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In the year 1402KN Al was born in what would become known as Svengaard Castle.

His father belonged

to the Mercenary Guild and was an accomplished bounty hunter in the employ of Uthurall himself. His
mother was tolerant of his father’s work, but she was a devout follower of Frentis.

His father’s life was blood and chaos, showered with coin. His mother, the polar opposite. She was
domestic, contrite and believed she would be the guiding hand of Amarwin in young Al’s life.

When the war broke out in 1406KN Al’s father took sides with Ember, just as Uthurall had. He didn’t play
a major role but was an able enough fighter. He survived the war with no visible scars, but even at his
young age, Al could tell the war had taken a toll on him.

In the years that followed, as the land divided into the Kingdoms, Al’s father, despite objections from his
mother, went back to his old ways with the guild. But stories began to circulate and trickle down that
Al’s father was going about his business with a little too much fervor.

He didn’t grasp the implications yet, but in the not too distant future it would become all too clear.

In 1414KN Al came home one day to, surprisingly, find his father slumped down in the front in a drunken
stupor. He was raving madly about something half intelligible. Al tried to help him up, but his father
pulled him down to the ground with him. It was then, he whispered, breath sour with ale, that is he was
half the man Ember had been, Al would have a model to style his life after. Instead, he ought to devote
himself to Uthurall, as he had. After the death of Ember several years past, this was the best man in
whose footsteps he could hope to follow he said.

A somber look came over his face. Maybe its all nonsense, he said. Maybe you’ll end up like me after all,
in spite of your mother. Taking lives for coin. Doesn’t matter who it is. Do the job, get the coin. No life is
priceless and we’re all going to die in the end. With that, he slipped down farther and began to snore.

Al considered the words, turning them over in his mind. This planted a seed that would bloom his
growth into manhood.

In 1417KN, now old enough and big enough in stature to wield a weapon as his father had taught him,
despite the protest of his mother, Al joined the mercenary guild. His father celebrated his ascension and
got him drunker than he has ever been since.

In the Spring of 1418KN, Al’s father took him on a job with him. It was simple enough. Chase down a
man who reneged on his debts and show him the error of his ways. It was clearly said, however, he was
not to be killed. Dead man can’t pay their debts after all.

They packed their things and headed to a small village to the west of the Castle. True to the information
they were given, they found the debtor in a small hut that was looking run down and worse for wear.
They found the man’s children outside playing, rounded them up and brought them inside, where they
found both the man in question and his wife.

The man knew why they were there. His demeanor was of angry indignation. The debt was a trivial
matter. The expense of hounding him and his family and driving them from the city far outweighed even
the money owed times over.

Its principle, Al’s father replied. You owe a debt, you pay the debt.
The man, though he looked capable at least of handling himself, stood his ground and refused to pay. He
rose to his true height and folded his arms. He was a full head taller than Al’s father, but that didn’t
mean a thing. Al had seen his father lay men TWICE his size down with ease.

With a lightning blow followed by several more in combination, Al’s father brought the bigger man down
to his knees, gasping for breath and clutching his torso in pain.

As you can see, Al’s father said, your size is for naught. If you’d paid what you owe, none of this would
be necessary. We’re being paid twice what you owe, just to collect it. So once again, its back to principle.

The man, with tears of rage streaming down, only snarled as he looked up at him.

How do you look after your family, if you can’t even pay a simple debt? Al’s father asked. With that, he
motioned for Al to stand ready to strike the man down if need be. His father ripped one of the children
out of its mother’s arms as she screamed in protest and the child cried out.

The man moved to rise but Al knocked him back into his place with the butt of his weapon.

Al’s father grinned. He had taught his son well and he obeyed dutifully. Chip off the old block. The grin
faded then, as his attention reverted back to the squirming and wailing child. Al’s father looked at the
man as a cold edge crept into his voice and his face hardened.

Without warning or hesitation he slashed his blade from side to side over the child’s face, blinding him.
The child bawled and shrieked in pain and despair, now sightless and unable to defend himself.

The man cried out in protest, as his wife wailed against the cruelty thus inflicted upon her child.

Al struck him again, keeping him in place. Though his demeanor was shifting. This was within the
instructions of the contract they were given, but it was still wrong. Al knew that harsh means were often
required to get the job done, but this didn’t sit right with him. Was this sort of behavior really condoned
by the Guild leadership? By Svengaard himself?

Al’s father began to laugh. Slightly at first, then breaking into boisterous guffaws. Finally, descending
into mad raving laughter, as tears poured down.

Your child will suffer because of you. Because of YOUR choices. Your life! He managed to say between
gasping fits of hysteria.

He had clearly lost his mind and Al didn’t know what to do now, or what his father would do next.

Al’s father released the now stricken child who collapsed to the ground. His mother rushed forward,
reaching her hands out to grab him up. In another flash, another sickening wail of agony issued as Al’s
father lopped off the extended hand above the wrist before staggering backwards towards the door.

The blinded child, bleeding profusely and crying out for his mother on the floor. The now maimed
mother bellowing in pain from her own life changing injury. The man leapt to his feet and crossed the
room, gathering his family to him.

