Some background. This was a dnd 5e game. My buddy was first time DM-ing. He was running the start of Hoard of the Dragon Queen. We got together a group of friends and it was originally supposed to be a one shot, but we kept coming back together again and again. Since it was originally a one shot, I decided to play a glory paladin. Inspired by Varvatos Vex from the "Tales of Arcadia" series on Netflix. Now for the tale of Varvatos Rex.
Standing on that grassy hill, seeing the orange glow rise up in the distance, Varvatos knew what he had to do. The glow rose up in the early morning sky over Greenest. Even from this distance he could smell the smoke coming off the burning buildings. Some merchants and travelers turned going back the way the came. Others hurried along the road to get past the troubled town, hoping the bandits wouldn't spill out and the conflict engulf them as well.
A few others rushed to town. Townsfolk most likely. Other travelers and mercenaries gathered on the grass hill near him. Many seeming eager to help. That is, until lightning cracked the clear sky and the shadow of a dragon passed. It loomed over the streets and buildings of the small hamlet. The sight was eirie as the glow from fires illuminated its scales from below, casting orange and yellow light on its blue hide. Every so often lightning would erupt from it gaping maw.
"It really is a shame." A man said as they looked from the trade road. "The force is sizable… too big. And there's a dragon."
Varvatos turned a curious eye and regarded the man, but didn't bother to ask his name.
"There is little we can do for them. Sides… we weren't born just to die for a fools errand." He continued.
"Varvatos Rex was not borne," The Leonine Paladin stated once he decided to speak, "He merely woke up one day in a field. Ready to bring glorious death and pain to his enemies, and conquer the realms in the name of good." He paused for a moment, "Well, heh, as soon as Varvatos Rex found clothing to cover his glorious nakedness. But now he has clothes! And is ready to be the doom of all who stand, er… or fly, against him! Ha-ha!"
"That fool is going to die." The man said, clearly as much to Varvatos as to the others nearby.
"Then I die to serve the good of the realm in glorious battle. Remember the image of Varvatos Rex, he was not made to sit idly by and do nothing." Varvatos said somewhat accusingly. The man began to say something. It could have been an argument, advice, or admission, but Varvatos was hearing none of it. Varvatos did not care. He simply held up his hand silencing the man.
"And fret not, frightened nameless ones, Varvatos will rid this scourge from the land, alone, if need arises." He explained with a toothy smile as he began his trek towards the town.
Fortunately for the Paladin it was not to be. A few other people, adventurers, had also made their way to the beleaguered town.
A couple joined his battle with a group of kobolds and humans. As soon as the Leonine realized they were fighting against the bandits joy spurred him on.
"Yes! Join Varvatos Rex in glorious purpose!" He said to the Gnome Barbarian and Teifling Rogue.
After the encounter Varvatos introduced himself and complimented, "It was inspiring to see you both in battle. Especially seeing one so small swing a battle axe so proficiently."
The alluring Teifling smiled while the Gnome turned red, shaking with fury.
"The name is Quaint and… you must not like you kneecaps." The Teifling said with a sly smirk.
"Must not!" The Gnome bursted and then explained, "The names Biddy. Not small one, short stack, or any other size related, uh, things. Thats your one warning."
"Understood s… er, Biddy." Varvatos acknowledged with a curt bow.
The Gnome's face swealtered and she yelled, "RAH! I need to hit something."
"Yes! Let us find something for the angry one to hit!" Varvatos said as he charged off.
"Meh, he isn't so bad. Still don't like him." The Gnome said to Quaint.
"To be fair, you don't like anyone." The Tiefling responded never losing that smirk.
"Ha! You can not hide from Varvatos!" They heard him yell in the distance. The sounds of screams accompanied his shouts of glory.
"Damn. He's going to take all the fun!" Biddy said rushing towards the sounds of swordplay.
The small group proceeded through the town. They eventually made contact with town's main forces and were heading counter assaults after a certain point. The town's leader, Governor Nighthill, had grown fond of the small capable group. The night was long and when the sun rose the next morning they had apprehended two people.
