Aridos is a fierce warrior who employs sorcery with brute force to master his opponents.
From a young age, Aridos wanted to be away from the temple. Though he respected Darian, he found temple life boring. Too many rules, and too much prayer. It never held his interest. So whenever he was allowed, and often when he wasn’t, he would spend his days in the city streets and alley ways. He would play games with other children sometimes, but most of the time he would explore. From that exploration, he came to know the city, and carve out his place in it…
By the time I was old enough to read and write, I was already familiar with the powers that controlled our district. Like most big cities, Kerinsh was controlled by government and their guard on the surface, but outside of the wealthier neighborhoods there are other powers at work. The main power in my part of the city, derisively referred to as “The Lizard Quarter”, was the Whitefist. Across the Kerin River, the natural divider between our district and the more human populated part of the city, the Black Scarf Brotherhood was the major power. And beyond that, in the noble’s district, things are as they appear. The guards are the authority on the streets, and the nobility control the guards. Of course there are several smaller factions vying for their own slice of the pie across the city, but those are the big three. Anything in Kerinsh ultimately goes through one of them.
I spent some time as a member of one of the minor gangs, way back when. We called ourselves the Hammer Clan, and we were pretty harmless, at least in the beginning. The clan started as just a way to get to and from school. A group of us kids looking out for each other in a dangerous town, that’s all we thought we were. You see, bullying and robbery were common enough among the children, the older kids always feeding on the younger. I watched it over and over, so when I came of age and began to take lessons, I knew what to expect. Most of the education in our district took place in a school house the government built about 50 years before I was born. It wasn’t a luxurious building to begin with, and buildings tend to wear fast in the Snake Quarter. In class, with the rest of the first years, I decided that we weren’t going to be victims.
“Strength in numbers,” I told them as we ate our lunch in the small classroom,“it’s a concept as old as Bahamut himself. If we-”
“Yeah, but so is looking out for number one.” A small female answered with a smirk. “If we group up, all we’ll do is make their task of robbing the whole class that much easier. They’ll just get to us all at once, instead of having to track each of us down.”
“No, if we-” I started, but I was cut off, this time by the runt of the class.
“Aridos is right. Only a fool couldn’t see that…” Yes! Support! I was happy, overjoyed even, but why did it have to be the runt?
“You may be right, Lessa.” He looked briefly at the girl, and then let his eye sweep over us all. “Maybe we are just gathering like lamb to the slaughter…but if we don’t change anything, we’re doomed anyway.” His pause seemed to stretch on forever. Heh, how wrong I was about the runt, Uliver. His voice was confident and strong, despite his size, and when he talked, we all listened. “I’m walking with Aridos, if you want to, you can come too.”
When our lessons ended, the entire group of first years walked out together, and not a one of us was bothered. After the first few says, we had second years and even smaller third years asking us if they could join our gang. It seems, without their first year prey-of-choice, the older bullies had to find new prey.
I remember turning to Uliver, who had quickly become my best friend, totally bewildered, and asking him “When did we start a gang?”
“Just now, fearless leader, just now.” I’ll never forget that self satisfied smile of his. It was like he knew all along what was going on. You know, looking back now, maybe he did…but I digress…
As we grew, we came to be known as “the Hammer Clan.” Like most of the smart things we did back then, it was Uliver’s idea. Uliver was always a little small, and a little strange, but he always had a story, and he was well liked. He talked us out of some fights later in life that I still owe him drinks for.
I remember being annoyed at first.
"What’s this nonesense I hear about “the Hammer Clan, Uliver? What have you been up to?”
“Every gang’s gatta have a name, that’s how it’s done, Air.” He answered matter-of-factly, grinning broadly. “Don’t get mad at me, fearless leader, I don’t make the rules.” And I found that I wasn’t mad at him. He had that kind of effect on people.
“So, what? What do we call ourselves?” He always had the answers.
“The Hammer Clan, Air, ‘cause you and me, with the rest of the guys’ help, we’re going to smooth this district out.”
So we had our name, we had our gang, and before long, the people we walked with became our friends. We had a family, and it was growing all the time. It still amazes me how fast it all happened. 3 years after Uliver and I started the Hammer Clan, we had grown into one of the largest guilds in the district. Unlike the others, however; we didn’t make problems. In fact, we made our mark by stamping out the other gangs trying to take advantage of our neighborhood.
