Malarion ‘Malar’ Varangir – The Last Thane
Perhaps the most wanted and hunted criminal in all of Eletreus and the subject of intense and fearful debate is the seemingly mad lone wanderer known commonly as the Last Thane (aka the ‘Mad Thane’, ‘Malar the Thane’ and simply ‘the Thane’), Malarion ‘Malar’ Varangir.
Believed to be the last living descendant of none other than Zorander Krauss, the first DeathKnight Shazn’Oegtol, it is commonly believed he was raised by a secret cabal of demon worshiping witches hidden away in the deepest Orc infested ruins of the Broken Kingdom and unleashed upon the world to seek out nothing less than the lost Brand of the Fallen and become the 5th DeathKnight..
Whether or not this is true is unknown, but regardless of his true origins, this young man is considered by many to be the most potentially dangerous individual currently walking the lands of Eletreus.
His tale begins in earnest to the outside world a few years ago when he was first found wandering aimlessly in the wilds near the new Territories of the Colonies of Silverleaf by some local hunters.. Some say the hunters fired at him first when they mistook him for an Orc due to his cobbled Thanish armor and he went after them in response. Other accounts have him ambushing them at a crossroads like a common footpad. And much later, a third account began to surface that the men were part of a gang of thugs who were robbing and murdering lone travelers..
But whatever really happened, the end result of his encounter with the hunters was he was branded as an outlaw.
Two mercenaries separately took up the initial modest bounty offered on his head. One was never heard from again, his fate still to this day unknown. The second however was found within a matter of days – severely beaten, robbed and tied up on the side of the road. Of the details of his encounter, the bounty hunter would only say that his opponent was a mad man – and when push came to shove, fought with supernatural skill, submitting the hardened mercenary with, as he reluctantly admitted, nothing more than a mere wooden cudgel..!
His infamy, and the bounty on his head, increased. Soon news came that he had been spotted again – but this time hundreds of miles away in Escia..
Found wandering half-dead and deliriously through the desert by an Escian patrol – he refused to answer their questions, but instead began berating and insulting the Captain of the patrol to the point where he became clearly flustered and launched a personal attack on the Thane himself..
What happened next further cemented his legend and his notoriety. For even though the Captain was a decorated war veteran – after sending several of his toughest men colliding into each other like they were just new recruits, the Thane proceeded to disarm the Captain of his Castir as if he were a mere child and turn him at just the right moment so that two of his own men skewered him on the spot before jumping on a horse in the confusion and escaping into a sudden wild desert storm that covered his tracks..
A wanted man now in Silverleaf AND Escia, he soon added the Aelutian Empire to his list when a fight with three renowned bounty hunters spilled out into the village of Rockwind in Central Aelutia and ended with one dead and several seriously injured legionaries who stepped in to intervene in the chaos. Seeking refuge in the nearby monastery of Saint Griffin, it first appeared that he repaid the monks kindness by slaughtering them to the last man..
However, whether it was coincidence or design, in the aftermath of the massacre Imperial Inquisitors found that the clergy had been subverted by Heresy and some books and documents found among their possessions led to the discovery of no fewer than four other Heretical (and murderous) Grottoes..
Now hunted by three nations, sightings of the wandering Thane started to be reported in the unlikeliest of places. And then the reports started to become more frequent and almost random, popping up in the unlikeliest of places and then disappearing without a trace.
In the few years since he was first encountered in the Colonies, this sinister figure has become something of a bogeyman. Not only was it impossible to predict where he would be sighted next, but his actions were equally as unpredictable – and those who had claimed to have encountered him were often left perplexed by his actions making him anything but predictable.
To the church however, he has become much more than a bogeyman and while some find mirth in the stranger stories attributed to him, the clergy remind all that his true intention is to find the the lost Brand of the Fallen and claim his birthright as the hypothesized fifth and final DeathKnight – the one who would usher in the end times..
The stories about who he really is, his lineage and who he will become, have created quite a panic in some circles. For now even the Drudic Priesthood of the Old gods gave the myth fuel for its fire and fanned the flames with an old, cryptic and prophetic passage from the Elder Tomes which reads:
“The danger is far from over.. The war, just beginning. For from his hellish prison, Shemhazai will find a way back to the world in the form of a Black Sword. Called forth by a heart lost forever to hatred – the world will be shaken – again and again the sword shall strike at the heart of civilization..
Time and time again, the Black Sword will move from host to host, hand to hand, blood to blood. Fast at first, then so slow that the good people of Eletreus will be lulled into believing peace has finally come.
It is then, when the painful memories of the sword begin to fade so far away that some doubt they were even true that the faithful must be truly vigilant. For in the twilight of the false peace one lone figure will rise up to claim it, the last of his line – ushering in the end times..”
-The Elder Tomes, Chapter 79, Verses 34-39
The Doomsday cultists and the fearful insist that the time of the ‘false peace’ is now – for the last DeathKnight to rise was indeed many hundreds of years ago and had never been seen again since..
Despite being the subject of a Kings bounty and a possible threat far worse than anything the Empire has seen in hundreds of years, he proves himself very hard to track. And even harder to defeat.. Those who have attempted to take him down describe how he either seems to be able to read their mind or has precognition of their actions – blades often missing him by less than an inch and his own attacks blindsiding his opponents and seemingly coming from nowhere.
Some of his skill is attributed to him being a trained Warlock – but it is also believed that his reptilian left eye betrays his status as one of the Tainted – and suggest that his preternatural fighting abilities stem from his dark genetic heritage.
How much longer he can evade the rich bounties that have been put on his head from almost every nation in Eletreus remains to be seen – and wanted dead or alive – the truth of his story may never be known.
Either that, or his story will be the most important and the last tale ever told when he rises up bearing the Brand of the Fallen and reduces Eletreus to molten stone and ash…