The first they beleived to be a scout. While looking for a leader amongst the bandits, Varvatos had noticed they were being followed. Without a word to the others he turned and rushed towards the figure. He was able to close the distance and smashed the pommel of his axe on the sneak's forehead. The pommel came down, dealing magnificent damage, knocking him out.
"You've only been gone for ten minutes. You've already captured someone?" Asked Governor Nighthill.
"Yes. A scout. Out sneaking around." Varvatos answered.
"When I said we needed information, and wanted you to capture someone, I meant someone in charge. A captain. a leader of some sort, giving orders. Someone that would know things. Have information." Nighthill explained.
The group looked at each other. In their excitement they had forgotten that they were supposed to look for a leader. Varvatos quickly added, "Ah-yes! See we captured this one and were so close that we brought him back. If we have trouble finding a leader, he may know where to look."
"Ok. Yes, that makes sense. Oh dear! He'll be out for hours. What happened to his head?" Nighthill inquired looking at the prominent bruise.
Varvatos picked up his axe, placing the head on his shoulder, revealing his holy symbol on the pommel. He smiled and proclaimed, "Varvatos Rex is quite proficient with the use of his entire axe."
"Oh my!" Quaint said with a snicker as Biddy muffled a laugh and shook her head.
As the scout slept the group went back into the town. They came upon a contingent of raiders. Seeing one man standing tall giving orders, they decided they had found their prey. After the main group marched away Varvatos and Biddy ran up on each side. They distracted the two guards and threatened the Captain while Quaint ran up behind him. It was over before it began. The distracted captain had little hope against the opportunistic rogue. The guards were quickly out numbered three to two.
When they went in to interrogate the prisoners Varvatos went first. He had told Biddy and Quaint they could interrogate the Bandit Captain first, but that he needed to ask him about a personal matter.
"Varvatos Rex has friends that will come in and ask you questions. Answer them and Varvatos will not need to torture you." The prisoner seemed disinterested as the Leonine spoke.
"Do what you must. Why would I fear the cat when the dragon soars so majestically over head?" He explained unfazed.
"It is important you show them respect!" Varvatos roared, enacting his racial ability. The prisoner was visibly frightened at this point.
The Leonine rushed to the bandits face, spit assaulted the man as Varvatos shouted, "Where the gnome comes from they use each others entire name as a sign of respect."
He pushed against the Bandit, tipping the seat back as he continued, "Show her respect or Varvatos will show you how well versed he is in the art of torture!"
"Yes. Ok. I'm sorry." He said with closed eyes as Varvatos moved to leave.
"The tiefling is called Quaint. The gnome, her name is… Itty Biddy." He said calmly before leaving the room.
"This one is particular about respect. He would not tell Varvatos anything until Varvatos introduced himself. He is not the one Varvatos is looking for." He said as he walked past the eager Rogue and Barbarian.
In the next room he met Sylas, a Elven sorcerer. As he began to question Sylas, Varvatos could hear Biddy throwing and slamming the other prisoner around the adjacent room. He gave out a hearty laugh and yelled, "Glorious! He doesn't even know Varvatos is torturing him! This pain may come from the hands of Biddy, but letter of his doom was sent and sealed with the crest of Varvatos Rex! Hahaha, Glorious!"
"Uhhh… ok. I'm not with the bandits… can you, uh, let me go?" Sylas asked not fully understanding what was happening.
The Leonine turned his gaze to him.
"Then who are you with? Greenest?" He asked sarcastically.
"Heh… no-no. I'm with an order of archmages. Spellcasters of great skill and expertise."
The Leonine was attentive but unimpressed.
"My name is Sylas Prometheus Ontaerus Ovaelia Nemara Silverwind."
The Leonine sat quietly.
"I'm a ninth generation prodigy." Sylas paused for a moment and then continued.
