Characters of Cimmeria: Björn Skizofren

Skizofren was a human with an unremarkable background, but extraordinary talent. His parents died of illness when he was apprenticed to a wizard. While a useful and intelligent scribe, he had little talent for magic. His chance came when Björn Ballath of Dalleer visited the wizard for a peculiar potion remedy. Skizofren gave a piece of advice that contradicted his master’s, but ended up being correct. Ballath took Skizofren into his personal circle of advisors. The young man quickly became Ballath’s favorite due to his uncanny foresight into decisions and their consequences.

When Björn Ballath died of old age he picked someone outside of his family to succeed him just as the first Björn had done. Ballath chose his experienced friend, Skizofren. This seemed a wise choice, but unfortunately the death of Ballath drove Skizofren to drink heavily. He took the title of Björn before drafting insanely foolish laws while drunk and he was always drunk. Ballath’s familial heirs attempted to correct Skizofren’s decisions, but the Björn seemed unnaturally skilled at political maneuvering. These disagreements escalated until the children of Ballath left Dalleer. They traveled downriver and Ballath’s eldest daughter, Luwia, founded Bradel Fields near the mouth of the Black River. Many of Dalleer’s citizens who feared Skizofren’s drunken rule followed Ballath’s children to Bradel Fields.

Björn Skizofren’s alcoholic binges inhibited his policy making, but he proved capable when it counted. The citizens of Dalleer attempted to rebel against his inept rule, but Skizofren identified key members of the revolt and befriended them during his drunken escapades. He learned the names of the other revolt leaders from his new friends and then had them arrested. Later, a reckless mage opened a dangerous interdimensional portal in Dalleer. Skizofren haphazardly led the city guard of Dalleer into the portal and found a way to close it from the inside. With inconsistent rulings but a friendly demeanor, Björn Skizofren was beginning to win the minds of his people.

Skizofren’s trust in his subjects was put to the test when Queen Luwia of Bradel Fields declared war. Her army marched against Skizofren to reclaim her birthright, the lordship of Dalleer. The Björn refused to engage Luwia’s forces. She raided the countryside for years, but couldn’t risk a siege. Dalleer endured and eventually a peace was arranged with a yearly tribute arranged for Dalleer to pay to Bradel Fields. After the peace was concluded, Skizofren hired a contingent of orc mercenaries and began training a real army.

Björn Skizofren wanted revenge for Queen Luwia’s attacks on Dalleer. While his army trained and prepared, he sent the orcs to raid Bradel Fields’ outlying settlements. Queen Luwia recognized the false flag attack and declared war on Dalleer. Luwia led her army against Dalleer once more, but this time Björn Skizofren was ready to respond. His troops ambushed Queen Luwia. Her army was routed and she was forced to surrender. Queen Luwia returned home in disgrace.

Skizofren’s next big challenge came when Kruk-Ma-Kali invaded. Skizofren engaged Kruk-Ma-Kali in peace negotiations with plenty of beer and wine to smooth the process. This was actually a delay tactic as the people of Dalleer evacuated. The hobgoblin king found the city emptied of people and treasure. He imprisoned Björn Skizofren, but the leader of Dalleer promptly escaped. Kruk-Ma-Kali burned the city and vowed revenge before continuing his campaign. The Björn organized the rebuilding of Dalleer and Kruk-Ma-Kali would die before he could return.

Björn Skizofren of Dalleer finally came to the end of his natural life. His devotion to Dionysus earned him special recognition from the deity. Dionysus visited his devotee and replaced the blood in his veins with wine. This granted Skizofren unusual magic powers, eternal life, and complete insanity. Still, Skizofren had enough sense to keep this gift a secret. In the tradition of Dalleer he named an unknown young man as his successor. This stranger was in fact, Skizofren, using his new magic to disguise his appearance. When he died, he replaced himself and continued to rule. Unfortunately, Dionysus’s gift would impede the Björn’s decision making ever after.

The depths of the Björn’s insanity were revealed to the people of Dalleer during Graz-Lokbar’s hobgoblin invasion. The hobgoblin queen brought her people to Dalleer and the Björn organized the city’s defense. He setup an ambush of the hobgoblin army, but then never gave the order to attack. Surrounding villages of Dalleer were raided and destroyed while the army commanders argued about how to circumvent their inept leader. Eventually they took the army into their own hands and vanquished the hobgoblin threat.

When the generals returned, they conferred with the other authorities in Dalleer. They agreed the new Björn couldn’t be allowed to make decisions. The position’s power was reduced to that of ceremony while the civil servants would run the city from the shadows. Secretly, these civil servants were evil shapeshifting snake people who would use the Björn as a scapegoat for any of their nefarious deeds.

After many years of rule the snake people were supplanted by Balin and his friends, Terry and Isdmir. Balin came to Dalleer to gain glory by slaying monsters, with a private goal of trading his fame for political power. Along with his companions he defeated lizardfolk, kobolds, and troglodytes in the Dalleer area. The trio used their heroic position to obtain luxuries, governmental positions, and to investigate their political enemies, the disguised snake people. In the end the trio of heroes discovered the snake people’s evil deeds, exposed them, and executed them. The end result was that Balin, Terry, and Isdmir became de facto dictators of Dalleer. The Björn remained pleasantly amused by various distractions through these decades.

Balin used his power in Dalleer to retake Fangaroot from the kobolds. Isdmir died in the fighting, but his sacrifice helped the city to be retaken. After more than four hundred years Fangaroot was in the hands of the Conclave races again. Balin quit Dalleer to assume leadership of Fangaroot. Using the old name for the city seemed inappropriate, so it was renamed in Balin’s honor as Balin’s Holt. Balin renamed the nearby river the Isdmir in honor of his friend’s sacrifice as well. Balin’s departure left Dalleer to the Björn and his councilors once again.

The councilors of the Björn ruled for many years after Balin left. Every few decades the Björn would name a “successor” and die so that he could assume the throne once more under a new identity, but always an insane man without ties to the world. The citizens continued with this irregular arrangement due to tradition and the unique political structure where power was obtained through manipulating the Björn.

The Björn remained insane with brief moments of lucidity until the Dahak incapacitated Zeus. At that moment, Dionysus swore off alcohol and his temperance extended to Björn Skizofren as well. His sanity returned for the 25 years that Dionysus remained sober. Skizofren began ruling from the shadows, while keeping up the appearance of insanity. He developed a friendship with Amalius Halkias and arranged a political marriage between himself and Cassandra of Bradel Fields. All looked well for Daller and Björn Skizofren.

Skizofren’s good fortune could not last forever. When Zeus was revived, Dionysus began drinking again. The Björn’s lucidity vanished and he became a lunatic once more. Cassandra left him and his friendship with Amalius withered away. Skizofren will likely remain the Björn of Dalleer, but it is unclear what that position will provide him without his mental faculties.

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