This article contains spoilers for Tower Lord.
|Vaelin Al Sorna|
- 1 Biography
- 1.1 Early life
- 1.2 Training in the Sixth Order
- 1.3 Brother of the Sixth Order
- 1.4 Volarian War
- 2 Appearance and Personality
- 3 Skills and abilities
- 4 Trivia
- 5 See also
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Al Sorna was born to the then Battle Lord Kralyk Al Sorna and the former Mistress of the Fifth Order Ildera Al Sorna in the city of Varinshold in the Fiefdom of Asrael of the Unified Realm. To protect Al Sorna from the designs of King Janus Al Nieren, his mother arranged with the Aspect Gainyl Arlyn of the Sixth Order that Al Sorna joined the Order when he came of age, and made her husband promise to abide by her wishes as her dying wish. Two months after his mother's death, when he was ten years old, Al Sorna was taken to the House of the Sixth Order to become a brother.
Training in the Sixth Order
Test of the Run
At the gates to the Order House, Al Sorna was met by the Aspect Arlyn, and was then assigned to a group with ten other boys his age. After being given their equipment and their medallions, Master Sollis began the group on their first sword fighting lesson. Al Sorna immediately showed his talent by being the only one in his group to manage to parry Sollis' attack. After work in the gardens and the stables, as well as more sword lessons, they were taken to their room in the North Tower. Lying awake on his bed, Al Sorna heard his dead mother's voice.
Al Sorna spent the next year under the harsh tutelage of his masters. He learned the sword, the bow, the staff, wrestling, and survival skills under the Masters of the Sixth Order. He was most talented with the sword and the staff, while proving to be adequate only with the bow. During this time, he grew closer with his brothers in his group, getting along best with Caenis Al Nysa.
In the month of Sunterin, Al Sorna, along with two hundred other novice brothers of similar age, faced the Test of the Run. He and the rest of his group were taken up the Brinewash River by Master Sollis, left along the river bank at different points, and told to make their way to the Order House by the next day. Al Sorna was the last to go among his group, therefore had to longest to travel. While making his way through the Urlish Forest, he saw the Nameless Wolf for the first time before being ambushed by an archer. Al Sorna was, instead, able to kill the archer by sending his own arrow through his neck. Highly disturbed by killing a man for the first time, he came across two other assassins as he continued on his way. These assassins had killed another boy named Mikehl from his group, thinking him Al Sorna. Before he could attack them in his anger, the Wolf appeared again, shoved Al Sorna aside, and killed the assassins. When Al Sorna reported what happened to Sollis at the Order House, he was ordered to keep what happened a secret. He told his brothers that Mikehl was killed by a bear.
Test of the Wild
In the following months, Al Sorna's sleep was often troubled with nightmares. As the winter came, and with it the Test of the Wild, their training focused mostly on survival skills with Master Hutril. When the time came, Al Sorna was taken to the Urlish, where he first built his shelter, then gathered and hunted food. The third day in the wild came a blizzard. He found a man and a young girl in the blizzard, and took them to his shelter. He learned the next day that the Sella was a Denier of the Faith and a fugitive from the Fourth Order, and Erlin was escorting her to safety. Al Sorna helped the two escape from Brothers Tendris Al Forne and Makril. He also became the owner of a Volarian slave-hound, when he killed its pack mates, and named it Scratch. With Scratch's help, he found a deer carcass and the rest of the Test proved easier. When his ten days were over, Master Hutril came back to escort him to the Order House, he was than taken to the Aspect's room where he was told his father had resigned as the Battle Lord, and wanted his son returned to him. Al Sorna rejected, saying he had no father. Scratch was placed in the Order's kennels where Master Checkrin was delighted to welcome it. The surviving members of Al Sorna's group were Caenis Al Nysa, Nortah Al Sendahl, Dentos, and Barkus Jeshua. Jennis from the group died during the Test and it was Barkus who found his body and seemed someway changed by the experience of finding his body.
Test of Knowledge
As winter turns to spring, Vaelin and his group prepare for the Test of Knowledge with Master Grealin. Dentos struggles badly to learn the tales of the history of the Order, and when Caenis mocks him, the two come to blows. Afterwards in the infirmary, Master Sollis confronts Vaelin about what happened, and challenges him to do something to help Dentos, intimating that he is the leader of the group. Vaelin forces the two to apologise to each other, and from then on all the brothers take on the task of teaching Dentos; Nortah proving himself the most effective teacher.
The Test of Knowledge proves seriously different than Vaelin was expecting. He faces with three Aspects, Elera Al Mendah of the Fifth Order, Dendrish Hendril of the Third Order, and Corlin Al Sentis of the Fourth Order. They have no interest in the history of the Sixth Order and its innumerable blood-baths. Instead, they ask him uncomfortable questions about the man he killed on the Test of the Run, his mother, and his encounter with Sella. Vaelin finds the Test deeply troubling, and is left sullen afterwards. All of Vaelin's group pass the test.
