Lizardfolk champion of Allistiel
Con: 18 (22)
Wis: 19 (25)
Cha: 12 (16)
- +1 Sickle
- Lightning Gauntlets
- +1 Lt. Crossbow
- +3 Mythril Full Plate
- Ring of Protection +2
- Dusty Rose Prism Ioun Stone
Height: 6’ 6"
Skin: Blue grey
Zarek Raniy is the daughter of Zarek Zhukron, an Incarnate, and Akir Kei, a cleric, two of Allistiel’s most powerful mortal champions. The tale of their achievements is long and varied, and in Zhukron’s case, involves the defeat of a cabal of Necrocarnates, evil meldshapers who steal the souls of their enemies and enslave them to their will. The chief of whom, Zhaon the Despised, was reviled among the meldshaping community for his attempt to create an army of necrocarnum zombies. The battle to kill him was long and tortuous, and Zukron was the only survivor. Zhaon’s final act was to stab Zukron with a dagger. Zukron thus returned home a hero.
After his return, Zukron and Kei decided to step away from active adventuring to raise a family. This proved much harder than originally expected. Ascertaining that they were both free from physical reasons for infertility, they surmised that perhaps there was a magical source. This investigation quickly turned up the reason: Zukron was cursed to infertility. The normal curse removal methods soon proved useless against the curse. The two soon realized that this was a dying curse inflicted by Zhaon.
Desparate, Kei and Zukron delved into theoretical texts on the most powerful expression of divine magic: Miracle. They developed a ritual and attempted to cast it with an invocation to their god, but no spell was cast and the curse remained. Thus they turned back to prayer, begging Allistiel to lift the curse. At the next full moon, Zukron and Kei were visited by Salazar Sarvolis, the favored saint of Allistiel. He was there on Allistiel’s orders to deliver to them a starberry. Sarvolis told them to split the fruit in half and eat it. He explained that it would remove the curse and give them the baby they had so desperately been seeking. He then departed and Zukron and Kei quickly followed his directions.
Several months later, on Midsummer’s Eve, their daughter was born, whom they named Raniy. Upon her birth, Zukron and Kei swore they would raise her according to Allistiel’s laws. When she became older, she displayed an unusual aptitude for the use of both essentia and divine magic.
Zarik Raniy was raised in a village adjacent to a temple of Allistiel some fifty miles to the south of the city of Oceal in the Esterlands. Her childhood was spent under the discipline of her parents, who instilled in the young lizardfolk a deep respect and appreciation for the benefits that a rigid set of laws brought to society. When she wasn’t doing chores or meditating with her parents, she frequently spent time playing with the other children. She did not receive any type of formal schooling but her parents made sure she developed her mind, which was rather more adroit than most of her peers. This combined with the reputation of her parents, combined to produce within the young Raniy’s mind a measure of alienation from her fellows and a nagging doubt that she could follow properly in her parents’ footsteps. This manifested principally in a tendency toward silence when she did not have something important to say.
Something Raniy never doubted however was the fact that she was to enter the service of The Incarnate. When she came of age, she decided that the best way to follow Allistiel was to be both a divine spellcaster and a meldshaper. Thus she entered the seminary at the local temple and began her studies in the ways of divine worship and magic. Raniy’s time in the seminary was marked by her ability to grasp the concepts of divine magic faster than nearly any of her classmates. While there she specialized in healing magic and the application of law as a distinct force in magic. Despite her reluctance to speak unless she needed to, she made a few friends while in the seminary. When her classes were over, she was proud to be able to call herself an acolyte and to wear the powder blue robes of her rank.
Upon her graduation, Raniy was assigned to a group whose first mission was to clear out the catacombs of a disused temple which had become overgrown and infested with pests and vermin. The other members of her group were a lizardfolk incarnate named Saryn Mycon, a human soulborn named James West, and a gnome rogue named Cog. They cleared out the catacombs within a week despite some close calls with a monstrous spider and a poisoned dart trap. This experience bonded the four, and gave Raniy new friends. Mycon also proved an excellent teacher and taught Raniy the rudiments of meldshaping. After they reported their success to the temple, the four decided to keep traveling together as they complemented each other well.
