The entity known variously as "Durkon"*, Greg, and formerly known as the High Priest of Hel is a vampire spirit created by the goddess of Death of the Northern Pantheon, Hel. He was the first priest of Hel of sufficient level to serve as her High Priest, and held that title for a time. As a spirit within the late Durkon Thundershield's deceased body, he is capable of controlling Durkon's actions. Hel said of her high priest, "Nergal's snake may have sired you, but the dwarves fall under my purview. Your dark spirit was birthed in my hall."
There is some difficulty with what name to use to refer to this character, a fact dealt with in the story as well. The vampire spirit who controls Durkon's undead body is clearly distinct from Durkon himself, as the two engage in conversation within his mind. However, he has never given a name for himself, and the body he occupies is Durkon and the appearance of his spirit-self is identical to Durkon. When his position as High Priest of Hel was known, he was mostly known by that title alone. But since he abdicated the position, the title is confusing as he technically is not currently the High Priest of Hel, and another vampire is. On the discussion boards, the Number of Character Appearances thread refers to him as "Durkon"*. The Class and Level Geekery thread refers to him as Greg. Both names are references to comic #1030, "Naming Names".
The convention on appearances of the character adopted in the forum, since he is really a puppet master controlling a corpse, is that he only appears if he speaks, or if his spirit-form is shown. Otherwise it is an appearance of Durkon's corpse alone.
Blood Runs in the FamilyEdit
Durkon was raised as a vampire by Malack after he slew his friend and used a spell he had devised to speed up the process of raising a vampire (which normally takes days). Initially, Durkon was in Malack's thrall, and obeyed his every command, behaving almost child-like. The mechanics of vampirism in Order of the Stick have particulars which are not spelled out in the D&D rules, specifically that the vampire's body is taken control of by a new negative energy spirit, and the original soul is trapped within the body of the vampire. Given this fact, the vampire spirit, "Durkon"*, must have been in Durkon's head from the time he was raised, but was compelled to do the bidding of his master. Because of this oddity, that "Durkon"* was not driving the speech and action of Durkon's body, and no scenes were shown during this period of what was transpiring inside Durkon's mind, the first true appearance of "Durkon"* is #907, after the death of Malack freed him from thralldom, not #878 when he was raised.
As soon as "Durkon"* took control of Durkon's body, he immediately began to enact the plans of his goddess Hel, which involved attending the Godsmoot in order to create a tie in the voting, forcing the High Priests present to call any High Priests of the demigods who showed up, many of them presumably under Hel's thumb.
To achieve this goal, the vampire spirit posed as Durkon and joined the Order of the Stick. Initially he helped them defeat the Silicon Elemental summoned by Redcloak, then he helped them escape from the army of the Empire of Blood, and fought the Vector Legion. They escaped to the Mechane, and began their journey to Kraagor's Gate.
On their trek to the northern continent, "Durkon"* tricked all of them into believing the ruse that he was still Durkon, save for one, the Halfling ranger Belkar Bitterleaf whose blood he had drank and nearly killed. Leading them to believe he wished to find clerics to resurrect him, he subtly led them to the location of the Godsmoot, where he murdered Exarch Gontor Hammerfell and at least one other member of the Creed of the Stone. Witnessed by Belkar, who immediately fled to find Roy, he changed into a wolf-like creature to catch up with him, engaging in a quick skirmish that ended with Belkar being thrown off the side of the mountain.
When the meeting began, he mostly kept to himself and waited for the votes to be tallied before presenting himself as the High Priest of Hel. Summoning a proxy of his mistress as proof of his identity as her High Priest, the Northern Pantheon vote soon came to a tie, forcing the High Priest of Balder to ask an usher to fetch for any High Priests of the demigods who bothered showing up. While they waited for the High Priests to arrive, Roy leaped from the balcony into the Great Nave and engaged the vampire in a duel, as there were no rules preventing a bodyguard from attacking his own High Priest. At this time Roy came to fully understand that "Durkon" was not the real Durkon at all.
Though he was unable to kill Roy, the vote to destroy the world was paused due to Hermod refusing to vote with Hel, resulting in a second tie and in Dvalin assembling the council of clans to poll them on the matter that affected every living dwarf. Despite this, he managed to put in motion one of his backup plans, which involved the vampirized Exarch Hammerfell infiltrating the Mechane and retrieving their teleportation orb, allowing him and Hammerfell to escape the moot to dominate the Dwarven elders. In order to allow Hel's vote to remain, he vampirized the entire Creed of the Stone save one, whom they killed, and abdicated as High Priest in favour of one of the former Creed members, allowing him to leave with the Exarch with Hel's vote intact.
"Durkon"*'s is currently in Firmament, setting up his plan to dominate the members of the Council of Clans in order to fix the vote in Hel's favor. He and his vampires have killed several of the clerics of Thor at their temple there.
Personality and TraitsEdit
The High Priest of Hel does not speak with a dwarven accent and seems unfamiliar with dwarf customs, using Durkon's memories to emulate his accent and knowledge and on occasion has accidentally dropped the accent. Following his outing at the Godsmoot, he dropped the accent altogether, though he kept the façade of "Evil Durkon" in case there was a chance that Roy would unconsciously be holding back.
As the first memories absorbed by the spirit are those of the lowest, darkest ones, the High Priest of Hel claims to be Durkon's worst day personified, presumably leading to resent towards the Dwarven race for the unjustified exile from his home.
A cunning individual, the High Priest has shown proficient at planning in advance and adapting his plans when necessary, having a backup plan in the event that the demigods did not vote as planned.
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
As a vampire spirit controlling the body of a 14th level cleric and befitting his title, the High Priest of Hel is capable of casting spells as a cleric, channeling negative energy. As a vampire, he is also capable of regenerating wounds, draining levels from his opponents and dominating people with his gaze, the first two of which were used to great effect during his fight with Roy Greenhilt.
The High Priest of Hel can forcibly read Durkon's memories and use them to emulate Durkon. Durkon has been trying to use long memories so the Order of the Stick will notice the delay. However, this tactic has proven to be useless as each memory passes within a split-second.
Weapons and EquipmentEdit
"Durkon"* has all of Durkon's possession from life, including:
- Heirloom Light Steel Shield and Warhammer: Durkon has had these throughout the comics, an heirloom of the Thundershield family. However, "Durkon"* has never used the Warhammer, so he may have lost it in Girard's pyramid.
- Full Plate Armor: Since becoming a vampire, Durkon's plate armor has turned black.
- Amulet of Natural Armor: This was picked from the hoard of Xykon after his defeat in the first book.
- Scroll of Sending: V believed Durkon to possess at least one of these items.
- The vampire also possesses: candles, a bedroll, a deck of cards, an unholy symbol, a parcheesi board, a spyglass, religious vestments, a belt pouch, Bleedingham papers, a flask of liquor, and 10,000+ gp of diamond dust
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