Name: Conrad Gustav Krause
Date of Birth: 3 Guardian, 9:10
Occupation: Healer, former executioner, piss-poor mercenary
Conrad is 6'5” and powerfully built, with broad shoulders and strongly muscled arms, narrow hips and strong legs. . His hair is a thick, coarse black and falls past his shoulders. He generally keeps it tied neatly at the nape of his neck. When untied, it tends to fan out into an unkempt mane. His mustache and full beard are kept fairly closely trimmed for the same reason. His right eye is deep-set and the dark blue of twilight. The left is hidden by a leather eyepatch, with a scar beginning in the middle of his forehead and continuing down beneath the eyepatch, and across the left cheek into his beard.
His hands are large, with faint scarring across the knuckles and along the fingers. His facial features are craggy, with a broad forehead, strong chin, thin lips and a nose that appears to have been broken more than once; while neither strikingly handsome nor particularly ill-favored, his face tends to have a somber look regardless of his mood, and the recent addition of the scar and eyepatch combine with his size to make him look more forbidding than he generally is.
Clothing: His clothes are simple: leather jerkin over a roughspun tunic, heavy canvas trews and leather boots, with a hooded cloak made of oilcloth. He is also assembling a collection of garb better suited to Fereldan winters. One of his first purchases in Denerim was a woolen cloak of a deep, rich, forest green, the hood lined with black fur; as an executioner, he was expected to be somber in his attire, and the color of the garment pleases him as much as the warmth it provides.
Weapons & Armor: Maker's Mercy: An executioner's sword gifted to Conrad's great-grandfather by the King of the Anderfels and passed from father to son since. The two-handed blade is three feet of silverite, with a rounded tip, bronze quillions and pommel and a leather-wrapped hilt. The blade is ornately etched with the flames of Andraste's pyre and a quote from the Canticle of Threnodies: “Rest at the Maker's right hand and be forgiven” in Ander. While Conrad continues to maintain the heirloom in the meticulous manner that he was taught, he would never use it in combat, and seldom takes it from its leather and wood scabbard.
For actual fighting, he carries a simple steel greatsword and dagger. Both are cared for no less meticulously than Maker's Mercy, and are never less than razor sharp. His armor is a hodgepodge of steel chain and leather, each piece selected because it fits him, with no consideration as to whether it matched the rest of his gear.
Languages: Anders (Native, Spoken & written), Common (Heavily accented but fluent, spoken & written), Tevene (Intermediate, written only), Ancient Tevene (Novice, written only)
Master: Coercion, Might
Expert: Healing, Stamina, Streetwise
Intermediate: Alchemy, Anatomy, Cooking, Cultural Lore (Anderfels), Historical Lore (Anderfels), Investigation, Natural Lore, Research
Novice: Historical Lore (Ferelden), Cultural Lore (Ferelden), Poison Lore
Expert: Two-Handed Weapon (Greatsword), Unarmed
Intermediate: Single Weapon (Dagger)
Long used to the reactions that his size and profession tend to inspire, Conrad has developed a gentle, almost diffident manner, the rumbling bass of his voice carefully modulated so as not to intimidate. He is quiet by nature, saying little, but listening and observing closely to whatever is taking place around him. In social settings, he is polite but restrained, a consequence of him having had no real friends apart from his sisters and his father. He is not shy, but he has had no real experience at building or maintaining friendships, and he has still not acclimated to the fact that he is no longer automatically viewed as a pariah. When he lowers his guard, he can display a dry, understated sense of humor and a keen intelligence.
As a healer, he is both competent and confident, his big hands surprisingly gentle as they probe an injury, or nimble as they close a wound with a neat line of stitches. He frequently talks as he works, sharing his knowledge as openly as he shares his skills. He feels no shame about his time as an executioner; he still believes strongly in justice, and that he and his father played an important role in that process. He remains troubled about the events of his final weeks in Hossberg, but realistically knows that he could have done nothing to alter them. His only real wish is that his father would have decided to get them out of town sooner. Nonetheless, he has no desire to resume the career that he once believed himself joined to for life, and he does not openly advertise his history, saying only (but truthfully) that he was a healer in Hossberg.
Despite his familiarity with judicial violence – or perhaps because of it – he is loathe to engage in any other forms of violence. His experiences with the criminal culture and his travels as a journeyman have left him streetwise and well able to take care of himself, but though he will fight if necessary, he is very slow to anger and will walk away, even at risk of being thought a coward, rather than engage in a needless brawl. If he does fight, he will seek to incapacitate, rather than injure or kill his opponent. Once a devout Andrastean, his experiences in Hossberg have made him leery of the Chantry, while his limited professional encounters with apostates and maleficarum (the real ones) have left him wary of mages in general.
