In his shaded corner, appearing as only an oily blur of black feathers, Salixin attempts to hear the conversation between the blue creature and the hooded figure.
But after a moment, ceases straining. Although his senses normally picked up in dim light, this time his acuteness failed him.
Yep... here we go:
Most strix are satisfied to remain on their isolated island, preventing other races from interfering with their limited lifestyles. Salixin was never one to be so intimidated by the outside world and found a natural curiosity that led him to explore beyond the perimeters of the islands and cliffs of Cheliax. So one day he just stretched his wings and flew. He did not cease until he came upon a Varisian caravan where he alighted.
There he met Zathrelia Veras, a lovely varisian performer: dancer, pickpocket, and diviner who took pity on the clueless Salixin and invited him to stay with her. He quickly learned the varisian way and became a performer with Zathrelia. At first he performed mainly feats of aerial acrobatics, but the crowds grew bored with seeing a winged man fly. "Not enough danger", they said. "Tis too easy." In order to please Zathrelia, and to gain his place in the caravan, perhaps even his own wagon, Salixin had to think about ways to endanger himself to entertain the crowds that had grown bored with the sight of the exotic winged man. He learned to juggle knives, while flying in midair, then flaming torches, then juggling and somersaulting in midair, then juggling and somersaulting in midair while flying through a ring of fire. Each act thrilled his viewers, but the thrill never remained for long and Salixin found himself questioning why.
Zathrelia mentored him then, taking him under her wing. Before she had only provided food and lodging and basic training for the acrobatic feats he had undertaken. "You are too far away, dear Salixin. If they cannot see the performance, no one can enjoy it. Take the performance to them. You have added danger, but they see your wings and know you will always be able to avoid it."
The next day, Zathrelia and her acting troupe performed The Burning of the Witch Zahara, with Zathrelia being the one tied to the stake. The black smoke billowed thickly around the woman, Salixin cringed at the sight of the flames lapping at her feet, the sound of her coughing in the midst of the black chaos, screaming out revenges and curses against her accusers. A sudden flash of light in the midst of the fire, Salixin averted his eyes, looked back up again and saw that Zathrelia had vanished. The smoke cleared away and the crowd burst into applause. They never tired of these performances, where the performers faced death squarely and managed to defeat it.
This changed Salaxin's life. He never took wing again after that moment; demonstrating to the varisians and the audiences they performed for that he was as fallible as any. He was close to death as well. He learned to escape from rope bindings over burning coals, to catch thrown daggers in his teeth, and to do so with such grace and ease that none could tell they were practiced maneuvers. He began to challenge himself, to think outside the box. And indeed it was thinking about the box that he was thinking outside of that he stumbled upon the idea of a deadly box, one with a secret trap door to let the performer escape.
When the day came to perform this new illusion, he demonstrated it to the varisians first. He was bound in rope and locked in the box. And the box set in a burning fire. Within mere moments, he had escaped his confinement, bursting out of the fire on wings as a phoenix from the ashes of its predecessor. The show was very impressive. Too impressive for his matron. The student had surpassed the mistress, and in a jealous rage she tried to have him thrown from the only home he had known for the past 5 years, even throwing her hidden daggers at him in a fast paced barrage of deadly skill. In the performances, he could dodge them, grab them, juggle them even. But this was far mroe deadly than a performance. This was real. He still managed to grab one, flinging it back as he turned and fled from his pursuer. The blade struck Zathrelia between the eyes, killing her instantly. Few varisians saw the whole argument, but the killing blow seemed to have been witnessed by all. He ran back to the wagon he shared with Zathrelia, grabbed what belongings he could and flew into the sky, never to visit that particular caravan again.
He later wrote to the Pathfinders, hoping to join their ranks, and was contacted by a member of the Sczarni faction, who had seen that fateful performance, and had heard something of the attack that followed. Although he could offer him no legal protections, he offered him something he could actually use, the fearsome reputation that the Sczarni have, sending him the purple and gold scarf with small rubies to let all who saw him that he was a killer, protected by the Sczarni, and was not to be harmed. The Sczarni protect their own, usually, as there is some honor amongst those who cling to the Varisian ways of thievery.
With this protection, Salixin became known more popularly as Blackwing the Magician, who continued to focus on his performance abilities and more ideas like the trap-door box. He successfully crafted and performed with a disappearing cabinet, a magnetic levitation platform, a transpositional trap door maze once built into a stage for a series of vanishing and transposition acts. Of course, where possible, Blackwing introduced the possibility of death and carnage. The escape act was always the most popular. Nevertheless, he had a need for new illusions, new designs and his own mental capacities he feared had reached their capacity. Twilight Academy in SandPoint seemed a good place to start expanding those capacities. Hopefully he could find more engineering techniques.
Alright, I still need to work on Salixin's backstory. I know he's had a dark past. A darker past than he cares to admit to or relive.
But in the meantime, let's talk career. Since an individual can make more money with the perform skill than with craft or profession, I decided to ignore those other two, but that may have been an error.
Salixin (Blackwing the Magician) is a stage performer of legerdemain - an illusionist of wit and sleight of hand, rather than magic, though magic can be used in conjunction with it. But Salixin prides himself on illusions based on engineering, contortion, and common means which can be more baffling and illusive than spells of illusion.
This is one of the reasons why he took Knowledge (engineering) as a class skill, as I hope to represent his ability to construct such devices with that skill, though I suppose I could take Craft (mechanical illusions) instead, if that makes more sense.
Of course, such mechanical devices could also come in handy in combat. A secret compartment for throwing knives? A cloak that distracts through subtle movements and providing a narrow escape? A hat or boot with a secret compartment?
The other things which I am strongly considering is that alchemy might come in handy quite a bit for a fellow like Blackwing. So anyway, just throwing some ideas out there for how Salixin will be played. Before I go start working on his background.
Well, there weren't any names suggested for the Strix, and their language is Strix, so I assumed most names have an X in them somewhere (I gather it's easier for them to say).
1) Accept the job. Get the item, ensuring that no one and nothing is harmed unnecessarily in the process.
2) The living need valuables more than the dead do, but it is best to let dead men lie and not disturb their graves.
3) Open negotiations, prepared to pay a ransom for all three. If negotiations are ineffective, grab the children and run, employing theft, deception, magic, as necessary.