The Summertide Fair
After the Test of Knowledge, the group is taken to Master Jestin to forge their swords. They spend the week shovelling coke into the furnace, lifting stacks of iron rods, working the forge bellows, and sharpening, polishing and honing the blades. The work leaves them all exhausted. Only Barkus, the former blacksmith seemed to enjoy the work, and in the end Jestin offers Barkus the opportunity to join the smithy, but is refused.
All the brothers are given leave to go to the Summertide Fair is Varinshold, except for Vaelin and Nortah who are punished by Master Sollis for supposedly slacking off. Vaelin chooses to spend the day with Scratch at the kennels, but while he's there he learns from Master Jeklin that Nortah's father, the First Minister, is to be executed at the fair. Nortah uses sheets to climb out of the window, and escapes the Order house. Vaelin tracks him to the Summertide Fair, where Nortah is trying to break through the cordon. It takes five soldiers of the Twenty-Seventh Cavalry to subdue him. Vaelin rescues him from the soldiers, and knocks Nortah out. As more soldiers arrive, Barkus, Caenis and Dentos join in. Things seem on the verge of turning ugly, until Prince Malcius uses his authority to calm the situation. Nortah’s father is hanged in the end.
Returning to the Order house, Vaelin expects to face punishment, but find Aspect Arlyn and Master Sollis understanding; angrier at what the King did to Nortah’s father, and what that did to Nortah. After the experience, Nortah becomes more withdrawn, though displaying a new found ferocity in training.
The next phase of their training begins with the skill in horse riding and mounted archery under Master Rensial. Vaelin is assigned a spirited and wilful stallion that he calls Spit. Vaelin struggles at first, but he improves thanks to help from Nortah, who is already an excellent horseman.
One day, Vaelin is called to Aspect Arlyn's office where he finds Frentis, a street urchin he met at the Summertide Fair. Frentis is fleeing for his life after a confrontation with a vicious gang leader called One Eye, and he requests entry into the Sixth Order. With no one to vouch for him, Frentis nominates Vaelin to speak for him to the Aspect. Vaelin grudgingly agrees. While Frentis waits for the next intake of recruits, he bunks with Vaelin’s group. At first the group is reluctant, but Frentis’s energy and blind enthusiasm soon wins them over. He also demonstrates an effortless ability to steal from other groups, which is tolerated within the Order as long as the thief is not caught. In time, Frentis joins his own group under Master Haunlin. Frentis proves to be an enthusiastic student, learning quickly and loving life in the Order, compared to his former life.
Test of the Melee
Vaelin and fifty or so novice brothers are gathered into the practice field with wooden swords, and split into two groups; one to defend a red pennant, and Vaelin's group to capture it. To Vaelin's consternation, all the boys look to him for leadership. Vaelen's plan is simply to charge hard and fast into the centre of their line. His aggressive tactic proves successful, and after a prolonged bone crunching fight, Nortah stands with the pennant in his bloody hand. Helping a dazed Nortah from the field, Vaelin is introduced to the guests invited to witness the test; Tower Lord Vanos Al Myrna, his adopted daughter Dahrena, and Hera Drakil of the Seordah Sil.
Several months later, Vaelin is riding far from the Order house when he is thrown from his horse. A young girl comes to help him called Alornis. As they talk, Vaelin comes to realise that she is in fact his own illegitimate half-sister, fathered while his mother was still alive. The encounter leaves Vaelin feeling betrayed by the father he feels abandoned him.
Week Long Exchange
In the traditional week long exchange with brothers and sisters from different Orders, Vaelin is the only one to choose to be placed in the Fifth Order, the order of healing. Vaelin arrives at the Order house while Aspect Elera Al Mendah is in the middle of a difficult surgery. As the young man thrashes wildly, Vaelin uses a pain control technique to calm him. Afterward, Vaelin reveals to the Aspect that his reason for choosing the Fifth Order is to ask questions about his family. However, Elera refuses to help him, and assigns him to Sister Sherin.
Many of the brothers and sisters of the Order are warmly enthusiastic to meet Vaelin, especially Sister Henna. However, Sister Sherin proves a taciturn individual, who gives him menial jobs, fetching and carrying, cleaning and laundry work. However, she is an especially skilled healer. One day a criminal called Gallis is brought in for help by the Realm Guard. While Vaelin is out of the room, Gallis stabs one of the guards, and holds a blade to Sherin's throat. Vaelin returns and instantly saves her. Unfazed, Sister Sherin calmly continues to heal Gallis's wounds. Afterward, Sherin slowly becomes more amiable with Vaelin, and began to impart some of her knowledge. Vaelin begins to have increasingly strong feelings for Sherin.
