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Author Topic: Eliezra Baldwin's File  (Read 307 times)

Fiverine

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Eliezra Baldwin's File
« on: May 21, 2021, 03:59:16 am »
Spoiler
Ostian was an Imperial Archivist before he came to us, and this story is entirely his idea.  He asked me and a few of the others to write down where we came from and how we got here.  Supposedly it would help bring us some "closure" (whatever that means) as well as allow him to compile a written record of our members and movement (which I doubt anybody will ever read).  I don't think my experiences were any better or worse or even any more interesting than anyone else's here, whatever Mylene will tell you.  But Ostian was good to me when I first arrived, so I will humour him. 

I was born in Lyrkos, the third of five children.  My parents owned a textile business there and their only dreams for me were to work in it until I married a man in the same line of work.  It wasn't an unhappy upbringing by any means but I decided a future in rugs and curtains wasn't for me.  In a fit of pique I stole some money from the family safe and ran away from home in my late teens.  My glorious dreams of adventures and wealth came to nothing and a few years later I found myself scraping by working as a barmaid in a Fenwick tavern.  I was barely making enough coin to get by and it seemed I would have to return to my family.  But just as I was mulling over what apologies I could possibly come up with for that reunion, a wonderful opportunity appeared.

An elegant lady by the name of Tylna came to the tavern one night and was quite taken by me.  Accompanying her was a little retinue of attractive young men and women.  Tylna said I was pretty, charming and resourceful and just needed the right opportunity.  She was starting a "classy escort business" in Conch with her friends and offered to take me there to work for her as a courtesan.  Oh, the trip wasn't free, but she assured me I could quickly repay it through my work for her.  She and her friends plied me with drinks and glamorous stories, and I decided I could do this for a while and then return triumphantly to Lyrkos a wealthy young woman.

It seems so foolish now.  I am sure thousands of young men and women through the years have fallen for this trick.  The only completely true part of Tylna's proposition was that we were going to Conch.  But instead of flitting around a mansion entertaining wealthy ladies and gentlemen, I was locked in the hidden backrooms with some other poor wretches.  "The Stalls" as Tylna mocking called it.  Our job was to service the worst of clients that the slums of West Conch could produce.  We were not free to leave unescorted and our pay was pitiful.  If we ever did start to save some money, Tylna just seized it or added interest to our "loan".  Most of the clients were as horrid as you can imagine.  Surprisingly there was a kind man, a battle-scarred brute from the Knots gang.  He had been an adventurer, and for months when he visited he taught all of us in the Stalls some of what he knew.  Skills like how to handle a weapon, how to force a lock, and how to spot booby traps.  I imagine he had some grand plan for us, but unfortunately he was killed in a brawl with some of Diiri's Boys and our training ended.

Tyche, the patron goddess of Conch, intervened in my predicament rather cruelly.  A particularly grotesque client was sent in the Stalls one night.  We drew straws and this time Lady Fortune did not favour me.  A few hours after "entertaining" this vile man, I came down with a fever.  By the next day I was seriously ill.  I don't need to describe the symptoms.  Anyone reading this knows what I look like.  Tylna had me wrapped in old sheets and taken to the temple to see Kardeen.  He was horrified by my condition, but Tylna was even more horrified by the price he put on a cure.  Deciding I wasn't "economically viable" anymore, Tylna hired one of Diiri's thugs to take me away.  He was supposed to mercy kill me, but in his haste to avoid being infected he just clumsily coshed me and ran from the alley he dumped me in. 

In a dark corner of the slums I drifted in and out of consciousness for what I think were days.  A few people walked past but other than gasping in horror none of them offered any response to my whispered pleas.  I knew I was dying, and made peace with that.  The only thing I couldn't let go of was the realisation there were others left behind in the Stalls and that Tylna would keep on adding more.  The man who had made me sick would continue spreading his ghastly pestilence.  This sordid part of Conch was utterly without mercy.  So lacking in that humble virtue in fact that even Tylna's hired murderer had failed to give me release. 

That was what I was thinking about when I heard footsteps.  My clouded vision looked to the sound and saw a pitiful sight.  There was a man dressed only in a loincloth and his exposed skin was covered in a multitude of welts from what must have been a hellish whipping.  His fingers were bent back and broken and he limped upon burned and blistered feet.  His face, though plastered with blood, reminded me of the man from the Knots who had tried to help us in the Stalls.  The crippled man beckoned to me with a crooked finger, and somehow I managed to dredge up just enough strength to crawl to his familiar face as he led me.  He stopped occasionally and smiled at me warmly with his gashed lips while I caught my breath, and beckoned again.  I kept crawling, not even knowing why I bothered when I was surely beyond any recovery.

Finally feeling that I could not even crawl anymore, I looked up to plead for the man to have mercy on me.  Instead I let out a moan of anguish when I realised he was gone.  But I was not alone.  I heard the familiar sounds of footsteps followed by gasps of horror, but this time they were accompanied by many strong arms lifting me from the ground.  I was carried to a ruined but warm building.  Though my eyesight was hazy then, I remember seeing the faces of Ostian and Mylene amongst my saviours.  They had no clerics and no money.  But they knew more basic cures and they treated me with those and did so with remarkable persistence and care.  Though they never spoke of any doubt as I convalesced I could tell they were shocked when some weeks later, I rose to my feet once again and looked at them with clear eyes.   

My strength recovered though of course some other things never have or will.  Within a few more days I was well enough to leave, but I refused to.  I explained that my old family would never take me back as I am now.  They would never forgive me for doing what they would see as shameful work nor could they still love or even stand the sight of what I had become now.  Furthermore I felt I had to do something, however pitifully small, about the appalling things going on in this district. 

Old Mylene smiled when I told them all this, then she told me the truth of their little group here and what their purpose is in West Conch.  My new family would be the Supplicants, she said, and they would take me as I am and welcome my presence.  Mylene said they were fearful of many things here in the slums and for a long time they had waited and prayed for someone like me to come to them.  I didn't know quite what she meant by that. 

As for Tylna... I know what she does, and what she is.  Amongst my other duties here, I will deliver a reckoning to that place.  As I wrote this I felt a deep hunch that perhaps that particular task is what will reveal what Mylene was talking about.  So... I guess you were right, Ostian. 

« Last Edit: May 21, 2021, 04:06:33 am by Fiverine »
"I just can't take no pleasure in killing. There's just some things you gotta do. Don't mean you have to like it."