Curse of the Crimson Throne
Power isn’t the biggest driving force in corruption. It’s not wealth either. Status, power, knowledge? No, no, and no. It’s youth. The fragile young minds that don’t know any better and can be molded and shaped to someone else’s will. Sure, those who are playing the part of corruptor are seeking one of the aforementioned prizes but mostly the person being corrupted simply doesn’t know any better.
That group of corruptible youth was just where Illendrian fit when he was recruited so many moons ago. It started innocently enough at the age of nine in the streets of Old Korvosa where he would peddle hand-made trinkets for coin to help get medicine for his sick mother. He was approached one day by a beautiful raven-haired woman interested in purchasing one of his trinkets. Taking a liking to the young lad – and as he would find out much later, wanting to test him as well – she inquired about procuring his services for a quick task.
Tarya was her name and she had locked herself out of her house and needed someone small enough to fit down the narrow alleyway and through the window to unlock the door. It seemed easy enough for young Illendrian and with the prospect of enough coin for another week’s worth of medicine he didn’t think twice. He was down the alley and opening the door in under a minute.
That’s how it went for a while, selling trinkets while doing small favors for Tarya to make some extra coin. All the while, his head was being filled with lies and deceptions about the world, twisted to Tarya’s will without knowing it. He had unwittingly become her apprentice. By the time he hit his teenage years right and wrong were so distorted and his trust in Tarya so deep that he would do pretty much anything for the her which, of course, led to him even farther down the dark path he was walking.
Tarya crafted him in her shadow – that of one of the famed and feared Red Mantis assassins. He studied her in the arts of subterfuge and fighting. Learned how to disappear into a crowd. To strike without being seen or heard. Illendrian was a quick study and the talent that Tarya glimpsed so long ago was finally reaching fruition.
By this point his father had started to ask questions about where this endless supply of money had come from. Appalled that his father was questioning something that had saved Illendrian’s mother for four plus years, they had a huge fight and Illendrian up and left to fend for himself.
It was Tarya who was there to pick up the pieces. She comforted him, used Illendrian’s emotional state to feed him more lies, and as the final piece to controlling her young prodigy took him into her bed. In that final moment, she knew that Illendrian was hers to control.
Fully confident in her grip over Illendrian, Tarya set out to prove his loyalty to her while also initiating him into the Red Mantis by ordering an execution to become a full member of the assassin’s guild. It wasn’t until they arrived at their destination that Illendrian found out he was being ordered to execute his own father. Fueling the fire of that last fight Tarya urged Illendrian on, imposing her will but this was a line he could not…would not cross. Not his own flesh and blood, the man who had given so much for Illendrian and his mother. “No,” Illendrian spoke, confidently, “I will not do this. We may have our differences but he is still my father.”
When Tarya’s blade bit into Seamus’ back, comprehension dawned on Illendrian and the light broke through the web of darkness he had been enveloped in. “Murderer!,” he whispered as blades began to dance. Student and teacher battled in the cramped apartment, eventually moving out into the alleyway. Steel rang as each battled for the upper hand, waiting for the other to expose even the slightest weakness. In his already emotional state Illendrian erred first, biting on a feint from Tarya and opening up his defenses. Her blade bit into his right bicep, weakening his grip. Unable to properly defend himself, Illendrian knew his end was near but as Tarya raised her blade for the killing blow he was saved in most unusual fashion. A shaggy black dog jumped on Tarya from behind catching her unawares and bit down hard on her sword hand causing her to reel in pain and drop her weapon.
Staring down Illendrian and a growling beast, Tarya didn’t like her odds if only because of her injured hand. “This isn’t over,” she scowled as she vanished into the night. Thanking his newfound friend, Illendrian gathered himself up, sheathed his sabres and quickly fled knowing that the guards would not be long in arriving. The dog followed Illendrian in his search for a safehouse and remained with him until he was fully healed. Parting ways at that juncture Illendrian had a feeling that it wouldn’t be the last time he saw the dog.
Rested, healed, and finally seeing Tarya for her true colors Illendrian turned over a new leaf, using his talents to try to make amends for all the wrong he had done in life. He set out to help the weak, to protect the innocent, and right the many wrongs that went unpunished in Korvosa. He found guidance in the voice of Saranrae, inspiration in the tales and deeds of Blackjack, redemption in secretly supporting his mother since his father’s death for which he still feels responsible, and motivation in the countless wrongs he sees every day and night wandering The Shingles and the Streets of Old Korvosa.
The tired, the weak, the helpless all needed a light in a dark, and now at the tender age of 17 Illendrian has become that light.