After their initial success, the group became one of many the church contacted when it needed something handled when it was out of reach of the church itself, as well as the occasional freelance job when that came along. This continued for almost a year, during which time Raniy ascended from acolyte to dean. Soon after Raniy gained the rank of dean, Cog left the group to pursue interests elsewhere in the world and they gained a new ally in an aasimar sorcerer/rogue named Tavia. Tavia’s first mission with them took them to the middle of the Gynari desert in search of a tablet describing the genealogy of an ancient wizarding family. The tablet had been last seen in a tomb sealed up some seventy years before by an explorer looking to hide it from bandits, but had never been able to reclaim it.
This proved to be their toughest assignment yet, as the blistering heat and natural predators took their toll and Tavia was nearly lost to snakebite. Locating the tomb proved to be the easy part, getting the tablet was much harder. They expected it to be full of vermin and pests, but the challenge was due to the fact that the tomb was in the process of collapsing. Many times it was only the quick mind or reflexes of Tavia that kept them from getting trapped under rubble. The final trial of the tomb was a giant (Huge, sorry), sapient monstrous centipede, named Scarrash. The battle against Scarrash was arduous and the entire group was close to death by the time Scarrash’s corpse fell to the floor and his many legs ceased their twitching. James was unconscious from his wounds and Mycon was close to collapsing himself. Nevertheless, the day was won, the tablet was retrieved. They were paid well for their effort.
Having no further plans, the group returned with Raniy to her home temple so she could undergo her Board of Review for her promotion from dean to chaplain and thus her entry into one of the three branches of the church. The journey there was uneventful and rather restful for them. Upon reaching the temple, Raniy separated from the others so she could prepare for her board in peace. Mycon and James acquired rooms at the temple barracks. Tavia elected to go to Oceal, to rejoin with the others after their business was done.
Walking into the room her board was to take place in, Raniy felt as though the mice she’d had for breakfast had returned to life and started scurrying around her stomach. She sat herself in front of the five prelates who were to determine her worthiness to become a fully invested clergy. Their questions went on for what seemed like hours to the young lizardfolk, grilling her about every aspect of her travels, her companions and the challenges they’d faced. After this, came questions about theology, ethics and the nature of incarnum. Finally, they told her to leave the room whilst they deliberated. Sitting on the stool outside the room, Raniy felt that some of the queasiness had left, believing that she had represented herself to the best of her abilities. Soon enough, she was called back in and informed that she had passed and was to ascend to chaplain rank. It was at this time that Raniy was asked which branch she would like to enter and quickly chose the protectorate. Raniy’s Court of Honor was scheduled for the next week, along with several other new chaplains and a few new deans.
Just after the Court of Honor was concluded, Raniy spoke with a member of the Sapphire Hierarchs, who was happy to accept her into the order, having spoken already with a member of Raniy’s Board of Review, who had spoken well of her talents. This lead to her spending a month at the temple, learning more about the ways to combine and synergize her magic and incarnum, she was also presented with several texts to allow her to study further when she was in the field. Mycon and James rejoined Raniy when her education with the Sapphire Hierarchs was complete, and from there collected Tavia from Oceal.
With her new rank, came a new assignment from the church. The church had been cracking down heavily on necrocarnum users and had recently captured a manifest listing several newly emerged necrocarnates. Seeking to nip a potentially large problem in the bud, the church sent out several groups like Raniy’s to eliminate them before they became a serious threat. The particular necrocarnate Raniy’s group had been assigned to dispatch was named Romero, who had last been seen in the southern Esterlands with his necrocarnum zombie, a ferocious dire lion. Scrying had no effect, as he was careful to cover his tracks and only occasionally would mentions of him be heard in the form of stories about a criminal who had strange powers and a powerful smell of death about him.
