Ridiculed since birth by his elven peers for being a “bastard half breed” was hard enough for Toribio Mikarapo. It wasn't his fault his elf father took advantage of one the family’s human servants, then refused to admit to the guilt and shame of the deed. It was better that one human languish than House Eruwadhiel suffer such a scandal. To compound upon this injustice Toribio and his mother where then shunned by all others, even her own family, for fear that associating with them would anger the Eruwadhiel. This led to his extreme hatred of all knife ears, and his distrust of all others.
His mother wasn't built for the hardships she was to endure, dying when Tor was only eleven years old. With no family willing to claim him, it was off to the orphanages for him, specifically “Mrs. Hagitha’s Home for the Homeless Hearts”. It was here he learned that if he wanted anything in life he was going to have to take it. Lying, cheating, and stealing was his new world; he was very good at it too. If he couldn't run his way out of trouble, he could talk his way out.
He hated the city life though, and would often run away to get out and into the country and forests where he could disappear and be alone. The headmistress would always send her two sons, or as all the orphans called them “Cronies”. After all, it wasn't everyday she got a slave she knew would be hers forever. Tor also knew that no one was going to adopt him, so if he wanted his “freedom” he would just have to take it, just like everything else he ever gained in life. The only way he would be free from the headmistress sending her cronies after him would be to kill either her or the Cronies. Or all of them.
Tor was able to procure some poison from the market, telling the vendor “Mistress Hagitha wants some to kill the rats in her room, you can add it her monthly bill.” Never one to turn down extra coin, the vendor thought nothing of it. Toribio knew that if he poisoned Hagitha with a deadly dose right away that he would be caught and found guilty of murder. He needed enough to just make her sick at first. Then slowly increase the amount until it was fatal. Then when her “illness” had her on her deathbed would he make his penultimate escape attempt.
As for the Cronies, if they decided to come after them they would find only their deaths. Very slow and painfully. Toribio laid a series of traps and then led the Cronies into them in the very remote parts of the wild. Places where no one would find them until long after they had bled out. He wanted their deaths extremely agonizing for the four years they tortured him.
Tor’s dream of isolation was short lived however. A group of “bandits” found him after just a few days. After persuading them he was better to them alive instead of a corpse; he had absolutely nothing of monetary value, just his wits and skills. They decided to give him a few trials, if he passed he was one the crew. Fail and he dies. He impressed the group with his efficiency and cold demeanor with which he accomplished his tasks, how hard is it swipe clothes from a clothesline and steal a pie from a window. It was also then that he learned they weren’t really bandits, and they had no intentions of harming him; hence the simplicity of the “trials”.
The crew was a motley assortment of outcasts and unwanted. For the first time in his existence Toribio felt like he had found somewhere he belonged. Tor learned he was a natural with a bow. He was often assigned the task of hunting, since Axenos, the half blind half-Orc leader of the crew, said he could sneak better than death itself. Cazad, an army deserter who was always quick with a joke, taught him how to use an axe as a camp tool, or as a weapon to and where to strike causing the most pain. The gnome twins, “Doohickie” (so named for his love of gadgets) and Herbert, were more like scholastic teachers than the others. They taught Tor all about tinkering, alchemy, how to read maps, and other such things a proper student should learn.
The “banditing” was the best three years of his life. He got along with his crew, and no one beat him or hurled insults at him (besides the usual friendly banter) just for being a half-elf. They group eventually caught word about a heinous half-orc and his group who were committing atrocious deeds throughout the countryside. The group knew they were not responsible for these acts, the worst crimes they committed were petty theft; taking only what they absolutely needed to survive. Toribio decided to investigate and get to the bottom of what was going on.
