Adventure in Quelia
Male Human Smuggler
Name: Jon Dirchs Age: 41
Wife: Ysana Dirchs Age: 39
Daughter: Lillian Dirchs Age: 20
Birth and Loss“Come here pup, don’t be shy. I’d like you to meet someone.” – Jon’s Father
Born and raised in Cetus, Jon was always helping his father around the family general store. That’s where he met Ysana, she was the daughter of a common customer that came through those heavy doors. She’d always hide behind her father’s legs too nervous to show herself. As they grew she would often be seen in the area along with Jon on one of his pre-planned “accidental” meetings. Just as he’d be seen red faced as she’d come to the store herself supposedly running errands.
Jon’s father spoke with booming laughter one evening after she had left, “You can’t honestly think that girl’s family needs this many bags of flour a week. I’m surprised they’re not bankrupt by how often she’s throwing her money at you in here.”
Age: 19 When it came time for Jon to take up managing the store she’d come to visit him personally, at t first coming to give him sympathies for his father’s passing which soon lead to more romantic ventures. They grew closer and closer with each passing day, until eventually they wed.
“I’d never forget those eyes shimmering emerald, so bright and beautiful you’d swear they’d bring light even to this city.” – Jon
Age: 21 After two years of running the store together a second gift came into Jon’s life: Lillian. As she grew, onlookers would remark at how strikingly similar she was to her mother. Jon promised himself he’d do anything to keep what he had now. Ysana was his world, and with the addition of their child that world grew and flourished into something he never had before, but this new found bliss would not last.
A World in Flames
“You need to understand one thing and one thing only. We’re here for the people, but the people need to be here for us.” – Romio Vázquez, grandson of Vázquez Senior
Age: 22 On a particularly slow day Jon was checking stock when he heard the chime of the bell hanging over the entrance. In walked a posh looking gentleman with two guards following in suit. As Jon went to greet the man he simply raised his hand as to silence him before he spoke, “Do not tire me with your standard greeting affair as I can assure you this will be much more than that.” In the seconds that followed the only thing that could be heard were the clopping of this mans heeled boots and the clanging of his jewelry. Jon took note of the colors of his attire, a purple robe with intricate red patterns all around. This man was a Vázquez. The two following behind shared the colors but not nearly as vibrant. They openly wore arms at their side with heavy metal vests that scraped the racks as they wandered about the store. The hairs on Jon’s neck stood on end as the three came to a stop at the counter. It felt like hours passed as they just stood there aimlessly glancing about until the leader of the three snapped his fingers for Jon’s attention. “You’ve no doubt know who you’re talking to right now, I’m presuming.”
“Of course,” Jon said with a surprising rasp to his voice, he didn’t realize how dry his throat had become in the moments that had passed.
“You must be surprised to see a man of my stature coming into this quaint little hole-in-the-wall you have here.” He placed his hand on the counter revealing a set of rings on his fingers. “You see the Vázquez family name is looking to expand their influence with the people, we want to make the city feel safe. Protect them from any other public figures.” As the Vázquez speaks he grinds his hand along the counter creating deep gashes in the wood. “I do hope you understand that such an act of kindness could not be done without public funding.” His mustache curls up over his lips as he gives an unexpectedly friendly smile. Removing his hand from the counter top he brushes off the wood chippings that had gotten caught between his fingers; he then licks his lips before speaking, “All I’m trying to say is,” he begins for the door, “you’ll be hearing from Romio Vázquez very soon.” The bell chimes as they leave.
As the door closed Jon gasped for air losing his balance and falling forward onto the counter. His heart felt as though it were beating out of his chest. Collecting himself he ran to lock the door. He had no idea how he was going to explain any of this to Ysana. Knowing the Vázquez they would bleed them dry for what they had, not to mention having men stationed around the store will affect business. He wiped the sweat off his brow as he contemplated his next move.
Over the next month everything around the store grinded to a halt. The Vázquez severely over estimated how much the store was making. It got to the point that Jon and Ysana were no longer able to afford the goods they needed to sell, and with a child needing to be fed. He needed help. One of the dock hands pointed him towards the Magniers. They offered to strike a deal with him, they would take the Vázquez territory and lessen the taxes on Jon’s store. The only catch was that he would need to pay them off with interest.
“We’ll give you a large loan up front. My recommendation to you? Use it, get your business back on its feet. I’ll be honest with you here Jon. You need to be aware that you’ll be indebted to us. From here on until you pay us off we own you.” – Thomas Magnier
Age: 23 With the Vázquez pushed back to their territory Jon was able to get his store back on a stable foothold. Thankful for the Magnier’s help in saving his family and business he humbly put money into paying them back.
“They’re coming now, we have to leave. Grab as much as you can and meet me out back. If the fighting spills out into our home we’re not going to be here to watch.” – Jon
Beginning a Life of Crime
“Seems you won’t be able to pay us back with that store of yours in shambles, and now that we’re having to shelter your family. You’ll bet that price ceiling just rose.” – Thomas Magnier
In order to make ends meet after the destruction of his store and home Jon works for the Magniers to pay off the rest of his now climbing debt to them.
