Weight: 192 lbs.
Eyes: Emerald Green
Hair: Obsidian Black
My name is Aarson Venim. Son of Til’vér Venim and Alura Maragin. I’m 27 and live in Sharn with Freya Stormshard; the woman of my dreams, or nightmares depending on the day. Why she has accepted me as her lover I’ll never know, but she also gave me little choice in the matter; not that I could possibly be happier. Though I’m sure her Pseudo dragon, Pip, makes it clear daily that she could do better. Her twin brother Shen’Dai has become a brother of sorts to me as well. A brave and honorable man despite his sometimes misguided sense of ethics. They are my family. Cain and Able, my loyal friends and guard dogs, and Miranda, my Shocker-Lizard also share my home and room. My room is an assortment of collected memories of travels past. My bear fur blanket I got from one of my trips home to visit my father in the Eldeen Reaches lays heavy and warm over my bed; the preserved heads and skulls of defeated enemies adorn my wall surrounded by maps and bits of memories. The other rooms are taken by my friends and traveling companions. Nira, quite possibly the oddest Catfolk I have ever seen, sleeps in the loft above. Larina, the breathtakingly gorgeous Elf who’s dance is as deadly as it is dazzling shares a room with her “son” Tycobi; a Halfling who’s extreme morality would almost be sickening if it weren’t for the entertainment brought on by his questionable intelligence. Viren, a Half-Elf of House Lyrandar stays aboard his airship, not that I blame him mind you. My friends…good people in their own way, but this is the story about me; and I do love a good story.
My mother called me her little miracle; the child that shouldn’t be. My father was an Valenar Elf and my mother Human from the Eldeen Reaches, and I am the unlikely product of an irregular union. What else would you call a Half-Elf born to such parents? Maybe that’s why we lived so far removed from everyone in the Reaches. Our home set in one of the great trees was not what people typically think of when they think of life in the Reaches. It had multiple levels and several of what most consider “civilized amenities,” a far cry from the “mud huts” most of the city folk believed we lived in.
Our life was quiet and peaceful. I think that’s how my father preferred it. He would tell me that beyond the borders of the forest is nothing but war and death; but my mother was always there to show the compassion of people as well. She would tell me that it was the Last War that made him so bitter; that he had fought and seen many die in the name of some far off noble’s ambition. She said that that was why he bore such scars, physically and emotionally. I suppose being witness to such things would make anyone bitter at life. And bitter he was…but never with us. My mother had a soothing touch and melodic laugh that always seemed to warm him; it never failed to do so for me.
I would ask him to tell me about the battles he had been in, but all I ever got in response was a flat stare that could freeze fire; or, at the most, the occasional “Pray you’ll never know the pain of it.” When it became apparent that he wouldn’t tell me anything, I switched to asking him to teach me how to fight. I pestered him about it for months with little success. Maybe it was the trouble I was getting into with the local Shifter groups, maybe my mother finally convinced him; but eventually he acquiesced. He told me that I had an inborn talent for magic, that it runs in our family’s blood. He said that he would teach me to blend that ability with the use of a sword to form a combat style few ever master; the way of the Duskblade.
That was how the next few years of my life were spent. Every day I would train with my father, using shafts of wood fashioned into crude swords, becoming as familiar with them as I was my own arm. Studying under his tutelage the arcane mysteries that were to become as second nature to me in the heat of the fight as breathing. Even amid the seemingly endless lessons I was to learn, there was still work to be done. Hunting and excursions into the deep woods were regular occurrences. I even had time to myself to play or explore, though lack of friends in our little isolated life made the latter more common. One of my favorite past times was to slip out at night, wander the forest or simply climb a tree and admire the stars. It never ceased to amaze me; no matter how big the world was or how powerful I may become, the stars always reminded me how small I really was. So rarely have I ever felt so humble and at peace as when I became lost in the night sky.
It wasn’t uncommon for me to run into a Shifter or two from one of the encampments. Angry, savage, and smelly people; they never missed an opportunity to use claw or tooth on an impressionable youth; but I gave as good as I got. Sometimes even better. And despite our relative isolation, we even made time to visit the more densely populated areas.
My mother always took me with into town; my father rarely went saying he’d had enough of people in his life. The people were friendly enough. Often I heard that I had my father’s emerald eyes, and my mothers obsidian hair. As I grew, I heard people mention how strong I was becoming, some even commented that if they hooked up a harness to me that I could out plow an ox; but I had little interest in farming. My training was my passion, and I knew it was going to take me beyond the trees of my home some day.
