This week, Jacinth tells the story of one of the most controversial figures in all of Dereth’s history. Whether you believe him to be a man redeemed of the crimes he had once committed or an iredeemable madman, you can’t deny the impact that Martine has had on Dereth’s history:
[i]It’s far too easy to forget in this world of meaningless deaths and endless adventure that there are those who have been irrevocably changed by their journey to Dereth, and not for the better. Some who have traveled through the portals have been ill suited for life on this world. Many have stepped through the shimmering gateways and left their friends, loved ones, and entire lives back on Ispar. And, of course, there are the portal orphans, young children who strayed too close to an enticing sight and were forever separated from their homes and parents. There are countless stories of individuals like these who have been torn from everything they ever know forevermore throughout our history on Dereth, but easily the most famous, if not infamous, story belongs to the creature once known as Candeth Martine.
Martine was once an ordinary man who lived in the heart of Aluvia, extraordinary in no ways save for his curiosity and the love he held for his wife Melanay and daughter Arrita. Sadly, the former would cost him the latter, as a trip through portalspace left him cut off from his family. His despair at this loss seemed to go on for an eternity, but eventually, Candeth found a friend on his new home and in the process found a chance at a new life. It was Sir Mikael Alayne who saved the sullen Martine; Alayne was in the process of establishing a Society of Explorers, through which we might learn more about the lands we find ourselves upon as well as help those who arrive on these shores, and Martine’s innate sense of curiosity and adventure made him the perfect agent of that society.
One of his first major assignments as a member of the Society was to track a particular tribe of Mosswarts and investigate their activities. However, he was discovered by the Mosswarts and captured. Through a perilous journey among his captors and several skirmishes with a rival band of Banderlings, Martine pondered his fate. Little did he know the horrors that would await him; the Mosswarts were actually agents sent by a greater power, the Virindi, and the mysterious portal-born beings had terrible plans for their prisoner. Within one of their strongholds, the Virindi, including the one we would come to know as Aerbax, experimented on Martine, removing parts of his body and replacing them with implants of alien design and origin. They even went so far as to merge his very consciousness with one of their own, creating a bizarre human-Virindi hybrid. They then spent several weeks training the altered Martine in the use of his powers, and while their ultimate plans for him were somewhat vague, what is known is that Martine would serve as a sort of living weapon for the Virindi cell.
Of course, any weapon can easily be turned against its creators, and so was Martine. He rejected the control the Virindi tried to place him under and made slaves of his former masters and proceeded to seek vengeance upon all who had contributed to his imprisonment. The Mosswart tribe who had captured him had already felt his wrath, and soon Sir Alayne, who had traded Martine to the Virindi in exchange for their help in defeating Bael’Zharon, and the Virindi as a whole would follow. All that was left was to exact revenge upon the root of all Martine’s woes, the man who he held responsible for his separation from his wife and child: Asheron.
It was around this time that Martine would find an unlikely ally in his quest for vengeance. While opening the way to the long-hidden island of Marae Lassel, he released from portalspace the one being who possibly loathed Asheron more than he, the Empyrean Gaerlan. Gaerlan had long blamed Asheron for the death of his brother Delacim and also saw the mage as a traitor to his race, siding with “vermin” while the Yalain still languished in portal stasis, and through Martine, he saw a means to remedy both problems. Using a form of mind-controlling sorcery, Gaerlan slowly twisted Martine’ s hatred toward Asheron towards his own ends. First he sent the hybrid to seal the portals leading to several of the nexus towns, preventing newcomers to Dereth from arriving at those points, and then he convinced him to carry out a plot to murder the young son of High Queen Elysa, Borelean. Finally, during a gathering of Derethians, Martine struck down Asheron himself, mortally wounding him.
With their hated foe seemingly out of the way forever, Gaerlan abandoned Martine in order to continue his plans to raise an endless, unstoppable army of elementals, leaving his former ally to ponder what he had done. His mind clear for the first time in ages, Martine realized the horrendous acts he had committed during his search for revenge, and the horror of this overwhelmed him, leaving him in a near-catatonic state. However, the pleadings of one young boy, Borelean, who Martine had once plotted to murder, woke him from his stupor and drove him to make right what he had made wrong. He healed the grievous injuries he had caused to Asheron and guided adventurers to the crystal cisterns that were essential to Gaerlan’s plans, leading to the structures’ destruction. Finally, Martine turned his attention to Gaerlan himself, sealed away within the seemingly impregnable depths of his floating citadel.
Atop the citadel, Martine located and confronted Gaerlan, who had taken to empower himself with the very essence of elemental fury, and the two became locked in a fierce battle. Though Martine’s Virindi-granted powers were great, Gaerlan’s own enhancements made him more than a match for his former ally. But in an act of either desperation or sacrifice, Martine turned his power from his Empyrean foe to the citadel beneath them. He channeled every last iota of strength in his twisted form into the structure, breaking the barrier that previously surrounded the citadel and driving it into the side of a mountain near Mount Esper. Gaerlan’s plans were thwarted, and the mage himself was now vulnerable to attach my both humans and Asheron himself, but the price paid to achieve this was a costly one. Candeth Martine, the former Explorer of the Society who was granted the powers of a god, was nowhere to be found. What final fate befell Martine is unknown, even to this day. Some say he was completely destroyed by the very power he unleashed against Gaerlan, while others claim that in the moments before that power was to consume him, he escaped through a portal created by his Empyrean foe that supposedly led back to Ispar. Whether either of these suppositions is the case, one cannot but hope that whatever powers govern this world and others take pity upon the former Candeth Martine, and that whether upon his arrival back on the familiar lands of Aluvia or in the hallowed halls of King Pwyll alongside the other honored dead, Martine may one day be reunited with the family that he loved so much.