A tall elf stares down at his reflection. The water of the Elysian wading pool is undisturbed. Instead of the normal elven pale color the skin is milk-white in complexion and the hair is silvery. The eyes are red, for like most albinos, the blood shows through the irises. Despite his appearance, people are drawn to his strange beauty. He both loves and hates the sight of himself. A chill runs down his spine. Manuel uses his fluid motions, soothing words and unique markings to endear himself to those around him. He learned this skill well from his master of 30 years, the Vampire Lord Walraven.
He was captured in the costal city of Andarr and subject to slavery and ridicule. Manuel was never made into an undead being, but decades of feedings and evil rituals permanently altered his body. Walraven mocked his captive by naming him Manuel the White as the flesh tones slowly left his body forever. When all seemed hopeless, he remembered the name of the God Dru'El and prayed earnestly for help. At dawn of the next day, a ferocious group of Half-ork mercenaries hired from the region of Brekon stormed through the master's layer burning and destroying everything within. Manuel was liberated.
Never again. Never again will he be at the mercy of the undead. Intense study under the clerics of Druï¿½El helps him to forget what was once a powerful phobia. They continued to call him Manuel the White as his skin was like fallen snow and his prayers reached the heavens. Despite this, some nights he wakes in a pool of sweat, remembering nothing of his dream but knowing exactly what it was he dreamt about.
And so, he travels the lands driving out the undead wherever he may find them. Is this due to vengeance or fear? It does not matter. The end result is the same: sending the unholy shrieking back into Eternity.
After escaping from a vampire's hold of 30 years, Manuel needed to relocate to another city. The sounds, smells and familiarity of Andarr haunted him. Manuel spoke at length to the Clerics of Dru'El in Andarr and pledged to enter into service at the temple in Elysia for 5 years if they could provide him with safe passage and clerical teaching.
He had heard that Elysia was a fine city, a beautiful city, that was safe and well guarded. By ship, Manuel traveled as far as Toran Sharda. Then, by caravan he traveled to Elysia. The city was beautiful! Lovely, in fact, but his heart grew heavy when he saw the temple of Dru'El. It had been heavily damaged.
For many years he studied with the Clerics of Dru'El in Elysia. All the while helping doing odd jobs around the temple and serving in whatever capacity he could. However, Manuel never forgotten his desire to destroy the undead of Avlis and he yearns for the rebuilding of the temple. It was this desire that caused him to contact Cha'reth Alindulae when the Hands of Dru'El were first being formed. In that single act, a life was changed from that clerical and domestic to a world of wonder.
Manuel the White, having risen to the positions of High Priest of Western T'Nanshi was pleased with his clerical progress. Swearing allegiance to the Spirit Lands and discovering a true love in Vedette, he had found meaning beyond the church. Blessed with many friends and acquaintances both new and old, there was little that this elf longed for. To describe him in a word: contentment.
This state of bliss was not to last long as an insidious evil had invaded southern Avlis determined to do harm to all those who stood before him and, in the process, take Avlis unto himself. Its name was the Woargshadeugh: a creature of dual natures attached to the Negative Energy Planes and the Plane of Shadow. Nearly immortal, the 'Gentleman' as he came to be known due to his dressing in dark suits and polite demeanor, loved to toy with his victims before killing them and claiming body parts for his own. He particularly enjoyed internal organs.
Manuel had several encounters with the Woargshadeugh. On one such outing, the High Priest was killed and skinned like an animal so that the Gentleman could use it to make a map of the Zvidureth area. On the final meeting, Manuel was slain but this was not good enough for the Woargshadeugh who, with great cruelty, consumed Manuel's soul so that it could not make its way to Aborea. Instead, Manuel's soul was held in captivity; trapped simultaneously inside the realms of shadow and death.
This was almost too much for Manuel to endure. For, as his closest of comrades know, he was imprisoned as a young elf. The vampire lord, Walraven, abducted Manuel and held him for some 30 years. During this time he was tortured, used in ritual and defiled by evil ceremony which permanently destroyed his skin pigment and caused an albino appearance. After his liberation, which he attributed to Dru'El's Grace, he swore to never be placed in that position again. And so it had been, until the Woargshadeugh and utter helplessness.
In the dual plane of Shadow and Negative Energy, Manuel's spirit was broken. For 2 years did he resist the powers that swirled around him with jibes, taunts and sickening drains on the soul. It was then that he gave into the darkness. It poured into him and saturated him as a sponge to water. He embraced it and found, to his surprise, not resentment and anger but an understanding. As the chill of shadow and the negative seethed through his very self a realization was born: energy comes in many forms and none are inherently evil. Intent is evil. Energy itself has no morality but is merely a tool. With this, he closed his eyes and gave himself over fully.
