Unspecified form of Elf (formerly)
Variable - generally around 191cm
Nicknames & Titles:
The Crimson Sovereign
"Gender. Race. Religion. Aristocracy. All full of fabricated importance. The world is what you make of it - seizing every opportunity is the only thing that should ever matter."
Onvyr Tradan, oft nicknamed the Crimson Sovereign and Scourge of the Black Sea, is the first and current Lord of Rauys Hulms, as well as its founder. He is credited with driving the Khazar from all Crimean territories, along with the creation of the widely feared Classis Sanguineus - a powerful raider-navy, granting the Isle a significant share of military influence over the entirety of the Black Sea.
Tradan's history may be traced back to his arrival in the city of Korsun, but no further. He came to shore aboard an unusual ship, and from unspecified locales in the East. His providence prior to this point is a mystery, and one he has not deigned to share. He drew quite a bit of attention from the beginning - his skin was pallid and greyish, and his manner of speech unusual. He dressed oddly, too - generally concealing his face using a heavy hood, and draping himself in expansive black garments. He asked around, for the first day or two. Conversed with the locals, took in the lay of the land. On the third day, he made his way into the city's upper districts, and directly into the babaghuq's residence.
The guards did not see him arrive - he was simply there, one moment, intruding on an audience with the local tudun. The two rulers were baffled at the stranger's sudden appearance. But he was quick to introduce himself - a wandering scholar, he was. One who sought insight into the heart of man, into the very spirits that drive innovation, evolution, progress. And before either man could react, he drew a sword. A heavy, cutlass-like thing, its blade harboring a blackness that put the starless night to shame. Gesturing at the babaghuq, he challenged him to a duel. A test of merit, he chided. Of motivation, and right of rule. The so-called father of the city grew pale, and called for the guards. He was a man of words, of promises. Action came to him with difficulty, and combat was a foreign entity altogether. But the tudun drew his scimitar, and stepped towards the intruder. His authority had been challenged, and he would not sit idly by - commanding the guards to stand down, he accepted the call to arms.
And so they clashed, amidst coloured tiles and silken curtains. The tudun was a practiced swordsman, a veteran whose skills had been honed by many a military campaign. And yet the stranger was almost inhuman in his movements - of blinding speed and unbelievable strength, he manipulated the hefty cutlass as if it were a breadknife. Two curved blades collided. One retreated warily, waved back with a suddenly unsteady hand. The other darted around, and struck with vicious abandon. The tiles were streaked with blood, and the tudun fell.
The babaghuq paled even further, for the stranger now turned his gaze to him. Darting out of the room, he ran to the stables - with a hurried shout, he commanded his guards to attack in his stead. They were cut down one by one, far faster than the tudun had been. And the stranger walked out, blood dripping from his cutlass. The fleeing ruler had mounted a horse, hurriedly grabbed supplies - but then, in the middle of the town square, the horse seemed to freeze in place beneath him. No matter how he spurred it on, it did not shift. And as he glanced behind himself in panic, he too froze, unmoving. For a few feet behind him stood the stranger, bloodied sword at the ready. A crowd had gathered now, witnesses to the scene. A few guards idled here and there, momentarily uncertain as to what was happening. When the hooded stranger raised his sword, pointed it squarely at the babaghuq... they understood. And rushed forwards. Each fell in a single swing - it was almost mesmerizing.
And finally, the stranger approached the mortified ruler, still on his horse, and unceremoniously sank the sword into his chest. As the corpse hit the ground, and the horse finally bolted, the stranger turned to the crowd. Most were still in shock, and a few had already run off. To the rest he spoke.
Of cowards and conquerors. The oppressors and the oppressed. The Khazars, he said, had laid claim to the land. But their claim was false, unsubstantiated! Their rule was indirect, and in the men he had just cut down, its crumbling hand could be seen. Cowards and weaklings. Such an empire did not deserve to rule, and such men were a far cry from rulers. He then proclaimed a sort of prediction - of a new ruler. One who now stood before them, who had bested a score of trained soldiers before their very eyes. One who could unite the isle they stood upon into a symbol - of might, and the liberty of the strong. Who would provide no restrictions, no petty gods or teachings to restrict and oppress. Who would grant the populace freedom from conquerors forevermore. He then posed the question - who would stand by such a ruler?
Most disregarded him as a madman, a murderous psychopath. But a few took his words to heart - malcontents, firebrands... those with a grudge against the Khaganate, or perhaps with a genuine belief in his words. These men and women stepped forwards. They numbered perhaps a few dozen, but the stranger did not seem disappointed in any sense. He nodded to them, and motioned to follow. To prepare, and to equip themselves. For they had a nation to take.
