Curse of the Crimson Throne
It was a rainy night and Gaedren Lamm was at the docks waiting. He was furious. People who made him wait were not long for this world, but this was a special circumstance. This night he would obtain a tool that would make him rich and prosperous for years to come; even if it would take years to properly train the beast to obey his every word without question. He had aranged the purchase of a tiefling infant. He didn’t care about the particulars of this things birth. The seller had actually sought him out; quite odd. He usually had to recruit his own brats. Someone in the employ of the seller had got word to Lam where the meeting was to be. Gaedren continued to fume as he waited in the shadows. One of his little helpers waited in the open for delivery. Better they get caught than him. Finally, a hooded figure arrived carrying a basket. Gaedren held back the urge to walk up and slap the courier. He held himself in check with an evil grin the whole time. He finally had his prize.
When he arrived home he threw the basket at a small Varisian named Alika. In a low and threatening voice he said “this thing is now your responsibility. You take care of it however you see fit. I don’t wanna hear or see it unless I tell you different, and if anything happens to it I will slowly lower you into the pit!” He nodded toward the pit where he kept his ferocious alligator. “Do we have an understanding?”. Alika gulped and in a very small voice said “y-y-yes sir as you wish” and quickly took the basket out of Gadrens sight.
Alika was confused as to why Gaedren would call the baby a thing. It was clearly an infant. Sure he had eyes that were slightly off, and these irregular bumps on his head, but a child nonetheless. “You are not a thing, you are a him. Now what do we call you? hmmm lets see….Henric was my fathers name and he was a great man and warrior” her face became sullen and tears began to form “before he left never to return” sniffling, “then mommy died of illness”. Alika took a moment to collect herself and when she looked down at the smiling baby she couldn’t help but smile herself “Yes, Henric will suit you quite well. Papa always could make me smile.”
As the years went by Alika raised Henric as her own and it was wonderful until Henric turned three. That was when Gaedren took over his teaching and training him to become a thief and a pickpocket as well as Gaedren’s subservient minion. Henric learned quickly because failure was accompanied by beatings and more than the usual chastising and belittling. After a few years Henric was out-earning all the other children; even the older ones. Though she never spoke out against Gaedren, he could see that his mother was saddened instead of proud of his success. Henric did not understand and when he talked to his mother she always would say things like everything was fine and of course she was proud of him and she loved him dearly.
This seemed ok for a while but as time passed he thought more and more something was wrong. He could see it in her eyes when he returned with coin in hand. Henric confronted Alika once again and she finally broke down and told him everything. She told him about her, about Gaedren, and how what they do is wrong. This was not some game and it was not him against the world. She told him all she knew about where he came from. The truth was too much for him to handle. He ran and did not return for days till another of the children found him. The boy named Zip explained that Gaedren was furious and that he had been quite rough with Alika.
Upon Henric’s return he received the worst beating he had ever endured at Gaedren Lamms hand. He already knew that Lamm had worked the answers out of Alika. Henric’s body was so ravaged he could not move. Each breath left him spinning and he fought to stay conscious. He was powerless when Gaedren kicked the weeping body of his mother into the alligator pit. He could do nothing but burn his mother’s screams into his memory. It took weeks for the young boy to heal. Henric spent the following months locked up. He received daily visits from Gaedren who claimed he was helping him remember who was in charge.
Eventually the old man’s greed outweighed his anger and Henric he was agian allowed out on the streets he loved so much. He needed to be on the streets. It was the only thing he had left that gave him any joy. Time and time again the young tiefling tried to thinks of ways to be free of Lamm’s clutches but he was convinced he would be found. Worse, Lamm always said he had evidence to give to order of the Nail. It was then something happened that hadn’t happen to Henric in a long time. Not since he was a boy in training. He was caught with his hand on another’s purse.
This tall man in long robes held Henric’s wrist tightly, so he pulled out his dirk and sliced at the mans fingers. The shock more than the pain made the man release his grip and Henric ran. It was only a few seconds before he could no longer move. He struggled with all his strength but his muscles would not respond. He could hear the man slowly walking towards him. “You got balls kid. I’ll give you that, but you picked the wrong mark today.” He retrieved his purse from Henric’s grasp. “What to do? Give you to the guard? Or how about the Order of the Nail? No, I think you’ll come with me and work this off. Unless you would prefer one of your other options? From your silence I will take as a no." The man mumbled some words under his breath. The last being “FOLLOW.” Henric felt a tingle course through his body that he didn’t understand. The man then crouched and looked him in the eye. “My name is Valdish of the Temple of Desna and you will be my bondservant. You will probably hate me at first, but one day you will realize I just saved your life and you thank me for this.” Valdish turned and started to walk away. Even though he did not want to, Henric followed.
Life at the temple was hard but Henric soon realized chores and studies were much better than living under Gadrean Lamm. As the years passed, Henric always completed more chores than required. Despite that, he was always in the same classrooms as the other boys his age. Unfortunately he never seemed to fit in. Henric had some friends but none that were terribly close. As a result, he was always in the library studying with in his free time.
Valdish came to speak with Henric one day. “Sit down son we need to talk”. Nodding enthusiastically, Henric lowered his book and met his mentor’s eyes. “yes sir” he responded. With a smile, Valdish proceeded to settle down next to his young friend. “The other students tell me you spend an exorbitant amount of time in the library studying, but your instructors inform me you are not ready to move forward in the clergy of Densa. Would you like to tell me what you have been reading because it is certainly not the works of Desna” Valdish gazed at Henric without anger but curiosity in his eyes. “Don’t be afraid boy, I am not angry. Densa believes we all have are own choices to make. You have grown in your time here and I believe you are ready to choose your own destiny.” Henric lowered his eyes to the floor “I-I found this book in the library” Valdish looked concerned “What book is that?” Henric looked up “That’s the thing. I’m not sure. I have done nothing but look at it for months. I cannot read the language it is in, but it shows physical techniques that… I dunno, speak to me on a different level. It’s tough to explain.” Valdish looked surprised. “Hm…I had thought I knew of every book in the library but over the decades the temple has had many visitors. Who knows who left it, but if you feel this book is your true calling you should explore it. Bring the book to me and we’ll see if we can help you understand the language in time.” Amazed, "You would really do that for me?” Henric asked. Valdish simply smiled and said “Of course I will. I knew from the day we met you that you were different. Now, back to your studies. It sounds like you have a lot of work to do.” And with that, Henric lost himself in the mysterious tome once more.