Bound by his duties as a Paladin in service to Alterac and an Engineer bent on applying practical measures against tough questions & adversaries, Raleigh Sternbridge, more often called 'Stern', is at his roots a man of devotion and dedication with a penchant for the application of technology in battle and in his everyday life.
Having served under the flags of the Alliance and the Steamwheedle, Stern has become a staunch defender of the recovering nation of Alterac and all of its dominions, with the hope of using his skills as both a Paladin and an Engineer to carve a place for himself in a Kingdom marred by conflict & betrayal.
Appearance, Personality & FaithEdit
As a male human with a life spent on the frontlines, with his spare time spent mining the riches from the rocky faces of Azeroth (using said riches to build intricate contraptions & explosives), Raleigh stands at 6'4" with thick arms & a thicker chest. The bluntness of his life has not dissuaded him from engaging in the often meticulous tasks that are presented to one who is trained in the Engineering arts. When the goggles, oil, and soot are removed from his face, you'll find a pair of green eyes, a nose that's been broken more than a few times, an expression of general disinterest & apathy, and a thick, brown goatee on his chin to complement his flowing ponytail, wrapped neatly in a bundle of an Alliance patriot but adorned in the armor of an Alteraci footman. Despite the dour expression, he stands tall, never slouching and never with his head held low outside of bowing his head in prayer. His goggles are often wrapped around his neck or tied to his belt if not wrapped around his head (he rarely, if ever, pulls them up around his forehead, the image of which is the common stereotype for engineers).
Faith has been an important part of his life since childhood, faith in the blood of one's family and faith in the Light. He has, however, balanced this faithful side with the reason & practicality that came with his delving into the engineering arts. The failings of orders devoted to zealous faith are not lost on him either and serve as a reminder that even the Light's faithful can & do falter. He once held great admirations for the large & expansive orders of the Light, but the falters & failures of so many led to a personal questioning of the necessity of these orders. He regards the Light as one that teaches self-improvement that shall lead to bettering of one's community & in turn bettering of the world, so as the failings of orders diminished his faith in broad, all-encompassing groups dedicated to the Light it simultaneously strengthened his faith in the Light's place as a personal journey as one of self-improvement. It certainly has not meant he feels every large group of the Light is corrupted or unable to bring good to the Alliance peoples.
His service to Alterac has not been without drawbacks. Despite holding strong pro-Alliance leanings, he has taken on the mantle of neutrality, something he feels uncomfortable with but sees the necessity of for Alterac's survival. It has not stopped him from criticizing groups like the Argent Crusade and the Draenei intent on creating an 'Army of Light' by uniting the Horde & Alliance together. He sees a clear difference from remaining outside of factional political matters & trying 'to make nice between a cobra and a mongoose'.
His core beliefs eventually culminated in him joining the Tyrist movement, a philosophy of the Light dedicated to reverence for Tyr & rejection of the Three Virtues. Due to his position and desire to avoid scandal for his organization, he remains quiet about his membership in the movement and tends to avoid the issue should it arise, although his personal disagreements with some in the Church and lack of adherence to the Three Virtues are not unknown to those close to him.
As do many other Alteraci, Stern has a vocal distaste for Ogres. Having originally made it a point to never show mercy towards the Crushridge clan who occupied much of Alterac in the recent past, Stern's original anti-Ogre sentiments have lessened to an extent following the capture of a small number of individual Ogres and their lobotomization. Stern has made use of these Ogres in the Highpine Lumberworks primarily to keep Alteraci on the defensive front rather than tie them down to a backwater lumbermill complex in a remote valley. While initially feeling only contempt for the Ogres and viewing this as a punishment for their clan's occupation, he has come to somewhat care for these particular Ogres, which has in turn softened his view on Ogres as a whole. Although this has not extended to the remainder of the Crushridge clan still living in Alterac lands.
