Three months now. It’s been three whole months since my wife and children left me. What turned out to be a great business opportunity ended up being a nightmare for me and my dreams of acquiring wealth.
Back in Sekunta, I made a drinking companion at the Docks’ tavern who came from Whadi on a merchant ship selling mirrors, window glasses and beautiful ornaments made of glass destined to the city’s rich.
After striking a friendship with Lumir and getting quite drunk with him that evening, he accidently let slip that glass-making ingredients were very cheap to buy if you removed the middle-man from the equation and anyone who’d import the “Whadi gray grains” himself would become a rich man indeed.
Immediately after uttering this he looked up sheepishly towards me, regretful of this careless slip of what seemed a trade secret.
Sensing an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I started buying more and more drinks to Lumir and his companions to ingratiate them towards me. My plan worked marvellously!
After some coaxing, Lumir finally caved in and, out of earshot, explained how someone could, with 500 gold pieces, buy enough Whadi gray grains to make twenty times the investment in one trip! Twenty times! You simply had to buy this mysterious spice there and then rent artisan slaves for a pittance to make whatever you wanted in glass. Prices were so high in Sekunta because the merchant ships made a fortune charging ridiculous prices for them. So the trick was to go there, buy the ingredient, make what you wanted and come back here to sell at half the price the Whadi merchants were selling, eventually running them out of business and getting a monopoly on the trade. After all, Sekuntians would much prefer dealing with one of their own then with strangers from faraway lands.
Poor Lumir came back the next morning, begging me not to tell anyone this secret, as he could get hanged for treason should someone in Whadi find out. I reassured him that his secret was safe with me. Even so, I did not have any contacts in Whadi for this gray grain he was telling me about, that I would have to bribe people there to get permits and the like. I knew immediately that my lure worked, as I saw greed in Lumir’s eyes.
His fear of hanging was soon overcome with his desire for money and he casually mentioned knowing someone in Whadi that would help him forge the proper permits to buy gray grains. Of course, his price for the information was steep, but the rewards awaiting me made it pocket change once I made it rich in the glass trade.
I paid 600 gold pieces for the privilege of Whadi connections, all my savings from my bow-making business and left a grinning Lumir, who called me “Khaffit”, which he says means “dear friend” in Whadian.
Needing money for suppliers and transportation, I sold my business to that weasel-faced Shentry and set off to Whadi with my wife and children.
After a long and hard trip, we’ve finally arrived to Whadi and I set out to find my connection of Whadi gray grains. It turned out that the name provided and the location of my contact did not seem to exist.
After a week of frantic searching and constant nagging by my now pissed-off wife, I resigned myself to the fact I had probably been swindled by Lumir, if that was even his name. No matter, I told my angry wife, no need for connections here, I will use what little remains of our travel funds to bribe an official.
It did not take long to get a corrupt official. The first one I approached in fact, perked up when I casually enquired for a Whadi gray grains permit. He discreetly pocketed my gold and went on a long walk outside the city to show me the gray grains mines, accompanied by two guards.
My life is ruined. Turns out that “Whadi gray grains” is a euphemism for… sand. Yep, glass and mirrors are made with sand, something prevalent in Sekunta already. You should’ve seen that bastard official’s smile when he showed me. I was livid, but unable to extract revenge on him, due to the two guards present. I know now the general meaning of the word “Khaffit”, as the official kept calling me that.
When I came back, my wife had left me, along with the wagons, supplies and my five hundred investment gold. She only left a note about leaving me for Shentry.
The next couple of weeks were miserable. Now destitute and too poor to travel back home, I had to accept any jobs offered to me in order to survive. Within a month I accepted my first thug job for a fellow named Dieb for more coins than usual, so of course I ended up being a member of a gang. My rage repulsed any moral outrage I would have felt in the past. I was so good at dealing out violence that I was soon known as The Merciless, which gave me pride, something I thought I would never get back.
Dieb approached me with a dangerous assassination job inside the Necropolis. I accepted readily, indifferent to the sinister beasts that were reputed to prowl there in the night. It seemed irrelevant to me, since the job would be taking place in the morning.
So early in the morning of the second day of the Necropolis’ admittance of adventurers, Dieb, myself and 8 others (including a kobold of all things) set out in the direction of our ambush location. How Dieb ended up knowing which lot our targets won is a mystery to me. Probably the priests were in on it? No matter, I get to kill successful adventurers and let their corpses rot under the damned sand, which is enough to feed my lust for blood.
The party arrived as anticipated and our trap worked perfectly. My first arrow flew right into their point man’s face and put him out of commission. Dieb successfully entrapped their warrior and proceeded to beat the living snot out of him. Our archers even shot a wizard in the midst of his spellcasting, thus fizzling whatever spell was coming our way. The plan worked marvellously! We were going to kill them all easily… until an eerie whisper came from the underworld: “Desecration!” it whispered in a snarl. The stench of a thousand corpses soon followed this doom prophecy.
The shock it created in me soon gave way to panic, and I ran away as fast as I possibly could without a look backward. I ran and I ran until my heart was about to explode and hid myself into an old ruined building, catching my breath. I could hear nothing but the rush of blood in my ears and my heavy breathing. I could stand it no more and closed my eyes, hoping the darkness would protect me.
I soon heard a low growl near me and before I could react, felt the cold embrace of steel caressing my throat. I slowly, fearfully opened my eyes and saw the huge maw of a war dog, inches from my face.
“Nice morning, isn’t it?” a casual voice said, presumably from the owner of the dagger at my throat.
“Seems to me”, the voice continued nonchalantly, “that you are our new scout today, hmmm?”
The face of a Hafling gradually appeared in my line of sight, smiling. A quick look around showed other hardy Haflings, small but well trained by the way they stood. Other war dogs were there, too. I was terrified, yet resigned to my fate.
“I guess so, Sir”
“You meant Master, right, scout fodder?”
“Good. Now up, Meat bag, time to earn your life back”
I slowly climb to my feet, resigned to my fate. “Master?” I ask, dejectedly.
“Yes, darling?” the leader replies.
“What does ‘Khaffit’ mean?”
“Idiot man, my trusty meat-shield. In fact, that is your new name, yes?”
“Yes, I guess it is… Master”