One night, Sister Henna comes to Vaelin's bedroom, and to his shock, she kisses him. As he is trying to force her away, he hears the howl of the Nameless Wolf, a sign he now associates with danger. Sister Henna comes at him with a knife. Vaelin tries to subdue her, but she poisons herself. Fearing for the Aspect, he sprints to her room, and kills the three men he finds there. As each dies, they say “Once there were seven!”. In the end, Vaelin collapses, poisoned by a scratch from Henna's blade.
Sister Sherin saves Vaelin with a treatment of Joffril root. When Vaelin wakes, he find Master Sollis at his bedside. Vaelin learns that Aspect Elera was not the only one attacked, the Aspects of the Fourth and Second Orders were assassinated, and the Aspects of the Third and Sixth survived attempts. As he recovers, Vaelin goes to see the Aspect. Elera agrees to answer one of Vaelin's questions about his family. Vaelin learns about his half-sister, and that it was his mother's decision to give him to the Sixth Order.
Test of the Horse
After the exchange, came the Test of the Horse. Vaelin struggles from the start; Spit is his usual fractious self. He is barely adequate, but at least he passes. No brothers failed the Test.
Some month later, the Conclave of the Faithful is called, for the new Aspects in the aftermath of the assassinations. Vaelin and Caenis are chosen to accompany Aspect Arlyn. Liesa Ilien of the Second Order proves to be an impressive woman with a keen grasp of logic. However, Tendris Al Forne of the Fourth Order proves a divisive figure. He berates the other Aspects for allowing the Faith to weak, and too closely tied to the crown. Shocked and angry the Conclave descends into chaos, as Tendris walks out.
Test of the Bow / Frentis's Test of the Wild
Autumn brought the Test of the Bow. Once again all the novice brothers passed. Predictably Caenis, Nortah and Dentos excelled themselves, whilst Barkus and Vaelin proved only adequate.
Meanwhile, Vaelin and the others wave goodbye to Frentis as he leave on the Test of the Wild. When Frentis does not return, Vaelin goes to see Aspect Arlyn, and explains that he believes that One Eye, the vicious gang leader, is responsible. The Aspect gives him and his brothers permission to track down and rescue Frentis. They track him to tunnels under an inn, thanks to Scratch. The structure seems to be some kind of temple to the mysterious and supposedly defunct Seventh Order of the Faith, the Order of the Dark. Behind a hidden door, they find Frentis tied to a frame, with his torso tattooed with scars. The outlaw One Eye makes a wall of fire, but Caenis recognises it as fake, and leaps through the flame and kills him.
Test of the Sword
The Test of the Sword come in the seventh year of their trains, and is their final test. It takes place in an arena on the outskirts of the city. Vaelin faces three condemned men, sword in hand, and must triumph or die. Vaelin recognises the sword fighter’s stance and unwavering gaze of a true fighter in one of them. After quickly dispatching the first two, He eventually kills the third man but is left uneasy about who he was.
Later that night outside a tavern, Vaelin meets Erlin, the man he helped on the Test of the Wild. Erlin tells him that he knew the man Vaelin killed. His name was Urlian Jurahl and he only crime was defending his wife from arrest. He was a former brother of the Sixth Order, participating in the test, due to some unscrupulous men who wanted to profit from Vaelin's death.
Vaelin is outraged to have murdered an innocent man, and requests an audience with King Janus. He is into the King's private study. Vaelin offers to submit to Janus's old scheme to have him marry Princess Lyrna, in return for saving Urlian's wife. However, the King says that those plans are long dead. Janus proves far more devious. The King instead wants Vaelin to participate in a campaign in the Martishe forest in Cumbrael, and while there murder an arrogant young noble called Linden Al Hestian. Stomach churning with despair, Vaelin agrees.
Leaving the King's study, instead of being led out of the palace, Vaelin is taken to an audience with Princess Lyrna in her secret garden. She tries to dissuade him for entangling himself in her father's schemes, and instead leave the Sixth Order and marry her as her father had once planned. Vaelin refuses, and leave, disturbed by Lyrna's attempt to manipulate him.
Brother of the Sixth Order
Vaelin, Barkus, Dentos, Caenis, and Nortah under Brother Makril are sent to Martishe forest on the border between Asrael and Cumbrael. There they are to assist Sword of the Realm Linden Al Hestian, and the regiment that he has raised himself, to root out deniers infesting the forest led by a man called Black Arrow. However, the regiment proves inept, fleeing at the merest sign of danger. Al Hestian himself is an amiable man, but a weak leader of men. After seven months, the King sends a letter demanding that Al Hestian hurry up and complete the campaign. Within the letter is a thinly veiled reminder of the deal Vaelin made to murder Linden.
