Joined: 18 Feb 2003
|Posted: Fri Aug 29, 2003 4:06 AM Post subject: I am not a man (repost from old Brell board)
| “I am not a man. I am but fragments of many men, many lives, many things. Some are as real as the paper that I write this on, while some are only as real as the wind is physical. You probably do not know what I could possibly be talking about, but you soon will. Soon you will be just as confused as I am every day of my life. The most advice I could give you is to keep hold to that which is an absolute truth. The emotions that no one can lie to you about….love, hatred, fear, and happiness. Through all my travels, all the battles I have fought, I have found that they are the only things you can truly trust…”
The great plains of Karana was covered in darkness except for the slight glow that glazed across the land from Norrath’s twin moons. Usually at this time the plains were quite silent, as most of the creatures had laid down to rest for the night. Such was true this night as well, except for one sound. A loud scream of pain rolled across the flat plains like an uncleated foot on an iced over river. Following the source of the sound would lead to a small caravan of nomadic gypsies that had made camp for the night. One of their occupants was with child and the time had come for her to give birth. Her name was Penilla that was not her bloodname. She was very young as far as Feir’Dal go and was stripped of her elven birthrights when she left Kelethin to join the gypsies. The screams were just from labor pains, but it was not the only pain she felt. Another, much harder and heavier pain also hung over her heart. She would not keep the child with her and raise it as her own. Many reasons dictated this decision that she made. To begin with, the child was conceived from a one-night incident with a human knight of Marr. She knew that the knight was very busy on his training and being recognized by the temple, and the fact that he had a child out of wedlock and with a gypsy of all things would tarnish if not ruin his honor. She loved him and did not want him bothered by this. Also, she could not take care for him herself. She was too young and chaotic as a minstrel with the gypsies to be a proper mother to the child.
The screams subsided and soon after that her child was put into her arms, wrapped in hand-knitted blankets that were made by another member of the caravan. He was a boy and Penilla would only take care of the child for little more than a week. Once they reached Freeport, she would leave the child in the grass near the Ashen Order late at night. Early the next morning one Master Avilion discovered the boy, a great monk with the order that had gone out to be in the early sun for meditation. He glanced around looking to see who might have left such a young one alone. After looking for about 10 minutes, and still not seeing anyone he realized the truth. The boy had been abandoned and whomever left them did not want to be found. Unable to just leave the child unattended on the streets of Freeport, a town that…well let’s just say not known for goodwill and love, took him in and cared for him as if he was his own boy.
Avilion fed and raised the child in near secrecy from his Ashen brothers, naming him Remidar and teaching him values of discipline and control. Keeping him hidden in his small house in the northern parts of Freeport, the child was fairly sheltered until he was in his early teens. At that time he began to become very antsy to join Avilion on the streets when he would leave during the day to practice and spar at the order’s house. Eventually, he started to bring Remidar with him but he was not allowed in the dojo. Avilion was not ready to explain the boy to the order. So the young half-elf would sit outside watching actors perform on the stage of the Theatre of the Tranquil while his ‘father’ would work at the order. He would do that every day. Watching in awe at the different shows the various actors and actresses would put on. After about a year of doing that, Remidar gained interest in acting himself.
<pauses a moment and takes a deep gulp of ale> “Here I am going to step in and explain this from my eyes. I think it will provide better insight in the coming events if the perspective is changed…”
I began to dream of being a world-famous actor. Not only in Freeport, but in all cities on Norrath. The first step towards this goal was to audition for a play at the Theatre of the Tranquil. When the announcement for a rendition of the trial of Erud was to take place, I practiced my hardest. Studying night and day, I bought some black market history books from a merchant friend of Avilion’s and used them to become as knowledgeable as possible about Erud and his followers. In the end I was very happy, I got the part of Antonicus Bayle, the great leader himself. My career at the theater only went uphill from there. I was in almost every performance following that, many involved in the production called me a ‘natural’ and wondered how I could have such a knack for a skill such as this. I was extremely happy with my newfound purpose, yet I yearned for more. I wanted to do something note-worthy.