He assembled his newfound following into a small militia, with which he then proceeded to assault various neighboring townships and hamlets. As casualties among the Khazar sympathizers grew, so too did the number of recruits into Tradan's revolutionary troupe. Emboldened by their leader's seemingly inhuman feats of swordsmanship and combat prowess, they oft deigned to follow him into battles that seemed weighted heavily against them - and yet, miraculously, each ended in a decisive victory. And it was said, too, that the fiercest fighters among them were granted some form of boon by Tradan himself - a notable boost to their feats in warfare, along with a shift in disposition, towards some strange sort of hunger. Before long, they had seized the entire province. And the next, and the next, until at last they arrived at the northern coast of the Crimean landmass.
The Khaganate, meanwhile, had wisened up to this rising threat - though a single firebrand, leading a ragtag militia, did not seem like a major concern, the sheer progress he had made was beginning to show. As such, a small army was dispatched - around twelve thousand strong. They encountered the rebels in the settlement of Perekop, and engaged in battle almost immediately.
The battle was initially rather one-sided - the rebels, though motivated, were sparsely equipped and relatively disorganized. The soldiers also outnumbered them by a not-insignificant margin, and were steadily managing to push them back despite their leader's inhuman prowess. It was then that Tradan thrust his sword into the ground, and stepped away from it - taking this as a sign of surrender, the soldiers momentarily let their guard down. They watched in confusion as he brought his hands together, and pooled within them a burning crimson glow. By the time they realized what was happening, it was too late - the nearest men had the blood forcefully torn from their bodies in a gruesome display of viscera. Those who were further back experienced blackouts, fatigue and dizziness - but Tradan was not finished. He pooled together the blood he had collected, and wove it into a flowing, glistening orb. And from this orb he wove spears - gleaming spires of blood-crystal. With monstrous strength and precision he hurled them - each spear punched through scores of men, before finally exploding in a corona of rippling red energy. A round of six spears - and half of the soldiers lay scattered. Three more cut down another quarter. The rebels witnessed this gruesome display, and were in shock - but only for a moment. Seeing their enemy routed, they charged with newfound zeal, to finish off the remaining soldiery. The battle concluded with a massacre - in just a fraction of its total length, it had been decided.
As the rebels gathered to celebrate, Tradan called them forwards. And inevitably he was asked - why only reveal such glorious power now? Why not use it from the beginning, to overrun the nation in a fraction of the time it had taken, and with none of the losses? His answer was a simple one - it would defeat the purpose of the thing. A test. A test of merit, which many of them had just failed. They had been too weak... but he neglected punishment. Many had fought valiantly. Perhaps he himself was at fault - after all, he had come up against a foe they had not been prepared to face. But he warned them - there would be no more free passes. Each soldier would be expected to pull their own weight - such were his tenets. And so they returned inland, to build. To unify.
What followed were several years' worth of nation-building - the outlying settlements were connected and centralized, and a network of rule was established. A ruling caste was drawn up, too - primarily one of warriors, their mettle proven in combat trials. But the newly self-appointed lord understood the need for scholars too - after all, strength came in many forms. Combat was by no means the one true test - while it proved viscerally satisfying to some degree, there was much room for more cerebral strengths. The intelligentsiya were uplifted to practically the same rank as the warrior caste - and indeed, many of these scholars had leanings towards the arcane, enabling them a mastery of the battlefield to rival even the greatest of fighters.
And of course, their location proved fortuitous. For Tradan had brought with him a great many things from the East - among them, plans for construction and design. Guidelines for the working of wood and metal, silk and hemp. To build a grand engine of war - its jaws of wood, a fleet unlike any other. Its teeth of steel - blades, bludgeons and all manner of implements, to be clamped tight within gums of flesh - the scores of warriors that were now being recruited and trained nigh-continuously.
Now, Tradan rules - though he would not necessarily call it that. His mighty fleets have become the boogeyman of the Black Sea and beyond - their raids are continuous and far-reaching, and proceed seemingly without end. They bring riches into the Isle's coffers, and prosperity to its people. The Crimson Court watches over it all, from its citadels and buttresses. And the Isle itself proceeds according to its own mechanisms - a land of the free and unobstructed. A land that welcomes the strong, and crushes the weak. Whose shores are awash with blood, with heartlands encased in steel and stone. All according to its Lord's direction.
Tradan is best described as aloof, and somewhat apathetic. He typically maintains an expression suggestive of boredom or slight fatigue, and converses in a manner that conveys such - his speech is often wrought with pauses and half-yawns. If something does manage to pique his interest, however, he may quickly focus into either extreme seriousness or a sort of gruesome, black humor. This trait carries over into combat, and he has oft been known to lose himself in the midst of a battle, displaying a level of cheerfulness bordering on the psychotic. Surprisingly enough, he is quite difficult to seriously anger, though he does have a habit of playfully lashing out, potentially in a lethal manner, as a sort of "merit test".
