Gentle reader, it seems that my companions have taken a somewhat questioning view on the incredible amount of luck that I seem to possess. Combine that with my somewhat unflinching ability to stare down whatever opposes us as it slaughters my companions and I have developed a reputation for being standoffish and almost nonchalant about life and the threats that it continuously sends at us. While this mostly stems from the reality that everyone deals with combat stress in their own unique way, I also benefit from the realization at a very young age that I simply shouldn’t be here. The gods that I worship are not kind ones with mugs of ever full ale and sweetbreads, but they have chosen to protect me to a large extent down the cursed, never ending road that my people travel.
I cannot begin to list all of the times that I should have perished since I became a child of the streets when my mother died of the pox so long ago. I most likely should have died from that vile disease with her, but I did not. My first “gift” from the gods I now worship. But I can relate to you the most profound escape I encountered from death’s realm.
I’m not really sure how long I lived on the streets to be honest. I was so young that I had little knowledge of days, months and years. This practice follows me still as I rarely remember to cite the year and days on these journal entries. Even though now I am much more literate than my early youth. Still time back then was life at its more threadbare and tenuous. It was measured in such things as “When did I last eat?” and “When will the wildcat gang leave their water well unguarded next?” When your life rides on the slim hope of a quarter wheel of green cheese that you have to fight the rats for, worrying about anything else becomes trivial. So to does being frightened by the prospect of death when she walks with you in your every footstep.
One day I came upon a pair of older boys who I had traded harbor side information with for food on previous occasions. This day they told me of a shop nearby which if we were quick and lucky enough could supply us all for enough food to last two whole days apiece! All they needed was someone who the shopkeeper did not know to act as a distraction.
I agreed without hesitation.
In later years I learned that I was there not to be a “distraction” but as the “sacrifice” for the older boys to make a clean getaway. Plans do not always go as intended however, and the shopkeeper caught one of the other boys instead of me. He stuck him down without mercy. I have no doubt that the gods I now worship saved me from a swift and violent end that day.
The shopkeeper nailed the dead boy next to the front door of his shop as a “warning” to all others who would attempt to steal from him. He paid the watch twenty five irons (gold pieces) to let the body stay up until the next morning. When the street rats of Tescana heard of the news, they burned down the mans shop in retaliation. This in turn launched two months of bloody crackdowns against the cities homeless population. Only by the grace of the gods I worship did I survive those days of fire and pain.
So if it seems that I appear to be aloof or unflinching in the face of death, it is only because I have seen so much of it before. Even when I was “recruited” into the Royal Exploration Society I survived encounters that killed or seriously wounded my fellow classmates. The society believes that experience with real working traps is the best teacher, often to the detriment of their unluckier students.
There have been many moments in my life where my continued existence rode upon a single flip of a very old coin. So far the gods I worship have seen fit to nudge those odds in my favor. When they do finally fall the wrong way I will not fault them or tremble uselessly in fear or terror awaiting my end.
It is only by their grace and cruel “mercy” that I am here in the first place.