Uncle Old Cat
Gero is very tall, of lean built with muscles well developed but tightly clinging to his tall frame. His stride is what gives the first hint at his second form: he has a swift, yet fairly silent step and often appears to be skulking around like a cat. He wears his hair long enough to tie it back whenever necessary. He has a small knotted scar on the left side of his Torso, the scar’s shape is strange like blurred, unintelligible writing, meshed too closely to be ever deciphered.
Gero’s second shape is a melanistic jaguar, here too the lean shape prevails and the eye-colour appears only a little paler than Gero’s own eyes. The nickname of his second shape is “Nighthunter”, a nickname Gero long kept private and that became somewhat infamous during the Civil War of the Amber Islands.
If someone were to carefully examine the fur on Nighthunter’s left flank, he might find faint traces of scarring, like the remains of a brand. It reads: If your people do not surrender, they all shall perish.
Being of the Wyr and having wandered long, the wilds are Gero’s first and most familiar home and a battleground he will use against enemies outnumbering him. He loves the great outdoors, be their open forests, high mountains or the deep murky swamps of Eirares. While familiar and to a degree at home in the life at settlements and castles there is a part of him, that will always prefer the outdoors to any stone house.
Gero is not even-tempered by nature but has learned to control his temper tightly, when angered he does not raise his voice, his voice becomes cold or ironic. His long life and the things he has seen, have left him with the habit to swiftly compare things he sees to things he saw in the past, to find patterns, similarities and dangers. If he sees a danger, he will act and act swiftly, no matter the risk to himself. While he usually is easy to approach and easy to talk to, he can be rather direct when he feels it is needed or when a person is seriously annoying him. Sometimes he feels that someone needs to be told the truth, and then he will do just that, no matter if it is done or not done in polite society.
By nature very loyal, Gero has formed close bonds to several people and to his chosen homeland. The deepest being the bond to his Dragon, Kimber, but also close friendships among the Morrighan and practically adopted Breccan. If these people, the Dragon, the Empress, the Danu, the Morrighan are threatened, he will not just act - he will do what is needful to end the threat, no matter what others think.
Gero usually appears calm, controlled, even easy-going. Few things give his temper away, mostly it is his eyes, sometimes a cold tone in his voice can warn people that the cat is indeed growling. He is well able to fade into the background, to be one of the people who were there, but few really noticed.
His presence can change within moments when threatened and when Gero lets go of the friendly, easy-going manner and again becomes an absolutely lethal fighter.
Archery: prefers Bow to crossbow, favourite weapon is the short Wyr hunting bow. Good shot, but not exceptional. Has learned to handle the Morrighan crossbow, but always takes a bundle of spears when going into a fight dragonback.
Spears: Gero is a very good spearthrower with an absolutely accurate aim.
Swordplay: prefers the use of the one-handed sword. Ambidextrous. Usually wields a sword in the right and a short-sword/dagger in the left when fighting, can switch those easily. Aggressive, very lethal style of fighting, blends both shapes, when going toe-to-toe with an enemy.
Hand-to-hand: living among the Vanir, Gero became proficient in fistfighting, but prefers to tackle hand-to-hand situations in cat shape.
Riding: Gero can ride, and ride well, but has to train a horse to tolerate him, as most horses sense Nighthunter and panic.
Swimming: very good swimmer in human form, detests swimming in cat form
Climbing: good climber in human form, exceptional in cat form.
Other: Exceptional sense of balance
Great sense of orientation, rarely loses his sense of direction.
Extremely capable at living outdoors, finds food and water easily in most northern environs, capable of surviving outdoors even in winter.
Vast knowledge of edible plants, medical plants, poisonous plants, some knowledge of arcane plants.
Exceptional hunter and tracker (often utilizing his cat form, when his human form hits the limits).
Like most Wyr Gero learned how to build shelter, dig a well and many other skills typical for surviving somewhere in the wilds, or settling somewhere in the wild lands. To Wyr these are not skills, they are basics everyone knows.
