Jan was born into the Saraca Tribe in Sacae. His father was a blacksmith and his mother a diviner. At the time, the Saraca Tribe was rather isolated, and Jan wanted to see the world. With his parents’ blessings, he moved to the Bernese Dukedom of Dale when he was fifteen. The stipend he left with was enough to buy him a house and shop, where he followed in his father’s footsteps and became a great blacksmith.
In 955, Jan’s village was attacked by mountain bandits and he was forced to fight, as the guards were outnumbered and on the verge of being overwhelmed. He had practiced with weapons before in case of an emergency such as this, and found he was best with an axe. Being a Bernese blacksmith, he had become very strong and somewhat resilient, but had no experience with magic and therefore never developed a resistance to it. With his help, along with that of other villagers (who had all been supplied by Jan), the guards managed to drive the bandits away with relatively few casualties and no damage to any of the homes. Jan’s actions in both fighting the bandits and supplying the soldiers and villagers earned him respect and renown all throughout Bern. The following year, he was offered a very large sum to sell his business to a Count who thought he could easily profit from the armory, as every soldier in Dale shopped there, but Jan declined, stating he wanted to operate the shop his way. The Count, enraged, sent his personal army into the village to burn it down and drive the blacksmith into exile. Jan fled to the south, and he was pursued all the way to Kingsborough. The King’s men protected him and allowed him to live in peace with the funds he had earned (which they retrieved from the Count, who had stolen them). Jan was grateful to the soldiers, but began to loathe the nobility. That hatred only deepened as he heard of more and more corruption when the couriers delivered their weekly reports. Naturally, in 959, when Brendan Reed approached him about forming a small group of vigilantes that would target and eliminate corrupt noblemen, he was more than willing to accept.
And so, Jan became the first member of the Black Fang other than the Commander and his wife and became its resident blacksmith and supplier. Throughout the rest of the year, he used what connections he still had from the old days to find out who might have been willing to join. First, he was told about Lord Pascal, Palatine of Kingsborough, who had in secret been eliminating bandits on his spare time. The blacksmith consulted Brendan, who agreed to hunt for bandits in an attempt to rendezvous with the Palatine and convince him to join them. After a week of roaming, they eventually came across him. Pascal initially was reluctant about joining the group, but befriended the trio, stayed in touch and helped fund them. At the time, the group was far too small to even consider taking on noblemen and their armies, so they focused on ridding the lands of bandits. Eventually they came across a Sacaen warrior of the Djute tribe who, like Jan, had traveled to Bern to expand his knowledge of the world. Unlike Pascal, the Sacaen, named Uhai, immediately joined the Black Fang. His skills as a mounted archer proved invaluable to the group, and his ideals mirrored Brendan’s.
A few months later, Brendan’s three adopted children, Jerme, Legault and Aesha, felt ready to fight. Brendan reluctantly allowed them to join the band, but was adamant about keeping his biological children, Linus and Lloyd, out of it, for despite their skill the Commander was afraid he would lose them. They encountered Pascal shortly after, who upon seeing that the group was serious and committed to their cause, decided to take up the Commander’s offer and joined the group. Uhai, realizing the group was becoming too large for the identities of its members to remain a secret, suggested they select appellations to be referred to in public. Brendan agreed and assigned new names to his soldiers. The King’s spies, however, found them before they established these names and reported them to their liege, who in turn exiled them from Kingsborough and stripped Pascal of his title. Out of ‘mercy’, he allowed him to retain his position as Count of Landskron. Pascal then housed the Black Fang in his palace, and supplied them while he could, but some of his fellow nobles, scared for their lives as they knew they regularly abused their power, swayed the King to label the group as a terrorist organization, driving them into hiding.
In 965, realizing the Fang’s coffers would empty before long, Brendan decided that the Black Fang should become a full-fledged mercenary band rather than vigilantes who operated in the shadows. Soon after the announcement was made, a sorcerer named Nergal contracted them to eliminate one of his enemies. Brendan accepted, but when they reached the village where their target, Juge, lived, the sorcerer ordered the mercenaries to burn down the whole village and leave no survivors. No-one in the group acquiesced, so Nergal took matters into his own hands and unleashed an army of morphs upon the village, slaughtering everyone. In an attempt to stop the violence, Laurel attacked the sorcerer, who was not remotely injured, and was killed when he retaliated. The only villagers who survived was the target’s daughter Nino, who was but an infant, and Jaffar, a homeless boy who was not too different from Legault when Brendan first found him. Nergal took the boy discreetly so Brendan and his soldiers would not notice, but Nino was conspicuously taken by Sonia, Nergal’s assistant, who began to raise her as a daughter. Jan noticed the girl had dropped a locket before Sonia warped away, so he took it, promising himself that he would one day return it to her.
Over the next fifteen years, the Black Fang would grow into a major organization, and was eventually corrupted by Nergal and Sonia when they sought to use them to further the sorcerer’s own aims – the very aims Juge sought to prevent. In 979, when Brendan married Sonia, Jan was reintroduced to Nino, who naturally did not remember him or anything else before she was taken from her family. Sonia, however, remembered Jan well and ordered him to keep silent. At first, Jan acquiesced, fearing for his life as Sonia was exponentially more powerful than he had ever been, but eventually he could contain himself no longer and in early 981 told Nino the truth of her past and gave her the locket she dropped as an infant. With the assistance of Legault, Jan fled to Pherae where he settled down. He lived there in peace until he was killed in a massacre shortly before the start of the next age.
Stats in “The Mission”:
Axe – C