Of Choice and Reason
Catfolk Rogue looking for sanctuary in a troubled life
“My name is Esme Morganthe, and I was born in Calenshar. It’s a pretty big place along the sea. My parents were fish mongers, good ones too. They could sell their stock to the competition for twice the standard price! Ah.. what a life to be born in to. You might think we would tire of eating fish all the time, but as catfolk; why, it’s a feast of the finest sorts. Sometimes I wish that we could have stayed like that forever.
My parents must have been too good at their job though, as someone felt it necessary to murder them. The worst of it was that no one even cared. No guards came to question me about it. No one questioned anyone; if anything, most people were glad the deed was done! No one extended a hand to help me, no one offered me shelter in the raging storm, no one even gave me a second look. It still pisses me off to think of how cold they were.
I was just a little girl! An orphan, alone, without shelter; Occasionally someone would give me scraps, or I could find a piece of clothing in the trash to replace one that was falling apart; those were good days. You might think, ‘Well if that’s a good day, what were the bad ones like?’. The bad days were nightmares given flesh and a bad attitude. It’s amazing how many groups of thugs and murderers run the streets. More than once I got in the way, or looked at someone at the wrong time. Where were the guards when I was getting beaten within inches of my life? Taking bets on the sidelines, matching gold on how long before I would let go of my wretched life. It was almost enough to hold on just knowing that I would cause them to lose money.
Luckily it didn’t take long to learn how to avoid situations like that. After what I could only guess to be a few years, I found a shelter from the storm. A family, someone to care for me, to teach me a life beyond just survival. There were other children too, all with similiar stoies. It was just now that the cold reality of society set in, it doesn’t care. The system is flawed beyond repair. When I asked my ‘dad’ about this, he looked at me
I’ll never forget and said, ‘The system isn’t flawed, it’s the parts’. Soon after taking up residence in this home, they began to educate me. It wasn’t anything more than the basics of life; but for the first time in what seemed eternity, I had a place to belong.
On my thirteenth birthday, my ‘parents’ told me that I had to move. I was devastated, I didn’t want to leave! I had only begun to settle in! They told me that their job was done and that I had to take my first steps torward realizing my future. It hit me then, that my siblings hadn’t just up and left. They reached the proper age and were expelled aswell.
I was sent to a new home. Well, a home in the sense that it was a place to sleep that had a roof. What I found there most certainly wasn’t a family. No sooner had I unpacked than I was thrown in a cage in the basement. The only redeeming quality of the experience was what I learned. A scholarly looking old man came down every so often and spouted off what sounded like nonsense riddles. ‘What is strength? What is resolve?’ These things meant nothing to me at the time! What is stength? Why am I in a cage? Why won’t you EXPLAIN ANYTHING?! Why am I treated like a pet? Rewarded when I answer your riddles, starved if I cannot, Why am I here?
Five days, I later found out, Five days was all the longer I was in there. Five days that dragged on like a decade. When I was released from the cage, no one apologized for it. No one even suggested that it was the least bit out of the ordinary to be charged with the care of someone and lock them up. My captors were much more than a foster family, they were almost like an elite group of trainers. They taught me how to steal effectively and how to avoid notice. Each of these little lessons came with a test. Stealing from a vendor without letting anyone know it had happened, setting up distractions to get past a unit of guards, things like that. The training was only rudementary but it was more than enough.
I found out that I wasn’t the only one, there was a total of six children in this place. Kunil, my brother from the last home that left only a year prior to me was there. He seemed to have little more idea of what was going on that I did, but I was glad to see him again. I asked him one thing in particular, I asked him what he wanted out of life. And he looked at me with the most tortured face I’ve ever seen, and he told me, “I will only die happy if I can bring justice on the ones who tore my life apart.”
The real lessons only began after that. Our captors split us in to two groups. Three each, and I was lucky enough to be paired up with my brother. The other kid in our group was shorter and skinnier than me, and I wasn’t exactly an orc. The point of the groups was to ‘teach teamwork’. Which seemed a viable thing to learn. All of the things we learned before though were completely forgotten. All that work just to drop it and pick up a new plate. Granted, the new tactics were easy to figure out. The only hard part was when they taught us how to fight. ‘Fighting as a unit is much more effective than trying to face the same odds by your lonesome.’ A unit? Did we get dropped in the criminal military or something? Whether that was the intent or not, that’s what it seemed like.
Each ‘unit’ had to deal with specific weapons. One of us had to use a sword, one of us a dagger, and one of us had to use a very strange weapon. The likes of it I had never seen before, and as a whole it seemed ineffective; they called it a hornet. This weapon was basically a blade that was worn on your finger and it had a short chain connecting it to a bracer. Kunil, who was the leader, had first picks. He chose the dagger. The scrawny kid, whose name I found out was Nyr, looked between the two remaining weapons and almost laughed at the very idea of using the hornet. He took the sword without another thought. If he had seen the look on my face when he did so, he might have screamed bloody murder and ran away crying. I walked up and looked at my curious weapon. Seeing no way out of it, I gave in and reached for it. The elder stopped me and told me that this weapon was the most difficult to learn how to use. He then let me take it, and directed us to the ones who would teach us the basics.
