Donovan
The mark of courage is in a man's willingness to always pick himself up one more time than he's failed.
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Born to nobles in Corroughmara, Donovan experienced gut-wrenching loss at the tender age of nine, bearing witness to the brutal slaying of his parents and brother; it was a massacre that, inexplicably, only he survived. Unbeknownst to him, the gods had shown him favor that day, though every day the visions of their deaths haunted him, along with the final words he ever heard from his mother - You will change the world, Donovan, if you stay the course. The wounds of loss, and the prospects of vengeance, however, proved too tantalizing to keep him on the desired path.

Young Donovan foreswore his training at the abbey at age 12 in favor of darker intent: to avenge the loss of his family. A mercenary guild in the furthest reaches of the land he was to govern took him in willingly, knowing the lad would find his answers and do them proud in due time. Four years were spent doing odd, menial jobs until Donovan finally caught his break and came across the one responsible for the murders so long before. An additional eighteen months elapsed while the budding assassin with deadly precision stalked his prey, making sure he knew absolutely everything about the man before he struck. At age 18, he'd avenged his family in a single silent slaying.

Despite the sweet taste of revenge, Donovan now found himself lacking purpose, and as a result became a withdrawn, transient-type being. Deep inside he knew the priesthood would never welcome him back for his transgression, but there was nothing else to his life. Thus he wandered, lost years spent aimlessly traveling from place to place, never growing close, never getting attached out of fear it would all be ripped from him as his life was already once before. His journey carried him to a world not unlike the one he presently resides in, with the people vaguely similar to those you'd expect in Hollow nowadays. One in particular, a human-elf hybrid, managed to hammer through the hardened fa├žade Donovan had erected about himself, and the man allowed himself to attach at long last. A brief tryst occurred between the two, though he was too jaded to allow it to continue. Donovan left the woman and her world, thinking it best as he knew himself unable to be whole for her.

Again the years pressed on, and his wanderings took him to Hollow, where a chance encounter with that same hybrid woman from worlds past convinced him to stay. Donovan struggled with his way, and his thoughts, seeking desperately to recapture that which he forsook in past circumstances. But alas, it was not to be, for the one he wanted had already taken another. Donovan himself tried to fill that void with another woman - one he married and conceived with - but that too was not to be as his spouse discarded him while he was away on important matters, a half-hearted note all he was left with to pick up the pieces. Threat after threat came and went, each toying with Donovan's paranoia of loss and grief. His family's murder haunted him for years before revenge was exacted, but fear of losing those he loved remained and was brought to fruition through the ripping of his unborn son from his mother's womb, followed by the murder the half-elf he'd loved - both at hands he was powerless to halt. Lost to everything, he again turned to revenge, though a curious twist of fate shoved him onto the path he was meant to walk all along.

Donovan had requested a blade in honor of his son, only to have it reforged into something grander at the death of his unattainable love, and elected to cool it within the tree of Xalious, god of the magicks. During this action, desire for vengeance was purged of the man along with all other darker intentions, replaced by hope and desire to preserve the land's well being. No longer the same man who stumbled into Hollow tormented and desperate, adversity made him stronger and taught him things about himself he never knew. Championing the causes of freedom and peace like Alexander and Lionel before him, Donovan's sole aim became preserving the delicate balance of the land he'd come to call home.

Doing such proved a difficult task, though Donovan faced the one responsible for both deaths in time, defeating the one who killed his son with Lionel's aid, and barely surviving the far more powerful slayer of his love. More power was bestowed upon the newly-turned-paladin in the form of Azureheart, sister brand to the fabled Runeblade of Alexander Asan'ti, in reward for freeing the Knight of Hope from his prison below Trist'Oth. Donovan had spearheaded the great resistance against those seeking the Blade of Tiaren, the release of which would have irreparably unleashed Hell upon Hollow once more, but his defining moment was not in defeating that same immortal who had nearly claimed his life months before - an act which gifted him with the great responsibility of high-mortality - but in the aftermath that followed. So many hailed him as hero, an equal number - so it seemed - viewing him as villain, but it was the actions and attitude of one which captivated his attention.

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Cailyn Hawthorne, herself a young paladin, entered Donovan's life and immediately changed it for the better. No longer did he have the troubled Lionel to rely on solely, nor his great confidants Roelstra and Kalid, but someone of his own mind in totality who could help him understand fully his place in the theater of the gods. When Donovan departed the land as a result of its scorn toward him and those he served, the lass followed him to Rynvale, and together love and a life blossomed. It was later understood by the Knight of Faith that while he had thought the half-elf from worlds lost held the key to his soul, it was her death that had prepared him for the woman who held it all along - Cailyn. Together they grew, a family started when his bride became with child and a vindication was bestowed upon him by the gods when two sons came into the world and overrode past grief over the loss of Damian, the child robbed from him before he ever had the chance to be a father.

Even then, in a time that was supposed to overflow with naught but joy, there was immense pain and sorrow. The Seal of Time afflicted his sons, penance for Cailyn's use of the damned relic. Their aging was brought to a ghastly acceleration, six months to the day, it seemed. Only when Donovan challenged Xalious, pleading with Him to spare the boys, was the curse undone. As tradeoff for the deed, however, the father forfeited the assignment of eternally walking the earth to fight evil, and he was stripped of the high-mortality he had so rightly earned in defeating Khasad and his cohorts.

Uncaring of recognition, appreciation, or glory, Donovan battled to restore peace to a world which he believed didn't know life without struggle. Ever cognizant of his own weakness, he relied on those he serves to see their will into reality through him, fighting for what is right despite the appearance that he didn't always win or didn't always take the logical step. It was the life he signed up for, one none who had not answered the call could truly fathom.

Despite mounting threat and widespread apathy he remained steadfast in his resolve to help protect the world he loved one more time, in his own way contributing to the cessation of hostilities between the dark rebels and those of light. While he did so, however, both eyes were turned squarely upon his home, his cherished wife and his beloved sons, knowing that they would soon have a husband, a father, and a hero return home for good. Amid the budding conflict his reticence to fight grew irrepressible, and he was handed a new task almost immediately after the latest threat had passed.

Though he wanders throughout the realm on matters of both business and leisure, Donovan can usually be seen traversing the streets of Rynvale, his adoptive home since shortly after the trade agreement conjoining the seaside city with the mainland. What once was a stewardship anointed to one of world prominence has become a daily task, allowing him the long-sought joy of being home as often as possible. Despite all he's accomplished on paths old and new, and the comforting knowledge that his family and clan legacies are both storied and intact, he cannot help but wonder still if he's done enough to prove the uncanny accuracy of his mother's foresight.

Photo credits: Male No4 by ariesZG on deviantArt.com, Taste This Passion by Jasp3r on deviantArt.com

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