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I've been envisioning a character, name of Solomon Knox, a human inquisitor with the Trickery and Deception domain and subdomain. Solomon's ideals stem from a disillusionment with government and by extension the Cheliaxian state of affairs. It began with the murder of his parents, both of them "heathens" and "blasphemers" of the goddess Calistria. He has since forgone religion, but has instead taken upon himself one very specific mantra: Defiance. He has since acted as a saboteur, utilizing subterfuge and deception to fool the Cheliaxian authorities and defy them at every turn, yet he has not yet realized the freedom fighter mantra as his own. The trauma of his childhood has warped his mind a tad, but it's nothing to be concerned about. He's no rapist or murderer or devil worshiping nimrod. He's simply, well, off. His speech mannerisms are strange, sounding almost alien at times, providing his own idiosyncratic thought processes into his speech. He has a tendency to trail off mid sentence or ignore somebody he's talking to entirely.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder
I would, with this path, pick the Diabolist Raised trait to complement his backstory.
Nonchalant Thuggery: You gain a +4 trait bonus on Bluff checks to keep others from noticing your aggressive actions.
In the lands of Cheliax, in the city of Westcrown, in the middle of a busy street a hunter of men sat on a bench. His name was Solomon Knox.
They were like a swarm of honey bees, buzzing and buzzing hither and to, back and forth in myriad mesmerizing patterns and swaths of color. Millions upon millions of colorful men and women, shades of blue and red and colors beyond the recognizable pallet, going about daily lives of the grandest monotony, la-ti-da-ti-da.
Solomon did his best to ignore them.
"No, gotta focus, got things to do, people to threaten, things to do." Solomon's eyes glanced back and forth across the horizon of the busy street. He blinked once, twice, thrice and blinked some more, trying the clear away the images that arrayed themselves before his eyes.
"Kind of pretty," he said aloud to himself. Loud enough, at least for the several other people on the bench to glance to the left and towards him, eyebrows raised. Solomon hoped these pedestrians weren't the talkative type. He didn't feel like talking to the talkative types. It was always easier talking to the non-talkative types. They didn't talk as much.
It was a bright day in Westcrown, crown jewel of the Chelexian Empire. The sun shone through the clouds in gaping candescences of maroon and inflamed magenta. Solomon couldn't help but think the entire cobblestone street was awash with blood. Buildings of wood and stone towered overhead, but to no avail, blocking none of the brilliant incandescence.
"No, no, mind wandering, gotta focus, gotta... hey look a butterfly! No, stop that!" The other people on the bench were looking at him even stranger now. Solomon really needed to learn how to filter these things.
He was attracting to much attention on the bench. He stood up quickly and began marching in the opposite direction he was previously facing, keeping one eye towards the right of his person. This area of the street was a three way intersection, and the hustle and bustle of the city made looking at any one thing before it was obscured by a thousand passing wagons and people an impossibility. To track somebody in the city from ground level, as opposed to scaling the nearby rooftops to look down from below like some haughtily unconvincing bird of prey, Solomon subscribed to the theory that a vague direction is always better than a straight path to a target.
At the very least, it made the chase a lot more interesting.
Trouble was, Solomon forgot who he was tracking. The thoughts tried with great effort to reorganize themselves in Solomon’s mind, but nothing seemed to come to him.
The streets were packed with wagon caravans and merchants hocking an always random assortment of paraphernalia. Used to be a lot more religious flavor about though. Solomon stopped for a second and wondered what happened to all that. He was buffeted forward by several different passing wagons, each moving in exact opposite directions. He felt his knees buckle and his arms flayed back and forth as he catapulted himself on one leg into a small alleyway to his right.
He landed in a puddle. It was a hard landing and his legs throbbed in agony with the impact. "Ow," he said with only the subtlest inflection of irony. The puddle was clear and the water was still swaying and wobbling with his impact. He could see his reflection though.
Give Solomon Knox just a cursory glance, and you won't see much. The face face that stared back at him was entirely unremarkable. His gaunt face gave his skin a taught look and his eyes angled downward towards his nose, giving his face the appearance that he was always puzzling something out. Tanned skin, brown hair and eyes, average looks, marred only by the slightest and lightest of burn marks and the side of his kneck, had gotten Solomon far in a city where different had become a mark deserved of a good beating. Give him a good look though, stare into the blank limpid pools of brown murky water of his eyes however, and you'll something completely out of the ordinary.
He blinked and blinked again and blinked some more, anxious, nervous because he remembered things. It was difficult to remember what it was he was remembering. He thought long and hard. A house in Westcrown, an abusive father, a drunk mother, both clerics of Calistria.
"Ahhh, bloody nostalgia time. Just love the nostalgia." Solomon gritted his teeth and pounded the ground with a clenched fist as he stood up. He plunged down towards the other side of the alleyway, acutely aware of where his target now was. The rays of opulent sunlight reached a twilight as they entered the apex of the looming houses above him. He bathed in the half-light of the reeking alleyway, smelling of ammonia, gutters and burnt corpses.