"You may think my name is ridiculous, many do. But uh… we take the surname of the grandmasters before us. And I know what your thinking I only have 5 surnames. And I said I'm ninth generation. I'm not lying to you, really. We only take the names… of the previous… grandmasters. Are you listening to me?" A moment passed.
"Varvatos Rex does not think long names strange. It is a testament to the glory of your forefathers. Where Varvatos Rex is from we oft call each other by shortened nicknames. Our actual names can be quite long." He explained.
"And where is that?" Sylas asked.
Varvatos thought for a moment. One of his brothers had a name with fifteen syllables. Another had a name with thirteen. Varvatos remember his name had a glorious twenty syllables. But his head clouded as he failed to remember. He didn't know. He couldn't even remember his full name. He saw Sylas looking at him, bewilderment on his face.
"Varvatos is the one interrogating here!" He yelled.
"Why are you here if not to pillage and fill your bloodlust?!" He accused Sylas.
"I'm not with the bandits. My family is a long line of spellcasters. These bandits raided our…" grief struck his features before he continued, "…my home." Varvatos watched as tears formed in the spellcaster's eyes. "They stole from our library. I chased them to get back whats rightfully mine!" Sylas eclaimed anger outweighing his grief.
After a few more questions Varvatos was confident that Sylas was who he said. He persuaded the guards to free him. Sylas had followed the bandits to Greenest and was looking for a town guard or some kind of resistance to the attack. He was sneaking around the town until his head met the pommel of an axe. An axe belonging to a Leonine paladin.
The Leonine took Sylas to meet the others.
"We know where their base camp is." Varvatos and Quaint both said at the same time.
"Where's Biddy?" He asked.
"Stormed off to vent. The Bandit Captain peeved her off. Is… that the other prisoner?" Quaint asked somewhat shocked.
"Not anymore. Sylas, Quaint. Quaint this is Sylas."
"My full name is Sylas prome-" Sylas tried to say but Varvatos cut him off. "Hold on! What did the Bandit do?!"
"Kept calling her small. Wait, he's not a prisoner?" Quaint reiterated.
"Oh you se-" Sylas raised his hand, gesturing as he began to speak but once again Varvatos cut him off.
"No. He's not. That doesn't make sense! Varvatos told the bandit to be respectful to Biddy. Even threatened him with torture."
"He isn't a bandit. And your full name i… Hang on. You told the bandit what? Wait… what did you do?" The rogue said suspecting Varvatos. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on who you asked, she could not tell if Varvatos was lying.
"No. I'm not a Ba-" Again Sylas tried to say something but Varvatos interrupted, "I must apologize to you Sylas, for we did assume you to be a bandit. And now you will have my holy symbol on your forehead for a few days."
"Its fine really. Ok. My name is… Wait… what holy symbol?" Sylas asked.
"When Varvatos Rex knocked you out he used the butt of his axe. He is quite proficient in the use of the entire axe. His holy symbol is on the pommel. You now wear it as a bruise on your forehead."
"Great…" Sylas sighed.
Quaint and Varvatos started walking away as Sylas said, "I'm a spell caster… if… anyone cares… my magic tied to mechanus somehow… actually kind of cool…" The Leonine and Teifling turned, for a moment Sylas thought they might have heard him.
"Sylas come! Tell us your story. No need to be so quiet!" Varvatos said as he introduced Sylas to Biddy.
"You really must learn to speak up and make your presence felt." The Leonine instructed Sylas.
"Oooo… pretty." The Gnome said referring to Sylas when he got near.
Sylas joined with the group, saved some people from a burning buildings, and helped save the mill. As the day dragged on into night, it seemed for a moment, that Sylas had joined just to watch Varvatos die.
The Blue Half-Dragon Cyanwrath called for a champion to come out and face him in one on one combat. He had hostages, townsfolk caught up in the raid. He promised to allow them to live, win or lose.
As he walked out to meet blue lizard thing Varvatos turned to the Governor Nighthill, "If Varvatos Rex were to fall this day, erect a statue in his honor and sing of this glorious moment. When he faced the tide of evil and stood against it unflinching."