Eventually, that time came. Rumors had started to circulate among the small group of actors at the theater about the Academy of Arcane Sciences seeking actors for some ‘secret project’. Most of us brushed them off as gossip and thinking, “What would mages want with us actors?” Yet, having heard bard’s tales of the power of a pure caster’s refined craft, I had to explore this possibility of my dream coming true.
At the next performance, my personal favorite “Oggok Thoughts”, I saw a man sitting in the audience that seemed to be inspecting the actors, almost sizing them up for a battle or something of the sort. He was a physically frail man yet gave the impression of great strength within him. A glorious silken robe flowed around him, with dancing colors and designs that would surely take the heart of any woman. This was obviously a member of the academy, from what I had seen of previous members. After the show was over I approached him to inquire about rumors I had heard. “Yes. I know what you require.” He said to me before I got a chance to say anything to him. “We seek a very skilled actor to undertake a dangerous, yet extremely important mission for our school.”
“But...how…” I tried to interject, having been very confused by his knowledge of my question before I said it. “I am a telepath, my kind can read the minds of others.” He said with a very cold, calm look on his face. “My name is Mondi Keed. I am the head librarian at the Academy. I have been watching your performances lately. You are quite talented and I believe you will do for this task. Go to the transport pad to the academy in one hour and I will explain more.” He stated as he turned his back and started to walk away. “I…no…wait!” I yelled as I dashed towards him reaching out to touch the back of his shoulder, yet my hand went through a large cloud of bubble-like energy as he disappeared.
The local merchants were lighting the city torches as I arrived at the stone tablet that was the entrance to the academy. It was a teleporting device used to reach the school, for it floated endlessly by some unknown force about 2-3 stories in the air. I glanced around looking for the strange character I had met an hour ago, but saw no one. After waiting a few minutes I decided to step onto the pad and enter the academy. As my foot touched the stone carving I felt energy rush through my body and my hair stand on end. I then a tearing-type sensation from within me, yet not a painful one like I had expected. I emerged in a dark room, and immediately felt dozens of arms grab me and shove me to the ground. The ground was cold under my body as the assailants bound my wrists/ankles, gagged me, and blindfolded me.
“You have been restricted until we are sure of your loyalty and trust.” An unfamiliar voice stated to me. “I will inform you of our objective and you can choose to accept it or not. Nod your head if you understand.” I nodded. “We at the Academy of Arcane Sciences are ever seeking to gain more knowledge. Yet, even with the most powerful illusions our enchanters can produce we have yet to become informed on certain areas of life in Norrath. Our mission for you, being a very skilled actor, is to assume the role of another and take on a new life. You could probably refer to yourself as a ‘spy’, yet you will not be doing this to gain an advantage against the people you interact with. It is merely a research medium to further our intelligence of others. We will offer you a variety of different roles to choose, so you may choose one to your liking.” He paused for a moment. “Do you accept this endeavor? Nod your head if you do.”
Thinking about it for a bit, I realized that there is no reason for me to not take this job. Worst that will happen is Avilion might miss me, but even then it will be a huge weight off his back. I was pushed onto him as a baby and was not truly his son. I nodded once more. “Good. We have little time to waste. Knowledge, like many other things, decays over time and becomes obsolete as the basis and origins of knowledge change.”
My hands were unbound and my arms were hoisted on the shoulders of two men and carried into another room were I was sat down at a table. I was then unbound and a soft light filled the room. The room had no doors and I was alone except for a small stack of scrolls in the center of the table. ‘Read them and choose your path,’ a voice echoed about the room. I grabbed one of the parchments and scanned it reading the life of a troll that mysteriously disappeared into the swamp. He had few friends and nobody missed him really. Dozens of stories just like these I read for what must have been hours. Ones of people of various cultures and backgrounds, all who disappeared without a trace and had few, if any people that would miss them.
