Out With The Riff Raff
Born the bastard of an invasion from the Sword Mountain Orcs I was alone. My mother was a human commoner of the city of Splendors, Waterdeep, and my dad... Well I have no idea. I know he was an orc. I know he raped my mother and I know he was killed in an invasion attempt on Waterdeep. I know what you're thinking. “You must really hate orcs?”. Well, not so much. When you live in a town like Waterdeep being a “half-breed” as the humans called me came with a lot more disadvantages than you would think.
Something stolen? It was the half-breed!
Something broken? It was that bastard orc child!
Then there is the merciless treatment my mother received. She was called wench, harlot and even prostitute. When other kids hear these things they pick them up. Needless to say my childhood was a series of fights and visits to the local jailer. But being a half-breed also had some advantages. For instance, human bindings don't keep very well against orc strength which allowed me to slip my bindings and return home like nothing happened. After all Waterdeep is a very big and crowded city.
But even the biggest cities have their sore thumbs. And I was a big one. My skin and hair was the biggest give away. Not to often do you see grey-skins in Waterdeep and if you do there is usually the sound of invasion bells that follow soon after. And lets not even talk about the layer of black fuzz that coats the rest of me. Such was life. I noticed that folk passed through often ignored and unnoticed this mystified me and created a driving jealousy to be like them. Ignored, forgotten able to just pass through without torment or fear.
So this became my pastime, watching these hooded and cloak figures wander in and out as the pleased. I knew I needed, no wanted, what they had. And wanted it bad. I took to wandering the rooftops of Waterdeep, from up there you can see everything. Its one of the only places I felt at peace. No harassing passer-by, no guards... well most of the time, and no one reminding me that im an abomination of diluted blood.
First thing I realized was that if I were to go in and out unnoticed I was gonna need one of those head covering cloaks. I thought many times about stealing one. Just waiting at an Inn in the pub area and taking some slobs cloak and making off. But my mother was very adamant about conduct of this manner.
It's funny cause she insisted I learn to read and write, which I absolutely hated, if I needed to talk I could say what I needed to say and do the rest with my fists. Not in her eyes. In her eyes I was her boy and the skin nor the blood meant anything. If I were to trust anyone in this world it was her. But she understood how difficult I could be. She would joke “well now you're just acting like your father!” as if she knew the rotten bastard. But I guess it helped kinda. It was like we pretended that there was a dad there at some point. I think it gave her a feeling of resolution about what had happened to her.
Anyways back to stealing. It wasn't an option. At least not one as obvious as robbing some drunk at the Inn. So I hatched a plan, not a good plan... but it WAS a plan. I figured if I stalked about near the southern walls that maybe a troll incursion would leave a body behind I could get something off of put together some form of makeshift cloak. Wrong, so very wrong. I'd never hung out near the southern gates much. All the young people regardless of blood knew stories of the trolls of the south. The guards called it the green death, and I always thought this was to instill fear in the young to keep them from straying away form the southern gates. Again... wrong.. so wrong.
After about a month of skulking around the southern gates my moment came. The bells rang true for an invasion at the southern gates. The guards assembled. And for the first time I saw something id never seen before... The Waterdeep Elite Guard Unit. These Soldiers were a sight to behold. Their armor was thick and so shiny. When they walked it was in time not a beat was missed the clap of the steps and the shaking armor was like the sweetest minstrel whispering right into my ears.
The Elite rushed the gate making their formation for lines outside while the gates were seals and archers took their place along the walls strategically between the ballistae. There was a sudden calm and silence that was so eerie the hair on my arms and neck jumped to attention.
Then like a swarm of man-scorpions the trolls poured from the trees onto the Elite Guard like water upon a dam. The Elite stood fast holding their line but these trolls. The speed. The momentum. The sheer brutality of their onslaught struck fear into me like id never known before. The Elite Guards were dying one by one and the archers along the wall seemed as if they were firing into the night. The Elite Guard Captain broke the line and lashed out at a nearby troll with a glowing sword that seemed as if it were bathed in light from the sun itself. He had sheered the troll completely in half. The trolls stopped for only a moment to observe this feat.
