Lost Empire of Aasha
Haon of Rust
Early Years: Born in the village of Brindle, Haon (8) and his sister Eleaonor (12) were orphaned when a plague struck their village. A band of travelling clerics and paladins from the Order of Last Light (in the service of their deity Dhomnarhyn) had been following the path of the illness over several months as it moved along the trade roads, and although many villagers were lost, Haon and his sister were among those saved by the healer clerics. As his fevers passed, Haon watched the Order tend to his village and felt himself called to Dhomnarhyn’s service and the Order’s mission of aid. When the order moved on, he successfully petitioned to join the order as an acolyte and was brought to the Order’s home quarters in the town of Rust. Eleaonor, more enamoured by the shine and pageantry of the Pelorian clerics who arrived after the worst of the plague had passed, elected to become an acolyte of Pelor in the provincial capital of Deal.
As the years passed, Haon trained in the martial and healing arts and became a paladin of the Order of Last Light. At the age of 17 he began travelling with one of the Order’s roving bands, seeking out creatures in need of aid and healing. Haon was 30 when the incident of Splintered Bone occurred, and he returned to Rust with the rest of his Order to begin the great search of their archives and nearby libraries. Seven years of research left Haon with a set of new languages and a large amount of knowledge, as well as an aging body that needs to relearn the paladin skills he mastered in his youth. His faith remains as deep as ever, though he worries about who or what it is that hears the prayers he sends in Dhomnarhyn’s stead.
Deity: Dhomnarhyn (NG), Lady of the Space Between, Warden of Edges, the Border Walker. Called Dhomyn by her followers, or more rarely Dhomna, because constantly calling your deity by her full name seems both too familiar and too demanding at the same time. Also functions as a form of wordplay because the phrase “vy Dhomyn” is both a short form of Dhomnarhyn’s name and an archaic form of “my/our Lady”. Dhomnarhyn’s domain is boundary spaces, in the place between life and death, between day/light and night/darkness, at borders and edges, and where paths divide and fates are decided.
The Order of Last Light: Dhomnarhyn’s followers have never been mighty in numbers as she is a deity that places heavy emphasis on works of service over maintaining the trappings of religion. Still, there were once several orders dedicated to her following. Over the past few centuries, most of these organizations dwindled until only two remained: The Orders of First and Last Light. About two generations ago, the Order of First Light was dissolved for unknown reasons, leaving The Order of Last Light as Dhomnarhyn’s only remaining group of organized followers.
The Order of Last Light holds that Dhomnarhyn has charged them to walk as wardens at the boundary between life and death, and by their faith and skills to return all creatures they can to the living world. Those that have passed too far to retrieve may be guided into the darkness where they are received by their deity. To this end, the Order sends bands of clerics and paladins travelling across the land to find battlefields, plagues, and other disaster sites where they work to heal or ease the passing of those involved. The Order maintains home quarters in the mining town of Rust where older members may retire from wandering and train young acolytes while offering healing services to the miners and smelters of the town. In addition to simple living and training quarters, the Order is home to a large library of healing texts and all the records that could be recovered from their kindred orders. At its peak the Order supported over 10 travelling groups ranging from 2-3 clerics to companies of 20+ clerics and accompanying paladins, in addition to maintaining a strong presence in their home quarters. Their numbers decreased somewhat after the fall of their companion Order, but they continued in their mission even as a sense of unease began to grow within their ranks. Unspoken and unacknowledged even among themselves, the Order of the Last Light felt the connection to their Lady was changing, although none of their kindred could point to anything but a vague feeling of foreboding.
Seven years prior to Haon leaving for Aasha, a senior cleric of the Order attending to a battlefield full of wounded soldiers called on Dhomnarhyn for aid and received a response that resulted in the deaths of everyone remaining on the field, including all of the Order’s company. Witnesses who happened onto the site reported that the ground appeared to have been blasted black, with cracked patches of glass in places, and bones of the dead split open as if from great heat. This event forced the remaining members of the order to confront the knowledge that their connection to their Lady had changed, and they were no longer certain what deity was answering their calls, if any.
All members of the order were recalled to Rust and what followed was an extensive and exhaustive search of all historical records from all of Dhomnarhyn’s Orders, as well as any other related records, to try and determine what was happening. Had the other Orders experienced similar incidents? Was this why they had disbanded? Seven years were spent scouring every book, scroll, and historical document searching for clues, and over those seven years the Order’s members began to slowly drift away like ships without an anchor. Many took up the mantle of wandering healers with no allegiance to a deity, some ministered to noble houses, and others found mates, occupations, and other deities to fill the place once taken up by service to their Lady. At the end of those seven years of searching, the Order of Last Light had diminished to only 30 remaining members and had found no answers to their questions. Those few who were still fit and able to travel agreed to strike out for new lands where they could serve their mission while searching for far-flung knowledge of their diety’s past and possible future. Among that small number of travellers, Haon of Rust journeyed to the Lost Empire of Aasha. Perhaps Dhomnarhyn’s faithful once walked among the people of this dead empire; perhaps here the kindred of her last Order will find clues to her fate.