Valor's Journal1

I was born, but the universe did not sound trumpets.

The sand no longer travels the neck of the hourglass, the sun remains fixed in it’s orbit, and the sounds of the moment fades away into a dim and unremembered echo. What do you call a moment of such poignant clarity that space and time seems to stands still? Epiphany, ah yes, Epiphany. I had such a moment once a long time ago.

I was raised in Portsmouth, a large trading city nestled at the edge of the ocean and straddling the muddy banks of The River of Good Fortune. Well maybe raised is too generous a word. Birthed or spawned is more accurate because I raised myself, and the city merely served as the place where my physical body was birthed and contained as it matured. I remember little of my early life, but I was young and savage full of fear but also life. I was no different in temperament than the other sorry lots of abandoned children that crowd the marketplace hustling for scraps at midday.

But I was different in other ways. I was born with a club foot, and walking long distance always came to me with great difficulty and labor. My back is hunched and hooked, crumpled into an unnatural form by a cruel twist of nature. Day after day I would beg and plead. I would steal and hustle. I would lick the boots of my oppressors while ladies and lords would react with disgust and give me coin for both fresh air from my presence and pity for my condition. Merchants from the stalls would curse when I came near, someone as malformed as I was would scare away passing customers.

I was always a bit bookish as well. The first possession I remember having was a book called ‘Noble Things are Born of Sin’ written by High Adjudicator Gauge Lothander. The pages felt warm in my hands and I remember a phrase, scribbled messily and hastily on the inside that said “A warm light for dark times.” I didn’t understand a word of it at the time, but I was determined to know what the book meant. I don’t even remember if I stole it or if it was given to me.

I had a difficult time making friends. Those I made quickly passed too diseases or ‘accidents’ in the Poor Quarter. I grew up quickly. Survival was the only thing that mattered, though I really had no reason to be alive and no purpose in the world other than a will to do so in as much comfort as my meager efforts would allow. I had constructed a small library of books I had stolen, scavenged and traded for from the people who traveled, and it’s humble shelves and parchment scavenged from the trash of poor peasants was my greatest pride. I needed no friends, only books that told me of amazing places that were so far from us in distance, and so distant from here in wonder.

The Deliverance of the The Bloody Hand

At the time I lived along the Lysander’s Channel, a district along the muddy banks of Good Fortune. It was a very poor district though travel through it was required for most visitors taking the road from the north, and many of the smaller ships had to dock here for fear of being pulled into the swifter ocean currents further south as the river narrowed. This is where The Bloody Hand first plied its trade. Though the gang was young like I was, they possessed unity and the strength of having known desperation and fear like none of the other peasants who suffered beneath the boots of their betters.

The Bloody Hand gang was appealing to me. Back then they were small, no more than 10 members, and lead by a charismatic youth who called himself Calypso. They were so dashing and fearless! They were not a servant of fate, they were it’s master! Even then I read voraciously, and while every story was of a man who was a hero who became a king, the truth of history was the opposite. Every king who now lives can trace it’s parentage to a bandit, thief or vagabond. History is a lesson through which charm, wit and will, it was possible to build empires that cross continents and rule seas.

And here I was, amidst the filth and squalor of the Lysander’s Ass as we called it, seeing the passage of history before my eyes. They used every trick of manipulation, deceit and intelligence available to the kings the world. They created legends, and acted brazenly. They made strategic alliances. They destroyed enemies in public ways. The people who mistreated me paid for their rise to power. I enjoyed that part very much indeed to my eternal shame.

I had no friends, for none would speak to me. Even among the poorest urchins I was an outcast, a cripple, and a reminder of the tragic weakness and failings of the human body. But still I hunted and stalked The Bloody Hand. I studied their movements, I learned their patrol routes, who was owed what amount of coin, and how frequent the visits were. I learned to use my eyes and trust my senses. My poverty and my filthyness made effective camouflage. Even when I was seen most prefered to ignore me, and saw me little threat if I overheard the location of a drop box for stolen goods, or news of a wealthy border lord berthing a small vessel laden with expensive inland goods in the district port. I was mesmerized by the arts and methods of crime. While my body had betrayed me from birth, my mind was far sharper than most, and I knew it even then. The weak and the downtrodden could be strong with just a bit of intelligence and cunning judiciously applied, and I was determined to know how.

Over years my stalking turned to obsession. I was only 11 and I had yet a single friend, other than a library of scavenged books. In some ways I thought that I was in the Hand. I knew them all by name. I was closest to Bricker, Torin, Vail and Gabrielle. I liked Cunt too. Her name sounds like an insult, but she had a mouth dirtier than 100 sailors at a brothel and to her eternal credit she wore the name like a badge of pride. She made me laugh, though I was careful to hide my laughter in sickly coughs common to the beggars of Lysander’s Channel.

I heard and memorized every word of Calypso’s speeches. I captured them in parchment, not because I needed too, but to read them on paper somehow made it more real and made me closer to him … closer to my Gang, my Friends, my ….. Brothers.

Ultimately They never accepted me.

I was a fool, and I thought I have paid enough penance for my mistakes.

Now I fear we will all pay for them. Blessed be Myr this does not come to pass.

Valor's Journal1

Tales of Gandamyr AdeoDivinus