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Leonard Gorrister is an Apicartan paladin. He is the youngest of three children born to Hester Gorrister, preceded by his brother Silas and sister Rhonda.

Initially planning to become a monk, he grew disillusioned with the Temple after witnessing firsthand the depths of their corruption. He became one of the early followers of Dagda Vormund. After the disbanding of the Cult of Vormund and the death of the prophet at the hands of Selca Ducani, Leonard traveled to Amarna to seek out the last of the paladins, intending to exact revenge on Selca.

He completed his training under Marcus Roland, attaining the rank of knight. After slaying Selca in a duel, he returned to his homeland, where he became involved in the Fifth Exekian War.

Appearance/Personality

Leonard is about six feet tall, with a slim, slight build. He has mousy blond hair and hazel eyes, and is considered "good-looking".

Leonard is an eager - some might say impatient - young man who hasn't had much luck in life. While he isn't a cynic, he tends to be skeptical and can easily grow doubtful and disenchanted with ideas and people. Always acutely aware of the flaws inherent in humanity, he underestimates himself ruthlessly, often unconsciously undermining his own efforts with his lack of confidence.

He is contemplative rather than reckless, and often hesitates before making a decision. He fears making a mistake, and when he does screw up, he'll try to sweep it under the rug. If he stops to think about it too long, the guilt and regret will leave him totally paralyzed.

At the core of his principles is a deep empathy which is both a boon and a curse. He can't stand to see people being humiliated or treated badly, and he will go out of his way to preserve the dignity of others as well as his own. Because of this, he comes across as a very serious person who perhaps cares too much about what others think. It is very telling that he doesn't like to be seen crying in public and will instinctively want to hide from others' sight.

His strict, legalistic approach to religion has caused him to struggle with his faith. Deep down he has a fighting spirit and a strong sense of right and wrong, which would be very well-suited to being a knight. However, he lives in a time after the age of chivalry, when such personas are looked down on with disdain and/or mocked as outdated.

Biography

Leonard was born in Bodai the year 143, during the reign of King Letholdus the Third. He was the third child of Milo and Hester Gorrister, being preceded by his brother Silas and sister Rhonda. His father abandoned them when Leonard was very young. The family then moved onto a leased farm a couple miles south of the city. While the children worked in the fields for the landowner, Hester served as a local midwife and healer.

As a child, Leonard attended school along with his siblings for part of the year, and did noticeably better than Silas or Rhonda. Shy and bookish, he read whenever he could, devouring novels as well as history tomes, which he borrowed from a traveling library. He shared a bond with his brother Silas, but as Silas was several years older they gradually drifted apart. His relationship with his sister Rhonda was far more strained due to their clashing personalities - Rhonda was outspoken and blunt, while Leonard was introverted and sensitive. Their philosophies and beliefs were equally polarizing. Rhonda grew to be a staunch atheist, while Leonard was a closeted theist.

As Leonard grew up, his beliefs and desires became increasingly nebulous and uncertain. Despite his convictions, he was uncomfortable with the idea of expressing his true feelings. He reluctantly decided to become a monk, as it seemed the only option for him to continue his scholarly pursuits. His mother and brother were surprised by his decision but were otherwise indifferent. Rhonda however began to look down on her brother for his pursuit of a vocation, and unresolved friction developed between the two.

Upon turning eighteen, Leonard enrolled in seminary school as a novice. Rather than strengthening his resolve, he rapidly lost faith in the institution, and within a year he had begun to seriously consider dropping out. The only thing keeping him from leaving was his lack of an alternative; he had no clue what he wanted to do with his life.

He developed a fascination with the master sculptor Mayer Amano, who created sculptures and monuments for the Temple's cathedrals within a makeshift studio on the school grounds. Mayer befriended Leonard and suggested he pursue a career in the arts, but Leonard deemed this a hopeless endeavor, as he lacked talent.

The Cult of Vormund

Dagda Vormund arrived in Bodai in early fall of 163. Leonard first encountered the prophet while he was preaching in the town square. Intrigued, he stopped to listen. Soon he began secretly attending Vormund's sermons and collecting the various reading materials his followers handed out, including a copy of Vormund's new Mandorlin translation.

One day, Leonard was called to the school minister's office. The minister revealed his copy of the Mandorlin had been discovered in his quarters. However, the Guardian Balthasar Krezt had become involved in the case and took over in place of the minister. Rather than punishing Leonard, Balthasar offered him a deal. In exchange for spying on Vormund (and deducing whether or not he was legitimate or a charlatan), Balthasar would not only drop all charges against Leonard, he would reward him with anything he desired. Leonard agreed to the deal, becoming a Temple Inquisitor.

