47 years ago, the kingdom of Noth under the leadership of its new Young warrior king Hadrian of house Edin the city state discovered a cavern system leading to the underdark under the city where the drow have been kidnapping members of the kingdom and pushing them into slavery. The disappearances had been hard on the city state and the people looked to their king for an answer, King Hadrian having the proud ancestry of the kingdom of Noth itself, one of the last bastions of faith and safety against the last demon incursion had just taken the throne and the people looked to him with uncertain eyes as he would tell them with his next actions what kind of a king he would be for his people. After listening to his council and the pleas of his people being taken by the Drow ruthlessly King Hadrian answered his people’s cries…. with a crusade.
Noth was a fortress city only really known for being the location where the forces of good stood against a demon incursion 3000 years ago. The city was built upon Holy land and surrounded by dense forests which also served as Holy ground for the kingdom of wood elves. It was a bit of a surprise to have such a sudden attack by the Drow, but what was a little more surprising to this once legendary city was how fast their new king got results.
No knew the battles would be as easy as they were. It was simply unexpected, perhaps the drow simply didn't expect such a sudden and violent reaction. Perhaps they intended to cause many more problems and set up ambushes in the tunnels and caverns hoping the kingdom would trickle in soldiers little by little swelling their slave pens. Perhaps the drow just thought that humans would avoid the underdark all together.
None of that mattered, it was a full brutal Crusade, the human soldiers overran the drow defenses and slaughtered them in droves. Overwhelming their camps and freeing every slave they could, throwing the underdark into an unending sea of chaos until nothing was left.
Picking through what remained and burning the bodies, the soldiers were very surprised to see a dead drow woman cradling her newborn child among the piles of dead. They were quick to try and decide to kill the child as his mother was dead and it wouldn't survive down in the underdark alone, but the young king Hadrian stepped forward and made his declaration.
Not only would the child be spared, it would be brought back to Noth. The drow had taken many of their people, taking a drow from the underdark serve many purposes most of which were symbolic. He would serve as a living trophy, proof that they had conquered the drow punished the underdark. Additionally, they would sing of the grace and mercy of King Hadrian the pious willing to spare the children of even a race as vile as the drow. And finally, when the underdark took Noth's sons and daughters, King Hadrian made sure that Noth would take back from the Drow.
Hadrian raised the newborn for his men to see and named the baby boy Narlos.
The infant boy was proof of Noth's power, physically, spiritually, and politically.
Sadly however, Noth had just crusaded against the vile Drow, every year they celebrated genocide against Narlos's kind, his only value to the kingdom of Noth was in his representation, the fact that he was Drow and under the command of the kingdom of Noth.
King Hadrian gifted the baby Narlos to his personal butler and the butler's wife, a maid who worked in the castle. Their only son had been taken in the Drow raids and had not been recovered. The couple were hesitant to take him in, but it did good for the mourning woman who had all but perished to the grief, she took the infant Narlos and loved him dearly often accidentally calling the boy Tius, her real son’s name. It was unclear if the woman was ok or not, but Narlos never complained and took to the woman quickly, loving her dearly.
Narlos was also put in the tutelage of Nasio, the court wizard. Nasio was an old half elf who had held the position of Court wizard for several human Generations. He was a master of transmutation magic and was happy to teach the young Narlos. But coincidentally, he was also the first to notice a problem with the young boy.
Nasio knew all too well of the sinfulness of the human mind, their limited time on Earth lead them to be arrogant and eager to wallow in their own self-righteousness, and he could see quickly that the boy hated to be coddled or put on display. His adopted parents were old and desperate to not lose him as they had lost their dear Tius, and the King would constantly request for him to be present when meeting with other leaders to show him off as an accomplishment of Noth.
The young Narlos's heart began to boil with resentment. He was the king's personal trophy and was pushed to achieve greatness but given no recognition for his own ingenuity and power, he was well trained and schooled, but while he excelled, praise was upon Noth and it’s king that they could bring a Drow out of the underdark and give it so much. Every time he achieved anything it would be attributed to the righteousness and power of Noth, how glorious and true the kingdom was that they would protect an otherwise oppressed young boy, trying to fill his head with political ideologies and the concept that his only true savior was the kingdom itself and how righteous it truly was.
Nasio helped the boy as best as he could and taught him much of magic, but the old half elf was already very old, he knew for a fact that his attempts to help Narlos through this time and to deal with human arrogance would be cut short by father time. Narlos would come into adulthood without anyone who really understood him there to give him comfort he actually needed.
He foresaw what would happen and he couldn't blame Narlos but in his final actions he moved to lessen the damage. In his last days, even though he had to push himself out of his death bed, he personally saw to the destruction of the majority of the magical tomes in his own Library and requested to be buried with his own personal spell book.