Gero's basic education was nothing exceptional, not much more than most Wyr attain at home, which is reading, writing, basic math and a lot of "history" in the shape of song and story. His true knowledge came through his travels, the places he saw, the things he learned on his journeys. He dedicated some effort to study the art of war, after being involved in more than one and realizing that war was more than fighting.
Languages: During his travels Gero learned several tongues, the language of the Vanir and the dwarven trade tongue among them.
Like all Wyr Gero is a natural shape-shifter. His second form being a melanistic jaguar. Like with all Wyr he was born that way, shifting being as natural as breathing, and like them, he does not view his talent as supernatural.
Shifting from one form to the other is almost instantaneous, wounds and injuries translate from one form to the other, which can make them worse, or less bad, depending on the wound.
The Cave of the Golden Rose
During the dark war on the Amber Islands Gero and many others undertook the pilgrimage to the cave of the golden rose and came back changed. Gero underwent several changes that allowed him to better survive that war his homeland was embroiled in at the time, though they were considered minor compared to the gifts some others received.
Endurance and Pain Resistance
While the gift does not actually protect Gero from injury through normal or magical means, it allows him to ignore the pain much longer and to not collapse even from severe injury as fast as he would have otherwise. He also has an extreme endurance, being able to run, march and fight beyond the point of exhaustion.
Sense of Darkness
Gero knows a “smell” (most pronouncedly in cat form) that announces the presence of someone or something shadow-touched. That sense is not far-ranged, it needs close distance to be precise. But a general sense of something dark being near-by may manifest itself in form of dreams, or in hearing the Echo of the distant drum.
The Golden Roseheightened Gero’s reflexes, allowing him to react lightning fast to threats. Downside is, that these reflexes cannot be taken back and will kick in, when he is startled or even mock-attacked.
Rea of Dreamchaser Pride (deceased): Rea was of the Wanderin Wyr of Eirares. Gero met her during his travels, they bonded and formed a clan. Rea was murdered no two decades into the relationship, leaving Gero to raise the children on his own. Of their 7 children, 5 were Dawnrunners, remaining with Gero, two were Dreamchasers, remaining with Rea’s brother and the Wandering Wyr. While Gero has long accepted Rea’s loss, she can appear to him as a spirit guide in dreams.
Flightbond: Gero is flightbonded to a white dragon named Kimber. When he and Kimber first met, Gero could clearly hear Kimber’s sendings (as Wyr would describe the mindvoice) and did what was natural to him: he responded the same way, being clearly heard by Kimber. Their friendship began in the midst of an adventure and after Gero decided to formally train as a Morrighan.
21.12.997 - 1020
Gero was born on a day when the storms were raging against the Amber Coast and waves were crashing against the cliffs. Around midnight the child was born, the first child to Hendric and Irés of Dawnrunner clan.
Gero and his little sister grew up on the Amber Islands, instructed in the survival skills of their people, taught the stories of old and both learning a profession, where Gero leaned towards warrior, his sister became a bowmaker.
1020 - 1024 - troubled dreams
Curious about the world Gero and Eracane leave the Amber Islands. They travel across the world, having adventures in Tynar-Darzur and the Kingdom of Vales. As time passed Eracane became more and more curious about the Wyr of Xia and their fabled City of Skulls. Eventually she chose to board a ship to Xia, to follow her dreams about that city. Gero chose to not go with her, they said their goodbyes in a small southern port. Gero and Eracane could not know that around the same time other Guardian Lines were having troubled dreams as well and felt drawn towards wellsprings that were not the Well of the Golden Rose.
1025 - 1040 - Elfland
After finding a lost Sedayin child in the wilds Gero sets out to guide the child home, involving him into various adventures around Elderwood and the Saramagenta mountains.
1040 - 1045 - Where no sun shines
Upon leaving the Sarmagenta Mountains Gero had no luck with taking to the sea, for the ship that was supposed to take him back to the Amber Isles was pushed off course by a terrible storm, stranding him anew on a dark, dangerous island. While the island did indeed have the same day-and-night pattern as other places, Gero termed it "where no sun shines" for the many foggy, dreary and dark days there, as well for the terrible creatures that roamed the night. The ruins of the huge islands housed dangerous things, dangerous creatures, and now and then shadow-possessed things that Gero was not sure how to name. At times he was not sure if even the dead rested peacefully in their graves on this island. Ultimately Gero managed to get away from the island years later, when a Vanir was shipwrecked there. Alric built a small boat for both of them and had the skill to navigate the tricky waters of the dark sea to actually get them out. To this day Gero cannot exactly show on a map where the dark island was - all he remembers are the strange star patterns in the very very few clear night skies he saw there.