"I am no ruler. I make no motion to lead - 'tis not my place to dictate if others follow."
"The weak and the strong are one and the same. It matters not - the weak may choose to be strengthened, and the strong may lose their resolve with time. Such is the beauty of the cycle."
"Blood? Yes, as sustenance it serves just fine. But to seek solely sustenance, to never live for any grander purpose than merely to prolong that selfsame life, is a sad existence indeed. The truly great seek power - their ends and means all differ, but the crux remains constant."
Since assuming power, Tradan has continuously pursued a policy best described as "might makes right". He holds little concern for what the people under his rule do in their day-to-day lives, unless said actions directly serve to challenge him. This extends to both social and economic matters - exerting practically no direct regulation over either, he has repeatedly stated that the people must earn their own keep, and conversely choose their own paths in life - for him to intrude on such things would be both demeaning and oppressive. It is worth noting that, even economically, an attempt to match his own power (and that of the quasi-government he heads) is viewed as a challenge, and acted upon accordingly. An early attempt by a merchant guild to establish a foothold in the nation was, for example, entirely ignored, until their regulation of trade tariffs granted them a potentially significant measure of control over the war economy - within a week, their capital office had been burned to the ground, countless outposts attacked, and their homeland subjected to a particularly aggressive series of raids that would last for the next two years.
Despite this seemingly callous approach, Tradan's tenure has not been without benefit to the Isle's people - the security and wealth provided by the Classis Sanguineus allowed the nation to experience a heretofore unprecedented period of economic and technological growth, and it currently boasts the highest average standards of living within the entire Baltic region. This, combined with the copious civil liberties provided by his oversight, has created a nation of great scholars and merchants - but above all, warriors of international renown.
The First Decree
To put it simply, the First Decree is a statement, detailing Tradan's intent with regards to governance. It mandates a strict policy of non-interventionism in local affairs on the part of the government, except in certain exonerating circumstances. It also details a conscription plan, regardless of gender, that bases each candidate's time and period of conscription on a preliminary combat aptitude test. Finally, it lays down the process for a change in leadership - namely, trial by combat.
Tradan is generally unwilling to attach himself to any sort of political label, but for the purposes of a comparison, his beliefs may be summed up as a sort of absolute meritocracy. As previously mentioned, he does not believe in excessive state regulation of any kind - in his case, the state operates primarily as a directive force in matters of war, and an agency of enforcement, albeit in a twisted, pseudo-anarchic fashion. He is also apathetic towards the concept of elections - while he allows local governing bodies the authority to elect their officials, he himself has proclaimed his intent to continue his rule until there appears one worthy of deposing him. To this end, he has organized numerous tournaments, during which contestants are called to challenge him in brutal gladiatorial combat. Anyone willing to overthrow him need but ask - the arena is always open.
Atypically of his ilk, Tradan has not expressed any sort of racially-motivated bent to his governance. While most elves, not to mention vampires, harbor a deep-seated sentiment of superiority to the humans and demihuman races, he has dismissed any such notions. To him, race decides nothing - all that matters is one's individual drive, ability, and willingness. This has also made him surprisingly progressive on matters of gender and sexuality - one of the few times he has intervened in law-enforcement-related matters directly was during witch hunts and lynchings based on notions of perversion and degeneracy; any such mobs were brutally dispersed, and the ringleaders often rounded up and executed. Land ownership and tradecraft within the Isle are also carried out regardless of traditional gender boundaries - in fact, a not-inconsiderable number of Tradan's foremost warriors and government officials are female.
He has also expressed rather antagonistic beliefs with regards to religious practices, refusing to provide any sort of state-sanctioned grants or benefits to religious followings of any sort - he has not banned worship outright, but has often stressed its tendency to weaken the individual. He has also made a habit out of plundering artifacts of religious significance in raids, then having them dismantled and melted down for their components. Most recovered holy texts are burned, and places of worship are typically razed while a raid is in progress.
Pro and Anti (take these with a grain of salt, he wouldn't know what half of these words even mean)
Pro: Civil Liberties, Meritocracy, The Free Market, Militarism
Neutral: Dictatorship, Monarchy
Anti: Socialism, Welfare, Pacifism, Fascism, Communism, Democracy, Theocracy, Union of the State and Church
Tradan is known to spend the majority of his time within the expansive, Gothic palace complex he inhabits. He may generally be found lounging in one of the gardens, engrossed in some form of book or scripture in the depths of the library, or sparring with his personal guard in the barracks and courtyards. He also regularly undertakes various forms of journey - this includes accompanying his men on naval raids, or simply trekking around the countryside. A well-known peculiarity of his is a complete lack of sleep - it is unknown how or why, but he has never been witnessed sleeping or resting in any manner. He may take the occasional nap, but these are generally a ruse to bait out assassins.
