Martan Folke is an archer and a tracker. He is a gloomy young man—fatalistic and self-deprecating. His sarcastic attitude is usually aimed at the ironies of life and not at others. He is actually very skilled with a bow and is excellent at tracking and staying hidden in the wild, but because of the lousy cards life has dealt him, Martan has just about given up on himself.
Martan is a rough, disheveled, thin young man, with long brown hair and a close-cropped beard and mustache. In his early twenties, Martan is actually rather handsome, if you look past his unkempt appearance. He typically wears the brown and forest greens of a tracker and always carries a bow and a quiver of arrows slung across his back. He also carries a short sword at his waist, but having no skill with it, only uses the blade in the direst of emergencies.
Martan remembers little of his birth family. They died when he was a toddler, killed in a caravan attack along the east road that runs through the Bendenwoods. By the grace of the gods, the bandits decided to keep Martan alive, and raise him as one of their own. Martan was treated mostly like a slave, forever cleaning up after and fetching things for the bandits. He remembers them as mostly rugged and dirty men, and never felt safe around them.
When Martan was nine years old, the bandit clan had a fateful encounter with some very skilled archers and were completely wiped out. Martan was then sort-of adopted by a grizzled old archer named Dagobitus Coran, and brought to live in Deepwood. Those years were some of the only nearly-happy ones of his life. His happiness mostly revolved around a girl named Kalyn. She was a wild, spirited girl with a strange sense of humor and a quick wit. She was also incredible with a bow.
Unfortunately, Kalyn had two brothers, Decon and Daer, who liked to hassle any boy that got too close to their sister. Decon and Daer made Martan’s life a living hell when Kalyn wasn’t around. He was forever being stuffed in barrels, or chased
through the woods with arrows flying after him. It was a treacherous way to live, but Martan learned quickly how to hide and move stealthily through the forest. Also, thanks to Dagobitus and Kalyn, he became quite proficient with the bow.
Yet fate struck Martan another cruel blow. When he was fifteen, Dagobitus died under very violent and suspicious circumstances. Decon and Daer immediately blamed Martan for the murder. The young archer need to flee for his life or be hanged—Martan chose the former. He did so without even getting to say goodbye to his only friend in the world now, Kalyn. It was something the young man regrets even to this day.
On the run and on his own, Martan headed west, across the mountains, toward Tarsmoor. There he briefly took to his childhood training, joining another bandit gang. Yet Martan was not very good at being a bandit, mostly because he didn’t actually like hurting people. He soon left the bandits and headed north into the woods of the great forest, Ruanaiaith, but there life dealt him another cruel blow. Martan had the misfortune to slay a fourteen-point stag on the hunting preserve of a noble elven house of Kai-Arborous. He was thrown into one of the iron-root dungeons to rot for the rest of his life, for the ironic charge of not being able to read elvish markings. The truth is Martan couldn’t read at all, so even signs in the common tongue wouldn’t have helped him.
Yet in those dungeons, life took another unexpected twist. Martan’s bounty was paid by a man in black robes who called himself Voltark. Of course his release came with a catch—Martan was to escort Voltark and his little band, the Black Adders, over the Korlokessels and around the Bendenwoods to a little town on the east coast called Ravenford. Martan had never heard of the town before, but he knew the passes through the Korlokessels and the hills north of the Bendenwoods like the back of his hand.
Though he suspected this Voltark and crew to be not much better than the bandits he ran with, they had freed Martan, and the archer owed them a debt. He took the job and guided them stealthily around the Bendenwoods, paralleling the east road. The longer Martan traveled with these Black Adders, the less he liked it. They kept separate from him, but from what little he heard, he started to think they were worse than any bandits.
Martan was thinking of ditching the Adders when they reached a strangely barren forest near a lone hill with eerie old ruins on its peak. That is when he first encountered the Heroes of Ravenford. Martan was relieved when the Heroes dispatched the Adders, but he thought for certain he would end up back in a jail cell once more. He was amazed after the Baron of Ravenford let him go, and was shocked when Elladan gave him some coins for his trouble. The only ones who had ever treated him well were Dagobitus and Kalyn, and that bridge had long since been burned.
Martan was not surprised when the Heroes hunted him down again a short time later. He thought for sure that they had changed their minds, and he would end up in a dungeon cell. Yet he was stunned when they offered him a job. The dour archer jumped at the opportunity—he finally had a chance to do something right with his life. Yet Martan soon came to regret his latest decision. These Heroes, while well meaning, where a chaotic bunch—they were just as likely to get themselves killed as not. Still, Martan had sworn to work with them, and was determined not to run away this time. He had much to atone for in his short life, and if he died in the meantime, so be it.