“I have friends at the docks, they can help me get what you want. Trust me in this.” – Jon
Jon was surprised by how quickly the Magnier’s took to housing and protecting his family. Even with that in mind Jon was troubled by the fact that he is now owned by this blood line of killers. The Magniers wished to bring in Arms and Produce to the city to fuel their ever going underground war between the other crime families found a good asset in Jon. Although the price, danger, and rarity of these items started to quickly escalate. The Magniers kept demanding arcane weaponry along with their usual produce.
“If you want swords I’m your man, if you want armor I’m your man, hell if you want some fucking spices I’m your man, but this? Even with the Institute of the Arcane being in the city it doesn’t make it any easier to find anyone willing to sell these at a decent price.” – Jon
Age: 25 Soon enough Jon found himself having to go further and further out of his way to get these items and artifacts the Magniers were asking for. Eventually having to hire a small boat and crew to assist in retrieving some of the items himself. Throwing a black armband over his sleeve, he set sail.
The Swordsman in the Making with a Smiling Right Hand
“With my help you can soon be flying your own colors instead of that black stain on your arm.” – The Smiling Man
“I remember the first time I swung a sword; you’d think I’d drop the damned thing before I even got to use it just from the sweat covering my hands. Simply boarding the vessel was a challenge in itself, I’d never done anything like this before in my life you see. Sure I’d had some practice with my father’s cane swatting away thieves and street urchins, but this? The idea of having to take another man’s life made me sick, but nothing was going to stop me from keeping my Ysana and Lillian safe. God, the trembling in my arms as I climbed over the grab rail. The crew I had hired was already subduing the deck hands when the larger of them shouted for me to help deal with the captain of the ship, who was still held up in his quarters. Complying quickly with the order I ran to the door when it suddenly flung open revealing the silver covered mountain that was waiting behind it. The ship’s captain barged from his quarters wearing full plate, tossing aside the two men waiting for me at the door. Stumbling back, I fumbled for my sword; somehow managing to get it in my hands just as he was on top of me. Swinging with all my might I sliced through the air determined to defend myself. As I brought the sword to the man’s breast plate I felt a great recoil in my arm. The sword had shattered all the way down to the hilt leaving the man unscathed. He picked me up by my collar and threw me, I slammed down onto the deck with such force that it expelled the air from my lungs. The world was swirling now as I tried to find my bearings. Looking up I saw the captain again, both fists raised prepared to crush me when suddenly a dagger was in his visor. He crumbled down with a huge thud next to me splintering the wood beneath. A hand was then the only thing in my vision. ‘Come on now, up on your feet.’ Following up the arm my eyes were greeted with the widest grin I’ve seen this side of Quelia. ‘Damn good sword arm you’ve got there,’ he chuckled, ‘although I’d say trying to break a wall down with a blade wouldn’t exactly be the best thought out of actions.’ As he dusted me off he continued, ‘Who in their right mind wears Plate on a ship anyway, suicidal bastard would of probably drowned if we hadn’t gotten to him first.” – Jon recounting his first meeting with his trusted comrade and friend The Smiling Man.
Learning how to defend himself in the early years of smuggling was a necessity for Jon. The dangers of collecting and selling cargo showed themselves very quickly, and learning from the men he hired was the only sane course of action that could have come from this whole mess. The Smiling Man was a Darfellan mercenary named Akilu that cursed the skin he was in. Wearing a porcelain mask bearing a huge grin with wild colors strewn across its face. Akilu wore this mask to give himself a more human appearance, although it was counterproductive due to its disturbing features.
“Who do you think instigated them into coming back to Magnier territory? I can guarantee you it wasn’t no Kemerink. The Magnier’s knew what they could have if they just gave you a push in the right direction. When you came to them they took what they knew they could get. Plus I hear the bar that took the place of your home is owned by ‘em. Ain’t that bad of a place though, all things considered.” – The Smiling Man
Age: 31 Akilu overheard a drunk group of Magnier thugs telling the tale of how they had a hand in the creation of the Tipsy Whale. Gloating at how badly the Vázquez lost the battle and the extra pay they got for burning down the general store in the midst of the fighting. Upon hearing this he quickly relayed the information to Jon, who at this point, was now his employer and friend.
“You know what’s funny. In a way the biggest mistake they made was giving me more freedom than the Vázquez ever did. No, I’m not letting them stand after this. I’ll tear them down harder than they tore me. I’ll bring their families to ashes, not in a roaring fire, but in a crumbling ember.” – JonJon, having made a small name for himself in the years since he first set out, used his new connections to further his influence, and right the wrongs that had happened to his family, no matter the cost. His plan was simple: Grow.
An Unfortunate Walk
“I awoke to a rustle to the side of the bed. He was simply sitting there staring out our window. The only part of him I could see was his upper back. The scars from his work, the runic symbols that ran along his spine and the curvature of his body. He’s not himself anymore.” – Ysana
Age: 41 Jon turned around to see her sitting there, tears welling in her eyes. “Hush now love,” he said, “go back to sleep.” he stood away from the bed throwing on his coat as he walked for the door. “I’ll be going for a quick walk, I need some time to-.”