"There are no burnt corpses, 'least not here." He blinked his eyes furiously. He kept seeing it, Asmodeus inquisitors, house fire, his mother coerced into out the window into the street amidst yells of "fire," "spies," or "heretics". He saw his father wrapped in flames, screaming his final adulations to the savored sting, his entire cadaver burrowed in a brilliant glorious pire as it descended down right on top of him.
The real Solomon Knox touched the side of his neck where the faint burn mark lied. He whispered to himself as he walked down the alleyway, still blocked fromt he shine of ruby light. He felt his father's hair lap down the side of his neck. Solomon, then and now, repressed a scream, pummeling his way out from underneath his father's melting corpse. He felt whispers in the back of his skull, coercing, numbing his spine and splitting each of his hairs with one little saying, one tiny phrase repeated verbatim again and again and again. "Give in," "Give in," "Feed the fire," "Submit."
Solomon, now, choked out one word with harried breath, "Defy."
He emerged from the alleyway and turned a sharp right, barreling over a gnome driving two horses behind him. Solomon stepped unhurriedly, purposefully, through the crowd with nary a thought on his mind.
"Today I defy," he said, aloud, loud enough to be heard by everybody and nobody. The conformist crowd walking about him exchanged nervous glances with itself, but kept moving, not wanting to be caught amiss of current goings on.
His dark grey robes flapped about him in ways that defied the direction of the wind. His armored coat felt light as a feather, red mixed with black. He stood out from the crowd and now the pedestrians parted in his wake, like a till plowing through a field of people.
He reached the Limehouse Theater, and there he was.
"My lord are you beautiful," he said to nobody in particular.
The man was short and stocky, long flowing black hair falling to his half-plate decorated with the sigils of the noble House Mezinas. His nose was squat and stuck inward towards his face. He stood in the square outside the theater, bartering with a merchant over grain or lettuce or some other nonsense.
"Hmmm, no fish," said Solomon Knox as he went traipsing down the edge of the square amidst the crowd. "I could go for some fish"
Solomon reached the other end of the merchant's booth on the opposite side of the short man from House Mezinas. Stepping over to the left side of the merchant Solomon reached over and threw the merchant aside, reaching over to rest his hands on the edge of the stall.
"It's an absolute travesty," he said to the man and the man just stood there gaping wide eyed at the occurrence.
"What is, what is the meaning of this, what are you..."
Solomon cut him off. "This man isn't selling any fish." His smile was slack, leaning over across his jowl in a half-crescent shape.
"I ask again, citizen, what is the meaning of this disturbance? I'll have you know..." The man looked anxious, scared. His eyes darted past looking for an exit strategy."
Solomon gave him one.
"Do you enjoy your life?" He asked. "Do you enjoy murder and oppression as much as I enjoy it? 'Cause we enjoy it for different reasons. You enjoy causing it, fear and misery, just as much as I enjoy ending the men who cause fear and misery."
Solomon feigned a step to the left side of cart and the Paladin bolted down towards the right, giving oh so merry a chase.
He led Solomon past streams of the denizens of Westcrown as people again parted from both of them. He led him down one block before making his way into an alleyway to the right.
Solomon ran in there gleefully. Out of the pocket of his robes he detached a punching dagger and detached the cover, placing it around his knuckles and in his palm. Then the man sprung the "trap." Solomon saw him, perched up in the second floor window of the building to his right. A damn good climber considering the plate armor.
He feigned ignorance, walking slowly towards where he was perched, not once looking up. Near the end of the alleyway, without glancing up he said, "Quick, kill me before it's too late!"
The Paladin was stunned, but only for a moment. He leapt down towards Solomon, shortsword brandished in his hand, curving forward for a downward slash that he could use the rolling momentum to absorb the shock of the fall. Man was like a gorilla.
He came down with full force and Solomon just stood there, not enough time to react, but as the blow came to pass through him, he was no longer there, but was just five feet from where he was standing. The man landed gracefully, but as he rolled he yelped in desperate anguish as the punching dagger Solomon left standing face up on the ground caught him in his shin. It seemed to penetrate the plate armor, but just barely.
Solomon was already on top of him as he landed against the nearby wall. He reached down and yanked the shortsword out of his grasp while kicking at the blade imbedded in his armor. He kicked and blinked and kicked and blinked until the Paladin was howling for mercy, blood pooling at the base of his armor. Solomon wrenched the dagger out and pinned the man against the wall, pointing the dagger at his throat.
In spite of everything the man let out a sly grin. "You know you've accomplished nothing. There are several of my brethren delivering these documents as we speak. He nodded towards a small pouch at his side where a piece of rolled up parchment stuck conspicuously out.
Solomon was staring at the wall above him. "What? Sorry, I wasn't paying attention."
"The documents," he said in exasperation. Solomon responded, "what documents?"
