Alder is an Anima Mage with ambitions of achieving great heights of power. He is often misunderstood, accused of not being a “real mage”, and even blamed for seemingly every mishap throughout the course of the campaign. Yet Alder holds promise. His reputation as a spellcaster has grown significantly in the years since the Uprising, and even the Council of Seril has taken note. He now seeks to restart his Coven and uncover the endless mysteries of Pact Magic. His impact on the world has only just begun.
Some say that Alder really is to blame, in some odd way, for every cataclysmic event in the multiverse…That one day, his meddling in the Soul Weave will go too far, and his influence will transcend time itself.
Backstory Submission Prior to First Campaign:
Excerpts from the Journal of Alder LeBarge
There are days when I recall my haunted past and the twisted road that lies before me; moments when I seek liberation from my alter self. To simply be me. But what is me? Sadly, I have nearly forgotten. Perhaps it is not meant to be. I hunger for power more than ever before. With every waking day that I am bound to them, I can feel myself slowly drifting into their world. A world of power and yet, a world with something missing. I long for that ancient feeling of a whole heart and an unbound soul. I chose this life, and still, the gift outweighs the curse.
Between mortality and godhood, beyond life and undeath, souls exist in a place both forgotten and inaccessible. Mortals too strong-willed to pass into the afterlife, dead outsiders too powerful to be absorbed into their planes, the dreams of slain deities put to rest eons before their current age—these are the beings known as vestiges. A seal forms the door between these beings and reality, and knowledge is the key to opening it.
Of course, there are a rare number in this world who possess that key, the secret to the ultimate form of magic, because only these few know the vestiges’ unique seals and the rituals by which they can be called from the void beyond reality. By drawing their seals and speaking the words of power, he summons these strange entities, bargains with them, and binds them to his service. I am Alder LeBarge, and I am a Binder. I have submitted my mind and shared my soul with the long-forgotten for over twenty years, and this is my story…
As an orphan child, my mind was always my greatest asset. The thirst for knowledge drove me to pursue the mysteries of magic, and when I turned twelve I enrolled in the Youth’s Academy for Arcane Magic. I learned quickly, and my professors admired my skills. They told us of the many embodiments of magic—divine, arcane, and even long-lost forms such as shadow and truename—though as I later learned, they did not teach us everything. I can still remember the day I questioned the great Master Drakis regarding the most potent form of magic; I was merely sixteen at the time. He hesitated to answer, and finally stated that “you are only as powerful as the level of understanding to which you seek and attain”. These words remained with me for the rest of my life, and it would not be long before I sought out the greatest form of all—Pact Magic.
It all started on a cold November evening. The sky was dark and a feint whisper rode in the wind. Master Drakis was to duel Archmage Zaaz for his Test of the Archmagi, and the entirety of the school stood in the chilling combat grounds to witness the epic confrontation. As always, High Chancellor Megrim stood to state the rules of conduct, which at the time were limited only by the use of no magical items and illegality of murder. The fight began in no time. Zaaz started with a fireball, which Drakis quickly dispelled, following up with a quickened bolt of lightning which struck Zaaz in the chest. Recovering hastily and with unprecedented skill, Zaaz spun up to his feet and conjured an anti-magic field centered on Drakis. As if the barrier meant nothing, Master Drakis began moving his arms in a circular motion, and soon, supernatural flames sheathed his hands. Within seconds, he did what—at least at the time—seemed impossible. From the core of his chest rose a blazing wyrm of fire and shadow, and following its conjuration, the gargantuan spirit burst through the anti-magic field straight for Archmage Zaaz. He stood no chance, and despite the use of a readied dispel, Zaaz felt the fiery wrath of defeat.
The crowd stood in awe, and just when I thought the High Chancellor would announce the victor, he instead sat in silence and thought. Then, as if something long-lost in his memories had once again resurfaced, a look of disbelief and fear was painted across Megrim’s face. He turned to his fellow professors and said, “Get the children out of here, now. The duel is over; there is nothing more to see. Get them OUT!”. The elders rushed to gather us inside, but I wanted to see what was next. What had Drakis done, and why were they ordering the students inside? ‘I must see this’ I thought to myself, and I did not hesitate to rush through the chaotic mass to hide behind a pair of large carts. As soon as the grounds were cleared, High Chancellor Megrim paced slowly toward Drakis.
“Daegarn, I cannot believe you would do such things. You have disgraced this Academy with your heresy! This is evil magic, I tell you! You have sold your soul to demons, and I cannot let you continue this…! As High Chancellor of this Academy, I am relieving you of your service to this school, and as a devout follower of arcane magic who will not stand for such ancient darkness, I am relieving you of your life!” With that, Megrim, shot a bright ray at Drakis, but not before the greatest Binder of all time teleported away, never to be seen again.
Ever since that fateful day—the day when I was intrigued by Master Drakis’ epic performance—I sought to unravel the mysteries of Pact Magic. I began my research in the restricted section of the Academy library, and with great stealth and care, I expanded my knowledge of the ancient art. I missed entire days of school to pursue the archaic seals and long-lost rituals of the Binders, and my knowledge base grew quickly. However, my research would not go unnoticed for long, and I was expelled from the academy at age seventeen. I would not know it yet, but that was the greatest moment of my life.