“You realize you don’t have to deal with this by yourself?” Ysana interrupted him, “I’m here for you through all of this.”
Never once did she see his face that night, for if she had she would see the regret that he held for abandoning their bed for yet another night.
That was the last time she’d lay her eyes on him again.
Ashes to Ashes“I know I haven’t been the greatest man to all of you, and I know that in your eyes I’ve become just as dreadful as those who have broken me this night… I’ve made you commit acts that you would have otherwise never even thought yourselves capable of. Because of my actions to this city and its people what you all truly think of me now… I ask this not as your colleague, nor your captain, nor your friend. I ask this as a father trying desperately to save his home.” – Jon addressing his crew
Jon stood as the ship rolled into the harbor. He was expecting a shipment of arcane bombs that he was planning on handing to the Kemerinks to use against the other families. His crusade against them so far being largely successful. The casualties from his actions were sky rocketing with some civilians in their midst. As long as the destruction was focused onto one of the three devils he was so determined to destroy it didn’t matter to him who got caught in the crossfire. Jon muttered to himself, “It doesn’t matter what I give them. As long as they use it to kill each other.” The Darfellan standing near to him moved forward to tie the ship to the dock, and as Jon watched under torchlight he heard the sound of brisk feet.
“Jon! Jon!” One of the newer crew Jon had hired came to a stop sucking air barely able to speak, “Akilu sent me, your house is on fire!” He need say no more. Jon had broken out into a sprint out of the dock back to his home. How long have I been gone? It couldn’t have been more than a half hour. How did they get passed me? Thought after thought raced through his head until the most frightening one came to the front of his mind: Lillian and Ysana. He quickened his pace.
When he rounded the corner to his street he saw it. His home engulfed in a raging fire. Moving forward he looked around unable to find his family in the crowd that had formed outside attempting to expunge the flames. Suddenly hearing the cries of his wife inside he pushed past the faceless masses and dived into the danger in a desperate attempt to save the love of his life. Finding her collapsed on the ground with her hands covering her face. “Ysana!” he picked her up and asks, “Where’s Lillian!?”
“They took her.” The color drained from Jon’s face as he carried her outside. Just as he laid his wife on the cobble street the building released a final roar and came down on top of itself. A hard tug to the collar of his jacket brought him tumbling on his back pushing the air from his lungs. Opening his eyes the first thing to greet him was a hand. Following up the arm he saw the widest grin this side of Quelia. “Sorry about the fall. Your back was smoldering.” Jon took his hand and Akilu pulled him to his feet. “I knew you’d make it here in time; I sent a man to get you as I rushed for a doctor. I tried to get inside but as you know I don’t exactly take kindly to flames being that. Well…” he points to himself.
Jon heard Ysana begin to sob, “I tried to fight them off, but they just came in so quickly. I used the blade under my pillow to stab at the one nearest to me and, and.” She began to wale, “Oh god Jon my eyes! My eyes! Jon I’m so sorry!”
Running Away From Home
“You honestly expect to join this so called beast slayer? Of course you want to protect your girl, of course, but please, at least think this through.” – The Smiling Man
They stood in silence at the docks some time later, the sun had begun to rise and the sky was in twilight. “They took her sight.” Jon said staring out at the ships going every which way about the harbor. “They took our Lillian as well… Dammit I know it’s a lot to ask, but please. I need you to do this for me.” Akilu’s porcelain face looked over to Jon in a silent mocking. “Goddammit! You seemed ready to do it when I addressed the crew,” Jon lunged forward grabbing the gigantic whale man that stood before him. “They’re ready to do this but you’re the only one whose answer matters to me at this point! You’re the only friend I’ve left in this godforsaken world.” Jon brought his face to his, “I need you Akilu. PLEASE!”
“Alright.” Akilu said breaking the silence. “I’ll take over your operation here. I’ll keep her safe.” Jon released his grip stepping back a few feet.
“Thank you. I know this isn’t a small thing to ask.”
“I want you to understand I’m not just doing this because I’m your friend. I know what it’s like to lose a child.”
“I know.” Jon said seeing the mask shudder for a moment. “Heard they were last seen at the Institute of the Arcane. I find either the Elf or the ones traveling with him and I go from there. She’s got to be somewhere out there and having people like that beside me will no doubt help my chances of survival and hers.”
“Jon, take this.” Akilu brought his arms behind his head and with a click did something Jon never thought him capable of in his near 16 years of knowing this man. With tears streaming down a scarred face the no longer smiling man spoke, “You’ll need to disguise yourself, no doubt whoever took your girl has people looking for you.”
Taken back by what just happened Jon stood there looking at his friend when he suddenly embraced him. “Thank you Akilu. You’ve done a great service to the Dirchs family this day.” Jon took the mask and began to walk away from the docks.
“Jon wait! What should I tell Ysana when she awakes?”
“Tell her I’m going to bring our little girl home.” Jon brought the mask to his face and with a click from behind his head walked away from the docks.