The man had a pained expression of confusion painted across his face. The light shone there, on his face, the deep maroon opulence that it always was in this city. "What do you mean, 'what documents?'" He was staring at Solomon, angry. "What were you after me for then? Do you know who I am?!"
"Wait, give me a second, I know this. Hmmmm, tip of the tongue. Could be... nope. Terribly sorry, I forget these things often. I am what I am and..." he broke off mid sentence.
The man was aghast. A sickly color rose of from the base of his neck. "So you waylay me, attack me, torture me, and you don't even know my name? Are you often so arbitrary?"
Solomon leaned in closer. "I do not remember your name, but names are fleeting; they change like the time of day. Things you've done, however, I know exactly what you've done. Quantifiably, you've killed seventeen people in total, eight men, six women, three children!" He leaned in close, close enough to kiss the man on the ear, knife still close pressed up against his neck. Into his ear he whispered, "I know you raped three of them, two of the women, one of the children."
The man was sobbing now, pleading, begging like a sorry dog begs for scraps.
"You've got one chance, one chance only to answer my question, and I may spare your life." The man looked up at Solomon, hopeful. "Tell me..." he looked suddenly lost. His eyes stared up towards the sky, towards the radiance and beauty that showered his world in a crimson haze.
"Tell me, does Shattered Cross Inn serve fish?" The man looked up in wild panic, all hope draining from his face. He let out a fat wheezing sound from the base of his throat, but that was the extent of it response.
Solomon's mouth was a small crease embedded in the front of his mouth unmoving. He eyes sat fixated on the Paladin's forehead and he blinked rapidly, unstopping. Wordlessly he moved his hand onto his forehead and pressed down, harder and harder and a soft scorching sound echoed off the walls pressed about them in the alleyway. It was the sound that fish makes as it is fried.
The Paladin started screaming, thrashing as his skin burned at Solomon's touch. He had to hold him down with his other hand. At once the burning stopped and Solomon removed his hand. Where once his hand had pressed there was only one six letter word, "R-A-P-I-S-T"
The man was shaking violently. "Unfortunately it's not permanent," said Solomon, "because as much as I despise torture I have to get some message across." He looked down on the sorry Paladin. "You and your ilk, you defy everything that I stand for, and that's not acceptable, really, no. See, I am the one who defies." He leaned in closer to him. "He spoke as softly as he could while still being heard. He said, "I defy," and promptly brought his boot down on his head.
In a matter of moments he was off, off to find the Shattered Cross Inn, hoping to find some fish. He was a saboteur but not a rebel, a hunter of the diabolists who hoped to control them, but was not their sworn enemy, not yet anyway. He knew, at least, that he would never be at a loss for his purpose. He would defy to the very end, even as the entirety of Westcrown collapsed around him.
On the day she was born Antumbra woke up screaming. Her voice was shrill, charged with lightning that cracked down on her writhing, naked, pale flesh. On the day she came into being she had aged already one-hundred-ten years of her elven life.
Almost her entire body, reaching from chest to thighs, was covered in scars. The pain was debilitating, excruciating. Burning with white-hot intensity, each of the scars oozed and seeped with a slithering black substance that eked out of the permanent wounds. Amidst the pain, Antumbra went to touch the substance, to pull it away, to block it from seeping out, anything, but she found that she couldn’t, she found that the material was not substantive, not corporeal; it was nothing; it was but shadow.
Her hands gripped and tore at the earth she laid upon, her eyes darting back and forth at the tall oaks that loomed above her in the forest, pressing inward, blocking all light, blocking all sensation but the pain that enveloped her.
But that wasn’t why she screamed. She could feel the pain, she could feel the shadows as they pressed out of the long-since closed wounds. She screamed because the only place left, away from the pain, was herself, who she was before she was born here again, and she remembered where she earned these scars in the first place.
It wasn’t long before she final could force herself to move. Little by little, encroaching slowly, painstakingly, she propped her naked body up against one of the mighty oaks. It was there that the voice finally spoke to her. It wasn’t audible. All sound was blocked. The forest, wherever it resided, was silent. No leaves rustled. There was no wind. There was no sun, only sharpened creeping umbrage. Shadows within shadows.
The voice spoke in her mind, playing on the backdrop as the images of her past arrayed themselves before Antumbra in her mind. She remembered them, but they were not memories of her as far as she could tell, rather as far as she could hope.
The sound cascaded slowly like a creeping glacier as it roamed up inside her consciousness. It spoke, a voice ancient and dominating, powerful, deep, thrumming like an everlasting bass chord. It asked her, “what is your name?”
“I don’t know,” she replied.
“You do,” it answered in return, “but you don’t dare speak it.”
“It’s not me. I remember these things, but they’re somebody else’s memories, not mine. I know the name of the woman who did these things, nothing more.” Tears welled up on the sides of her face, splashing on her naked corpulence. As the tears fell the shadows danced, moving with sentient initiative to dodge them where they landed, reassuming their ugly forms straight again after.
