The Tears of Rraltha
Rogue: Jack of All Trades
Craftsman, Academic – (Ancient Runes) (1) Craftsman, Criminal – (Illegal Trade) (2) Craftsman, Criminal – (Smuggling Routes) (2) Craftsman, Criminal – (Contacts) (1) Craftsman, Wilderness – (Furrier) (1) Craftsman, Wilderness – (Scout, Rockcrusher Forge) (1) Craftsman, Wilderness – (Tracker) (1) Craftsman, Common – (Sailing) (1) Craftsman, Academic – (Goblin Language) (1)
Artemes or Arty as the kids called him grew up in a small orphanage. He made many friends, but none were closer to him then his friend Alaxandar, or “Bug” as the kids called him, after a dare to eat a cricket once. They were a mischievous pair, always causing problems and pulling pranks on others around the orphanage.
The head mistress of the orphanage, a wild haired lady by the name of Esperanza, kept the kids working on mending old clothes to resell for her own profit on the side. She was very strict and dealt out harsh punishment to serve as examples to keep the children in line. She would often be seen partaking in gourmet meals, while the children lived on a meager supply of mystery soup, or gruel.
One day Bug and Arty were up to their hyjinx using rotten eggs as stink bombs and placing them in the staff’s shoes. As they were in the midst of placing the last of their traps Esperanza found the stink bombs much to her dismay, the hard way. Her temper quickly got the best of her and she went on a tirade that sent the boys running. She closed in on Bug near the stairs and reached for his jacket, she would later say he tripped, but Artemes would swear he saw her push him down the stairs. As his friend lied there motionless on the floor at the bottom of the stairs Art didn’t know what to do. The shock and fear that overwhelmed him almost paralyzed the young boy. If there is a disposition in people to flight or fight, well, in this instance Artemes’ flight took hold and he ran. He ran to the kitchen, out the backdoor, and never looked back. He wouldn’t have been able to see much anyway for the tears that filled his eyes as he ran into the approaching dark and chill of sunset and the gloom of night.
When Artemes left he took no food, no clothing nothing with him he had just ran for his life and to escape the pain of the orphanage. He had grown up there his entire ten years of his life, and knew nothing of the world outside. He slept under bridges, and doorways, and even amongst the trash in alleys. One day he was starving for food and made the choice that he was going to steal some from a nearby vender. He quietly approached, using paying patrons as concealment till he was within arm’s reach of the tasty breads and pastries of the vender’s goods. He snatched a loaf in the blink of an eye and ran away as fast as he could, back towards the alleys. He could hear the vender yelling. He could hear the feet of pursuers in tow. Still he ran through the alleys, back through the market using the crowd to lose those in pursuit, and to his favorite hiding spot under the nearby bridge.
Happy he had lost those following him; he quickly began to devour his prize. Fresh and crisp, it was the best bread he had ever tasted. He only wished he had more. “Good is it?” came the voice. Startled, Artemes quickly hopped to his feet and prepared to run. “Hold on there, me boy, I’m like you.” Glancing back, Artemes saw a young boy of no more than 14 or 15 in a large cavalier’s hat with an equally large purple plume sticking out of the side. His jacket was a dark red that must have been made for that of a grown man as it nearly dragged the ground. Though, all of it looked to be in dire need of a good washing. “Name’s Git”, as he looked to Artemes, waiting for a response. Still off balance, and a little out of breath, no help to the mouth full of bread he was still chewing on, Artemes eased his stance and swallowed his food. “Don’t tell me you don’t have a name. Look, I saw what you did back there. I understand, I been there myself. How’d you like to come with me? Me and my family’s got plenty to eat, and we can even get you some work. Not too bad a deal for a homeless ragamuffin if you ask me. So… you interested? What did you say your name was again?”
“Art,” mumbled Artemes in response.
“Well, Art… you coming or not?” asked Git as he placed his hands on his hips. Artemes merely shrugged in response. “Then right this way” said Git with a flourish of his enormous hat and a graceful bow.
With that the two boys were off, down back alleys and dank streets; till they neared the harbor and a particularly worn down looking warehouse. This part of the docks looked abandoned and that it was, had been since hard times had hit the town and left many out of work. Once inside Artemes saw a large common room before him. Blankets and pillows lined the walls in makeshift, yet what looked to be comfortable and inviting beds. Patterns cloths of every shape and color covered the windows bathing the place in a myriad of colors. At the far end behind a table sat a huge wicker chair facing away from them and towards what seemed to be a makeshift fireplace. And between them and that table was another, lined with food. Breads, biscuits, fruits of every kind, a pair of roasted chickens, and a large bowl of rice and beans covered the table. At the benches lining the table were six other boys. “Where ya been Git, you know he won’t let us eat till everyone’s here.”
“Whose dat with ya?” said another of the boys at the table?
With that the wicker chair behind the far table spun around. In it sat an old man, or at least he looked that way. “Croc”, as he was known was probably in his early forties, yet his rough life had left him looking much older. Thin, yet with a good layer of muscle underneath, he looked like his skin was that of leather and scores of wrinkles lined his face. “You bring a guest Git?”
“This is Art. He’s looking for a job and some place to eat and sleep” rolled off Git with his graceful bow and flourish of his hat.
“Aaahhh… Welcome Art. You’re amongst friends here. Please, sit and eat with us. We’ll talk business after” as Croc rose to his feet and starting walking towards the dinner table.
Git lead Art to one of the benches and they sat down before the feast placed upon it. As Croc approached the table he placed his hands on the shoulders of each boy and made introductions to Art. Ending with his own, “And my name is Croc, but many of the boys here call me Father. I hope you come to enjoy your time with us, and maybe if we’re all lucky you’ll decide that our family is your family too. But, that’s enough for now. Let’s eat” as he sat down at a stool at the head of the table.
