(Lehnar was a rare character for me. First, he was male, something I rarely play, and secondly, he was an older character – even older than my actual age of 45 at the time; yes, I have a preference for younger characters, especially when we are just starting a new campaign. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, to me, for someone who is middle-aged to just be starting out as an adventurer without a really good backstory.)
The vagaries of life are sometimes amusing. I never thought when I was still a young lad called Ephraim that I would ever find myself in the position in which I now am. Well, I’ve lived a good life, even if too many years were spent in the taverns instead of among the common people, so if tomorrow brings my death, as I fully expect it shall, then perhaps my recent activities will have had meaning.
My tale begins some decades ago, when I was but newly entered into the Duelists. My chosen companion, the lad I had know since birth, Johannes was his name, and I had been celebrating too freely in the public tavern with far too much wine and beer for our own good. Being young, and carefree, we were not as close-mouthed as we would have been, had we been seasoned veterans.
Johannes and I had successfully defended against a group of bravos who thought to insult our youth, and we were quite drunk by the time the conversation turned towards the Militants in the Thaumacracy, specifically, one wizard by the name of Powys, who was a particularly offensive sort – you may know the type – “God has given the Mages the right to rule, and, By God, Rule We Shall”??? While I had never been much interested in politics, I was foolhardy enough to express my agreement that someone (meaning, of course, us) should “do something about it.”
As the liquor was talking as much or more than we, not long after that we were paid a special visit by the Bloodhounds. The last I saw of Johannes was that night, although his screams will echo in my mind forever. Regardless of my association with Johannes, after some, ah, “stimulating” hours with the Bloodhounds as they grilled me about possible Liberation sympathies, they finally decided that I was not only harmless, but too drunk to be able to convincingly lie about any sympathies for the Liberation that I may have had at the time.
I suppose in some ways, though, that was the beginning of the end of my non-political days…
The next several years were spent in the employ of various mages, court functionaries, and the appropriate “riff-raff”, earning a living, and honing my skills as a Duelist. While I am among the first to admit that I am by no means the best amongst us, I have been blessed with success in more undertakings than many, and owe no small part of that to the skills which have served me so well.
About 10 years ago, my life took an even more disturbing turn. Mind you, this was still before my direct involvement with the Liberation. I had been retained as a bodyguard on behalf of a moderately important Mage who had a fear of flying (her importance was high at the time, as she was then one of the Prince’s Mistresses – you might recall her: Annalise was her name). Thus, as we were riding through a section of Eliador, near to my own home, actually … (something few Mages do if they can possibly help it) we stumbled into a riot. It seems that some local serfs were angry about the recent drop in food prices (reducing their income) while taxes were raised. Imagine that…
The Enforcers responded to the riot by Summoning a dozen or so Fire Elementals and a few demons. As we remained in the safety of an Utter Dome around her litter and bodyguards and stayed to “watch the show.” I was forced to watch a my young wife and son burn to death, and my daughter be eaten by a demon while she forbade me from rescuing or protecting the children. That was when my long suppressed animosity to the Thaumacracy erupted, and I began to see the evil for what it is. I must admit, that to watch her die, then and there, under my blades, was a most satisfying dessert. I killed one of the other bodyguards, but a second managed to evade me as the utter dome came down, and he escaped to relate the tale.
I went into hiding after that for some time; a man with a price on his head finds he has few friends and little family. A few years later, I was recruited in the common marketplace — by whom? I never knew their name, and didn’t want to know. After all, you can only reveal what you know, even if you are dead, yes?
For one who is not a mage, and one who largely eschews magery, 53 is a good life-span. If die I must, then die I shall. Others will take my place.
But I won’t go easily, willingly, nor without a fight.