The Hero of Bellasee...or Traitor of Bellasee, depends on who you ask.
Race: Halfling (Stout)
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Weight: 41 lbs.
Hair: Light Brown
STR: 15, DEX: 15, CON: 15, INT: 10, WIS: 12, CHA: 8, AC: 18, HP: 27
Throughout the Olonian Empire, the small town of Bellasee was well-known as a gateway city. Most had visited it, shipped goods through it, or passed through it on their way to their destinations. This made its residents some of the most culturally knowledgeable in all the world, as tales of glory and legend were often companions that followed travelers through on their journeys. Such tales and travelers inevitably found their way to the town’s most popular tavern, Half Pint’s, and the Cupshigh family, who had owned and operated the pub for generations. Townsfolk and strangers alike found a warmth there, a welcoming spirit that invited and refreshed any who entered. Travelling companies of entertainers would make a point to include Half Pint’s in their travels, as playing there meant greater exposure and the chance to garner fame in the Empire. Merchants bartered to have their shops close to the tavern, knowing that many who entered the city would inevitably find their way near. It was into this bustling setting of story and song that Markas Cupshigh was born.
From a young age, Markas grew to understand the value of neutrality in his family’s business, listening intently to the tales of patrons and learning about the world without ever needing to risk choosing a side. By being political and pragmatic, he realized, he could reach far greater numbers of people than he otherwise would. As he grew, he became a larger presence at Half Pint’s, bussing tables and befriending regulars as he continued to find a happy lot in life amongst the scent of ale and rum. His mother, Alunys, would tend the bar and work the crowd, becoming the face of the tavern in the process. Her smile was warm like a fireplace, and her talent for listening made her beloved among those with a problem to solve or a story to tell. She possessed a sharp wit, and whenever there was a roar of laughter from the bar, she was usually the one delivering the punchline. His father, Quoben, was happy to run a more reserved role. Managing the finances and logistics of owning the Bellasee’s most popular establishment was a source of pride for him, and while he’d often make rounds throughout the night to greet the regulars, he most often enjoyed watching from afar as his family carried on the Cupshigh legacy.
Bellasee’s reputation grew, and with it came greater attention from the Empire. Before long, they began to see the benefit of owning a major gateway to the East, and started to explore colonizing the town. An all-out assault on such a town would be foolish, they decided, as the townspeople would either die defending their homes or flee the town entirely. So, a more diplomatic plan was made: choose an ambassador from the citizens, and convince them to peacefully lead their people into the welcoming arms of the Empire. The search for such an ambassador inevitably led them to Half Pint’s, where the Olonian diplomats immediately noticed the Alunys. The perfect one to lead their peaceful colonization, they tried at length to convince her to join their cause, only to continuously be turned away. She felt she could do so much more for her people where she was, and the prestige of being an ambassador meant little to her. When their attempts to sway Alunys failed, they moved on to her son. Now 28, Markas eagerly jumped at the opportunity to be such a large force for change in his hometown, and he saw joining the Empire as Bellasee’s opportunity to enjoy prosperity and stability far beyond what they had ever known.
Unfortunately, some residents saw the colonization quite differently. It was an attack on their freedom, they claimed, an attempt to wash away their culture and replace it with something more Olonian. While Markas pleaded with his neighbors to hear reason, a small sect became radicalized and violent, attacking Olonian soldiers in a guerilla warfare that was initially very effective. For a brief moment, it seemed as though taking Bellasee would be more trouble than it was worth, but the Empire’s patience was short, and Markas’ role in the colonization quickly turned from ambassador to soldier. He underwent rigorous training with some of the Empire’s best instructors, and began the unenviable task of leading troops against the people he’d spent his entire life with. The battles wore on him, washing away some of the friendliness he’d inherited from his mother and replacing it with a frustrated disbelief. “How could they not see the benefit of Olonian rule?”, he repeatedly thought. For six months, he fought neighbors and friends in the town and surrounding lands he’d called home all his life. Eventually, the campaign was successful and Bellasee found peace again, but Markas was a divided figure amongst its people. Some viewed him as a champion, the voice of reason in the chaos of war and a bringer of prosperity. Others still held resentment and sympathized with the rebellion, with hushed murmurs calling him a traitor and heartless.
The war had a greater toll for Markas than a damaged reputation, however. Upon returning home, he’d found that Quoben had grown fatally ill, and he spent the next few months watching his strong, stoic father turn hollow and sickly, eventually passing just weeks before Markas’ 30th birthday. Shortly thereafter, Alunys, the most influential person in his life, mysteriously vanished. More hushed rumors surfaced about the Cupshigh family, with slander of murder and infidelity being spread about the town. Hearing these stories about the woman he’d known all his life as warm and friendly did nothing to ease the tension he felt towards his neighbors, and it made his decision to leave and find Alunys that much easier. He left Half Pint’s in the care of his extended family, who still operate the tavern to this day, and left with a single lead on his mother’s whereabouts.
“I caught a glimpse of her joining a caravan out of town overnight,” one of the regulars told him, “Before they left, I overheard a bit of conversation that may lead you in their direction. Head southeast into Malora’s Rest. There, you will find a city called Bradena, and hopefully, Alunys.”