Shadows of Sanctuary
Defender of Greyreath
“A hero is measured not by the strength of his arm, nor the edge of his blade, but by the sacrifices he is willing to make for the people he loves.” – Captain Leon Vermuth
Race: Fiend of Argus
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Height: 6’ 2"
Weight: 180 lbs.
Brendan Mercer was born of a seamstress, Natalie Mercer, in Dranian County of Greyreath. His childhood was an ordinary one; studying at his mother’s insistence, playing with his fellow children, and training with his favourite toy, a wooden sword.
With the Hounds
In his 18th year, Brendan decided to join the Hounds. He had always been a strong believer in justice, and he believed joining the police force would be the best way to help uphold the law and enforce civil decency in Greyreath. However, he and his friend and fellow Hound, Caeric Kane, quickly discovered that corruption ran deep within the Hounds, and Brendan decided to leave the Hounds and take the law into his own hands.
Even with his short-lived career as a Hound behind him, Brendan’s strong sense of justice remained. He created an alter-ego by the name of “Magnus Maxim”, and began to operate in the city of Greyreath as a vigilante. With Caeric Kane acting as his informant within the Hounds, feeding him information about the location of criminals and their hideouts, Magnus began to take on these enterprises one by one. He became known within the Hounds as an annoyance, but the public never heard of him as the Hounds managed to take credit for every bust he pulled. He was known for his brutal techniques, for when the Hounds arrived on the scene, the criminals were rarely alive, and often no longer in one piece (but the face was always left unscathed).
Late one night, arriving at his home after a successful bust, he found two monstrous demons waiting for him. Speaking in a tongue he had never heard before, but somehow understood, they introduced themselves as demons, here to recruit him to their demon army. They revealed that Brendan’s father was the leader of this army, and he had sent them to recruit him. It was then that Brendan saw his mother, dead, on the ground in the other room. In a fit of rage he attempted to kill the demons, but they easily batted his attacks away, seemingly toying with him as though he were a child. They inflicted some serious wounds on him, and he managed to escape the house. He stumbled to his family horse, Fidget, and rode out of town as quickly as possible.
On the Run
Wounded, scared, and certain he was being pursued, Brendan rode East as far and as fast as his horse could manage. When he and Fidget were both about ready to drop dead from exhaustion, they reached a small town by the name of Freyburn. After finding a free place to sleep in an unguarded barn, Brendan found a ticket, simply lying on the ground. The ticket was to an event heralding the arrival of “The Great Ophidious”, a collector of whimsical and supposedly magical curiosities from around the world. For some reason, whether out of pure curiosity or just to take his mind off of the last few days, Brendan decided to go to this show.
The show was quickly thrown into chaos when a group known as the Iron Templars stormed the tent and attempted to arrest Ophidious. Brendan, along with four other onlookers, took action and rescued Ophidious. Before he knew it, Brendan, under the pseudonym of Magnus Maxim, was swept up in a journey much grander than he could have imagined. As long as it took him as far away from Greyreath as possible, he was willing to play along.
Brendan Mercer, Fiend of Argus
After an unfortunate series of events leading to both Brendan and Ophidious being infected with a form of ghoul fever (resulting at Ophidious’ being killed at the hands of Clem Montec), the party awoke in an underground laboratory, with Clem and Brendan both feeling strange. Brendan, cured of the ghoul fever, now found himself able to see all around himself in 360 degrees, and his jaw was strangely shaped and unnaturally powerful. And while Brendan’s jaw soon returned to normal, and Clem’s affliction reverted, his all-around vision remained. At first suspecting experimentation at the hands of the vampire Desmond Faust, it was revealed later by Porphemus that Brendan was a type of demon known as a Fiend of Argus.
The Fiends of Argus were an extra-planar race of demons who’s sole motivating force was to move from plane to plane, destroying and devouring all that plane contained. They are created by a being called Argus, the Eternally Seething Tumor. Their defining characteristics are that their bodies are covered in eyes, allowing for all-around vision, as Brendan had developed, and their never ending quest for destruction. Brendan realized that these strange minor lumps that had formed all over his body were what was allowing him to see, and were probably some form of unopened eye. With his world thoroughly shaken up, Brendan revealed to his friends everything that he had learned about himself and his origins, as well as his true name. Without hesitation, they each vowed to stand beside him as they confronted the Fiends of Argus.
