Character Background Stories

New adventure DM'd by none other than our own Scotty. Post your Character classes and backgrounds here.

Character Background Stories

Postby Greylen » Mon Mar 23, 2015 7:47 pm

Post your background, IF you have time to do it. I'm afraid I got WAY too into it... sometimes my fingers run away with me. :)
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Re: Character Background Stories

Postby Greylen » Mon Mar 23, 2015 7:48 pm

Xie Shou-Wu's Story (Part 1)

Xie Shai scuttled along the little alley, off the main bazaar in Shou Lung, the soft patter of his slippers and diminutive form hardly startling even the rats, scampering back and forth into the filth piled along the walls, out of sight of the city’s more prosperous citizens.

Concentrating, Xie kept a wary eye out for danger, only glancing up once to check the sun, glinting off the gold domes that gave the capitol of the Shou empire it’s most famous landmarks. The calls of the merchants in their stalls slowly faded as he moved steadily away, turning confidently in the maze of back streets and alleys, finally squeezing through a crack in a building’s foundation to a small basement room that reeked of dust and mildew.
Still wary, Xie checked the room carefully, noting that none of the trash heaps had been disturbed. With a small, relieved sigh, he sat on the rickety bed and pulled his hand from under his cloak, revealing the small loaf of bread he filched from the bakers stall at the bazaar. His eyes crinkled in a satisfied smile that was felt, rather than seen under the silk scarf he kept wound around his face, which he now partially unwound before taking a hungry bite of the pilfered bread, chewing slowly. His stomach grumbled loudly, but he forced himself to continue at a slow pace. It had been many days since he’d had an opportunity like this one and he wanted to savor every bite. Especially since he didn’t know when he would eat again.

The thought was matter-of-fact. The bitterness had long been leached out of Xie with the immediateness of survival his main concern. A small spasm of pain caused his eyes to tighten as the stray memory surfaced of his first few days in the streets, after being wounded. However, the sudden tension eased as he continued to bite and chew methodically. As he finished, he sighed silently at the relief of a full belly, eyes closing tiredly.

Suddenly the door to the room burst open and before Xie could react, two men had jumped down the stairs and tackled him, shattering the wobbly bed and forcing the air from his lungs.
“Greetings from Lu Chen, Xie.” The first man whispered with a wicked snicker as they tied him up, blindfolded him and hauled him up the stairs. Xie gasped for breath at first, then tried to force his breathing to slow even as his heart raced. He didn’t bother asking why. He knew that answer and wished he didn’t.

The first time he remembered talking to a spirit was when he was four years old. He was surprised to see a water spirit swimming around in his bath. When he tried to talk to it, it disappeared. But it came back after a while and with a little coaxing, it finally talked to him in a thin, little watery voice. It had been fun to talk to it and after that, he saw more and more spirits everywhere he went. All types, water, earth, air, fire, etc. and they told him the most interesting things.

By time he was eight, all of the spirits in Shou Long knew him and he’d realized that not everyone could see or hear them like he could. Then came the fateful day he realized he could see HUMAN spirits as well and what they had to say was never fun.

His parents had taken him to a dinner at the house of Lu Chen, a powerful noble of the city. The dinner was boring, as they so often were. Xie had tried to be the dutiful son and remain sitting still, but he had noticed a little girl around his age, sitting in a corner looking sad and lonely. So he slid out of his seat quietly and walked over to her.

“What’s your name?” he asked in a whisper?

She looked at him, eyes wide with surprise. “S-Sung” she replied a little airily and softly after a moment. “Can you really see me?” she asked after another hesitation.

“Of course.” Xie replied glancing back to make sure his departure was still unnoticed. “I thought you looked a little lonely, so I thought I’d talk with you.” He smiled at her encouragingly. No one would ever consider him anything close to pretty, but he had been told his smile brought out the best he had.

The little girl shuddered and started crying. “I’m so glad.” She sobbed. “Ever since that man over there killed me, no one has paid any attention to me.”

Xie nodded and with sympathy, reached out his hand to pat her shoulder, passing through her body like it was smoke. He froze. Then repeated her words, “Your dead? What man killed you?” he shuddered himself as he realized he was talking with another type of spirit. He didn’t notice the talking had died down behind him.