They agree to a plan for the Sixth Order brothers to train a small group of the regiment and raid Black Arrow's encampment. Vaelin suggests Al Hestian should lead the raid personally. The Orders brutal training soon show dividends, and the raiding party leave in the dead of night. As they near Black Arrows camp, Vaelin make an excuse to scout ahead, leaving Linden to lead the attack. On a ridge, Vaelin prepared to murder Linden with a Cumbraelin arrow, as the regiment charge into the camp. Again Vaelin sees the Nameless Wolf. He decides to defy King Janus, and throws himself into the raid.
The raid proves successful, and in the end Vaelin stands beside Linden surrounded by the bodies of their defeated enemy. Suddenly someone fires an arrow from the trees, catching Linden in the shoulder. Vaelin ran full pelt into the trees after the bowman. He catches him in a clearing, and easily dispatches him. The man is older than most of the enemy, and Vaelin surmises that this may well be the leader, Black Arrow.
In the clearing, Vaelin is struck by a vision of a blind woman called Nersus Sil Nin. She claims to be a long dead member of the Seordah Sil, who is gifted with the Dark ability of the sight that can pierce time. She tells Vaelin that he is also gifted with the Dark, with the Blood Song, and that he is Beral Shak Ur, "the raven’s shadow", a harbinger of change.
When Vaelin recovers from the vision, he finds Nortah and Barkus in the clearing. They return to the camp with some letters found on the dead archer, to find Linden still clinging to life. Before he dies, he reveals that he had been courting Princess Lyrna, and Vaelin realises that the King had wanted him to murder Linden to remove an unfitting suitor. Brother Makril is instinctively suspicious of Vaelin, and tells him "you stink of guilt".
Post Martishe Campaign
Vaelin returns from the Martishe campaign, and shows the letters found to Aspect Arlyn and King Janus. They are letters of free passage seemingly written by the Fief Lord Mustor of Cumbrael. The King orders Sentes Mustor, the Fief Lord's eldest son, to be put under house arrest, until Fief Lord Mustor comes to court and explain why the these letters were in the possession of denier fanatics. Aspect Arlyn struggles to hide his reservations, knowing that the Fief Lord will not come, and that the King has set the Realm on the road to war. After the meeting, Vaelin and the Aspect are taken aside by the King. Vaelin is offered a sword from the King's collection, and named a Sword of the Realm. He is commissioned to raise a regiment from the remnants of Linden's force, the King's dungeon, and recruits from the streets.
Vaelin goes to see Alucius.Al Hestian the younger brother of Linden to give him his late brothers sword. He finds him in the gardens sitting with Princess Lyrna. Alucius vows vengeance on the Cumbraelins, although Vaelin insists that his brothers last wish was that he leave the sword sheathed. Princess Lyrna takes Vaelin aside, and tells him of her theory that the Aspect massacre was a cunning ploy to obscure its one objective; possibly to raise Tendris Al Forne to Aspect and so drive a wedge between the Orders, or possibly to kill Vaelin.
By the time Vaelin's regiment are at fighting strength, war breaks out in Cumbrael, when Fief Lord Mustor is murdered by his fanatical younger son Hentes Mustor. The King's forces are mustered under new Battle Lord Lakrhil Al Hestian, who leads the Realm Guard on the capital. Vaelin marches his regiment to join them, accompanied by Sentes Mustor. However, Sentes advises Vaelin to turn north and head for The High Keep, a secret fortress in The Greypeaks mountains.
At the base of the mountain below the High Keep, Sentes Mustor leads them to a supposedly secret entrance to the fortress. However, the entrance has been recently blocked. Vaelin calls on one of his recruits from the dungeons, Gallis the Climber, the man Vaelin met during the week long exchange with the Fifth Order. Gallis climbs up the sheer cliff and keep walls like an ant, and lowers ropes for twenty others. Vaelin sends Nortah and Dentos to open the gates for the rest of the men, while his Blood Song urges him to go directly to the keep.
After dispatching the guards, Vaelin faces Hentes Mustor alone in the Lord’s Chamber. As he approaches him, he reveals a hostage, Sherin. Vaelin drops his weapons, and a tense exchange ensues. Hentes seems torn between the voice in his head that he believes is his God urging him to kill Vaelin, and guilt for killing his father. Hentes momentarily loses control and says “You do continue to surprise me, brother", in a voice that reminds Vaelin of Sister Henna and One Eye. Hentes eventually regains control, and seems on the verge of giving up. However, Barkus arrives and seeing Vaelin unarmed, kills Hentes with his axe.
With the fortress secure, Vaelin seeks to prevent further damage from the revolt in Cumbrael. He buries the dead according to the Cumbraelin custom, and sends Nortah and Dentos to prevent the Battle Lord from attacking the capital. However, after two days, Dentos returns alone. He tells Vaelin that when Lakrhil Al Hestian heard that the usurper was dead, he planned to kill his prisoners anyway, in revenge for his son Linden. So Nortah attacked him, cutting off his right hand, and fled. To the shock of his brothers, Vaelin plans to find Nortah and bring him to justice.
