Kesler Atherton Edit
Age: 51 (Deceased)
Skin tone: Weathered
Hair color: Ash
Profession: Skinner/Elemental Leatherworker
Guild: The Felsworn Sail (Formerly Mysterium, Iron Blue Intention, Via Caeli, Underfoot Gang)
With weary eyes, mottled hands, and hair the color of settled ashes, it is plain to see that Kesler has seen far more leislurely days. Still, the man walks with broad stride and a subtle smile, murmuring old songs to himself beneath his burly mustache, hair flared outward as if proud of the amount that is left.
A longsword's pommel hangs from his belt, broken an inch or so above the hilt, the space where the blade should be shining and shimmering brightly. The initials "J.A.A" are visible next to a crest of Lordaeron on the underside of the hilt.
Kesler carries himself with an authoritative air of pride and speaks with a presence to match, his contented tone of voice and jovial wit flush with gruff bravado.
Ambitions: Familial loyalty was the only certainty left to Kesler as the violence tore through Stratholme, taking his brother from him and sending his sister-in-law into despair. With Viverie minding the children (she dared not leave two growing young women unprotected in a lawless town) and Allingham (presumably) laid to rest, Kesler began his life of crime out of necessity, and he has never forgotten the reason. His two nieces living in Stormwind and his sister-in-law in Darkshire still wake up every sabbath to find a few curious additions to their coin purses. Beyond that, Kesler has little direction to his life other than just living it.
Convictions: In recent years, Kesler has grown very attached to Stormwind as a surrogate homeland, and is quite loyal to king and country after spending years in its service. During his vagrancy and after his release from the stockade he made fast friends amongst the petty criminals of Stormwind, and still maintains a few contacts among the destitute. And of course, as left hand of the Underfoot Gang, Kesler was almost infallibly loyal to the society that aided his rise out of the gutter.
Fears: Fire awoke Kesler to the march of Kel’Thuzad. The house he shared with his brother James, James’s wife Viverie, and their two daughters, was set ablaze, and even though the rest of the family escaped, Kesler was trapped amidst the smoke and flame for several minutes before throwing himself out the second story window. Oddly enough, the harrowing experience did little in regards to a fear of fire, but to this day Kesler stoicly refuses to sleep within a house, and will wake up screaming mid-slumber if brought within one.
Moral Compass: Having never shown any qualms for the sanctity of the dead or any particular reservation about committing murder beyond his silence on the matter (“It’s not righ’ polite to talk about death in good company.”), it is not too far to say that Kesler has grown somewhat sociopathic in his demeanor. However, Kesler’s trade of unsavory work is something he learned on his own, and he was raised to adulthood by honorable men to be an honorable man himself, perhaps finding a bit of moral stability in it.
Though he prefers to walk barefoot, Kesler of course needs faster means of travel, and for that he has Edit, a black stallion from the Wetlands that he sees very seriously as more a warhorse or battle ally than companion.
Family: Amos Atherton was one of the few proud soldiers of Lordaeron tasked with guarding the king himself, a noble but simple man that was as fearsome on the field as he was humble in his speech. Mariele Perigee was a Stratholme farmer’s daughter whose keen mind grew her family’s simple market stand into a prosperous goods store in Lordaeron, and the two grew close as Amos would always be passing by on his way home from duty just as Mariele was closing. The two had resigned themselves to lives of solitude before meeting each other, so they were old enough to be blessed with dying peacefully in their sleep within a year or two of one another shortly after their sons were old enough to get by on their own. While Kesler lived in the house of Allingham and his wife, the married couple had two beautiful daughters; the eldest was named Gwenn, the youngest Mariele, after Kesler and Allingham’s mother, as she shared her eyes and hair.
Kesler Atherton was born humbly, without complication, to Amos and Mariele Atherton in the High Citadel of Lordaeron on the 26th of Febuary, at high noon. His brother James Allingham Atherton was born only one year prior, during a visit to the family’s house in Stratholme. He and his brother were raised with great affection, and at times were spoiled by their mother. Were it not for the care of their traditionally-minded father, they might have grown soft, but no Royal Guard was going to let his boys grow up without knowing how to lift a sword. James pursued a military career as simply “Allingham Atherton” while Kesler went into several apprenticeships, jumping from craft to craft aimlessly and working not for the love of the work, but simply for the day‘s pay. Allingham met a shy, demure woman named Viverie Dawes who worked as an apothecary for the mage community in Lordaeron, and they were soon wed. Wanting to live a slightly quieter life, the couple moved to the old Perigee (Mariele Atherton's maiden name) family house in Stratholme, and Allingham invited Kesler to come live with them despite his slightly burdensome nature.