Early Life & FamilyEdit
Raleigh was born in the Chillwind River Valley, a territory disputed between the Kingdoms of Lordaeron & Alterac over ownership. Born during an era of Lordaeronian reign over the region, he is technically Lordaeronian by birth. Citizens of both nations lived & thrived in the Valley for generations, although loyalties were divided. In general, the Sternbridge family were staunch Alteraci loyalists, a view which Raleigh inherited (although he never thought ill of Lordaeron & would have just as quickly joined their forces had the chance arisen). As the area was a prime spot for illegal distillation and 'moonshiners' in the early years of human expansion across Lordaeron, Raleigh's family can trace some of their historical ancestors to some of these backwoods bootleggers. The eldest of five children, Raleigh took it on himself to watch out for them, especially his sisters (his siblings affectionately called him 'Stern' for his disposition as much as they did because of the family name).
When they were not engaged in chores or taking turns on the road with their father while he traveled for his mercantile efforts, Stern would watch his family like a hawk. Whether it was swimming, playing on the troll ruins in the region, or hiking in the hills, he developed a keen ear to listen on what his siblings were saying so he could stop them before they ran off (a trait he's kept into his adult life). As his mother died giving birth to his twin sisters, he did his best to be 'softer' with them than he was with his brothers, although the influences of the brothers seemed to overwhelm this attempted gentler attitude & made them just as rowdy as their brothers. The family also spent some years living in the Hinterlands following a great flood that overwhelmed their home. The generosity of the Wildhammer & the peculiar but friendly High Elves had an impact on his perception of these two allies of humanity, one that would follow & drive certain actions in the years to come.
Stern had just turned 16 when the plagued grain was discovered in Andorhal. Hoping to avoid seeing his sons be conscripted into Lordaeron's army (or rather, prevent his boys from joining it out of youthful desire to serve) Stern's father, Mylas, sent Stern & his two brothers south, to their Aunt & Uncle living in Elwynn Forest. As his daughters were in Hearthglen, Mylas told them he would ride to Hearthglen, retrieve their sisters, and then meet them down in Elwynn in a few months. Unfortunately, neither he nor Stern's sisters were heard from again (presumably killed, who Stern believes was done by Scarlet Crusaders during their occupation of the city in the years after the War's end). After the Third War had concluded, Stern enlisted to be trained in Stormwind's military irregulars & spent time serving throughout the lower Eastern Kingdoms, although was relieved of duty following the upheaval in Stormwind's political arena. It was during this time he became trained as a Paladin, although much was self-taught or learned from example from various other Paladins he met & from tomes he read. He spent the following few years serving as a mercenary, primarily working for the Steamwheedle Cartel. When the War in Northrend began, he served primarily under the banner of the Silver Covenant before returning to Stormwind's employ during the Cataclysm & early stages of the Pandaria campaign. After the end of the Siege of Orgrimmar and the establishment of a peace between the Alliance and the Horde, he committed himself to the cause of Alterac.
Theaters of Operation & Important Personal Events Edit
In Roughly Chronological Order Edit
- Elwynn Forest, Westfall, Duskwood: Defias War
- First studied Engineering
- Redridge Mountains: Blackrock incursions
- First conflict with Orcs. Acquired an Orcish grunt axe.
- Duskwood: Morbent Fel's undead rebellion
- First combat against the undead
- Stranglethorn Vale: Kurzen's rebellion, Troll hunting, Pirate hunting
- First service outside of Stormwind's command
- First prototype of a personal shredder built
- Rumored to have married during this time frame
- Tanaris: Troll hunting, Pirate hunting, Bandit hunting
- Winterspring: Furbolg & elemental hunting
- Found Aquamaria and began nursing her back to health
- Acquired Whelest
- Northrend: War against the Lich King/War in Northrend/Nexus War
- Met Zure the blue drake
- Joined the Silver Covenant
- Lost Whelest on Icecrown Glacier
- Views on the Horde changed from wary distrust to bitter despisal
- Learned more about Tyr
- Cataclysm: Twilight's Hammer War/Alliance-Horde War
- Lost faith in the Argent Crusade
- Stormwind War effort in the Twilight Highlands
- Embraced Tyrism
- Pandaria: Alliance-Horde War/Thunder King Conflict
- One of many witnesses to the return of the Thunder King
- Officially left the Alliance military service following the peace accord made in Orgrimmar
- Service to Alterac
- Employment in the House of Weisserose begins
- Call for a Coalition of Alterac, various groups merged into the Dominion of Alterac.