I began to realize how I could take on the roles of these people, yet I would always look the same regardless of how I acted. No make-up I knew of could make one thing I was a troll or halfling. “What of my appearance? I still look like a half-breed no matter what role I assume,” I shouted at the walls. “We will handle that part. All you must do is pick one that you would enjoy and that you could handle doing.” I read back over a few that I had set aside and thought about which I should be. There was this one about a dark elf necromancer that had killed his master and became a warrior, rebelling against all who had tried to direct his life. He was captured eventually and put on trial for his crimes. He was last seen, after his escape from Neriak, running into the desert of Ro. “What of this one?” I asked the invisible person that had been talking to me. He replied, “A magician of ours had found his body. He, compared to most, is dead for sure. It is a wise choice if you ask me. Is this one your choice?” I nodded again before I rethought any of this. ‘We shall begin your transformation then. Please take off any clothing you have on and lay on the table in front of you. Push the scrolls to the floor and lie on your back.’ The scrolls that were on the table disappeared with a puff of orange smoke, I then stripped and took their place and lied on my back as directed.
‘This will probably cause a great deal of physical pain, although it must be completed once it is started or you will die if we end the process midway. Do you still wish to continue?” The voice asked coldly. I nodded and the wooden boards that formed the table began to wrap around my legs, arms, and chest tying me tightly to the table. Chants of many casters began to fill my ears as I felt a warm aura surround me. A blinding blue light blinded my eyes; my skin began to burn hotter than anything describable. The heat penetrated all the way to my very bones, then it stopped. Still blinded by the light I panted a moment trying to regain composure. That is when the 2nd pain hit. It felt as if my skin was being tugged off of the muscles. The pain was so horrific that I lost consciousness and passed out.
I came to as I felt the boards around my body giving away. I looked down at my nude body. My skin was a sleek, dark blue color that only a true Teir’Dal would have, and I was amazed as I surveyed myself. “Your training must now begin,” the voice stated very stoically. I spent the next few months training vigorously in two ways. First were my battle skills, the paladins of Marr taught me all I know of swordplay. This was mainly because they were all too willing to exchange battle secrets for knowledge of the militia’s movements against them and the academy had many of those being the neighbors to the guardhouse. Secondly was my knowledge of Neriak and the dark elven culture. Although one of the reasons for my transformation was to learn more of their society, I was pumped full of every intricate piece of information they had so far on the Teir’Dal culture.
This ended one morning when I was awoken with a start from my bed in the door-less room. “It is time for you to begin your gathering my friend,” Mondi said. He had been the one I had met at the theater many months ago, and was now a close friend of mine. “Ok, I am ready.” I was then escorted to the main audience chamber of the guild. There were at least a dozen robed guild members sitting in a circle meditating. I was directed to the center of the circle and told to stand there. The group stood, joined hands, and began to chant ancient texts. I checked the clasps on my armor as I felt the tearing feeling that I knew all to well as a portal forming. I awoke on the wizard teleport platform in the desert of Ro. “They chose a good place for me to start. It is where this man disappeared and later died.”
The next few years were spent wandering the desert aimlessly. I worked as a mercenary for many different races and factions, doing whatever they requested as long as it provided me with money and supplies to keep myself going. Perhaps it was the new feelings and emotions that accompanied my changed physical appearance or maybe it was just the heat of the desert, but slowly over the years my memory began to fade of the Theatre and of the Academy and I became just….Soulstomper, a Teir’Dal soldier-for-hire with no past and no future. Never looking ahead or behind I lived day to day, trusting only my self and my sword.
One day I ran into a very intriguing thief when I was bartering goods in the tunnel bazaar in the Commonlands. His name was Dloc Zhignas and he was the leader of a very secretive guild called the Balance of Paradox. We spoke at great lengths over the next week or so, about nothing and about everything. I found myself to have a natural rapport with the man and I must have done something to get his attention, because he invited me to become an operative of the Balance. I graciously accepted it. It was a changing experience for me to join an organization of any type. My life as a solo nomad was allowed within the guild, but having others to call on in a time of need or be called upon myself was quite different. I was forced to learn control and discipline. Virtues I had lost when the memory of my previous life had slipped away.
