Bayrd Bal Lenitonir
The man could have been a hero. Should have been a hero.The Dragon, in reflection
Bayrd would have been the greatest male channeler of the Second Age – would have been a legend, in fact – if not for the curse of having been born into an Age with Lews Therin. Much of the detail concerning his past has been lost, beyond that he was highly accomplished, highly honoured, and highly influential.
He held many high public offices and wrote books on a wide array of subjects that were both critical and popular successes. It was his misfortune that Lews Therin held even higher offices with even greater successes in those offices, and wrote books that achieved greater critical and popular acclaim.The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time
Almost seems to be the story of Bayrd’s life. Born within hours of Lews Therin, he was fated from the start to always live in another man’s shadow, as though his very thread in the Pattern were nothing but a ghost of what it should be.
Bayrd was known to be a humourless individual, rare to smile, but exceptionally bright and highly driven. There is not much to speculate on his personal life, except that he is known to have once courted Lews’ future wife. The rejection is sure to have soured him. He never married or had a family of his own.
His strategic mind first came to the fore during the Collapse, when he unearthed old military writings that re-introduced the forgotten art of war to the Age of Legends. Not only did he make the discovery, but he excelled at learning the skill, proving himself to be a natural and uncannily gifted tactical genius. Keen to make the best use of this new knowledge, he assigned Asristin the task of teaching the other governors during their transition to military leaders.
During the War of Power, Bayrd himself was an effective and highly esteemed General for the Light, with a penchant for gambling on risks that always seemed to pay off. It was the first time he truly excelled to the top of his field in his own right, rather than being eclipsed a close second. But he was bitterly disappointed when Lews was instead appointed the Commander of the Light’s forces, despite all that Bayrd had already done to ensure the Light’s readiness and his opinion that Lews was over-cautious in battle and relied too heavily on luck. He was not the only one stung with jealousy for the man, but he was perhaps the only one who took it so personally — especially when Lews only smirked, smug in his victory.
Regardless of his growing resentments, for a further three years Bayrd fought on in tireless (and in his eyes unrewarded) support of the Light before finally siding with the other Chosen. With himself at the helm, he reasoned the Shadow’s forces would easily prevail. But perhaps more than that, he desired to prove that he could take Lews down in the field. And to do that, they must be on opposite sides of the war.
The Forsaken, Baldragos
For Bayrd, his Turn towards Darkness was a calculated means to an end, and it has always been the Dragon set in his sights. If the Light will not venerate him, he will accept his dues from the Shadow; either way, he will be recognised. From the start he believed himself superior to the other Chosen, who mostly fell for petty or immoral reasons, and even today chooses his alliances among them carefully. In particular he has always been perturbed by Eshamir and his philosophies. For the same reason, he is not fond of Samóch.
Baldragos was (and is) never needlessly cruel, but when he believed it just or necessary he acted ruthlessly during the war, including wiping out two entire cities for slights against him. To be among the Chosen is to be feared, and Baldragos has always been mindful of what the Great Lord enacted upon those of his Chosen whose allegiances were cast in doubt or suspicion. Many fell along that path (and fell screaming), and Baldragos meant to rise to a pinnacle of power, not be crushed under heel. Morality did not weigh on him, though he did understand and sometimes reflected upon the differences between right and wrong.
He amassed a personal army, the Eighty and One, which he used to confront Lews, resulting in the death of one of the Light’s clerks by Lews’ own clumsy hand. Yet despite commanding legions of thousands for the Shadow, and being the best of its venerated Generals, Bayrd has never loved war and it brings him no joy to witness the slaughter. Even watching the most complex of his plans coming to fruition brings him little satisfaction.
He was present at Shayol Ghul when the Companions attempted to seal the bore, and was trapped alongside the twelve other most powerful of the Chosen at that time. He slept for 3,000 years.
When he first awakened into the Third Age, Baldragos wasted no time in reclaiming his power. At Eshamir’s direction he was the first to leverage Arikan’s loyalty, tasked with monitoring and mentorship. He additionally recruited others among the darkfriends to aid his own ambitions, including Mazrim Taim. Baldragos openly views others as tools, and is blunt in his lack of emotion or attachment, but nonetheless sees no reason not to treat his tools well, and does not break or discard them frivolously. Though he punishes failure harshly, it is never with malice. Loyalty is always rewarded. He maintains high expectations of those allowed into his inner circle.