- War for Alterac
- Southwestern Expedition
- Construction of the Highpine Lumberworks begins
- Disturbances at the Dark Portal/Outland Investigations
- The Iron Tide erupts into the Blasted Lands; The War with The Iron Horde Begins
- Eve of Iron; Battles in the Blasted Lands
- The Ironmarch erupts into Azeroth and begins their Incursion
- Battle at the Dark Portal & the Charge into Draenor; Violet Legion scattering in the Tanaan Jungle & eventual escape to Gorgrond
Residences, Weapons & Other PossessionsEdit
While born into a home located in the Chillwind River Valley, Stern has had a variety of places of residence including, but not limited to, seedy inns, shady taverns, various military barracks, mercenary encampments, a tree that spoke Common, abandoned ghost towns, and even once shared an abandoned copper mine with a family of gnolls.
However, he's more often called apartments in Stormwind, Booty Bay, and Ironforge home, the latter of which is also where he owns a storage garage previously owned by a dwarven friend (who has since been laid to rest in a distant graveyard in Northrend).
Among the vehicles & other items within the garage are:
- A custom built motor chopper.
- Several disassembled gyro-copters.
- A raunchy granite statue of a Gnome woman (a gift)
- A variety of robotic 'minions'
- A vintage Siege Tank
Along with these he owns a semi-mobile engineering workshop (often just called 'The Box') which he is able to transport via a personal gyro-copter. Built entirely within a large truesteel box, the Workshop functions as an insulated, self-contained living & work space. With enough room to support a large workbench, various storage compartments (for food, engineering supplies, clothing, etc), a bench stool, and a large leather chair which functions as his bed, complete with a yeti fur blanket. The Box currently resides in the Highpine Valley, near the growing human village of resident workers.
Weapons EditStern has owned a plethora of weapons in his life, some lasting longer than others, some found in the heat of a battle, some crafted by the Alliance's most able smiths. As a Paladin, he was never trained in the use of the weapons of rangers & hunters, but these are generally useless in his hands anyway. His aim with bows, guns, and crossbows has always been poor, a fact he has tried to remedy several times. This has not seemed to affect his ability with cannons and grenades, however.
- 'Hawkrender, Bane of Ogres': Formerly 'Hawkrender, Spear of the Motherland'. A spear crafted specifically for Stern's favored fighting style. A medium-heavy weighted, rather large blade on one end, a long shafted adorned in reddish-brown leather (the craftsman initially wished to use blue dragon hide but Stern forbade the use of it) and a smaller, sharper pointed blade at the end. Dubbed Hawkrender, the spear became Stern's primary weapon following the losses of his favored hammer & Selema'serrar's blade breaking in the Highlands.
- The primary materials in its creation were a metal alloy of reclaimed Iron mined in the Arathi Highlands & Underlight. The Iron from caches seized from the Crushridge Ogres and the Underlight metal acquired from a mine in the Ghostlands thanks to Goblin assosciates. Its hilt and ornamentation were made of yeti hide and fur.
- The original weaponsmith, a Strahnbrad citizen who did not disclose his name to Stern, dubbed the alloy 'Strahnium'. The formula the smith used for the process remains solely with him. The metal has some apparent anti-arcane properties which have been passed onto the weapon.
