Stats / Background / Pictures
Religion: The Six Hammers
Current place of residence: Freeport
Alignment: Lawful Good
Guild: The Council
Branthara was born the daughter of Kronrak Howlstorm, chieftain of Clan Howlstorm in Everfrost, and Arkada, Spirit Seeker of that Clan. She was brought up with pride among the clan, along with the chieftain's two other children, her younger brothers Urgoll and Farakinn. A tall and strong woman even by Barbarian standards, she was trained in the arts of war by her father from an early age. At the age of fourteen, she could already best some of the adult men in armed combat, and it seemed that she would follow her father's footsteps into the glorious life of a Warrior.
But it all changed on a fateful night of the full moon. Far into the glacial steppes of Everfrost stood a rocky hill upon which were erected mysterious stone dolmens. No one in Clan Howlstorm, or in all of Everfrost for that matter, remembered the origin of those dolmens. But they were known to be a place of gathering for the Spirits - and as such were a place of great interest for Shamans of all kinds. This hill was considered a safe haven for all Spirit Seekers, be they Barbarians, Goblins or Orcs. And no blood would be shed upon this hill - for thus had the Spirits wished it.
Once every third full moon, Branthara's mother would go to this hill and perform a ritual of communion with the Spirits, so that they may aid the Clan. But one morning after such a full moon, Arkada did not return. A search party left the village in search of the Spirit Seeker... And found her decapitated body not far from the Spirit Hill. Traces seemed to indicate that a group of Snow Orcs had done this bloody deed. A thundering rage gripped Kronrak has he discovered this, and his roar of anger could be heard all over the peaks of Everfrost that day.
A force of warrior was soon gathered to claim revenge upon the snow orcs who had a fortified camp in the icy plains. The warriors of Clan Howlstorm were joined by those of Clan Whitestar who wished to aid their brethren, and by some human adventurers who also sought to eliminate the menace of the Orcs. These humans were Sgian the Warrior and Cleyton the Enchanter, of Qeynos; Jeslina, Ranger of Surefall Glade; and Zultarak, a Warrior from the distant desert of Ro. Guided by Branthara and her brother Urgoll, the human adventurers were led to attack the orc camp from behind while the Barbarian warriors met the bulk of the orcish troops in deadly combat.
The struggle was hard upon the snowy plains that day; and they were soon covered with blood. Though the Barbarian warriors fought with ferocity and skill, the Orcs were more numerous and were aided by strange spiritual powers. Thus, the northmen learned more of the treachery of the Orcs Shamans, who had violated the sanctity of the Spirit Hill. By slaying Branthara's mother, the High Shaman of the Orcs had acquired a great measure of the power of the Spirits of the Barbarian ancestors - and was using this power to strengthen his own warriors!
Under the guise of Cleyton's invisibility enchantments, Branthara's group sneaked upon the witch doctors surrounding the High Shaman, who protected him as he was performing his evil ritual. Jeslina's deadly arrows fell several of the vile orcs before the warriors Sgian, Urgoll and Zultarak closed in on them. While her friends engaged the orcs with brave battle cries, Branthara rushed the High Shaman. Cleaving skulls left and right with her wicked spiked club, she soon closed in on the High Shaman, who was eyeing her balefully, surrounded by a mystic pentagram from which white mist rose in the air.
"Branthara!" cried Cleyton the Enchanter, who possessed much knowledge of things magical. "Do not break the circle! You would risk your life!"
Branthara stopped for a moment, her sense of survival struggling with her bloodlust. But her eyes fell upon what rested in the Orc Shaman's hands. Her mind went numb with shock and fury.
It was her mother's head.
With a roar, she leapt at the Orc Shaman. As her body passed through the magical circle, she felt a painful shock; and as her body crashed against that of the Orc, the stab of a thousand needles pierced her skin. Shrieking in pain and anger, she struggled with the massive Orc Shaman. They rolled in the snow within the circle, violently punching each other as the magic of the broken circle pressed agonizingly upon them.
After a long struggle, her companions saw Branthara reach for her spiked club which lay in the snow, and stand up with a white glow surrounding her; a similar white glow surrounded the prone figure of the Orc at her feet, as he was trying to regain his footing. In a voice that was only partly her own, she yelled: "BETRAYER!!!!!" and brutally brought down her club on the Orc's head. Again. Again. And again. Until his head was reduced to pulp, furiously, methodically, she bludgeoned him.
As the magic-induced suffering finally reach her inhuman level of tolerance, she collapsed on the ground, her bloody club falling at her side. The Orc troopers bellowed in rage and fear as they felt the Spirits abandon them - and they were left alone against the fury of the Barbarians. Kronrak, the giant Northman, lead his men into the final assault and the legends say that he slew a hundred orcs by his own blade that day.