The Hammers stood against the rest of the small gangs, and with each new victory they got stronger. The district was quickly falling under Hammer protection, and the gang just kept growing. For every pissed off thug they made into an enemy, there was a victim or two to swell the gang’s size. As you can imagine, this movement didn’t go unnoticed. The Whitefist leadership dismissed the upstart band of do-gooders, they had seen it before, and it never lasted in the past. The kids can only play hero so long before they’re swept away. This time, however, the gang didn’t wither and die. They decided it was time to take action. “Kill their leader.” Yeah, that’ll work. So it was, that Aridos was to be made an example of. The Whitefist sent some of their thugs to deliver a message, and a public one at that…
They came for me on my way home from a meeting at Uliver’s. Normally we meet at the Temple, but Darian closes the doors one night a year so he can…well, I don’t really know what he does, but it is very important to him. So, instead of being surrounded by my brothers, I was alone. Heh, they didn’t know who they were fucking with. There were three of them, and they were at least as big as I was, a couple were a bit bigger. I knew what was going on as soon as I saw the two enfocers at the end of the alley. Ugh, Whitefist thugs, all muscle and armor. Like hitting a brick wall. And there I am unarmed and outnumbered, well…the odds were stacked against me, to say the least. So I did what I do when I find myself in this type of situation…I talked shit.
“Evenin’ gentlemen,” I called out to them, “hell of a night for a walk, hm?” Not a word, just stalking forward, and I could see the outlines of a pretty mean mace.
“Ah, not the talking types? Well that’s cool, I guess we can skip to the part where I kick your asses and go home.” Thankfully, the thugs they sent me had the conversational skill of a baby kobold. I may not have heard the blade clearing it’s sheath behind me if they’d been able to string a few words together. I did hear it though, and just in time too. I dropped low and spun around, opening my mouth and smiling to myself as would-be assassin number one received a face full of dragonfrost. I didn’t have much time to pat myself on the back though. with one assassin on ice, that still left two charging at my now exposed back.
“Hm, I like the ice cube look, it works for you. But, judging by the thunderous stomping behind me…” And that’s about when I was caught in the side with a heavy boot. As an aside, you may have never had the privilege, but let me assure you, a steel boot to the solar plexus will kill any conversation you were having. But I digress…
The kick had me on my side, and if I hadn’t rolled with the momentum, I would’ve been cut neatly in half by Thug 2’s ax. Apparently they can’t speak, but basic teamwork doesn’t escape them. Go figure. I put my back against the alley wall and they fanned out in front of me. Would-be assassin number 3 was thawing too. Normally, hopeless, but don’t count me out just yet…
Now, up to this point, I’ve been sort of…neglecting a semi-major detail about me. Its a little embarrassing, to be honest, or at least I used to think it was. I can kind of, sort of, control and channel draconic magic. All dragonborn have some spark of dragon magic, that’s where we get the breath weapon from…I just happen to have a lot more than most. I used to try and hide it because I felt like it was cheating…we all think stupid shit when we’re young. Eventually I decided it was just another form of mastery. Akin to that of a weapon master. I mention this now because its the only reason I won this fight, and up to that point I never let on that I had any kind of special power. But when the cards or down, I open the flood gates and let that energy flow. And that’s just what I did.
I let loose the torrent of energy welling up inside of me and threw out my arm in a wide arc, spraying liquid fire across the three Whitefist goons as it went. They were caught completely off guard, and I capitalized. Darian always told me to take advantage of an opportunity when its given because it may not come again. I brought my hands together in front of me and pushed power between them, holding it there and concentrating. You see, magic is like a child, the more you try to control and confine it, the more it tries to get out. So the longer you can channel energy into an attack, the more potent the attack will be. It took me a while to figure that one out, but it sure does come in handy. So I watched as they patted out the liquid fire, and smiled to myself as I pooled magic between my hands.
“Boss didn’t mention I could do that, did he? Well, that wasn’t very polite. Send a guy to kill a teenager and don’t both to mention he’s a god damned mage. I’d be pretty peeved, where I you.” I couldn’t help myself…
And they did look peeved. I don’t think it had anything to do with misinformation… No worries, don’t forget the smoldering ball of concentrated magic. I let it build until I couldn’t hold it anymore, then I let it loose. A torrent of ice and snow enveloped them. I shaped it, moving my arms as if to turn a wheel, and the blizzard turned into a whirling tornado of ice. It would rage unchecked for a half an hour or so. Long enough for me to be at home sipping hot chocolate by the time they thawed enough to move.
It was shortly thereafter that I started my training with Darian. He had been a soldier in his youth, and knew more than a little bit about the ways of fighting. He agreed to teach me, but he reminded me constantly that “the weapon you hold is not for taking lives, it is for defending them.” I took those words to heart, and I have always done my best to honor Darian’s way.
As I grew on into adulthood, I spent most of my time training with Darian, or cleaning up the neighborhood with the Hammers. I was discontent with magic being the source of my strength, and I knew I had to become stronger if I wanted to win fights on my own terms. That’s not to say that I ignored training my magic, quite the contrary. I worked on combining Darian’s fighting form with my magic.
[To be completed]