The next day, Leonard arrived at the town square to hear Vormund preach. Rather than giving a sermon, Vormund abruptly left without explanation. Confused, Leonard approached two of the prophet's followers, Clara Richter and Drusus Rolfe, wanting to know what was going on. They explained that he had gone to assist one of his followers at the hospital. Shortly after, the city police arrived and declared Vormund and his followers had been banished from Bodai. Leonard witnessed the guards disregarding the doctor's warnings and forcibly removing Melissa Zosimus, who was in labor, along with the rest of Vormund's disciples. Leonard sympathized with the cult's plight and offered to take them to Hester.

They were unable to reach Hester in time, and Leonard was forced to facilitate the birth of Melissa's daughter Laura on the side of the road. They then rushed both mother and child to Hester, but Melissa hemorrhaged and died later that night. Melissa's husband, Gavin, blamed Leonard for her death.

Leonard was infuriated by the tragedy. Disregarding his family's protests, he set out with Vormund and his followers for Arza Kell, their sanctuary and main base of operations. Along the way, he diverted suspicion from the cult by making conversation; the locals were more inclined to believe him, with his familiar accent and affectations, than the odd bunch of foreigners the cult consisted of.

The Caverns of Arza Kell

In conversation with Vormund, Leonard revealed his frustrations with the people around him, his feelings of being alone in his views, his confusion and uncertainty of who and what to believe, and his strained relationship with the concept of religion itself. Vormund gave Leonard new insights in return and cited social anxiety as the root of his unhappiness, not religion. Leonard refused to return to his old life, determined to learn as much as he could about Vormund in order to report back to Balthasar.

Leonard became friends with Drusus, Sophie, and Clara. Through them, he learned more about the origins of the cult. In particular, he kept hearing about "the prince", or Kemet, a mysterious Exekian who had helped Vormund translate the Mandorlin. Determined to meet Kemet, he searched the caverns for him but was unable to locate any trace of the Exekian.

Sent on a supply trip with Gavin, Leonard attempted to reconcile with him. In the process, he saw a newspaper report detailing the grave illness of Gavin's mother. This prompted Gavin to travel to Tyr in order to be with his mother in her last days, leaving Laura in the care of Kemet.

Leonard finally met Kemet, who told him the story of his life and showed him the original copy of the Mandorlin. Leonard became more sympathetic toward him and to Vormund's cause. He promised not to reveal the location of the cult's hideout in order to protect Kemet and the manuscript from falling into the Temple's hands.

Trip to Hiberia

In the summer of 164, Leonard traveled with Vormund, Drusus, Sophie, and Ethan to the city of Hiberia, following instructions delivered to the prophet in a vision. There they found many of their friends had either been eliminated, driven underground, or had betrayed them. The horrors they witnessed began to wear on Leonard.

After Ethan was attacked and drugged by Cezar Montag and Jade Athanasi pleaded with them to leave, the group suffered from fear that they were being watched by the forces of the corrupt Guardian Neil Lars. Hoping to use his role as Inquisitor to help them, Leonard paid Neil Lars a visit, but was unable to convince the Guardian to stop harassing them.

Upon returning to the pawnshop, Leonard confessed to Sophie where he had been as well as his true purpose for being there. She showed him sympathy and agreed to keep his secret - on the grounds they could run away together. He refused, explaining that he had a responsibility toward the others and wanted to protect them from harm. She understood and didn't tell anyone the truth, but their budding romance was squashed.

Shortly before they were due to arrive in Tyr, Sophie was found dead under mysterious circumstances. Drusus was convinced Ethan had murdered her, claiming he had killed before. The revelation of Ethan's true identity and the fact that both Vormund and Drusus knew all along who he really was crushed Leonard's trust in them, and he decided to report them to the police. Before he left, Vormund prophesied Leonard's fate: that he would become a great knight, that he would never be able to turn away from his beloved country even as his homeland turned its back on him, that he would be betrayed by the love of his life, and while he would sire no sons, he would be a father to many.

Betrayal

Leonard managed to get to the Rhinehart police and led them back to the cult's camp. To his horror, the police opened fire on those who tried to escape, killing Kirk Callow as he was running away with Vincent in his arms, shooting Drusus, and beating the submissive Vormund. In exchange for his role in their arrest, Leonard was allowed to take Vincent and leave without conditions.

Leonard raced to Tyr, where he met with Gavin Zosimus. To his disappointment, Gavin revealed that while he had inherited his mother's fortune, the king had blocked him from becoming the new Lord of Tyr due to his connection to Vormund, giving the position to his cousin Lucan instead. Gavin spent a large portion of his inheritance in order to track down the others, learning that Ethan had been killed, Drusus was imprisoned, and Vormund was being tried by the Temple. Leonard and Gavin attended the heresy trial, where they learned the true identity of Selca Ducani, the Temple's Grand Inquisitor.

After Vormund was pronounced dead of a heart attack, Leonard followed Gavin back to Arza Kell. They found the caverns deserted, indicating that either the others had been taken captive or had fled. They decided it was best to remove the original manuscript of the Mandorlin, which was hidden in Kemet's quarters. However, they were followed to the caves by a disguised Selca, who forced them to hand over the manuscript and destroyed it. Leonard attacked Selca in an effort to protect Kemet and Clara, and was badly burned by witchfire.

