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“I am the shadow cast by the Sun. I am the darkness wrought from His light.”
Willem Brand is a revenant warpriest of Amaunator. In life, he was half-genasi. He was 32 years old when he was killed in battle, and was brought back as a revenant by his god. He is currently employed by the adventuring guild known as The Exemplars. He serves as the party’s primary healer and diplomat, but can almost always be found on the front lines of battle.
Before he was killed and brought back as a revenant, Willem was fair-skinned, tall and heavyset, broad-shouldered with fiery red hair that ended near his shoulders. He wore a goatee of the same colour. His only feature that betrayed his mixed heritage was his eyes, which were a solid, glimmering gold with no pupil or iris. When Willem’s firesoul manifested itself, his hair and beard became red-hot flame and his skin became the cracked, burnt brown of a firesoul genasi. Willem had little control over this manifestation, which usually occurred when he was first struck in combat.
After Willam was brought back as a revenant, his appearance changed drastically. His fair skin is now ashen, as if it had been drained of all colour. Once heavyset, Willam is now almost gaunt, though he is still broad-shouldered. His fiery red hair and beard have turned a dark auburn, and his eyes, originally a solid gold, are now inky black with red pupils.
Willem wears a hauberk of black chainmail, a pair of black leather gloves, fine leather boots, and an enchanted purple cloak. Over his armor, he wears an orange and gold tabard with the sigil of a black lantern embroidered on the chest. Under his armor, he wears a white sash adorned with worn wooden rings, which augments his healing abilities. On his head, he wears a bronze hoplite-style helm that glimmers like the sun’s reflection on a calm lake. This helmet appears to be very old, possibly going as far back as the Dawn War. It has the ability to radiate bright light on command. Willem wields a round iron shield displaying the symbol of Amaunator. A holy symbol hangs around his neck, bearing the image of the same black lantern that appears on his tabard. His weapon of choice is the khopesh, a blade commonly favoured by Amaunatori battle priests, and one that Willem wields against the agents of evil with brutal effectiveness. Willem found this particular khopesh in a drow plunder vault. The bronze blade appears to have been crafted by the ancient church of Amaunator, and it originally had the ability to radiate bright sunlight, making it particularly deadly against undead opponents. The blade was repurposed by Amaunator however, and now channels the intimidating majesty of the god, making enemies think twice before attacking.
Willem’s blade, holy symbol, gloves, boots, mail hauberk and embroidered tabard were gifts from Amaunator himself, some given directly to Willem by the god, and others finding their way to him throughout his travels. Willem’s helmet and healer’s sash were both gifts from the goddess Selûne.
Personality and Relationships
Willem is compassionate and good, but is also quick to anger, and has little patience for the morally grey. His shield defends the weak and the helpless and he will not hesitate to raise his blade against those who would do harm.
His values tend to set him at odds with some of the other guild members. Those party members who are motivated by power, greed, vengeance, cruelty or unbridled rage are seen by Willem as annoyances at best and dangerous liabilities at worst. On the other hand, companions who value honor, mercy, compassion and justice are seen as friends and comrades. In general, anyone who displays skill in their field and loyalty to the party is considered to be a valued and trustworthy asset to the group. It follows that party members whose behavior constantly compromises the safety or effectiveness of the party are treated with less esteem. As he has taken a vow of celibacy, Willem is not romantically attached to anyone. With regards to his family, Willem is not forthcoming with details.
Since his reincarnation as a revenant, Willem is much more driven and slightly colder than he once was. He seems intensely focused on the mission at hand.
Hailing from Morningsong, the great temple and monastery to Amaunator in the city-state of Beregost, Willem was too quick-tempered and impulsive to be suitable for the regular priesthood. He was instead ordained at age twenty-one as a battle cleric, trained in ways both martial and divine. By age twenty-five, he was made Beregost’s Commander of the Guard, a post he held for five years. Once his time in office had elapsed Willem was sent on pilgrimage, to spread the light and justice of Amaunator by combating evil in the world.
During his pilgrimage, Willem was approached by Timothy Quickdraw to join the Exemplars. Seeing an alliance with the guild as an opportunity to better seek out the evil that threatens the world, Willem was eager to join. Upon receiving permission from his order, he was formally accepted as a member of the Exemplars.
Willem has served with the Exemplars on many crucial missions. He was present when the guild first uncovered the drow machinations on the surface, and accompanied the diplomatic envoy to the goliath tribes of the Sword Mountains. Soon after, he witnessed the fall of the Exemplars’ citadel at the hands of the Weavers, the loss of the guild-master Mordecai, and the guild’s fortification of Kuldahar. Willem also served on the front lines during the liberation of Stonewhistle Keep, and was assigned to the strike team that rescued Enna and crippled the Weavers’ operation in Menzoberranzan. Willem is currently part of an expeditionary force that the Exemplars have sent into the Shadowfell in the hopes of finding the spirit of Mordecai, who is the only person with the knowledge necessary to defeat The Withering, a cataclysm of apocalyptic proportions that threatens all of Toril.