.Those who loved Manuel did not forget him. The Hands of Dru'El marched with renewed vigor bent on the destruction of the Woargshadeugh. Many battles were fought and, after 3 years time from his abduction, an incredible siege took place. The battle ended in the Gentleman's destruction. With his death came the end of imprisonment for those trapped in the killer's plane. The souls of the departed were freed to drift back to their proper resting places.
For 7 years did Manuel rest in Aborea. There he was slowly healed by the Father and His Agents. Manuel's soul was at rest. Over these tranquil months his suffering was ended he was restored. The passage of time did not seem as such to him but only as if on a short trip to be in the paradise that is the Aboreal Afterlife.
"Manuel, lulecetas'Avlis". (Manuel, go to Avlis.)
"Le'zemanath vooas." (The time has come.)
Wrapped in a cloak of deific light, Manuel was returned to Avlis in a time of need some 10 years after his abrupt departure. Is he the same person he was when he left? And what has changed in the days since his vanishing?
Manuel's return held many surprises for the long absent elf. For one, he did not realize the extent of time for which he'd been gone. In his own mind he believed that he had been missing for but a week. Learning the truth was shocking and difficult. He had come to find that his fiance had born him a precious son. She still loved him and, to his unending joy, had not taken another while he was lost. The war was at its most violent and desperate. Both sides now were beleaguered and almost out of all resources. Many new mage Orders had reformed. So much had occurred it was near impossible to fathom
Honor to the Father
Slowly, Manuel began to reacclimatize himself to the lands. He made short, impromptu appearances here and there so that word of his return would spread. He also targeted specific friends and loved ones for which to visit. With joy and tears were their reunions. Those who saw him noticed he was different. He carried a black staff that gave off an aura that was unfitting for a High Priest of Dru'El. He used death magic more frequently and, at times, would take control of undeath beings who confronted him to use them in battle only to destroy them himself later. Despite this, he was still the happy individual most recalled from years ago.
In the days that followed, Manuel was dispatched by the Council of Nine along with other esteemed delegates to represent Tï¿½Nanshi and the Church of Dru'El in peace talks with M'Check. These closed door sessions eventually gave birth to the Blandenberg Protectorate which ushered in an age of hope and peace between two countries who had been at war for come 200 years.
In the time of peace, it was decided that a new Speaker of The Hands of Dru'El would be appointed for a new era. Manuel became only the third Speaker of The Hands since their inception by Cha'reth in the Fall of 2071. This dual role of Speaker of The Hands and High Priest of Western T'Nanshi left Manuel precious little time for casual affairs. Many acts of wonder were accomplished by the Hands and by the Church of Dru'El; Glory be to Him.
Zecor Lay'lom, the birthplace of the elves, was discovered and brought to light in a time when the slavers were still deep into T'Nanshi. This place uplifted the spirits of those who entered its hallowed halls and gave hope back to the people. A beautiful temple, designed by none other than Celedor Dedwend, was erected in Visimontium for Druï¿½Elï¿½s Followers to enjoy and worship in. A grand celebration revealed the structure with wine, food and fireworks. The Hands of Dru'El summoned forth the Neverdead and marched in power alongside the T'Nanshi Army to defeat the hideous beast known as the Mistress of the Underdark. She and her minions were destroyed utterly by the power of Dru'El and His Wrath. Countless supplies were delivered to Visimontium and the Shelter of Hope to aid those who suffered under the dread of war or poverty. The druid, Sena'lae, and the Healer of Cha'reth, Divinia, were restored to fullness of health and youth so they may live a little longer in this sphere called Avlis. Verossians who threatened the Protectorate were repulsed and laid low until the days of the Arch Druid's arrival and the closing of the Verossian schism. The descendants of Sorvarnok were destroyed and their artifacts scattered to the four corners to prevent them from regaining strength. Far too much to detail in these pages transpired for the glory of the Father, His Holy Order and His Church.
After many years, the black staff in Manuel's hand was seen less and less frequently. In its stead was a staff of healing or similar device. Though, those who paid attention would notice his hand clutching the pole arm was fidgety and uncomfortable. He continued to be a common figure in Zvidureth, Le'Or, Silverfall, Blandenberg and, occasionally, Elysia and Mikona. Secretly, Manuel spent time at an elven monk Order in the south of T'Nanshi. While he never fully embraced the monk teachings or philosophies, he admired their passion for unusual weaponry and trained in the use of katana and sai.
A Kiss Goodnight
130 years is a long time to spend serving the cause. The Hands show there merit and know the path for Dru'El's Precepts are at the center of all they do. The helm has been passed to another; one who shall be truly great. Now is the time of rest. A time to be with the family that was forgotten and neglected. Stroll through the gardens. Lay by the still waters of Zecor Lay'lom. Grow old in their blessed company. This is the new charge until that sweet kiss goodnight and the reuniting with my brother, Cha'reth, and my lord, Dru'El. Finally. At long last. Peace.