The Chaos Scar
Ser Aracyn Narys
A Paladin of Tyr
Ser Aracyn is a 6’0" tall, 30 year old human of seeming Illuskan heritage, with classically northern dark hair and light eyes. He has a scar across his eye (and a twinkle in it) and dark scars in the crude shape of eyes on his palms. He is alternately serious—morose even—and gregarious, sometimes flirtatious and often drunk when left to a tavern with a few coin. An epitomal paladin, he is a champion against evil and kindly to the innocent and good (particularly so with comely young women).
Ser Aracyn is generally seen to wear plate mail of a tarnished finish, but adorns himself with a purple clerical stole displaying the symbols of his orders. Despite wearing the stole constantly, he treats it with great respect and will often clean it before himself.
- +1 Pinning Broadsword, +6 vs AC, 1d10 +3
- +1 Floating Light Shield
- +1 Lifegiving Plate Armor
Syr of the Blackalley – 1468
I wasn’t always a monster, but blood and blade were some of my earliest acquaintances. My first mark was called Lucien; the son of a Lord or a Magister or some distinction that a man neither earns nor works to keep. It was so easy to slip by and my pockets were all cloth and holes and my patron offered me ten gold pieces to do it. I had never seen gold before he opened the leather pouch and poured the coins onto the table. I can still remember the sound—the thuds on the table and cling as they rang together, like sweet music without words, drum and chimes. He didn’t say much—he just asked me to shift into the bar keep and then him and then he gave me the piece of parchment and the dagger. In a way the dagger was even more of a curiosity than the gold with its fine leather grip and its hand guard curving into two spirals. He didn’t tell me how to kill a man, but I had seen it in the alleys of Neverwinter. Nobody pays attention to what a child sees when his clothes are ragged and he hasn’t got a roof over his head.
Krav and the Stuck Man – 1456
The second killer I ever saw, who actually put a man down instead of just talk about it was called Krav. He was a dwarf with a beard the color of coppers and a smell like the taverns, like pipe leaf and ale and sick. I saw him argue with a man outside of the Silver Hart, where I slept for a time, and then he stuck him. Right under the jaw he stuck him and the blood bubbled out of the man’s mouth and mussed up his fine tunic. After Krav was gone I looked at the man for a while, looked at his face and the way his eyes didn’t seem to look at anything, even right in front of him.
I went to sleep in that alley, trying not to look anymore than I had, and then next morning I woke up bigger. My clothes didn’t fit so I borrowed the man’s. He wouldn’t miss them I didn’t think, and even though the front of his tunic was stained black and brown, it didn’t have any holes in it like mine. I didn’t think anything of my change because nobody told me that that wasn’t how growing up was supposed to be. It wasn’t until I saw Krav that day, walking down a High Street that I knew I had something that few men had. I walked up to him and said “I know your secret” and he ran from me like I’d never seen a dwarf run before. I was just a big child, all grown up over night, but I was still a child. I’d seen Krav kill a man twice my age at least and more than twice as scary and yet he went running from me. When I saw the looking glass behind the bar at the Hart, I understood a little more, but then, didn’t understand at all.
Ser Donalen Moor of the Red Guard – 1467
The man could joust. I watched him from the crowd in the tourney stands as a half-elf called Ithilyn. The hooves of his mare thundered on the dirt as he rode and the spectators roared as his lance splintered into saw dust on the breastplate of his competitor, who had no business holding a lance or riding a horse or donning the superlative “firebrand.” Ser Donalen was a sight to behold, and such a shame that his name had been slid across the table. I had asked the man next to me—a fire genasi, red shirt, brown leather britches, spat often and said “rubbish” like a tavern fly—if he knew where Ser Donalen went after victories in the tilts. I told the genasi that I wanted “to buy that man a flagon and bend his ear about battle.” No help.
As Ser Donalen dismounted and divested his helm and gaunlets to his squire, he approached a comely young elf of seemingly high birth, striding near as confidently as his horse. I could not hear the conversation from my vantage, but I knew I didn’t need to when I saw his playful, familiar advances and her weary rebuff. He kept at her as a dozen other ladies made eyes at him, but he was oblivious. He stroked her auburn hair and laughed heartily and put his hand on her shoulder. She folded her arms and shrugged off his hand and shook her head but when she turned away I saw it—the faintest hint of a smile. The language of their bodies said that they had not slept together, but that hint said that they might.
I studied her as was the normal course. Her mannerisms, the way she held herself—proper but self-conscious, the way she stood, with the practiced posture of a girl raised by hand maidens and taught in the “womanly arts of grace.” I followed her as she left out of the grounds for near an hour, taking on the look of a dragonborn matron—inconspicuous enough, and my own way of spiting the genasi for the help. Getting close, I trod on the skirt of her dress as we walked and gave my profuse apologies. She was so pleasant that it was all the more difficult to convince her to let me buy her a new dress, promising to return hers, freshly cleaned. It was a fine dress—dark green with pieces of jade and amber sewn into the bodice in embroidery likening a delicate bird amongst leafy branches. It was the sort of dress that I might have gotten for Safi. I listened to every word she said but for their inflection, not their contents. I only needed a sentence or two. I knew men like Ser Donalen and I knew that just so many sentences would suffice.