“She is you, yet she is not you,” it spoke, softly. “These are both your memories, and the memories of a woman who is far past. These are both your scars and the scars of a woman who died in the throes of passion.”
“I am not her!" Her voice was pitched with caustic indignation, reaching out, trying to find the entity that resided within her in her. “Who are you?! What do you want with me?”
Impossibly, its voice grew louder, thicker, pouring into every fold of her mind, obscuring the memories in the deepest of hazes. “I am the shadow that looms over Golarion. I am the greatest darkness cast by the darkest light. I am the entity that only exists as a mirage, forever there, but visible only to those that watch the sun as it sets across the world. I am the Umbra, and soon darkness will fall.”
She stared, eyes and mouth agape as the words undulated through her imagination. Her vision was gone, removed from the forest. “But why me? How did I come here?"
Her voice was soft, pleading. She felt herself, her past, and her at the present and she realized she was not the forgone woman in her nightmares. She was somebody different, but she did not have a name.
"I know how I... she died, but where did I come from? I…”
The Umbra’s voice was soft, quiet, but spoke with an intensity that stopped all of her questions immediately. “Where there is no light there is no shadow. Soon the world may be bathed in darkness. This must be stopped. You will help stop it.”
“But what is it that I must stop? You have told me nothing, and I’m lost and alone. Please, just tell me what I have to do!”
“You will learn in time,” it said to her, its voice trailing off into the darkness, reaching from the antumbra, the penumbra and into the deepest recesses of the umbra.
She felt a surge of pain as it landed on the scar tissue near and around her breasts, digging its talons deep into the grievous wounds. She reached over to pet the raven. “I’ll call you Sol. Do you like that name, Sol?”
The raven cocked its head to the side, eyes affixed at her unblinking.
Vel Miro’s time in the bard’s college had taught him three things: It’s not the size of the boat that matters, and the best ladies are the ones who know that; the old idiom he was taught as a child, “you can pick your friends and you can pick your enemies, but you can’t pick your friend’s enemies,” is true in more ways than one, and that a bard’s college can be more dangerous than a pit filled with ravenous hyenas.
If Vel Miro is anything it is certainly not modest, and he’d be the first to say he was the greatest thing to grace the Bard College at Karcau since the invention of the chamber pot. He was born in inauspicious surroundings to an escaped slave from the river kingdoms and a shipwright in Karcau, but never accepted the mundane livelihood his parents wanted to force on him. Being a Halfling, an oddity in a city filled brimming with tall, pale, humans, Vel felt himself become a sort of outcast. He eventually learned that his wits would always serve him better in his position than his brawn and developed a silver tongue that could be paralleled by none. Fast Talker
He was a natural at the lute, taking to it like a starving man takes to water, and his passion, (and a mild amount of scheming and deception on his part) eventually got him accepted to the most prestigious bard’s college in the city. His small stature and otherworldly musical talent served to make him plenty of opponents in this school, which turned out to be much more Byzantine than he ever thought possible. The students in this school weren’t just in it for the music, these monstrous, devious demons were about as cutthroat as a den of thieves, and at least a den of thieves wouldn’t have kept up the pretense.
So things for a while grew difficult for Vel, but again the same revelation came to him as it did in his youth – if you can’t beat ‘em, convince others to do it for you. So his powers of manipulation grew, and soon it became child’s play to dance around the pretentious blowhards at the academy with his silver tongue, unmatchable wits and with his group of followers he sumptuously obtained through a combination of incentive, camaraderie and a decent helping of blackmail. Life soon became a lot less dark. His easygoing attitude and stunning poetic vocabulary was almost always enough to get him access to all kinds of exclusive clubs, and even the bedchambers of a few lovestruck darlings who soon learned the true meaning of “size isn’t everything.”
He might even have been able to say that, as for the first time in his life, he had actually made one true friend in a singer named Ignus Fernus, who Vel took to calling Infernius, just as a play on his name. In actuality Ignus possessed a rather cool demeanor, but both he and Vel had experienced ostracization in their youths, and this was the thing that kept them together as friends.
It all seemed to be going well until one fateful night in the middle of summer in Vel’s third year at the bard’s college. He was snatched out of bed and dragged through the dormitories inside a cotton bag held over the shoulder of some person and outside the front doors of the academy. No guardsmen stopped them and no bells were rung that night.
Vel was taken to a forest outside the city where he was upended out of the bag and was tied, ankles and wrists, to a small tree. Mel realized that the one dragging him had been Ignus, accompanied by a large group of his sworn enemies and several of his other so called “friends.” Ignus told him this wasn’t personal, that the other guys had promised to insure a position as a court singer for a powerful nobleman. He said to Vel, “I don’t want to end of up as some traveling minstrel. And let’s face it Vel, it’s not like you would ever be able to achieve anything like this. The best you could ever hope for was to wind up in some traveling freak show. Who could ever take you seriously?”