The next couple of years flew by. We were fed adaquettely, and though we were still being trained vigorously, had downtime to just hang out and be ourselves. Nyr finally got some meat on his bones, and though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was beginning to grow up too. Kunil began looking much older than the rest of us. The big day came before we even knew about it. A ‘unit’ could only leave when all of it’s member came of age. On my sixteenth birthday, we were.. forced to leave. They took us to a nearby city and bascially dumped us on our own. Their parting advice was to treat each other like family and utilize what we learned.
We began looking for a place to set up shelter. It was almost suspicous that we were dropped off near a bunch of abandoned houses. Nonetheless, it was convienient. We made it into a home, and made a life using the skills we had been taught. A short time later, we observed the other group being dropped in the same area. Kunil was close enough to hear something that made his face go slack. He swiftly ushered us back to our shelter and informed us that we are now being hunted by the other group. Almost instantly someone knocked on the window. I catiously looked out to see that it was our old advisor. We greeted him and he bore the same grim news that Kunil overheard. ‘You’re now in a fight with the other group. You can chase them out of town, kill them, do what you will.’ Suspicions that we were being watched by our old captors were now confirmed. But to what end, I had to ask myself. What is the point of raising and training two groups of people to just pit them against each other.
The other team was overly competitive. The very next day they broke into the house and stole all of our supplies. We changed houses and kept a watch out for them. We got in to a few scrapes but a random person passing by always interupted and both side would flee. Eventually Kunil grew tired of the games. He told us that we need to kill them, and we need to do it fast. That night we went out and searched for them. Luck would have it that we found them. Their sword-bearer was stragglig behind when we found them. Kunil made us stay back and he took the boy out. I found it hard to look at him after that. Watching him mercilessly take the life of someone who was in the same position as him, as if he had no compassion. Then I remembered what he had told me he wanted out of life and I realized that he would truely stop at nothing to achieve that goal. It made me wonder, what was my goal?
The remaining two caught us on our walk back home. They struck so clean, so quickly, the only one who saw it coming was Nyr. He took their hornet down with him. Kunil chased off their leader. I watched Nyr die from his wounds that breathless night. Having lost my parents was one thing, I didn’t watch it happen. I didn’t watch them bleed out on the street, knowing there was nothing I could do. Nyr’s death stirred what I should have felt long before that. When I lost my parents, I was sad and confused, but not bloodthirsty. Despite how I was treated as an orphan, throughout my childhood; I did not wish to cut out someone’s heart. I was too busy trying to stay alive. This though, this awakened what I can only imagine pained Kunil every day. My foster father’s words rang through my mind the rest of the night. ‘The system isn’t flawed, it’s the parts.’ I understood it now. I knew what my goal was. Not to make the world a better place, I knew better. My goal was to find a peace. If that peace had to be lined with the blood of others, then that was fine.
The next night Kunil was patrolling looking for the last person of the other team. I was at the house trying to get some sort of meal prepared. When he never came home, I knew what had happened. Just the thought of losing the closest thing to a real brother I’ve ever had… it made me crazy. My head rushed, I couldn’t think straight. I got my hornet and left. I hunted through the streets, not caring if anyone saw me. I didn’t care if three hundred people saw me kill who I was after. As long as he died.
We met in an alley on the other side of town. His clothes reeked of blood, and he had a second dagger that I instantly recognized. There are no words to describe the hatred I felt for him at that moment. There was no logic, there was no sympathy. I knew for sure now what Kunil was thinking when he killed the first member of their team. Exactly nothing. This man, this murderer, looked at me and just smiled. As if we were little kids and he had my toy. His blood stained that alley. Even after he stopped moving, I kept at it; stabbing, slashing, there wasn’t any more blood for him to bleed before my wits returned to me. Our old advisor made another appearance when I was walking back to the house to grab my possessions. He tried to congratulate me on winning. I cut his stomach open and watched his insides pour out. I searched his body for any indications of the organization that he worked for. I didn’t find anything but some money a an amber amulet. Pocketing these and slitting his throat as I left, I went back to the house. Grabbed enough supplies and money to get back to Calenshar.
On my travels I came across information on a guild of sorts that worked on the same principles as the school that trained me. It intrigued me, but I quickly realized that such a professional outfit wouldn’t accept someone like me. They were skilled assassins and thieves. They would requires skills of their members that I could only begin to fathom. I decided that I would return to Calenshar and try to learn of the people who caused my brother so much pain. Many months passed and I still cannot find anything on them. This hasn’t phased me yet though, I will find them. I will kill them. Then I will aspire to become a member of that guild, and hopefully find my peace.” ~Esme Morganthe