Kerric is a serious sort, unafraid of conflict both in conversation and upon the field of battle. His confidence comes from his uncanny and somewhat unorthodox faith, that Cahl is with him wherever he goes. He is driven in the pursuit of hearing the words of Cahl, an experience that has happened twice within his life and has shaped him into the man he has become. Though he was raised on the streets and bears some of the mannerisms of a criminal past, he has given up that lifestyle in a heartfelt pursuit of religious fervor, even going so far as to scar the former tattoos of his gang affiliation from his chest. He does not regret his past for Cahl led him to it and through it, and though elements of his former lifestyle still haunt him he will face whatever comes with the knowledge that the God-king is by his side.
“Stuff it boy! You are nothing. You are less than nothing.” the large bald man who smelled of onions cuffed me again, “Now hit the streets, and if you return without my grog this time you’ll regret it once more.”
I had received enough beatings by the age of 6 to know better than to test the truth of his words. I knew little of Rageth more than his heavy fist and the fact that he was not my father. My parents were long gone, whether they had abandoned me or died I never learned. What I did know was how to make my way on the streets of _________ from a very early age.
As I grew older I drew the attention of other disreputable sorts. Rageth had long since died in a drunken stupor, no more useful as a corpse than he had been in life. What few belongings he had I quickly hawked for a meager handful of copper. I didn’t take me long to learn that in my neighborhood, a handful of copper is all you need to get a belly full of steel.
The first time I was stabbed in the back for was for a few pennies. I was 9. It hurt less than I imagined, truly it was more of a surprise to see the rusty shiv sticking through the side of my belly. It hadn’t been a clean strike, having come from the hand of a spindly child as badly off or worse than me. He had dropped the metal spike in his haste to be done with it and in so doing lost the only advantage he had over me. I turned on him and watched the fear blossom in his eyes. His sister, hidden in the folds of his cloak screamed as I shoved him hard and they fell in a heap at my feet. He very well may have been the first I killed, for as I tore the bloody implement from my wound the rage that filled me was awful and hateful and nearly overwhelming. But a voice spoke within me, a voice that seemed to come not from within myself, a voice of calm and logic and reason. It came from within me, but was as tangible as if the speaker stood at my shoulder, “Leave him be, your hurt is of the flesh and will heal. Give mercy to those weaker than you and your wounds will be healed.” Instead of lashing out with the weapon in my right hand, I extended my left in offer of forgiveness. Unsurprisingly the boy and his sister fled never to be seen by my eyes again. By the next morning the puncture through my back and belly was little more than a scab within the week, no more than a scar.
For years I put aside this experience, for the reality of my existence was at times nearly intolerable. I became a predator, stalking the streets like the ally toms, willing to fight for whatever scraps I could scrounge. But if cats are boys, men are dogs, and soon I came to realize that there would always be a bigger pack to take by might what they wanted from the weak. I realized that to survive I would have to adapt. What I didn’t know was that I had already earned myself a reputation.
I approached the brothel alone, a slender youth of 15. I knew the guards would search me, I had seen other men approach these doors before, so I didn’t bother to arm myself. I was to make of myself an offering, and hope that that would be enough. In any case I had nothing else to give. The Red Panthers were a well known and organized gang, though at the time I joined them I had thought them only a local force. I was drawn to the order they showed unlike the other gangs that had predated them on the chaotic streets and I viewed them as a means to excel in an environment of violence and uncertainty. I had known nothing else in my life, and for the time, they were the most viable, even logical option. By the time I had left, my recruitment was complete; I was at the bottom to be certain, but it was the bottom of a ladder at least, and no longer the bottom of the cesspit that my former life had been.
I spent the next 3 years of my existence fighting my way up the ranks of a gang intent on ruling the streets above all others including the lawful rulership and the church. I never questioned this fact as wrong, the sad truth of the matter is that here I had food in my belly and a roof over my head. Lawmen and clergy were the enemy for they would take this from me. As an enforcer I wore my tattoo with honor, knowing that I was part of something greater than myself. This life was better than any I had known, but I had fooled myself into believing that it was all I could ever acchieve. It all came tumbling down with a single job.
I wasn’t told her name, though that was not uncommon. She was a priestess of Cahl, a servant of the opposition, and she had not paid her dues to the rightful rulers of the streets of _________. The fine tuned order was threatened because this foolish woman believed herself better than her neighbors. I visited her late at the small temple which she served, intent on collecting her tax or making an example of her so that no other would refuse the law of my masters. When I stole into the church I barely noticed my surroundings, religion had played no part in my life to that point, what then were the trappings of a holy place. She stood at the altar, her back to me, stooped over and intent on something obscured by her pristine white robes. When I was almost close enough to reach out, she turned suddenly to face me, her robes saturated in blood and her face ashen. And she spoke.
“You have come here in service to evil, to steal from me money faithfully given,” She stepped aside to reveal the terrified visage of a young boy so uncannily like myself as a youth that it stole my retort from my lips, his belly bleeding from a stab wound exactly like my own, “Look upon who you truly steal from.” She continued, but her voice carried with it a second voice, one which I had heard before, “I spoke to you once before, now bear witness to my power.” The priestess turned and laid her hands upon the boy’s stomach and back, a soft glow seemed to infuse his wound and when she removed her hands the wounds had knitted together. The priestess sagged as if the energy she had used taxed her greatly and she spoke once more with her own voice, “Take what you will and go…” but the other voice followed as if an echo, “Serve me and seek the reward of a life well lived.”
I knelt on my knees and cried the pardon of the priestess as I kissed her feet. She did not move for some time, tired perhaps by the power of the voice which had been channeled through her.
More to come… Need a good region/city name where this might fit in.