Telerian Kingdoms or were exiled to the arid eastern lands across the Valdemar Strait. But many still survive in the arctic tundra that covers the shores of the Great Northern Sea. And these hardy folk have countless heroes of their own.
Centuries ago, when the Norr still ruled over vast swathes of northern lands, two brothers were born to a remote Clan. Arne and Ulf they were named by their father, who hoped it would bestow the virtues of the eagle and the wolf upon the boys. Though he was not wealthy by any measure, the father was a man of war and had taught the brothers everything he knew of battle. As years of hardship and tutelage passed, Arne and Ulf grew up to be mighty warriors in their own right.
But, as it so often happens in legends, tragedy struck when it was least expected. At first, a few hunters disappeared when ranging far beyond the Clan’s village. Then old men, women, and even children who ventured outside started vanishing as well. At least two dozen people were lost in the span of a year, and the Clan became desperate. Hunting parties returned with nothing, or did not return at all. Worst of all, many of the disappearances were accompanied by sightings of a strange beast and massive paw prints on the forest trails that surrounded the village. At a glance, the tracks appeared to have belonged to a bear - but the sheer size of them made the beast appear truly gigantic.
The Clan’s venerable shaman disappeared for days, communing with the spirits through means known only to him and his apprentice. When he returned, the old man announced that a terrible curse had befallen the village - a mighty beast, corrupted by the power of evil, roamed the forests in search of human flesh. He claimed that no mortal hand could slay such a foe, yet the Clan’s hot-blooded young warriors disagreed.
Arne and Ulf rose to the fore of that ambitious group. Inspired by the sagas of great heroes, they would hear no more of the shaman’s warnings - their own legend was there, just waiting to be forged, and their Clan would not survive if the monster were to be left unchecked. And so the youth set out into the forests, arming themselves with every weapon they could find in the village.
For a fortnight the warriors hunted, but their quarry had proven to be a cunning one. The monstrous bear avoided a direct confrontation with the would-be slayers. Instead, it attacked those warriors who strayed from their kin, dragged some away in the dead of night, and led the Norr on a deadly chase through the thickest forest. It seemed like the hunt was doomed, the survivors fortunate if they even got out of the forest alive. But the brothers were not daunted by adversity or by the horrors their foe inflicted on their group. They pressed onwards, using every ounce of the hunter’s skill their father had taught them, to track down the beast to its lair.
Eventually, they found it at the very center of the forest, where the trees were gnarled and twisted by dark magic - it was there the bear made its den. Cornered at last, it attacked the Norr hunters with all its fury, and slew several in the first brutal moments of the battle. But the brave warriors weathered this assault and attacked the beast with spear and bow. Though many more fell soon after, the dread bear too suffered.
At long last, only Ulf and Arne were left standing, bleeding from countless injuries wrought by tooth and claw, but defiant. As one, they attacked the beast, and while Ulf distracted it, Arne drove his spear through the bear’s black heart. With a final roar of fury, it collapsed on the ground, dead. It was then the two brothers finally allowed their wounds to get the better of them and rested their backs against a mighty old oak.
They knew that with their kin dead and their lifeblood ebbing away they too would not survive long. Neither Arne nor Ulf cried out against this fate, for with the monster slain their Clan was safe. They were about to commend their souls to the Ancestors when a woman dressed in the purest white and gold appeared before them, her arrival heralded by blinding light.
The Arbiter, as the stranger called herself, revealed a terrible truth. While the brothers thought they had laid down their own lives to slay the beast, the wounds inflicted upon them were worse than mortal. The beast’s curse flowed through their veins and in barely a day’s time they would awaken as little more than bloodthirsty monsters themselves. The Arbiter claimed she could not stop the transformation, albeit it was within her power to save the brothers’ minds and souls - in exchange for their service.
Though furious and suspicious at first, Arne and Ulf had no choice but to listen and learn that this woman was the servant of Lumaya - the Goddess of Light, the Mother of all Teleria. It was Her that the brothers were to serve, for their skill and willingness to sacrifice their lives for others marked them as worthy Champions. For them, the Arbiter had a very special task in mind, for the Winterlands to the north were under attack by Undead legions and sorely required stalwart defenders...
The dead of Teleria are not always a quiet lot; some have a nasty habit of ignoring the core principles of mortality and walking the earth once more, terrifying the living and sometimes worse. The powers that bring these unfortunate souls back from the Afterlife are as varied as the Undead themselves. Some may be raised by a necromancer as little more than a shambling empty shell, others willingly condemn themselves to this bleak existence for fear of death.
The Gravechill Killer is an aptly named abomination of a rather peculiar nature. She was likely a sorceress in the service of Siroth once, perhaps even a necromancer who commanded the Undead swarms invading the Winterlands. Whether by blade, by spell, or by her own folly, she was slain and left forgotten beneath the snow.
But some malice cannot be tempered by death. When a new onslaught of darkness began, this creature rose from her icy grave, her eyes burning with sorcerous power and lust for vengeance. The Champions who find themselves facing the Gravechill Killer would do well to beware, for her frozen blade is steeped in venom and is sharp enough to cleave through even the toughest armour.
Most folk of Teleria view banshees as heralds of inevitable doom, and they do so with good reason. Universally female, these revenants are known for haunting mortals and driving them insane with blood-chilling shrieks or keening that, sometimes, shatter steel as if it were mere glass. Some even seek to actively harm the living with foul magic or blighted weapons, each victim dragged to the grave only fanning the banshee’s bloodlust further.
Whether the Banshee in service of Wurlim Frostking was one such spirit before or if she is a mortal warrior felled in one of the many wars that were waged in the Winterlands is unknown. But she is unlike what most Undead hunters would expect; rather than withered or ethereal in nature, the Frozen Banshee’s body remains untouched by the rot of Undeath. Yet it is covered in ice and rime, as if she had lain beneath a glacier for hundreds of years, preserved in her ghostly beauty.
This same magic appears to be hers to command, for each strike of her spear brings with it the cold certainty of death. Even those who do not fall find themselves weakened, made vulnerable even as the Banshee’s own allies grow stronger.