The three lived humbly in Stratholme for several years, Kesler working odd farmhand jobs for the many fields owners while Allingham would periodically be called to service in skirmishes with the orcs. If asked, Kesler would most likely admit that was the time where his cares were little and few, helping raise the couple’s two daughters like a second father, as Allingham’s prominent and decorated performance meant he was called away for longer and longer periods.
One day, a letter arrived with what seemed like a blessing; Prince Arthas himself was investigating curious happenings near their hometown, and if Allingham proved himself capable of protecting him then he would be quite able to retire from his military career a very rich man. Allingham left for Lordaeron, and days later Kel’Thuzad’s wrath came to Andorhal.
Tempered In Fires Unbearable Edit
Wildfires swept over the town, and the plague tore through the peaceful community as fast as the flames. In defense of the prince Allingham was infected by the works of the necromancer himself, and sent to his family a weak and ill man. But Stratholme was not safe from Prince Arthas' maddened slaughter, and Allingham's condition seemed to worsen with every day.
Kesler does not like to talk about the night his brother turned. He awoke in their hastily built house of salvaged lumber (the first having burned to ashes) to Viverie’s screams and the screams of her daughters, bursting into their shared bedroom to find Allingham looming over the three with jaw hanging on tendons of a sickly purple. The struggle was stiff and awkward, as Kesler grappled with his turned brother, eventually wrestling him to the ground with both hands on his cold throat. After a time, the undead that was his brother stopped struggling, and Kesler fled east along Kel’Thuzad’s trail of destruction with the madness of Arthas' slaughter of Stratholme on his heels, practically having to drag the grieving Viverie with him.
The first night they felt safe enough to sleep, Kesler stole a neighbor’s shovel and another's crowbar, and headed to the hill where the fresh graves had been dug. He knew the right questions to ask at the cobbled tavern to lead him to a buyer of fineries without qualms, and he returned by dawn with enough money to eat. It became natural from then on, sometimes escalating into organizing elaborate tomb heists with bands of other desperate men, or even robbery by point of sword. In the entirety of his exploits in Lordaeron, Kesler will only confess to have ever killed one innocent, a young man who came to mourn his mother and discovered Kesler hunched over her unearthed body, tearing a gold necklace from upon her shoulders.
For a lack of options, Kesler beat him to death with a shovel. Since that moment, he carried a weapon.
By the time Lordaeron’s armies were sent to restore what order they could, Kesler’s alias was on the tongues of many wronged families, and the hatred for "The Scoundrel of Stratholme" was boiling over. Were it not for the usurping of the king and the fall of Lordaeron itself (and the chaos of evacuation it provided), Kesler would not have been able to escape capture.
Mercifully, Viverie did not ask questions of him when Kesler gave her a veritable fortune of coin and urged her to start anew in Stormwind. Kesler, lost in the confusion of his notoriety, turned to vagrancy, and lived as a beggar and thief on the streets and dusty roads of Stormwind’s many small towns as “Gray Gerige,” his hair having turned a light ash color from stress, lack of sleep, the intensity of his work, and as is rumored among the street urchins of the eastern kingdoms, because of how much death and realized mortality seeped up from the grave earth he had dug.
Notoriety & Loathing Edit
Though he kept himself in good straits for a time, he eventually became an insufferable drunkard, and was jailed for his older crimes after a Stormwind guardsman shooing him off the streets recognized him from years before. The stockades sobered Kesler in more ways than one. He saw around him an infinite, leering reflection of himself; the Defias. Sneering, ungrateful to their own homeland, so distant that they could murder and pillage without the slightest regret. It near drove him mad, seeing the distended perversions and demons of his actions given flesh. He grew a reputation among the convicts as hateful of them, and more than once Kesler found himself held down by four men and cut slowly with a sharp flint just for entertainment.
When the riot came, Kesler seized the opportunity. The moment the cells broke, every man made a mad dash for the surface. Guards were crushed to tin cans and bloody pulp beneath the march of nearly a hundred men, but only arrows waited for the escapees, and Kesler only survived because he heard the creak of bending wood, throwing himself to the ground. As the surviving Defias fled back inward, Kesler threw up his hands and pleaded for mercy. He remembers having cried before in his lifetime, but it is the first time he recalls having genuinely felt the tears carry something out from within him. He asked repeatedly for one thing; one day to have an audience with Highlord Fordragon, the executor of Stormwind law.
