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would not be true. What can I recall? I remember our the village. Piled together out of sticks, mud and more foul things, the sickly-sweet odor of decay; it never seemed to bother the others. At the center of our mud-pit burned Great Inferno, always fierce in it's endless dance. I would sit for hours and admire it's strength and power, wishing I could wield just a portion of it. I recall little of my father, he hunted and was seldom home, but when he was, he threw me scraps when the others couldn't see. I remember the faces of the other younglings, although their names have been lost amidst the haze of wrath. Funny that the only remnants of their short lives are the scars that adorn this body. In some small way, I feel that I must owe my life to their heartlessness. There was no easy life for a thursar living amongst the fullbloods. Those boys with their stones and sticks, the torments and pain they would inflict, constant reminders that I would never be one of them. They barred me from the hovel where the other younglings lodged; I hated them for it. But it was the night they came, that I first witnessed true hatred. Somewhere between my sacred lady's realm and reality I awoke, in the pile of leaves and refuse that served as my bed, amidst a cacophony of screams. I stared out of the hole I had dug to serve as a home, and saw a terrible orange glow. To my young eyes is seemed Great Inferno had grown angry with us. He spread to the buildings, and consumed the village, choking the air with his black smoke. I watched for what seemed to be an eternity before realizing the horror was no dream at all. As my eyes searched the chaos frantically trying to make sense of it all, slender figures emerged from the noxious plumes. Hunting, searching, laughing. My first instinct was to run, so I did. You can say one thing for the knife ears, they know their way around a bow. Before I had made it five steps, agony erupted in my side and before the pain took me, my eyes came to rest on the shell of smoldering hut. The cries that roused me from my sleep had come from the younglings' lodgings, but no longer. The spirits were not as kind to me as they were to the other younglings. I found myself clad in irons, chained to what few of my tribesmen had survived. We were marched through the thick forest, meant to keep pace with the horses that bore our heartless captors. Rest never came for more than a few hours at a time, and never more than once a day. Some yielded their lives to infection, others to hunger and the heat of the jungle. Still others attempted to flee. Our thin-wristed captors savored the occurrences, which often turned into depraved shooting contests. The filth. Upon arrival in Faycrest our lot was sold for a mere two gold pieces, to an elven aristocrat by the name of Silverleaf. We were sent to work a mine on the outskirts of his estate and it was over a forge where I toiled for my next years. I learned to shape tools, horseshoes and whatever else the dandelion-eaters required. My forge-master was a dark haired human slave named Darius. It fell to
Darius to make sure that our quota was met, and he was as cruel a master as any Silverleaf clan. He was rewarded for our hard work with finer rations and comfortable lodgings. His was the way of the lash and with it he taught us obedience. He taught me that I was not as strong as I saw myself. He taught me that some in this world savor the sound of a child's screams and sobs. He taught me that pain is fleeting. Eventually, Darius's cruelty would be his undoing. After a particularly aggressive showing of his power, one that left a newly acquired blacksmith little more than shreds of dripping meat hung by ropes, Darius was set upon by the master's hounds. I savored his demise, stared him in the eye as his throat was ripped out. I can still hear his screams. A new forge master was brought in a few days later, a stern dwarven man by the name of Rego Fireforge. Grizzled and callous, Rego forged great steel for our masters, granting him only the tiniest bit of sway with them. His body was adorned with the scars of many battles, and his skin was a deep tan. Rego spoke scarcely, never smiled and never missed a hammer blow. Long years of toil had made the heat of the forge as much a part of me as my own beating heart, I found solace in my work, and Rego took notice. Rego never struck us, never even threatened it. He shared what few amenities he received from his position amongst us, extra rations, blankets, occasionally even wine. Rego showed us respect and in turn, we never again missed a quota. The Silverleaf's youngest son, Asilrion always had a penchant for the godless magics and so when he came of age, was sent to attend one of the numerous Arcanum, though which one, I know not. His departure was quietly celebrated by we thralls, for he was a cruel and malicious child and his unique brand of torment would not be missed. His visits home, however, soon became a time feared buy all those who wore chains. We were subjected to all new horrors, no longer the antics