Blow by blow the Leonine and Blue Half-Dragon rained pain onto each other. The battlefield was a wash with sparks, smites, lightning, and calls of glory. That is, until Varvatos fell, struck down by the mighty Cyanwrath.
"Glory to all who stand against you're kind." Varvatos bellowed as he attacked.
"And what kind is that?!" Cyanwrath asked, battering the paladin's sheild with his greatsword.
"The Evil of the land that prey on the innocent!" The Leonine answered missing his attacks.
"Evil? I was sent here to crush the weak. They are not innocent. They are weak." Cyanwrath returned.
"I was sent here to prove my devotion to good. Seeking glory in battle." Varvatos responded striking Cyanwrath hard, calling on his gods might to smite his foe. Cyanwrath neck was bleeding from the grievous wound. He dropped to one knee, his sword falling from his hand. Varvatos kicked the sword away and excited called looking at all the spectators, "Glorious battle!" As he turned back he was greeted by the sound of metal sinking into flesh. Cyanwrath's Spear was in his side. As he looked it seemed strange. It looked like a stick in his side, the blade completely obscured from view.
"You failed." The half-dragon said as Varvatos fell.
The last thing he saw was the Blue Half-Dragon leaning over his prone body. Cyanwrath smiled and teased as he pulled his blade out, "Glorious battle indeed."
Varvatos drifted for several moments in darkness. He could see a light and he remembered something. Something from before he woke up on that field naked. His father was ashamed of him. He was too prideful and vain. He was banished. His father was powerful. A ruler. A king, maybe, making Varvatos a prince. He was sent here to prove his devotion to good.
"It isn't time to come home yet." He heard his father's voice as he opened his eyes to see quaint sitting on his chest.
"All better now. Get up. We have things to do." The Tiefling bade as she licked his face and leapt off his body.
"Your work is not complete." His father's voice continued in his head.
Varvatos sat up and said, "I taste…"
"Defeat?" Sylas finished with a quip.
"Metal." He corrected.
"You sure did." Biddy stated.
"Spear and sword." Sylas added.
"Is that why Varvatos is so confused? Does defeat taste like metal? No wonder Varvatos is caught so unaware."
"Good fight. You still lost, but it was a good fight. I should have fought him. I'm harder to hit." Biddy teased. Varvatos had a joke about her being small but decided against it. He liked his knees the way they were.
He was happy to see that Cyanwrath had kept his promise. The hostages were all there. The bandit's had all left while he was unconscious.
Later, however, they heard reports that some other townsfolk were missing. Including a monk of some renown.
They knew where the camp was approximately, so they left the battered town. They caught some stragglers on the way, mercenaries paid by the bandit's. After questioning their new prisoner's they were able to avoid the rear guard. Much to the Leonine's dismay.
Eventually they made it. After a cursory scouting of the camp they decided to try going in the front door. Disguising the leonine somewhat clumsily, they were able to walk into the camp. Passing through the front gate. Fortune fell on them once again, as they found the kidnapped townsfolk immediately, Including the monk.
The monk revealed these were no ordinary bandits but dragon cultists. Even though the thought of staying seemed promising, the group decided it was best to leave.
"I will acquiesce to your request. Unless I see the Blue Lizard thing that brought shame to Varvatos! Our rematch will be a story for the campsite and taverns!" Varvatos bellowed from the tent, before being shushed.
As they made their way out Varvatos face was covered. He followed the others closely. And outside the camp they ran faster. Trying to put as much distance between them and the camp. It wasn't until they were an hour away that Sylas told him, "That was scary close."
"I know. Inches away." Said Quaint with a sigh of releif.
"What?" Varvatos asked.
"We passed right by Cyanwrath. You brushed against him. But he was busy with the cultists and guard drakes." Sylas explained.
A smile found its way to Varvatos's face. He would go back and kill the blue lizard thing, eventually.
