Dragonriders of Masai
Jayme Ardlem Rous
Maybe once Rous was an imposing figure; certain standing at 6’4" gave him an advantage in stance. Now, brought back from the brink of death and depression, he weighs some 150 pounds, recovering what muscle he could once flaunt over others.
His face is a painting of deep scars, now freshly pink instead of sickly green, crossing over the bridge of his nose, his jaw, and forehead (in addition to the more famous one below his right eye). The dark circles below his eyes are beginning to fade, but recently so. His hair is a shock of whites from the roots to nearly the tips, where it fades to a lighter shade of the same brown that it used to be.
His chest is covered in a similar amount of scars and marks, though he’s silent about where they came from. These days he prefers to leave the armor behind, wearing comfortable clothes. Due to his notoriety in the Southern Continent, he’s been gifted a Mask of Anonymous Mein by Hartford, shifting looks into a rather generic blank slate of what he used to be.
Our party first met Rous when he was the Youngest Knight-Captain in the history of the Westwatch Military. He’d put several successful missions at his back, including one that lead to the death of a Colossi on the Northern Coast, though the exact details of his actions were often blown out of proportion. Of course, his quick rise was a slight sham. In one of the bigger cover-ups in Westwatch’s time, King Ephos had a illegitimate son. Jayme Ardlem Rous was not some orphan, raised by the Westwatch military, but watched over by the hands of the King himself.
When they arrived in the clear deathtrap that was Kara’Tuum, Rous was clearly overwhelmed, but did what he could to get his crew to survive. Then everything went to hell. A colossi collapsed the pyramid on top of him and his men, killing many of them instantly. His own survival was a miracle in itself, but he woke up hours later with his mask still attached, in an open pocket of rubble. He expected to struggle through it for hours, but the form of an Angel opened a path in the rubble to him, claiming to have been sent by the his father’s wishes.
“Your failure disappoints me. Salvage what you can. -E”
So they flew (and teleported) towards the ship, slinking into the ship as a storm blew overhead. Yet doubt ached in Rous’ gut. Had Ephos suspected that their destination would be as treacherous as it was? Why had he sent just a pack of starting mercenaries and a handful of higher guard? Instead of taking the two proper, healthy eggs, Rous took the third: a broken and fossilized dragon egg, certain to bring harm to no-one, but likely to anger the King.
Making his messy escape, they made haste to Westwatch and the King. He remembers little of the fight that came when he returned, just that he was sent off for his failure, to hide his face from the common folk. “Pray that you have a home to come back to once I try to salvage this. Worthless boy.”
Things went quickly downhill from there. Stricken by the grief of failure, by his betrayal to his charges, he searched for a shrine to the old gods. He found one in Selmont after a rough night in the local dive-bar, entering the mausoleum entrance and calling the forgotten temple his new home, discarding his armor, and attempting to write away his sins.
His father contacted him a little over a week later, summoning him back home at once— there were very important things to discuss. He left most of his gear, expecting to be back soon.
Back within Ephos’ grasp, he was told that he would be needed soon. His previous failure had been given a chance at a new life. It would take time for the plan to come to fruition, but mark his words, it would be soon. He would be charged with handling the outcome, making sure that it was strong enough, and tame enough to follow orders.
He wasn’t stupid, but he was baffled. How on earth did they intend to bring the dead dragon back, from a fossil no less? Ephos must have sensed his curiosity, for he was told never to leave the castle limits.
Image © YamaO