“That man over there. Lu Chen.” She replied still sobbing. Xie was shocked and just repeated her words again, not thinking. “Lu Chen killed you?” There was a sudden shout behind him and the sound of rustling cloth. He turned and found a very red-faced Lu Chen standing behind him.

“What is the meaning of this?” Lu Chen demanded. “Why are you talking to the air, spreading lies about me”

Xie was still a bit in shock, otherwise he wouldn’t have said anything. Instead he motioned to the little girl, “She says her name is Sung.”

Lu Chen’s face went as white as it had been red and he started sputtering, “Demon child! How dare you!” as he mastered himself, his face slowly turned red again, as he called for his guards.

Xie’s parents frantically bowed themselves in front of Lu Chen.

“Please Lord, he is but a foolish child who talks to much to himself. Have mercy.” His father pleaded.

“Such lies have but one consequence Xen Shai.” Lu Shen spat his face again a fine shade of red. “Your son will have his tongue removed, then his eyes put out. Perhaps then he will remember not to say or see falsehoods.”

Xie’s mom moaned from her position on the floor. Xie’s father glanced over at him, then stroked his wife’s hand softly. She grabbed it and gave a small nod.

Xen Shai stood, his bearing proud as he turned from Lu Shen and smiled at Xie. “Go my son. Run and live.” He whispered as he kneeled to give him a hug. The sound of feet running and weapons clanking grew louder as his father pushed him away. “RUN!” he roared and turning, dropped into the lotus on water stance Xie knew so well. His father was going to fight.

Xie wavered. He knew he’d never see his parents again. As he stumbled away, tears formed and he called out, “I love you mother. I love you father.” Then he turned the corner as his father swept the legs out from under the first guards to reach them. Xie wiped his eyes and ran.

Xie couldn’t find the stairs down. The only ones he found led up and with the pursuit behind him, he couldn’t stop to go another way. So he went up. Up through halls full of gold tapestries and murals of fantastic battles or animals. His robes swished as he ran and he wrapped his silk scarf tighter around his neck for comfort.

At the top of one set of stairs, an archway led to the outside. Quickly running that way, Xie found himself on top of the great wall surrounding the home of Lu Chen. The wall was thirty feet tall and had a five foot walkway around the inside. Guards yelled as they spotted him and he crawled through one of the crenels to gain some time. The merlons to each side taller than he.

Looking down, he saw that this part of the wall ran along the edge of the Ganerli river, flowing swiftly and deeply as it narrowed slightly at this point. He quailed at the height, almost fifty feet to the water. Suddenly pain exploded from his face where a near miss from a crossbow bolt ripped open his cheek and sent him tumbling over the wall. He screeched, hitting the water hard on his side, feeling as if all the bones had just been broken as the river pulled him under and on. He thought he heard little bubbly voices as he lost consciousness.

Xie started awake as he felt another jab at his face. He tried to move, but found himself tied down to a small cot in a dimly lit room. He caught glances as a wrinkled small hand was moving deftly, with a bloody needle doing something to his cheek. He tried to scream, but the bit of rawhide in his mouth prevented much of the sound. A voice cackled at him.

“Now, now little one. Be still and let old nai nai finish sewing up this gash on your cheek.” She murmured as she finished up. “That is a nasty wound and you are very lucky to be alive, despite the vivid scar this will turn into.” She cackled again to herself as she tied off the thread and then came around to look at him.

Xie had tears streaming down his face from the pain. Not from the sewing, but from the realization that his parents were dead, or worse and he was now a fugitive. She had called herself grandmother and he stared back at her, still immobilized.

“Now that wasn’t so bad. Let’s get you loose. Mind you don’t start wailing as it might disturb the neighbors.” She gave him a gap-toothed grin and untied his bindings, taking out the rawhide bite last. Xie worked his jaw a moment, then with a deep, shuddering breath, bowed to the old woman.

“Thank you for saving me. Where did you find me?” he asked with only a small quaver in his voice. He was quite proud of that.