You MONSTER! He cried out as he tried to stem the blood gushing from his wife’s severed arm.
Al took in every detail in rapt, stunned silence. A feeling of horror overtook him. He knew of his father’s
reputation for brutality but this… this was sadistic… this was cruel… this crossed many different lines. He
was rooted in place.

Al’s father, still laughing maniacally, backed out of the door and staggered outside.

It took him a moment to snap out of it as the cacophony of sound still echoed within the small room. He
disregarded the man and his family and followed his father’s path outside.

He found him, still laughing wildly as several nearby villagers peeked out to see the commotion. His
father was issuing threats to everyone within earshot. He would see them all slain and the village
burned in order to complete his job. This is how the great Uthurall Svengaard had won countless battles
in the name of Ember! he cried.

When Al approached his father wheeled on him. And YOU! He screamed. You would allow such things
and follow me still!? He bellowed the question with a mixture of disbelief and accusation in the same
mad tone.

You’re no better than the others that fought and died alongside me! Simply following orders! Uthurall
would be proud to see that I’ve raised such a son to serve him!

Another burst of hysterical laughter escaped him. More faces looked on and still, the cries from within
the small house echoed outward. He clutched his head, clawed at his face and torso, thrashing about
madly and then suddenly stopped laughing, doubling over. When he rose again his face was set in the
most terrible expression Al had ever seen. The anguish and hatred in his eyes showed murderous rage in
their glow.

I will stop it here. I will not allow you to become like me! He cried, lunging forth. With that, surprising Al
completely, he unleashed a flurry of blows and slashes with his still bloody weapon. Al was hit several
times and cut once, but regaining himself from the shock managed to defend himself. He shoves his
father aside.

Father, stop this madness! He cried.

I intend to do just that here and now, he replied coldly, launching into another attacking flurry.

Al did his best to defend himself but his father was the superior fighter. Suddenly he felt an intense
burning in his side and liquid running down his torso to his legs. He looked down and saw his father’s
sword plunged through his chest. He felt the strange sensation on his back as well and knew in that
moment that his father had run him through. When he looked back up his father was all but pressed
against his face.

This is for your own good, he hissed, yanking back the blade.

As it came out, blood flew in its wake. The agony rippling through him made Al nearly pass out.
Somehow, he remained standing.

Die with honor! Al’s father screamed as he charged once again, sword raised high.

In that moment Al knew he was about to die at his father’s hands. His life, though not long, streaked
through his mind in review. All the things his father had taught him. All the things he had seen and done.
And then, the picture of his mother. The opposite end of the spectrum. Teaching him values, morals,
obedience. He had hoped to find the balance between the two of them. He wanted to be a better man
than his father, but only to prove to him that he had raised a worthy son. One that took his teachings
and surpassed him, to carry on his legacy.

But what did he truly know of the legacy of his father if he was capable of the things he had heard and
now seen? That he would truly take the life of his own son in a fevered fit.

All of these thoughts happened in a fraction of a moment. Suddenly, Al was back in the present. His
father, charging towards him. Murderous intent clear. A lesson on balance taking control of his muscles,
even as he seemed detached from himself. He sidestepped, parried the wild overhead swing and
counterattacked. In one sweeping motion he brought the hammer in his hands around and crushed the
back of his father’s skull as he passed with the momentum of his attack. He heard the sweet sound of
connection of his intended blow, with the sickening crunch and squelch of shattered bone and brain
matter that accompanied it.

It was the last thing that he remembered before the world went dark, and it was a sound that he would
never forget.

When next he opened his eyes, he was laying in a bed in a familiar room. The faint candlelight, the scent
wafting from a cooking pot nearby. The paneling of the beams and walls. He was at home. Instantly he
was assaulted by a thirst like none he had even known. His entire body ached, but he couldn’t move. He
cried out in pain, blurring his vision.

A distorted figure entered the room suddenly in response to the cry and he heard soothing words being
uttered but he could make out neither the words nor the one who issued them. He knew though, that it
must be his mother. His hearing cleared and he heard her say rest now, it’ll all be ok. And he slipped
back into the abyss as darkness overtook him once more.

He awoke again, feverish and exhausted. There was someone he did not recognize kneeling down and
leaning over him. She was wearing shoulder guards and epaulets, with a crimson tabard emblazoned
with a golden sun in the center. A faint glow emanating from her hands left him feeling a warmth and
pleasant sensation where previously was sharp pain. As it faded, he noted that she was saying
something quietly, though he could not make out the words.

The light began to fade, and her words ceased. She looked down at Al and smiled. When she rose to her
feet once more, he noticed his Mother standing nearby with an anxious expression.

Will he be ok? She asked the woman. Yes, he is healed now. However, his ordeal has drained his energy
and he must rest. He will be alright by tomorrow. Al’s mother began to weep as she professed her
profound thanks upon the woman.

Thank you, Morn. I cannot thank you enough.

Think nothing of it. Your son likely prevented a slaughter by his actions and nearly lost his own life in the
process. He may have a hard time of it, understanding what happened. But as we discussed, when he is
on his feet again, send him to us.

I will. You have my word. His mother replied.

