Orfanos is a Sorcerer, pyromancer and Steelcaster of mixed Ogrish and Human parentage, best known as the former Great Mage of Arms of the Violet Order of the Skull and as a veteran of M'Chek's Blackhawk Brigade during the Drotid War.
Appearance and Notable Characteristics
Standing at just over 7 feet tall, Orfanos cuts an imposing figure amongst the largely human population of his home city of Mikona. Unlike many of his particular breed, his mixed parentage has not left him with the grotesque appearance most commonly associated with Ogrekin. Instead his Ogrish descent resulted an unusually pronounced, almost protruding jawline and a naturally well-defined musculature which in combination lend him a certain rugged handsomeness. These features are topped off with a mane of shoulder-length fiery ginger hair which is typically concealed beneath headwear of some description. He is most commonly seen wearing a set of stark black and purple robes which on further examination appear to be heavily armoured with a substance more chitinous than metallic, and carrying a long, skull-topped staff of carved bone upon which he often rests his weight when not in motion. Across his back are slung a vicious-looking greatsword and an enormous shield which he uses to the exclusion of all other weaponry save the aforementioned stave. Most curious though is the dark talisman which adorns his neck, to which are attached three shrunken skulls which from time to time might almost appear to be whispering to their owner.
For many years he spoke with a very heavy Mikonan slum accent, delivered in a low, gravelly voice which was frequently raised in anger and indignation, accompanied by facial expressions that could likewise often seem slightly over the top and deliberately "ogrish". This is no longer the case however, as those who have spent time in his presence lately will have noticed that while his voice retains its deep, gravelly tone, he now articulates far more clearly and precisely with only odd traces of the rough, thuggish mode of speech for which he was previously noted; though any who remember encountering him prior to the beginning of his association with the Violet Order may not find this entirely surprising.
Biography as Presently Known
Following an unruly youth of which he seldom, if ever, speaks, Orfanos's early adulthood proved equally tumultuous. Mixing with the so-called "adventuring" class, he initially thought to use his natural strength and imposing build to assert dominance and gain respect. At first he was fortunate - an attempt to intimidate the psi-mage Sephira Everliss into directing him to a beetle nest merely amused the target, who not only accompanied Orfanos on his hunt, but spoke to him of the Trust, fatefully pointing him in the direction of the Violet Order, as well as saving his life when his recklessness led him to near ruin. Of course, he viewed the latter turn of events as an embarrassment and has thus largely avoided Everliss ever since. Subsequent attempts to impose himself were less profitable, earning Orfanos several humiliating beatings which only served to make his behaviour more aggressive and extreme. This tendency reached its greatest height when he attempted to contact the Violet Order by nailing an imperious note to the door of their tower in Visimontium. Lacking any actual nails or the coin with which to purchase them, he instead knocked out one of his own teeth and pounded that into the door instead, apparently under the bizarre belief that this would impress the Order and make them take him more seriously. The then Archmage Vandrammes saw things otherwise and, irked by the general tone of the entire missive, sent a pair of Adomkuro mages to explain to Orfanos the error of his ways, as well as forcibly returning his tooth to him via his face. Humbled once more, he finally took the lesson to heart and resolved to treat those more powerful than himself with careful respect from then on. That this attitude was to serve him well was demonstrated when, after being summoned to meet with a number of the senior magi of Violet and put through his paces, he left the tower in a set of initiate's robes rather than an urn. The months after his initiation passed uneventfully as he focussed on improving his skill with the arcane art, however it was hard going as he did not then have a teacher and was instead attempting to teach himself from the materials available at Mikona's Academy of Mortal Magic. All this changed one day when he met an elven Ebony wizard by the name of Ulu Elexin. After a chance meeting followed by yet another misadventure brought on by his tendency toward reckless aggression, she took pity on him and offered him an apprenticeship which he readily accepted.
Under Magus Elexin's tuition, Orfanos's skill with magic improved by leaps and bounds. However he still wanted for coin. The answer to this problem presented itself in the form of the Midnight Mercenary Company, an outfit which had made its name acting as bodyguards for the famed Blue mage Miette Hartley and was now looking for new recruits as it sought to further its reputation by taking on larger jobs. Chance meetings with a number of the mercenaries paved the way and after accompanying them on a couple of training missions he took his place as the company's first battlemage. As well as bringing him the coin he needed, his time with Midnight also allowed him to forge strong friendships with a number of his comrades, particularly the Malekites Silver Fox, Angus Blacksail, and Quin. From them he saw what were to him new and interesting ways to approach Maleki's faith: Silver's quiet, understated will to win at all costs, Blacksail's easy-going but unbending independence of mind, and Quin's devil-may-care hedonisism, all of which were a contrast to the aggressive machismo that he had previously thought a cornerstone of his path. This redefinition of Orfanos's faith was furthered when Magus Elexin introduced him to Father Kurt Villainova, a priest from Malekia and the teacher of both Silver and Blacksail in the path of the Blackguard which all three followed. The last, but certainly not the least, influence upon the development of his own worldview was the coming of war to M'Chek. The Midnight Company played a major role in the early stages of the conflict with Drotid and Orfanos was present at many important points. At the first Battle of Eastshore he helped hold back the initial waves of invaders, buying time for the M'Chekian army to mobilise and make their ill-fated attempt at establishing a front. Having so willingly and enthusiastically aided in the prosecution of the war, Orfanos was therefore rather affronted when the M'Chekian Army decided to close the front to civilians. Unlike many of his comrades in Midnight he opted not to enlist in the Army, as he felt that between the Midnight Company, the Violet Order and Magus Elexin, he was already chosing to subordinate himself to enough individuals, without allowing another organisation to impose its will upon him.