The old woman cackled and gestured away from the building. “I was doing laundry on the edge of the Ganerli when you popped up out of the water like a sylph. She shook her head. “Scared me out of the few wits I have left, little one, but old nai nai would never let a little one come to harm.” She smiled brightly, the smile crinkling further the wrinkles around her eyes.

Xie groaned a little as he sat up. “Why do you call yourself my grandmother?” he asked as waited for his head to stop spinning.

“Just what everyone calls me around these part, little one. I am everyone’s nai nai nothing more.” She gave him an appraising look. “You should lie down and rest for a while, little one. No one around her talks and you are quite safe.”

“I don’t think I’ll ever be safe again.” Xie sighed, a few more tears dropping, but he quickly wiped them away. “Lu Chen killed my parents and tried to have me killed. It was all my fault”

Nai nai looked shaken at those words, but touched his face gently. “Why little one?” Xie looked at her and spoke softly. “Because a girl my age named Sung told me Lu Chen had killed her… and I spoke it out loud in his presence.”

Nai nai looked even more shaken and grabbed his shoulders. “What do you mean she told you she’d been killed? And what did this little one look like?”

“Well, she was a spirit. I see and talk to them, though I’ve never seen a human one before.” Xie explained tiredly, so tired and tense he had to tell someone. “She had her black hair up like a royal bun and the prettiest green flecked eyes.” He heard Nai nai gasp. “What?”

“The Princess Sung.” Nai nai muttered. “Oh that poor little one.” She looked at Xie. “Are you certain of this? The Princess Sung was said to have been captured by rebels and executed not more than one day ago.”

Xie goggled at her. “I didn’t know and have never seen the princess. But I am certain who I saw and what she said. The spirits tell me many things, but none have ever been human and talked of their death before.”

The old woman slumped a bit as she murmured, “So the rumors are true.” She looked at Xie, “Sleep little one. I must send a message to an old friend.” She patted his knee and slipped out of the little hut as he laid back down, bone weary and fell asleep almost immediately.

Xie woke later, the night deep and even the moon down. A shadow that resolved itself as Nai nai was puttering about the hut muttering something about “those blasted Wu Jen” and something about impossible to find, as she settled down on her own pallet and was soon snoring. He had a little baser need and slowly and quietly standing, he pushed aside the door curtain and slipped into the night.

Looking about him, Xie decided to do his business at the side of the house. He moved around the corner and quickly finished up. About to turn the corner, something stopped him. It was the sound of steel scraping on steel. He peered around the corner and saw two men with daggers barred, approaching Nai nai’s hut. Tears again sprang to his eyes as he realized why they were there. He’d been found. But he had to do something to save Nai nai. Thinking quickly, he went to the next hut. “Robbers!” he yelled, then moved along the row of huts still yelling. “Nai nai’s hut! Quickly.” Men burst out from doors, calling to each other groggily and moving as one around the corner to Nai nai’s hut. Xie kept on going. He had too. He couldn't endanger anyone else.

Taking the silk scarf from around his neck, he would it around his face. A moment later, he had traded out his fine silk robe and pants for ones of questionable wear. But the cloak had a cowl and he used it to keep his features hidden as he disappeared into the city. And he’d stayed that way for nearly five years.

Now finding himself trussed up like so much meat and being trundled off to somewhere was nearly intolerable. Lord Chen had been convicted by rumor of the death of the Princess Sung. The rumor started by Xie and propagated by his own servants who’d seen the whole thing. There had been no mistaking the guilt on his face as he heard Sung’s name from Xie’s lips.

However, Lu Chen had escaped justice and holed himself up in his mountain estates to the west. A fortification that was almost impregnable, so he still lived. That he still harbored Xie ill feelings was evident from his present predicament. Xie reasoned he was still alive only because Lu Chen wanted the privilege of killing Xie himself.

They had thrown him roughly into the back of a high-walled cart, slipping another wall on the back and throwing a rotting tarp over him, so he couldn’t see or be seen. His arms began to ache from the strain of the ropes and the bouncing along as the cart moved.