It was two hours after evenfall when I caught up with Ser Donalen. Were he still wearing his armor, he might have resembled a brewing cask, if not as stable. For all the skill of his cantor and gallop, he seemed to have lost something without the sobriety. Or maybe it’s the armor and regalia that make all knights look like the gallant heroes of song. As my patron had advised, Donalen was surrounded by a bevy of knights—all drunk, but armed with sword and dirk and itching for provocation of any kind. Tonight, I would be their provocateur, but without the bloodshed that would scratch them.
I had previously taken the guise of females, but this one was stunning—her perky breasts and the curve of her hips. I had looked at her—myself—I suppose, for near twenty minutes before I put on the green dress. Shame to cover it all up, but I made the breasts a bit larger for the take.
I walked to Donalen with that practiced posture, but with some lilt to my step. “May I beg a word Ser Donalen? It shan’t be long, I’ve had a bit of spring wine with my ladies, so I’m soon to be off to bed, but it is important if your friends can spare you.” I hiccoughed and covered my mouth, feigning embarrassment for effect; that vulnerable femininity that begs would-be heroes to protect. From the other knights’ stares I could tell that the breasts were a nice touch, but Donalen, the mark, could not have risen faster were it a king who beckoned him.
I led him to the storeroom of the tavern, empty of people, but bedecked with the heraldry of this knight and that, all hung on hooks neatly along the walls. Donalen’s standard and that of the winner of the melee were out in the tavern’s main hall—a celebration of his final victory. I told him that I had a gift for him, too long overdue, but that it was a surprise. He sat impatiently, a look of lusty wonderment across his face as I wrapped a standard around his eyes. Red and blue cotton with a stag and resplendent sun, the standard of the knight that Donalen had unhorsed, and what insult that was. I never knew whether my marks were good or bad men, just that their names were given to me and that their lives, in turn, were over. I tried to give them punishment and reward for that reason. Their deaths were neither since they were just names. “One peek and then no more until I say.” The dress was piled untidily about my feet—the reward.
The way he looked at her body, like a child realizing that magic was real and believing that all of the songs were true, told me that he loved her in his own way. He didn’t notice the hand behind my back, but how could he? This one was stunning, this girl, this flower with hidden thorns. I’m glad I didn’t see his eyes as I ran the knife across his throat, that he couldn’t question the betrayal with his last breath. The blood ruined his shirt, so I had to walk back into the tavern bare-chested. Ser Donalen and his victories, they probably thought as they asked a tirade of indiscrete questions. I curled his fingers around the green dress, her dress, when I left him—a long-awaited favor from his lady.
Balid Strøm – 1470
The Mirar was vast at the point where it blended into the sea with ships crawling across the water like maggots on a corpse. At is mouth, crossing over the vast river, with two great draws for passing ships was the bridge to Luskan. Luskan, the bottom-feeding mollusk of the north, afrenzy with the trade of pirates and vagabonds and smelling of salt and fish and piss. Ser Salden and I dismounted our horses at the edge of the city and looked upon the weathered woodwork of the buildings, seemingly tethered together by blocks and tackle and thick rope. “We’ll stay two nights before heading to the Spine.” Salden had told me, measuring the traffic of skiffs and galleys. “You should find that the smell of fish attracts wicked men as well as stray cats.”
We stayed the first night at the Siren, a brothel as close to the docks as one might expect. The sound of women’s exaggerated moans with the scent of ambergris, rum, and rose oil hung thick in the air. The clientele were varied; a wealthy merchant, a spice trader from the south, dragonborns, genasi, a cleric of Sune, and a captain of a Blue Heart, but all grasping and stroking and drinking. I drank a round with Salden and watched a dwarf work his hand between the legs of a halfling whore. His companion looked listlessly out of a window and proclaimed to their group that there were better ways to bury a sword than to pay for the privilege. The fire of the candle sconces didn’t seem to reflect in the pits of his black eyes as he looked back into the room and leered at the one or two serving girls who didn’t seem to be selling quim.
I made note of his face and went on drinking with Salden and discussing the upcoming long trek east. Two years prior, Salden and I walked the road north from Waterdeep to Luskan, foregoing our typical charge under the Hidden Hand. We passed by the dregs and stayed out of the cities and towns. Before we turned eastward to walk along the Mirar toward its head, I asked Salden the reason for such a long trip, away from our roads. He never ceased his march. “Aracyn, what does a man gain from the execution of Tyr’s justice? Is it to prove our devotion to the Maimed God? To fulfill an imperative forged beyond ourselves? And without our guiding forces, what do we do on the roads?” We killed people. We convinced people that we were not who we were and then allowed them to become themselves. Most were harmless—greedy or stupid or selfish—but not evil. The evil ones, well, we killed people. “We walk to the edge of the world, in isolation and prayer in order to reflect on our actions. Without reflection and the perspective that it bares, justice is merely an excuse for murder.”