After a few months of dead ends and dealing with his minions were they managed to track him to his lair in a disused mausoleum in a graveyard. There they encountered his dire lion zombie. Romero proved to be supremely confident in his ability to deal with them quickly and steal their souls for his own use. The battle was fierce and ran for what seemed like hours, Romero aided by his fearsome zombie and the cramped quarters in which the battle took place. Eventually it became apparent that the battle was turning in the favor of Raniy and her friends. Having forced Romero onto the defensive, he did what necrocarnates are infamous for, flee. He left his zombie behind to cover him and escaped out a back entrance and sped off into the night. Raniy and her friends cursed his cowardice and stayed in his former lair only long enough to ransack it for valuables, then destroy it and seal the entrance.
Their first encounter having ended in frustration, the companions returned to the nearest temple for a debriefing about what they had learned of Romero’s capabilities and plans. The journey back was mostly uneventful, except for a few encounters with bandits, and a skirmish with a mercenary band. Once back at the temple, they relayed what they had learned of Romero to the Protectorate, so they could plan the next one more carefully.
Approximately one week after the arrival of Raniy and her companions, the temple came under assault by the forces of Myotismon. They quickly surrounded the temple with a cadre of evil clerics, necromancers and undead. The temple inhabitants, Raniy’s group included, swiftly mounted a defense that succeeded in driving off the soulless monsters. Soon after the battle, Raniy felt drawn to a room in the center of the temple, one she’d never entered before. Speaking with the attendant, Raniy was informed that it was a special room for meditation. The attendant informed Raniy, that as a chaplain, she was now welcome to make use of it.
Raniy returned later that evening, and the attendant allowed her inside. The room was mostly bare, save a pool in the middle, set in a large rock that was a pure blue. Raniy sat on a pad next to the pool and began to meditate. As she did the moon rose and its light fell on the pool, casting shimmering lights around the room. Raniy began to hear whispers which were too quiet to make out properly. Opening her eyes, Raniy saw that water from the pool had risen up and formed a sphere that floated at her eye level. The water seemed to have become an even clearer blue than before.
Looking into the sphere, Raniy felt a tingle shoot up her spine and felt her neck scales stand on end. Suddenly, a voice spoke, clear and deep as the color of the sphere, which it seemed to be emanating from.
“Zarek Raniy, daughter of Zarek Zukron, slayer of Zhaon the Despised and of Akir Kei, master theologian.”
“Soul-Father,” Raniy choked out as she bowed to the sphere, awed by the voice.
“Daughter, do you know why I have chosen to speak with you?”
“It is because of things you have done in the past in my service, and what I believe you will do in the future.”
“I have done nothing particularly noteworthy, I allowed Romero—.”
“I am not speaking of Romero. I am speaking of the ease with which you manipulate both divine magic and incarnum. I am speaking of things that you have done which you have forgotten, and which you may remember someday, if you continue to distinguish yourself in the future.”
“I am deeply honored that you think so highly of such a humble servant. I will serve you with all of my mind, body and soul.”
“Excellent, daughter. Then take this and remember a part of what you have forgotten. When you distinguish yourself further, another portion will unlock, until you have remembered all that you have forgotten.”
The sphere then extruded a small portion of itself, which floated over to Raniy, who took it in her hand and swallowed it.
“Thank you Soul-Father. I will make myself worthy of your gift.”
“See that you do, daughter, and go in peace.”
As Raniy bowed a second time the sphere sank into the pool and the whispers stopped. The presence gone, Raniy rose and left the room, returning to her quarters where she sank into her bunk and swiftly fell into a dreamless sleep.
Rising the next morning, Raniy found something odd when she shaped her soulmelds: she had knowledge of one she’d never used, or even heard of, called the Soulstrike. She decided to shape it, and upon testing it, she found that she could deliver a blow to a person’s soul directly, stunning them for a short time. She then inquired with one of the incarnum specialists and found that this was a totally new soulmeld, never before recorded. Something like this was not totally unheard of, but certainly not common by any standard. The expert recorded the soulmeld and over the next few days Raniy attempted to teach it to him, but they found that it was seemingly only available to Raniy. As Raniy and her companions were leaving to attempt to find Romero again soon, the expert assured Raniy that he would send his report to the high temple for their examination.