The day wore on and twice Xie had been given relief from his bonds for a few minutes as he was given water, then retied and off they went again. They had left off the tarp, so now Xie could now see trees up above as the cart rattled along the dirt road, steadily climbing.

The two men were quite a pair. Both were skinny, with narrow faces and prominent noses that made them look like a rat, but while one was very short, the other was very tall. They were also clearly brothers. Xie, listening, found the small one named Hung Po and the tall one Chung Po. Hung seemed to be the thinker of the two from their conversation and they expected quite a reward for finding Xie and bringing him to Lu Chen alive.

On the second day of travel, some small earth spirits became quite excited when they found Xie could see and hear them. They floated around him making gravelly comments about how ugly he was. It was a relief they would talk with him at all, but even better, he convinced them to go for help. They rolled away excitedly and left him wondering what they were going to do.

At the last stop on the second day, as they rolled him to the ground, there was a sharp xing behind him and a double thump. Turning over, he saw the two brothers laying on the ground, both a head shorter than a few seconds before. He gaped, then started wiggling to loosen his bonds to no avail.

A few moments later and an old, wizened and wrinkly man wearing loose blue linen trousers gathered at the ankle and green silk robes embroidered with swooping red runes and sigils, with the longest yellow silk scarf Xie had ever seen, stepped over to him, looking at him speculatively.

“So you are the one the earth spirits are making such a fuss over, yes?” his high piping voice a surprise. Xie blinked, then nodded, “If they were two little rolly ones, then yes, I am.” He managed, then he looked at the old man in wonder, “You can see the spirits too?” he asked tentatively.

The old man smiled, though it really didn’t seem to touch his eyes, “Indeed I can, young one.” He pulled down the scarf around Xie’s face, pursing his lips at the vivid red scar on his right cheek. “Tell me your name?”

“Xie Shai, sir.” Xie squeaked as the pooling blood from one of the brothers touched his bound arm.

“Ah, Xie Shai. I had word from an old friend about you years ago that matched your description, but she said she lost track of you. Do you remember a woman named Nai nai?” the old man casually waved his hand and all of Xie’s bonds snapped at once and he was barely able to roll away from the spreading blood. Xie broke into a smile at the name and he nodded eagerly as he rubbed his hands and arms. “I do. She saved me.” He absently rubbed his face through the dirty silk scarf, still wound around his face.

“Well, then young Xie Shai, I am Si Wu. You may call me Master Wu.” Master Wu smiled again, this time, his eyes crinkling with humor. “Let us go some other place to talk, young Xie. I dislike being around vermin such as these and these two stink more than most.” His nose crinkled in disdain as he toed a headless body, then helped Xie to stand when it became apparent that he didn’t have the strength to do so on his own. Xie nodded with a smile of his own, his muscles mostly jelly from relief and loss of blood flow from his bonds.

The trip to Master Wu’s ‘other place’ turned out to be a small clearing before a sheer rock cliff that rose hundreds of feet above them. Xie was awed by the cliff, but settled down to the ground at the insistence of Master Wu, as he gathered some dry wood and started a little fire. Xie wasn’t sure how, but one moment there wasn’t a flame, the next the fire was cheerfully crackling.

As Xie sat back against a downed tree trunk, he continued to rub the rope burns on his wrists and arms, a fruitless endeavor, but one he persisted at as he watched Master Wu setup a spare, but serviceable camp. He kept his silk scarf pooled around his neck, instead of around his face and soon a brace of rabbits was cooking over the small fire, skinned with a light seasoning and the wonderful smell filled the clearing. Xie’s stomach rumbled, which made Master Wu laugh.

“I hope my cooking hasn’t gotten too rusty. It’s been a while since I last had a guest.” He smiled as he cut off some rabbit onto a wooden plate for Xie. Xie smiled back, nodding this thanks as he took a savory bite and let out a satisfied sigh. “The best rabbit I’ve ever had, Master Wu.” He mumbled around bites of the delicious meat. Of course, it was the only rabbit he’d ever eaten, but that didn’t change the sentiment behind the words.

Master Wu just nodded and they ate in a companionly silence until all the food was gone. Xie was embarrassed to note he’d eaten more than Master Wu, but Master Wu just waved off the apology.