of a bored child and his parlor tricks, but the practiced and refined depravity of a fledgling madman. His favorite trick was to mock the sky spirits and adopt lightning as his toy. The pain he would inflict was unbearable and I saw far too many of my friends twitch and scream their way to the afterlife, all for the amusement of our masters. He came to think of me as his personal project. He told me my resilience was intriguing and he pushed me constantly to my breaking point, but never past. It was during one such visit, everything began. A young handmaiden, a human girl, by the name of Aleena, had had the audacity to spill Asilrion's precious mead on to him while she served his breakfast. She was dragged by her hair to the middle of the slave camp where her arms and legs were staked to the ground. As she screamed and cried, Silverleaf's men gathered us wretches to the awful sight. When all were gathered Asilrion began his incantations. Horrible dark words poured from his mouth and were made manifest. Acid poured bubbled across her eyes, fire burned off her hair. The smell of searing flesh filled my nostrils. I am ashamed to
say all I did was look away, too frozen in horror to act. I knew Aleena, she was a sweet girl, never deserving of any of the world she was forced to endure. My eyes came to rest on the face of Rego and in his eyes I saw something I had not seen since the night they took me. The Great Inferno had made it's return. I watched him, eyes affixed on this young girl, who had grown silent as lightning contorted her body into horrifying shapes. In his silent demeanor I saw anger, sorrow, rage. His eye caught mine for only a moment, before he turned his attention back to the now lifeless child. When Asilrion had finished his violation of her once beautiful body. We dug for a grave for Aleena and marked it with a boulder. I pretended to be asleep when Rego fetched me from my bed that night. Truth was the day's scene danced in my head, behind my closed eyes; it kept my scared lady's realm out of reach. He gave no order, I asked no questions. I followed him silently to the smithy. The forge was already burning hot when we first arrived. Rego said nothing and set straight to his work, shaping the molten metal. I followed suit. When I looked up at him I saw it again, the Great Inferno burned in his eyes, and fueled his mighty hammer blows. The sun rose as we finished our work. A double sided axe was placed beneath the floor boards that night, it was to be the first. For three months we shaped weapons in the glow of that hearth, while all others were asleep. We hammered daggers and blades from slag and scraps, always carful to take what wouldn't be missed. Every night I saw in his eyes the silent rage of the Great Inferno reflected, never did it recede or dim. Only once did I try to ask him his plan. Before I could get the question out he said “Better to die fighting for freedom than be a prisoner all the days of your life, boy.” His words carried more heat than I had ever felt from the forge. Never again did I question him. It was First Light when I awoke, alarmed that Rego had not retrieved me the night before. Outside of my hovel I could hear a commotion. While we slept, someone had carved Aleena's grave marker. Adorned with runes and carvings of angles flying, someone told me it said “Fly now Aleena, in to the arms of your family, you are truly free.” I am not ashamed to admit my tears. We worked that day, and a tension filled the smithy like nothing I had ever felt. That evening, our masters, drunk off wine from the day's celebration, cavorted in in their home. Twenty of us were gathered and marched by their ill-fated guardsmen to the estate. Asilrion had arrived home as a surprise for First Light, and the imp had a new trick he wished to demonstrate. Rego accompanied us, inspecting our chains and carrying a heavy laden satchel. When we were presented before the Silverleaves, Asilrion seemed to seethe with anticipation. Rego greeted our captors in a surprisingly sweet voice and announced that he had prepared a gift for them, as a token of his appreciation for all they had done. He instructed we slaves to close our eyes, as we were not deserving of the sight of our masters' tribute. With that we
closed our eyes, only to open them following a deafening burst. Looking down, it took me but a moment to see our bonds had burst in a blinding explosion. All in the room stood blinded save for we twenty-one. At our feet lay a spilled satchel of finely crafted swords, axes and daggers. Somewhere in the back of my mind I heard the dwarf shouting, though to this day I do not know what he said. Years of anguish and stored anger poured out as I ran at Lady Silverleaf. Her eyes were frantic as she struggled to regain her vision. Her mouth opened to form a scream, but instead she found my hands had crowded her gaping mouth. I separated her jaw from her face with ease. I will never forget the feel of her frail bones cracking, or of her warm blood coating my hands. The sound of her gurgling breaths and the frothy pink blood that bubbled from her broken