1045 - 1070 - Hunt with the Storm
After Alrik and Gero made it back to the Vendia mainland and back Nordheim they found Alrik's family in grave turmoil - his twin brother Arvid had been lost along with his ship the Wandering Star. Rumours about the family being cursed were uttered and no other crew would take a steersman of such dark omens. All but one - the Frozen Dragon wanted him for steersman, it was a ship that only barely had come out of their last journey and who's Hetwoman Skalia Angrbroda was still under a quest of her forefather to at least try three times to bring a cursed Urn her great-great-grandfather had once looted in a far-away place - back to its original resting place. Somewhere beyond the great sea of storms. Skalia had no problems with taking on Alrik, for she needed a skilled steersman and none would join her ill-fated quest, and she had no problems taking on another warrior - especially as Wyr are considered lucky among the Vanir.
The journey of the Frozen Dragon took three attempts to cross the Sea of Storms, stranded them once, landed them once on the frozen Islands of the North, and eventually took them to the place Skalia's ancestor had once helped to loot. Alrik guessed that this land - this strange land of ruins and sadness might have been the place, the Vanir fled from prior to settling in Nordheim. Nevertheless when they came to the crypts Skalia's ancestor had described, they would not open - Skalia remembered her ancestor using the hacked-off hand of some Sedayin to open it - and after some attempts Gero was able to open the crypt and allow Skalia to return to urn, giving her family peace of the hauntings and atone for her ancestor's defiling of the crypts.
In the following years Gero remained with the Frozen Dragon, until Alrik decided he was too old to still risk his skin so much and settled with a wife in Uppernarvik.
1070 - 1105 The Trogg Wars
Gero had only planned to go through Tynar Darzûr and then maybe find a port home, but it was not to be. In the outer reaches of the Mountains he encountered a severely wounded dwarven warrior fleeing from several creatures. Gero did not ask too many questions and jumped in to help. The dwarrow was a fighter from the Reach, having just escaped a goblin attack. Gero escorted him home, and thus found himself in the icy glacier city of the reach, currently embroiled in a struggle with several creatures (goblins, troggs, dar-snarks) that Gero had believed to be myth. First Gero staid out of curiosity, but soon befriended several of the hardy frostwyrm-hunters and helped them during their war.
1107 - Grave Rumours
Gero was still in Tynar Darzûr when traders started to talk about the Xians laying Siege to Cal’dyra, while the traders worried that the “Gate to Xia” a major port and trade city was in danger, Gero thought of his sister. Was she still there? Was she in danger? Was she among the warriors laying siege to the city? A few nights later Gero had strange, painful dreams, that left him soaked in sweat and exhausted. He did not hesitate any longer, he decided to go east.
Gero made it to Cal’dyra, or rather the ravaged ruins of the city, cursed and haunted as the place was, there was no reason to assume that many had survived that butchery. While there he found himself targeted by several Xian hunters wanting his pelt and claws. He got rid of them and encountered Seiryu of Darkstorm House, a Xian Wyr, who helped him against the hunters. He later told Gero that no Wyr had been in the siege on either side, and that a golden-haired woman named Eracane had indeed reached the city of the skulls. (At the time Seiryu did not know that Eracane would eventually marry his son Kaito.)
Seiryu helped Gero to find a ship to leave the ruins and advised him to not come back. “Your place is not here, your hunt will call you soon enough. Follow the wind.” Again, Gero had no great luck with ships, for the ship failed in a terrible unnatural storm and Gero got stranded on the coast of Eirares. While there he witnessed an injured dragon landing in the same Eiraresn region. He tried to get close, see whether the dragon needed help, but the dragon already had a companion, though the man was in bad shape too. Gero helped him to find some water and healing plants, before they parted ways.