“I had plenty as well, young Xie.” He smiled as they settled back. “Tell me, young Xie.” Master Wu began after a small belch of contentment. “What do you know of the Wu Jen?”.

“Wu Jen, Master Wu? Why just what my tutors used to tell me. They are evil men who comport with the spirits of men and of the land to fuel their foul spells.” Xie spoke as by rote, then held up a hand as he noticed Master Wu’s eyes tightening, “But having talk to spirits most of my life, I have yet to meet one that would be considered ‘evil’, so I question that assessment from my Tutors.” He shrugged with a small laugh as he wondered where Master Wu was going with his questions.

“You are wise for one so young, Xie Shou.” Master Wu nodded with an appreciative look for Xie. “I ask, because I am a Wu Jen.” Xie’s eyes widened as Master Wu continued, “And I would like you to become my apprentice. What do you think of that?”

Xie was speechless a moment as his thoughts raced. He knew the general populations view on Wu Jen, but that had never been his own. And he just felt SAFE with Master Wu. As he had with Nai nai those many years before. He made his decision.

“I would be honored, Master Wu.” He stated firmly and stood to bow, almost falling on his face in the process. Master Wu laughed and waved his hand. A door appeared in the face of the cliff. “Then welcome home, young Xie. My new apprentice.”
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Re: Character Background Stories

Postby Theylan » Tue Mar 24, 2015 5:07 pm

“We are the Fate Seekers, ambassador’s to the Realms to find and make alliances with those who we can pronounce friends; those who will come when the trumpet sounds and aid us in our struggle against the Nilshais. So we pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor to secure the fate of our people here in Sildeyuir or find a refuge for our race.”
The ceremony was brief but the impact indelible. The festivities of song and dance lasted an entire day as is the way of my people, but I could not celebrate with full purpose. There was a weight on me now that I could not shrug and as I looked around at the other fourteen members of the “First Class of Seekers” I could see their shoulders sag with heaviness. Sure we wore smiles on our faces and we laughed with the rest but with every glance away the burden reflected in our eyes.
The idea for the “Seekers” was first hatched after the battle of the Citadel was lost and then regained. The Citadel was like no other place in the Sildeyuir it was a castle and city made of stone instead of the glass fortresses that typically dot our realm. It was supposed to be a refuge for all our people but was captured subtly by an enchanter and his staff of dominance. Through the help of some outsiders we were able to regain our castle but our pride was shattered. The one place that was supposed to hold against all odds fell without a single arrow being fired and then had to be restored through much bloodshed. The lesson learned was that “outsiders” could help us. So the centuries long debate of isolation or coexistence ended and the grand council determined to select a group of fifteen of the best and brightest every two years to seek out others in the Realms who could be our allies. The plan was to become adventurers, not for the purpose of fame or fortune, but to forge bonds with the powerful, or form alliances with rulers.
After the festivities we stood atop Yuir tower looking out across the Sildeyuir Forest noting the myriad of glass buildings that could be seen through the perpetual twilight. A twilight that we would likely not see again for years or perhaps ever.
Three days later we stood at the stone circle, rangers, bards, sorcerers all dressed in our forest garb and mithral shirts. We looked pristine and smiled at each other with an anxiousness and anticipation. We inquired where each was going, some had answers, most of us did not. The only assurance we had was that we were leaving the Sildeyuir and then the Yuirwood beyond, after that wherever fate would take us.
I gazed about at the other fourteen, each nodded their readiness. With the last affirmation I took a deep breath, reached out my hand and touched the portal stone that was keyed only to Star Elves. As the Plane Shift spell swept us up a thought took my mind “Dhisten Nightsong, now your life begins, don’t screw it up, your people are counting on you.”
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Re: Character Background Stories

Postby Boric Glanduum » Fri Mar 27, 2015 11:03 am

The story of Darthen Helzak, as told to (and translated/re-told by) Tomas Mesil-hand.