Along with the new feelings of trust with the guild came allowing people to grow close to me, something that would have been unthinkable just a few years before. Dloc had become a surrogate brother to me, he taught me many lessons on everything from battle tactics to politics. While a close ally of the guild and wife to Dloc, Ferall, became a surrogate sister. Being both Teir’Dal and natural soldiers, we would compare scars and always try to outdo each other. Always had to watch my back around her because she would try to catch me off guard, something that I tried to never do. In short, I can not say enough about how much these two people affected my life in this time period.
Many more years past as I fought for maintaining the Balance. During that time I met my future wife. Her name was Paene and she was Ferall’s clan-sister. Paene joined the Balance as an operative as myself and soon after we fell in love. We fought side by side for the guild, both Teir’Dal warriors and both with a lust for a bloody battlefield. She was much like Ferall, but she stirred much more in me than just sibling affection. Our marriage was sudden, an elope of sorts. One day we were in Highpass fighting off the invading gnolls and the next thing I knew we were in Lake Rathetear with Lokus Z’Asrithe marrying us.
Soon after we were wed, the Balance crumbled. We were never a large organization, but when it came down to just Dloc, Paene, a few others and myself we decided to go our separate ways in the terms of alliances. I wandered without a guild for quite some time before joining Evoluxa. Ferall and Paene had joined it before I did and were a decided factor in convincing me to join their ranks. Evoluxa was a very different group than the Balance had been. Led by Lokus and his Pentala, Evoluxa became my home for a very long time. They were quite large in comparison and were a virtual melting pot of every shape and type of creature that walked Norrath. One such creature sticks out of them all, Solaufein W’Rath. Brother to my dear friend Dantrazz, he has caused me far more pain than I care to talk about. Albeit not entirely his fault, I’ll just say that Paene and I are no longer together. She is with him as an assistant to his dark arts with no memory of our marriage or even a relationship. That woman is no longer the Paene I once knew and loved.
<takes a long gulp of ale, pauses a moment looking down at the table, then takes another long gulp before continuing on>
I fought loyally for Evoluxa for nearly three decades. First as a member of the Schola Phalanxa, then as Il-Khan Chixom, I lead many raids against everything from the elder dragons to the realms of the very gods such as Tunare and Innoruuk. Some very successful and fruitful while others…not as much. Days blurred to months, months blurred to years, all smeared with the blood of the enemy on my sword in the name of Evoluxa. It was a sad day when I left their guildhouse to never return. I still greatly respect them and consider many within their walls my friends.
“So there you are, the strange tale of my life,” Soulstomper said as he looked at the bard across from the table. The minstrel had been furiously scribing every word he uttered the past two hours. He finished his writing then glanced up from his parchment to meet his eyes. “So did you ever find out about your father? Who he was?” Soul looked back down at the table a moment and drank what was remaining of his mug of ale.
Quite some time back, before I even joined Evoluxa, I ran into Mondi Keed again. After seeing the pain he had caused me he agreed to help me regain my past that I had lost as well as my past before being abandoned in Freeport. Using his intellect and the connections he had through the Academy, he assisted me in piecing together my life before their interference. I found out about my mother, Penilla, just in time to by her bedside a few hours before she died. As for my father, well it turns out he was named Sir Etwin Kirsbane. Penilla was in the right in not relying on him. When I went to meet him in Freeport he admitted that he knew of my existence but did not care for it. I was an inconvenience to him and wanted nothing to do with this ‘mistake’, as he called me.
Looking back up at the bard, Soul wiped some tears from his eyes and glanced down at the parchment that the bard had been writing on. “So you got it all now?” The minstrel flipped through the pages of parchment and scanned them. “Hmmm, looks that way…” he said, looking up at the warrior. “Unless there is something you are forgetting?” Moving his arm down under his cloak, Soul replied, “Well I can always add on more myself later if I think of something.” A dagger flew from the warrior’s hand in a smooth motion as his arm flipped out from under his cloak. It hit dead center in the bard’s forehead, killing him instantly. Soul then rolled up the parchment and stuffed it into his pack. Patting the bard on the shoulder as he walked out of the bar in Qeynos he whispered in his ear, “Sorry friend, you knew too much.”
Vanquisher of Poison Arrow
"Grumblecakes? Those people go to prison."