Salden seemed to relish introspection. I relished the wine, but the dwarf with the jet eyes drew my attention. It was the way he sat and looked hungrily while his companions drank and groped. I excused myself from Salden’s company and made my way to a powder room. No one paid enough attention to find it queer that a human male should walk alone into a six square foot room and an elf woman should walk out. I stumbled past the dwarves’ table feigning drunk. The dwarf followed. As he drew his dagger, he must have pictured a hundred horrid images—things to come. He didn’t picture the immediate and inescapable retribution of the Even Handed. As I drove a four inch blade into his carotid and then turned it out through his wind pipe, he looked confused for a moment. With his eyes he asked ‘why?’ Well, we killed people.
Stiv Morollo – 1474
Ser Aracyn Narys. I pondered the significance of an honorific for a fabricated name as Ser Korvan Hammerfall laid the sword on my shoulders. The other Fingers; Ser Brexas with his reserved nature and subtle humor; Sera Alsen, young and fierce and eager; Ser Korvan, a crafter of mithril and gold with a bounty of stories to rival the bards; and Ser Salden, my mentor, stern and pensive; they all stayed behind. They reveled for me, the second of our number to ascend into a chivalrous order of Tyr. They drank and sang and told stories of their lives before they took to the Hand. I wanted to stay, the waters of the Neverwinter River were warm and beautiful as they ran into the sea and Alsen threatened to swim naked off of the shore, but something pulled me back to Waterdeep.
I walked for hours along the coastal road, seeing traders and vagrants and caravans of horses on their way to the myriad small towns between Neverwinter and Waterdeep. As the sun began to fall, I settled at a clearing near the cliffs north of the Mere, just off of the road. Snow sat upon the dry ground and the sounds of unsteady footfall on the pitted dirt became less frequent. I had just started a small fire of dried lichen and pine when I heard the creaking of wagon wheels approach. The man’s rig was spare and unadorned, not a merchant’s coach, but large enough for a company of two and sturdily built with oaken sides and roof. Long curtains of thick burlap hung over its two windows and the draft horse pulling the thing looked old and ready to collapse.
The man reined in the horse and brought his cart to a stop in the clearing. Stepping down, he introduced himself as Stiv Morollo of Baldur’s Gate. He was an odd fellow, a halfing perhaps, but quite tall if so, and he bowed so low that his nose nearly touched the ground. I could see his face in the fading sun and firelight; taut and weather-beaten with a small nose and a gold tooth that glinted as he smiled a courteous if uneasy smile. He begged a seat by my fire and offered salt pork and potatoes in trade. I agreed, but when I asked him if he needed help with his load, he demurred too hastily, with a nervous look back toward the wagon. As we prepared a stew, I adding two coneys and some wild onions, we began to talk about our travels. He didn’t seem overly interested in the life of a paladin, but he was curious about the Hand. I learned in due time that he was a farrier by trade (dubious considering his size) but that he had taken to hunting bounties for the various villains and tradesmen of Neverwinter.
It was another hour before the topic of his current bounty arose. He said that he had picked her up in Waterdeep; “just another drow cutthroat who cut the wrong throat.” The conversation made me think of Safi. I hoped that she was well, where ever she was. “I picked her up from an associate of mine who works the Underdark, and she was a handful.” I thought about Safi from time to time, unfortunately less now that work had picked up. I remembered the look that she had given me when she left, part pity and part anger. I was drunk, and stayed that way for over a month. “He said she gutted one of his men when they came for her, but for all her spunk, I don’t think it’ll do her much good with the party that posted the bounty.” I met Safi when we were young. She was picking pockets in Blacklake and she jumped at the chance to assist with my marks. My patron told me to stay away from her, that she would make me weak. “I don’t know the details, but the word is she killed Krav Bronzeknuckle in his sleep—something about a vendetta. She should probably relish that pretty face of hers while she can.” Bronzeknuckle. Safi.
I asked Stiv if I could pay the bounty and take her back myself. He declined and said that he valued his head more than quick coin and a short journey. I didn’t think as I pulled my dagger from its sheath and his eyes expressed a sort of understanding as the blood from his neck blended with his stew. I dug a grave for the man with my bare hands and the cold hard soil bit at my fingertips. As I dug, my palms began to bleed. I didn’t care, the man might have been unsavory in his indifference, but evil he was not and on the day of my redubbing, I had killed him. Once the ground covered him, I said rites and untied his horse. My hand shook as I reached for the handle of the door of the wagon and the blood on that hand masked the shape of an eye that had developed. As I opened the door, I saw her—gagged and tied to an eye on the floor, a bruise on her eye barely visible upon her slate-colored skin.
She looked much the same as she did when she left, if surprised. She was beautiful—her eyes golden and full of mischief, her lips curled into a smirk. Her hair was shorter than I had remembered, but just as jet black and carelessly attended. “I’ve been waiting,” was the first thing she said after I took out the gag. I started to untie her wrists, but she stopped me. She asked me to take off her trousers and repeated, “I’ve been waiting.” She turned away from me, setting to her knees and sinking her chest to the floor with an arch of her back. She look back at me. I love that woman.