Life in poverty is never an easy one. Life on the streets is even less fun. Life, poor and homeless, well that isn’t pleasant. Born, one of seven children, to a prostitute in the rat infested warrens of Calimport, Rebur’s life wasn’t sunshine and rainbows. The youngest of the seven, Rebur doesn’t remember much of his mother or this time. He remembers even less of his father or fathers for it could have been one of literally thousands of men that flopped in the alley with his mother for a few copper pieces. Rebur does however remember his siblings: Mexlo (his oldest sister), Amberana (sister), Sasha & Samala (the twins, sister/brother respectively), Aqulia (sister), and Nonama (sister). It wasn’t an easy life, but with the income from his mother’s prostitution and his sister, Mexlo’s ability to steal, they weren’t often without food.
At the age of five, Rebur’s life would be forever changed. His mother was found dead, a dagger in her back. The children were rounded up and shipped off to an orphanage in a far off land (or at least far off to a five year old) called Baldar’s Gate. The siblings rode in the back of a hot, unvented wagon for what seemed to be weeks (about 3 days). Mexlo escaped during the first night, telling the others to stick together and she would return for them.
The orphanage was ran by clerics of Oghama, to the common eye. Behind the walls, it was ran by Orgtha Moonhammer. Orgtha hated children, but he knew how to keep the orphanage in the black. He made sure the children were fed (not well fed, but fed). He made sure the children were clean (on visiting days) and not sick (again on visiting days). The children always had blankets, (one blanket per three children) and always had plenty of heat (two hours a night) and comfortable beds (well at least in his quarters).
It was less than a month into Rebur’s stay at the orphanage when the first of his siblings left him. Sasha and Samala, the twins, were adopted by a nobleman and his wife, whom needed help on their farm. Three weeks later, Ambrana was adopted by an elderly man, to help him in his dress shop. Aqulia and Nonama were missing one morning when Rebur awoke. He asked where they had gone and was answered by a week in the cellar. He never found out that they were sold to pay a gambling debt Orgtha had incurred. He was alone for the first time in his life.
Visiting days were the worst, being marched out like livestock to be judged by the prespective parents. Statement like “to short” “to ugly” “to plain”, drove home the feeling of worthlessness most of the children felt. Having newly arrived children picked ahead of those that had been there for years also impressed that mindset.
Two years of this hell, began to change Rebur. He with drew, he sat in the shadows of the common room, unless he was assigned a task. Visiting day rolled around yet again. A tall dark haired man appeared in the doorway of the common room. As Rebur watched, the man scanned the children as if he was picking a cow he wished slaughtered for his evening meal. “You (pointing to a young girl who just arrived that week), You (pointing to a large boy who had been there for a few months), and You (pointing to Rebur) follow me,” the man barked. The children were led outside to a plush coach. The man moved his hand in an odd manner and spoke a strange phrase of gibberish and something amazing happened. The dirty and grime leaped off the children and their clothes. “Get in”, the man again barked.
The coach lurched and jerked for many hours before coming to a stop in front of a large keep. The children stood in awe of the keep. Lavish brick work and beautiful murals of dragons, elves, and other mythical beasts covered the keep. “Move” the man barked. The doors of the keep opened, as the children approached, without help. As the children entered the waiting room, the man commanded “Stop”.
“My name is Baron Marlmas De’Keynas. You are now my wards. The rules here are simple: Obey without question, speak only when spoken to, finish your assigned chores, and never venture to the tower. This”, the baron said pointing to an elderly hunchbacked servant “is Raman, he will show you to your rooms and assign your chores.” With that the Baron turned and climbed the staircase to what appeared to be the tower.
Raman gestured for the children to move and limped toward a doorway on the other side of the waiting area. The group walked for what seemed like days until they reached a large wooden door. Raman opened the heavy door with a grunt and motioned the children through. The room was huge; it had to be ever bit as big as the whole orphanage. There were eight large canopy beds in a semi circle at one end of the room. There was a shallow pool of water at the opposite end.
“You will live here as long as you obey the rules. Here are your assignments” Raman said handing a small scrap of papyrus to each of the children. The large boy (Lars, I believe was his name) slowly raised his hand. “Yes”, Raman peered.