throat. She stared up at me, eyes wide and I spit on her dying corpse. We tore our former masters limb from limb. By the time the guards recovered from Rego's trick, the Silverleaf family was dead. All save for Asilrion. Rego swung his mighty war axe at the monster but Asilrion was fast. What was certain to be a death blow instead removed most Asilrion's left ear. The impudent child reeled away from the attack and was joined by the remaining guards. The next thing I can fully recall, we were running. Myself, Rego and two dozen others. Behind us we heard the hounds barking and could see flashes of unholy light as lightning streaked through the sky. Rego was hurt and his axe, broken. It became clear his short legs could not carry him much further and the knife-ears were close behind and gaining. Upon entering a clearing, Rego stopped. He looked at me, the Great Inferno in his eyes still burned, but somehow it seemed dim, cooler. He handed me his shattered axe and drew his knife. “Lead them to the desert, it will act as the coal. You will be reforged in its heat. You will be tempered by its trials. Together you will be made into something stronger than yourselves. This is my gift to you. Never forget from where you've come, spread my gift to those who have nothing. It is better to die fighting for freedom than be a prisoner all the days of your life.” with a pause we left him in that clearing. He bought us the time we needed. Rego gave his life for our freedom, a debt I strive everyday to repay. Six days passed and we found ourselves crossing the sweeping grasslands of Miresh. Dry savanna rolled into scorching sands and with nothing but chains, the rags on our bones, and the few weapons that made their way with us; we stole what we needed to survive. A young human by the name of Liam rose to the role of leader of our band. He was a smooth talker, a smart man. We did well under him. On a cool night we took refuge in a smithy, where the others had me remove their bindings, reveling in the weightlessness of their arms. I decided keep mine as a reminder of where I had been. I reforged my broken chains to Rego's axe-head. I wear it in honor of him and his sacrifice. Never forget from where you've come.
Our first few weeks were tough. With no food and what little water we could find many of our group struggled and sacrificed. But through it we saw Rego had been right. We reforged our broken selves into something more, we became resilient, resourceful, our dedication to each other unwavering. In our wandering we came across a band of natives of the deserts. Under constant threat from wild creatures and the elements, Liam forged an alliance with the nomadic tribe known as the Tal-Durra. We joined with them, learned their ways and customs. I taught them of forging iron, taming fire and tempering steel. They showed us the life that lay hidden behind the cruel face of the desert. We became shwarm, family. It was with them that I met Reya. My Reya. I miss her everyday we are apart. Her hair is as black as coal and her skin warm as the evening sands. Her soft voice quells the anger and pain that dwells in my heart. Her eyes, golden like the desert sun, penetrate your defenses, and see the truth. When first she spoke to me, I thought I had drifted into my sacred lady's realm. Never had I known such kindness could exist in the world. She doesn’t see my broken body when we are together. She is the softness in my hard world. My spirit longs for the day when I return to her and my people, and I am certain that day draws near. For years we raided Viramar. Freed her slaves, put their captors to the blade. Among the elves of Viramar we became known as the Demons of Razgriz. Form the slaves we freed, we heard reports of an elven conjurer with one ear and a horrible scared face. It soon became obvious that Rego had fallen to Asilrion's magics and the fiend still lived. Against the wishes of Liam, I left the Tal-Durra leading a large band of warriors. Rage boiling in my heart; I could not rest knowing the last Silverleaf still drew breath. A trade caravan confirmed that Asilrion had been sighted in the west, near his family's now crumbled estate. We rode into Viramar, with all the fire and wrath the desert could muster. We rode into Asilrion's trap. Scores of archers met us in the forests of Viramar, felling half my men in their first volley. We cut through their ranks like a hot blade through butter but found the fiend-child was nowhere to be found. Before I broke his frail neck, a captured knife-ear told me Asilrion now descended upon the TalDurra, all a ploy to draw us away. What few of us remained rode hard to return to our beloved family. When we arrived we found that half of the Tal-Durra had been lost in the attack. That my heated decision had left them defenseless against the onslaught of lightning and arrows. I was marked exile. Left to fend for myself, I have tracked Asilrion's men this far North, to a land known as the Scar. It is here that I will prove myself, regain my honor and end that wretches life.
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