They started by breaking all of his fingers, first the right hand so he couldn’t strum his lute, and then the left so he couldn’t finger the notes. When that was done one of the cronies took a long knife and brought it to Vel’s temple. He made a long sweeping gash along his hairline, as if he were going to scalp him, but then brought it along down his cheek and across his ear and down to his throat. He called it, “a gift to remember me by.” Vel could never recall his name, but his face stuck in his memories, a piggy, scrunched up face, huge eyebrows and nosehairs hanging down from inside his nostrils like stalactites.
They left him for dead the next morning, and after days of hopeless attempts at escape, he was almost sure it was the end. And it was the end, for how long he couldn’t remember, but the next thing he knew he was on the bed in a stranger’s house. It was a quaint house, a small box-like commode with a large thatched roof that rose up into the sky like a cathedral tower and a chimney that was so warped it should have been falling down of its own accord. The stranger identified himself as a Professor Lorrimor, and that Vel had been quite near death for almost six days before he had found him. When Vel asked what he could do in repayment for saving his life the professor merely shook his head and told Vel that all he asked in return was a favor sometime in the near foreseeable future, that one of these days he would call on Vel for his aid. Making Good on Promises He gave Vel some wine and he fell back into dreamless sleep.
When he awoke the cabin was gone and all that was left was Vel, a map and a supply of trail provisions. Vel knew he could not return now to Karcau, and so he set off into a random direction for parts unknown.
He no longer had his lute and when he eventually retrieved a replacement the strings felt wrong in his hands, as if a different person had once played them and the man he was now was only a plebian in the arts. As he traveled he grew evermore angry and bitter. He was resentful that he no longer felt the music as he once did, he resented his unsupportive parents and a prejudiced society, but most of all he cursed the “friends” that betrayed him, people that knew nothing of loyalty, of partnership, of the sacred bond that formed between friends, the idea that you would put the other before the self, sacrifice everything for the sake of the friendship.
Vel’s focus had forever been on his music, but the arcane had always held a deep seated interest to him. The “music of the ethereal,” he would sometimes call it, he never did anything but dabble in the arcane, a few parlor trick spells he picked up here and there, a touch of alchemy when he was feeling dangerous, but never anything serious, at least not until now.
It was a dark and stormy night, about as gothic a setting as Vel had ever seen, and he was all alone, as was usual these days with his solo repertoire. For an instance, standing in the pouring rain, his anger flared. All the hatred and feeling of injustice flowed through him and he cursed the gods, the planes, the ground, practically anything that he could think of he denounced for his fate. He especially hated himself and his carelessness with his friendship, the naiveté with which he spent his days and the sorry pathetic man he made himself out to be after the fact.
The scar left across his face began to glow and the most curious sensation he had ever felt began to flow through him. He felt a strange atypical power coursing through his veins and in his wonder he reached out and touched something. He couldn’t tell much of what it was. It wasn’t physical or emotional, it was just raw, unbridled spirit, waiting for molding, waiting, a spring-like potential, for manifestation.
He grasped at it.
He awoke to find that the overcast sky was still there and that the torrential downpour had turned into a light drizzle. He also found that next to him was the most curious creature head ever seen. It was a quadruped and furred, but the fur consisted of a deep red tinge that lightened and darkened in certain random areas and the colors looked as if they were constantly shifting. It looked almost like a wolf, but the proportions were slightly off. Its mandible was far too large and its ears bent backwards at an odd angle. Its eyes were two black opals and it spoke to him in a throaty, hoarse tongue, though without moving its mouth even the slightest.
It asked Vel, “What is my name?”
Vel soon learned that this creature he had made manifest was called an eidolon, and that there were people, men and women known as summoners, who had the ability to call upon unformed spirits from the farthest planes of unsound thought and belief and give them form. Vel called his eidolon Infernius, and he knew almost instantaneously that this creature was forever his, loyal, obedient, and willing to sacrifice his life for him if need be. He need not manipulate it, or play it for a fool. It was his, and Vel was the eidolon’s also.
Vel still plays his lute from time to time, and maybe one day he might return to the joy he once felt for his music, but for now there was just too much in this world to experience to worry about that. He had a debt he would eventually need to repay, and the world, however clouded, seemed a lot less dark now that he wasn’t alone.
The first and last thing she remembers is her father dying at her feet, an arrow embedded in his skull and his arms draped in a thousand blood ridden contracts. Scroll upon scroll of infernal contract wrapped about his person, he looked more like a deranged multi-limbed monstrosity than anything discernibly human. Catelyn supposes his appearance wasn’t too far from the truth.
Baptized in blood, the blood of her mother, Catelyn came into this world kicking and screaming, her mother’s gore shimmering in the candlelight, covering her from head to foot, well that was as far as she knew. It was always difficult to wring the truth out of the courtesans of the Calistrian whore house in Absalom in which she grew up. Her father was a nobleman of some supposed repute and her mother died in childbirth, discovered later as the thrall of some Devil or another. She lost her life and her father abandoned her, ordering his manservant to, quote, “get that vile atrocity out of my sight, and see that nobody knows about it.” Luckily for Catelyn, this servant had enough dignity left in him to offer her to an orphanarium instead of simply dumping her in the sea.