As the victorious Barbarians cheered all over the ruined Orc camp, Kronrak came upon the group of humans who stood in the remains of the mystic circle. Urgoll held Branthara in his arms, and was trying to revive her. As Kronrak knelt beside his son and daughter, Branthara slowly opened her eyes. The cheers of her friends soon died down - her gaze was blank, distant. It was as if her mind were gone. Kronrak lowered his head in mourning. After losing his wife, he was losing his daughter.
For a few longs weeks, the humans Sgian, Cleyton, Zultarak and Jeslina stayed with the Northmen; but Branthara showed no sign of recovering. She did not seem to hear or see people around her. Yet she talked, as if others were around her; as if she saw Spirits. She cried and laughed with invisible beings - but was completely shut off from the world of those living around her. And soon it was whispered all over the plains of Everfrost that chieftain Kronrak Howlstorm's daughter was Mad.
Her friends could do nothing to help her - none of them were healers. So it was that they left with a heavy heart - until Sgian remembered something. His brother Saldrin, a powerful ranger, might have met some healers in his travels throughout the lands. And so the companions left in their search for Saldrin.
Branthara opened her eyes and was immediately aware of people watching her. One, the tallest, she recognized immediately. It was her father. "Father?..." she moaned quietly, and with tears of joy in his eyes, he knelt by her side and hugged her tight.
"Oh, my beloved daughter!! You are back from the Spirit World! How glad I am to hear you once again!" he said as he held her in a bear like embrace. They hugged for a few more moments, and Kronrak then gently lowered her back on the bed. He turned to the two others who were standing on the other side of the bed and thanked them profusely, offering them the undying gratitude of the Howlstorm Clan.
The strangers smiled and bowed; and though they were both very different from one another, Branthara could see and sense that the same kindness shone through them. One was a short and blocky being, dressed in fine chainmail, and his gray beard was longer than any she'd ever seen. The other was a stunningly beautiful woman with skin and hair the color of snow, and eyes of a vibrant shade of silver.
The woman, who, Branthara then noticed, was of the Elven race, gently smiled at her and took her hand in hers. "Welcome back. You're in our world now, young Branthara. I see you have been missed." She smiled again. "I am Alruna Moongazer, and this man here is Rutgger Silveraxe. We have journeyed a long way from our island of Faydwer. We are healers, and travel the world healing the wounded, the innocent, and, as in your case, bold heroes who risked their life in battle."
The dwarf then spoke in a more business-like tone. "We are known as the Council. Warriors, Sorcerers, Druids and Priests of several religions are found in our ranks. We travel the world hunting evil - and teaching. Teaching younglings like you - who might have the right stuff to make it as heroes."
Branthara smiled as she heard this, for it had always been her dream to roam the land, and be spoken of in legends as a great warrior. "Will you teach me, then? Will you train me to be a great Hero like Aradune Mithara, Antonius Bayle and Spoffid Diffops? I've been taught to fight by my father!"
Rutgger and Alruna then shared a look of sadness. Alruna then laid a gentle head on Branthara's forehead, and spoke in a soothing voice: "Do not speak in haste, child, for though you have been brought back from the mystical realm, a price was paid. You will be weaker and less agile than you once were. Thus, I doubt that you will ever be able to regain your talents as a warrior."
Branthara felt tears swell in her eyes, and though she tried her best to contain them, they soon flowed down her cheeks. "Why did you speak to me of heroes, then?" she sobbed. "While you knew I was nothing more than a cripple!!" All of a sudden she felt anger at the two healers. Were they playing tricks with her?
"Nay, ye're not, lass" came a voice from farther in the room. She'd not noticed him for she was lying on the bed, but another man sat in a chair hidden by shadows at the far end of the room. As he stood up and made his way closer to the bed, he towered over the dwarf and the elf. He was almost as tall as Kronrak the giant. She recognized his face; his white-streaked brown beard; his mirthful expression and his great bloodstained tunic. He was Farynd O'Tempus, one of the greatest Spirit Seekers of the northlands.
"Ye've still got yer legs an' arms an' such. Ye can still use 'em better than most o'those tiny buggers in th'southlands. But ye're not meant to be a warrior, lass. The Spirits've got sumthin' better in store fer ye, they sure do. No offense intended," he added for Kronrak's benefit.
"None taken," said Kronrak soberly. He turned back to his daughter. "He speaks truly, Branthara my daughter. The path of the warrior lies not before you. Your brother Urgoll will follow in my footsteps. As for you... Farynd will train you in the ways of the Shaman. You've wandered the paths of the Spirits for some time now, so it should prove second nature to you. And, when slew that vile bastard of an orc shaman, you gained some of his Spirit powers - and some of those he himself stole from your Mother."
And so it was that for the years
to come, Branthara was taught by Farynd O'Tempus of the Council; and she
soon became a Shaman herself, able to converse with the Spirits and command
them to a certain degree. She helped the members of the Council and traveled
with them. But eventually she found herself close to her homeland again
- in the human city of Qeynos. And it was there that she met her old friend
Sgian. But he was in dire straits. Why, you ask? Well that, my friends,
is a story for another time.....