Kemet tended to Leonard's wounds, and Clara returned Laura to Gavin. That night, Kemet advised Leonard, who had vowed to kill Selca, to seek out the last of the paladins.

Leonard returned to Balthasar, who congratulated him for accomplishing his task. As a reward, Leonard asked for his copy of the Mandorlin. Balthasar reluctantly complied, warning Leonard that he was now in possession of illegal contraband. With the help of Gavin, Leonard left the country, sailing to Norev.

Paladin Training

Arriving in the city of Amarna, Leonard sought out the paladins. He eventually encountered Watchman Dimiter Yen, a paladin-turned-priest who managed a chapel in the city. Dimiter directed him to his friend Marcus, a Zantine refugee who had spent ten years as a galley slave for killing a witch within the city walls.

Leonard went into the desert in search of Marcus, eventually finding him working among the settlers. He convinced Marcus to train him. The two made regular trips to the city to visit Dimiter, who also contributed to Leonard's training.

During their first real mission, Leonard was unprepared to face the enemy and was left traumatized and ill by the experience. Lapsing into delirium, he had a feverish vision in which Vormund's spirit appeared to him.

Leonard resumed his training as soon as he recovered. When the time came for Leonard to forge his sword, he was shocked to learn the process involved killing an Exekian in order to harvest their blood. He stopped the ritual before it could occur, saving the life of the Exekian female they had purchased from slavers. In a fit of anger, Marcus renounced Leonard.

Leonard accompanied the Exekian, Nykara, on a trek across the desert to find her lover Memnon, who had also been captured. They found and killed the slavers, freeing the slaves. In gratitude, Nykara freely gave Leonard some of her blood in a glass vial.

Leonard returned to Marcus with the blood, and the two were reconciled. They completed the ritual of forging, mixing the blood with steel and burning it away in the forge, leaving behind the "divine metal". As the blood was freely given, it possesses special properties, the nature of which Leonard has only scratched the surface.

Adventures in Amarna

Leonard, now officially a paladin, began his pursuit of Selca Ducani. After a year of searching, he heard news that the warlock had resurfaced in Amarna.

Returning to the city, he arrived in the middle of a catastrophe as Ardath Dastagir was sentenced to death for the murder of King Luther six years earlier. Selca was able to impersonate Ardath and took his place on the scaffold. It was obvious to everyone involved that Selca had faked his death. Leonard gained some respect for him as he risked his life to save another, but he had not forgotten his vow of revenge.

At the masquerade ball, Leonard was tasked with guarding the chamber in which Watchman Dimiter Yen was performing an exorcism. Selca used a secret passage to bypass Leonard, and he killed Dimiter as revenge for his having removed all Selca's magic powers. Guilt-stricken and enraged, Leonard disobeyed Marcus' orders to guard them as they astral-projected into the Arcane Realm and instead went after Selca on his own, determined to avenge Dimiter and Vormund.

He found Selca fighting Cyrus Spyridon, who had just killed the resurrected King Luther. Leonard stopped their fight, told Cyrus to take Philomena and run, then began dueling Selca. Though the warlock had lost all his powers, he was still a vicious swordsman and didn't fight fair. Finally, Selca was distracted by the arrival of Marena and Ardath, who intervened in the battle. Leonard was able to run Selca through with his sword, killing him.

Leonard learned from Marena and Ardath that Marcus had sacrificed himself to save them. They gave him the mystical dagger which Marcus had bequeathed him before his death, and bid him farewell.

True Knighthood

Leonard returned to his homeland, settling in the city of Kataru. It was there that he met and had a love affair with Mara Mallory, whom he promised to marry.

During the Fifth Exekian War, Leonard left her behind to provide aid to the Exekians. They did not trust him at first, but his friendship with Kemet provided him with a route into their ranks. He commanded a small human detachment, which consisted of mostly hired mercenaries along with a few devout Vormundists. While stationed at the fortress of Heliobas, he was reunited with Laura and met her brother Balian, who joined his forces.

After the war, he was declared an enemy of the state and banished from Apicarta. Unable to return to Mara, his attempts to communicate with her were ignored, and when he managed to sneak into the city in a desperate effort to reach her, she refused to see him. A despondent Leonard once again fled his homeland, this time accompanied by his apprentice Balian.

Changeling Crisis

Years later, he would return to Apicarta under a new identity, that of Sir Renard, a knight who never removed his helmet. He became the bodyguard of John Stirling, helping him and Princess Kai escape during the chaos that ensued after Richard's death. They fled to Kataru, where Leonard finally came into contact with his old flame Mara. Before they could rekindle their relationship, Mara betrayed them to Logan Brynner.

The group became separated after they were captured by selkie pirates, only reuniting after they washed ashore in Exekia. Discovering that Eleanor, Tobias' mother, had been captured by the Clan while trying to find Kemet, they rushed to rescue her, unaware that she had become dangerously unhinged...

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