Becoming a Warpriest
Following the abduction of Enna by the Weavers, Willem returned to Morningsong in order to seek guidance regarding the path that would inevitably lead to the Underdark. His superiors recognized that if he was going to face the drow in their darkened tunnels, he would require more focused instruction than battle clerics traditionally received. Willem was subjected to the trials necessary for him to learn the ancient way of the Warpriests of the Sun. This new training focused his divine power, honed his battle-readiness and steeled his resolve to take the fight to the Weavers, and rescue his captive friend.
A Past Revealed
The Exemplars originally knew nothing about Willem’s childhood, as he seemed unable or unwilling to talk about the years before he started living with the priests of Amaunator. However, during a guild mission to investigate several disturbances plaguing Morningsong, Willem’s past was revealed to the guild.
Willem was born in Plough, a small farming community in the Western Heartlands. His mother was Liara, a beautiful young woman with fiery red hair, newlywed to Hollis Brand. Willem’s father was an efreeti fire spirit named Shamir who raped Liara during her first year of marriage to Hollis. Hollis and Liara Brand raised Willem as their own. Liara loved him dearly, and Hollis too loved him as if he had been his own child. Willem was raised knowing that he was not fully human, but to this day is unaware of his biological father’s whereabouts. Four years later, the Brands had a daughter, Anya Brand, who had the same fiery red hair as her mother and half-brother.
One evening, when Willem was seven years old, his life changed forever. He had been sketching a portrait of his mother with charcoal all afternoon, and was nearly finished when his mother sent him to the well for some water so she could start cooking dinner. Three-year-old Anya was left unattended while Liara chopped vegetables. Willem returned just in time to see his sister take up the charcoal and begin to colour over the picture he’d spent all day working on. In the childish rage that Willem experienced at that moment, his genasi half manifested itself, and flame exploded from his body. The rest was all a blur. Willem remembers Hollis, who had been chopping firewood outside, rushing into the inferno, and grabbing him. He carried his still-burning son outside, and then rushed back into the building to save his wife and daughter. Willem watched in horror as the roof collapsed on top of his family.
At that moment, a large group of neighbors arrived to try and put out the blaze. They found Willem, still manifesting his firesoul. Realizing that he was the cause, they chased him out of town. The mob was almost upon him when Brother Galen, Morrick the Stout and Morninglord Khepri Lightbringer, three Amaunatori who had been passing through town, intervened. While Galen and Morrick held back the lynch mob, Khepri used her divine magic to calm Willem, returning him to his human form. They then mounted their horses and took Willem away with them to Morningsong. Lightbringer raised Willem and took him on as her student. Soon Willem was taught the ways of the Amaunatori, becoming an initiate in their order.
All this came to light when the party arrived at Morningsong and discovered that Galen and Morrick had been murdered, burned alive in their Beregost homes. With the help of Royl Tanner, Commander of the Guard at Beregost, as well as that of his fellow Exemplars, Willem managed to prevent the murder of Khepri Lightbringer. It was also revealled that the murderer was none other than Anya Brand, whose body had never been recovered after the fire. She had somehow survived and become a powerful magic user, hellbent on avenging the death of her parents. She sees Willem as directly responsible, and had set out to punish the clerics who had protected him in the hopes of luring him into a confrontation. Though all of her kobold minions were killed in the ensuing conflict, Anya managed to escape the Exemplars and her whereabouts remain unknown.
During his encounter with Anya, Willem was placed under the Fire’s Foe Curse by his sister. The curse made him extremely vulnerable to fire, including that of his own firesoul manifestation. There is no known method of removing this curse, and until a remedy could be discovered, Willem was forced to avoid open flames and to try and gain greater control over his genasi side.
Willam attempted to lift te curse himself with a Remove Affliction spell, but it merely aggravated his condition, making him even more vulnerable to fire. This likely contributed to his death at the hands of his sister Anya, who ambushed the party a second time in the Shadowfell.
However, with his death, the curse was broken, so in his revenant body Willam is no longer subject to it.
Portents and Presents
One night, while Willem slept, he was visited by strange dreams. He found himself on a barren plain, and rising before him was a great black tower. It should have been menacing, but Willem found himself unafraid. High above, he saw a flock of ravens circling. One large raven broke away from the group and descended, landing on his shoulder. Willem continued to feel a serene calm. As the dream began to fade, the last thing Willem saw was a pair of old eyes looking deeply into his own. Upon awakening, Willem chose not to share the dream with his companions.
Some time later in Haven, after the Exemplars had successfully recruited a band of tiefling mercenaries to help combat the coming cataclysm known as The Withering, one of the mercenary lieutenants took Willem aside and gave him a small cloth package, stating that he had been instructed to give it to Willem. Before Willem could ask who the package was from, the mercenary had departed. Upon opening the package, Willem found a carefully wrapped holy symbol of the Raven Queen. Unsure of why anyone would send him such a gift, Willem stowed the symbol in his pack and thought no more about it.
