Human, 35, Warden of the Underwatch
Tarlun Cottrell was born to a middle-class family in one of the less troubled sectors of Sanctuary as the eldest of three sons born to Laurent and Mora Cottrell (Tarlun, Yacob and Samiel). It was plain from an early age that Tarlun had dreams of becoming a famous knight – in particular, a paladin. He was gifted a set of Carpath Pawns from his grandfather (being a widely-played complex chess-like game of deception played with thousands of varying pieces, each with their own effects), and his favourites were always the knights and paladins. He would often be seen re-enacting his favourite moments from stories or history with them, and would eagerly read all there was to know about these dashing heroes in gleaming armour. He read up about weapons and armour , and secretly purchased his first sword at age ten. From then onwards, he trained whenever he could, and began his pursuit of paladinhood.
His long-held childhood dreams were, however, to come up short. Paladins were selected only from those who passed the most rigorous tests. These included many kinds of combat-oriented challenges, which Tarlun was able to pass (whilst wielding the target-shield and estoc-style bastard-sword made for him by his brothers, who had both become blacksmiths), but also contained one particular test in which the applicant would be asked a number of questions about their faith, beliefs, and how they would apply them in ethically challenging situations – and, moreover, their rationale and attitudes attached to these applications. It was here that Tarlun would fail.
He had always been a follower of Pholtus, the god of law and light, and the one Tarlun had always associated the most strongly with paladinhood. However, after taking the test four times over as many years, each time he was deemed to have failed this particular test, and thus was denied paladinhood. No matter how hard he studied the holy texts and the accounts of the most pious practitioners, he was always told that he did not have the kind of faith a paladin of Sanctuary should have. These repeated and cryptic rejections eventually infuriated him, especially as he was not told the exact reason for his failure. Embittered, he refused to take the tests a fifth time.
Still only twenty years old, he instead joined the militia, and became a member of the Sanctuary City Watch. His fighting prowess proved useful, and he quickly distinguished himself as a strong commander in small teams. After a few years, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant, and became well-known on his usual patrol routes as a hardened fellow utterly devoted to his job. He was, at once, harsh with citizens and yet entirely uncorrupted – indeed, his most violent moments were often in the wake of a criminal attempting to bribe him.
At the age of twenty-seven, the vociferous young sergeant was given a special task by his commanders – “orders from the council” – to deal with a matter of civil unrest. The location was small and out of the way, and it seemed strange to Tarlun that this secure location should be considered the site for ‘civil unrest’. What was more, the exact nature of this group was never made known to him; it was considered to be top-secret information, restricted even from the guards themselves. Tarlun and his men attempted to investigate the matter by questioning the group (though their orders had been to simply arrest them on sight), but when they refused to disclose their purposes, one of the guards became angered and attempted an arrest as per their orders. The group resisted and a fight ensued in which the angered guard was killed, as were the group targeted for arrest.
Tarlun soon fell into a state of moral quandary. He was known to be reserved, surly, and what was more, he began to drink heavily – swigging his hip-flask had long been known to be a foible of his as it stood, but now his temper was permanently frayed. He discovered from fellow senior sergeants and even captains that these strange sorts of orders tended to come through once a guard had proven his worth, and their mystery was commonplace. After a year of difficult contemplation, he quit the guard.
Still with a desire to protect and defend the innocent but far too jaded after his experiences to look towards the upper echelons of knightly prestige, Tarlun instead joined the Underwatch.; those entrusted with patrolling the sewers and keeping the roaming hoards of creatures, fey and fiends under control and prevent them reaching the surface or causing any damage to Sanctuary’s infrastructure. There, he met the jovial and battle-ready Altus Ultio and the wry poet-warrior Solomon Joy, two Underwatchers who had come to work there by their own circumstances. He also met a part-dwarf named Harald, who like Altus and Solomon, were the only ones who could stand to be around the bitter and surly Tarlun. Whilst he was never very good at keeping friends, his experience and training earned him a good deal of respect.
However, his past was to return to haunt him. Years into his stint, Harald confided in him that his son had been involved in some sort of secret demonstration, and had been killed by the Sanctuary guard. Knowing Tarlun had been a member of the guard, he asked if Tarlun had ever heard anything about it. Tarlun lied and told Harald he that he didn’t, but as the weeks went by, he could withhold the truth no longer. He told Harald everything, and that whilst he had not been the man who killed Harald’s son (as per Harald’s description), he had been one of those there when the violence broke out, and he had slain others. Harald was at first, horrified, and for weeks Tarlun avoided him, but then in a turn of events which caught Tarlun completely off-guard, Harald sought him out and forgave him for his participation. A fortnight later, Harald went missing – he did not turn up to his post, and was not at home when Tarlun came looking for him. He never reappeared.
Serving his post for several more years, Tarlun eventually became Warden of the Underwatch, and has retained that position for the past five years. His routine is now staple – he wakes early, fills his hip-flask at the tavern, starts his shift hours earlier, spends far longer than he ought to on watch, then retires to the tavern if his work concludes before dawn. He drinks alone, only interacting with others to play Carpath.
This habitual lifestyle is seldom interrupted – occasionally, by Harald’s granddaughter Mayra breaking into the sewers in one of her curious expeditions, requiring Tarlun to escort her back to Ariadne, Harald’s wife and Mayra’s grandmother. Given that this has happened quite a few times now (sometimes accidentally on Mayra’s part whilst trying to reach elsewhere), Tarlun has grown impatient with her wild, frenetic explanations for these intrusions and bored with reprimanding her. That said, his frustration with Ariadne’s apathy for the matter never fails to make his blood boil. The only other change was when he found a strange sigil and book in the sewers – the Book of Clorthur, or to be more precise, the first half of it, the Lost Testament. He went to return the book to the temple district, but took the time to read some of it first, and became privately fascinated by the lore contained within, holding onto the book for several days prior. However, upon taking it to the temple, he met with the priestess Rosalind of Skyre, who insisted he keep the first half and gifted him with the second – the Found Testament.
Since then, he attends meetings with Rosalind to learn more about Clorthur, and has even encouraged Altus and Solomon to join him. All three have converted to Clorthur’s following, with Tarlun’s sheer devotion burgeoning on fanaticism.