Before The Events of This Campaign
My name is Bracken Cobblefoot. I was raised as an orphan, and have never known my birth parents or family, nor have I ever learned of their fate. When I was very young I was taken in by a Tiefling named Layton, but more commonly known by the nickname Plight. He was a rat catcher, a con man, and a bit of a thief. He was also known for taking in orphans and raising them to aid him in his various schemes. Much to my regret, I have no memories before living with Plight and the only siblings that I have ever known were the countless other orphans who Plight had taken in. Plight’s home was a network of burrows beneath a disused graveyard located just outside of Antius. Both by Plight and the orphans who live there this place is known as Shade’s Hill.
While at Shade’s Hill I made few friends and frequently got into fights with the other children. The only creature I befriended was a rat, that Plight had given me to kill, in order to prepare me for a life as a rat catcher. This rat wasn’t like others, he had wavy white lines across his fur and wasn’t aggressive like the city rats I had seen. I named him Nezumi, and successfully kept him hidden while I was at Shade’s Hill. Nezumi was the only soul I trusted there, and the only friend I had until I finally left that place. Plight had little love in his heart for anyone and I was no exception. Beyond that I was also filled with questions that Plight either did not know the answers to, or did not care to share the answers to. Specifically I often asked of my parents and the family I never knew. Plight always responded that they were either dead or had abandoned me, but either way they were of no concern. On occasion, while Plight was well into his cups, he disclosed bits of information that he otherwise held secret. On one such evening he held out a small odd shaped piece of wood and gave me a wry grin.
“Boy, do you know what this is?”
“No “ I responded sheepishly.
“It’s a chess piece, and it’s the only clue I can give you about…” and then he trailed off, his eyes growing heavy. He then passed out in his chair, with the chess piece loosely held in his hand. Eagerly I slipped it from his hand, and hid it. The next day Plight either was too embarrassed to mention that event or had completely forgot that it happened. Either way I never brought it back up to him and have always held that chess piece as the only clue to my origins. Despite his dismissive answers and only a vague clue I have always held onto the hope that my family is alive and well, and possibly even looking for me.
The years went by and my family never came, and while Plight taught me the trades of a rat catcher and a thief I grew dissatisfied with life at Shade’s Hill. I made no friends there and I always felt out of place with the other orphans. They all eagerly learned the skills that Plight taught us and treated him as if they owed him a great debut. Beyond that, I grew to distrust and dislike Plight. I watched him outcast others who were defiant and disrespectful and beat those who he worried would become that way. On one occasion he beat one of the other children to unconsciousness and when I tried to help he threatened to do the same to me. The child remained that way until the following midday, and when he came about he begged for forgiveness to Plight. Then without warning Plight slid his dagger into the boy’s gut and turned the blade. As he pulled the blade out he let out a laugh and turned back to all of us.
“I beat him because he was insubordinate, I killed him because he was a coward, a bastard, and utterly worthless. Remember who you are, none of you are above him.” That evening, on my 13th year at Shade’s HIll, I devised a plan to leave, and to become an independ rat catcher in Antius. In the darkness of the very early morning I slipped out of Shade’s hill. The only things I took with me were the clothes on my back, my pet rat, named Nezumi, and the odd shaped wooden chess piece that I believe to be my only clue to my family.
When I first started living in Antius I offered to work for free at Inns, stables, and really anywhere that I thought would grant me a place to sleep and food to eat. Slowly I gained a reputation as a respectable and resourceful rat catcher, something that greatly angered my former mentor. In fact it angered him so greatly that he has tried to have me killed on more than a few occasions, though he has never attempted to do so openly. Over the years I eventually was able to move from working for room and board to working for pay and I started renting a room located above a brewery, in the Moon Alley District, that was owned and operated by another halfling named Ergot Barleyburrow. Ergot came from a well to do family and encouraged me to seek out more for myself, than just a life as a rat catcher. Ergot was one of the first friends I ever really made and is one of the few people who I really trust. In many ways I think of Ergot as an older brother. At the time of meeting Ergot, I had no surname, something not altogether rare for orphans in Antius. I had only ever been given the name Bracken by Plight, and to this day don’t know the name given to me by my birthparents. Ergot insisted that if I was to ever make a name for himself I would have to start by having a name. So he gave him the name Cobblefoot, explaining that it was due to the fact that I was a halfling who had always lived in cities, my feet had only known cobblestones.