He has always had a very pragmatic and fatalistic approach to life, but after having spent his entire life to this point accepting the role that he believed he would be stuck in until he died, he found the array of choices before him - even the concept of choices - very nearly overwhelming. He has gladly accepted his new role as healer, finding it a much better fit for his temperament. Serving Teyrn Cousland is satisfying in and of itself, but that the service also gives him the means to help the less fortunate is of far greater importance to him.
Conrad Gustav Krause was born the third child and only son of Johann Gunthar Krause and his wife Gerda, in the Anderfels capitol of Hossberg. Johann served as High Executioner of Hossberg, the fourth in the Krause line to hold the office, and as was customary, his son and heir would be the fifth. As High Executioner, Johann earned a good salary, and Conrad and his two older sisters, Hettie and Liesl, grew up with never any lack of decent food, clothing or shelter. Their social status lay well below their financial status, however; necessary or not, approved by the Chantry or not, the Krause family profession carried with it a longstanding stigma in the eyes of the common folk. In addition to executions, Johann carried out corporal punishments: floggings, brandings, removal of hands, feet, ears; he was also responsible for 'judicial inquiry', a sanitized term for the torture that was used to obtain confessions, particularly from suspected apostates or blood mages.
Their neighbors therefore shunned the Krause family in public, but the relationship held hidden complexities, for Johann was a healer of no small skill, as his forefathers had been, knowledgeable about the workings of the body in ways unmatched by most of the midwives and herbalists available to the average commoner, and the same folk who ignored the executioner on the street or in the tavern crept to his door under cover of night, seeking remedies for everything from toothaches to broken bones. Johann provided these remedies unstintingly, accepting whatever payment could be offered, be it a few coppers or a dozen eggs, and showed no surprise or displeasure when he was ignored again the next time they met.
To Conrad, this was simply the way things were, and it never occurred to him to resent it. He played with his sisters and learned to cook from Gerda, but as he grew older, most of his time was spent in the company of his father, whom he adored. At the age of 8, he began his apprenticeship, keeping his father's instruments of torture and execution clean and in proper repair. The one exception was Maker's Mercy, the executioner's sword that hung above the fireplace. Johann always tended to the blade himself while Conrad watched, explaining to the boy the importance of a keen edge that could deliver death with a single stroke. For the intensely religious executioner, his duty was one that was to be tempered with mercy: executions done as swiftly as possible, torture to be carried out efficiently … or not at all, if possible. One of the most important lessons that he taught his son was that confessions could often be obtained through shrewd questioning and observation of a criminal, or if that failed, simply by laying the instruments of torture out before the subject and explaining in detail what each one would do. He also taught Conrad how to read and write, and the arts of healing, using his prized collection of a dozen tomes collected from around Thedas, including one written in ancient Tevinter that Johann had paid dearly to have translated and another that displayed detailed drawings of human anatomy. Lessons from books were supplemented by examination of the corpses of executed criminals, under cover of night and with lanterns carefully hooded. While Johann always stressed to Conrad that the job of an executioner was an important one and no cause for shame, he also described the healing as a way of balancing out the darkness of their work.
At the age of twelve, a year after his mother's death from a fever, Conrad assisted in his first execution, gripping the hair of a murderer who had fainted to steady him, his faith in his father so great that he never flinched when Maker's Mercy swept down, cleanly severing head from body. Next, he began learning the various methods of execution that were employed: hanging was the most common; burning at the stake or drawing and quartering were reserved for the most heinous of crimes. Beheading was the quickest and most merciful, generally granted only to condemned of noble birth, or when the magistrates opted to show mercy to the penitent. When he was nineteen, Conrad executed his first criminal: a highwayman who was hanged. This task marked his elevation to journeyman and the beginning of his years on the road, traveling between the small towns and villages that surrounded Hossberg, providing his services for fees to jurisdictions too small to employ a full-time executioner. His reputation as a reliable, skilled and honest worker grew steadily, and it was generally accepted that once he completed his time as a journeyman, he would assume the role of Johann's chief assistant, and eventual successor.
Romance was not a luxury that the offspring of an executioner were afforded. No ‘respectable’ person would wed them, so marriages were generally arranged with other executioner families; Hettie was wed to an executioner in Kassel, Liesl to one in Geltberg. Conrad was betrothed to the daughter of an executioner in Nordbotten; he had never met the girl, nor would he until it was time for them to wed, but as with other aspects of his life, Conrad accepted it, confident that once he secured his permanent position, he would marry and raise a family as his parents had, never suspecting that his world was about to come tumbling down around his ears.