This precision kill had two effects. One was it caused a renewed war cry among the Elite Guards and the other was it cause a bloodlust for the witnessing trolls. It seems this battle had only begun. So left and right Elite Guards were being slain, I can recall vividly and troll breaking a mans arm to force him to release his sword and then throwing him to the ground only to completely shatter his helmet and skull with a mighty stomp. I felt sick. I'm still not sure why? These humans hated me. But I guess living with them made me feel a kinship for them.
The Elite Captain was still holding his ground on the field almost instantly killing any troll that came towards him. But it wasn't long before the lines were getting thin. This was not a battle to be won today. It seemed the gates would be the force that stopped this troll incursion. By this time I had made my way up the rooftops to the wall and had my eyes glued to the scene below. As it looked like all was about to be lost the aroma of smoke filled my nose. It was like a warm wood-burning brazier fire. I was puzzled.
But not for long.
From the trees from both east and west a torrent of arrows poured from the trees. They were burning! BURNING arrows! It was beautiful. It was like fire-bugs on a mid-summer evening near the Turning Point. They rained from the sky striking fear into the trolls for some reason they responded directly to the fire. It was as if the very sight of fire burned their eyes. The trolls began a retreat back into the wooded forest from whence they came. The arrows followed them striking several retreating trolls in the back leaving them to burn where they fell.
The Elite Guard Captain plunged his sword into the ground and removed his winged helm and shouted up at the bowmen on the wall, “what in the hells was that? Did you blindfold each other before taking post?”. The lead bowmen responded, “Sir Areh we did our best, we didn't want to hit any of Lord Peiergieron's men.”. Areh responded, “My order exists to serve the people of this city not your lord.”.
This man was no guard captain. He was a Paladin of the order of light. We had heard of the deeds of Paladins but never before had I seen one up close. My awe was interrupted by the bowman responding to him. “Sir Areh if there is issue with the way our Lord runs this city I suggest you take It up with him.”. Areh responded “Your Lord not mine. I was tasked to defend this wall until my time with the local Paladin temple was concluded. That day is today. You tell your lord he can pluck from his coffers my deemed value and pay it in full to the Temple,”
Midst the bickering several hooded figures passed unseen from the woods surrounding the Paladin. Areh looked around and smiled.
Areh: Bout time, I thought you tree lovers fell asleep after hitting the pipe.
Elric: Calm down old man we didn't want to take all the glory, after all you're the big hero remember?
Areh: HA, yeah I come up here from Calimport to see the great temple in the City of Splendors and end up working gate patrol for that greedy mongrel. These people are hungry, there are children roaming the streets stealing food to eat. Yet the temple does nothing.
Elric: Alright, calm down you cant storm the city and fix everything. Hells the orcs and trolls have been trying for decades!
They both let out a sultry chuckle.
Areh: So what are the rangers of waterdeep doing this far south any how?
Elric: Well our scouts told of of the activity near trollbark and the noises from the forest along the road north of there during the night. So we set up watch just south of the gates and fortified strategic locations outside the wall here for an ambush.
Areh: Could have come to me. I would have loved to sit on the wall and watch those creatures cook.
Elric: Who do you think tipped of the Elite Guard?
Areh: Bastards... these men were slaughtered.a few more paladins from the temple and this would have been easily managed.
Elric: What will you do?
Areh: My orders take me back to Calimport immediately. It seems some celestial artifact has been found and im to return to investigate. I leave out at dusk.
Elric: Well then my old friend I leave you to it!
Areh: May the wilds protect you old friend. Oh and if you see that bastard Nlorin tell him his owes me new boots..
Areh summons his massive Griffon mount and takes his leave muttering something about, rogue... sneaky bastard... tiamat.
Elric lets out a roar of laughter before turning to his party and returning to the woods.
Like a child in the magic shop I ran as fast as I could along the roof tops leaping from roof to roof trying to get home to tell my mother all the amazing things i'd seen today. Alas I finally made it to the roof of the hostel where my mother and I lived. I made my way down off the roofs and inside. There was a strange look on the proprietors face. I looked away and make for our room. When I entered I was along. This was odd. I never made it home before my mother. I decided it best if I waited. So I settled in staring at the door waiting and waiting. I was becoming fearful but I kept my nerve.
