Descent of Darkness
Dark Phoenix Rising from the Ashes
|Weight||100 pounds||Eyes||Light Green|
|Weapons||Crossbow (light), Daggers (x7)||Armor||Black Studded Leather +3|
- Point Blank Shot
- Precise Shot
- Gutterspeak Signing
- Sneak Attack +1d6
- Low-light Vision
- Immune to magic sleep effects
- +2 on saving throws vs. enchantment spells & effects
- +2 racial bonus on Perception checks
- Rogue Talents: Combat Trick (Precise Shot)
- Acrobatics +14
- Appraise +7
- Bluff +4
- Climb +9
- Disable Device +10
- Disguise +4
- Escape Artist +9
- Knowledge (local) +6
- Perception +7
- Sense Motive +5
- Sleight of Hand +9
- Stealth +9
- Soap (x5 bars)
- Traveler’s Outfit
- Mask (black)
- Cape with hood (black)
- Moon Pendant Necklace
- Lockpicking Tools
- Silk Rope (100 ft)
- Sunrod (x2)
- Boots of Dragonstriding
- 518 GP, 2 SP, 4 CP
Theme song for Lunara:
((Not the best or deepest character theme song but I’m driving myself bonkers looking for another one that fits well … so this is the song for now – if I find one I like better later I’ll switch it out ))
It was bitterly cold that winter eve. Cold…colder than anything she’d ever experienced before. Cold enough to freeze the marrow in your bones. She’d heard stories from the others in her group of Streets. It would be hard and biting at first; almost unbearable. Slowly the freezing tendrils would creep in, with the stealth and finesse of the most expert pickpocket, and wrap you in their wintry embrace. They would change your insides to match your outsides and you’d go to sleep; a warm blanket of snow covering you – like sinking into a hot spring after a hard day’s work. One of the villagers would find you in the morning, colder than death but with a smile on your face. She shivered and wrapped the rags that constituted clothing in her world more tightly about her small, too-lean frame. She knew, with the understanding of one whose home had been the street for as long as she could remember, that tonight she must risk the wrath of the townspeople. If she didn’t find somewhere slightly warmer, it would spell her death. And she didn’t want it to end like this. You don’t fight your way through the violence and the hunger and pain to end it on some cold winter’s night because you weren’t smart enough to wriggle your way into some shop or home where you could curl up and stay through the bitterest part of the night. There was always the risk of being caught and having a hand chopped or, in the worst cases, being hung from the town’s large willow tree that occupied a good section of the town square. But that was one of the hazards of being a Street – one of the people who made their living from begging or, if you were quick-handed and stealthy enough, pick pocketing.
* * *
A flash of memory; Blink – overconfident, cocky Blink. He thought he was the slickest pickpocket in the whole town – that the normal rules of the Streets didn’t apply to him. And he was good – fast and able to talk his way through almost anything; leader of our section of Streets. But one night, finally fed up with the life of a Street and the cruelties that went along with it, he thought he’d make good our escape from the town we lived in. To better all the Streets’ lives that he took care of, he said. He had climbed, oh-so-stealthily, into the house of the city chief. I was to stand look-out by the corner of the house, in sight of the door. If anyone ventured near I would give warning so Blink could make good his escape. When the deed was done, we would take the money and leave, make our way to somewhere better than here. The night was quiet and peaceful. No one came in and Blink had almost gotten away with the theft. But the danger, when it came, came from the inside instead of the out. The chief, who generally slept harder than a rock buried under a mountain of snow, hadn’t been able to sleep that night and had gone into the main part of the house to get a snack. It was then that she saw Blink. As soon as I heard the commotion coming from inside the house, I bolted as fast and far as I could. The one and only person who cared if I survived and I let him down in the greatest way imaginable. I still bitterly regret that night, for it was the last time I ever saw Blink alive.