The hunt for Romero was grueling. The group chased him across all of Anatis, from Oceal to Caer Janelle and from Agrabah to Blue Sky City. They would hear rumors and whisperings, and receive directions from the Well of Souls when they could afford to do so. Each minion they defeated and each time they found him again, he would always slip away when the fight turned against him, always with new methods and new tactics, coming ever closer to defeating them and claiming their souls for his dark and twisted plans. Every time he would abandon allies and his zombie, knowing he could gather more when circumstances demanded it. And every time he would taunt them of their failures to catch him.
Until one night in the northern Esterlands, having tracked him there by hints from the Well of Souls, Raniy and her companions engaged Romero for what would be the final time. They were careful to make sure he had no escape routes and no hidey holes he could slip into. Their final battle was challenging, to say the least. Romero had shaped his soulmelds to counter their usual tactics, and had equipped himself with a powerful new girallon necrocarnum zombie. For the first part of the battle, Romero was nonchalant as usual, convinced he would soon have four new souls to torture and molest. But soon the tide turned against him and he began to worry once it became apparent that his would-be slayers had cut off his escape routes. It was then that Romero decided that if he could not capture their souls, he could at least take a few with him to the afterlife.
Romero began to fight with reckless abandon, caring nothing for the hits that he took as long as he could kill one or more of them. Sadly, he did succeed and Mycon fell to his incarnum Morningstar. James felled Romero not long after, which only left the necrocarnum zombie girallon. Just before its mock life was snuffed out, it managed to kill Tavia with one final, powerful blow. The battle over, but friends lost, Raniy and James took the spoils from Romero’s body, as well as their fallen comrades’ equipment and returned with the bodies to a temple a couple of days away so they could give them a proper burial.
Their friends laid to rest and the report of Romero’s demise handed in, Raniy and James decided to take a month to rest and deal with the passing of their comrades. That was, until the coming of the cross dimensional disaster called Zerstorung, where the temples were destroyed and the priests killed. Raniy and James were among those holding off the forces of the Wyrd while the personnel and materials of the auxiliary temples were evacuated to the Astral Plane. They were among the last to escape through the Gates. Once there, the temples were modified to accommodate the increased population.
Raniy didn’t bother settling into her quarters when she got back. Doubtless the RoM would have them running off to yet another far-flung location to root out some cleric or some artifact or some such implement that would aid them against the Wyrd. Raniy didn’t mind, after all she’d made her career chasing a necrocarnate across Anatis. Still, a few days rest certainly sounded nice. Blue Sky City had certainly had more than its fair share of excitement. She was finding it increasingly difficult to believe that only a few months previously, she’d been content to sit on her butt on the Astral plane, fending off the occasional raiding party.
Recently, Raniy had been thinking back to the time she’d spoken with Allistiel more and more often. The memory seemed to leap unbidden from her mind whenever she wasn’t directly occupied with something, especially at night. She had a distinct feeling that Allistiel wanted to contact her again. But how would he do it? Lachesis had control of all communication between the material plane and any beyond it. Rom had told her about the Commune that had lured Team RYVN into a trap, and what had happened when Valerie and Titus had been resurrected. Raniy supposed she find out soon enough.
The night after Team RYSN returned from Blue Sky City, Raniy sought out Father Arroway. Finding him in his quarters, Raniy knocked. “Father Arroway, are you busy?”
“No, Sister Zarek, please come in. Would you like some tea?”
Raniy shook her head. “No, Father I only need a moment to ask you something.”
Arroway smiled, “Ask away.”
“Father, have you set up a meditation pool yet?”
“Yes, it’s in a grove off the southern end of the training fields.”
“Thank you father,” Raniy bowed as she rose.
Father Arroway inclined his head in response.
