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Tainted Heroes Journal

Tainted Heroes Journal

DM - Thu Apr 09, 2009 @ 03:20PM
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CathalCathal’s leathery skin and icy stoicism are the standard for men in his tribe. The Threvesh Desert, with its unforgiving sandstorms, searing heat, and infinite drought, is only a contributing factor to his male kin’s coriaceous appearance and demeanor. The Threvesh elves may keep their women forever shielded from the sand and sun, so as to maintain their astounding beauty and delicacy, but their men are treated with incessant brutality, starting with birth. It is all part of the culture, the code of a most warlike of tribes.

When Cathal was born, in accordance to Threvesh tradition, as soon as it was discovered he had a penis, his father, Catano Dhamthal, ripped the cord from his son’s belly, wrapped his infant body in coarse camel hair, and carried him into the desert to be exposed to the elements for a day and a night. This is only the first of many life threatening rituals Cathal was required to endure before he was able to pluck the first hair from his chin. This is also why there are 30 women for every man in the tribe.  Live long enough as a Threvesh son, and there will never be a shortage of eager women to choose from!

Cathal was the youngest of 4 brothers and 43 sisters, but he was always his father’s favorite child because he was fondest of his father’s rod. The Threvesh beat their children for the same reasons human parents embrace and kiss their own. Cathal was so capable of taking Catano’s praise, that during one particular public display of parental affection, his father’s bloodied rod splintered after striking his young head for perhaps the hundredth time. This earned Cathal the nickname, “Jala Ku’ Ni Ta,” which means “Skull harder than father’s love.”  

When Catano was not praising his sons, or hunting orcs and Drow, he was training them to fight with the trademark Threvesh weapons, dual batons and a sling. Among the Threvesh, the fathers teach their sons to fight, and then they challenge their sons against the sons of other tribal families. The contests are traditionally fought with duel batons or slings, depending on whether the match is by melee or by missile. During these contests, the sons fight until their coaching fathers surrender victory, there is a knockout, or one of them is killed. Should a father lose a son in these games, it is a tradition for that father to adopt and raise the boy that killed his son. Such adopted children are highly favored, as they represent the elimination of weakness from the family as well as an addition of greater strength to it. Cathal fought many matches from his earliest youth, and he rarely lost a duel. However, as a result of one time suffering a knockout blow to the mouth, he is missing one of his incisors. You can only see the gap when he laughs.  

Cathal never had a formal education, though he was instructed by the village elders in the arts of battle chanting, the blessing of armor and weapons, and rudimentary healing magic. He was also been taught the art of leatherwork, as every Threvesh male is expected to tailor his own armor from the layered skins of his hunting and battle victims. Though the fathers teach their sons discipline and the use of weapons, the village elders instruct in magic and leatherwork. Cathal has always dreamed of the cuirass he’d one day don. On its breast it will bear his family crest, a circle of bloodied battle batons with a cobra in the center. The snake is reared high and ready to strike its fangs down into a subdued female Drow.  

Cathal’s youth was as harsh as the Threvesh Desert, but his incessant beatings, bloody contests, and trials were essential to preparing him for his ultimate task, his initiation into manhood. To become a man among the Threvesh elves, one must leave home and return with the head of a Drow. Hence, when Cathal’s time came, he embraced his sisters and exchanged blows with his father as well as his brothers. He then started his journey across the Threvesh Desert to the Gjard Mountains. There he would descend into the Yajuta Crevasse and find the shaft which leads to the Drow underworld. He knew the route well because his father and his elders had drawn the way in the sand for him since his earliest youth.  

Unfortunately, Cathal’s quest was cut short early. While traveling along the far edges of Threvesh Desert, a great sandstorm struck him while out hunting for food. The storm didn’t let up for days. Disoriented by the lashing and blinding sands, he became lost and wandered far from his camp. Eventually the elements got the best of him and he lost consciousness. When Cathal finally opened his eyes several days later, he found himself in a strange place. He was chained to a number of strange looking fellows, and aboard a vessel unlike any he’d ever imagined. It was seemingly floating across a vast expanse of water.

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DM - Fri Mar 20, 2009 @ 04:35AM
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ZarronZarron's first memory was of fleeing from something, or someone. He was 5 years old, dressed in rags, covered in filth, and barefoot. He was running through Borger forest as fast as he could, with absolute terror clinching his stomach and perspiration streaking over his face. It wasn't that he'd lost his mother or his father, if that was what had happened. He couldn't even remember them. All he knew was that he had to get away, from something, from it. It seemed as if death itself were after him. He felt a morbid, yet almost tangible fear of something he couldn't quite grasp. It was something dark, sinister, and irrational.