The sun shown in upon my face the warmth and light jarred me awake. I had fallen asleep. It was morning now and still my mother hadn't returned. I left the hostel and headed to the mage tower of Waterdeep to seek out Khelban Blackstaff. He was my mentor the one my mother spent all her money to teach me to read and write. He was a fair and fun but strict teacher. The amazing things he could do with magic left me wide eyed and speechless. He taught me a thing or two other than just to read and write but thats another story altogether.
When I arrived at the tower I asked to see Khelban. The apprentice mages looked at one another in a strange manor. They knew who I was yet seemed almost nervous to see me. They summoned a caretaker of the tower to speak with me.
Caretaker: child what are you doing here?
Me: im looking for my mother. She never came home last night.
Caretaker: child you shouldn't be here.
Me: shouldn't be here? Why?
Caretaker: come with me!
So I went with her. She led me high into the tower saying nothing. I was confused, fearful and nervous all at once. I was beginning to get angry. She led me into a chamber room where she said listen,
Caretaker: child there has been a purge.
Me: a purge? What purge?
Caretaker: of the city. The local guard is gathering up all those deemed undesirable and sending them away from Waterdeep in some sort of caravan.
Me: WHAT? Where is my mother?
Caretaker: oh child, she was among them. You were supposed to be as well.
Me: but why? What did we do?
Caretaker: nothing my child, nothing.
The caretaker embraced me tightly tears rolling down her face.
Me: ok so how do I get to my mother?
Caretaker: they forced the caravan out the southern gates on a march for Baulder's Gate.
Oh Gods, I thought. After what I saw today they are sending my mother into that? I Must find her I thought, and fast!
Me: I have to find her.
Caretaker: child know you cannot return. They have cast you out.
Me: I was an outcast the moment my skin was kissed by the sun.
Caretaker: take this it will keep prying eyes away and let you move through the wilds unnoticed. A final gift from Master Blackstaff.
The caretaker hugged me and kissed my forehead. I bowed before her in thanks and said goodbye.
So I finally had my cloak and never needed it more. I threw it on about my body, it was long and flowing and made from some extremely dark material. Looking close at the darkness within the robe are small sparks of light woven into the cloak itself.
Pulling the hood up over my head I made my way as quietly as I could to the rooftops and made my mad dash for the southern gate.
When I arrived at the southern gate there was some sort of check point. I had not seen before. They were haranguing everyone who was near the gate. I knew this was not my way out. So I thought for a moment and then remember up on the wall the day before.. Yes! Of course! I thought. I made my way unnoticed up onto the wall where id had been yesterday. Exactly as I remember a length of rope all rolled up. There must be a hundred feet of rope I thought.
So with the ideas in place it was time to make action. I grabbed one end of the rope and tied it to the ballista and the other end to the ballista bolt. What could go wrong I thought. Fire the bolt ride the rope down. Easy as Jakes BBQ. The release... For the Ballista. Wouldn't budge. It was a reverse gear system locked by tension. What am I going to do I thought? I have to get the hells out of here.
DOH! I thought! The rooftops!
I don't know why it didn't dawn on me sooner but the rooftops in many places are joined together by planks of wood. I figured if I pried one of these planks up I could use it to pry the gear and fire the ballista. I found my plank and lick clockwork I pried it up from the rooftop and made my way back to the ballista with haste!
Alas I reached the ballista and with my piece of wood I levered it into position to make my final move and then on to find mother! But then... I heard “You there! Halt!”. I froze. I slowly turned to look and it was a wall guard on patrol. I was busted. I thought oh great I'm a half-breed with no home what are they going to do with me now?
The guard said just stay still don't move, fear and instinct began to take over. I was cornered, frightened and alone. I moved back towards the wall as the guard crept forward. I told him to back away. He would pause momentarily sizing me up and move again. I tried to move back around the ballista but I tripped.
I remember this moment very clearly cause it was the first time i'd cursed.
I fell over the wall. I had tripped on the very rope I tied and entangled myself in it. Falling at what felt like arrows speed towards the ground I closed my eyes then felt a jerk as the rope reached its length and dropped me in a weird angle onto my back and yet somehow hit my head hard enough that everything faded to black.
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