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And now for something completely different: it’s time for another “Meet the Characters” post! Today, let’s hear a little bit about Rakariel, hero of Before the Sun Fades! (Yes, that’s the one I’ve finished but am sitting on. Just a little longer…!)

Rakariel, known in her home region as Rakariel Shadow-Bearer, is a travelling adventurer, a former mercenary whose hard-earned experience cost her dear. She’s cautious and careful about the situations she gets into, but once she’s chosen a course of action, she’s very difficult to sway. In a world of magic and a myriad conflicting gods, she forges a path as best she can through the trials of life.

She’s an excellent archer, owning a truly splendid bow spelled with various enchantments to further enhance her abilities. For close-range combat, she has some skill with a shortsword, and her blade bears an enchantment of spirit, enabling her to fend off more intangible dangers. Her horse, Dawn, is often her only companion as she travels alone wherever her path may take her.

Rakariel grew up a child of the open steppes, whose far-ranging people often depart in adulthood to seek fortune, fame, and accomplishment before returning home. As a child, she hero-worshipped the returning adventurers, determined to be just like them one day, with great tales of bravery to tell. Like many of her people, she chose the bow as her main weapon, and demonstrated impressive skill even amongst her equally-trained peers. Her abilities caught the eye of several, and on reaching adulthood, she was given a recommendation to join the renowned mercenary band known as the Snowhawks.

Confident and cocksure, young Rakariel departed in search of them, and bearing the proof of recommendation that she’d been given, was accepted and inducted into the group, quickly proving her worth. The Snowhawks became a strange second family, a tight-knit band who faced down all the typical dangers of the world with equanimity, able to command a high price for their expert services. Though their battles weren’t without injury and casualty, life was, for a mercenary, good.

But it didn’t last. One day, the Snowhawks answered an open summons, a bounty placed by a local lord on the evil creatures defiling a fairly remote area of his lands. It seemed a simple enough task, not much harder than any other similar job in a world of magic and gods, but it quickly became clear that the visible evil was only the tip of the iceberg. Several groups of mercenaries and the odd solo traveller joined the battle in those lands, and were decimated, even the experienced and well-equipped Snowhawks themselves. Still, Rakariel and two others eventually won through to fight the evil at the heart of it all face to face — and for a short time, thought they had won. Yet the dark god, banished in a long-ago battle of religions and plotting revenge ever since, lived on… borne unknowingly by Rakariel herself.

Possessed, she struggled to retain her will against a creature that, though weakened, was rapidly overcoming her. Only the paladin who had joined the battle recognised what was happening to her, aided by the whispers of his gods. He found a way to force the dark god into a new host — but the volunteer, though brave, was not equal to the task. Before they could travel to a place that would be able to banish the dark god properly, it gained control over its new host, fleeing the mercenary band and trailing evil in its wake. Despite lingering weakness, Rakariel set out in pursuit, together with the other survivors, Snowhawks and strangers alike.

Eventually, they won, and the evil was stripped of its power and sealed away once more, but at great cost. Just a handful of the original adventurers lived, each one scarred by their experiences, and all went their separate ways. Since then, Rakariel has travelled alone to nowhere, unable to outrun the shadows of her past, unable to find respite in a peaceful, stationary life, fighting evil where she finds it and holding back her fears with the aid of a simple travellers’ lightstone.

Before the Sun Fades begins when she finds a sealed and shadowed valley, and descends to see what lies within…

Questions about Rakariel? Questions for Rakariel? Ask away!