Tor discover that a local policeman, Lawman, was committing these deeds himself. This troubled Toribio. Why would the man sworn to protect the people from bandits, be the one committing worse deeds than the bandits? After following Lawman around, and breaking into his private quarters when he was off “protecting the good people of the realm from insidious bandits” he learned the truth of what was happening. Lawman wanted a promotion, and to make a name for himself. The only problem with this was that there wasn’t anything going on in his precinct that would garner the attention of the capital. All he had was a pesky group of vagabonds that no one cared if he caught them or not. He needed a real villain. Someone the people would rally against and shower praises upon him for capturing. Lawman decided he would commit the atrocities, but frame Axenos and his crew. After all, who wouldn’t suspect a savage half-orc of such monstrous deeds?
Toribio raced back to the group to tell them what he had learned. Unfortunately, before they could figure out how to respond, the Lawman and his posse captured them. Lawman decided to move faster than he had originally planned because he had caught wind that the capital was dispatching troops to put an end to this half-orc and his gruesome group. Lawman knew that if his plan for glory were to work, he had to get them first. So there sat the five. Bound and gagged, no way to defend themselves physically or verbally.
After whipping the mob into a frenzy against Axenos, Cazad, “Doohickie”, Herbert, and Toribio, no one disagreed that the five should be executed on the spot. They didn’t deserve a trial, and they were too dangerous to risk an escape while awaiting trial. Knowing the truth behind why the only people he ever called friends were being murdered, Toribio swore that he would find a way to make Lawman pay. He would not accept that he and his friends were mere puppets in another man’s vain and greedy objectives. It reminded him too much of his father. Even as the last of the blood and breath drained from his body he swore he would find a way.
Toribio knew he was dead, but why was he aware of his surroundings? Why couldn’t he feel anything though? Everything just seemed to swirl around him, a dark shapeless mist. Then, out of the mist a flame, seeming to shoot straight up around him in a geometric shape he could not make out. Beyond the flame he heard a deep, bellowing voice “Anything you say? You will give anything to have a chance to hurt that man?”
Toribio tied to speak, but couldn’t seem to make his mouth move.
“No need to speak, it would be a wasted effort. You need a mouth to speak. And you? You seem to have lost your body. Oh, there it is! Body growing cold, lifeless and broken. So I ask, how will you give anything, when you have nothing to give?”
Toribio wondered about where he was, who was speaking to him, what was happening to him.
“So many questions you have. As do all who find themselves in the bargaining seat. You will have no answers until you answer my question: What will you give if you have nothing left to give?”
Could it be? Toribio knew he was dead, so this must be the afterlife. He realized he was nothing but a soul and was now bargaining with some devil.
”Finally, you have discovered what you have left to offer. And I am very willing to accept your offer. We just need to finalize a few…minor details.”
I haven’t made an offer for anything, thought soul of Toribio.
“You are correct. But you did swear before…your end…that you would give anything for a chance at revenge, or did I must understand you? I thought not. Since we have already determined that your soul is all you have left, then it is all you have to offer for your chance at vengeance, or am I mistaken? I thought not. NOW, do not interrupt me again!”
“I have the ability to grant you your vengeance, but there are a few items to be discussed before we finalize the deal.
First: I cannot return you to your body. It is broken beyond repair, and would be too weak for the ordeal of soul merging. This is minor, I have a servant whose body will make a more than worthy substitute.
Second: Soul merging is no easy feat. So in addition to the promise of your soul, I need an oath from you that you will do everything you can to help bring low those who have risen above their station and establish a new better order.
Are my terms agreeable, Toribio Mikarapo?”
Tor liked the sound of what he was hearing. Get a new life, have a chance to not only make lawman suffer, but also make his father and his family suffer. There was no way he could say no. I agree to your terms.
“I am pleased we have reached an accord. Sign here.” And with that a leathery parchment appeared, and somehow through his thoughts Toribio signed.
Then for the first time he saw the name of who he was entering into a contract with was.
“Excellent. You will be in your new body shortly. I hope you find it comfortable and to your liking”
And with that the flames went out and everything started swirling and Tor no longer knew what was going on, he felt like he was losing consciousness again. The only thing he was certain of was the mocking laughter he could hear. It sounded like someone laughing at their own joke that only they understood.