"Stop boy! You won't get away!" boomed a voice. The sound of it came from every direction, even above him and below him. Terrified and trapped, young Zarron crouched and covered his head as if bracing for a striking blow.

"Stand up you little fool, or else I'll take a rod to you!"

With shaking knees, Zarron stood, dried his eyes, and looked up into the forest canopy.

"You are not going to see my face. Not yet. You're going to have to earn that right, and so far I'm not impressed by your antics. Running from me like a terrified little mouse - no, more like a rat! A scabby dog!"

"Who are you?" cried Zarron.

"That is not the question, you idiot! The question is who are you, and how are you going to serve me?

"Serve?"

"Yes, serve. Seeing you have no one else in this world, for reasons you've obviously suppressed, I'm all you have and all you'll ever have. You brought this upon yourself, and I must say I'm impressed by all you've already managed to do at such a tender age. And for your actions - because of your vicious deeds, you shall forever be bound and subject to my whims and capriciousness. Defy me once, and I shall strike you down and see to it your soul is forever turned and salted on a spit in Hades!"

Zarron began crying again, and to this the voice responded by snatching him up in tempest winds and carrying him away. The winds didn't say a word when they abandoned him in the sands of the strange shores of the Kuno Islands. The Kuno Islands are a volcanic chain of islands not too distant from Coldert's southern coast. Zarron's never heard the voice another time, but it has haunted him ever since that day. 5 times each day, he still mutters silent prayers to this mysterious entity. For fear or for reverence does he pay this homage? Even he isn't certain.

Not long after his abandonment on the shores of the Kuno Islands, Zarron wandered into the seafaring and prosperous town, known as Kuno Port. Here he began building a life. Zarron immediately made a home in a ship graveyard that had long been overgrown with vegetation. Only at night did he venture into the Kuno Port streets and mix with the population. At first he was a beggar dressed in rags, able to feed himself on stale bread and lard when passers by sighed, "Poor dirty child," and dropped a copper into his upturned palms. However, because he was left to his own devices, Zarron quickly learned to juggle and play card tricks. As such, he began gathering crowds with his displays of dexterity, charm, and wit. In no time, though he still maintained his home in the hull of an abandoned ship, he was well-fed and dressed. By the time he was 12, he'd managed to recruit a few street children that served his every whim. He taught them not only how to beg, perform card tricks, and juggle. He taught them to steal. Zarron had discovered that his feats of dexterity often came in handy for training his hands to sneak a bit here and there from the pockets and purses of unsuspecting Port citizens. Besides, pick pocketing often paid better than juggling.

By the time Zarron was 16, he was the leader of a small den of child thieves he'd recruited with his charm, and he ran this den from the ship graveyard. His little beggars, jugglers, and pickpockets had found a home. It was an acceptable living, with the exception being the few times his sovereignty was challenged. Those incidents had lead to the relegation of certain members of his group, including the untimely demise of one of them.

But Kuno Port was not Zarron's ultimate dream. Over the years he saved enough to buy a small, raggedy, ship and spent hours each day studying seafarers' maps, journals, and constellations. By the age of 18, Zarron and his small group of thieves took up the anchor and began sailing about the Kuno Islands. "We've become pirates now!" they all boasted. As such, they began making shady deals with some of the locals, stealing small loads of cargo from unsuspecting fisherman and dabbling in low-key seafaring tasks for the cities' thieving guild.

Unfortunately, the weather from the Kuno Islands to the Coldert coast is unpredictable and violent. Zarron's crew was a far cry from being well seasoned sailors, so when a violent storm hit them unexpectedly one night, Zarron's ship was capsized. His entire crew drowned and all the ship's cargo was lost. Only Zarron survived the perilous waters by holding tight to a section of the mast. Luckily, a slave ship saved the day when it spotted him floating with the wreckage, fished him out, and added him to its payload.

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DM - Sat Feb 14, 2009 @ 07:48AM
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Rathgar

“What should I do with this child?” asked Princess Lolaya, of the Coldert Kingdom.

“Elven children don’t always make good slaves, but they make good messengers,” declared Sire Voon, the court eunuch. “This one came at a hefty price for his looks, but at a fair price for his strong bones and sinews.”

“But he’s not at all cute, especially for an elf!”

“We shall make him wear a hood.”

“There’s something about his square jaw. Maybe he isn’t pure blood?

“You never know for sure what mounted the mother, but in this case the mother is likewise unknown. This one is definitely an orphan. No one, including the child, has any knowledge of his parents, or his clan. It is best this way. Slaves with a chain of title have the option of yearning for past masters when they become dreamers or weary of their chores.”