* Many years later Gero would encounter that man again: Jariel, Lord Paladin of Siege Amaranth. Jariel was as surprised to encounter a fellow Morrighan in the face of the man he remembered from the wild lands.
1109 - 1150 Hunters two
While crossing Eirares to reach the western coast, Gero encountered the Wandering Wyr, a tribe of Wyr from Eirares. At first they distrustful of an Islander, but ultimately he passed their tests and was allowed among them. There he met Rea of Dreamchaser pride, with whom he fell in love. After some misunderstandings and adventures, the two bonded and built a lair, having seven children together. 2 Dreamchaser and 5 Dawnrunners. Four years after the birth of their youngest (Alaric) Rea was murdered.
1150 - 1160 Home
With Rea’s death Gero felt the keen wish to go home, have his children grow up at the Bay of Echoes, like he had. His youngest would not come out of cat-form after the trauma of seeing his mother killed, the other children were in various states of shock or anger. Gero led them to the coast and they found a Vanir ship that brought them home. Gero’s parents were happy to see him and the young ones. Alaric, who had been carried by Kurán and Darek during the entire trip, finally came out of cat-form, though for the next few years he’d only do that when either Kurán or Darek were close.
1160 - The Darkness awaits
In 1160 a Wyr Ranger named Airon of Snowhunter Pride told Gero about strange happenings in the far reaches of Valos Peninsula, boats vanishing in the dark mists, homesteads suddenly fallen empty. He was trailing those events and he had the keen feeling something was off. The Dawnrunners offered the Ranger shelter and support, while he investigated these strange happenings, Gero would accompany him on many of those hunts.
While he and Airon were away, the house at the Bay of Echoes was attacked by dark creatures. Gero’s mother Irés was killed, defending her family, Gero’s sons and daughter fought as well, just so saving Hendrik, who had been attacked first and from behind.
1160 - 1190 The Shadow Walking
The attack on Valos Peninsula was the first attack of a war. A dark General named Guramar led a host of dark and undead creatures, including a few Drakmar against the Amber Islands. At first the Wyr were hopelessly on the defensive, before their armies rallied around a group of War-Leaders: Khadair, Gero and Vairos. With the Council of Elder’s very tacit permission they went to the Cave of the Golden Rose to gain strength, sending more and more warriors on that way. The Wyr grew stronger, tougher and between the three they also began to develop a strategy to first handle Guramars troops, than his underlings and finally the dark general himself. Gero’s sons Kurán and Variel died in that war, Variel before he could go to the golden Rose, Kurán fighting Guramar himself, defending a group of children, gaining the time for Gero and Khadair to reach Guramar and finish him.
1190 - 1210 - A time of Madness
As in times past, the cave of the golden rose had fulfilled its promise, making those who drank from the well powerful beyond their normal limits, making the strong against the shadow. Within a decade the Wyr won their war and killed Guramar.
But as always, there was a price: at first a few Wyr became unstable, then a rift opened between several groups when one of their greatest War-Leaders, Khadair disposed of the council of Elders, taking on a tyrannical leadership. Thus the Wyr civil war began, a bloody, horrible struggle that lasted for another decade, Khadair on one side, one of his best friends becoming his greatest opponent: Nighthunter.
Gero had not wished to fight Khadair, but when Khadair killed Vairos, he realized there was no one else who had the strength and following to oppose the increasingly dangerous war leader. This send a rift through Gero’s family, as his son Darek (Bloodhunter) would not betray Khadair and stayed loyal to him. Nighthunter and Bloodhunter fought several times, almost killing each other at least once. More and more fighters joined the Nighthunters, often younger warriors, children of those who went to the Rose.
The fighting became so bad, that the Mountain itself shook and the Cave of the Golden Rose began to awaken. When both sides realized what happened they raced to the cave, to realize that they all were facing the Wrath of the Golden Rose. Seeing what he had set in motion, Khadair decided he’d be the one to end it, sitting down in the stone chair on the Mountain, and ordering his closest follower to execute him there, paying the price of the Rose.
