Vajra Valmeyjar was a female human fighter and a slave-warrior of the Arena of Blood in Manshaka in the 1350s DR. She famously escaped and went on to become an adventuress in Waterdeep and later even a duchess of the Kingdom of Tethyr.
Vajra, a Tethyrian by birth, was a tall and powerfully built warrior, standing 6'1" (1.85 m) high and being exceptionally muscular. She had pale-green eyes, brown skin, and blue-black hair. She kept her hair short, except for a long braid falling down to the small of her back, though she later grew her hair longer. However, as a starving child, she was rake-thin and small.
She still wore her gladiator's manacles from the Arena of Blood, which proved useful in scaring any who would try to pick a fight with her. Even when she had become a noble of Tethyr, she changed her style of dress little, despite this bothering her courtiers substantially.
Vajra was exceedingly stubborn, which served her well on the battlefield but also irked some of her courtiers. She found it humorous that she ended up a duchess. She always strongly opposed injustice, especially slavery. Vajra hated the sea.
As an adventurer in 1357 DR, Vajra said she believed only in steel and a strong right hand. Her experiences of betrayal at a young age and fighting as a slave-gladiator hardened her heart, shutting out much personal pain, but also chances to feel love or joy. Her friend Luna worked to open her heart again.
She preferred not to talk about her past as a slave, except to make casual mention. As a free woman, she was determined never to be made a slave again, and would rather die than return to the arenas of Manshaka. She declared that Duum never broke her spirit.
Vajra was an expert warrior, with a keen tactical sense and always organizing her fellows in battle and exhorting them to action.
Vajra's sword was called "Moonblaze". It was crafted by Brian the Swordmaster of Waterdeep and directly enchanted by Selûne to protect Vajra in a battle she had with a tanar'ri. The blade was a cold-flaming longsword that was more powerful when wielded against outsiders and worshipers of Shar. The sword's strength depended on the current phase of the moon.
The slave manacle she wore on her right wrist was in the shape of a skull, the teeth of which could be used for cutting bonds. The manacle on her left wrist concealed a built-in dagger that could be extended for combat. Both manacles were gold.
As royal warlord, Lady Valmeyjar was commander of the combined armed forces of all Tethyr.
Many a mother in Tethyr had pushed her sons to join the army, in hopes that they would be able to meet and woo the great Vajra Valmeyjar. This resulted in a large surge in the size of the army but in no duke-consort for Vajra.
Vajra Valmeyjar was born in Tethyr but became an orphan early in its civil war (which began in Eleint, 1347 DR), when she was separated from her family. Orphaned and alone in a small market town gutted by conflict, "Vaji", as she was then known, lived on the streets, begging and stealing food to survive.
After pinching a loaf of bread and fighting to keep it from other street-kids who tried to take it from her, she was found by a warrior, thief, and con-artist named Conner. He later claimed he'd been impressed by her spirit and determination. Taking Vaji under his wing, he fed her, cleaned her, trained her as a thief and cutpurse, and taught her to fight. She even learned to enjoy life again. Conner used young Vaji as a distraction for his stealing; for example, she would distract a shopkeeper by asking for a treat as Conner fished through the money-box.
Together, they later fled south to Calimshan.[note 1] There, Conner and Vaji ran confidence tricks in all the major cities: Memnon, Teshburl, Calimport, and Keltar. In the great city of Calimport, they easily swindled small-time merchants and travelers out of modest amounts, then laid low in another part of the city. When the local authorities began to grow alert or suspicious, they moved on. In this way, they enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle, faced few serious risks and nothing life-threatening, and made it through a few escapades.