I am Darthen Helzak; I am named for the wasteland, my hearthland, in the Common tongue it would be said “God’s Anvil.” My name itself means “Burning Earth.” Common does not do full justice to these words, however. (I, Tomas, must explain that Darthen's people do not commonly speak Dwarven as most understand it; they speak a dialect of Dwarven amongst themselves.)

I was born in the Wasteland of God’s Anvil. Few of my kind enjoy the climate and terrain of God’s Anvil. Mountains are non-existent in the Anvil; the shifting sands yield only to the rare oasis and to small islands of rock. The tunnels beneath the Anvil run amongst these islands. Those tunnels form our stronghold against the outside world; within those tunnels we dig for a different type of treasure than most of our kind: water. Deposits of water form deep below the surface in amounts that can sustain a hearth for years. In at least one location, my own family encountered a subterranean river, making my grandfather a wealthy individual and a powerful leader of the tribes of God’s Anvil.

I carry the weapon of my forefathers; I am well-trained in its use. Beldorida is the name given to the blade, a name which translates roughly to “Breath of the First Gem” or, more coarsely, “Desert Wind.” She is a beautiful weapon and a deadly mistress. She is a type of blade known to those who inhabit God’s Anvil as ... (Here I, Tomas, must interject. The word that Darthen used was new to me. I asked to examine the weapon; I immediately recognized it as what we call a 'khopesh.' It is a beautiful, deadly weapon. The description which follows is partly from Darthen and partly from my own observations. For clarity, I will refer to the blade as a khopesh.)

Her slender, graceful body is crafted of shining steel, lustrous ivory, and polished gold. Her hilt is set with brilliant sapphires and fiery rubies. Many who see her think first that she is nothing but a nobleman’s showpiece, a bit of belt-jewelry. However, those who have met her edge and tested my mettle know that she is perfectly balanced and a deadly weapon with a keen edge. Her grip is wrapped in wire; it will not slip from my grasp even when my hand is slick with sweat or blood.

Family lore has it that Beldorida was created by one who hailed from the great magical cities of the southern deserts. You have, no doubt, heard of these mythical places where the citizens all know powerful magic, and genies walk the streets alongside mortals. It is not known for whom the blade was originally crafted, although its function and beauty suggest that it was first owned by a discerning and powerful warrior, not one who carried a sword for show. The jewels and patterns on the sword suggest the themes of fire and air. It is said that it was wielded by my grandfather, Huragram, who found the blade entombed within an erupted earth cyst–an extrusion of elemental earth–while in a personal vision quest out in the barren lands of God’s Anvil. He took the discovery of the weapon as a sign and returned to his hearth: weak, weary, and at the edge of death. During Huragam’s recovery, he never once loosened his grasp of the khopesh. When he finally returned to his strength, he named the blade Beldorida, and knew that it–she–was the tool he had sought after, and carved out for himself a mighty stronghold and a powerful hearth. He ruled the dwar of the Anvil for nearly a century; when he died of natural causes, his skaalds buried Beldorida with him, despite his fears that to do so would subject the Blade of Air and Fire to the powers of the spirits of Stone and Earth.

After a century of ruling over chaos and hardship, my father disinterred Beldorida and wielded the blade as he strove to link the Anvil’s dwar together again. He was not as successful as his father at the task, and never as powerful as Huragram, even with Beldorida at his side. He would tell me stories as a child, stories of Beldorida, a blade that practically thrummed with power, as if the steel was scarcely able to contain the sorceries placed upon it. He once swore to me that he had never seen Huragram perform magic as mighty as when he wielded Beldorida, despite the favor that Haela Brightaxe showered upon him as a High Old One.

Fearing that the spirits of Earth and Stone had, in fact, subsumed Beldorida’s power, he has entrusted the blade to my care and sent me from my home. The blade that was once meant to be my hearth’s last line of defense? I am now its only protection. Mighty though the blade may once have been, and as skilled as my father is in the ways of war, he cannot long stand against his adversaries to protect Beldorida from the greed of his enemies. Her absence may be all that ultimately saves my father and my home.
"Ah, the life of an adventuring cleric. I remember it well. A perpetual struggle to maintain the hit point totals of four or five nigh-suicidal tomb robbers determined to deplete them at all costs."
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