Two institutions had long dominated life in the Anderfels. The Grey Wardens provided physical protection against the darkspawn that still surfaced periodically to threaten the populace, while the Chantry offered spiritual comfort in a land that still bore the scars of the Blights that it had endured. Both groups were held in high esteem by the people, with the monarchy maintaining a balance between them. With the ascension of Wilhelm, however, the combination of a weak King and an ambitious Warden-Commander tipped the balance awry. No details of the incident at the Hossberg Circle were known to the general public; only that the Grey Wardens had challenged the Chantry and won. Shortly after, rumors of blood mages and demons began to circulate throughout the city, building quickly into a near hysteria. Hundreds were accused of being apostates and worse, and the Chantry, eager to reassert the authority that the Wardens had challenged, accepted these accusations, no matter how outlandish, as genuine and worthy of trial. Most trials resulted in convictions and sentences of death.
Almost overnight, demand for Johann’s services in both interrogation and execution burgeoned, with more men and women put to death in one month than in all of the previous two years. The High Executioner did his duty, but Conrad could tell that his father was troubled; he refused to allow his son to perform any of the torture, and only to assist with the executions. More ominously, he began drinking to excess for the first time, downing cup after cup of whiskey in morose silence at the kitchen table each night until he had consumed enough to render him unconscious. One day, he bade Conrad to remain at their home while he went forth. Ever the obedient son, Conrad complied, waiting with growing unease as morning gave way to afternoon; at dusk, he answered a pounding at the door and opened it to find his father, who had quite clearly been on the receiving end of ‘judicial interrogation’, barely conscious between two grim faced templars who ignored his stunned queries and delivered an ultimatum: on the morrow, he would do his father’s job or share his father’s fate.
Left with the dying Johann, Conrad struggled to save his father, though one look had told him that it was hopeless. His father roused briefly under his care, desperate to warn his son before he died: he had told the magistrates that he did not believe that the individuals being accused were maleficar, or even apostates. They replied that it did not matter if they were guilty or not; their deaths were needed to reassure the populace and re-establish order. When Johann refused to coerce further confessions, or to execute the innocent, he was subjected to torture, though by far less skilled practitioners who did not know when to stop. Just before he drew his last breaths, Johann told Conrad to flee, and if need be, to die himself before willingly participating in such a perversion of the Maker’s justice.
There was no time to grieve, and the notion of vengeance against the magistrates to whom five generations of his family had sworn obedience was too immense a concept to even consider. Instead, Conrad obeyed his father for the final time. He packed what he could of their healers’ equipment and supplies, and spent more time than was likely wise dithering over the precious books before selecting the three most important tomes, along with the journal. Lastly, he took Maker’s Mercy from its resting place over the hearth; his career as an executioner was over, but he could not leave the blade behind. Placing the remaining books around his father’s body on the bed, Conrad doused the corpse with lamp oil and gave his father the only pyre that he could: the house that he had been born and raised in. As the flames began to leap into the night, Conrad walked away, slipping out of Hossberg under cover of darkness. Johann had been frugal, another trait he had passed to his son; Conrad had plenty of coin with which to purchase passage on a river barge to the port at Tallo, then a berth on a ship bound for the south, knowing that to contact his sisters would risk bringing the wrath of the magistrates onto their husbands and families.
In Tevinter, his size immediately made him a focus of recruiters for the mercenary companies, and like most able-bodied Anderfels natives, he had been taught to fight in order to aid in the event of a darkspawn attack. Fighting men was different from fighting darkspawn, however, and his first battle was nearly his last, as he found himself faced with a youth who looked no more than fourteen and froze, unable to strike a killing blow on one who had not been judged guilty of any crime. His opponent’s attack cost him his left eye, and only the intervention of his fellows prevented it from claiming his life. The mercenaries would still have kept him on for his healing skill, but Conrad had no stomach for war. Justice was still important to him, and the indiscriminate slaughter of battle seemed its complete antithesis. Taking ship again, he headed further south, still unsure what to do with a life full of unexpected choices. He fetched up in Denerim, where a chance encounter involving an injured kitten netted him an offer of employment from Teyrn Fergus Cousland as resident healer at his Denerim estate. The position also afforded him the time and resources to open a clinic in the Market District where he treats all who come, asking that they pay what they are able and providing free care for those who cannot pay. Wary looks and whispers about his past linger, but his gentle nature and willingness to help, whether by setting a broken bone or helping to replace a wheel on a cart, have begun to win folk over.