I was thirteen when I killed for the first time. Don’t get me wrong, I had put down many an animal while hunting in my day; from squirrels to bears. But to kill something…someone was a foreign thought. The local Shifters and I never really got along to put it mildly. Frankly they hated me and I returned it in kind. But it never progressed beyond harsh words of the occasional fight. My mother and I were on a return trip from town when one of the local Shifters sprang up from the roadside spear in hand and demanded our belongings. My mother had a kind heart and a way with words; but even her attempts to placate the beast went in vein. I barely managed to shove my mother aside as the Shifter surged forward thrusting a spear through the empty space where she had once stood. I managed to catch and break off the spear head with my bare hands, but only to have one of the beasts clawed hands rend my side as another flashed towards my throat. It wasn’t the dagger that I plunged into its side that killed it. I had reached out and taken hold of the creatures face and through sheer instinct felt the surge of energy heave through my arm into the animals body. The electricity locked its muscles and seared the flesh in its face before it dropped into convulsions. I only stood over it and watched as its body spasmed and the blood oozed forth to the dirt underneath before it finally lay still and died.
There I stood, staring at the body I had stolen life from. I had killed before…many times while hunting. But this was something different. I felt terrified, and sick…and alive! Underneath it all I felt a surge of life I had not known before. I had danced the razors edge and come back, and what’s more is I wanted the feeling to continue. I was shaking with the excitement of it. There was a look for horror on my mother’s face and I suppose she took my shaking for fear because she took my hand and hurried me off toward home, leaving the body lie in the road. She explained what had happened to my father; but instead of being mad he merely fixed that flat stare on me. After what seemed like an eternity, he got up and left for bed, patting my shoulder on the way up. I don’t know what was going through his head…but mine was a jumble of emotions.
Life slowly returned to normal, but I never forgot that day. For the next few years life was as it had been, filled with training, hunting, and the endless wanderlust that was taking hold. Then, one winter, my mother took seriously ill. The disease came on suddenly and before long death stole her from us. It was a hard time for us. My father took it the worst though. I grieved for my mother, but he completely shut down. All at once my training stopped, our hunting trips stopped…life just seemed to stop for him. I was fifteen, and I was forced to take care of my father on my own. What was worse was that he drowned his grief in the bottle. But where he found solace in booze, I found mine in my training. I refused to allow myself to slip into obscurity. I sought to test myself; to hone my skills further. I found plenty of opportunities.
Over the next few years I hunted down highwaymen, bandits, even the Shifters who dared to harass me or others weaker than themselves. One by one I would cut them down with the blade my father carried into war, each time becoming more adept in my craft. I spilled blood and shed my own, and what’s more was that I found I was beginning to find an enjoyment to dancing that razors edge between life and death. I couldn’t tell what I was beginning to like more; the struggle for life, the battle, or the blood of my enemies that I was spilling.
As time passed, my father slowly climbed out of his bottle, though not entirely. But at that point I was beyond the need for his help. I was seventeen and had learned to fend for myself, even teaching myself to cook. I got pretty good at it too if I do say so myself. But even so, he was still family and even though we had grown apart in the years since my mother’s passing, he was not willing to let me go; and even as I travel the world now and live elsewhere, there is still that part of me that will always remember and even long for the peace of home and family, even if it is only a small part.
It was just happy coincidence that I came upon her that night. I was taking a walk in the forest, admiring the stars and enjoying my solitude when I heard them. The three Shifters had her surrounded and were beating this poor traveler mercilessly. I was never one to back down from a fight, and Shifters always set my blood on fire anyway. The first fell with little effort to by blade, I was almost sad to see him die. I considered letting the others go to get more help and even their odds, but reflex and instinct spurred me on. The second was just as easily hewn in two, but the third proved more elusive than his fellows. He disappeared into the night and I was left alone with their victim. As I approached, I heard her mumble some incantation and saw the energy envelope her hand, but even before I reached her it faded as she began to slip from consciousness.