Post Cumbraelin Revolt
Vaelin heads north guided by his Blood Song, and after two weeks reaches the Renfaelin city of Cardurin. There he takes the advice of the Sixth Order mission. Despite the Brother Commanders warning about crossing Lonak land, he continues on to the mysterious and supposedly abandoned Fallen City. Although he is attacked by one young Lonah brave trying to make his reputation, Vaelin learns that the High Priestess of the Lonak is allowing him safe passage through their lands. Approaching the Fallen City, he is attacked by a giant wild cat and wounded, but saved by Nortah.
Vaelin wakes in an encampment in the Fallen City, to find his injuries healed, and Nortah and Sella, the girl he met during his Test of the Wild. Vaelin learns that the community are all exiles fleeing the Realm because they are all gifted with the Dark. Seeing that Nortah is happy, Vaelin decides to report that Nortah has been killed by the Lornak and that only Nortah's remains were found. He takes Nortah’s sword and his talisman of the Order as evidence of his death. Vaelin also finally reveals that Nortah’s mother and sister are safe in the Northern Reaches. Before he leaves, Vaelin goes to see a man called Harlick, a one-time librarian. He asks him whether the Seventh Order is truly extinct. Harlick reacts with fear, and when pressed by Vaelin, he will only say that he will not reveal the secrets of his Order.
For the next three years, Vaelin's regiment roamed the Realm putting down rebels and outlaws, smugglers and Lonak raiders. The regiment grows to twelve hundred men, probably the best trained and most experienced soldiers in the Realm.
Vaelin is summoned to the Summertide Fair in Varinshold to meet King Janus. However, he first meets Princess Lyrna. After bemoaning the fact that her father wants her to marry Lord Darnel, the heir to the Fief-Lord Theros, the two discuss the Aspect massacre again and the Seventh Order. Finally meeting the King, Janus explains that the Realm's bluestone gem deposits are beginning to thin. Bluestones are vital to the Realm's economy, so Janus sets his envious gaze of the rich trade routes through the Erinean Sea of the neighbouring Alpiran Empire. He must secure the services of the Realm's most famous warrior, Vaelin. When Vaelin threatens to refuse, the King threatens to expose his father Kralyk as a denier.
Vaelin goes to see Aspect Arlyn for guidance on the King's intentions. They speak openly of the Seventh Order and the One Who Waits. Arlyn reveals that prophecy has foretold that the King's war is their only chance to expose the One Who Waits, and prevent the destruction of the Realm. Vaelin promises the Aspect to go to war, and then return to the Realm.
Vaelin's regiment were the first to land on the Alpiran coast, and had already formed ranks to defend the beach, when a sizable force of defenders approaches; some three thousand horse and five thousand spears. Despite the odds, Vaelin gets early success against the Alpirans using caltrops against the cavalry charge, and subsequent arrow-storm. Soon the battle is joined, and the enemies superior numbers start to turn the tide against them. However, Fief Lord Theros and his Renfaelin knights join the fray at the critical point to reverse the battle again in Vaelin's favour. In the heat of battle, Vaelin is unhorsed, and a horseman in magnificent white armour charges him. Deftly Vaelin rolls under his blade, kills his horse, and runs the man through. The man is later revealed to be the heir to the Alpiran Empire, called The Hope, earning Vaelin the unwanted title of Hope-Killer for the rest of his life. The battle ends in a decisive victory for the Realm.
Shortly afterwards, Battle Lord Al Lakrhil masterminds another brilliant victory on the Bloody Hill, by placing the Hope Killers standard at the top of a hill, causing the Alpirans to break ranks and attempt to storm the hill. The Cumbraelins longbowmen arrow-storm kills every man before they make it to within sword-reach of the summit. After capturing the city of Untesh, Vaelin is assigned the task of taking the port of Linesh with his small force, while the bulk of the army will capture the largest city Marbellis and Prince Malcius holds Untesh. The plan would leave Vaelin extremely vulnerable, away from the main body of the army, but Vaelin accepts.
Vaelin cunningly captures Linesh without bloodshed, by infiltrating the city through the sewer in the bay. He leaves the Governor, Holus Nester Aruan, in charge of administering the city to maintain the stability of the port. Shortly afterwards entering the city, Vaelin is stuck down by another Blood Song, which leaves him in a coma for five days. When he recovers, his Blood Song leads him to a stonemason who is also gifted with the Blood Song. Guided by Ahm-Lin, Vaelin starts sculpting a face in a block of marble. However, he is interrupted by a breakout of Red Hand in the Governor's mansion. Vaelin closes off the city, sending one ship captained by Carval Nurin to bring Sister Sherin from the Realm with a cure for the sickness.