Finally, the pair went to Manshaka, where law was loose and guards and authorities corrupt, so Conner and Vaji felt safe enough to attempt grander and more profitable cons. Thus, Conner approached Pasha Abon Duum (in fact the tyrannical crime-lord ruler of Manshaka) with a scam in which he claimed that Vaji was the intended bride of Hoar, god of retribution. So impressed was Duum by Vaji that he initially believed this outlandish tale, but even after he came to doubt it, he still desired her. Thus, when Conner's scheme at last went wrong, he was forced to sell Vaji as a slave to Duum, so that he could go free, with their money. She was only twelve years of age at the time. For a long time, she blamed herself, fearing she had done something to make Conner dislike her, but afterward she would always hate him.
Duum placed young Vajra with his stable of gladiators at the Arena of Blood in Manshaka, where she learned the arts of the sword, spear, and net and honed her natural talent for combat.. She became the most accomplished of Duum's stable. She slew creatures such as a bugbear and a reptilian, and the crowds roared her name, but she never deigned to respond. However, she found steadfast companions in her fellow gladiators, such as Salabak.
However, after a decade,[note 2] she had had enough and wanted out. Escaping, she seriously wounded several of Duum's best fighters and escaped from the labyrinth of corridors below the arena (which she'd spent two years memorizing) and into freedom, being one of only two slaves to ever successfully do so. She left behind her fellow gladiators, and would for a long time fear they remained captives or had inevitably been killed.
A wanted woman in Calimshan, Vajra fled north, back to Tethyr, fighting for a time as a mercenary in the civil wars. Later, she journeyed further north, serving as a bodyguard in Athkatla, Amn. However, Abon Duum sent bounty hunters after her, seeking to punish and reclaim his champion gladiator; his bounty was incredible but was only half if she was killed. Vajra was forced to leave the southern lands and go into the North. She ultimately came to Waterdeep, where slavery was forbidden, and settled there. Over the years, many bounty hunters were sent to recover her, but she would escape from them all.
In Waterdeep, Vajra took work as a bouncer at a new inn, the Selûne's Smile. She became friends with its proprietress, Luna, and developed a good working relationship. She fondly remembered its quiet but sociable and friendly atmosphere. Even after she left her employment, Vajra remained friends with Luna, who sometimes contacted her with unusual jobs that suited her abilities.
Gathering of HeroesEdit
In the Year of the Prince, 1357 DR, Luna summoned Vajra to the Selûne's Smile to help with a dangerous task. Luna introduced her to Cybriana, Timoth Eyesbright, and Onyx the Invincible, who'd been seeking the paladin Priam Agrivar. Vajra, in fact, had already found him, recognizing the drunken beggar outside, to whom she'd given coin for a drink, as the fallen paladin. She led the group to him and they rescued him from thugs.
Together, the heroes journeyed into the wilderness to seek the famed smith Jogaoh, a dwarven smith whose forge it was said could create works of magic, whom Onyx believed could help restore strength to Priam's arms. On the way, they were lured into a trap and attacked by a dustdigger—in truth a pet of Jogaoh. Vajra led the others in attacking the monster until Jogaoh called it off. Jogaoh agreed to help, provided the companions retrieved something from atop nearby Stoner's Needle. After battling ghoul warriors in the night, of which Vajra slew two, they ascended the rocky tower, Vajra simply carrying both Priam and Jogaoh. Reaching the summit, Jogaoh revealed he too was a victim of Imgig Zu, his arms similarly withered, but he had forged for himself enchanted gauntlets that gave him strength. Jogaoh gave these to Priam and took a basilisk-guarded gem that restored the dwarf to his true form, that of a fire elemental. At that point, the basilisk awoke and attacked Vajra and Priam. Vajra led Priam in attack, but although he had his strength back, he still lacked his courage, and froze from fear rather than the basilisk's gaze. Vajra slew the basilisk, using the reflection of the gem so it would turn itself to stone, saving Priam. Ashamed, Priam left, rather than be a burden on the companions. Shortly after, bounty seekers of Manshaka ambushed the group, throwing a rope around Vajra's neck. They ultimately subdued Vajra and the adventurers were all captured. Abon Duum wanted his champion gladiator back.