They made it to Greenest with out incident. Afrer meeting with the town guard and Governor Nighthill, the monk reluctantly asked them for more. He wanted them to return to the cultists. He asked them to keep an eye on the cult or follow the group if they left. And to try to find out where they were going. The monk was going to gather up some other support along the sword coast. He was worried because dragon cultists weren't known to operate in this area. And they were rumored to be more concerned with the creation of dracoliches. Not pillaging and raiding.
Varvatos, along with everyone else, agreed to the nameless monks request. He had heard the name a few times but didn't bother remembering it.
They made the trek back to find the camp deserted. It was desolate. All the tents had been torn down and guard towers remained empty and silent. They searched but found nothing there. Varvatos was angry. Cyanwrath had slipped away. They found tracks leading out out of the camp. As they followed them they saw that a set of tacks split off. It went off away from the route that the main force traveled and into a cave.
"We're going into the deep dark cave chasing dragon cultists aren't we?" Sylas asked unamused.
Varvatos just walked in confidently.
"Yup!" Exclaimed Biddy.
"They might have your treasure." Goaded Quaint.
"Let's go handsome." Biddy said giving Sylas a wink and a nudge.
"I hope this lost treasure looks as pretty as you do." Quaint said to Sylas as they entered the cave.
When they entered they killed a group of kobolds immediately. Biddy, still enraged from the fight, ran down the hall after all targets were down. She fell into a patch of mushrooms while she was seeking new enemies. After adjusting she found that she would get attacked everytime she made sound.
After a moment it was clear something else was inhabiting the small forest of mushrooms. Varvatos started clanging his axe to his sheild on the ledge above. Taunting them to attack him instead. Sylas went in to retrieve Biddy. She was lost in the stalks taller than her, and afraid to move too much.
Sylas ingeniously cast silence, and a illusion to draw the creatures away. With that he was able to get her out without incident.
They encountered a group of troglodytes in the next area. While attacking Varvatos looked to Quaint and asked, "Want to have a litter?"
"Really?! You're flirting now." Sylas asked in disbelief.
Sylas was so thrown off that he missed his attack. Spinning cogs scorched past the troglodytes and hit the wall behind them. The Sorcerer's form of firebolt.
Quaint didnt respond to the Leonine besides blushing and plugging an arrow right into an opponent. She struck the troglodyte facing Varvatos directly between the eyes.
"I'll take that as a yes to the litter! Glorious!" Varvatos shouted as he shifted focus to a new foe.
Next they encountered a group of kobolds sitting around and cooking. Hesitantly they entered the room and proceeded. The kobolds just sat their eating and kept a watchful eye on the rag tag group. They awkwardly passed through without incident. As he left the paladin said in Draconic, "You have a lovely home. Good day."
They were able to sneak up to the next area. A pit was in the middle of the room and they were able to tell that more kobolds occupied this room as well. The next thing Varvatos knew Sylas was freaking out.
"Oh god… I just died!" Sylas whispered intensely.
"Move I want to wack these lizards. You guys wouldn't let me kill the last set." Biddy commanded.
"The Kobold's will attack us. And there are guard drakes in the pit." Sylas said still breathing hard.
"How do you know this? Magic?" Varvatos asked.
"And if so why have you never used this ability before?" Quaint added.
"There was a box on that alter. Its trapped." Sylas began to explain.
"The box?" Varvatos reasoned.
"No. The alter. The box had my family's crest on it. Inside was this… ring…" Sylas corrected as he held up his hand. On that hand he wore a ring that none of the party members remembered seeing.
"So… this ring is in that box?" Varvatos asked skeptically.
"I dont know. It might be. Probably not. Time must have reset itself somehow. It must have something to do with my ties to mechanus." Sylas explained struggling to figure out what happened. Varvatos could tell Sylas wasn't sure he had a good handle on the situation.
"Mechanus?" Varvatos asked.
"Yes… the realm of law and balance. The plane of rules and order! I've only been talking about it since I've met you." Sylas said incredulously.
"Oh. Your clock domain. Yes. Varvatos remembers." He assured.
