Way of the Wicked
Mercenary and Head of the Eighth Knot
Cedrick Malthus has been bound for hell almost all his life. A murderer, a manipulator, a liar, a scoundrel and a braggart – these are amongst the best things that can be said about this villain. Were it not for the Ninth Knot and their ilk, Cedrick could claim to be one of the wickedest men to afflict poor Talingarde.
Cedrick hailed from Ghastenhall and garnered his criminal expertise from the crime families of the city without loyalty. He had worked extensively for the Breuder clan before he finally went freelance. The parting was not amicable. Boss Nicholas “Nikki” Breuder would gladly pay a pretty penny even to this day for Cedrick’s head.
The source of this enmity is uncertain. Rumors circulate that Cedrick attacked Nikki’s eldest daughter or wife, but the truth is simpler and less personal. Cedrick thought he could make more money going freelance. Nicholas Breuder prizes loyalty above all else and believes that Cedrick is loyal to no one. The boss would like this loose end tied up.
Thus Cedrick, hunted by both lawmen and law-breakers, left Ghastenhall and relocated to Matharyn. Cedrick hated the lawful city almost immediately and soon decided it was time to leave Talingarde altogether. However, just before he was to depart, fate intervened. At a gathering of the Matharyn’s elite Forty Four, he happened to meet a man who would change his life. Cedrick Malthus met Cardinal Samuel Havelyn. The two villains became associates, each eager to exploit the other.
Cardinal Havelyn was clever enough to recognize in the young, dashing, deadly bravo someone who could be of great use to him. Though Cardinal Havelyn was, in those days, far from formulating his final plot of destruction and vengeance against Talingarde, he was already a pillar of corruption in the Mitran Church.
The Cardinal hired this wandering mercenary bravo to get rid of troublesome enemies and acquire information by less than legal means. Cedrick, for his part, relished these wicked acts and performed them admirably. The rogue became the preferred catspaw of the Cardinal during his days of respectability.
When the Mitran Inquisition finally caught up with Cardinal Havelyn, Cedrick was clever enough to realize that the gig was up. He used one of his false identities to board a merchantman bound for the mainland. Cedrick left Talingarde and assumed he would never return. He shed his isle of birth no tears. He was more than ready to move on.
For years, Cedrick practiced his preferred trade in the cities of the mainland. His specialty was assassination by dueling. He would insult a nobleman and then kill him with a poisoned rapier in a seemingly honorable duel.
He was a master of disguise, executing his contract and then moving on. Wherever he went, he always played the role of a travelling noble, often claiming to be from Talingarde. Of course, this was all a ruse. Cedrick was a lowborn ruffian from the streets of Ghastenhall. Not a drop of noble blood courses through his veins.
He was an outsider, but a skilled one, and quickly garned for himself a reputation amongst countless criminal gangs, pirate clans and mafia families. He was convinced more than ever that Talingarde was solidly in his past. However, that changed one day when a mysterious woman dressed all in white visited his private apartments. Tiadora had found Cedrick Malthus.
When Thorn returned from the pyre a lich, Cedrick wasn’t the first person the cardinal contacted, but he was always a part of Thorn’s plan for vengeance. Thorn recruited the rogue into his service once more. Cedrick’s first mission was to arm the bugbears in the north. It was because of Cedrick that the Frosthamar captained by Kargeld Odenkirk arrived at the manor house loaded with armaments.
His second mission was to be far grander in scale. Cedrick Malthus was to hire a mercenary army. It could not be just any small band of raiders. Cardinal Thorn wanted a mercenary force of unprecedented size and viciousness. Cedrick was only too eager to see this mission done. The only thing that appealed to him more than never setting foot on the isle of Talingarde again, was returning there at the fore of a vast gang of killers who would seize control of the land of his birth.
The bravo moved amongst the mercenary commanders, gang leaders, pirate captains and bandit chieftains of the mainland. He called a council of warlords. From this rabble, Cedrick has assembled an army twenty thousand strong. It is made up of the scum of countless cities and kingdoms. The army he has gathered owes loyalty to no one except the coin. They are as ruthless and vile a collection of thugs, thieves and cutthroats as the world has ever seen assembled in one great throng.
The charming Cedrick has completed both of the Cardinal’s tasks admirably and now sits on a foreign shore wondering why Thorn has not contacted him and delivered his final payment for the mercenaries. He is eager to complete his mission. The army is his gift to Talingarde and he cannot wait to see it delivered.