1210 - 1222
Even with Khadair’s sacrifice the abating wrath of the golden Rose left the main Amber Islands inaccessible. The Wyr escaped to coldrocks Island, just off the shores of the Amber Island. There they were attacked by dark things from the nearby dark islands and remains of Guramar’s army. In that hour a Dragon and his Morrighan came to their aid: Breccan and his dragon burned the remains of the darkness and thus ensured that the Wyr would have some peace on Coldrocks Island. Breccan also told them of Cair Draenar and invited them there.
1222 - 1430
Gero led those of their kind who stable enough to Caer Draenar, those too crazy, too unstable remained on Coldrocks Island (the Island of Madmen as it became known). While Gero helped rebuilding, he refused a seat on the Council of Caer Draenar. The seat was offered because he was of a Guardian Line. Instead of Gero, his daughter Rhavin took the Seat.
1430 - Meeting Kimber
During an expedition tracking down a threat to the dragons, Gero encountered an injured white dragon, who was searching for the same danger. While working together, Gero could hear Kimber’s voice in his mind and responded in kind. It seemed only natural to him, to communicate with the dragon the same way, he communicated with other Wyr. Only later he learned that this was a trait of the Morrighan.
1430 - 1450 Training as a Morrighan
1451 - Flight-bonded to Kimber
As a house the Dawnrunners are one of the Guardian Lines of the Wyr (The Hunters of Dawn), a fact that carries no relevance outside Wyr society and limited relevance within Wyr society, except in times of crisis. The following is a short overview of the Dawnrunners alive and dead that are of relevance in this period of time.
The signature Wyr form of the Dawnrunners is a melanistic jaguar, in most cases the eye color of the human form carries into cat form, other deviations are rare.
Hendric of Dawnrunner Clan
Name: Hendric son of Ruhkhan (Out of Shirian, by Rukhan)
Age: About 1500 years
Hendric left the Amber Islands after his wife was killed early into the incursion of Guramar. He sensed that the darkness was coming, and also that his younger clan had a role to play in all of this. A role that he did not wish to see to come about. He most likely went North to find the Selkies again, he can be encountered now and then in Vanir territory.
Rhavin of Dawnrunner Clan
Name: Rhavin, Daughter of Gero
Age: about 700
Rhavin is Gero’s eldest daughter, she takes after her father in appearance and colouring (tall, blond hair, sea-green eyes), but has the finer features of her mother-clan. Rhavin is a down-to-earth, no-nonsense person and a fierce fighter. She is considered the real boss of the clan, taking no crap from anyone, her father and brothers included. Rhavin sits on the council of Caer Draenar, as the speaker of the Dawnrunners, and is deeply involved in running and protecting the settlement.
Darek of Dawnrunner Clan
Name: Darek Son of Gero
Age: about 700
Bloodhunter is rarely called by his given first name. When he went to the cave of the golden rose, and embraced her gift without reservation he became Bloodhunter. Tall like his father, but darker in coloring, Bloodhunter is considered the darkest character of the Clan. Bloodhunter is neither deliberately cruel nor mean, in fact in everyday life he can even be quite affectionate. It does not change the fact, that he is most ruthless of warriors. If something is necessary, he will do it, no matter how brutal, no matter how cruel. When faced with a living and breathing foe, he has no compunction to exploit whatever weakness that person has, love, children, secrets, it all is a weapon in the right hands. Most of all, Bloodhunter understands that fear is a weapon too, and effectively used can scare the wits out of most living foes. The Council makes use of Bloodhunters specific skill set, whenever it is becomes necessary to scare an opponent away from the landbridge, or keep particularly nasty parties from becoming too curious at all. While Bloodhunter and Nighthunter often see not eye to eye, Bloodhunter is fiercely protective of his clan, especially of his siblings, he makes no difference between siblings by birth or siblings adopted.
Note: When close to dragons, Bloodhunter does hear faint melodies, songs, that even penetrate his dreams, he does fiercely deny that this has anything to do with the dragon song. “I can smell darkness, I can sense a beating heart within a mile radius… why should I not hear the night sing?”