Then, if Kesler should still be sentenced to be thrown back into the Stockades by Fordragon, he asked if any of the Stockade guardsmen would be too averse to unloading their rifle into his temple.
Penitence Before Pride Edit
The words that exactly went on between the two are unknown to all but Kesler and Fordragon himself, but the sentence levvied within was taken gladly by Kesler; For his hatred of the Defias as a reflection of his transgressions and his desire to pay back the people he had wronged, a possibility stolen from him with the evacuation of Lordaeron, Kesler would be drafted into service of the Stormwind Guard, serving as watchman and scout in Elwynn Forest and Westfall, where the Defias were strongest. After several outstanding accomplishments in service to both the Guard and SI:7, Kesler's sentence was lessened to nightwatch, and the light of Kesler's lantern can be seen floating along the cobble of Goldshire and its surrounding countryside.
Soon after Kesler was drafted his nieces found trades of their own, and Viverie moved to Darkshire so that she could "feel closer to the departed." One of the few places he considers a home, Kesler often sleeps in the grassy shadow of her house, and regularly visits to see how Viverie is doing during the lulls in his work. Kesler now goes where the work takes him, glad that after so many years of wanton crime he can still work in the service of the king without scorn, doing odd jobs for SI:7 and the people of Stormwind in general.
"The Old Man, The Corpse, & The Tree" Edit
A tree above them creaked and groaned shrilly as the gust was cleft upon it, but despite the howling of the wind, but it did not sway. It was an old tree, a behemoth that just out of sheer age may have rivaled the heights of Teldrassil. All the leaves within sight were dancing madly in the air with zeal, taking all the motions of flame but having forgotten the color a season ago. It was a quiet place, a solitary place, where one could sit and view the splendors of life in all their mute glory. It was an appropriate place. It would do, the old man thought to himself.
Beside him, the standing corpse shifted his weight in silence. Aged armor clinked against itself as he did so. The words came from a purpled and grotesque throat, slowly and hoarsely, a dirge blessed with an alien mirth. “The weather is very nice, isn’t it… A sign of the coming spring.”
The old man’s reply was distant and preoccupied, concerned more with the horizon, and the weight of his years did little to dull the luster of wit and warmth in his voice. “Yeh. Be an understatement t’say that it’ll be a good year in th’ kingdoms.”
A pause bloomed darkly between the two, lasting for seemed like an eternity. The corpse stood in the shining armor of his former life, eyes hooded expectantly before eventually speaking. “… It’s a pity you won’t be here to see it, will you?”
The old man sighed as the concept’s weight pushed on his chest for yet another time against the other countless times he had felt it in the past few years. His hand reached up and removed a wide-brimmed leather hat as he stared toward the sun setting over the vibrant greens of Elwynn Forest. “I’d like to think it’s no loss, brother. I’ve seen my share, yeh? Asking to see another spring at this point… I think that’d be awful greedy of me. Downright gluttonous.” Another breeze howled up the small hidden valley of green in the rocks Stormwind squatted within. It coursed over the both of them, pleasantly warm as the hearth, and the old man closed his eyes as his neat-kept mane of ashen hair flared to one side, throwing strands in front his right eye. The corpse smiled with the remains of his mouth, and the thick ponytail of sandy hair upon his otherwise shaven head danced like a watersnake.
”I believe that many people will be upset,” the corpse said. “Viverie… Your nieces… Others, whose names I have never seen you say without smiling.”
The old man went silent for a moment, either in thought or in reverence. His voice found eloquence from nothing, as it often did. “To be truthful, brother, one of the few thing that has… Has kept me, has been the thought of who I would be leaving behind, that and the future. I realized not long ago, though, that I was delaying the inevitable. I’m finished, Allingham. Though I don’t think I’d be satisfied if I spent another fifty-odd years on this earth, I’ve done good in my lifetime and I’ve few regrets.” He walked to the edge of the cliff, water bubbling pleasantly on the ground below.
“I wasted away my youth, I did. I didn’t take up the sword and shield, like father or you did. Just jumped from job to job bein’ a damn drunkard. But when the chips were down… When the plague came… I saved what was left of our family its jaws plague. I did… very bad, very horrible things to the dead, unearthing and stealing from them in order to feed your wife, daughters, and myself. I even killed a single innocent man on a moonless night as he caught me. When we had to flee south from the scorched and plagued counties, I was a drunkard and a thief, and angry at everyone. I wanted someone in Stormwind to punish me for what I did in Lordaeron, and hated them for not seeing me as the scoundrel I was. When I was recognized, they didn’t even have the damned decency to hang me. Jail. The stockade.”