Believing his best chance at the Dragon lay in infiltrating the Black Tower, he placed Taim there as a spy and informant to win his trust by helping to raise the ranks of Asha’man. The Dark Lord’s instruction was that the Dragon was not to be harmed, and as such Baldragos remained on the peripheral biding his time. Little is known of his actions or whereabouts at this time. Though he attended meetings with the other Chosen in Tel’aran’rhiod, he only ever enacted his orders through those he commanded.
Ever the tactician, Baldragos was thinking ahead. In truth he spent many of those years studying myths and old stories in order to painstakingly piece together the location of the D’jedt, a sa’angreal of exceptional power that had been locked away in the War of Power and later become known as the Sakarnen. Though he eventually found the rod, he was enraged to realise the sa’angreal was separated into two pieces. His quest remained incomplete for many more years.
Meanwhile he was present at saidin’s cleansing, taking but ultimately failing in the opportunity to kill the Dragon when the Great Lord’s protections briefly lapsed. Later he acted once more, this time to order Arikan (who was at the time instructed to live amongst the Asha’man) to assassinate M’hael Shadow al’Mere, causing instability and chaos that preceded the assault on Tar Valon. The other Chosen were disturbed by the notion of another joining their ranks, but Baldragos saw only the potential for a stronger ally. He’d taught Asristin warfare himself, and Arikan showed exceptional promise; he had no doubt of his success.
As a result he found the dreadlord’s spectacular failure bitterly disappointing, and perhaps a personal affront.
By now Baldragos was certain he would be named Naeblis, so when the title was instead given to the resurrected Mordred old resentments stirred. But what had once been discomfort finally amassed into cold intuition. Though he said nothing to the others, it was then he first began to realise that the Great Lord did not actually intend there to be a world for the Chosen to rule.
While the others fell to conquering the Westlands, or hiding themselves away to wait out the carnage, Baldragos turned his sights firmly elsewhere.
Baijan the Wyld
You have brought us unity. You have brought us glory. The Dragon has come[.] Every man and woman in the land can feel it. He will try to destroy the world, and only you can stop him.River of Souls
In Shara he finally found a way to claim the accolades he believed he was due.
He had first came among them posing as a slave, intending little more than to sew chaos as per the Great Lord’s instruction — unwittingly and unknowingly aided by Gaemori’s abduction of their Sh’boan and her betrothed, which had broken Shara’s line of succession for the first time since its founding and plunged the nation into unrest. The other Chosen underestimated the use of such an undeveloped people. But not Baldragos.
As Baijan he led a slave rebellion and was adopted by an elderly abrishi man. Afterwards came the revolution; he freed the male Ayyad, who were kept as little more than breeding stock, and upon releasing them from their bondage taught them to channel, giving them the name The Freed. The men, strange and feral and tattooed, were rabidly loyal. In doing so, Baldragos had unknowingly begun to fulfil the Sharan’s prophecy of the Wyld.
Much as the Dragon united the nations of the other half of the world, so too did Baldragos go on to unite the people of Shara. At cost he formed an alliance with the female Ayyad, the true powers of Shara, and found a lover in one of their leaders. Devious, capable, and powerful, she has been his greatest supporter.
So it is, over the years since his release — while the other Chosen continued to squabble in the Westlands, entirely unaware of his actions — Baldragos had been forging an empire.
After Arikan’s presumed death, he left the Westlands entirely, determined to finish what he had started. If he was concerned at the way he noticed himself softening towards the people he secretly ruled, it did not dissuade him from pursuing his vengeance against the Dragon. If the Pattern came to an end, he would die finally securing his superiority over Lews Therin. If it did not, he planned to use his position to protect the Sharan people from what was to come. But ultimately, the Dragon was all that mattered to him.
Marked by a thrice barbed circle on his palm, Baldragos eventually followed the path of prophecy as though destiny guided his feet. He came to walk the Angarai’la, where silkworms nibbled at the trees along the lost river of souls. There he entered the Hearttomb, slew the last of the powerful Jumara, destroyed the head of the Nym, and finally claimed the second half of the Sakarnen.
His experiences in Shara have made subtle changes in him. Even the other Chosen have noticed and remarked amongst themselves. Baldragos has adapted too well to this world and Age, as though he was meant for it all along.
He has been blunt explaining his intentions to the Ayyad, and to his lover in particular. He has told her he is incapable of returning her affection, that he is here only for the prize which will win his war — that he will commit actions most would name evil, and even that he is manipulating their prophecies to his own end, and does not believe them. All of it is true. And yet, though the Sharans do not follow the Great Lord nor wish to, they follow him still. And though Baldragos will not admit the stirrings in his chest, he has lived among them now for more than a decade.
The day they declared him the Wyld was the first time he had smiled in years.
6th Age: Baldr, Norse god of Light famed for his death