Baptiste Macgregor, Human Thief
You were born in a small river town in southeastern Dale, well into the disputed lands between the humans and dwarves. Your parents were hexadites, worshipers of gods both living and dead. Your mother died of consumption when you were still young. She was a stern woman, and to this day you recall the last time you saw her alive- blood flaked lips speaking tender words to you and your elder brother while you father looked on stoically from the doorway. Sometimes, when glorying in a well executed crime, an image of her admonishing gaze flashes briefly through your skull.
Despite her death you had a fairly happy childhood. Because of their disputed status, your lands were oft patrolled, and as such almost entirely free from raiders and their ilk. You could find ample opportunity to steal off and play, and some of your fondest memories are when you and your friends would run screaming naked into the frigid waters of the river Huseges, carrying with it the spring melt from the mountains to the north. You remember a day when you were perhaps ten or eleven, kissing a girl for the first time. Her name was Maja, and the two of you were in love.
Maja had always been part of your circle of friends, and your affectations for one another drew many an envious glare, especially from your brother’s best friend, Balint. For a few years of your life, everything seemed perfect.
You were not always a thief. After your mother passed, your father raised you and your brother as best he could. He tried to train you both in the way of the blacksmith, and often quoted Kovacs, the now dead god of smithing, in order to guide you on a path of stoicism and self-reliance. Not that you would ever admit it, but those lessons have bolstered you many times over the last few years.
When you were fifteen, Maja was promised to Balint by her parents, in exchange for a hefty dowry from the wealthy family of goat farmers. The two of you were devastated. You continued to see each other for a while, but one night Balint discovered the two of you together, bathed in sweat and gasping for breath. He was enraged, and the two of you fought. The next day you tried to see Maja, but she told you she could not see you again, and to leave her be. When you got home your father beat you, screaming about the sanctity of marriage and the worth of a man’s honor. When he was finished you were bloody because of him and sobbing because of Maja, yet he offered a few soft words and stories of his own infatuation-filled days of youth. By the end of the night you were hurting in many ways, but perhaps not so much as before.
Their wedding was a large affair. You and Balint made peace, but things were very much strained between you and Maja. You thought she still loved you, and knew that you still loved her, and because of that love you maintained a respectful distance from the newlywed couple. When you were sixteen Maja gave birth to a daughter. She named her Mina. For a short while life in your village was good again.
Then the raiders came. In the black of night you were awoken to screams and the smell of smoke. Wearing only your smallclothes you ran outside to help, when you saw armed and armored men clambering along the shoreline of the Huseges. They had already set one house ablaze, and were swiftly working their way inward. As you ran back to your house your father and older brother emerged wielding blacksmith hammers, and with thick leather aprons and gloves worn for protection. When you grabbed a knife and joined them your father would not hear of it.
Realizing that you would only distract them, you ran to Balint and Maja’s house, which was on the outskirts of town, near the shoreline. When you got there your heart sank. Balint was frantically waving a pitchfork, staving off two raiders, and the house was in flames while the screams of a young woman and infant echoed from within. Unbeknownst to Balint, three others had circled around outside his field of vision. Using all the stealth you could muster rushed to the house.
You knifed a raider in the back before he knew you were there, and he was dead before his corpse hit the ground. Hearing the sounds of splintering wood and screams from within, you knew Maja was in trouble. You burst through a window, the flame filled portal nipping your flesh. Tucking into a roll, you bound swiftly to your feet and tackled one of the surprised raiders as he tried to hold Maja down. The two of you grappled for dear life, each trying to plunge their knife into the swiftly beating heart of the other. The other raider was trying to help, but Maja was battling him away from you, fierce as any warrior.
You slowly overcame your opponent, nimbly dropping the knife from your locked arm, catching it with your free hand, and plunging it under his jaw. You were on your feet in an instant, and quickly dispatched the raider with whom Maja was still entangled. You grabbed Mina, and the three of you were outside in a moment. You still recall how cool and sweet the night air felt after being surrounded by the inferno of their home.
Balint was badly wounded, down on one knee, yet fighting like a wild animal. The raiders were laughing at the sport of it, toying with him before finishing the job. Enraged, you whipped the knife through the air and buried it in the thigh of a raider. He stumbled briefly before regaining his footing, but Balint seized the opportunity and thrust forward with the full weight of his body behind the pitchfork, burying it deeply in the raider’s chest. With wild, surprised eyes he fell backward, pulling the farm implement from Balint’s grip.