“I beg your forgiveness, sir. But I cannot read”, Lars whimpered weakly.
“What in gods name did Orgtha teach you”, Raman exploded. He gestured to them to give him the papyrus back and read each aloud to the children.
“Apparently, your reading lessons will begin tomorrow after midday. Your chores will also begin tomorrow; you have the rest of the day to yourselves. You will find personal affects in the foot lockers at the foot of the beds. Lie down on the bed and the affects will be altered to fit you.”
So the children: Lars, Bethany, and Rebur; all picked beds and lay down. The bed was the most comfortable place Rebur had ever been in his seven year life. Fighting the urge of never getting up, He rose and looked inside the footlocker. It contained: three sets of clothes, one set of dress clothes, several books, combs, brushes, etc. The keep turned out to be the direct opposite of the orphanage… lavish clothes, meals fit for kings, and a sense of home.
Sadly, like most things in his life, times change. First it began with Bethany being gone when the boys awoke. She was present at midday meals and supper, but wasn’t in her bed in the morning. She never spoke of what was happening during the nights. After a few weeks, she quit attending meals and nothing was ever said. Rebur was curious about where she had gone, but not curious enough to risk a week in the cellar or worse.
Then Lars was missing, but he never returned. Rebur continued his chores and lessons, waiting the inevitable.
Raman shuffled into Rebur’s room just after midnight. Rebur was awake, but did his best not to show it. Raman smiled. “Boy, I know you’re not asleep”, Raman mused, “get dressed and meet me in the waiting room, now!”
Rebur obeyed. Sever minutes later, he found Raman in the waiting room. Raman simply pointed up the stairway toward the tower. Rebur nodded and walked up the winding stairway meekly. The door at the top was iron, and as it opened he noticed it was quite thick. He, with a knot of fear in his throat, entered the room.
“Ah, Rebur my boy, welcome to the laboratory,” the Baron said with a smile. He made a gesture and the doors shut behind the young very scared boy. “There is nothing to fear, lad” the baron continued “I just wish to make sure your healthy and being well taken care of”. Rebur said nothing as he slowly looked around the strange room. Beakers, vials, bubbling concoctions, maps, posters, tables, etc were arranged all about the center of the room. Cages lined the walls of the room on two sides and a huge stone doorway on the opposite wall (in which he entered) came into plain view. Still, Rebur said nothing.
“You see, lad, poor Bethany wasn’t strong enough to handle the “tests” and well poor Lars’s heart gave out,” the baron said “mater of fact”-like “I am hoping you will prove to be the one.”
Movement caught Rebur’s attention, some sort of being shuffled from behind the large table followed by several others. “Ok lad, up on the table nice like or the Zombies will put you there not so nice like, your choice son” the baron said without even looking over his shoulder. Rebur looked at the monsters shuffling toward him and made his decision. He hopped up on the table, trembling with fear.
For the first time in months, Rebur wished his was sleeping in the filth and cold of the orphanage. He also wondered how his brother and sisters were fairing in their new lives. The cold metal manacles locking around his wrists and ankles snapped him back to reality. “God I hope this is just a dream” Rebur thought. “Scream if you need to lad, there is no shame in it. The walls are magically sealed to prevent any one from hearing you. This might tingle a bit”, the Baron said turning to face Rebur. This was the first time since his arrival that he had set eyes on his “benefactor”.
Decaying flesh drooped off his skeletal face, red burning eyes surrounded a missing nose, teeth showed through the holes in his cheeks. His skin was thin and his lower arms looked to be barren of any flesh at all. Shame or no shame, Rebur did scream. Then the pulse of magical energy flowed through his body and he screamed louder (looking back he didn’t think that was possible). Pulse after pulse bombarded his body. After what seemed to be decades, the zombies unlocked the manacles and drug his limp body over to one of the cages. The zombies, now that he was closer to them, looked to be Bethany and Lars. They dropped him in the floor of the cage and locked it.
