Ash Templeton (aka: Mr Ash, Saint Ashlar, Ashalar, [prefers Ash]) is seven feet tall and has hazel eyes, large hands with long fingers, and long, dark hair (with white streaks leading from his temples). Ashlar is one of the last surviving members of the Taltos species, which was present on earth long before humans evolved. Although he does not give his age, he claims that by the sixth century he has been the leader of his tribe for a thousand years; he also sees the earliest human in Britain, which places him before five thousand B.C. His story is recorded in ancient Talamasca (summarized here) records and in a book that he wrote for St. Columba called History of the Taltos of Britain, but he tells it himself to Michael and Rowan.
Before Ashlar emerges in person, however, others who seek knowledge of him find confusing accounts of him in rare documents. Julien Mayfair (See file on Julien Mayfair) first discovers Ashlar’s name in some old records of the Highland clans in Scotland; they list several different Ashlars living in different eras. Never officially canonized as a saint by the Catholic church, Ashlar reigned as king of the Picts and ruler of High Dearmach until St. Columba converted him in 566. At that time, his wife, Janet, who refused to be converted, died at the stake. Ashlar grieved her loss and legend tells of a spring that gushed forth from the burnt ground; pilgrims later came here for baptism and healing. Legend also holds that Ashlar massacred his own people, the Taltos, in order to build the church of Christ. It is alleged that he declared that his kind had no faith or intention to convert, and so should be murdered, but his actual motive was said to have been his own belief that if the childlike, procreative Taltos learned the ways of civilization, they could never be stopped. As he himself had been to Rome and had spoken to the pope, he no longer considered himself a real Taltos.
Another account indicates that Ashlar defeated the Danes in 5676, while another states that he disappeared from Donnelaith in 1559 – or at least, the cult of Saint Ashlar dissolved at that time. The Scots had once regarded him as the country’s most powerful saint, and Donnelaith Cathedral was his shrine. He came to be known as the saint of the impossible, and young girls who wanted their secret wishes granted called upon him. Witches in the area knew his name, but the Protestants who came into Scotland banned any discussion of this religious superstition.
The Donnelaith clan believed that God’s gist to Ashlar was that he should be born over and over – always to the union between a witch and a member of the clan – and that he would return when needed to drive demons from the glen. They also believed he would ensure that Mary, Queen of Scots, would claim her rightful throne.
Julien suspects that Lasher is in fact the earthbound, vengeful ghost of Ashlar, since their names are similar and both are associated with Donnelaith. Lasher, however, insists that he is not Ashlar. Through him part of the story of the founder of Donnelaith clan opens up (although it is vague and somewhat inaccurate). Lasher recalls having been born during the reign of King Henry VII to Anne Boleyn and her lover, Douglas of Donnelaith, who takes Lasher at once to Donnelaith. Douglas tells him that he is “Ashlar, who comes again” to strengthen his people, the Highland Catholics, against the Protestants. Lasher knows he is different from humans but not much more. He studies in Italy to become a Franciscan priest, but once he is one he comes to realize – most especially when he inadvertently kills those women who engage in sex with him – that he does not fit into the human community at all. His father demands his return to Scotland, and there he reluctantly but dutifully performs the Christmas Eve Mass, amid great controversy and pagan rituals. During the feast that follows, the Protestants and the Little People seduce him into revealing his true nature as a Taltos. With one of the Little People, he breeds others of his kind very quickly, which the Little People use for sacrifice. The Protestants then throw Lasher through a stained glass window that depicts Saint Ashlar, and he dies. This is the year 1559, after which there is no more mention of Ashlar in Donnelaith. Since Lasher failed to protect the Catholic clan and help Mary, the displaced queen, it becomes clear that he is not the Saint Ashlar of everyone’s hopes. Donnelaith then becomes a Presbyterian town.
As it turns out, Lasher is one of the several Taltos born to the clan of Donnelaith, all of whom have been regarded as St. Ashlar returning to his people. An old Scottish legend says that Ashlar returns every few hundred years to help his people. He has special physical characteristics and any male born into the clan with those traits – extreme height, Ashlar’s memories – is declared to be his reincarnation.
The real Ashlar clarifies his identity when he tells his story. In the twentieth century, he is an eccentric but visionary billionaire entrepreneur surrounded by dolls and living in a marble tower in Manhattan. As Mr. Ash or Ash Templeton, he wants to invent parks in the sky, buildings for children, and beautiful one-of-a-kind dolls for the masses. He owns a doll museum and an antique auto museum, both of which are open to the public. Honest and sincere, with no respect for elitist values, he fascinates the humans around him, although no one suspects what he really is. From Michael Curry’s perspective, Ashlar possesses “a graceful frame and easy, efficient movements that indicate both alertness and strength.” He is gentle, direct, and childlike, with excellent reflexes and a strong allure in his eyes and voice. “The man seemed some sort of angelic being, infinitely wise and patient.”