His loathing for the Shaahesk continued unabated however, and he would engage in combat with them whenever the opportunity presented itself.
In the meantime, his status within the Violet Order gradually improved, until he was eventually admitted as a full Mage after a successful expedition to the Khin-Oin tower on the plane of Hades. This was followed by a more literal victory, as he dominated his division of the inaugural Moderator's Chalice spellcasting tournament to take home the gold. However his relationship with his teacher, Magus Elexin, had started to deteriorate. As a mageling, he had initially focussed his studies upon the Evocation school of magic, but after witnessing the power and utility of the Transmutative magics that Magus Elexin and her own master, Vesdrac Noss'tau, specialised in, he soon expressed a desire to learn to do the same. This appeared to please Magus Elexin at first, and the two spent much time together as she demonstrated and explained her art to the young sorcerer. However there was always a bone of contention between them, in the form of Magus Elexin's utter rejection of the school of Conjuration. At first she would merely chide and criticise his use of such spells, but over time her attitude became much stricter and she appeared to take his continuing use of certain spells as something of a personal affront. At the same time, Orfanos's love affair with the polymorphing spells which had at first so impressed him was waning as he discovered the side effects they had upon his ability to channel arcane power. Elexin's replacement of him as the primary mage within the Midnight Company and her move to the Violet Order only served to aggravate matters more and it became rarer and rarer to see them together until finally Elexin gave him an ultimatum: to choose between continued use of the Conjuration school, or his apprenticeship. He chose the former, and relations have been tense between the two magi ever since.
With the Midnight Company now on hiatus for the duration of the war, Orfanos turned his attention more and more toward the Violet Order's interests. Representing the Order in the Trust taskforce assembled to deal with the threat represented by the renegade lich Hallimancus, he travelled vast distances across the face of Negaria in pursuit of their quarry and even eventually to the moon where he aided in the final assault on the lich's stronghold and its subsequent destruction. On a smaller scale, he played an active role in the efforts against the Spider Cult which abducted many mages in the vicinity of the Underdark trading outpost of Verloghokbol where the Order maintains a tower. It was during the former campaign that he first encountered the legendary Red Witch, Micah Ormane, who later offered to train him in the art of casting while clad in heavy armour, commonly known as Steelcasting. Never one to turn down an opportunity to learn from those more powerful than himself, Orfanos readily took her up on the offer and studied the technique under her until she entered a period of hiatus from public life. Eventuallly his evident commitment to the Violet Order and increasing prominence among its M'Chekian contingent led to his being granted the title of Senior Mage of Mikona, a post that he continues to hold to this day. It was in M'Chek, too, that Orfanos participated fatefully in the final battle against the powerful balefire creature Nixtixtu, whose insatiable thirst for destruction had led it to ravage the lands of Southern Negaria for some many months following its first appearance. Standing close to the beast as the killing blow was struck against it, he appeared lost in the resulting blast and indeed seemed to vanish from the face of Avlis for some time. The manner of his absence and the reason for his return are not matters of public record, however the episode certainly appeared to leave a lasting impression upon Orfanos as he returned his attention to his arcane studies with an intensity and drive that had not been present in him since his youth. The new focus of his learning was, surely not coincidentally, the art of Pyromancy, to which end he entered yet another period of apprenticeship to one of the great magi of the post-Andrinorian era, this time pioneering sorceress Vintrinia Carnen. Under her instruction he was able to master the basics of the art sufficiently well to continue making significant progress in further developing his spellcasting after she, like Magus Ormane before her, vanished from public life.
Following the end of the campaign against Hallimancus, Orfanos began looking for a new challenge to test his abilities. In particular, he found himself re-evaluating his previous reasons for opting out of armed service and finding them to be considerably less compelling than they once were. Thus, after much deliberation, he swallowed his pride and joined up with M'Chek's elite Blackhawk Company where he once again found himself fighting alongside many of his old comrades from Midnight. Achieving the rank of Private following his participation in the operation which liberated the village of Greylake from the occupying Shaahesk forces, Orfanos was simultaneously awarded the M'Chek Army's Copper Eagle Medal for his actions during its course, marking a successful beginning to his military career. Over the course of his time in the army he continued to rise in rank as he played decisive roles in many battles during the campaign to drive the Shaahesk back into the sea. Most notably, he engaged one of Drotid's Boyars in prolonged single combat during a daring raid upon an enemy artillery emplacement, holding the fearsome lizard off to buy precious time for his comrades to spike the guns and ensure the success of the mission. Following the expansion of Blackhawk Battalion to brigade status, Orfanos was awarded a commission as a lieutenant and stands poised to take a more commanding role within the battles to come.
The skills Orfanos had gained over his many years under his various teachers had by now contrived to make him a battlemage to be reckoned with, so it was natural, given his bent for combat, that he would come to covet the post of Great Mage of Arms within the Violet Order. These ambitions briefly appeared dashed when The Master appointed the palemaster Lutaraz Sernova to the role, however his tenure proved to be a short one as Orfanos promptly made a successful challenge for the position, taking and holding it from his rivals within the Order. While this has brought him greater power and prestige as a mage, keen observers may note that it appears to have prompted the oft wary Ogrekin to behave in an even more paranoid fashion than was previously the case. It may be argued that this caution has done him no great harm, however, as he has not only contrived to retain his position as Great Mage to this day, but also received an appointment to the High Mage Council of Avlis, seemingly indicating that he presently enjoys the favour of the Violet Order's mysterious yet undeniably potent Archmage.
Allies and Associates
Midnight Mercenary Company: