Shades of Black
Human, Arcanist, from a desert world, his life had had it's issues, but he is a survivor.
I have just been recruited to work on the Bioship Tranquility, a Firefly class by Captain Antonio Ramirez, and his wife and first officer Annika Ramirez. It is a job, and a chance to get off this rock, this planet holds nothing for me. The deserts of Palamad have always been my home, but there is nothing to hold me here, the capital Theraqui proved to be a great disappointment, I was unable to find anyone that wielded magic the way I could.
I have learned what I can from the limited knowledge of those so called master at the magic user academy, they fail to understand that I am understanding magic on a level they cannot even comprehend.
My first teacher knew better, but alas our ways have separated so that we may pursue our learning separately, perhaps someday when I have become the master of this art, I will return, and we can share knowledge. For now I have learned what he could teach, and although I must confess it will take years of practice to match his skills, perhaps it is best if we pursue our magical research separately.
Despite what those so called “Masters”, at the college may think, they do not understand magic, or rather they only understand magic on the surface, they lack the vision to see beyond the surface and see to the very core of magical powers. Their powers may be impressive to the sheep who follow their teachings, but I see past, the glitz and their powers are weak. Only by seeing past the shell, and digging into the core of magic does true unstoppable power come? I wield the magic of the gods, and they wield the magic of men.
My earliest memories, although faded by youth, and many years, are of wagons, that were like houses on wheels, I remember sleeping under them in the shade they provided in the heat of the day, and that there was a stone basin as wide as two men are tall across that held water, all the water you could ever want, enough that as children we would throw mugs of it at each other. I cannot remember a single face or name from this time, not even the face of my mother, although I am sure I did have one, so I must have been taken really young.
I don’t remember what happened to my family and those they were with, I remember being hauled away in the dark of night, when the moon was hidden, and seeing the ugly orange glow of fires, as I was hauled away, I know that no good happened that night, but the details elude me to this day.
For many years, I was kept pretty much a prisoner or a group of bandits; they did the normal robbery of travelers, kidnappings, paid killings, extorted protection money, and dabbled in drug trading, prostitution and slavery. They were not above pretty much any kind of depravity if money was to be made by it.
The orphan, and stolen children were largely left to fend for themselves to survive, sometime you could do some work for a scrap of food like washing dishes, gathering firewood, collecting water, etc. Other times you stole, or worst to survive, I recall strangling a girl for a blanket I think her name was “Sign” or something that sounded similar, it sounds strange, but that kind of brutality was actually encouraged. Not right away, but years later, when I should have started to take an interest in girls like the other boys, I could not look a girl in the face with desire, without seeing that girl’s face staring back at me as she gasp for breath, and her eyes glazed over. Needless to say, I never developed an attachment to the fairer sex; perhaps it is the universe punishing me for my transgressions, perhaps it is my own guilt. Simply put, I have no romantic or lustful thoughts about women (or men for that matter), I do not shy away from them, but have no interest beyond normal companionship/friendship.
As I got older they tried to teach me one of the trades, I was pretty much a disappointment, I was not very stealthy, my weapon skills pretty much matched a blind 2 legged camel, I had no knack at picking pockets, and even failed at prostitution (less said about that the better)!
Eventually they had me working growing the drug crops, the dam stuff grew like weeds, just add water, and they found that I actually had a bit of skill making the plants grow well. Worked good for me, as it kept me away from the others (who picked on me), gave me lots of time alone to think. One day quite out of the blue I had an inspiration, I had of course seen magic performed, but never had any training, but figured I had nothing better to do, and certainly did not want to go back to the camp to have someone find a job for me to do, so I started to attempt to cast spells. I was quite shocked when I actually had a spell work, suddenly my skin shimmered and blurred, and I felt what now I know is the magic flowing thru me.Time passed, I kept my magic to myself, as I knew if I was found out, they would want me to use it to ends that I would rather not be a part of. Now don’t get me wrong, I was no saint, I had killed a few people in my time, and had not thought much about it, I had retained some property that strictly speaking belongs to someone else, I have cultivated plants that are banned by authorities, and for that matter you shouldn’t use, it just screws with your head, stay off the junk.
But at the ideological age of about 12*, I had thought that this magic, truly a gift from the creators of the universe, was special, and I shouldn’t be using it to torture people, kidnap people, or whatever the demented minds of the bandit leaders would think on.