Regaining his courage, Priam intercepted the bounty seekers, passed a dagger to Vajra, and launched an ambush. Vajra freed herself and defeated the warrior woman of the band. The companions fought their way free, overpowered the bounty seekers, and left them tied up in a net dangling from a tree, before continuing on their way.Later, the group heard chasme pursuing new victims and raced to the rescue. Vajra, familiar with their powers, rode one of the fly demons down. That night, Cybriana's dark twin Kilili lured the party close to the tower of Imgig Zu, master of the chasme. Imgig's gargoyles attacked the party, snatching up Vajra and all bar Timoth. Vajra, Priam, and Onyx escaped the gargoyles onto the top of the tower, and got inside. But Imgig collapsed his own tower on them to cover his flight. The heroes escaped into the base of the tower, and were reunited with Timoth. However, Vajra was badly battered in the collapse, though Priam saved her from being crushed. Priam summoned his long-unused paladin powers to heal Vajra's injuries, though she was left with an injured right arm—a handicap in battle. Entering the caverns, the heroes battled through Imgig's ogre minions, Vajra making do without a sword, and following a trail of flowers conjured by Cybriana to where she was held. Here, Imgig Zu announced he would use the combined powers of Cybriana and Kilili to open the Selûne's Eye and release his long-imprisoned people to overrun and conquer the Realms. Too late, Imgig's people escaped, and still the ogres subdued the heroes. An exultant Imgig taunted Priam and threatened to kill him. But, just then, the roof of the cavern tore open and the brilliant light of the full moon shone through, blinding the ogres. Priam slew Imgig Zu and Cybriana merged with Kilili to form the living key to Selûne's Eye, drawing all of Imgig's people back within, saving the Realms from devastation at the cost of her unique identity. She became Kyriani.
The heroes returned to Selûne's Smile where Luna rewarded them. Vajra returned to work as the Smile's bouncer. Unbeknownst to Vajra, her old mentor and betrayer Conner would come back into her life when he found himself at the Selûne's Smile whilst trying to protect the cat child. Conner studiously avoided meeting her, admitting that to Luna that their reunion would be unhappy, that Vajra would likely kill him on sight, and that he'd deserve it.
Return to ManshakaEdit
Duum's bounty hunters caught up with Vajra again: as she slept in her room in the Smile, a trio hit her with a poison dart then clubbed her unconscious. They rode off with her, but even beaten, bound, and drugged she put up a fight and briefly escaped. Fortunately, Conner discovered what had happened and he and Timoth, eventually caught up with the band, as did Vajra's old fellow gladiator Salabak. Rescued, Vajra was reunited with Salabak, but accused Conner of being complicit in the abduction. Vajra told Timoth of her past, how Conner had used her and then sold her into slavery. Returning to Waterdeep and the Smile, they discovered the patrons unconscious; recovering, Kyriani explained that more bounty hunters and a mage had put a potion in their drinks and kidnapped the cat child.
Vajra, Conner, and Salabak tracked the mage, Chancil Crystalheart, to Memnon in Calimshan. Although waylaid by his agents, they tricked one into leading them to Chancil's house, where they learned he had the cat child and served Vajra's old foe, Abon Duum. Meanwhile, Vajra began a romantic relationship with Salabak. Under protest, Vajra pretended to be Conner's captive as he tried to collect her bounty from Chancil in order to steal back the cat child. However, the plan failed when Vajra couldn't escape the bonds Conner had tied too tightly, and thought he had double-crossed her. She escaped, abandoning the cat child. The pair parted on bad terms again, then Vajra was knocked out from behind.