Growing up abandoned and alone, distant even from the other orphans who would always taunt her and grab her horned head. At the age of her flowering she had blossomed into an attractive young woman and was noticed by a cleric of Calistria, who reckoned the Enchanted Rose could do well with some exotic spice to add to their retinue. In turn they got far more than they bargained for in a girl of sixteen filled with righteous indignation and spiteful to a family and society that spurned her.
After scaring off her third client in a row the ladies of the Enchanted Rose realized they had had enough of Catelyn and let her out into the streets with nothing but the close on her back and a small, many thorned rose to mark her passing. Struggling to survive each and every day in the backstreats of Absalom, Catelyn fell in with many an unrighteous sort, earning her calling in a gang where she soon learned her unnatural prowess with the bow, and using said prowess to her advantage when the leader of the gang tried to have their way with her. Said man soon found his heart split in twain, both at her spurning and with the arrow shaft puncturing his chest.
Her experience in the cold unforgiving world of Absalom’s undercity taught her one important lesson that survival at all costs outweighed all sense of morality, that honor and battle were the notions of either the foolish or the dead, and that both groups were not mutually exclusive. Eking out each day, feathering the few people that threatened her, she lived a small yet secure life.
Yet there was a hole deep inside her, small as a pinhole, undetectable at first, but expanding with each passing day. There was a longing deep inside her for the family she knew she never had.
She began to notice the ever widening crater in her heart soon enough, and later began her investigation as to who her father truly is or was, whether he was still alive, and what happened to her mother. She tracked down the servant who first delivered her to the orphanage, and with a little coercion at the edge of a knife, she quickly learned what actually transpired on the night of her birth. Her father was an astute nobleman, for sure, but it was not his mother who had entered into communion with a devil, selling the soul of his child still in the womb in return for the security of his rapidly failing estate. He went back on his word however, and as his wife lay in her birthing bed after her final push his father ended her, and sent his ever loyal manservant to deposit his little girl in the bottoms of the sea.
Since his defiance of the devil, he still lived, but sat secluded in his estate, surrounded on all sides by his loyally devil influenced household guardsmen. “He sits there to this day,” the man said, “and I am sure he has not rested nor spoken nor moved since that day. I hope you can find mercy in your heart for him for he is as much a prisoner inside his own soul as he is in his household.”
Catelyn showed him just what kind of mercy she still had left in her heart, and after depositing that body in the sea she began her preparations for her final meeting with her father.
Atop the rooftop of a great cathedral Catelyn could see all of the estate, the gardens and the tower in which her father resided. At the stroke of midnight she began hitting them, one after the other, dropping like flies as the arrows struck one after another of the guardsmen. None knew where she hid, and none knew where to look for cover. They were, all of them, small, beedy ducks, ripe for the plucking. When she was secure that no guardsmen would be able to keep her from her prize she made her way down the cathedral and began her arduous clambering up the side of her father’s tower. She was covered with sweat and tears and each of her muscles ached to the point of seizing when she finally reached the window at the top, but one look at her father pushed all of the pain out of her mind.
What she saw surprised her. Her father, or what were rather the vestigial remains of him, pulsed and slowly undulated with his shallow breathing. The myriad documents and scrolls that covered him pulsating like animated tendrils at his every faint movement. He looked at her with dead, grey eyes and let out a whisper from his mouth.
She broke through the window with her boot and walked over to her father, placing her dagger at the nape of his neck.
“Speak if you may, but nothing you can or will say will save you.”
Her father let out an airy whisper that clouded the cold, damp air around him.
“I figured you might want to die, father,” Catelyn said, “but I’m going to make these final moments of your sad pathetic life a living nightmare you cannot even imagine. It will make these years since I was born feel like a vacation.” She lived up to her word.
That night changed her in ways she could never imagine. She was passionless now, soulless, dead. She felt no longer dread, fear, anger, joy or passion. She felt cold, utterly, and completely numbed. The only thing left, the only thing that seemed to be of any importance, was survival.
And for the next five years, that was all she did. She took on contract killings, and, unsurprisingly, she grew highly adept at her work. She was requisitioned often and grew favor with numerous clients for her ability to take any work, no matter how evil or despicable, no matter who the target. She would stand atop the high buildings of the Absalom skyline and kill the targets as they layed in bed, as they entered their favored whorehouse and every once in a while, in the middle of a crowded street where shock value was necessitated.
She felt naught for the men and women she killed, remorseless and unrepentant, she forwent her faith to Calistria, knowing that a passionless existence worked against the tenants of the Savored Sting.
She remained in this state, movingly listlessly from one job to another when a certain contract caught her eye. It was from an anonymous lordling with a bounty high enough to put food on her plate for the next few years. It was the requisitioned assassination of the pregnant wife of a publicly favored lord, petitioning for a seat on the High Council. She accepted it with nary a thought.