I turned her over to see the face of a gorgeous young Half-Elf; hair like fire and eyes like amethysts only heightened her beauty. It wasn’t long before she lost consciousness and I was forced to carry her back to my home. Her bags contained the standard traveling gear; extra cloths, rations, most of the things one would need on a long trek. What I found curious was the two spell component pouches she had; one looking considerably more worn than the other. Then I found her ID papers; Freya Stormshard from Sharn. I had heard of the great city but had never been there myself. Instantly I became even more fascinated as a million questions began to swirl in my head; questions that would have to wait for a more conscious moment of hers. She awoke late the next day, and, despite her injuries insisted on leaving. There was a fire behind Freya’s eyes that told me she meant every word of it. I’m no healer, but even I knew that she was in no condition to go anywhere; I think she knew it too but still she insisted.
“Fine…you’re more than welcome to leave. There’s the door.”
After I set her back in her cot when she collapsed and I managed to stop laughing, I returned her belongings after her “request” for them. Over the next couple days, she told me of the outside world, of the wondrous city of Sharn and of her adventures; I did always say I loved a good story. I saw in this woman my chance to finally leave and start my own life anew. I had grown tired of the sedentary lifestyle and craved something more. My fights in the forest were becoming dull and routine, I needed greater challenges to feel that life again.
With some reluctance, Freya finally accepted my request to travel with her. She claims it was because she owed me as much for saving her life, but I think she was grateful to have someone around who could handle themselves a little better in a fight if not just for the company. A year of traveling together and I saw more that I could have ever imagined. What’s more, my companion slowly began to open up to me. Her life was a tragic tale; a mother and father murdered, an estranged brother, a mentor who tried to strangle her in her sleep. It was humbling to realize that my life had been so quiet. Still, despite all this there were things that I knew she would not share with me; and one look from her told me more than once not to ask. I figured that she would tell me when she was ready.
One day while in a town in Thrane, Freya was accosted by some elderly elf who looked as if death had claimed him decades ago but the body had not understood yet. He took a look at a mark on her arm and began screaming about a curse she brought on their village. We were fortunate enough to slip away in the confusion, but what confused me more than the rantings of some old man who couldn’t get the hint that life no longer wanted him was that in our year of traveling together I had never seen this mark before. What intrigued me even more was how it seemed to move of its own accord across her skin. She had always kept it hidden underneath a wrapping on her arm and I had never given it a second thought until now. I waited for Freya to calm down, which took the bulk of the day, before asking about it.
“Its just a mark I got when my mentor tried to kill me! That’s all!” she nearly shouted at me.
I studied it for a short while more before saying “I think it only adds to your beauty.” Spots of color flooded her cheeks as she looked away from me. She was probably equally likely to slip a dagger blade into my ribs as she was to hug me; I expected the former; but all she did was mumble “Shut up, you big oaf.”
More than once in our travels some poor sap would take a liking to Freya’s looks and place more than a toe out of line with her. More often than not I was happy to let her turn them inside out, either with her words, glare, or her own power. From time to time however, either for my own satisfaction or because she truly was in over her head and either didn’t realize it or refused to admit it, I would step in and be happy to take the poor fellow by the throat and “convince” him that his interests best lay elsewhere. There was a certain satisfaction in seeing her work sometimes, though. She had a certain savagery to her that was belied by her looks. It was a dance that we both became good at. Her draining the life away from our enemies while I carved a path in blood and magic through so many others. Death had become our business, and business was good.
It was Freya’s idea to return to Sharn and look for work. The trip was longer than we had expected due to the breakdown of the lightning rail. As so often seemed to happen with her, we were met just inside the boundaries of Sharn by several figures. I knew Freya had enemies, perhaps that was part of the reason why I went with her always, knowing that just around any corner could be another battle, another chance to dance that razors edge. Strangely enough, I became the target of most of them. That familiar feeling of my blade sinking into soft flesh and my power coursing through the bodies filled me to bursting with life. It was Freya’s scream that rocketed me back into reality. I slew or wounded the rest with a savage ferocity in order to reach my companion only to find her falling to her backside with a shadow in front of her. I could only guess that it was the caster’s work but what it was that could make her panic so I could not see. After the skirmish was finished, I inquired about her reaction. She was silent for a long time before she finally spoke.
Apparently the caster had conjured forth the image of the Changeling that had killed her parents so many years before. “Ill help you find him” and give you his head I thought. She merely laughed it off and said that her brother may well want to be involved in this as well.
“Where is this brother you seem to care so much about? Why isn’t he here helping you?”