Balint was exposed. His injured leg pulsing blood and unable to support him, his opponent raised the blade over and behind his shoulder for a killing stroke. Maja screamed and, still running to her husband, threw herself in front of the blade. The swing was clean and powerful, cutting from her right clavicle deep in to her sternum, nearly splitting her in two. The world went black. When it came back, you were kneeling over the pulverized remains of what had once been a human face, a bloody rock in your hand. Maja lay dead beside you, Balint cradling his infant daughter, both he and the child weeping loudly.
With trembling hands you looked down at the woman you loved, her life spilled in an arc ten feet wide. You don’t know how long you and Balint stayed there. It felt like a lifetime. Eventually you made your way back to your home. Your father’s corpse lay face down in the muddy street, his gaping wounds reminding you of the slashes Maja’s mother used to put in her gooseberry pie to allow steam to escape. Days later, when the ruins of your house were cool enough to sift through, you would find the corpse of your brother, charred beyond recognition. You would not have accepted it to be him at all were it not for the badly warped head of his smithing hammer laying nearby.
You remained in your village for the next few days. The raiders had burned down some of the homes and killed many of your friends, but most had pillaged the nearby cemetery; mausoleums being easier to rob than living people. You attended to the funerals for your father and brother, saying what words you could and ensuring they were buried with their hammers; as was the custom for followers of Kovacs. Seventeen villagers had been killed in all, and so the funerals were held en masse. Maja was entombed in a mausoleum, for she had died the wife of a wealthy man. Having nothing left but the clothes on your back and the knife from the night of the raid, you did not wait around after her ceremony. You were miles away from town by the time all the rites were completed.
That first year was a hard one. You were not exactly adept at survival, and your wits only got you so far. After a few weeks of trying to live off the land, you found yourself drawn to the nearby city of Krorykard. Historically a dwarven city, since the advent of steam technology Krorykard has become populated by all manner of races. You had seen dwarves in your childhood, and even an elf once. But within the first day of your arrival you saw halflings, gnomes, dark skinned sandmen, and even an orc slave.
Still, the city was not a welcoming place, and the lessons learned were hard ones. A week’s worth of empty stomachs taught you that food is yours by right, you just have to take it. A heel full of broken ribs taught you that the guards would not abide begging in the wealthier districts. A knobbed skull and mild hypothermia taught you that you need to keep your resting spot a secret, lest others be tempted to take it from you. In the end, you made home next to the warm chimney of a bakery, where three roofs came together and formed a shelter from prying eyes, and the delectable scent of baking bread allowed you to imagine that you weren’t quite so hungry.
By the time your second year came around you were well acquainted with the other roustabouts and rogues. Your quick wit, nimble hands, and flowing tongue made you quite a few friends (and more than a few enemies), and soon you found yourself accepting offers of “employment.”
The physical and mental requirements of cat burglary came naturally to you, and within a few months you could case a place with the best of them. Word got around, and by your third year you were part of the guild, sleeping in fluffier bedding than you ever had as the son of a blacksmith. The guild has been good to you, but they also held you back. A person can’t advance without a void opening up somewhere first, so by necessity you were kept with small time jobs in order to avoid eating in to anyone else’s pockets.
This sat fine with you at first, but after a few years you found yourself chomping at the bit to move up in the world. Life has taught you that if you care for something it will find a way to take it from you. Now, if that is a person, you can’t replace it. But if life takes a thing? Well, there are always more things out there. And you want them all. So one day you decide "fuck life, and fuck the guild,” and set your sights on a bigger score.
Assembling a team of guys you knew from old jobs, as well as an assassin that one of your closest buddies vouched for, you unveil a plan to rob a bank in the same district where you had your ribs kicked in. It takes months of planning, persuading, stealing, and investing, but eventually you guys break in to their safe deposit boxes and pull off one of the biggest heists this city has seen in decades.
Only there’s an issue: some of these boxes didn’t have coins or gems or anything like that. Some of them had documents. Important documents. Of a damning nature, to important people. And as soon as people realized that the bank had been robbed, the whole city went tits up trying to find out how the thieves were. Now one of your associates is dead, another is missing, and the rest of you are on the top of everyone’s list. Worse, you can’t even move all the money you stole for fear of being seen by the wrong person. You need to get out of the city, but fuck all if you know how you’re going to do that with your head still attached to you shoulders.