She executed it flawlessly.
But that was not the end for this situation. The lord, instead of falling into despair like her client suggested grew vengeful for the murder of his beloved wife and threw down his titles and holdings, gave up everything in order to begin the hunt for those responsible for her death.
Catelyn recognized the threat, foolish as the man was, watching him bumble around the streets of Absalom as she watched from the rooftops, gesturing to everyone who would listen to him, showing an ill-drawn facsimile of Catelyn’s face, begging for information so that he might find the woman responsible for his wife’s murder. She had her bow drawn, arrow pressed close to her ear in anticipation for the clean shot that would end his life. Yet, when the moment came, she could not release. Her breath caught in her throat and her arms seized still ‘til the moment passed and the opportunity was gone.
Every instinct in her body screamed at her, burning through the wall of ice that had governed her life up until now. She knew he would be after her. She knew that he would not rest and yet she could not kill him.
So she ran. She ran across the Inner Sea, hoping to lose him and see her one failure gone from her life. Yet, wherever she went he was soon to follow, and as the years passed he became wiser, more skilled and more determined. She knew there was only one choice – kill or be killed, survive or act the fool and surrender herself to death. The time came again where she had her bow drawn, arrow pointed square at his heart, and again her arms seized and she withdrew herself.
It was at this point she knew there was only one option. She would not allow herself to die, so she found asylum in the only place that would ever take her, prison. Killing one man, some baker or another, it really didn’t matter, and letting herself get caught, she was thrown in prison, a life sentence they said. Catelyn knew of no other kind.
It was in this prison that Catelyn spent the last five years of her life. She watched as her highly taught dexterous arms withered in their chains and felt the bruises and cuts pile up at her daily beatings. Things seemed as if they would remain this way forever, until her cell was opened and she soon found herself asleep, journeyed across untold lands until waking in an unknown cell in an unknown place, surrounded by numerous other cells.
She heard a crack as the universe split apart its seams and out came a crimson haired man, lavishly dressed in fashionable robes and a slight smile on his face. Catelyn could do naught but wonder what would happen next.
Biography(Lethe of Alkenstar):
Lethe was brought up in the Mana Wastes, and suffice it to say this upbringing did not last long. Her parents, two wandering Catfolk emmigrants from the decaying nation of Nex who were killed in a gnoll raid upon Martel before she was old enough to prime a rifle, left her with a deep understanding of the turmoils that life presented, and how to deal with them.
She accomplished such through study. Although the racist inclinations of some of her peers in the study of guncraft and manufacture would often jape at the "black kitty," she soon left each one of the gawking neanderthals in the dust, rising quickly in her study and gaining the admiration and envy of more than a few of her proctors. Her natural obsessive qualities allowed her to go into a deep meditative, and oftentimes dangerously exclusionry to the outside world, focus, working away many sleepless nights in the search of a solution to one problem or another, how to better rifle a barrel for greater accuracy, what alloys would best suit the makeup of the gun.
Her proficiency with the weapons themselves soon got her greater renown as well. A crack shot with the pistol, her obsessive qualities allowed for her to practice day after day at the range, and she soon won more than a few competitions.
She was amiable enough however, and at least tried never to let her obsessions come at the cost of her outside relationships, not that it always worked however.
It came a time however where Lethe was called upon by city merchants looking for some added counsel on trade with the border nation of Nex. On her way there her caravan was beset by a band of Orc Marauders. Each of her companions were slaughtered in turn, but, either through debatably good fortune or through sheer instinct, Lethe was able to barter for her life in exchange for her knowledge of guncraft.
She traveled for months with these newly turned Orc slavers, working her mind day in and day out searching for a method of escape, but the solution proved to her to be forever elusive. While she was highly supervised when she was made to work on the firearms, she did one day manage to hide a severely damaged pistol in the hem of her torn pants, but realizing the one pistol could do nothing against an entire horde of ugly green monstrosities she fell further in melancholy.
That was until the day the Orc chieften came back from a raid on a nearby town, holding a bounty of strange artifacts and magic lore, objects and concepts that were absolutely foregin to a girl who had spent her entire life in a magical vaccum, devoid of the very notion of magic. It was instantly insatiably enticing.
Things on the outside were growing darker. There were murmerings of a power struggle within the Orc clan's leadership. The horde was beginning to splinter and soon the tension would definitely snap. Lethe realized that now was the last chance for escape, before the inevitably civil war where she would almost certainly be caught in the crossfire.
Lethe took her gun and immediately went to make her escape, but was confronted instead by several blood splattered, half crazed orcs back from a recent raid, and she could tell by the looks in their eyes they didn't just want to kill her.
So she held her gun up and fired.
A blast of energy erupted between her and the Orcs, sending Lethe flying back into a tent, but also setting off the numerous kegs of black powder around the camp.
The explosion was deafening, and it took nigh on a half an hour before Lethe could overcome the disorientation and make her way away from the Orcs, out into the desert, her newfound power brandished from her hip.