Voon kept it a secret he’d won Rathgar in a dice game with the despised slave trader Tronaphan, an extra short dwarf that always smelled of cheap ale and rotten eggs. Tronophan always procured his stock from the Roladan Marauders, a notorious gang of half-orcs and mountain dwarves lead by Nalissa Roe, a seemingly ageless woman rumored to be the most amazing combination of wickedness and beauty, as well as a witch. “This child cost the palace plenty,” Voon had lied to the Princess so he could keep a little more silver in his pockets for his next game of dice.

Rathgar’s early childhood years were not easy at the palace of Grodden Bik. He was constantly getting into fights with the other child servants, especially those of elven kind. They relentlessly teased him for his looks. Many called him “Square Jaw,” “Big Nose,” or worse. But Rathgar did make a good messenger for the Princess, running notes back and forth to her seamstress, to her artisans, and to her huntsman, a Brown Elf named Ipputus Krane.

One day, just a few years into his servitude to the Princess, Rathgar couldn’t help but tiptoe into her bedchamber to adore the crystalline vase she always kept filled with nectar at her bed stand. He was fascinated by beautiful works of art, and curiosity of such things often got him in trouble. He couldn’t resist taking the sparkling vase into his hands and peering through its many prisms.

“Child! Put that down!” screamed the Princess Lolaya as she walked through the door. Startled, Rathgar dropped the vase and it smashed and splashed into thousands of crystalline pieces at his feet.

“Away with this foul child! Throw him into the forest for the wolves!” cried the Princes.

So, at the age of 21 (about 9 in human terms) the court eunuch, Sire Voon, took Rathgar by his pointed ears and dragged him deep into Coldert Forest. Abandoned and not knowing what else to do, Rathgar burrowed under a bush and covered himself with leaves. There he quivered and shook with fear the entire night, as the howls of the forest’s hungry wolves filled his ears.

“Alrighty child, crawl out from under there and show your face!” announced a voice the next morning. “What does the Princess want me to hunt today?” The voice sounded familiar. It was the voice of Ipputus Krane, the Huntsman. Ipputus was along in years, without a woman, and childless, so he took young Rathgar as his own. So began Rathgar’s new life in Coldert Forest. He spent his days aside his new mentor, learning the ways of a hunter, fletcher, and tracker, and acquiring the skills needed not only to survive in the forest, but to call it his home. Rathgar also learned the ways and calls of the wolves. Each time he went out on a hunt, Ipputus’s giant gray wolf, Pawtak, accompanied him.

Within a few years, Rathgar started mastering his longbow, becoming quite the marksman. A forest dryad named Kitona took notice one day and appeared to the boy, challenging him with her own bow. She was a beautiful dryad, with large, round breasts, porcelain skin, and bright, flowing red hair.

“Quite a shot, aren’t you child?” Kitona spoke as she stepped out from the very bark of an ancient, twisted oak. The startled Rathgar couldn’t speak a word, being so transfixed by her beauty. “I’ve seen you pierce a fleeing doe through the heart at a distance. Your arrows fly swift and certain,” she went on. Rathgar could only blush and hang his head before the challenging girl that showed no shame in her nakedness.

“Should we wager on who can come closest to hitting the knot on that tree over there? It’s a good 300 paces,” Kitona challenged. “What do you say we bet my Onyx medallion for your clothes?” she chuckled. “It’s the only thing I have to offer because I’d never give up my bow!”

When the match was finished, poor Rathgar was left standing there alone, just as naked as she had been, with nothing but his bow in his hands. To this day he blames his nerves, not his skill, for that terrible defeat. He still dreams of Kitona, but he has never seen her since.  

Unfortunately, when Rathgar was just starting to grow a few hairs on his chin, his youth and times in Coldert Forest came to an end.  After a hunt in which he’d shot down a large stag with a single arrow, he and Ipputus decided to celebrate at the Forgehammer tavern. Just as they were pouring their first glasses of Blue Gnome Wine, they were rudely interrupted by the unexpected arrival of a few dozen Roladan Marauders.

“Look at that elf boy over there!” announced one of the Marauders. “He’s got our brand on his neck!”

It all happened too fast. Ipputus and Rathgar put up a good fight, but having checked their bows with the barkeep, they didn’t stand a chance. Rathgar was subdued, knocked out, bound, hooded, and gagged. When his hood was removed a few days later, he found himself on a slave ship set for the strange continent of Ashgloom.

Ipputus’s whereabouts, and whether he had lived or died, were unknown.