- The blade of Hawkrender was cracked in battle with an Ogre and required repair. The unnamed Blacksmith of Strahnbrad could not be found. A blacksmith formerly of the Scarlet Crusade was found with knowledge of Underlight and agreed to repair the blade. The pair traveled into the Ghostlands and retrieved ore from a mine. Along with several ingots of Moonsteel, the blade was repaired in and heat treated in the waters of the Moonwell on the abandoned Shalandis Isle. The blacksmith dubbed the new blade 'Hawkrender, Bane of Ogres', now far stronger than its previous incarnation.
- During this excursion into the Ghostlands, Stern donned ceremonial Blood Knight armor in order to better disguise his presence, despite the armor's bold coloration in the generally dreary woods of southern Quel'thalas. He complained often about wearing the armor, much to the chagrin of his Scarlet companion.
- Weisserose Rapier: A sword found in common use among the servants & soldiers of the House of Weisserose. A faded golden color, a thick, sharp blade, and a royal purple or orange colored wrapping for the hilt. This blade was gifted to him by Lord Reynalden of Weisserose shortly after becoming a Retainer for the House & is generally worn with formal dress when the occasion allows for it.
- Ogre Warhammer: A simple granite warhammer with bear hide wrapping on its hilt. With a jagged edge on the front and a bladed point on the opposite end, the Warhammer was taken from the Ogre who cracked Hawkrender. It served as Stern's temporary weapon (despite its size and weight) until the spear was repaired.
- The Satchel: A simple burlap satchel with a braided leather strap. Although not a weapon itself, it is a useful tool filled with a variety of parts, tools, and devices, both of practical & explosive varieties. How it is able to have a seemingly endless capacity to hold rather large items & plentiful amounts of needed supplies is unknown. It's been joked as being 'Stern's purse' since he seems to carry just about everything in it. Outside of explosives, he most commonly he carries a variety of journals & leatherbound tablets containing maps, reference materials, lists detailing various groups & individuals, some salted meats (generally bear or turtle jerky), a hefty amount of Arcane Crystals for his young whelpling Aquamaria, and whatever else he feels is necessary to haul around.
- Gold Ring: A simple ring cast in solid gold. This ring was, presumably, a wedding band that he purchased when he (again, presumably) married a fellow engineer while he was living in Booty Bay. This engineer being a goblin employee for the Cartel, it was scandalous among certain circles within Booty Bay at the time & many believe it was simply untrue. Although he wore it for many years, he took it off near the end of an expedition in Tanaris & it has remained in his satchel since then.
- Tyr Pendant: A truesilver fist pendant on a long truesilver alloy chain. On it has a name inscribed in ancient Azotha runes: Tyr. The pendant was created by a Stromic jewelcrafter who happened to meet Stern while in Winterspring. It was traded to him for three bottles of Alterac brandy.
- Golem Combat-Flight Shredder Unit 03 'Uncle Fester': A modified Shredder Sky Golem unit customized by Stern for purposes of combat, reconnaissance, and personal use. Uncle Fester is, like all Sky Golems, able to chop down & process trees quickly compared to standard Shredder units, but comes standard with flight capabilities. Stern has added additional rocket launching pods which may be ejected along with an interfacing system with his many pairs of Goggles.
- Chromatic Dragon Egg & Stasis Crystal: Found in a forgotten corridor in the spire of Blackrock Mountain during the Iron Horde incursion, this egg was one of four that were unhatched & undamaged in the corridor's myriad of failed experiments, remnants of the Chromatic Dragon project created by the black dragon Nefarian. With it an arcane Stasis Crystal used to prevent the egg from hatching. Where the egg was taken after he found it is unknown.
Stern has had several animal companions since youth, tending to treat his animal companions like people rather than animals.
- Aquamaria (Blue Whelpling): Found in Winterspring and nursed back to health. With him almost always, but will wander at times. Generally sleeps in his Satchel or perches on his arm or shoulder.
- Zure (Real name unknown, Blue Drake): Met in Dragonblight in the final hours of the Nexus War. Wanders the Eastern Kingdoms.
- Higg (Worg): Former Orcish worg mount found following Alessa's Crown campaign. Stabled at the Highpine Valley generally.
