Name: Caden Bennett
Species: Human (Deceased)
Age: 57, looks about 30
Appearance: Caden is a very average looking human. He is a white male with short brown hair and hazel eyes. He is slightly on the skinny side, though not unhealthy, and of average height. Caden usually wears brown trousers, tucked in at the cuff to tall leather boots, and loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts in white or pale pastel colours. He always carries a leather satchel with a long strap slung over one shoulder, to hold his book and a few other items.
Equipment: Caden is never seen without his satchel. Custom-made from exotic basilisk leather, specifically designed for the Helican Codex (see below). The satchel has additional pouches and straps on the side used to carry a variety of small items used in spell casting, such as infernal salts and white raven feathers, as well as standard casting equipment like chalk and candles. Caden can generally be assumed to be carrying whatever he needs to cast most ordinary spells.
The Helican Codex: Caden's most valuable possession is the Helican Codex, an ancient and heavily enchanted book of spells and magical instruction. Measuring 16 x 12 inches, the Helican's 612 pages are leaf with gold and bound between covers of elaborately decorated ivory and steel. A pair of heavy steel clasps lock the book shut, and oddly have no keyholes. The Helican opens to those it wishes to. The Helican's cover is an ivory relief depiciting a gathering of figures, human and otherwise, overlaid with an elaborate lattice of steel. At the center of the cover sits the symbol of an eye cast in steel, which seems to be the focus of attention for the figures in the ivory relief. The Helican Codex is very large, and very heavy, though its owner never has any difficulty holding or lifting it.
The Helican is a tome of powerful magic, including spells that have not been seen since the dawn of time, and that only the most powerful of wizards could even begin to grasp. Its pages are filled with diagrams and illuminated manuscript in a language that hasn't been spoken in a thousand years, giving instruction on everything from simple spells to create fresh water to horrible unspoken secrets of the universe.
When the Helican finds a "worthy" new owner, it binds itself to them. The Helican will only unlock its clasp if it wants to, and usually only to the person it has bonded with. The Helican grants its user incredible power, turning even an illiterate farmer into a powerful mage over night. The relationship between the Helican and its owner is like that between teacher and student, as the Helican slowly reveals more secrets and information to its chosen one, granting them greater power and deeper understanding over time. The factors that determine an owner's "worth" are unknown, and no one can say whether the Helican has a true agenda or goals of its own.
Skills: Thanks to the Helican Codex, Caden is a powerful spellcaster, able to channel incredible energies to change the world around him. He has been a student of the Helican for many years, and learned a great deal about the mechanics and theory behind magic, but whether he'd be able to put any of it to practical use without the Helican's power is uncertain.
Caden was once a fine thief as well, though his skills are now old and rusted from being long out of practice.
The Dark Gift: Caden's most guarded secret is the price the Helican extracted when it became bound to him. Despite all appearances, Caden is quite dead, a walking corpse animated by the Helican's infernal magic. This has its benefits, of course. Caden no longer requires food or water, he no longer needs to sleep or even breathe. He cannot be poisoned and he never gets sick. But in return he is an unnatural abomination, terrible to behold and abhored by nature.
Caden's undead nature is not obvious to most observers, and in fact even a trained eye will have trouble detecting him. He cloaks himself in a powerful and elaborate illusion of life, blinding even most supernatural senses to his true nature. He looks, smells, and even feels like a normal, living human being. His illusion is elaborate enough to baffle most sensors, including a pulse, appropriate gaseous emissions (such as carbon dioxide) and a false impression of healthy body temperature.
However there are limits to his ability. Caden's body always feels a little too cold, like he is perpetually chilled, and those sensitive to magic or spirits always feel a sense of unease in his presence. Spells or magical abilities that detect the undead will not reveal him, but neither will spells that detect living things. Spells designed to affect living creatures usually fail on him, while spells intended for use only on the undead often have an effect if he cannot counter them. His illusion requires a certain amount of conscious effort to keep up, and when sufficiently distracted he may forget to keep breathing, or stop providing a pulse. In the unlikely event that he is somehow rendered unconscious, the illusion would unravel immediately, revealing his true nature for anyone to see. Despite all his efforts, Caden has been unable to find a way to prevent unintelligent animals from reacting poorly to his presence. He has been unable to isolate what allows such simple beasts to detect his unnaturalness.
Personality: Caden is a somewhat detached person. Though friendly enough, he always puts off an impression of being distracted and absent minded. He may drift off mid-conversation, thinking about something else entirely while someone is trying to talk to him. He is quick with a smile and happy to help strangers, though there's a vague sadness about him, and a sense that he is hiding something about himself (which of course, he is). Caden tries not to become too attached to anyone, afraid that close relationships are more threatening to his secret. He is cynical of priests of all kinds, avoiding them when he can.
While casual acquaintances may think of him as friendly, or perhaps shy and retiring, those who get closer to him will eventually witness a darker side of paranoia and fear, and a dreadful sense of obsession. Caden wants nothing more than to live as a human being again, but so far the only methods he has discovered to reach that goal would require acts of true darkness and evil that he is unwilling to commit... at least for now.
History: Caden grew up on a world called Yulspeth, where magic and monsters are common, and great feats of heroism and villainy are just every day history. Although largely medieval, Yulspeth is approaching a sort of industrial revolution, coloured by magic and fantasy but with similar changes to the social structures as occured on Earth.
Caden was an adventuring thief. He made his living semi-heroically, stealing from rich barons and long-lost tombs, and giving the proceeds to the impoverished peasantry (while keeping a healthy cut for himself). He was not an evil man, but mischief and greed could sometimes get the better of him. With a noble cause and a high adventure he might have become one of his world's heroes.
Caden started to get sick shortly after his twenty-fifth birthday. At first just a lingering cough, his disease slowly advanced over time, leading to difficulty breathing, lethargy, and fits of bloody coughing. Even the clerics of the god of healing were unable to help him, their divine magic failing to restore him. It became increasingly obvious to Caden that he was going to die, and no one could help him.
Caden began a desperate search for a cure, some magic or artifact that could achieve what the healing priests could not. His search eventually led him to the Helican Codex, a book of powerful magic that had been lost for hundreds of years. Perhaps it was the will of the gods, or perhaps he was just more desperate, but Caden managed to find the location of the ancient tome, hidden in a lost dungeon on a distant continent, guarded by traps and monsters.
Caden went in search of the Helican with a party of fellow adventurers, brave men and women who fought valiantly at his side. In the end, they all fell to the traps and abominable creatures of the dungeon, leaving Caden to claim his prize alone.
Caden died the instant he touched the Helican Codex. A wave of energy burst from the book, binding itself to the young thief. All Caden knew at first was that the pain was gone, it was only in the coming days that he realized he no longer felt hunger or cold, and that his flesh had begun to decay.
Since his conversion from life to hideous undeath, Caden has learned a great deal from the Helican Codex. His driving goal in life is to find another cure, a way to reverse the Helican's effects and restore himself to true life. He also wants to remain undetected. Although prejudice against the undead is not as great in the City as in his own world, it is a secret he would much rather keep to himself. As the years pass he has been growing more paranoid and insular, retreating from personal bonds and indulging himself entirely in his obsession with the Helican and its secrets.