Rebur, unable to move from exhaustion, pain, or the after affects of the spells, could only look at the bars of his cage. The bars, well they couldn’t be called bars as such, were large bones. Hours later when he could again move he noticed they were made from the leg bones of giant creatures at least ten feet tall. He sat up and found that not only was he exhausted, he was falling backwards toward the hard stone floor, and he slept.
The dreams were the same as always, drug from the cage, strapped on the table, pulses of energy, screams, drug off the table, tossed in the cage, and sleep. Repeat. The dreams were the same as reality or the reality was the same as the dreams. There is no way of saying how long this went on, but I can say that many things changed over that time. Rebur’s dark black hair changed to ashy dull white. His brown eyes became a pale gold color. His darkly tanned skin faded into a pasty white color.
Sounds of crashes, booms, screams, and shouts awoke Rebur from his latest slumber. Quick movements and bright lights rushed past his cage. Chanting and strange languages clouded the air. “Good job, mem up and search this place,” a voice commanded. The sounds of movement got closer to the cage. Rebur fought the desire to call out. He had learned that no matter what your situation is it can and will get worse.
“Uh, I think I found something”, a deep gravelly voice called out.
“Let me see, move you Ox”, a light fun whimsical voice babbled.
The cage door slowly opened. A short bearded man was the first to enter the cage. “Its all right lad, were not here to be harmin ya” the gravelly voiced bearded man said, “There is nothing to fear”.
The last time Rebur heard that there was nothing to fear, well they lied. Rebur smiled at the short stout man and with all his might sprang directly into his chest, knocking him backwards. Landing on his toes, he sprinted toward the door but was cut off by a little guy without shoes, but his feet were covered by fur. The fur offered no protection from Rebur’s boots, which was apparent from the scream and the hopping. Leaping over the screaming man, he darted toward the iron door. Glancing around, he noticed the dead bodies: Raman, Zombie Bethany, Zombie Lars, the Baron, and two men with pointed ears (elves? I thought those were myths.) The iron door was just swinging shut as Rebur ducked behind it and pushing all of his weight against it helping it close.
Then he ran. He ran until he thought his lungs would explode, then he ran some more. He tripped on a hidden limb in the brush of the forest surrounding the keep and landed hard, knocking what little air he had left out. He rested.
“What am I going to do? Where will I go? Where is my family? Why didn’t Mexlo come?” he thought.
“Get up and run!” a voice commanded, “We must escape.”
“Whose there?” Rebur said spinning in circles almost making himself dizzy.
“Get up and run, now!” the voice again commanded followed by a blast of bright light and pain shooting through his head. “Run now!”
So he ran. “Who was that?” Rebur thought.
“My name is not important”, the voice answered, “What is important is what you run.”
“Where?” Rebur thought.
“North to Waterdeep, I know someone there that can help us,” the voice answered.
As Rebur ran, he questioned the voice and they both discovered a little of each other. It seems that some of the “tests” the baron attempted summoned a being from the plane of shadows, a shade for a lack of a better term. As the summoning took place, there was a minor mistake on the baron’s part and the shade was trapped inside Rebur. The shade can’t escape Rebur’s body or mind, but knowing the damage the spells were causing, he protected Rebur’s mind the best he could (for lack of a better term). The shade knew if the host perished, it would most likely perish also.
The travelers finally reached the City of Splendor, Waterdeep. It was huge, lots and lots of people (some weren’t even people like elves (damn I still thought those were a myth). With the shades directions, Rebur found the hut of the friend that would help. The shade never bothered to correct Rebur that he said could, not would. The friend however wasn’t at home. With the shades suggestion, Rebur borrowed some clothes, food, and strange books from the residence and left, traveling south toward his former home Calimport.
With the shades instructions, Rebur mastered most of the spells in the tomes. He also figured out how to release the shade for a short period of time, howere after the spell stopped the shade was back in his mind. Rebur and the shade have traveled the realms in search of several things: how to get the shade back to his native plane, the whereabouts of Rebur’s family, and revenge on Orgtha the cruel orphanage caretaker.
Due to his fears of close spaces and lack of trust toward humanity, Rebur changes his appearance quite often generally posing as an elven merchant or a gnomish peacekeeper.
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