"I'm not a cler- i mean… yeah technically your right." Sylas sighed shaking his head.
Varvatos put his hand on Sylas's shoulder and comforted, "Varvatos believes you. You have the lead. What should we do Sylas?"
"Quaint should sneak behind one and attack. There are some on a ledge above. You won't be able to reach them. Toss biddy up there. I'll fire on them with magic." Sylas instructed.
"So… what we were going to do anyway?" Biddy asked from her perch on Leonine's shoulder. Sylas was deflated at that point.
"It is a good plan." The Leonine assured him.
Quaint stealthily crept inside. Varvatos put Biddy on his sheild and ran in as soon as Quaint started combat. He threw Biddy on a ledge so she could attack the opponents above. And, because of Sylas's portents, they took out all the enemies in there with relative ease.
Varvatos started to throw the kobolds into the pit. Not wanting them to be easily discovered. Unfortunately the still living drakes began to howl, alerting everything in the area.
"What happens now?" Varvatos asked the sorcerer.
"I-I don't know… I, uh, I didn't go this far…" Sylas stammered.
"Worst. Sorcerer. Ever." Varvatos said as more enemies poured into the room.
Four human berserkers came in and parted, making way for a seven foot tall blue half-dragon.
A smile spread across Cyanwrath's face as he recognized the paladin. "Glorious indeed." He exclaimed.
If he were any common race he might have been forgettable. But not Varvatos the axe wielding Leonine. Not this Paladin of Glory. Not one who scarred Cyanwrath during their battle.
"Let us battle again. Single combat. One on one. Or any of you, that is, if Varvatos is afraid to taste defeat once more. Maybe you can scar me again before you perish."
The party discussed. Biddy wanted to try. Quaint suggested Varvatos. Even Sylas had an idea of what he could do, and wanted to go against the monstrosity.
Varvatos didn't say anyththing. He looked at the pommel of his axe. It was a flamimg sword balancing a coin. The background was a road going off into the setting sun. He prayed to his gods. Lathandar, god of birth and growth. Tempus, the god of battle. And Tymora, goddess of luck and fortune. He even said a silent prayer to his father, though he didn't think there was any way for that to reach him. He channeled the god's divinity and could feel his muscles flare with strength.
His voice cut the arguing. "Varvatos Rex will go and meet the blue lizard thing. He has a plan. Give him one minute."
"Are you ready to die? I won't leave you bleeding on the ground this time." Cyanwrath threatened.
"My father sends his regards." The Leonine said pointing his axe towards the Half-Dragon.
"And your mother sends hers." Sylas quipped, tossing insult towards Cyanwrath.
"After the cat, that one is the next to die." The Half-Dragon said staring with hate filled eyes, his gaze on Sylas.
They met in the center of the room. Next to the pit and alter. Cyanwrath chuckled to himself and turned his head, showing the scar Varvatos had left behind.
Varvatos could have said something. He could have boasted, bartered, or threatened the blue lizard thing. But he was slowly learning. There was a time for boasts and bragging. There was a time for cheers and grandstanding. Now was a time for action. No words. Just deeds.
Varvatos stepped to the side, circling the Half-dragon and attacked. Part one of his plan. Put Cyanwrath's back to the pit. He hit. "Smite!" He roared causing massive damage. He reopened the wound on Cyanwrath's neck and moved in. It was time for part two of his plan. He pressed in pushing him with his sheild. Cyanwrath couldn't hold against the enhanced strength of this glorious paladin. Cyanwrath fell forty feet to the bottom of the pit.
The Half-dragon's body hit with a thud, and was accompanied by reverberations sent through the floor. His body landed on the creatures at the bottom. The sound of crunching bones and yelps from the guard drakes echoed up the pit, one last time, before silencing forever. Cyanwrath laid there and he did not get up. Everyone cheered or stood there in silent shock for a moment.
Varvatos cracked his neck, pointed his axe towards the berserkers and asked, "Who is next?!"