When she awoke, she found she was again Duum's captive in Manshaka, a position she had long fought to avoid. She remained defiant, but Duum threatened her with the corrupted cat child. Once again, he made her a gladiator in the Arena of Blood. Pitted against a troll, she hacked its arm off, skewered it on her sword, then drove it into an otyugh kept to devour carrion, all to the cheers of the crowd. But when Salabak created an illusory manticore to assault Duum, Vajra escaped, first trying unsuccessfully to rescue the cat child, before fleeing into the tunnels beneath the Arena that she still knew so well, even if she now had to battle a blue dragon guardian. She was aided by the surprise appearance of the Catlord, and reunited with Salabak and Conner, but the Catlord appeared to slay Conner for his failings. Vajra was shocked and grieved, despite hating him.
They left Manshaka and hid in a swamp, where the Catlord told the secret of the cat child and Conner's role in his protection. Vajra was torn over her mixed feelings for Conner, but was consoled by Salabak. However, she awoke to find Duum and his forces had captured the lot of them, with Salabak in his employ. It had been the treacherous Salabak who'd knocked her out and delivered her to Duum, so he could claim the reward himself. Duum went on with his scheme, using the Catlord's power to take them all to the plane of Gladsheim to confront Tyr, god of justice. There, Conner revealed himself, having faked his death with the Catlord's aid, Duum was thwarted and left to face Justice itself, and Tyr sent Vajra, Conner, and the Catlord back to the swamp. At last, Vajra had a showdown against her true betrayer, Salabak. She knocked him into a bog, and he tried to drag her in and down with him, but a froghemoth burst out and devoured him. Vajra grieved and was comforted by Conner, who told of his many attempts to rescue her from the Arena of Blood. The two were reconciled. Later, as Vajra and her friends celebrated at Selûne's Smile, Conner spoke with Luna, deducing her to be the goddess Selûne who'd been aiding and guiding him. She explained she'd done so, not to redeem Conner, but to open Vajra's heart again.
Later that year, an interdimensional wormhole (from the Great Door) opened in the darkened skies over Waterdeep, disgorging a swarm of gargoyles and kenkus. Vajra and Timoth battled the flying creatures until they were overwhelmed and sought shelter in the Smile at Luna's behest. They watched the City Guard and Khelben Arunsun hold them off.
On the hottest day of summer, 1357 DR, Vajra and Timoth arm-wrestled in the Smile as Onyx collected bets. Little did they know that, in the skies above, the constellations of the Woman Warrior and the Centaur were in alignment, giving power to their contest. This power merged with sweltering magic to open a door to an extra-dimensional prison, releasing Aviss and Fellandar to wreak a path of destruction in the city. Khelben Arunsun urged Vajra and Timoth to continue arm-wrestling to hold the door open, before he hurled the villains back in. Vajra and Timoth broke off, leaving the winner unknown and Onyx struggling to pay back his bets.
After she parted ways with her friends, she headed north to hire herself out as a mercenary. In the Year of the Turret, 1360 DR, Vajra fought with many other great heroes and heroines against the Tuigan Horde. It was during this time that she first met Zaranda Star, the future queen of Tethyr.
The Reclamation WarsEdit
When Prince Haedrak and Perendra Raslemtar arrived in Waterdeep in the Year of the Banner, 1368 DR to gather support for the lost heir of Tethyr, Vajra and her friends Timoth and Onyx quickly joined up with the cause, even before Vajra learned that they would be supporting her old friend Zaranda Star.
Vajra, along with Perendra Raslemtar, Onyx, and Ondul Jarduth, was one of the adventurers who teleported into Myratma to sabotage that city and create a distraction for Haedrak to rescue Zaranda from the clutches of Safana Aldhanek. This proved a great help to the Loyalist army's efforts.
Because of her superb combat leadership in the last battles of the Reclamation Wars in the Year of the Gauntlet, 1369 DR, she was granted the position of royal warlord and awarded the noble title of Duchess of Ankaram.