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DM - Thu Feb 12, 2009 @ 07:57AM
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RexorRexor was born in a brothel, but his mother hadn’t always been a whore. Lilia Jon was an ordinary farm girl a first, but one day when she was picking mushrooms in Borger Forest, she ran upon unhappy times. Highwaymen seized her, tore her clothes, forcefully parted her thighs, and left Rexor’s elder brother in the poor girl’s belly. The Highwaymen were never found, and Lilia’s father cast her into the streets. An unmarried daughter with child is no favorable dowry, so only the brothel in nearby Townsbrooke would take her.

Less than a year after the birth of Rexor’s elder brother, Lilia was with child again, and this time the father wasn’t a highwayman. He was a traveling circus strongman by the name of Dasher Oak. Despite the fact Lilia had been mounted by countless men, Dasher’s paternity was made obvious when Rexor, at the age of 13 months, put on a feat of great strength. He strangled his eldest brother to death in their shared play room. Additionally, by the time Rexor was 10 years old, he was Dasher Oak’s spitting image. Speaking of Dasher, he hasn’t been seen since before Rexor’s birth. However, it is rumored he was lost at sea, en route with other gold rushers to the distant continent of Ashgloom. Apparently either the circus work had dried up or the prospect of gold was the lure. As for Lilia Jon, she now lives a solitary life in the hills above Townsbrooke, making her living as an herbalist.

Rexor and his mother never came to terms over his elder brother’s murder, for which there was never an adequate explanation. She couldn’t even look at him or touch him after what he had done, so the various whores at the brothel took turns watching after the babe until he was 6. Rexor himself still can’t remember committing the terrible act of patricide and ponders to this day why he did what he did. This burden often leaves him screaming in the night from nightmares and otherwise carrying a lot of guilt. Despite Lilia’s contempt for her child, she spent nearly all of her earnings having him instructed and boarded at the Townsbrooke gymnasium. This at least kept him at a distance and out of her sight. At the gymnasium, from the age of 6 through 14, the young lad grew into a young adult. He read the classics, was instructed in mathematics and philosophy, and was trained to box and wrestle. In fact, by the time Rexor was 14, he’d become such a decorated wrestler that many Townsbrooke folk began to overlook his heritage, as well as the fact he had murdered his own brother.

“He’s quite a strapping lad!”

“Yes, did you see how he picked that fat Bruno right up over his head?”

“No doubt he will bring honor to Townsbrooke!”

Unfortunately, one night Rexor’s wrestling career came to an abrupt end. He and several academy fellows went out on the town and had a few too many ales. They took to the streets singing and shouting, and when the town constable and his four deputies arrived to quell the scene, Rexor unwisely decided the appropriate thing to do was to confront them. At first, only a few slight words were exchanged:

“You lads best get home,” pronounced the constable as he brandished his club.

“You going to make us?” demanded Rexor.

But then one of the deputies said too much:

“You best shut up, you son of a whore!”

When the fight was over, five dead lawmen laid at the boy’s feet. The scuffle had been a terrible one. He’d made the first move by tackling the insulting deputy, gouging out his eyes, and twisting his head away from his neck. The remaining four then subdued Rexor, held him down, and beat him with their clubs until his face could no longer be recognized, and his body was motionless in the dust. Somehow, as the constable and his deputies paused to catch their breath, Rexor rose to his feet and killed them all with his bare hands.

“The young wrestler killed the constable!” a Townsbrooke citizen shouted.

“Someone fetch the captain of the guard!”

“Seize him! He’s a killer!”

Rexor had no choice but to escape deep into Borger Forest. There he spent nearly three years living amongst a small tribe of warlike orcs, the Tralkana. At first the Tralkana took to bullying him around, but that didn't last long. By the end of his second day Rexor could hold back no longer. When Ugna Vurt, the chieftain’s brother, decided to pop Rexor on the back of the head with his shield, Rexor grappled him to the ground, pinning the orc helplessly face down in the mud. Impressed with Rexors display of strength, Ugna took to teaching Rexor how to use the two-handed sword so that one day he might join the Tralkana on one of their raids against the local bugbears.

“Boy not only drink like orc, he fight like one too,” Ugna Vurt often boasted.

“Boy have ugly face like orc!” Ugna Vurt would laugh.

Nevertheless, Rexor was a human and not an orc. So when the local bugbear spoils dried up and the Tralkana fell upon hard times, Rexor was sold to the Rolodan Marauders. Ugna Vurt himself committed the foul deed by challenging the boy to a drinking contest, but secretly filling his own keg with water. When the boy passed out, his hands and feet were tied, his mouth gagged, and his head covered with a sack. When his hood was removed a few days later, he found himself on a slave ship set for the strange continent of Ashgloom.

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