The corpse listened as the old man continued.
”When… when I pleaded with Fordragon to allow me to serve Stormwind in hopes I’d meet my end with at least a little scrap of honor, he saw my desperation. They were dangerous tasks, to say the least. Killing the enemy and searching for their secrets. But I wouldn’t die.”
The old man sat down against the tree, sighing.
”My damned luck wouldn’t stop. “A meteoric rise,” Mathias Shaw called my career. I grew complacent and confident in myself, forgetting myself and my debts as I did more and more for my own gain. I became a criminal again, Allingham, practically a knight amongmy fellow scum and thieves, and would you believe I made friends who thought I was worth a damn. I smiled again, for the first time in years... I laughed and cried with people and shared their fears and grabbed their shoulders when they were ready to fling themselves into the abyss, and they did all in their power to save me when a foul illness nearly took me from the earth before I was done.”
His eyelids struggled with moisture, but his mouth was upturned in a smile as his head bowed. ”Just when I had nothing to live for, I found people who needed someone. Be as a friend, an ally, a confidant, mentor, or just companion. There were people everywhere, people who counted me as one of their friends. It was like being born again. It invigorated me, giving me a lust for life and adventure. I fought evil and gallivanted around Azeroth with other adventurers like some kind of hero.”
The old man stood again, a stature of nobility blazing in the dying light of the sun, fists clenched. A supernova. The corpse slightly smiled as he watched the flame of the old man’s spirit burst into searing life.
”I tore through the war-berth of the Defias lord’s galleon! I felled behemoths of stone and killed a fat evil she-giant! I fought through dark dwarves to the bowels of hell and spat in the flames! I ran triumphantly with allies through obsidian ruins and desert caves and slew the heralds and champions of a failed apocalypse! I managed to grit my teeth and persist through a second coming of the horrors that took my pleasant life on the farm from me and I lived! I lived! By the Light and all its glory, I lived and laughed and even loved a little, and was given more joy than a scoundrel like me deserved.”
The old man turned to the corpse and moved to approach, but fell to his knees as the fire of his last glorious moment began to fade. The corpse clutched the old man in his arms. ”More joy than I deserved… And now I’m... Now… Now I’m done.”
The corpse held his smiling brother in respectful silence as his chest moved less and less, until it was still, and an almost triumphant last breath passed through the old man’s lips and into the spring wind, carried high into the air and over the sea, to warm and welcoming lands from which no man truly returns. The corpse smiled and let his own head go slack, the glow of his eye sockets going from beacons, to firelights, to embers, to darkness, following his younger brother.
Moving in small, light steps, a pale women with a porcelain face and shimmering blonde hair beginning to give way to gray walked up from the lower side of the hidden valley where her husband the corpse had told her to wait. She had felt them leave the earth in her mind’s eye, the spirit of her loving husband engulfing and soft as if with the intent to lift her off into the sky. “I’m old, James. You won’t be waiting long,” she said to no-one in particular, as she walked toward the tree where the brothers lay in repose.
Occasionally, Viverie visits with two others, younger women who call her "mother." One with sandy blonde hair given the name of Gwynn, and a raven-haired girl named Mariele. They leave flowers at the gravestones with every visit. The gravestones are still there, under the old, tall tree, for those who seek a quiet place, a solitary place, where one can sit and view the splendors of life in all their mute glory to see. And they read:
Kesler Mecoites Atherton
As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death.
James Allingham Atherton
Give all to love; obey thy heart.
Goodbye, WoW Edit
As posted on the Felsworn Sail forums:
(( Yes. I'm leaving the World of Warcraft. I've given it a lot of thought, and many people may have seen this coming. Most of the delay on my end has been on working up the guts to give Kesler the death he deserves. He doesn't deserve the "my player quit" limbo.
I think with a life such as his, wrought with murder and guilt and triumph and sadness, a quiet death isn't too much to ask for.
I love all you guys, even though I've been very distant at times and sometimes just plain unreachable. I enjoyed every second of roleplay (and regular play) with you, and I'd really like it if you could direct anyone asking about me or who might like to know by /tell or by mail about my departure. I've posted this same story on the thoriumbrotherhood.elwiki.com page for Kesler, and you can direct them to it if you'd rather not direct them to this forum.
I might check in a few times, fellas, but that's not a promise. In the next few days I'll be stripping characters and leaving behind what gold I have to what friends I trust to have the best idea of what to do with it.
It's been a blast.
See you. ))