The Nentir Nexus
Tall, blond, clean-shaven and weatherbeaten. Harmon has seen it all and still kept up his spirits.
Harmon is a tall blonde man of perhaps forty or fifty years. He’s quick to smile a bright (though jagged — he’s missing several teeth from his upper left jaw) smile and his always-tousled hair makes him seem almost child-like. His eyes are tired when he drinks, but bright when he’s sober. His face is marred by the scars from a terrible burn that distorts his right ear and has made the hair on that side of his head come in curly.
He still wears the armour of the Platinum Order — white-enameled plate — but the enamel is chipped and scarred from many years without maintenance in heavy use. He carrys a greatsword across his back that has seen at least as much use, but it is in perfect order, clearly attended to every day.
There was a time when Harmon believed what he was told. His people, the Telan, had long lived alongside the metallic dragons of Ith. In the distant past they rode them — perhaps even commanded them. In the more recent past the occasionally spoke to them in their human guises, but something changed in the dragons around the time that the magic started to die. They were more remote and, gradually, fewer.
Harmon was born when they were mostly gone, when the dwarf-kings already ruled most of Crown, and when the elves had been hunted to (he thought) extinction. His familial connection with the dragon-kind and his love of Right (and he would shake his head at his naivety if you used that word now) made him a natural for the Platinum Order and so, when invited, he accepted. For twenty years he trained and did his duty as a paladin of the order, upholding the law and pursuing justice. It was a heady time.
But the law became darker the more he learned of the world outside his coastal home. The dwarves were merciless in their pursuit of the remaining fey, even when no crime had been committed, and this proved impossible to reconcile. And then there was the necromancy, something Harmon could not stomach, casually used to raise slave-gangs from the dead. Something was wrong in Crown and he, foolishly, chose to get to the bottom of it.
And the bottom is where he wound up. He lived with the dwarves in their mountain enclaves, far from the coast and past where trees grow, hoping to learn the source of their rapid devotion. He became a great hero of their people, freeing promising land from terrible beasts, and was taken into their confidence. If you can’t trust a paladin, who can you trust? But when they showed him their ultimate secret, the truth about his world, he became enraged. He shattered his holy sword and fled for the wilderness, hoping to find some solace. In truth, hoping to find a hint of some place other than Crown. He had seen the true face of his world and been repulsed.
In the deep woods off the coast of the Sea of Peace, he found what he was seeking. The trade town of Swallowmere. Not an ordinary trade town, Swallowmere was a kind of mud-duchy — a small nation unto itself surviving by facilitating trade between hostile neighbouring states who cannot deal directly. Mud-duchies are common enough, but Swallowmere was special — the borders it sat upon were inter-planar. The trade in the bazaar of Swallowmere was not the usual fruit and preserved meat, but rather a cascade of bizarre and sometimes incomprehensible…things…traded by…other things. And it was lawless.
Harmon chose to take that problem — the lawlessness — onto his own shoulders, and within a year (with the help of a barkeep named Ria), he installed himself as Mayor of Swallowmere. And his rule was fair and welcome to the inhabitants of Swallowmere. And his life was filled with magic again, and he was truly happy. He never looked back to the path of the paladin, and instead turned all of his attention to the affairs of his charge. His Swallowmere.
Now that’s all gone. He never did discover exactly what changed or how, but everything did and now Swallowmere is a different place. In fact, every place is a different places. The names are the same, or at least similar, but the history is changed, become more mundane, more thin. The dwarf and friendly and no longer hunt the fey, and that’s a welcome relief, but the dragons are different and Swallowmere was no long at the hub of a thousand planes. Instead it was only another riverside hamlet.
So Harmon struck out, looking for the magic again. Looking for that enchanted place where wild things happen. And always looking over his shoulder for one of the Inevitables. Because they used to hunt him, and he has a feeling that the respite is only temporary.