After 10 years had passed since the day I had left Shade’s Hill I began began to grow restless. Largely due to conversations with Ergot he began to realize that if he continued down this path he would end up in a similar position as Plight, with little money, few friends, and filled with spite and anger. Beyond that I would never learn of my family or my heritage. So I began to invest all of my energy and resources in a way to answer both my burning questions, but also to make something of myself. I know that I can’t control my past, and that I may never learn the truth of it, but I will be a master of my future, no matter the cost.
I had heard of a rumor about a titan who was gifted a rock from the lost Lake of Knowledge, the lake that granted Wisdom to the first mortals, thus making the Gods known to them. This Stone of Wisdom is said to know all things, past, present, and future, and will answer any question the holder has. The Titan, fearing that others would try and take the Stone from him out of envy, wrapped himself around the Stone and transformed into a lockbox that had no key. The Stone granted him powers beyond those of most Titans, however his fear of losing those powers has kept him trapped. Some rumors even say that the box is sealed with puzzles, riddles, and all manor of illusions, and that if a mortal can solve them all they will be considered worthy to gain the knowledge of any questions they have.
These rumors have always sounded enticing to me, to know who my family is, where they are, who I really am. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that Relics, Gods, and Titans don’t tend to cross paths with Ratters. That is until three nights ago when a voice came to me in a dream. I found myself in a sewer tunnel, somewhere in South Daverton, one of the sub-boroughs of Antius, I could tell by markings left by the Thieves Guild known to operate in that area. The voice got stronger as I made my way down the sewer, it beckoned for me as I approached a flood gate at the end of the path. Squeezing through the rusted bars I found myself in a room that did not belong. Ebony walls with gilded rose bushes imprinted along them, twisting into each other. On a boulder of uncut marble sat a box, or rather a cube as upon further inspection I realized it had no seam. The voice pleaded for me to take the box, to open it. “Solve the box, open it, and I will give you untold knowledge. I will give you powers beyond imagine, kings and Gods will tremble at your might.” I awoke in a cold sweat, trying to shake off the memory of the nightmare, but as I turned to lie back down, I saw the box, sitting on my nightstand, a whisper creeping into my head, and the urge to open it.
The Year Following the Destruction of Haven
As the explosion went off my stomach sank and my eyes grew wide with the horror I had inflicted on the world. Surely I had managed to kill hundreds if not thousands and all in my one small action. The guilt, the shame, the dishonor, and the sorrow rushed over me like a flooding river breaking its banks. Had I always been this way? What other atrocities had I wrought? Looking down at my hands, the hands that were drenched in the blood of so many, all I could think was how did it come to this? what have I done wrong to allow myself to be responsible for such inhumanity? Who am I now? I have no family of my own and now I have managed to take away so many families, so many people who were whole, how many futures have I stolen? how many dreams have I consumed? How can my path in life going forward, be defined by anything other than this one dark moment? I have become the bringer of tragedy. In that moment I began to feel a darkness threatening to consume me, and as some time passed I came to understand that there may be no hope of escape.
I started to isolate myself. I couldn’t bare to look at other people. Those who looked into my eyes could see that I was the forager of unimaginable horror. They despised and feared me and worst of all, when I saw them I knew that I had the potential to hurt them, the potential to kill them, the potential to rob them of their hopes and familiars. I had no choice, I exiled myself from society. I traveled to Savor where I eventually found the partially buried ruins of small outpost. Like myself it was a hollowed version of its former self, one that few could see a use for, and it seemed a fitting place for me to serve my penance. The place that I would make my home until this world felt I had served an appropriate sentence and took my life.
Time moves slowly now. Few nights pass where I don’t wake in the middle of the night to my own screaming and I am persistently ill, sick with guilt that now has consumed my physical being as well as my mental one. As it was in Shade’s Hill, Nezumi is my only companion and friend, but here there are no other beings, and few other living things at all. I regularly look to my patron for guidance, answers, and strength but, while he provides me with enough to maintain my sanity, his answers are puzzling and they do little to salve my disgraced existence. Now I wait for death.