Her knife to my throat was a curious sensation. I never once feared for my life, I could have stopped her easily enough, but it was a different reaction than I expected from her. Not that I could have blamed her. Estranged or not, Shen was her brother and family is family. In truth I wouldn’t have blamed her, I understood the ties of family of course. After she removed it, we rolled back onto our backs and continued to stare off into the stars. It was nice to find someone who shared my love of the night sky, and with whom I could share mine.
“You’re awfully cute when your feeling rather angry and murderous, you know?” She refused to heal the black eye she gave me, but the comment had made her smile none the less and I wore it like a badge of honor.
The following day brought grey clouds, rain, and the wonders of Sharn. I had been in cities before with Freya, but never one so large. Towers packed upon towers reached to unfathomable heights into the sky and everywhere I looked was packed to bursting with people. I stared up into the far distant sky, trying to see where the towers ended and nearly fell on my backside for my effort. Several people laughed, including Freya. Was I really that obvious?
“Holy Hells! This place…its…! How many people can you cram into one area?! How can anyone find room to breath in here?! There’s so few trees or air!”
Freya merely smiled at my shock. She seemed to find amusement in watching me stagger around gaping at everything. It was the first time in a very long time that I truly felt like a country kid again. She managed to ease my nerves by taking me to The Broken Anvil for a bowl of hot stew and a large mug of ale. It was there that she explained that we were to meet her brother here; for me the first time ever, for her the first time in years. We didn’t have long to enjoy our food before we were interrupted by a rather obnoxious Dwarf who called himself Bo’Dok.
“Hello to you Freya Stormshard!” He bellowed.
“Friend of yours?” I asked her.
“Does he smell like a friend of mine?”
“Don’t speak about me as if I’m not here!” The Dwarf didn’t seem to have the ability to control the volume of his voice.
He exclaimed that he was sent here to await the arrival of Shen as well and beckoned us to join him. And so it was that three weeks went by with him in our company. Freya seemed to delight in tormenting the poor fool, and I found a certain amusement in participating as well. Our favorite was to speak in Elvish around him. It was never about anything of any import, but it drove Bo’Dok crazy and he amused us to no end with his paranoid rantings about how we were talking about him. The Dwarf sure seemed awfully full of himself, veritably bursting at the seems with confidence in his abilities; though I saw nothing to impress me. It was three very long weeks in which I had time to wonder what Shen would be like. Given Freya’s personality, I expected much the same and tried to wrap my head around how I would deal with two of them. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
By the end of the third week, Freya and I were outside the Broken Anvil enjoying our pipes in the fading evening light when a dagger suddenly split the wood just beside Freya’s head. I reacted without thinking, unsheathing my sword and sending currents of arcane power coursing through my body and down into my blade. But instead of laying waste her would be attacker, Freya flung arms around him in a heavy embrace.
“Wait…you…you’re her brother?!”The smile that split his face was warm and inviting, but there was a definite air of dangerous confidence to him. Had Freya not been there, I likely would have run him through and watched the life drain from his eyes before I had even known who he was. Even knowing who he was…the fact that he had thrown a dagger at her head…I still might have. It was at that point that Bo’Dok came crashing out of the tavern.
“What’s the commotion?! I heard a commotion?!”
“You missed all the fun. If those stubby legs were any slower, we’d be halfway home with the battle done by now,” that made Freya smile more. I always loved seeing her smile.
“Watch yourself you insolent pup!” he growled at me.
“Dung smelling dirt child!” I chided back.
“RESPECT YOUR ELDERS!”
“TAKE A BATH!” That one always got him sputtering.
“If you two are quite finished, we have things to discuss,” Freya scolded and drifted into the tavern. Shen followed chuckling to himself. I followed in after, laughing as well as Bo’Dok brought up the rear mumbling to himself.
Inside, I actually got to know Shen a great deal more. He could not have been a more polar opposite to Freya. The man had a deep sense of honor and morality that, though I can respect, I only find hamstrings you in the long run. None the less, it was clear he knew his way around a sword. I looked forward to our battles together. Freya’s vacant stare came on so suddenly that I thought she may have been struck by some unseen enemy. Worry flooded me, and confusion intertwined with it as Shen seemed to pay no mind to his sisters condition at all.
“Freya… Freya, what’s wrong?”
She snapped back into reality and a wicked grin spread across her face. “I think I found our next job.”