- Borehn (Horse): An Alteraci horse. Named after the town of Borehnbrad.
- Charles: A massive red clefthoof acquired from an Ogre Lord in the region of Gorgrond. Named after a favorite uncle of Raleigh's. Charles is primarily seen around the Violet Legion stables and is often used for pulling the Legion's heavy carts.
- Brock (Gronnling): Formerly a war-mount for a Blackrock Orc soldier, Brock is a yellowish gronnling who accepted Stern as his rider.
- Whelest (Frostsaber): Raised in Winterspring, perished on Icecrown Glacier.
- Sorrelus (Moonsaber): Purchased in Darnassus, mortally wounded en route to Gadgetzan.
- River (Horse): Alteraci horse, perished in the Arathi Highlands.
- Big Red (Black & Red Dragon Turtle): Purchased from Pandaren travelers. Died of old age en route to Eastern Kingdoms, buried at sea.
Political Affiliations & Other NotesEdit
- Is a strong proponent of the restoration of Alterac, being a Chillwind River Valley native. He believes the people have suffered greatly at the hands of corrupt nobility, especially the vile Syndicate. He has pledged himself to the House of Weisserose, believing the White Rose of Alterac will be able to bloom new life into the fallen nation, both defending & uplifting the people.
- Supports the cause of the High Elves. While intitially a supporter of Blood Elven reconciliation, recent events have pushed him into an anti-Blood Elven stance. His tenure as a recruit for the Silver Covenant & these actions have strengthened his support for Vereesa Windrunner & other High Elven organizations working within the Alliance. This has reinforced a belief of anti-human/high elf couplings for the sake of preserving the remainder of the High Elf race.
- His favorite foods are smoked meats, particularly boar meat but since moving to the western half of Alterac he has grown to like yeti meat as well. His favorite drinks are Alterac brandy, Cherry Grog and spring water.
- Was given the moniker 'Coyote of Alterac/Alterac's Coyote' by the troops serving him following his first battle where he served as commander. The soldiers commented on him 'slinking around, like a coyote'. It was the same battle (although following its conclusion) that Anton Caerwyn was given the affectionate nickname 'Papa Tony'.
- His life was once spared by the Undercity Nexus. For what reason they chose to spare his life is unknown to him.
- Is believed to have been married to a Goblin mechanic while he was employed by the Steamwheedle. He used to wear a gold ring on his ring finger, although his hands are almost always covered by gloves or gauntlets so it was not often seen. He's rarely spoken of it or her after leaving the Cartel's employment, though he makes mention of being divorced more frequently following the Southwestern Expedition.
- He removed the gold ring a few weeks after during his tenure in Tanaris during The Southwestern Expedition. He purchased a Qiraji Signet Ring, putting the band in his Satchel and putting the signet ring in place of it (though the Signet Ring was taken off the next morning).
- Has a firm dislike of the Argent Crusade and Draenei who promote 'working together with the Horde', believing that while cooperation is possible prolonged interaction with the Horde will leave Alliance forces killed. Despite no longer officially being with the Alliance he has a definite favorable opinion of them over the Horde, despite noted factions & individuals among the Alliance hierarchy who seem to wish Alterac be burned again for the sake of striking at Horde lands.
- Has a romanticized view of the ocean & sea-faring cultures, often wishing when he was younger to simply run away and join a merchant shipping crew to fight pirates. As such, he has great respect for the Alliance Naval forces & will often lend his aid to Alliance merchant ships with his skills when asked. His time with the Steamwheedle simply confirmed his impression of pirates as scum worthy only of the gallows.
- Served in an informal manner to Stormwind for several years and more formally among the Silver Covenant prior to pledging his service to the Alterac Coalition forces. Those who serve among Stormwind's military branches or in the Covenant could be aware of or have access to records concerning his service (the former being primarily anti-Defias and anti-Kurzen activities and the latter being conflict with the Sunreavers, along with perhaps knowing about his fondness for wine & cheese in the evening).