- As no one really seemed to care for me, and keep track of such things as birthdays, I really had no idea when I was born, other than tracing back based on my apparent age, I always had the feeling that I was born on a day it was raining, don’t know why, it only rains a handful of days a year, so the likely hood of being born on a day it was raining would be like one in a hundred, but despite that logic, I seem to have some memory that I was born when it was raining
At that time I was standing on my own, and had started to regret the hurt I had done to other children, and perhaps was realizing that I did not want to continue to live, off of the lives of other people, and depravity that was my life.
One day while pretending to care for the crops, I saw an old man looking at me from a ridge some distance away, he was a stranger, and strangers that discovered our encampments well, let’s just say they did not leave, but he seemed to be looking at me, and to tell you the truth it made me a little uncomfortable. He made a jester, and next thing I knew I was feeling magic, he was doing something to me, it was like he was looking into me, not reading my mind but looking inside of me, well let’s just say it was a weird feeling. Then, as I looked at him, he suddenly vanished; now I had seen invisibly before, so knew that he was a spell caster, and that he had definitely seen the fields, but I was not stupid enough to report what I had seen, and that he had gotten cleanly away, so I just kept quiet. Letting someone get away is not something they would let you live with . . .
A few nights later, I felt a hand clap over my mouth, and a wizened voice said, “Come with me if you want to live”, suddenly I felt magic surge in my body, and I had the ability to fly, well, my take off was not a thing of wonder, but I flew after the old man, I had from time to time thought about ending it all, but at the time I was not feeling suicidal, so I wanted to live. As we flew away into the darkness, I heard sounds of combat, behind us, I found out later, that the army had been called in by local authorities, that had been tipped off by that old man, who had sensed me using magic, and had seen something in my beyond what I was, and decided that I would be his apprentice. Although he never said, I think that he wanted to not have going back as an option, mind you he did not care for bandits, and robbers either, actually if he knew a fraction of what the gang did, he would have opened a gate to the lowest planes beyond the pale, and had the entire camp devoured by demons, as it was they were killed every man, woman, and most children. Some of the younger children (8 or less), where captured and sold into other families.
I found out later that that old man was named Wodin, and that he had been living in isolation, basically haven given up on the world for the last 20 years +/-, but that when he saw the type of magic I was generating, he decided to give one more effort towards the world and take me in. Type of magic, at the time I had no idea what he was talking about as type of magic, when I went off and tried to gain more knowledge from the mages schools, I understood what he was talking about, my type of magic was far beyond the pale magic possessed my these lesser mages, I may not have the experience and mastery yet, but their magic seems to only scratch along the surface of what comes from my core.
The next 5 years were among the happiest I remember, not that my new master was not demanding, but I was well taken care of, I found friendship, and one who had understanding and patience for one who was frustrated and angry. In time, I even learned to sleep with my eyes closed, and now perhaps I even sleep a little too soundly.
My days were a combination of study and practice, some exercises were very frustrating, such as levitation of water that was not in a vessel, other much simpler. Like many things I excelled in some areas and struggled in others.
We lived in a cave carved out of solid rock in the desert; in the wall of the cave was a magical spring that provided a small amount of water that was sufficient for our needs, and to water the garden that provided much of our nourishment. We occasionally traded with nomad tribes, for both items we required, and food such as goats and chickens, we provided healing, herbs and magical enchantments.
There was a safety and tranquility to this time, and although I did a great many things, including carving my two gargoyle companions, it seems strangely unremarkable, perhaps the lack of having to struggle for life, was making me unmotivated. Either way, my master one day mentioned that it was time for us to go our own ways, at first I was shocked, and a little upset that he wanted to basically kick me out, but he provided me with the means to transport myself, and my possession (especially the gargoyle lab that weighed in a quite a few pounds), to the capital.
In the capital I attempted to expand my knowledge by attending some of the schools of magic, but, well my experiences are pretty much summed up at the beginning of my story.
Wodin → Mentor and Arcanist, lives in a stone outcropping in the deserts of Palamad
Andy Bladefist → Bandit Leader (Believed to be dead)
Clegar Windrunner → Leader of desert nomads that regularly traded with Wodin.
Sign? → Girl he strangled for a blanket (dead-dead)
Captain Antonio Ramirez → Ship captain that got me off this rock, and has hired me on.
- Pursue Magical knowledge to better understand and gain skill in his superior form of magic.
- Gain material wealth to allow him to build better and more creations.
- Gain Magical or superior materials that would allow better magical performance.
- Find others that share his version of magic, and learn from or mentor them.
Opinion on Law, Good and Evil
Having been largely raised by bandits, that flaunted the law, Ricklor does not have extensive experience with the law, although he does have an illogical fear of lawmen, for one that is now largely operating within the confines of the law, probably a result of being raised at a bandit camp, but who can understand primal fears or desires.