Linesh is gripped by fear of the Red Hand. While they wait for the ships return, Sister Gilma and a maid also succumb to the plague and die, but the governor's daughter lingers. After just twenty-one days Captain Nurin returns. Vaelin is shocked to see Sister Sherin brought out in chains, having been arrested by the Fourth Order for denouncing the Alpiran war. Enraged, Vaelin beats the Brother Commander, and might have killed him if Frentis hadn't hauled him away. He orders the brothers of the Fourth Order to be imprisoned, and burns the King's instructions for the prisoner without reading them, announcing that the King has ordered Sister Sherin to be freed. Sister Sherin's treatment for the Red Hand proves successful, and within two weeks the city is opened again.
Later, Ahm-Lin's workshop is burnt to the ground by a man seemingly possessed by the One Who Waits. Vaelin's statue is destroyed before it is finished. Ahm-Lin himself is badly hurt, but his life is saved by Sister Sherin. Meanwhile, the Alpiran army starts to approach the city with a vanguard of almost thirty-thousand men and ten great siege engines. Vaelin contrives a bold plan to cripple the Alpirans ability to put siege to Linesh. He rides out with a small band of brothers, and using the distraction of a charge by Renfaelin knights under Baron Hughlin Banders, infiltrates the enemy encampment and burns the siege engines. Fleeing back to Linesh, Dentos and Vaelin are separated from the others in a sandstorm. As they approach the city, their Alpiran pursuers close behind, Dentos is caught by a arrow through the back. Caenis, Barkus and Sherin drag Vaelin through the gates, consumed by his grief.
Afterward, only Sherin can raise Vaelin from his sorrow and guilt, and the two become lovers. With the Alpiran army no longer in sight, Vaelin sends Frentis with the scout troops to pick up their trail. They find the Alpirans moving towards Untesh, and Frentis elects to ride to the city to warn Prince Malcius; Untesh falls shortly afterwards. As the months pass, they learn that Marbellis has also fallen. Soon a fleet of Realm ships approach the city, to announce the King Janus and the Emperor have agreed the peaceful surrender of the city of Linesh, provided Vaelin gives himself up as their prisoner; although this is not revealed until Barkus and Caenis and the rest of the force have disembarked. Remembering his promise to the Aspect, Vaelin drugs Sherin and puts her on a boat with Ahm-Lin and his wife.
Vaelin rides out of Linesh, and sets up camp nearby to await the Alpiran forces to give himself over as their prisoner. He takes off Spits bridle and saddle and, remembering Sella's words, sets him free. Soon, Barkus tracks him there. It is revealed that Barkus had been possessed by the soul of The Witch's Bastard, a minion of the One Who Waits, during the Test of the Wild many years ago and has been under the malevolent entity's control ever since. The Witch's Bastard mocks and taunts Vaelin before attacking. Scratch leaps in to protect Vaelin, severely injuring Barkus, but is fatally wounded. Nevertheless, Barkus attacks Vaelin trying to slice him with his axe. However, Vaelin is able to defeat him by avoiding his strikes and kicking him. As The Witch's Bastard dies in Barkus' body he says “Perhaps the next time you kill me, I’ll be wearing the face of someone you love even more”. After burying both Barkus and Scratch, Vaelin goes to the appointed place and awaits the Alpirans. While he waits he uses the Blood Song and has four visions: a soul being punished by the One Who Waits, his Princess Lyrna writing a letter and crying alone, Sherin sailing west, and Frentis on an enemy ship and Vaelin uses his Blood Song to tell Frentis that he will find him.
Post Alpiran War
Now a captive, Vaelin is put on trial in the Alpiran court and convicted. However the Emperor grants him mercy and sentences him to prison, despite the vehement protests of the Hope's wife Lady Emeren. Vaelin spends the next five years imprisoned in the Emperors dungeons. While there, he learns to control his Blood Song.
Lady Emeren conspires to be taken hostage by the Meldeneans. They demand that Vaelin be transported to the Islands for a duel to the death against The Shield. Lady Emeren seeks vengeance for the death of her husband, while the Meldeneans want revenge for Vaelin's father burning their capital. It is a duel that everyone believes Vaelin will lose and even if he wins the Meldeneans will kill him anyway. He is transported to the Islands alongside a historian called Verniers Alishe Someren, who is intrigued by Vaelin and chronicle his life-story during their journey.
Arriving in the Meldenean Islands for the duel with the Shield, Vaelin insists that the deadly fight proceed as soon as possible. The duel takes place the next day in an ancient amphitheatre, viewed by Lady Emeren, the ruling Ship-Lords including Carval Nurin, and a throng of Meldeneans. After so many years in solitary confinement, can Vaelin really win this duel? Yes, so blindingly fast that it's hard to count the seconds. However, he refuses to kill The Shield, and after a tense exchange they agree to allow Vaelin to go free.