Return to Greyreath
After the release of the Caller in Darkness from Porphemus’ tower at the hands of Clem, Arlur, and Zander, Porphemus urged the party to head back to Greyreath, to meet with Professor Zander, Zander’s father. After considerable consideration, Brendan agreed to go back to his hometown, and to face whatever was waiting for him there.
Upon arrival in Greyreath, the group was immediately ambushed by members of the Order of the Scab, a cult dedicated to the Fiends of Argus. Alongside these human cultists were multiple demons themselves. One of these demons, Bhuzan, the Corpse Mauler, was one of the two demons who was present that fateful night, all those months ago. This was one of the demons that killed his mother. After a considerably strenuous battle, Brendan managed to slice one of Bhuzan’s four arms off, making her drop her mighty sword and forcing her to flee. The party managed to track the demon to the walls of the city, leading them to believe that the Fiends of Argus were headquartered within the city.
The Blacksmoke Brotherhood
After meeting Professor Zander, Brendan was visited by an old friend, Caeric Kane, who revealed that Brendan had been blamed for his mother’s death, and was now a fugitive from the law. With this knowledge, the party and Brendan (now in disguise as the elderly man Felix Freeman) infiltrated the Blacksmoke Brotherhood, an occult gathering of wealthy individuals in Greyreath University to learn more about the Order of the Scab and the Caller in Darkness. After completing difficult series of tasks (including the shining of a pillar, gathering of a Fey Tear, and almost being completely slain by a pack of wolves) the party was granted entry into the Blacksmoke Brotherhood.
On their return back to the city after gathering the Fey Tear, the group was confronted by the second demon that had been present on that night, Vothric the Mask. With his minions psychically holding his friends in place, Vothric commanded Brendan to slay one of his companions, claiming that the bloodshed would help him understand everything they had said to him. Brendan refused, and attacked Vothric. Vothric nonchalantly batted his sword away, grabbed him by the back of the head, slit Brendan’s throat, and walked away, leaving him bleeding out on the ground.
Brendan called after the demon, saying that he would join the Fiends of Argus if his friends were left completely out of it. Vothric laughed, saying that Brendan would understand soon, and teleported away. His friends rushed over to him as soon as the spell was broken, and Pern cauterized the wound on his neck using his gun.
When they reached the headquarters of the Blacksmoke Brotherhood, Brendan was in no mood to tiptoe around anymore, and after reading in the back of a book on the Order of the Scab that Gorebelly would have information, brutally interrogated Gorebelly until he got the information that he was looking for. The Lotus Eaters of Elden County would know more.
The group paid the opium warehouse Gorebelly had mentioned a visit, only to find that it had been burned to the ground, with the Lotus Eaters inside. Arlur spoke with the spirit of one of the deceased addicts, and discovered that “the Caretaker”, a criminal leader and owner of this establishment, was the one that orchestrated the burning and murder of its inhabitants, to make sure they didn’t speak. Pern tracked down where the Caretaker seemed to reside, and the group scoped out the residence.
Brendan sent a letter to Caeric to let him know what they were about to do, and requested that Caeric join them for the raid. After waiting a time, a Greyreath Hound approached their position, but Brendan was quick to realize that it was not Caeric Kane, but rather his former captain, Leon Vermuth. After some quick diplomacy by Zander, Brendan revealed himself to his old captain as Magnus Maxim, the vigilante that had caused the Hounds so much trouble. With some hesitation, Captain Vermuth agrees to let Brendan try and prove his innocence.
