|The Dread Pirate Hurley|
Here's a write-up for Rolando, a Varisian criminal who's very life feels like a prison. I'm presuming Brawler for now, but I'm ambivalent about the crunch at the moment. This submission is for the Second Chances character.
After years of slowly failing health, Papa died. Just before he passed, he made Rolando swear to take care of his Mama and sister, no matter what. Doing what he could, Rolando, about 11 or 12 years old, followed in his father's footsteps. He inherited Papa's violin, and he found a group of some older Varisian boys to play with, Felipe and Jorge. He and his friends were making good money, better than his parents ever had as performers, and things were starting to look up for the first time, until Rolando discovered that his friends were Sczarni con artists. The extra money came from picking pockets. Rolando was angry, but he couldn't ignore the benefits. Reluctantly, he went along with the scheme, and slowly started getting further entwined with the gang.
He was making good on his promise to Papa, he was taking care of Mama and Mirela, but he was ashamed of himself. He was becoming more irritable, and he started drinking heavily, getting into brawls and even ending up in jail for a week. In jail, he found something he hated even more than going hungry, even more than his own crimes - imprisonment. He couldn't stand being cooped up, and he found himself longing for the open road his parents had left behind before he had ever been born. He swore off his drinking upon his release, determined not to wind up in prison again. He promised Mama and Milena he would stay sober; he couldn't keep his promise to Papa if he was in jail.
But he couldn't keep his promise if he gave up his criminal ways, either. They needed the money, and it was getting harder and harder to find work as he grew older. People were even less trusting than they had been before, and deep down, he knew they had reason to be. He was as trapped in his life of crime as he had been trapped behind the bars of his jail cell. His prayers to Desna went unanswered, and that open road that he saw stretching out before him remained nothing more than an empty dream. He could always take his Oath, but that would amount to nothing more than another bar in the cage trapping him in Vigil, and an afront to his father's memory beside. At least this way he had his freedom, as long as he stayed out of jail. He could keep on telling himself that one day he might actually take his first steps onto that open road.
And so he did. Fantasies about escaping Vigil replaced the alcohol. They helped him fall asleep at night like all of Mama's stories and Papa's songs. He would dream about it day and night, and he told himself that all of this would be worth it in the end. He started volunteering for more dangerous jobs, hoping to score a prize big enough to free him from his promise. One day, soon, he would make enough to keep his family fed for months, maybe a year, and he could leave in search of a better life, and come back for them when he had finally made it. And soon enough, Desna smiled; the long-awaited opportunity presented itself. It would be a simple job, but very lucrative. Jorge hadn't wanted to bring him in on it, said he wasn't ready, but Felipe convinced him otherwise, a true friend. In the end, Jorge relented, especially since it was Felipe who had the tip.
But as easily as she smiles, Desna laughs. A trick of Fate's fickle hand: a botched job. The mark was being tailed by knights! The bluff hadn't worked, things were heading south... It was over almost before it had begun. Felipe lying dead in the alley. Jorge on his way to join him. It wasn't supposed to end like this. Rolando hadn't wanted to resort to swords, he tried to tell them they didn't need to use lethal force, but they wouldn't listen, and he was in no position to argue and...and...
Desna had one more trick up her sleeve, one more laugh. A choice: prison, or the Castle. Caught between the bull and the horns, as they say. But it was no choice. He had made promises, to Papa and to Mama. Perhaps the Song of the Spheres thought she was showing him mercy, but at that moment, Rolando thought maybe he'd be better off dead. Surely, death was the only way he would ever be free of Vigil now. He confessed, he sold out the others. They weren't even his friends. His only friend was dead in the alley. And so too was Rolando's life of crime. His life of freedom.