- ↑ "Shackles of the Past" (#13) describes Vajra as a thief and con-artist in Tethyr before going to Calimshan with Conner, but is contradicted by summaries of her early life in "The Bounty Seekers Of Manshaka" (#2) and "Rogue's Gallery: The Heroes of Selûne's Smile" in Dragon #246, which state that the orphaned Vajra fled south to Calimshan and there met Conner and became a thief and con-artist. The former account is non-specific and was written before Vajra's early life was fleshed out in #13, while the latter appears to be a misreading of the story in #13. This article adopts the sequence of events in #13, as it is a clear and unambiguous flashback.
- ↑ "Rogue's Gallery: The Heroes of Selûne's Smile" says Vajra was a gladiator "for ten years", but with the Tethyrian civil war beginning in 1347 DR and the comics' present day being 1357 DR, this leaves very little time for her prior career as a con-artist or her intervening career as a mercenary. It seems more likely this "ten years" is rounded up from 7, 8, or 9 years.
- Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (comic book series)
- vol. 1, issue 1: "The Gathering"
- vol. 1, issue 2: "The Bounty Seekers Of Manshaka"
- vol. 1, issue 3: "The Secret of Selûne's Eye"
- vol. 1, issue 4: "Sorcerer's Moon"
- vol. 1, issue 5: "The Spirit of Myrrth: Part 1 of 4"
- vol. 2, issue 13: Spell Games, Part 1: "Shackles of the Past"
- vol. 2, issue 14: Spell Games, Part 2: "Shell Game"
- vol. 2, issue 15: Spell Games, Part 3: "Cat & Mouse"
- vol. 2, issue 16: Spell Games, Part 4: "The Last Betrayal"
- vol. 2, issue 18: "Day of the Darkening"
- vol. 4, issue 33: "Summer in the City"
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 Steven E. Schend (1997). Lands of Intrigue: Book One: Tethyr. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 78–79. ISBN 0-7869-0697-9.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Steven E. Schend (1997). Lands of Intrigue: Book One: Tethyr. (TSR, Inc.), p. 39. ISBN 0-7869-0697-9.
- ↑ 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 Dan Mishkin (December 1989). “Shackles of the Past”. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #13 (DC Comics).
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Michael Fleisher (December 1988). “The Gathering”. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #1 (DC Comics).
- ↑ 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.18 5.19 5.20 5.21 Michael Fleisher (January 1989). “The Bounty Seekers Of Manshaka”. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #2 (DC Comics).
- ↑ 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 Dale Donovan (April 1998). “Rogues Gallery: The Heroes of Selûne's Smile”. Dragon #246 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 70–74.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Steven E. Schend (1997). Lands of Intrigue: Book Three: Erlkazar & Folk of Intrigue. (TSR, Inc), p. 30. ISBN 0-7869-0697-9.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 Dan Mishkin (March 1990). “The Last Betrayal”. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #16 (DC Comics).
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Dan Mishkin (May 1990). “Day of the Darkening”. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #18 (DC Comics), pp. 1–6.
- ↑ Steven E. Schend (1997). Lands of Intrigue: Book One: Tethyr. (TSR, Inc.), p. 10. ISBN 0-7869-0697-9.
- ↑ Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 139. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 Dan Mishkin (February 1990). “Cat & Mouse”. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #15 (DC Comics).
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 Steven E. Schend and Dale Donovan (September 1998). Empires of the Shining Sea. (TSR, Inc), p. 110–111. ISBN 978-0786912377.
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Michael Fleisher (February 1989). “The Secret of Selûne's Eye”. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #3 (DC Comics).
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 15.2 Michael Fleisher (March 1989). “Sorcerer's Moon”. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #4 (DC Comics).
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Dan Mishkin (September 1991). “Summer in the City”. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #33 (DC Comics).
- ↑ Dan Mishkin, Jan Duursema (April 1989). “The Spirit of Myrrth”. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #5 (DC Comics).
- ↑ Dan Mishkin (January 1990). “Shell Game”. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #14 (DC Comics).
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 Steven E. Schend (1997). Lands of Intrigue: Book One: Tethyr. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 43–45. ISBN 0-7869-0697-9.