With that, the woman she had called Morn, walked out of the room. Al looked at his mother and tried to
speak but his voice did not respond. His mother shushed him and bade him drink from a cup. The water
was the most delightful and refreshing thing he had ever tasted. His mother told him to close his eyes
and rest. Everything would be ok.

Despite his wonder about what events Morn had spoken of, he drifted into a comfortable sleep once

The crow of a rooster nearby woke Al once more. He opened his eyes as the first rays of the new day
illuminated the walls around him from the window at his head. He sat up, gingerly at first, but then fully.
This minor ache subsided almost immediately. He lifted the shirt he wore slightly to see what had
caused the pain and was horrified to see the grievous scar on his side.

Footsteps arriving drew his attention up as his wide eyed gaze suddenly turned up to his mother’s
matronly gaze. The smile she wore faltered slightly, but she maintained her poise. She told him to get up
and come to breakfast and she would explain everything.

Without questioning her he looked back at his side once more and the terrible scare etched there. What
in the world had happened? He rose to his feet, unsteadily for a moment and then found his legs. He
walked into the next room, the familiar hearth with fire lit. The cooking pot emitting a tantalizing aroma.
His mother spooning something steaming into a bowl and placing it on the table as she motioned for
him to take a seat.

Al obliged and sat down. He didn’t even wait for the contents to cool as he greedily slurped and
smacked his way through the bowl. The steaming liquid revitalizing him. The meaty chunks
accompanying the broth were delightful. In moments the bowl was empty and he looked to his mother
to ask for another, but she was already taking the bowl from him to refill it. He felt as if he hadn’t eaten
in a month.

She silently refilled it once more and placed it before him as he set upon it once more. Then, she took
the seat opposite him. When he gulped down the last bite and slurped the remaining broth, he set the
bowl down and sat back, belching with satiation. He looked up at his mother, and her smile no longer

She recounted the events that had transpired to him as clearly as she could, having been conveyed by
others. Al listened in stunned silence. Officially, his father had exceeded his mandate of the contract and
had attempted to murder the family of the man they were sent to collect a debt from. Afterwards, it
was said, he had raved madly, threatening the entire village with death and violence. It was then that he
turned on Al, nearly killing him.

Al’s wound began to burn suddenly as his mother relayed this tale.

But he had fought back against his father’s rampage and felled him, saving his own life, and the lives of
the village in the process.

The sound of his hammer impacting his father’s skull sounded, echoing in his mind.

Al had been saved by villagers who managed to stabilize him, but he was not fully healed until after he
had been brought home, and only because a friend of his mother happened to be in the city at the time.
The man they had been sent to collect payment from, having not witnessed the conflict outside, could
only testify to the brutality of the events inside. As a result, Al was not treated by the Guild. In fact, both
he and his father, although dead, had both been officially discharged from membership and barred from
further association.

Men from Svengaard’s forces, after having consulted with the guild had come to question Al, but he was
unconscious. They threatened to drag him to Uhthurall’s hall, but then reports from the villagers arrived
telling the full story. The men departed with this news back to Uthurall and they did not return.

Morn had healed him despite the implications it could invoke before his name was cleared under the
promise she gave that Al, when able, would be transported to the Hand of Light to receive proper
training and instruction.

With that, she paused, letting the news sink in. Al was stunned. He had killed his own father, albeit in
self defense and only after his father had grievously assaulted an innocent woman and child. And the
guild had disbarred him without even a chance to defend himself! He realized then, that his mother did
not seem overly distraught by this turn of events. In fact, she was rather composed.

Before Al could get the words out after opening his mouth, she told him a carriage would arrive at the
transportation hub at noon and he was to be on it, to report to the Hand of Light garrison post-haste.

She stood, walked around the table and placed her hand on his shoulder looking down at him. You did
nothing wrong, she said. I am proud of you, no matter what others may say. You did what you had to do.
And you did what was right. Your father was a troubled man after the war. He couldn’t reconcile all that
he had done, no matter how he tried to repress it or project it into other things. She sighed at that. But
your future begins anew today. Your bag is already packed and is by the door. If you want to reach the
hub in time to catch the transport, you will need to head out in an hour or so. I am headed into the city.
Be sure and write when you arrive.

With that she bent down, kissed him, turned and walked away out the door, closing it behind her.

Al looked at the door for a moment after it had been closed, then back down at the empty bowl before
him. He absentmindedly lifted his shirt again and looked at the scarred wound as he considered all she
had said.

And now he was to go to the Hand of Light. The order of Ember himself for training and instruction. He
recounted the day he had found his father in a drunken stupor in front of the house. He had told him
that Ember was a man that he wished he could be. He had also told him to aspire to serve Uthurall
Svengaard, but how he had derided him at the end? But he could never ask him to explain the meaning
behind his words. He was gone now. Apparently, suffering no more. It seemed then, that the King
Svengaard was not all that he was thought to be. Or maybe he was and more?

This and more weighed on Al’s mind when he gathered himself, his small belongings and the pack his
Mother had assembled before he stepped into the warm sunlight of the day, heading for the
transportation hub and the start of his new journey.