While staying at Kuldahar’s Evening Shade Inn, Willem was approached by a mysterious old man who called himself Ilo. The man cryptically told Willem that sometimes one must be willing to follow a less obvious path in order to find the light. Willem must stay true to himself, Ilo cautioned, but he must always remember to keep his mind open to the truth, in whatever form it might appear. Before departing, Ilo gave Willem a new holy symbol, a bronze badge embossed with the symbol of a black lantern.
Over the course of the party’s travels, Willem found two other pieces of equipment bearing the same black lantern: a pair of boots given to him by a mad shaman, and a pair of gloves left by an unknown person in his quarters at the new citadel.
During the evacuation of Beregost and Morningsong in the face of The Withering, Willem was charged by Khepri Lightbringer to enter the catacombs of Morningsong and retrieve the church’s most sacred artifact: a hauberk of chainmail that was claimed to be forged by Amaunator himself which, according to legend, was to be worn by Amaunator’s chosen champion. After completing the trials of the catacombs with the help of the party, Willem entered the final chamber. To his surprise, there stood the old man Ilo, who revealed his true identity: Amaunator himself.
The god laid his hands upon Willem, blessing him and naming him Chosen of Amaunator. Willem was bid to bathe his blade in a pool of holy water, and upon doing so, the ancient bronze weapon was imbued with the majesty of Amaunator, and the symbol of the black lantern was emblazoned on the hilt. Willem was then given the Champion’s Hauberk, along with a tabard to be worn over it. Amaunator told Willem that the armor and tabard had always been worn by the god’s Chosen, and the symbol embroidered on the tabard, though it had varied through the centuries, had always been understood to be the mark of Amaunator’s favor. Willem was not surprised at discovering the symbol embroidered on the tabard: the same image of the mysterious black lantern that seemed to be following Willem throughout his travels. Amaunator then departed, leaving Willem and the party to finish the evacuation of Beregost.
A Test of Faith
Upon arriving in the Shadowfell, Willem and the rest of the expeditionary force encountered a powerful necromancer, who called up the spirits of old enemies to fight the party. The party fought the spirits, but could not reach the mysterious necromancer, who was protected by a pulsating wall of fire. The party fought well, but it seemed as though the odds were stacking against them. In a blast of fire from the necromancer’s shield, Willem was overcome, and fell to the ground, burned to death. Upon seeing him fall, the necromancer turned on the spot and vanished.
The next few minutes passed as though they were an eternity for Willem. The unimaginable pain of the fire had vanished, and Willem felt nothing. Opening his eyes, he found himself standing on a barren, deserted plain, surrounded by emptiness. Looking up, he saw the sun, and as he watched a raven flew into view, perfectly sillouetted. Then as if waking from a dream, Willem found himself back in the Shadowfell, surrounded by his companions. Though they were concerned, they were obviously disconcerted. Willam soon discoverd the source of their discomfort: he had been brought back as an undead revenant.
Willam has since been praying for guidance as to why he had been turned into such an abomination, but as of yet, he has found no answers.
The Hooded Lantern
As the party walked the streets of Gloomwrought, Willem was approached by a man bearing the symbol of the black lantern that Willam had been given by Amaunator. He introduced himself as Brother Argos, a member of the Hooded Lanterns, a group dedicated to the spreading of Amaunator’s light in the Shadowfell. He asked the party to meet him at the Hooded Lantern’s headquarters. Upon arriving, Willam discovered an uncomfortable truth: the Hooded Lantern did not simply worship the sun god. They believed that he and the Raven Queen were one and the same. Upon being introduced to the group’s leader Brother Icarus, Willem was greeted not as a friend, but as a heretic. The party was asked to leave, but before they could, the inn that served as the Hooded Lantern’s headquarters was attacked by the Ebony Guard. The pogrom caught the Hooded Lanterns off guard, and Brother Icarus was killed. The party barely escaped with their lives, chased across the rooftops of Gloomwrought and led by Brother Argos. After escaping the Ebony Guard, the party was given direction on how to complete their mission and find Mordecai. Brother Argos said his farewells, and asked Willem to consider the Lantern’s theory about the sun god. He also gave Willem a book detailing the history of the Raven Queen.
Brother of the Enemy
While the party rested, they were visited by a strange vision. The evil goddesses Shar, Lolth and Auril had allied themselves with Asmodeus and the devils of the Nine Hells in order to bring down the gods of order and good, and unleash the Withering upon Faerûn. According to Shar, the Seldarine pantheon of Arvandor had already fallen, the major pantheon was soon to follow, and the Exemplars were the only force standing between the world and its destruction. Volunteering his assistance, Asmodeus offered to wipe out the party as a token of goodwill. As the vision faded, Asmodeus sent his servant Makalos to seek out and destroy the party, assuring his new allies that the mortal upstarts would not survive.
The vision also held a personal stake for Willem. It was revealed that Anya Brand had become an agent of Shar, and was in fact the mysterious necromancer responsible for Willem’s death. In the vision, she was sent by Lolth to lead the assault on Zvomarana. While the party discussed the meaning behind the vision, Willem rediscovered some of his humanity in the form of fear. Fear that he would again have to face the last living member of his family. Fear that he might have to kill his little sister. And fear that if he failed to do so, all of Faerûn would pay the price.