The next day, I woke to a crowd of merchants and families surrounding the old willow tree. Surreptitiously I joined the back of the crowd to catch a glimpse of what was going on. I saw Blink swinging lazily from one of the mid-range branches. Choking back a cry of dismay, I quickly schooled my face and body back to neutrality. Streets couldn’t afford to care; couldn’t afford weakness. Blink was our leader and now the territory we had held so tightly only yesterday would be ripe for the taking. More territory meant more food and more marks for begging or pick pocketing. And there would be fighting over who was to claim this piece of the street. No matter that Blink had been one of my mentors – one of the few who had taught me a few of his own tricks instead of leaving me to fend for myself in the hopes that I would be caught or killed to leave more territory for the rest. No matter that he’d given me my name when I was too young and scared to have one for myself. Or that he tweaked my ears when I did a good job. That when he called me ‘Ears’ he meant it affectionately and not in the mocking way that the other Streets did. He was gone and there wasn’t anything to do about it. Crying wouldn’t help, nor would anything I did. He was gone and I moved on with life. It was only much later that I found out it was a rival from one of the neighboring street sections that had tipped off the chief to Blink’s incursion.
* * *
She hadn’t thought of Blink in years. Things were better then, when Blink headed up this section of the street. There was still hunger but no one starved, especially not the young ones. And no one was beaten or whipped with a lash for “offenses against the leaders” – anything from not bringing in enough money or food for the day to looking at one of them sideways. She felt wetness on one of her cheeks and viciously wiped it away, shaking her head exasperatedly at herself. Streets weren’t soft, not if they wanted to stay alive. She risked a glance up and down the alley she was in and was relieved that it was still empty. Taking a deep breath, she steadied herself and contemplated the best place to try tonight.
She didn’t want to lose a hand or hang but if she didn’t find shelter tonight she would be as good as dead anyway. Sometimes you had to take the risk. Streets couldn’t afford the choice – it was survival or death. The other stuff didn’t matter. She went through the options quickly in her head, finally settling on the smithy. Her decision made she dragged her frozen feet back up the alley and down the street two blocks until she saw the hammer and anvil sign swinging above one of the buildings. Shivering she listened closely at the door. All was quiet – a good sign. Slowly she took one small step at a time until she had gone around the house and all the way up to the back door. She put her hand on the door and pushed as softly as she could. She cursed under her breath. She hadn’t really expected the door to be unlocked but, as cold as it was, she had dared to hope. Pulling one of her most precious possessions out of the tatters of her clothes, a small piece of slightly bent metal, she carefully and painstakingly played with the lock until she heard the telltale snick of a freshly free door. It WAS a little louder than she normally managed, but the cold was thick and her fingers a lot less dexterous than under normal circumstances. Listening carefully at the door, she heard no sounds. Relieved, she again softly pushed the door, this time smiling as the door slowly swung inwards.
She was even more relieved when she saw the remains of the previous day’s fire smoldering in the forge in the middle of the room. The warmth of the air was a welcome relief from the frigidity of outside. She quickly closed the door and took a closer look around the room. It was times like these that she was actually thankful for her inhuman senses; her elven-ness. She could see in the low light of the smoldering forge, where most of the other Streets would be blind. Spotting a likely corner that seemed slightly darker and more out of the way than the rest of the room, she made her way that direction and sunk into the pile of blackened rags that lay there.
She savored the comfort for but a moment before making sure to sit fully upright against the wall. It would not do to fall asleep in this house that was not hers. People had died for less. She needed to be out of here before the rest of the household awoke. She’d only stay for the bitterest part of the night. Before the first rays of light started making their way over the city, she would be gone – with none the wiser. But the air was so warm and inviting, the bits of cloth she was sitting on so soft. Try as she might to keep her eyes open, they eventually closed as her world hazed over and then faded to a blissful blackness as she drifted off into a deep sleep…
* * *
She awoke with a start to the unpleasant feeling of eyes on her. Her mind racing, she tried to place herself. The blacksmith!! She must have fallen asleep sitting down. Her eyes widened in horror. Images of her death or dismemberment flashed across her mind as she scuttled to a more upright position against the wall. Across from her a large, well-muscled arm covered in reddish-orange body hair grabbed the scruff of her rags and dragged her to her feet. As each moment slowed to a crawl, she noticed a pair of cerulean blue eyes with small laugh creases in the corners that went with the muscle-corded arm holding her. But the face was wreathed in anything but a smile now. She could see the stern face. Saw that face scowl as if it had eaten something nasty. Felt as she was lifted inch by agonizing inch up into the air and on her feet. Panic threatening to overwhelm her, she began to kick and flail in an effort to escape her jailor. The arm shook her briskly until she stopped struggling.