Zander charms the guards, and the group enters the premises. They find a lone Lotus Eater in a dusty room, with a hookah sitting on the floor next to him, and a strange cloud floating above him. Zander and Arlur figured out that the cloud acts as a portal to the plane of dreams. The group entered the cloud, and emerged to see Bhuzan, the Corpse Mauler, destroying the Lotus Eater’s memories. After a brutal battle, including multiple powerful blasts from Pern’s gun (one of which shot a second of her arms off), Brendan managed to cleave off the last two of Bhuzan’s arms, and eviscerated his old foe. The party, emerging from the plane of dreams, presented Captain Vermuth with Bhuzan’s head. He agreed to attempt to clear Brendan’s name from the murder of his mother.
Following multiple leads, the party ended up talking to an old Homunculus named Grim Nestor, who knew a surprising amount about the Fiends of Argus. He told them of a ritual that would bring Argus to this plane, and begin the destruction of the entire world. He also told them that the only way to get to Argus’ plane would be to reverse the ritual, and it would have to be performed by the third child of Argus, Zagoth the Meek.
Upon arrival at the ritual site, the group cleanly and efficiently killed the cultists there, and Grim revealed that the ritual was the slicing open of a sentient being. He sighed at the Meek not being there, and stated that he would have offered himself up for the sacrifice. Brendan quickly revealed himself as Zagoth the Meek, and proceeded with the backwards ritual, sacrificing Grim, to open a portal to Argus’ home plane.
The Final Battle
On arriving, they were immediately beset upon by twisted beings that protected the plane of dreams, and Brendan was badly injured. After some healing, the group continued into this labyrinth they had arrived in, and found four cryptic notes. With Zander puzzling over what the four notes could mean, they were approached by one of the other children of Argus, Vothric the Mask, in disguise as Caeric Kane. As Brendan questioned him, he shed his disguise and they began to do battle. With some powerful attacks from Pern and Brendan, and a decisive final attack by Zander, Vothric was killed.
Continuing deeper into this strange realm, Brendan and his friends were faced with more and more bodily horrors, leading them to believe that they were somehow inside a body. As Zander prodded at a strange lump on the fleshy wall, it burst at their feet, and suddenly they blacked out. Brendan awoke, surrounded by a coating of translucent wrapping. He frantically broke free from his containment, and saw four similar cocoons lying beside his. Arlur and Pern were already breaking free of their cocoon, and the two of them easily managed to free Zander and Clem from their bondage.
As the party grew aware of their surroundings, they noticed that they were being watched by a massive, unblinking eye. The eye began to morph, until it became a massive lump of a monster, the seething tumor itself. After fighting it for a while, Brendan split it in two, and it fell into a pool of black ichor. A massive eye emerged from the liquid, supported by many black veins shooting from the ceiling and walls. These veins became whips, and once again the party was engaged in fierce combat. Clem cast enlargement on Brendan, making him rise to 11 feet tall, and as Brendan, Pern, and Zander fought Argus, Clem also made Arlur invisible. Arlur crept up to Argus, and with a horrific screech, distracted the monster long enough for the party to deal their finishing blows.
As Argus was defeated, it dissolved, until all that was left of it was a small, human sized heart. Brendan looked down at this heart, and felt it beating with his. He knew that if he destroyed this simple object, the Fiends of Argus would cease to exist; they would be purged forever. He also knew that this, presumably, would spell his end as well. He looked at his friends one last time, and smashed the heart. Immediately, he clutched at his chest, feeling a pain unlike any he had ever experienced before. He fell to the ground, his skin rapidly shrinking, making him look like the husk of a man. Zander projected Brendan’s mind into a floating orb to speak with him before he died, and Brendan was able to say his farewells to his friends. Pern, Arlur, Clem, and Zander looked on as Brendan disappeared, and soon all that was left was a skeleton. The very foundation and structure of the realm they were in began to crumble along with Brendan, and the roof collapsed on them.
The party awoke a few days later, having been saved by a medallion given to Zander by Ophidious. Over the next few days, they, with the help of Professor Zander and Captain Vermuth, cleared Brendan’s name in the murder of his mother, and told stories of the sacrifice Brendan had committed to save their entire plane of existence. A statue was commissioned and funded by Clem and Pern, and a ceremony was held to honor his death. As per his request in his will, Brendan’s horse Fidget would be delivered to Porphemus’ tower, to live out the rest of her days in peace and comfort.