Raniy made her way to the grove at a fast pace. She arrived a few minutes later, finding the field as well as the grove deserted. Moving through the few trees, Raniy found the spot. It was a large stone with a pool set into it, glowing faintly blue. As she had before, she sat herself before the pool and began to meditate and pray. All was silent and still for a few minutes until Raniy heard the susurrus of whispers begin. She opened her eyes, and was shocked to see that she was no longer in the grove. In fact, judging by the floating landmasses, she was on the Astral plane again. Taking a look around her immediate surroundings told Raniy she was in one of the older temples that had been abandoned when it was assaulted by githzerai pirates. When she looked back to the pool, Raniy saw that a sphere of water was levitating above the main pool, just as it had when she had first talked to Allistiel. Raniy took a deep breathe to steady herself.
The now familiar voice echoed out from the sphere. “Greetings, daughter, the time has come for us to speak again. I trust you understand why I have transported you here?”
“Good, good. You remember my words last time we met as to why I am speaking to you?”
“You said that I had done things in my past and believed I would do in my future.”
“Yes, have you thought about what those words meant?”
“I have, I understood what you said about my future, but what could I have done in my childhood?”
“Have your parents ever told you about the circumstances of your birth?”
“Yes, they told me that you sent St. Sarvolis with a starberry containing my soul.”
“Indeed, your soul, the soul of one of my former mortal champions, stripped of its memories, who lived and died in my service, before my church was formally founded.”
“My soul was that of another?” Raniy barely managed to choke out.
“Correct. You were a mortal champion in your past life, and again in this one.”
“But why reuse a soul, why not use a soul not yet born?”
“Because your parents are two of my greatest living champions, so l rewarded them for their faith and service with a daughter who could forge a legacy all her own, instead of merely following the path they had made. And to reward my past champion by giving her a chance to live again, to prove herself again as a champion in a new age. Now do you understand my words in their fullness?”
“Yes. So the Soulstrike was a technique my past life developed?”
“Yes, her signature on the battlefield. I thought you would make good use of it. But in its current form it is somewhat under-powered. You have earned its heightened form.”
A small piece of the sphere extruded itself and floated over to Raniy, who took it in her hand and swallowed it.
“Soul-Father, may I ask a question?”
“What was my name in my former life?”
“See for yourself.”
There was a flash of light, and Raniy felt herself falling through space.
Yicter Audryn charged up the stairs, heedless of the crying of her muscles for her to stop and rest, for there were foes to be slain. The door at the top of the stairs proved no match for her determined shoulder. Beyond it were the evil soulcaster of Alhandra Sogroth and his incarnate bodyguards. From the chanting, Audryn guessed Sogroth was calling up something nasty. Sogroth barely spared the paladin a look when she burst through the door, leaving the trio to take her. A few Soulstrikes put them out of action for a few rounds. Sogroth proved to be of stronger mettle and resisted, although she did disrupt the spell he was casting. Spewing curses, he attempted to blast her with his magic, but she proved too resistant to kill her before she smote him with her claws. It was then that the incarnates woke up, and realized that their master was gone. Audryn faced them with a grin and used the last of her innate healing. It wasn’t much, but it helped. They all came at her at once, fighting like wild animals. Her world became a whirlwind of clashing steel and shouts for almost a full minute until one of them grabbed her and threw both of them off the tower. In her last few moments, Audryn saw her life flash before her eyes. She thought it was well spent.
The world dissolved around her, and Raniy found herself once again before the pool and the sphere of water.
“Yicter Audryn’s actions that day prevented Sogroth from calling forth fiends as reinforcements, and ultimately allowed my forces to win the day, though Audryn was one of many lost that day.”
“I am honored that you think me worthy of inheriting such power, Soul-Father.”
“It is you who have proved yourself worthy, daughter. Remain faithful and someday you will remember more. Now return, and remember what you have learned.”
“I will do everything in my power to serve you, Soul-Father.”
The sphere descended and rejoined the pool. Raniy watched as the Astral Plane faded and gave way to the grove. Raniy returned to her quarters, scarcely aware of what was around her until she reached her quarters and sank into her bed, where she slept dreamlessly.