“What’s your name?” the man shouted at her. She would not give anything away. Don’t let them see your fear or they would pounce. The stubborn waif refused to speak – to give any information at all to this man who wasn’t a Street and who would have avoided her gaze and pretended she wasn’t there if they had met out on the street. She shook her head and kept her silence.
The man’s face took on a deeper scowl as he held her with one arm and took a newly made axe from one of his work tables. “Would you rather we do it the way the law says?” he said, brandishing the axe above his head as he flung one of her arms on the table and held it down, the axe poised to cut it cleanly at the wrist. “Now – what is your name?”
“E-ears” she managed to squeak in reply. What did this man want with her name anyway? It didn’t make you any less dead or maimed. And a maimed Street was almost certainly a dead one. She tried to pull away from the man’s grip but he was too strong. She couldn’t even move her arm at all. “Puh—Please” she squeaked, tears beginning to roll down her face as she imagined the shiny axe descending and the red, red blood as it would pour out of her.
A flash of sympathy, quickly concealed, flashed across the man’s face as he lowered the axe and set it back onto the work table. “Ears, huh.” He looked ever-so-slightly amused as he took her in, from unwashed, greasy white hair and her light, almost luminescent green eyes, to her feet, bare except for the rags she had managed to rip from her clothes and wrap on her feet so she wouldn’t freeze. A rank-smelling, dirty waif…a Street. Though at least he didn’t laugh or glare at her noticeably pointed, long ears that poked up above her hair, no matter how she tried to make sure they stayed covered. “No family, I suppose?” Was he daft?!? Of course she didn’t have a family. She was a Street. Why did he even care?
“No…no family.” she replied, a little more at ease now that the axe had been lowered.
“Hunh.” was all he grunted in reply as he looked at her, almost measuring her, once again. Some thought went through his mind – she could see his gaze turn inward. After a few moments he seemed to come to some sort of decision as he hauled her out of the back of the shop into the front and up the stairs, where a loaf of bread and a few pieces of jerky were laid out on the counter. Her mouth ached she was so hungry. Winters were always hard in the village, and harder on the Streets than anyone, especially with Farl running her section of street and taking anything that came in for himself and his cronies, leaving the littles to starve. It had been a good two weeks since she had had any measurable amount of sustenance. She could feel her stomach begin to rumble as she eyed the food greedily.
She was beyond surprised when the blacksmith grabbed the jerky and the half loaf of bread and pushed it into her hand. “Eat” he grunted. Not able to think of anything else, she collapsed to the floor where she was and began to devour the food – a ravenous maelstrom of teeth and hands as she tore into it. She didn’t even notice that he left to another room, didn’t even think of escape. All she could manage was to get the food in her mouth as quickly as possible.
A few moments later, her stomach bulging and feeling almost sick from the surfeit of food she had taken in after having so little for so long, she spied the blacksmith man across from her, an amused smile on his face as he watched her; a piece of light blue cloth folded in one arm. When she was finished, he looked at her and said “I like you Ears…you remind me of someone I used to know; a very dear friend of mine from very long ago.” He brought her into a deeper room of the house, where a steaming hot bath had been drawn. “Here – you can have this,” he said as he held out the woolen cloth, better than anything she had known, to her. “Take a bath and then put this on. Then come talk to me.”
She didn’t quite know how she’d gone from thinking she was going to be amputated to having food and a bath, but she wasn’t complaining. She soaked in the bath until the water temperature dropped to cold, relaxing in the luxury that she could never once remember having. When that was done, she unfolded and looked at the faded blue dress he had given her, then put it over her head. It was a little bit big on her, but it was clean and smelled nice. She looked at her hands, clean and with no dirt for the first time in as long as she could remember and marveled. Taking a deep breath, she walked downstairs to talk to the blacksmith.