Ebon Highroost is a liar. For him, that has always seemed to be his most marked trait, and it is what his master, Jerom Fellwind, would always call him. “Liar,” he would say, as they roamed the countryside, practicing themselves, their important arts of fraud, of infiltration, of lying.
Ebon was a born liar, or so his parents told him. Almost pathological, Ebon grew up from an early age, hanging with a bad sort in the great city of Caliphas, making Ebon an Ustalav native. He stole, he gambled, he participated in activities that to this day he is still ashamed of. Eventually, his gang had gotten into the worst sort of trouble with the law enforcement, caught stealing from the guard’s barracks. Ebon tried every trick in his arsenal of lies, but it was to no avail, and they angry guardsmen threatened to leave them in the dungeons for the rest of their days.
During his imprisonment, a strange visitor approached, another Tengu who called himself “Deathsbane.” He told him he was to be his executioner and opened his cell, but Ebon had a suspicion, a gut feeling he got for looking at the Tengu. He had dressed for the part, clad in black with a cowl covering most of his features. It was an unusual position for a Tengu in the city, but that wasn’t it. It was something in his voice and in his eyes that told him the other Tengu was lying.
“You’re lying,” said Ebon. The larger Tengu smiled. “What is your name,” he asked, “how did you end up here?” “The name’s Pyat.” He said it with as silver a tongue he could muster. “These jackboot guards wrongly imprisoned me for a thievery I didn’t commit. I… ” “Liar,” said the Tengu. “It takes one to know one. Follow me; we have much to discuss.”
From that day forward Ebon called the Tengu, “master,” yet only learned his true name, Jerom Fellwind years later, and considering the man who told him, Ebon took even that with a grain of salt. It was true, however, the man did, in all other social circles go by the name of “Deathsbane.” “A moniker of mine,” he called it, “a meaningless title with a meaningless implication. I am no more an enemy of death as you are a carrion crow.”
Jerom was a man on, as he called it, “a sacred mission.” It was not however, for any particular god, as Jerom was a polytheist, yet took upon his mantle the duty of protector of the weak, of the communities infested with chaotic forces that sought to bring the citizens of these small hamlets to their knees. It was no specific cause, but it was his cause all the same. Jerom was old, however, and was searching for a protégé to carry on his work. He found that student in the young Tengu liar in Caliphas.
“I am no shining knight riding to rid the world of evil atop his steel clad destrier,” he used to say. “The Tengu body, nor the Tengu mind, was built for that kind of strain of head-on combat. We are a covetous sort, greedy yet intelligent and duplicitous. You yourself are a fine example of these kind of traits. No, our path is not one of frontline assaults and gallantry. Ours is a line of subterfuge, of lies, secrets within secrets and a complex web of deception to fool our enemies into thinking us… well less as allies and more than enemies. Take it from me, never try and make allies with your enemies. Sure, it will bring you closer into the fold, but the danger there is always greater than you can possibly imagine. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer, but not so close as they can slip a knife into your back.”
Ebon took to his teachings well enough, and soon the two travelled the countryside rooting out evil and chaos where it lay, whether an undead infestation in one town, or a cultist plot in the deepest bowels of a city. They were the unsung heroes of many a different community, averting the deaths of many, using guile and mystery where it was required and even assassination only when it was utterly necessary.
Ebon earned the name “carrion eater” through his innate ability to scent out both the dead and the dying. This led the way to many of the groups they infiltrated to mock this ability, and when Ebon complained to Jerom of this, the older Tengu only said, “It is a good thing. Let them name you. It gives them a perceived power over you. Use that. Let them think they have the power, for it is easier for these men and women to trust in themselves than a stranger. Act the part, pretend to spurn the mocking. Let them have it. Let their preconceived notions bud and flower. We can only learn through their ignorance.”
One day, however, as the two were infiltrating an assassination scheme in the depths of Riddleport, Jerom, was somehow discovered. There was little time, and as the two attempted to escape the town, Jerom “Deathsbane” Fellwind intercepted them, yelling for Ebon to go and make his escape. He was tracked throughout the city, and just when he thought they were about to catch him, Ebon was helped by an unlikely man, a Professor Petros Lorrimor, who had spent the last few days researching the runegate of Riddleport. The Professor selflessly helped Ebon into the back of hay wagon, and stood fast as his pursuers questioned the man and even offered a great reward for his capture.
After they had both escaped the city, Ebon thanked the man furiously, asking in what way he might someday repay him. The Professor told him he might one day, where he would call on him to ask for his assistance. The two parted company and for the next few years Ebon tried his best to continue his master’s work, but could never accomplish what Deathsbane could.
After this time Ebon received a letter from the small town of Harrowstone, letting him know that the man who had helped him years ago was dead, and that he had been included in the man’s will. Ebon immediately began his journey back to his homeland, to Harrowstone, wondering all the time why he had been included in his will, and what secrets did the enigmatic Professor’s hometown have to offer.
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