With that the boys dove into the food before them. Art was a little thrown off at first but quickly followed suit, as he couldn’t restrain himself from the feast any longer. Crumbs and fruit seeds went flying as all manners seemed lost to the boys. It was the greatest meal Art had ever had, and as he ate he began to think that this might be the right place for him. He couldn’t imagine it getting much better. After the meal most the boys found a bed along the walls and lied down for a nap. Art was shown to an empty bed where he could sleep and he quickly drifted off. His head spinning with possibilities he had never dreamt of merely hours before.
A couple days later, after Art had spent an ample amount of time just sleeping and eating, he was awoken by Croc and Git. “Well, come on bro. It’s time to start your job training it is” said Git. They took him to a small corner where a dummy stood covered in bells. “First things first, you need to learn to take all these bells of Mr. Pots here, without making a sound” continued Git. For many days, Art spent his time with that dummy, till finally, about a week later, he was done; all the bells, without a sound. He learned quickly and had definitely impressed Croc. Usually a boy would train for quite some time before Croc would send them out. But between Art’s apparent skill and with the supervision of his protégé, Croc was sure too much profit was being lost with keeping Art in training.
Croc was right. The loot began pouring in from pockets and stands all across the city. A few years past as Art was definitely starting to become his favorite as the feasts became more frequent and his pockets became larger. Croc even began to have an ample supply of his old friend on hand, Rum. He began drinking out celebration, but quickly fell back into the alcoholism that gave him many of the wrinkles and years that left him looking so old, along with a few scars as well.
Then one day, all their world would come crashing down. City guards had followed Git back to the warehouse after a botched pick pocket. As the boys scrambled about gathering their possessions to make their escape, Croc had already fled. Art fled as well as many of the other boys were rounded up by the guards. Many of whom were old enough to face the gallows now. As Art slipped down one of the back alleys he heard familiar voices.
“You brought them here. You little fool, how could you be so stupid.”
“Sorry I’m not like your boy Art.”
“You knew what he was when you brought him in. Don’t try to escape the blame here you little $#!*” followed quickly by the sounds of choking, then silence. Art peeked around the corner to see Croc hovering over Git’s body. Quickly grabbing his stuff and rummaging through his pockets Croc ran off. Art quickly did the same and ran towards the docks. There he quickly ducked into the first tavern he saw, The Barnacle.
“What have we here? A little young to be drinking aren’t we boy? Or perhaps you’re running off to sea. I could use a new cabin boy, especially after what happened to the last” laughed an old sailor, wearing his tricorner hat and captain’s jacket, pungent of the musky smell of the sea.
“Aye sir, running just what I was doing” replied Artemes.
“Good fortune be with ya then boy; for we’re just getting ready to set sail after this last drink.” With that he threw back his mug and slammed it down on the table. “Thanks Anya, see you next time” the old captain, known as Captain Zephyr, said with a wink. “Let’s be gone boy. That is if you still be wanting to join me crew” he said with a laugh. Quickly the two were off; shortly arriving at the captain’s ship, The Razor’s Wind. Just as quickly it seemed as well the ship was out to sea with its new cabin boy.
After weeks at sea it seemed the rest of the world was but a memory. Then finally sails were spotted on the horizon. As they neared one another, Artemes hurried to the stern of the ship to get a better look. Then he heard the captain’s voice yell from behind him. “Hoist the colors. Ready your hooks men.” As the ship quickly veered towards the merchant ship as its men prepared to board. The black flag rose to the top of the mast. It’s crossed cutlasses under a small whirlwind. The first mate looked at Artemes and with a chuckled said, “What? You didn’t know you were a pirate now?” as he pulled his twin falchions from his back. He had always looked up to the first mate. A man by the name of Jin, and as he boarded the other ship and began to cut a swath through its men, he knew he had felt that way for a reason. Artemes could do little but watch that first time they raided another ship. Not because of the shock or fear of finding out he was part of a pirate crew, but because of the sheer excitement that overwhelmed him.
Artemes began training under Jin, learning to wield twin swords like the first mate himself. In his spare time between his chores Captain Zephyr had began teaching the boy to read and write and offered him access to his meager library. He learned the routes the merchants often took their goods, and those that they often took to sell those same good they relieved from those merchants. Within less than a year’s time, Artemes began joining the boarding parties; and within two was already becoming one of the better fighters amongst the crew. As they raided ships Artemes began searching more and more for books to expand what he had learned from the captain. Captain Zephyr had always tried to teach him the importance of careful planning. Perhaps the best consequence of not enough planning came several years later.
The Razor’s wind was preparing to board what seemed to be just another merchant ship. When suddenly it raised its flag, a flag of that of the local government’s military. Soldiers quickly filled its deck and all manner of weapons were employed against the pirates. Spells filled the air and strange small globes flew past, having a devastating effect of the Razor Wind’s crew. The soldiers even employed a strange substance that burned even on the water. The call went up to abandon ship and so those left alive or uncaptured did. As Artemes leapt from the deck he saw he had not picked his landing spot before he left the ship and headed head first into a piece of the mast.
When he came to, he coughed water from his lungs and found himself on some beach. He did not know where he was, but he knew he was alone. As he made his way to a nearby road and an inn not too far down he meet some traveling adventurers. As they told him their story he became enthralled with their tales. This seemed like a good line of work, just as good a chance for profit, without the same risk of the law. He quickly decided that he would become an adventurer as well and followed the party to the inn. When asked his name he thought for a moment and simply replied “Scarab.” Now he could start new and not make the same mistakes he had witnessed in the past. He was going to plan this out better.