I had no idea what to expect of my first summoning. Amon was his name, and he was an ancient vestige of the First Age. My research had revealed him to be the personality of a god who died of neglect millennia ago. Once worshipped by thousands, Amon eventually lost his faithful to more responsive deities. His will, however, was strong enough to resist eternal sleep on the Astral Plane, and he has since half-existed as a powerful vestige of old.
When I summoned him, Amon manifested in a burst of black smoke, howling foul curses at me with loathing and anger. His body was that of a black wolf, his tail was a serpent, and his head was that of a raging ram. As he spoke, flames escaped his mouth. “Why have you summoned me here, mortal?” I responded with my well-rehearsed pact. “My name is Alder, and I offer you the opportunity to experience life once again. To live amongst others, no longer trapped in your eternal cage. Bind with my soul for this day, and in return, all I ask for are the powers that brought you glory in the First Age of this world. Do you accept?” I was new to this, and he could see it. With a rasp in his voice, he replied “You have yourself a deal, young mortal.”
With that, the shadowy manifestation dove for my chest. My heart tightened, and for the first time, I felt my soul rip in half, binding to Amon’s and then sealing itself. My scalp itched, and I reached for my head to find a pair of large, sharp horns growing from my skull. Instantly, I felt a rush of adrenaline as knowledge of centuries poured into my mind. In that moment, the world looked different, and I could not help but feel irritable and paranoid of everyone and everything around me. What was this? My thoughts, my persona, had changed within a matter of minutes. I could feel the power and the growing thirst for more of it slowly devouring me, and yet I loved it more than ever. Amon’s voice whispered softly in my head, “Ahhh…good. You are an ambitious young fellow. Witty and wise. It has been too many years since I was bound to a mortal, and you are more than worthy.” I have never stopped binding since.
I was nineteen years of age when they found me. Amon had convinced one of their members that I was worthy of their training. ‘The Seekers of the Lost’, they called themselves, and they would grow to become the family I’d never had. The Seekers were a Coven of Anima Mages, ambitious and powerful binders bent on discovering and exploiting all the vestiges of the multiverse. They combined an extensive knowledge of arcane magic with pact magic to create a masterful art that paved the way for grand heights of power. For years, I learned from the Coven, building on my wizardry from the Academy as well as expanding my list of vestiges to exploit. As I rose in skill, so did my appreciation for the men who had taken me into their brotherhood.
I was thirty-two when I first told The Seekers of what I had witnessed within the chilling battlegrounds of my childhood Academy. It had not occurred to me that Master Drakis was, himself, an Anima Mage. Also to my surprise, the feat he had performed years ago was not common of practiced binders, even amongst the most powerful members of my Coven. Curious and thirsting for power, we began our research into the mysterious magic that Master Drakis had displayed. Our searching, we soon found, would not go unnoticed. The Order of Seropaenes was a secret society and alliance of religious zealots bent on destroying pact magic and forever suppressing its greatest secrets. Our first encounter with their Witch Slayers was a grim and violent one. One-third of the Coven was slain, and we knew from then on that we must go into hiding to survive. We would never be safe with The Order’s knowledge of our existence.
I had left the Coven encampment one afternoon to pursue a prominent lead on the mystical magic that had been used by Master Drakis, and when I returned, I beheld the worst scene of my life. Fire and smoke covered the tents of my brothers, and their bodies were scattered, lifeless, across the campground. The Order of Seropaenes had found us, and had left none alive. Only three bodies were unaccounted for, those of Marcus, Sylvie, and Lenore. I can only hope that they were able to escape the Coven’s gruesome fate. Since the massacre of The Seekers, I have walked a lonely path. At least the lives of my brothers had not been in vain. I had unraveled the secret. I knew what I was seeking…
The Soulbinding Scrolls were once written by an ancient order of Binders known as the Soul Keepers, and they entailed methods for summoning vestiges in their most powerful forms. Through ages of research and experimentation, the order had found the truest forms of each vestige’s seal, and the perfect ritual to go with each. Once bound to these empowered versions of the spirits, a binder would have access to the vestige’s most powerful supernatural ability—their ultimatum. Now, the scrolls have been lost to time, scattered across the world and guarded by powerful entities of old. There are few, if any, Binders today who possess the powers of the Soulbinding Scrolls. None but one, at least. Master Drakis had used an ultimatum years ago, just before he had disappeared forever. Since learning of the scrolls, I have made it my goal to seek them out and use them to increase my power. Drakis must know how to find them; after all, he has in his possession one of the scrolls already, to say the least. I have been fortunate to learn how to track him in all his secrecy and guile. For several years I have followed his trail by speaking with more and more powerful vestiges with whom he has bound. As my power grows, his has slowly halted, and I am only months behind him now. I intend to learn from my old Master, but if he will not share his knowledge, I will have no choice but to destroy him.