Ricklor’s belief is that laws, and by the extension, lawmen should protect the weak, and those that are persecuted, or unable to defend themselves. But after living his life mostly away from such forces, as he sees more of civilized society, and the laws and lawmen it employs, the more he feels that laws, are doing almost the exact opposite he thinks they should, persecuting those who can least protect themselves, and standing up for those who have money and power. Thus he is not drawn to word of law, not that he is going to knowingly break laws, but to him the importance of being good, outweighs being lawful.
Ricklor’s belief in goodness, and by inversion his option and evilness, is such that he believes that people should be free to do what they want, as long as that does not impede on the abilities of others to do as they wish.
So a victimless crime, such as prostitution, where both parties are willing, is fine and good, however if the prostitute is forced into providing services, than it evil. Addictions of drugs or other pleasures, is ok if that is what a person wants, provided that while under the influence, he does not cause injury to others, nor resort to crimes to support this habit that they choose to indulge in, that would steal from or injure others.
Perhaps being raised in a desert, where tools and supplies meant the difference between life and death, Ricklor places a higher importance on property crimes (stealing, vandalism, arson, etc). Whereas some may view stealing a just a petty crime, he sees little difference between that and murder. He might even rate theft in some cases as a bigger crime than assult.
Things like murder, assault, robbery, theft, kidnapping etc, although having taken part in as a youth, he even before he left the bandit gang, had realized was wrong, and avoided doing, but that was not really possible in his situation. Such crimes, he feels should be suitably punished to both persuade the doer, and others that may consider such acts to do otherwise.
Despite the death of all the people he knew and grew up with, really the elimination of what he knew as a family in the bandit camp, after the initial shock, he does not disagree with, as he feels they deserved their fates, in fact for the acts he had committed sometimes he feels he should have shared their fate.
Although he does not publically say so, his actions to protect others, weather an android, or a group of farmers may be in some way his attempt to atone for past deeds done. In his heart he holds a debt for past deeds that he hopes to repay, he had dreams of some grand opportunity to sacrifice himself to atone, and insure an afterlife in a better place, but for now, he is just paying interest on that debt with what deeds he can do.
How did he gain such a rare magic power?
Well as amusing as a Radioactive, Undead, draconic, demonic, miniature giant space hamster gargoyle demigod in his family tree would be, the truth is not a whole lot stranger, and is unknown to Ricklor.
About 9 months before his birth, a stranger appeared in the village in the darkest night. He sought out Ricklor’s mother with a compass like device that pointed him to her. Weaving spells of sleep on all those around (including her), he then proceeded to father a child, a child he was sure would lead a happy life in this small village, safe from the horrors he would have to face later in his life. A child that would have never been born, that may change things, perhaps he can change the future. Then between one step and the next he passed thru time and space, to find the next mother.
On the day he was born lightning and strange reflections in the sky accompanied about a half inch or rain (roughly equal to an entire years rain), although strange, it was not associated with his birth any more than any other incident may be.
Journal (Since leaving Palamad)
I don’t know why but I have not felt the need to write about my experiences, or perhaps I have been a little busy since leaving that desert wasteland. I have traveled to several planets, I splashed around, although I did not actually swim in a river on one of the worlds! I have fought several battles, with the normal results of victory, defeat, and simple running away. It all kind of ran together, but finally I have something that I cannot rationalize, so I want to put down, so that I can think and reflect upon it.
I have experienced a strange emotion; I don’t know what it means. We encountered an “Android” some kind of clockwork automation, which despite my study into constructs seems to be beyond anything I have experience with. The sentience level is above anything I have dreamt about! Something about her cold acceptance that she will be hunted for probably the rest of her life, yet her will to survive has touched me.
When she walked away with the preservationists, without so much as a goodbye it hurt, but I suppose it is for the best, they are better able to repair her and keep her safe. Is it friendship, is it love, I don’t know, I know nothing of friendship or love, is there a difference. When does an acquaintance turn into a friend, when does a friendship turn into love?
I am hoping the she is going well, and that she is safe, I feel she deserves a better life that she has been dealt, I actually think of her as a person, which is more respect than I have for my creations that I have lived years with, and made with my own hands, in some ways they are my children. Can you love a creation? Can an android love? I am not sure if what I feel is love, but if she needed help, I would abandon the ship, and sacrifice all I have to get back to her.
Although it has only been a couple of days, already I wonder if I should have stayed, her face drifts into my mind, and I find comfort in seeing a face that is not being strangled.