In The Midst of Black Seas
Let Me Tell You A Story
Height: 4’ 8"
Weight: 100 lbs.
Tlak wears two leather bracers. They are dark brown and simple. No inscriptions, and only the smallest amount of brown leather stitching possible to keep them on. They do not come off without the stitching being ripped. They have no clasps nor buttons.
Underneath these braces, on the underside of Tlak’s wrists are symbols of the Divines he reveres. One under each hand. The left hand bears the eye of Vecna. The right, the eye of Boccob.
“Sit down, sit, sit, sit, sit. Seriously, sir. Take a seat! I’ve got a tale you may want to hear. Come, now! It won’t take that long.
Here, have a silver piece. Just sit down, close your lips, and let a young man who is far too old for his time tell you a story.
It was over a century ago, but I can still see the crystalline sands as if they were before me now. he sun was unforgiving, and the winds were vicious and only brought the warm dusts of the West (never the cool breezes of the Ocean, mind you). In those days a lad could make a proper living as a street urchin, if he had the talents. Distraction, thievery, the cunning jab at the unsuspecting elder folk. None of these traits were beyond this little boy I knew.
hid name was Verelus, aye he was a bright lad.
Filled with life, he was. He would sing a song to melt the hearts o’ girls, and light the fire in an ol’ widow. His songs would be requested a throughout the town, in every district (see, there were over 20,000 people here back in those days)!
But don’t think this little rapscallion was any sort of do-gooder. He had his moments, to be sure, and the things he did for his sister (we’ll get to that later) were held to be great philanthropy, but as the old saying goes ‘Money gotta come from somewhere.’ And as I say it, if you don’ know where it’s comin’ from, is probably comin’ from you.
You see, when the lad began his song or dance his fellow urchins would emerge from the alleys and shops to prey upon the audience. SO enthralled, they were, by his performance that they did not notice until they went to tip him that their pockets were empty.
After the ensuing outrage, Verelus would slip away to his family hovel behind the pig pens, where he, his mother, his father, and his grandfather lived.
It was a rickety hut, upon rickety stone ground, sorounded by a rickety fence. But inside was always an aromatic stew upon a warm fire. Verelus would distribute his earnings from his cut of the scam to his elders (who didn’t ask where it came from, only accepted it with a smile).
And so this went on and on for about 7 to eight years and the boy, being one of the elven-kin, stayed pretty much the same little boy as the population grew around him.
There came a day when an older gentleman of the Southern kingdom of Vashar came to our desert town. Back in those days we knew very little of the Vasharans, only that they had black eyes deformed hands. They were also renowned for their colleges and academies. Every season, a Vasharan Philanthropist would offer scholarships to the young ones, and offer teaching positions to the elders of our town.
It so happened that this particular season, a bit over a century ago, met our little town hero Verelus. He was so impressed by the tyke that he offered him a chance to learn the Bard’s trade.
The man was so sure that the boy would make a profitable impact on the Vasharan Theater, that the Philanthropist offered to house Verulus’ whole family in the city.
Given such a wonderful offer, how could our hero refuse? He was a young man with great talent, but if he stayed here in the town he feared he would never leave. Just end up a sandstone cutter or a glassblower like his father, like his father’s father, like his grandfather’s father, and so on.
That would not be his destiny, though. He would be a star. He would shine above Vashar, seeing centuries of fame before him.
Verelus practically broke the door from it’s hinges as he burst into his home. HE began to pack his things hastily, uttering half sentences to his elders.
‘Man. The Market. I sang. Theater. Free Housing. Fame!’ In minutes his belongings were packed with his sparse amount of clothing and supplies. After bustling about the house, collecting everything he could, he stood by the door. His family was still standing there, cooking, cleaning, preparing tools for the work day.
‘What are you doing? Why aren’t you moving! We need to go, now!’
He screamed at them, pleaded, but they barely noticed him.
‘Be quiet, your grandfather is sleeping.’ His father commanded, his voice firm.
’Don’t you want to leave this life? This mediocrity! Don’t you want something better for yourself than a few centuries of labour? Come on! I can get us all a place in Vashar! Let’s go! We were meant for more than this life of shit.’
With that, Verelus’ father looked down at him.
‘Is that what you think our life is?’ he asked, eyes filled with malice. ‘We work our hands to bone, build up a life and a reputation, and you want to throw it away for some chance that you say we have down South? We have stability here, we have a beautiful home!’
The boy looked around at the beautiful home, noting the rats. Noting in his head the broken window in the kitchen, the larder filled with maggots, and the bedrooms that smelled like sand and dust. There was no beauty here. None.
‘Live in this pit here if you want. Behind pig sties, and under the foot of your betters! I want more out of our lives!’
And so our town hero left us. He left his loving family to go to Vashar, to act.
We know now what kind of fate he most likely found. Years later, it was revealed to us that Vashar was a slave kingdom, based on evil and hatred of the Gods.
The boy died there, but his ghost lives on. Wisping between the libraries and breweries. Finding lost lore, learning what he can, so he never makes a mistake like that again.
He haunts us every day, these very streets feel his presence.
But fear not. When he affects the living, he only tells them the story of his past."