Name: Lord Jerek Serevi
Age: Early 40s
Physical Description: 5'8''. Brown eyes, black hair, goatee. Thin and reedy
Chosen By: Lady Ink
Gift Description: None, but more aware of the value of Garner's own Gift than Garner himself
Jerek has an all-consuming submissive love for the Matriarch of Ranech, his wife Kari Serevi. Unfortunately, he has no affection for anyone else and is ruthless and without pity when enacting his ideas. In the deepest places of his heart this contemptuous misanthropy stems from pain at his own neglected childhood, but he deceives himself that it is simply wisdom regarding the true nature of the world that guides him.
Jerek has a fast and agile mind and is constantly turning difficulties over in his head in order to find the best solution. He can appear cowardly when faced with a direct threat as he would rather desperately scramble for time to think than simply meet it head-on. When backed into a corner he is as vicious as a rat, seeking to end the danger with a sudden merciless assault.
Jerek understands the way people think quite well and can be charming when he wants to be. He has a witty sense of humour, but it usually carries barbs that target the failings of someone present. Although uncaring rather than deliberately cruel, Jerek finds great satisfaction in demonstrating superiority to the people around him.
It is worth noting that prior to meeting Garner Jerek had not really talked to anyone other than the Matriarch for years. At an unconscious level he is quite enjoying his enemy's society, along with the chance to get out and travel for a while.
Jerek was born during the Golden Age of Ferlais, but it was not so glorious for him. An unwanted child in the highly matriarchal land of Ranech, he was deposited among the servant class of a noble estate barely after he was weaned. He grew up with no parents but with a great many authority figures, in conditions too packed for human company to be anything other than intrusive. Although his position among the servants to the great allowed him to learn much about people from a wide variety of social backgrounds, Jerek became deeply misanthropic and unsentimental.
The needs of adolescence disrupted Jerek's retreat from all social company, but he was manipulative and affectionless toward his conquests. It was not until he was 19 that Jerek felt the stirrings of love for another person. The woman in question was Kari Serevi, a minor sorceress from a noble family. Jerek served her attentively whenever she visited, never even hoping that she would reward his affection but thrilling utterly with every moment he spent at her disposal.
As it happened, Jerek had caught Kari's eye after all. When she obtained him for her own house he imagined that she had merely been pleased by his diligence, but she soon made her interest plain. He offered no resistance to the deepening of their personal relationship and accepted her eventual offer of marriage without hesitation.
Jerek was still expected to honour and obey Kari as was due to her sex and status, which he found did not impede his happiness. Nonetheless it was a remarkable jump in social station and Kari made sure that he reaped the full benefits. Education in many fields was made available to him and Jerek discovered a deep love for learning and self-improvement. He excelled in martial training and became a formidable political force. Thanks to Kari he even learned something of magic, but his powers were always minor. This was only partially Jerek's fault - magic in Ferlais is much more powerful in the hands of a female and Jerek had little interest in a field where he would always be mediocre. Although the first feats of light and fire awakened a childish joy inside him, he mostly persisted with art for his wife's sake.
Among the women of Ranech, magical potency and social status went hand in hand. Although her chosen field of scrying and cosmic exploration was not the most respected magical discipline, Kari's strength grew steadily over the years and the Serevis prospered in consequence. Jerek supported this ascent with his political talents and they became extremely rich.
Eventually, Kari developed a previously unknown technique that rendered her spells impossible to counter or even detect in many cases. This made her almost invincible in the ritualized duels that determined relative magical might and she became one of the Matriarch's own council. When Jerek asked her about this technique, she explained that she had discovered a new form of magical energy in a foreign dimensional plane. After careful experimentation she had learned to draw on this energy and had now bound it into her own body.
It was around this time that the first of the creatures known as the Tainted were reported across the world. These people were infected with some kind of magical affliction that gifted them with great strength but turned them blindly homicidal. Anyone slain by these creatures was infected by the Taint themselves and arose as new Tainted. At first the outbreak was treated as a form of necromancy, but magical attacks intended to destroy undead were ineffective on the Tainted.
Jerek chose to investigate the problem personally and was soon able to observe one of the creatures. Scrutinizing it he was alarmed to discover that there was no detectable spell on them at all. Riding back to Kari, he expressed his concern that the Tainted might be bearers of the same invisible magic that she had drawn upon.
Kari sadly explained to him that this was so. She could sense the connection between the Tainted and the magic within herself and strongly suspected that merely holding it within Ferlais had inflected the rest of the world. If they came close enough, she suspected that she could control the Tainted with her power and was certain that they would never attack her. Unfortunately, it was not possible to reverse the mystical binding she had performed without killing her. She did not want to die but left the choice in his hands.
Jerek was conflicted by this news, but not for long. He had no affection for the rest of humanity and no problem with his love ruling the world. Using his political skills he hindered any magical research projects that might unearth the true source of the Taint and encouraged those that had little chance. By the time Kari's secret was revealed society was all but collapsing. Using a rod laced with her Kari's blood that she had given him to keep him safe, Jerek marshaled the milling Tainted hordes into an army and crushed the allied forces sent against them. Taking the offensive, he easily overran the capital and declared his wife the new Matriarch.
Jerek lived several contented years at Kari's feet, ruling the land by keeping the majority of the Tainted away from the remaining human settlements in return for tribute. When the Matriarch sensed the coming of Garner to Ranech, he left her side to deal with the problem. Garner did not expect to fight organized Tainted and was easily baited with human hostages. Again and again Jerek placed him at a tactical disadvantage and strove to finish him off.
Yet Garner's inhuman resilience and deadly skills defeated every one of Jerek's ploys. Eventually the sorcerer made a mistake and Garner broke through to Jerek. In a rare nod to poetic justice Garner chose to bring his sword down on Jerek's rod instead of his head, intending for him to perish at the hands of his own troops. Seeing no other resort Jerek knelt and offered the ancient vow of surrender, hoping that this relic of a bygone age might feel obligated to accept. To his great surprise this worked and Garner cut them both a path through the encircling Tainted.
Jerek has been Garner's prisoner ever since. He would throw himself on Garner's sword to prevent him from slaying the Matriarch, but seeks a better plan than suicide. He knows that he is barely trusted and will only get one shot. The need to save the book complicates things further - it will do Kari no good if he slays her would-be killer only to have Ferlais collapse into nothingness for want of his strength. For now Jerek settles for verbally tormenting Garner as much as possible without driving him to homicide.
Jerek can use sorcery to perform minor feats of light, fire and telekinesis. These take several seconds to cast and involve expansive hand gestures. The build-up of magic is visible as a light surrounding his hands during this time. He does not need to speak and the process is almost silent. Jerek can read the magical forces surrounding an enchanted being or object just by looking at it and gain quite a bit of information, but this is slow and requires deep concentration.
At a mundane level Jerek is an able diplomat and has the finest level of education available in Ferlais (meaning knowledge equivalent to that of the late Medieval western world, plus an academic understanding of Ferlais' magic). He has the skills of a deadly tactician, a quick and agile swordsman and an elegant, capable domestic servant.
Jerek carries a light sword of black steel and a dagger he has appropriated from Garner. He wears light leather armour and black travelling clothes bearing the crest of Ranech. He also carries a medical kit and various survival items that Garner does not need, including cooking utensils and a water-skin. His food supplies currently consist of one small hare.
The Matriarch gave Jerek a magical rod laced with her own blood that he could use to control the Tainted. Garner destroyed it during their last battle.