Always on the lookout for another Taltos, particularly a female, he checks out all the tall people he finds. He is profoundly lonely and posseses the desire (Much like many of the Vampires who have expressed the same feelings) for context from another being : “to be known, understood, evaluated morally by a sophisticated mind.” (Ashlar even makes a veiled reference to The Vampire Lestat Lestat: “It’s [this desire has] lured many another secretive nonhuman.”)
Ashlar has one friend, Samuel, a humpbacked, wizened dwarf who is one of the Little People. Samuel urges Ashlar to come to London because a Taltos (Lasher) has come to Donnelaith and because there is corruption in the Talamasca. Ashlar had known the founder of the Order and once had told his story to the scholars there, so he has an interest in restoring it to its original moral integrity.
Ashlar flies to London, revisits Donnelaith to check once more for females – even among his enemies, the Little People – then penetrates the Talamasca to kill whoever is responsible for the corruption. He strangles the Superior General, Anton Marcus, and is ready to kill senior member Stuart Gordon, who is guilty, when Stuart promises to take him to a female Taltos, known as Tessa. Ashlar discovers she is barren and thus useless to him, and leaves her in the care of Talamasca. Stuart also has in his possession the book that Ashlar wrote for St. Columba, and Ashlar retrieves it. Once Stuart dies (killed by Rowan Mayfair) and the Talamasca takes care of his accomplices, Ashlar invites Rowan and Michael to New York to get to know him.
“I have spent most of my life proving to myself that I am as good as human,” he sadly explains. He then describes how he was born on a paradise island that subsequently disappeared into the ocean. When he and his people migrated to Britain, a land of winter, they knew suffering for the first time. Because of his talent for observation and invention, Ashlar became their leader. They eventually adapted to the harsh conditions and developed large settlements (including Stonehenge), but Celtic tribes began to massacre them, driving them from one place to another until they ended up in the Highland glen of Donnelaith. There they heard that the Taltos were hunted as sacred quarry to be used in pagan sacrifices, and so they concealed their settlement for years.
For a long time, Donnelaith was a secure haven for them, but as they learned skills like weaving and writing, knowledge of their tribe spread outside the area. Ashlar knew they would be trapped if humans figured out they were Taltos, so he persuaded his people to pass themselves off as a human tribe, called the Picts. They kept their birth rituals secret and otherwise appeared to be a tribe of tall humans from the north.
Eventually, a monk named Ninian arrived and told Ashlar about Christ and missionary Columba. Enchanted, Ashlar visited Columba, who converted him to Christianity. Ashlar then tried to convince his tribe to follow his lead, but the Taltos Janet led a resistance against the new religion, and most of the Taltos were killed. Janet, one of Ashlar’s former lovers, cursed him as a traitor to his people and prophesied for him a long period of bitter loneliness.
The few Taltos survivors, including Ashlar, burned Janet at the stake and became celibate priests or nuns. Soon they gained a reputation for being a magical priesthood. Ashlar remained troubled because the image of Christ had incited the annihilation of his people and, certain that humans would one day turn on the other Taltos, decided to leave Donnelaith and go on a pilgrimage. On his way out of town, the Little People, the natural enemies of Taltos, attacked him and tore off his clothes, but he escaped. He went on to Glastonbury, Rome, and the Holy Land, with Janet’s curse ever on his mind. He met only a few Taltos, and eventually found no more.
In 1228, over six centuries later, he returned to Donnelaith. To his surprise, he discovered that the townspeople thought he had been murdered and had declared him a saint. They had saved his torn clothing as sacred relics and had built a huge cathedral as his shrine. Another Taltos, born to the human clan of Donnelaith, served as a priest; he regarded himself as Ashlar, come again. This priest knew nothing of any surviving Taltos females, so Ashlar left without revealing his identity.
Ashlar continues to travel, learning the ways of the world through which he could survive and grow wealthy, but never found a mate. He offers his friendship to Rowan and Michael, despite the fact that Rowan has killed the only female Taltos he has heard about in modern times. He tells Rowan that it is better that he not mate because the Taltos can breed so fast that they could overrun humanity and take over the world.
Rowan and Michael agree to keep in touch with him, but then they return to New Orleans, where they discover that Mona Mayfair has given birth to Morrigan, a female Taltos. They debate about whether to tell Ashlar. When they fail to call him in response to the gifts he sends them, he comes to New Orleans to visit them. Walking up to the house, Ashlar discovers Morrigan. The two Taltos run off together to Donnelaith, and Janet’s curse of loneliness is broken.
There is no curren record as to their whereabouts, however, there has been no news to say they are not well and still together (possibly already bred new offspring) somewhere.