* * *
So began my acquaintance with the local blacksmith, Lorne Swiftsilver. He took me in for the winter. Fed me and gave me odd jobs around the shop. Blocked the other Streets in their attempts to drag me back to where I had been before with an irritated look and a heft of his well-made axe. I tested locks he made and helped him to organize the front of the shop. He never once mentioned my conspicuously pointed ears or my too-slender frame and face that marked me irrevocably as elven. Never pushed for family details or for what I had been or who I had known as a Street. Never asked about either the long-healed or newly made, freshly bloody whip marks driven deep into my back, arms, and legs that slowly all healed and faded to scars. Nor the scar on my face, remnants of a time when Farl had felt in a particularly torturous mood and decided I was the one to indulge him as victim. The cut of the knife that day had been deep and the most visible reminder of the day was the scar that traveled from my top-right temple to just below my left lower lip.
In time, Lorne & I were friends. Once the spring thaw came, he gave me a pouch of gold and told me that he hoped I could use the skills he’d taught me to make a better place for myself than when he had first found me. He knew that I was restless and would not forever stay in a shop, no matter how wonderful he had been to me. He said that there was always a place for me at his shop, should I need lodging for a night or for the winter. I left with tears in my eyes, though I don’t think he never saw them. If there was no one in the world that I could trust, I would still trust Lorne with everything I had. It was he that set me on the path to something greater. On the path to something that would make my life worthwhile. I would no longer be a Street, barely able to survive, as I had been for almost a hundred years that I could remember. I would no longer be an inhuman freak, marked by my ears and length of years, my never-changing body. I was one of the very scant handful who could say that they’d risen above a Street. I could BE somebody – somebody who counted. I kept the pouch and set out to find a job more akin to what Lorne would expect of me. Maybe an adventurer, or just some odd jobs from the tavern in the next city over. Now that I looked more respectable and didn’t stink to the heavens, I would be able to find something. I smiled and rubbed my lucky necklace, a small pendant in the shape of a crescent moon – a parting good-luck gift from Lorne and the only piece of jewelry I had on me. I would make Lorne proud.
* * *
The Streets were vicious and they didn’t like anyone rising above the established order. The day that I left and became something that they could not was the day they set their sights on making sure no one else tried to follow my example. I thought Lorne’s axe and gruffness would protect him. When I returned to Lorne’s shop a few months after striking out on my own for a visit, the only thing I found were blackened remnants of what had once been one of the finest blacksmithing shops in the city we lived in. Nothing – NOTHING remained. Not a stick or shelf still stood. It had been burned to a bitter, empty husk. There is no way anyone could survive a fire such as that I thought as my gaze swept the ruins for any sign of human remains, finding none. Flashes of Lorne passed through my mind as I clenched my hand almost involuntarily, my knuckles white with the strength of my feelings. I could feel myself, somewhere deep inside, shattering to pieces.
Blink. Lorne. They would pay. She had tried to do the noble thing. To become better than a Street – more like Lorne. But she was not Lorne and she knew now that she could never fully escape the Life. Not while they wanted her to stay. She had no ties here now, though. No family or friends left to kill – nothing left to burn. She was empty. But she had a new mission. A new purpose. She couldn’t fulfill it now. Not when she was too weak and too ineffectual to make a difference. No. She could be patient if it served her purposes. If she had to, she would wait until time itself wearied. She would leave; had to leave – but she WOULD be back. And they will all be sorry when that day finally comes. For she would leave the leaders and bullies of the Streets burning where they stood, as shattered as she was this day. They would wish they had never been born. The white ashes of their remains would be fit for nothing greater than fertilizing some farmer’s fields. She convulsively clenched the note she had been planning on giving Lorne, then let it slip through her fingers, the dull sound as it hit the ground unnaturally loud in the ruins of the shop. She pivoted sharply on her heel and walked away without a backward glance. And if looks could kill, the angry flames building in her eyes would be enough to strike everyone in the town dead in a volcanic instant of fury.