Rise of Nations
Starling (Bastien Mel'seurat)
He Drowns, And No One Throws Out The Line
The party first made Starling’s acquaintance when they were looking into the mysterious rash of deaths plaguing the pregnant women and newborn infants of Pilgrim’s Shore. His unearthly beauty and fey countenance made him the target of the townspeople’s antipathy, and with good reason. Though he looks quite young (somewhere between twelve and fourteen), both his eyes and his manner speak of someone much older, an unsettling combination further exacerbated by his prickly and solitary attitude. Evasive under questioning, Starling did little to ease the party’s suspicions but they eventually accepted his word that an evil cult, not he, was involved in the killings.
Later, the party learned that he was the lost scion of House Mel’seurat, an ancient family of spirit binders ensconced in Kaer Maga. When his family was killed and their estate torched by an inquisitor of Asmodeus, the rest of the House thought he had died as well, until they found otherwise a few years later during a retaliatory strike. Taken for his unique ability as a heart-seer, Starling passed through many hands, from various criminal organizations to unsavory cults, all eager to exploit him for their own nefarious purposes. He eventually managed to escape when his latest captors were slain by their vengeful employer in a double-cross gone bad. Starling fled east across the River Kingdoms by stowing away on barges traveling up the Sellen River— he didn’t where he was or where he was going but he didn’t want to be re-captured. Something within told him to stop when he got to Pilgrim’s Shore, and used to following his intuition, he stayed. For a few months, he remained beneath most everyone’s notice, until goodwife Niska decided to use him as a scapegoat for the activities of Gyronna’s cult. He barely survived being stoned by an angry mob incited by the hag in disguise.
About six years ago, Harker and two others were dispatched by House Mel’seurat to find Bastien and bring him home. Though the trail was long cold, the three doggedly tracked Bastien across the continent, insinuating themselves into the seedy underbelly of society for any hint as to where the boy had gone. Unfortunately, the search was protracted and perilous; by the time Harker finally managed to locate Bastien, his two companions had been slain. He was forced to enlist the help of Lord Arnefax and his Black Eagles to assault the Razmiran’s forest fortress where Bastien was held. The raid turned into a chaotic mess, and he again lost Bastien when a couple mercs in Arnefax’s employ snatched the boy and took him to Daggermark. Though Arnefax’s vengeance was quick and merciless, Bastien disappeared again. It took Harker several months to trail the boy to Pilgrim’s Shore, where he heard of the ruckus Starling had caused.
By then, Starling had fallen under a hex cast by the spiteful hag when she discovered her attempt to kill him had failed. The party took him to Elga in hopes that she knew how to break the curse; she didn’t, but she did know a ritual to force the curse to manifest in physical form for the party to defeat. In return for helping him, Starling agreed to try to awaken the dryad’s spirit in Elga once the party discovered he could see and interact with spirits. He accomplished this successfully in early 2713 and soon afterwards, left with Harker to reunite with his family in Kaer Maga.