Afterwards, Lady Emeren is enraged at being robbed of her vengeance yet again, and vows to continue her search for revenge. Verniers tries to comfort her but is stricken whenever he mentions the Hope's name. It is later revealed that Verniers and the Hope were romantically involved. It is also revealed that during Vaelin's five year imprisonment that he had been perfecting the use of his blood song which is how he is able to know the past and the thoughts of everyone and everything around him.
Vaelin arrives back in the Realm at the minor port Warnsclave, and keeping his identity concealed, heads north towards Varinshold. He realises that he is being followed by someone, but gives no sense of it. When he makes camp for the night, she attacks him, but Vaelin simply calmly disarms her. A tense exchange ensues, and she is revealed to be Reva, the daughter of Hentes Mustor, who is seeking her father's sword. They agree a deal where Reva will help him conceal his identity on his journey, and Vaelin will eventually tell her where her father's sword is.
In Varinshold, they first go to see Vaelin's sister. Alornis is alone in her father's house, living in poverty after her father's property was seized by the crown; Alornis is illegitimate therefore cannot inherit. Vaelin is shocked by her destitute state. Word soon spreads around the city of Vaelin's return, and Caenis comes to visit him. Their tender reunion soon turns strained, when Vaelin states his determination to leave the Sixth Order.
While Reva and Alornis enjoy the Summertide Fair, Vaelin is summoned to an audience with King Malcius Al Nieren. He learns more about the troubled state of the Realm, with conflict between factions that are ardent to the Faith and those more tolerant like the King; Queen Ordella is a particular bone of contention. Fearing that he will become a tool of one of the factions, the King names Vaelin the Tower Lord of the Northern Reaches in return for legitimising his sister Alornis. Vaelin considers refusing, wanting to go search for Frentis, but on the urging of the Blood Song, he accepts.
Before Vaelin leaves for the north, Aspect Al Forna tries to convince him to join the ardent faction, but Vaelin refuses. Next he visits house of the Sixth Order and meets Aspect Arlyn and the Aspect of the Seventh Order. And finally, he tells Reva the truth about her father, and that he doesn't know where her father's sword is, but it may be still in the High Keep. Reva leaves to try and find the sword, but Vaelin's words have started Reva wondering about her life.
It takes Vaelin and Alornis four weeks to travel through Nilsael to Frostport, and then by ship to the North Tower. During the journey, Vaelin tells her everything about his life, including the Blood Song. In North Tower, they are greeted by Lady Dahrena Al Myrna, the daughter of the former Tower Lord. They are received by many of the North Guard with some hostility, and wariness by Dahrena.
Vaelin goes to see one of the bluestone mines, where he learns that a large deposit of gold has also been found in the region. Dahrena and the former Tower Lord have kept this secret from the King, fearing that a gold rush would ruin the culture of the Northern Reaches. Vaelin agrees to tell King Malcius that only a relatively small quantity of gold has been found, and names her First Counsel to the North Tower. As they are about to leave the mine, they receive reports that the Ice Horde have been spotted in the north.
Vaelin rides north with Dahrena, and all the North Guard and Eorhil Sil forces he can muster. They track the horde to Steel Water Creek, where they are face with the four thousand strong horde. Despite the urging of the North Guard to attack, Vaelin and Dahrena ride forward to parley. They meet the leader of the horde, a shaman who communicates through visions, and learn that this is the starving remains of the Bear People, fleeing oppression by the Volarians. Rather than fight, they give the horde what succour they can. Afterwards, Dahrena tells Vaelin about her Dark gift.
After seeing to the needs of the Bear People, Vaelin takes Dahrena to visit Nortah and Sella whose community now live in the Northern Reaches. Nortah gives him a warm embrace when he arrives, and introduces Vaelin to his family, two children and another on the way. After a pleasant lunch, Vaelin goes to see Harlick, the librarian. He confronts him with what he learnt from the Aspect of the Seventh Order, that Harlick is exiled by the order for conspiring with Artis Al Sendahl to kill Vaelin during the Test of the Run. Harlick explains that he feared Vaelin and his Blood Song would fall into the grasp of the One Who Waits. Suppressing his rage, Vaelin gathers Harlick's papers and appoints him Archivist of the North Tower. As Vaelin walks away, he staggers, blood flowing from his nose, with a vision from the Blood Song of the death of King Malcius and the invasion of the Realm by the Volarians.
Course of the Volarian War
Vaelin musters every North Guard, every Eorhil and Seordah that will come, and all men of fighting age in the Northern Reaches. Nortah joins the muster and with him come some of the gifted from his community; Weaver the healer, Cara who can call the rain, Lorkan with the ability to become invisible, and Marken who can see what a dead person did before he died. The next day, they march south through the realm of the Seordah, the Great Northern Forest.