Alaric of Dawnrunner Clan
Name: Alaric Son of Gero
Wyrname: Nightsinger (‘the little hunter’ / ‘combat kitty’ - Nicknames is older brother gave him)
Age: about 650
The youngest son of the Dawnrunner clan, not quite as tall as most Dawnrunners, but fair in coloring. Alaric is more a scout than a frontline fighter, having the smallest cat-form of the entire clan. He is a more quiet, knowledgeable and certainly the best read of the entire clan. While he was thrown into a war very young and knows how to fight, he is even better at not being where the attack lands, evading, leading the enemy on a wild goose chase, is his specialty.
Alaric was not supposed to go to the cave of the Golden Rose, he was deemed too young. In secret his older brothers, Kurán and Darek took him along, not believing in “too young”. While Alaric did not receive the extra strength his brothers had, he became able to hide even better, his cat form almost complete merging with the night, and his senses vastly sharpened.
Variel of Dawnrunner Clan
Name: Variel Son of Gero
Age: about n/a
Variel was the first of the siblings to go, slaughtered in the battle of the flowering falls. He was killed by the forces of darkness and brought back to life as Nachtmahr, a twisted Wyr form. This form was slain by his sister Rhavin. Variel was the only one of the siblings not to go to the Cave of the Golden Rose. His fate was the reason why Kurán and Darek disregarded the Elders ruling, that Alaric was too young.
Kurán of Dawnrunner Clan
Name: Kurán Son of Gero
Age: about n/a
Kurán was a warrior equal to Darek in strength and fierceness, Bloodhunter and Bloodsinger were a deadly duo, and extremely close. Kurán fell in the last battle against Guramar, shielding a group of young captives against the dark General, who wanted to use them in a ritual. Ultimately Bloodsinger lost that duel, but he bought enough time for Nighthunter, Moonhowler (Khadair) and Bloodhunter to catch up, jump in and tear the already tiring dark General to pieces. Kurán did not survive his injuries.
Of the children Kurán saved, one was without any surviving clan. Tyreán was adopted by the Dawnrunners in consequence.
Tyreán of Far-Runner Clan
Age: about 620
Tyreán is a quiet man, a keen observer and a good hunter. At home in the wilds and very well used to work on his own, he often comes and goes unseen. He is a good listener, and always willing to help others, though he does not open up the same way towards people he is not close to. Many a person has believed to know the quiet Wyr, only to realize that while he listened to them, showed understanding and compassion, and helped where he could, he shared little about himself the same way.
Tyreán lost his entire family to Guramar, he saw them killed by the dark sorcerer, and he came within a hair’s breadth to share their fate. He knows that had Kurán of Dawnrunner Clan, who had been captured with them, not fought as he did, he’d have died too. The knowledge that Kurán could have saved himself, but stayed and died, so Tyreán might survive has haunted Tyreán for many years. Even as he grew closer to Gero of Dawnrunner Clan, Kurán’s father, he still felt guilty about having survived when Kurán died. Only time taught him to accept Kurán’s choices, as things that he had no influence over.
Eracane of Dawnrunner Clan
Name: Eracane daughter of Henric
Age: about 900
Gero’s younger sister and as fiercely curious as he was in his younger years. Fascinated by stories and legends about the Wyr of Xia - purportedly living in the City of Skulls and worshipping the multi-corporeal beast - she set out by ship to Xia when she was about 20. That was the last time that Gero ever saw her alive. He has not heard from or about her since that day, nor did she return to fight in the war on the Amber Isles. She might be dead or she might be alive somewhere in the vast lands of Xia.
Unbeknownst to Gero Eracane is alive, she actually found the Wyr of Xia and the City of Skulls. She and her children are alive.
Kurenai of Dawnrunner Clan
Name: Kurenai Son of Kaito
Age: about 500
Looks-wise Kurenai does not resemble Dawnrunner Clan at all, he takes after his Xian father, as far as human form is concerned. In Wyrform he is a Dawnrunner, a melanistic jaguar, just with one white paw, a throwback to his father’s line, the Greystorm House. Like a number of Dawnrunners Kurenai can hear the dragonsong and has imprinted. He also adopted a small white Dragon, when he was kicked out of the nest. (Tanaka of Dawnrunner Clan).