While Tradan is regarded (and oft referred to, even by himself) as a vampire, such a classification is somewhat misleading. Superficial similarities between him and those afflicted by common, transmissible vampirism certainly exist - prominent fangs, a preference for human blood as a source of sustenance, and physical attributes far surpassing the human baseline, among others. The truth of the matter, however, runs somewhat deeper.
Tradan is, in actual fact, a Harbinger - an ancient, unaging being, once-mortal, irrevocably changed by the touch of an elder god in ages long past. Such individuals vary wildly in capabilities and attributes, for each creator-deity would have a markedly different effect when intruding on the material plane. Tradan's likeness to the common vampire may imply that their affliction stems from the selfsame god that granted him his "blessing", or perhaps that he himself is responsible for the vampiric plague. Whatever the case may be, he outstrips them in practically every possible manner - to him, the sun's rays spell a nuisance, rather than a fiery death. Holy relics that would turn his lesser brethren to ash by their mere presence may invoke nothing more than a light migraine. Even those qualities for which the vampire is feared - inhuman strength, speed, and a powerful healing factor - are but pale imitations of the gifts Tradan possesses. He tears men in half with his bare hands, outruns charging cavalry, and regrows lost limbs in a matter of seconds. This latter property is one he is almost legendary for - no manner has yet been found in which he may be genuinely killed. If struck with too grievous a blow to immediately regenerate from, he may fall into a deep slumber - in this manner, he has slept for centuries at a time, always set to return regardless of circumstance.
Far from relying merely on his inherent capabilities, he remains a supremely skilled fighter. Though capable of making use of practically all forms of weaponry known, he maintains a preference for one-handed curved swords to all other arms. His prized possession, Swartsfulliț, is one such item - a hefty, ornate cutlass, its blade is forged from an impossibly hard black metal. Despite its seemingly unwieldy bulk, he handles it masterfully - a testament to his monstrous strength.
Finally, his skill with the arcane arts is considerable. Tradan specializes in haemomancy - the discipline of blood manipulation. A long-thought-lost school of the arcane with no other known practitioners, it resembles a far more refined variation of the crude, intrinsic scraps of magic employed by vampires; likely another hint towards common origin. Supremely versatile, its profane blessings may be used to both augment his own capabilities and debilitate his enemies from within. It also allows for direct, conscious manipulation of blood, allowing its shaping into various weapons and implements, as well as its hardening into a nigh-unbreakable crystalline solid. Tradan's use of haemomancy is by no means exclusive, however - his mastery of magic encompasses several other disciplines, with varying degrees of proficiency. One of his favoured tricks is shapeshifting, via a combination of flesh sculpting and illusory misdirection. Not restricted to merely mimicking the appearance of others, it may be employed in tandem with his inherent haemomancy to form fearsome living weapons from various components of his body.
Though Tradan's origins and life prior to his arrival on the Crimean peninsula are entirely undocumented, certain scholars have made efforts to establish a loose chronology for events that may potentially be linked to him. These rarely stray beyond tenuous conjencture - nevertheless, if such theories are to be believed, his life has been an exceedingly long and eventful one. Happenings seemingly linked to him stretch back literal millenia, and are present in folklore and word-of-mouth the world over - while he is remembered as a great agitator and many-time cause of upset for various status quos, the Isle marks the first known occasion on which he has embarked on personal conquest (if, given his hands-off approach to rule, it can even truly be called that).
It is unknown which otherwordly entity Tradan actually derives his power from - he himself has resolutely refused to answer such inquiries. Whatever it may be, it is likely that without sustained worship and remembrance, it has long since dwindled - about the closest thing a deity may attain to true death. As such, it may be said that Tradan has outlived his otherworldy sire; some even claim that he himself had a hand in its eventual downfall.
In the highlands to the distant North, a strange obelisk sits atop a mountain - carved upon it in archaic script is Tradan's name. It is said that beneath it lies an ancient tomb, built to house an undying king, though none have ever been recorded as finding this mythical crypt.
It must be noted that Tradan does not exclusively rely on blood for sustenance. He remains perfectly capable of ingesting conventional food and beverages, though whether or not he actually requires them to remain alive is questionable.
There is some evidence to suggest that Tradan's shapeshifting stems from something entirely different than mere, "conventional" magic, and that it is in some way far closer to the root of what he is. Whether he himself is even aware of this, if true, is uncertain.