In order to gain permission from the Seordah to pass though their lands, Vaelin must speak to blind woman again, Nersus Sil Nin. She grants permission to pass, and when the vision fades, the Nameless Wolf has entered the clearing. And so, the Seordah agree to join Vaelin's army. After eight days trek, they leave the forest and enter Nilsael. There they find evidence of the Volarians savage treatment of the locals; those not suitable as slaves are all killed. Despite this, Fief Lord Darvus Ezua is reticent about joining with Vaelin's growing host. The old schemer, who reminds Vaelin of old King Janus, will only allow his troops to go to war, in return for trade rights for the gold mined in the Northern Reaches. In no mood for elaborate bargaining, Vaelin agrees.
As they cross into Cumbrael, the Eorhil scouts report a company of Realm Guards nearby, being pursued by the Volarian cavalry. Vaelin and his horsemen ride through the night and smash the Volarians. The Realm Guards are the exhausted remnants of the Realm forces commanded by Vaelin's old friend Caenis.
As they approach Alltor, the scouts report the dire state of the siege for Reva and the other defenders, and the Blood Song makes it clear that time is short. Vaelin asks Cara to create a great storm over the city. Despite many of his men suggesting a more cautious approach, Vaelin opts for a direct charge at the centre. Guided by his Blood Song, Vaelin burst straight though the Volarian lines. The ploy creates chaos in the Volarian ranks, allowing Vaelin's army of Seordah, Eorhil, and Realm Guards to decimate the Volarian host almost twice its size. Meanwhile, a fleet of Meldenean ships arrive led by the Shield and Queen Lyrna, and destroy the enemy ships outside the city. Eventually unhorsed and bleeding from his eyes and ears from overuse of his Blood Song, Vaelin reforms the Seordah force around him, and leads them into the city. Some five-thousand Volarians remain in Alltor trying to breach the final barricade, and are crushed between the Vaelin's and Reva's force. Finally spent, Vaelin collapses at Reva's feet, the battle won. Vaelin wakes to find himself in the Void, with Elverah, one of the servants of the One Who Waits.His Blood Song has been taken from him and put into a flute. However, Dahrena is able to free him from the Void, and bring him back.
As Lyrna walks ashore from the Shield's ship, Vaelin falls to his knees and recognises her as Queen of the Unified Realm. Vaelin is clearly exhausted from battle, from his near death experience, and from the loss of his Blood Song.
Appearance and Personality
Vaelin is taller than most men with a muscular frame, and scarred hands. He has strong but not particularly handsome features. His most striking feature are his eyes, black as jet and piercing as a hawk’s, said to be able to strip the truth from a man’s soul. His voice is harsh and rasping, coarsened by years of shouting above the battlefield.
Skills and abilities
As a brother of the Sixth Order, Al Sorna was a master of most weapons—including the sword, the bow, polearms, the staff, and throwing knives—as well as of unarmed combat. He was most talented in sword-fighting. Combined with his blood-song ability, he was easily one of the most deadly swordsman of his time. Besides fighting, Al Sorna was also trained in survival in the wild and herb lore. He could ride horses with proficiency. He quickly proved himself a capable leader during his time in the Order. After being given the command of a regiment of the Realm Guard, he also proved his mettle as a military leader, and turned his regiment into one of the most capable and disciplined units in the Guard.
- Curiously Vaelin loses his blood song while refusing to join The Ally during the end of the battle at Alltor.
- The Darkblade prophecy, which the Cumbraelins believe is Vaelin, says that he is seduced by a sorceress who makes herself a queen with the power to conjure fire from the air. Together they wreak terrible ruin on the world until her fire consumes him in the throes of their sinful passion.
- The names that Vaelin earns over his life are:
- Young Hawk, comes from the hawk being the sigil on his father's family crest. When Vaelin arrives at the gates of the house of the Sixth Order as a child, the Aspect calls him "little hawk". King Janus first calls him "young hawk" when Vaelin make his deal with him to go on campaign to the Martishe. It seems to have become a common phrase by the time Vaelin commands his own regiment.
- Darkblade, comes from the Cumbraelin religious Fifth Book, the Book of Prophecy. It predicts an enemy of those faithful to the World Father; know him by his blade for it was forged in an unnatural fire (his order star silver sword) and guided by the voice of the Dark (his Blood Song).
- Beral Shak Ur means Shadow of the Raven in the language of the Seordah Sil. When the raven’s shadow sweeps across your heart your life will change, for good or ill. It is given to him in a vision by the blind prophetess Nersus Sil Nin.
- Eruhin Makhtar means Hope Killer in the language of the Alpiran Empire. In the Alpiran war, Vaelin killed the heir to the Emperor's throne, Seliesen Maxtor Aluran, also known as the Hope.
- Avensurha is the name for the north-star in the language of Eorhil Sil. Only one month in a lifetime does the north-star shine very brightly, and it is said that no wars can be fought under the light it brings. It is given to him when he peacefully deals with the tribe from the Ice Horde that moves into the Northern Reaches.
- Meaning The Shadow of the Raven in Seordah language