He did not shy from explaining to Narlos why he did this, and he warned the boy in desperation not to follow his anger. And to his credit, Nasio did a lot of good in the young elf’s heart that day even though it was the very last thing the old wizard ever did.
Less than a year later and the Young Narlos became the new Court wizard where he thrived. He began his research on his long term goals of understanding the arcane and easily fulfilled his duties as Court wizard. As the court wizard of Noth, his only real duty was to attend Court whenever the king had it and help address and explain any magical happenings, to advise the court with knowledge and expertise on Magic. He was always going to be there anyways as proof of King Hadrian’s “glory”
But whether for good or ill, Nasio had not been fully successful in destroying ALL the dangerous knowledge that would tempt Narlos within the depths of his Wizard's Tower that night. Narlos eventually discovered an ancient tome, a book containing rituals and spells, something that had been hidden for centuries, perhaps millenia, since before Nasio had come to the tower.
“A man must know evil inside and out to truly recognize it when he sees it…” Narlos muttered the words he had heard a thousand times by the clerics and Paladins, whenever a practitioner of the dark arts had been brought in for interrogation. Such a reason was likely why this book was hidden beneath the floorboards of his study.
Days, weeks, months and even years passed and the Kingdom of Noth began to see quite an upturn of prosperity, the land itself was hard to till and very little grew outside of the forest. Additionally the beasts of the woods were aggressively protected by the wood elves, so it was innovation and magical development which helped the lands expand. Noth had been decaying since it’s ancient glory days as a fortress against the demonic forces, but slowly King Hadrian was bringing the light back to Noth. It was during these extremely joyous times that Narlos came forward with King Hadrian’s daughter Kayla requesting his blessing. Hadrian’s son Markus was healthy, young, and brave, and Noth was already in grand standings with its neighboring countries. The royal family’s future was secure and he didn’t have any need to strengthen his bonds with the world, the only reason he could have to reject Narlos was his own biases, and he almost did. But they had approached him when court was in session, in front of all those he had always bragged and boasted to, glorified the love and tolerance of Noth to.
And so, Narlos and Kayla were wed. However, King Hadrian praised the timing for it wasn’t long after that he fell ill, at least he would live to see his daughter marry someone she truly loved.
King Hadrian passed not soon after and as the unwed heroic Prince Markus of house Edin would be crowned as Noth’s new king, he celebrated on a grand hunt in the lands just outside of the forests. But this ended in utter disaster. Due to an error on the maps the guides had written the new King Markus had accidentally trespassed upon the wood elves holy lands and had shot a stag. He and his guard were cut down in a hail of arrows as they began dressing their kill.
The kingdom mourned, and to their credit, the Wood Elves paid reparations to avoid conflict but the damage was done and Kayla, unprepared princess took the throne. It was only by the guidance of Narlos, her husband who had been in the king’s court and knew how to run the kingdom inside and out that she held desperately onto the illusion that she was a competent ruler.
She would still cry herself to sleep, Narlos would let his poor wife mourn, genuinely feeling sorrow for the poor girl’s heart. Retreating to his tower he would churn the thoughts over in his head. He came to this kingdom over 40 years ago as an infant, served the king well, and despite them trying, Narlos did not seem capable of having children with his Queen. The royal lineage would end here.
“…My dear Kayla…I only wish I could keep your forever…” He looked at his outstretched hand as he stood in the cold moonlit night. “But when you pass… I will carry the throne alone.”
A wry smile crossed his lips. “A little touch to the king’s wine, a little edit to the prince’s maps… Hadrian, you arrogant priss… I hope you are watching… You are nothing, for I am the product of my own efforts, and I am King of Noth, everything I have is because I made it for myself and myself alone.”
His outstretched hand clenched over a writhing mass of necrotic energies. “I took everything from you, and now total control is but one single fragile human lifespan away…”
Watching his power seep into the bones slowly rising from the chest at the foot of his bed forming two bodies, he toyed with them, letting the long dead bones dance for him as his thoughts turned to the one thing in his life that he did regret hurting, and in a dark way he grumbled as he struggled with the thought. "My dear Kayla, I won't hurt you ever again, but… maybe I don't have to lose you…"
He fell silent watching the dancing bones of his adopted mother and father wondering what his future held.
I sadly have met far too many murder hobos and people who really didn't get the concept of evil, evil is not just killing things, nor is it attacking on sight. But every time I played with someone, they would always try and kill everything that moved and "iT's whAt mY ChARActEr woUld dO!!1!"
Tired of it all, I decided to show my friends what a REAL evil character looks like.
The story was of a character I love to play, the court wizard Narlos. I still pull him out from time to time, and no one ever knows he's evil, not even "until it's too late" No… no one ever knows, as he is a proper realistic evil. Not a single character in the campaign even knew that he took the throne illegitimately.
A good evil character isn't one that seeps edgy murder hobo vibes, just like any good character, they just feel real, and they have real motivations.