Lake of Steam
Appeared as a smallish merchant who was meek and feeble.
Former party member who decided to stay in the East when the party returned to the Lake of Steam.
I was born into nobility, yet I was not a noble. My father knew of my mother’s indiscretion that led to my birth, yet he raised me as his own without any hint of prejudice or malice. My mother and older brother never hinted at any resentment to my heritage and I had never for a moment felt as an outcast. Even the household staff accepted me as they would a normal child of nobility. But that acceptance ended at the estate borders. My parents knew I would not be accepted by society, nor by their peers, and so I was never allowed to leave the estate or meet with visitors.
I had access to one of the best libraries in the region, as well as many gifted teachers who were sworn to secrecy by my father. Along with my brother, I trained in martial combat as well as the magical arts as often as the instructors allowed. We were so adept at my studies that we quickly outgrew the teachings of our instructors and had become nearly their equals.
It was around this time that a traveling band of wizards entered the lands looking for young and raw talent to train in their academy. Believing it was only a matter of time before my existence was discovered, and my parents’ status within the community destroyed, my father made arrangements for me to join the wizards in order to further my magical studies. My brother persuaded my father to let him join me in this journey, both as a chance to continue his studies as well as, I suspect, to keep an eye on me.
For the first time in my life, I was traveling outside the walls of my parents estate! I had read about cities and people and society and cultures … but had never experienced any of those things before that day when I rode through Skuld on my way to Thay. I was finally living the adventures I had so often dreamed about during my studies.
My enthusiasm lasted only until a few short months after arriving in Thay. My studies had far surpassed some of my fellow students and soon I was targeted by a few jealous acolytes with pranks and sabotage. Had it not been for my brothers companionship, I would have fled those horrible people and returned to hiding within my parents home. After one such horrible prank, I gave up and started packing my belongings to return home. Looking back now I realize how petty it was to give up so easily, but in any case, my brother convinced me to stay and offered to show me this new magical theory he had been working on. He was stuck and needed a fresh pair of eyes to help him past his mental block.
Sitting at his desk, I poured over his journal looking for anything resembling a new theory but was finding nothing. I was so engrossed with trying to understand what I was looking for that I didn’t notice several other students enter the room until one of them knocked me off the chair I had been sitting on. Fed up with the abuse, I looked to my brother for permission to throttle the bullies but was shocked to find my brother laughing alongside my assailants! He had tricked me into a secluded area and allowed these bullies into the room.
I was furious. He was my brother! How could he let them do this to me? How could he join them in torturing me like this? The shock must have shown on my face because he pushed his way past the other kids and stood over me as I was prone on the stone floor and began to tell me how all his life he has hated me, how mother demanded he pretend to be my friend all the while both of them despised me; mother constantly argued with my father about sending me away or having me put down like an animal, yet father wouldn’t hear it; even the estate staff despised me yet had to act like I was one of the noble family for fear my mother would execute them.
In anger, I kicked my brother’s leg and he stumbled into a nearby shelf, knocking many of the flasks of potions crashing to the ground. You know what happens when magical chemicals are randomly mixed like that?
While I woke up, I was in the infirmary with two Red Wizards standing at the foot of my bed, staring at me like I was lunch. Within moments I was escorted to a large room with a massive wooden desk in the middle. Imagine a reclusive, aging wizards lair. It was a fitting stereotype. A middle aged man sat at the desk and told me what had happened after I had blacked out.
The chemicals had caused an explosion. Three students in that room were seriously wounded. One had died. I, on the other hand, had survived with barely a hint of injury aside from my clothing being completely burned away from my now hairless body. He continued to tell me my punishment for causing such a disturbance – they cared little about the injuries and fatality of the incident – but that no amount of punishment would ever match the pain I would feel for what I had done. My brother, the one who had betrayed me my whole life, who had allowed those students into the room, who had stood over me and told me my whole life was a lie, was dead. And I had killed him.
For over a decade I was punished. I was imprisoned within the university underbelly, under constant guard from a ranking Red Wizard. The only time I was allowed out of my confinement was for my daily experiments in which other students were allowed to test their progress on me. I had become a lab rat for students to practice on and Acolytes to study.
Once in a great while, an accomplished wizard would come through and use me for experiments of his own. Experiments with new magic. He was trying to perfect a new spell he was working on that would trap a person within a gem, to be called forth and forced to do the bidding of the wearer. I was a critical part of his research, he said, explaining how most spells only work on either humanoids like elves and humans, or on outsiders like me. But, due to my heritage, he was able to test out new theories that would allow the spell to work on both species!
And he finally succeeded. His final casting of the spell sucked me into the gem – body and soul all in one piece. I was trapped inside a gem and could do nothing about it. I could see and hear everything going on around him, just as I would if I were standing next to him. And every once in a while I could clearly and loudly hear his voice, calling me, commanding me to come forth to do his bidding. I had no choice. It was exhilarating to be free of the gem and be able to hear and feel and see again but it was also excruciating – akin to a bright light being shone into your eyes after being locked in a dark room too long.
But the worst part is that I was not in control. I had to do everything he said, without exception. My mind was fully aware of everything I was doing but no matter how much I resisted, I couldn’t wrest control of my own body away from him.
He was not a nice person.
This continued for decades. I lost count exactly. But eventually, in his old age, he ran into some trouble and crossed the wrong person. A person of power. A person who wasn’t afraid of this evil wizard and challenged him in a way I had not seen before. When my owner recovered his wits from the surprise attack, he quickly called me forth. Apparently, however, his attacker knew of my existence and just as quickly countered the summoning but the force of his counter was so powerful that it broke the gem in two! My world began to spin and I had hoped it would free me from this horrific prison but in reality it tore my soul apart. I am still trapped in those two pieces but can no longer experience the outside world. My master and his attacker battled to a stalemate and one of them fled the scene but not before taking one half of my gem. And so now the two pieces are separated by an unknown distance.
The good news is that neither of them can call me forth and bind me to their bidding. On the other hand, the breaking of the gem enabled me to harness my own strength to manifest on my own once I have gathered enough power. The problem is, the farther apart the pieces, the longer it takes to gather that much energy and I must rest for longer periods of time between manifestations. It also limits how long I can remain before being pulled back into the gems. The closer the two pieces are, the more often and longer I can manifest here.
My hope is that someday the two pieces will be reunited and I will be able to escape this prison once and for all.