Calahaz Ilunga was not one to go looking for, or starting, trouble. He usually only got into trouble when he would use knowledge without fully understand what he thought he knew. In all his long elven years he had only picked up a weapon to study the inscriptions upon them. He preferred to read his books and study about the old ways. How people used to live, and every aspect thereof. Nobody really cared that he was doing this, until the authorities caught wind he had discovered information about other gods that people use to worship. They quickly set out to find a way to put a stop to this. They couldn’t find anything that would hold up in a court. So decided to just watch and wait, hoping to gather enough “evidence” against Cal.
A clever and tricky witch hunter, Jalen, came up with an idea about how to finally get him arrested in such a manner that no one would dare question it. There was an elven cult that the hunters were preparing to raid and abolish. If somehow Cal could be nearby, they could arrest him with the rest of elves. So, a message was sent to Cal enticing him someone who had just a book that Cal must read. The time and location seemed shady to Calahaz, but he knew sometimes the best tomes were kept in odd places.
Three hunters were waiting for him at the meet. They bound, gagged, and covered his head with a sack before he could even protest. Then they thumped him over the head.
The next thing Calahaz saw was the hunter, Jalen, who was there to question him. Cal swore his innocence and refuted all witchcraft charges against him. Jalen knew he had to make something stick, or some cleric would see through the ruse.
After several hours of torture, Calahaz made a fatal error. He thought he was going to be funny, and maybe even upset this upstart hunter some more. “Mitra is going to forsake you and your order because of your crimes against the innocent, but Asmodeus will welcome you with open arms.” Calahaz had no clue who or what an Asmodeus was. It was just same name to him, something he had read in his books. A vague and obscure reference to some ancient ruler. Calahaz had no idea he was referencing the Lord of Hell himself. But Jalen knew the name, and he knew he could now make a heresy charge strong enough to send Calahaz off to Branderscar, to await death.
On his first night in Branderscar, Calahaz had another brilliant idea. ‘Well, if I am going to die for being accused as a devil worshipper,’ he thought to himself, ‘then I might as well do some devil worshipping!’ After thinking about what he wanted to do in his worshipping, since he had no real idea how to worship to anyone or anything, he settled on ‘Devil! You got me into this mess, now you best get me out of it!’ He then drifted off to sleep, while chained to two short humans, and one ungainly tall elf.
He had the strangest dreams and visions while he slept. Odd monsters, some looking like he had read about in his books, and other hellish visions. Then he thought he was waking, he was definitely coming to some degree of consciousness. But he was no longer in his cell. There was no light around at all. Complete and utter darkness. Then all around him, flames erupted from the floor, in the shape of a pentagram. He had seen this symbol before, but could not recall where.
“Calahaz, you find yourself in quite the predicament, do you not? Sentenced to death for worshipping what you did not even know existed?”
‘This must be a devil!’ Cal thought to himself, his excitement about learning something new didn’t even allow the thought about the danger he was in to enter his mind. “A devil? Are you really a devil? Devils really exist?!” he stammers out loud.
“You use my name, you pray to me, then you are shocked to learn I exist? I do indeed exist. I also have the power to remove you from your current quandary, I just need something from you first- you’re most precious possession.
Are my terms agreeable, Calahaz Ilunga?”
‘What could I possibly have that this devil wants? OH! My books, he must mean my books!’ “Certainly devil, you may have my most prized possession!” Poor foolish Calahaz. This devil had no desire or need for some dusty old manuscript. He wanted Calahaz’s body.
“I am pleased we have reached an accord. Sign here.” A sheet that appeared to be some kind of animal’s skin appeared before Calahaz. It wasn’t until after he had signed his name that he saw the other name on the contract.
“Excellent, I will be claiming your body immediately. You may linger here while I use it.”
‘MY WHAT?!’ Before he could complete his protestant thought, the flames died down and all Cal heard was a deep, rumbling, forebodingly mocking laughter.