Lvl 1 Tiefling Warlock
Goals to accomplish:
- Find out who Corwynn is (the Tiefling who saved me)/wait for her to claim her payment
- Seek revenge on my persecutors
- Find a place to belong
I remember little of the place where I was born. Cold, harsh winters; blindingly bright suns. I dream of it sometimes, and of the last time I saw my mother. I remember precisely the way she held me, so far from her chest, handling me as if I might at any moment burst into flame, face contorted with a mixture of great sorrow, fear, and something else, unidentifiable – was it hatred? We were in a wide, cold, open room, with stained glass set deep in stone walls and she set me down on a wide pillar in the center of the room. She pulled a pendant from beneath her robe, and began muttering in a language foreign to me as she made motions over me with her hands. Then she mixed a thick red paste, dipped her fingertip into it, and traced her trembling finger along my skin – touching my forehead, my arms, the backs of my hands. Indiscernible symbols she wrote in thick red strokes until my skin barely showed through, her muttering growing more intense. Suddenly the door was flung open with a bang, and a man shouted at her to stop. They struggled and she was thrown to the floor. He looked over me, his face clothed in pity. This is what I dream of. I know not where my mother is now, who that man was, or what happened to me next. I have vague memories of wandering through snow, of a starving belly and I am told that this is how my guardian found me, a human hunter who lived on his own.
I remember the first time we went to town together, how people stared and whispered. He was kind to me, but I knew I was different. The hunter owned many books on every subject imaginable. I spent much of my childhood among them, learning about the land, about the cruelty of people that led to wars and changed the land; suspiciously eyeing intricately colored depictions of gods who ordered men about on tiny planes below. My favorite books were giant things, bound in leather and metal buckles, for they felt so natural in my hands. Inside, I learned how to cultivate my own power, how to become more than a god, and in secret I practiced dark spells.
They came for me eventually, after I had lost the innocent look of youth. They came in the night, with fire and guns. The hunter, though skilled in watching his prey and patiently aiming his shots, was no match for the assault of the mob. He was killed immediately. They bound me in barbed chains and dragged me through town into the temple. Four of them held me down in the center of the stone floor. The priest pulled a wooden pendant from around his neck and began making signs over me. Someone nearby was mixing a thick paste which she handed to him. He dipped his finger in and came towards me.
The ceremony lasted hours. They had tried to ‘cleanse’ me, using a similar method that my mother had, only no one came to save me this time. I had been whipped, burned, forced through a series of baths of alternating boiling and freezing water; they made me stand, they made me kneel, they put chalk, oil, and various pastes and herb mixtures all over my body, and in the end they concluded I was a lost cause. Their only choice was to rid the world of me. They took me into the deepest part of the woods. They shoved me into a coffin, nailed it shut, bound it with rope and with chains, and carried me into the deep recesses of a cave. I felt a sickening plunge in my stomach, as if I were falling several feet, then a bump which caused me to slam my head against my close ceiling, then heard a soft thwap thwap thwap as dirt was shoveled onto the coffin.
My attempts to escape were all ineffectual, and I lay for an uncountable time in the dark, alone. I had cried out all of my tears and each hour only heightened my bitterness. I was growing so weak from lack of food and water, blood loss, and the thinness of the air, I began to hallucinate the sounds of the earth being disturbed above me. Then there was a loud thud directly on the coffin. The chains rattled as they were removed, I could hear the rope being sawn through. I cursed the vividness of this hallucination. Was I to endure such torment from my own imagination as well after all of the torture I had already suffered at the hands of others? Then came the prying and a blinding light. The addition of other sensory information finally cleared my head. I took in a deep full breath of air. I was really being set free! At first, I was dazed and didn’t move. Then a hooded face appeared, red-skinned, horns discernible beneath the hood. She was like me. “At last…” she breathed in a whisper. She peered into my face, almost ravenously, then reached her hand down to me. I let her pull me onto equal ground, faint from the exertion. “I’m Corwynn,” she said, eyeing me closely. I tried to speak, but my throat was dry, my lips parched. She handed me a canteen full of water, and pulled some bread from her pocket. I drank and ate hungrily, on instinct, forgetting the presence of another being.
My head finally cleared enough to ask the most pertinent question. “How did you know I was here?”
She pursed her lips together. “I was watching.”
“Why did you wait so long?!” I asked, angrily.
“There is a … delay,” she answered. “And I had to be sure.”
This reply made no sense to me. I struggled to move the conversation forward. “Sure of what.”
“That is not your concern right now. You should be thanking me,” she raised an eyebrow, “eternally in my debt.”
I paused, swallowed. “I am… grateful,” I managed. “I am not used to kindness.”
“Don’t mistake me,” she said. “I can knock you back down in that box in an instant. But as I said, now you owe me.”
“What is it you want?”
“For now, I take nothing. But I will give you advice.” Her face drew closer, serious. “Flee,” she whispered intensely. “This cave leads down into the world-beneath-the-world. There you may find others like you. It is a harsher world-” I looked at her in awe. Who could be harsher than my torturers? “-but you may find a place. And one day I will return to collect what’s due.” She took my hand, dropped some coins in it, and placed the remaining bread and canteen in my lap. She stood to go, but leaned over me, close to my face. She opened her mouth wide and breathed in deeply. I felt something inside me rip away, like my breath, but deeper, leaving an emptiness behind. “Now you are bound to me,” she smiled, “and I shall know where to find you when I come to seek your payment.”
“Who are you?” I asked, breathless.
“We are more alike than you know,” she smirked. Then she left.