Sabas Calhoun, Human Assassin, "The Fatal Night"
Your first kill was at nine years old. You were given a pistol and sent to collect money from a down-on-his-luck merchant. The merchant was offended that a small child had been sent. Because they had disrespected him, he refused to pay until the boss came to collect the debt himself. You responded by taking your single-shot pistol and shooting the man dead. The man’s wife and two young children were in the room. They were weeping loudly over his corpse and making far too much noise, so you killed them too. When it was discovered what had been done, they sent you away. There was no way you could stay there, and the boss couldn’t bring himself to kill a child.
They found use in those dead eyes. You became the youngest enforcer in their employ, and your new boss took you under his wing. He showed you where to stab a man to kill him quietly. And then he had you do it. The garrote, the dagger, the poisoned vial- these things became as familiar to you as your own skin. You also learned the subtle art of spying and espionage.
You were always a small boy. This was convenient when it came to eavesdropping on the wealthy elite. You could fit between their walls, removing the insulation and overhearing every word spoken within. By the time you were twelve, you had honed your patience to a razors edge.
You also learned how to fight. Not being particularly strong as a lad, you learned the way of two kukris from an orcish sailor-turned-pirate-turned-privateer-turned rogue. The man could flow like water, and when he killed, his targets rarely even knew he was in the same room with them. But he was also strong, and as you grew, he looked on with distaste at your wiry frame. And so he trained you in the ways of his people- fiercely intense workout regimens and a diet consisting almost entirely of fish and kelp. To this day, you are reminded of that old mariner every time you near the southern sea.
To many it would be a funny thing to consider, but those early years of death and violence were some of the happiest of your life. First as an enforcer, then as a highly sought after assassin; those early years were prosperous and, at times, even enjoyable. It was that enjoyment that would ultimately be your downfall.
As you approached manhood you discovered that simply completing a contract was no longer satisfying. It became about the thrill of the hunt. You would lead your target in to a well laid trap, sometimes premeditated, sometimes off the cuff. To you there was nothing more fulfilling than watching all your carefully arranged pieces snap in to place, your victim left writhing in the center. Only when they had realized their error, horror taking hold in their eyes as they understood their folly, would you end their lives. Outwitting your prey was intoxicating, and you found yourself devising increasingly elaborate plans, taking ever larger risks, all in the pursuit of a more fulfilling hunt.
One day you were too careless. Placed in charge of a three-man team consisting of yourself, your best (and only) friend Khayin, and another whom he had hand selected; your instructions were to collect a stolen artifact, elicit the identities of any accomplices in the theft, and end their lives. You located your target but, in an attempt to stage an elaborate ambush, were led in to a trap yourself. The three of you were taken and tortured horrifically for a number of days. They demanded to know how you discovered who they were, and who else knew of their identities. Eventually the torture stopped, and they informed you that the others had broken, and were now both dead. You were enraged by the loss of your friend, humiliated by your failure, and ashamed by the part your carelessness had played in their demise. The following night you were beaten to within an inch of your life and smuggled out of the city. Though you did not know it at the time, all that you had suffered was as nothing compared to what came next.
The prison ship, “Nasit,” was to be home for the next three years of your life. Docked off the rocky coast of Wahidana Island in Aidtirab Bay, the Nasit is the closest thing to hell on earth. Malnourished and confined in close quarters with over one hundred other inmates, your body grew emaciated and sickly. Piss, shit, and vomit flooded the bilge in which you were kept; and disease and death were constant companions. Sometimes, when the ship became too overpopulated and rations grew thin, violent displays of cannibalism broke out amongst the inmates. It was in these times that your fighting prowess proved most useful, and many an inmate fell to the jagged fragment of planking you used as a shiv.
As the years stretched on all hope fled your soul and you knew it was only a matter of time before either disease or gnashing teeth claimed your life. The question of why you alone were spared plagued you. Why were you put to sea, while the others were granted merciful death? But then great misfortune smiled on you yet again, this time proving your salvation.
The Southern Seas were infamous for their hurricanes. The skies shook and the whole world howled as titanic waves tossed the Nasit about like a child’s toy. You and your fellow inmates were chained firmly within the bilge, and it was in pitch black that you were held, the periodic strike of lightning illuminating your chains, and allowing you to see the hundred foot waves assaulting the prison ship.
A horrible sound rended through the lower deck, a jagged spike escorting waves of inky death. The inmates screamed, panicked, and you were jostled hard against the bulkhead. You could feel warm blood pouring over your right eye, and remember hearing through a distant ringing the terror-stricken screams of your fellows; silenced in a series of sputtering gurgles as the waters rushed ever upwards. A lantern had shattered in the deck above, and you could add seared flesh to the many scents that remind you of that night. Lightning flashed, cruelly giving you glimpses of your encroaching death.
The salty waters were twenty feet away. Fifteen. Seven. Soaking through your tattered leggings. Icy waters engulfing your abdomen. Your neck. Your face. You sucked in one last lungful of air and held your breath for what seemed an eternity. The lightning flashes grew more distant, the muffled struggles of doomed men echoed through murky waters. The ship was tossed yet again, and you recall a resigned groan coming from waterlogged timbers. And then nothing. Death had come, and he was proving to be rather insistent.
You awoke some time later, held afloat in the waters by the very same chains that had previously been your death sentence. Miraculously, the ship had splintered and split, and your chain had wrapped around a rather large piece of flotsam. Your left hand was purple, numb from the elbow down and twisted painfully above and behind your head. Peering through salt crusted eyes, you followed the chain down below the water, where the bloated corpses of inmates were still entwined. You tried to roll onto the timber, but found that you did not have the strength. A smile cracked through bloody lips as you realized that drowning would have been a godsend compared to what was to come. You would have laughed if only you had the energy.
It was some time later that you awoke with a start. You had not even realized that you had fallen asleep, but you had dreamt that one of the corpses had reached up and grabbed you. Panic gripped you as you realized what had actually brushed against you, as dozens of dark shapes flitted through the waters beneath you, floating chunks of flesh and harsh tugs on the chain telling you that sharks had come to collect the bounty offered them.
A surge of adrenalin allowed you to heave yourself onto your impromptu liferaft, your shoulder screaming as it was finally released from its unnatural position. It was only then that you were first presented an opportunity to look around. You had somehow floated out of the bay, and in to open seas. Ocean waters stretched as far as your eyes could see, in all directions save one. A ship floated a hundred or so yards off, and a dinghy picked its way amongst the wreckage. The men aboard had noticed your movements, and were making their way towards you. As they drew close, the grinning face of a half orc came in to focus.
He snorted, nodding at your surroundings.
“Looks like youf seen bettah days. Name’s Brovold. Hang set so ya don’ drownd when we cut’cha loose.”