So, just to keep you in the loop, I’m still working on the sequel to my attempt to differentiate between being an introvert and having social anxiety. Have part II pretty much done, just want to take a breather as constantly thinking about what caused my own anxieties, is surprisingly giving me anxieties! What a crazy random happenstance, right?
Will certainly have it posted at some point this weekend. Fuck, knowing me, there’s a chance I might just post it later on tonight. But tonight, I’m gonna bore ye all by sharing a piece of fiction while I check out Doom Patrol and The Umbrella Academy. Don’t worry, its ok, you can leave.
Oh snap, you’re still here! Wow, you can’t tell but I’m blushing right now. I’ll do you a favour and spare you a selfie. Anyways, here’s a brief setup!
So whenever I dabble in dungeons and dragons, I do a bit of mostly for myself, to try paint a picture of the character and who they’ll be. This character, one Lucien Howls (what a name!) was a cleric/rogue who was a dedicated to money, gold and avarice! Not going to get into too much setup other than there was another player who created a Druid called Rickard who went to jail. We were childhood friends as characters, so as players, we agreed to have my dude involved in his jail-time.
I quite like some of the details in these, so figured if I was gonna share some fiction, may as well start with these sample snippets of my character’s life. Always
dread relish any feedback, so leave a comment if it pleases you.
From the outside, life must have looked so easy for Lucien Howls. As the son of Pragmus Howls, one of the wealthiest nobles in Ansura, Lucien was no stranger to wealth, privilege and a certain amount of notoriety. But nobility tends to award one its own challenges and being the male heir to the Howls fortune, his was a life lived in constant scrutiny. His mother was taken from him before he could remember and to talk of her pained his father greatly. Alongside his sister older Ophelia, they were raised in direct competition to Tane Goldspell, the son of Pragmus’s business partner. To Pragmus, the Goldspells were the sole competition in controlling all the coin that flowed into the bustling merchant city.
As a child, he befriended Rickard, a common boy who tended to their gardens. Lucien learned of plants that could cause blisters and boils. Upon learning this, he would use his pocket money to have Rickard gather what he could and leave it in the husk of a dead tree on the Howls estate. There, Lucien would apply it to his own face or arms in order to distort his features and let him move through the city unmolested and away from his father’s baleful gaze. Out there, his worldview grew larger as he saw how most of the city lived. Each day, he’d give himself a new name as he talked and befriended street urchins and common folk. Once he returned home, Pragmus would never hurt the boy and paid the clerics well to remove the markings.
His private teachers would bear the lashings that Lucien was denied.
As time marched on and his tutor’s will to live waned, Lucien met a man who was like no other. Looking back, Lucien sometimes thinks he was something Other. At 14, while heading back to the dead tree, a figure in the shadows made itself known. Jasper King was tall, gangly and had a smile like a shark amongst its prey. His top hat was roughly two sizes too big as it almost covered his eyes, making them appear as two white dots floating in the darkness. The suit looked a size too small which was an accomplishment in itself as his skin was stretched economically across his body like ancient parchment, almost like if he moved too quickly, the bones may tear through his skin. Lucien didn’t know whether to laugh or scream at his preposterous form, but the decision was made for him. Jasper held out his hand and only said one word….
Not long after his arrival, the tutors were all dismissed and Pragmus said nothing more of it. Anyone who saw Jasper, didn’t. He spent two summers with the Howls and in all that time, no one ever seemed to notice him. Lucien became withdrawn from the world and finally feeling he was ready, Jasper told him of his mother, and of sacrifice.
“Follow” Jasper commanded.
He was lead to a coin his father had locked away in a chest. Every once in a while, he would catch a glimpse of Pragmus holding the coin whilst whispering a solemn prayer and then return it to the chest, with whatever else was in there. In it, was a coin of Waukeen The Coinmaiden, Goddess of commerce, along with a breastplate his mother had worn in many battles.
Winters become summers and Jasper King was all but forgotten. Lucien had since been anointed into the faith of Waukeen. Her priests were seen as a great boon to any business, so one that worked exclusively was a bounty in itself. With his induction complete, he finally had the relationship with his father he so desperately sought, and whatever light of that once innocent child that danced along the city walls died out.
Ophelia approached Lucien in private, asking for help with a business opportunity. Rickard had been making a neat tidy sum and Ophelia thought that with Lucien’s help, they could increase it tenfold. Waukeen and Pragmus had one common trait, neither judged when it came to trade so long as there was profit to be had.
Eventually, Ophelia confides in Lucien. She loves Rickard and Rickard loves her. she wants to wed but fears what their father will do as his quest for coin has strangled all empathy from him. He will never accept his noble daughter being a bastard’s wife, especially when she is a prize jewel herself. But Lucien sees what wasn’t said, the way she cradled her stomach.
“What will you name him?” he asks. She offers a name but Lucien hears naught. All he knows is what her son will deny him.
Now comes the moment that will change things forever.
Lucien thunders home with a fury he didn’t know was in him. He is tormented, running in a blind rage, unsure of what he should do. While trying to root out some internal wisdom, he comes to his senses as he realises where he has stopped to collect himself…
The dead tree.
He thinks about pain, about humiliation… About revenge.
“Shake” the Familiar says.
Days later, he goes to find his sister, to offer empty commiserations. It’s well rehearsed by now, but what he finds robs him of all words. A letter lay beside his dear sister, its envelope now heavy as it soaks in her crimson stains. He reads the letter addressed to him…
As the dead tree burns before him, he throws the letter in to wash himself of the past. His heart turns cold as he becomes embroiled in righting the wrongs he made.
In his pocket, he finds the coin with Waukeen etched onto it and for a brief moment, words along the rim, reveal themselves.
“If money is the root of all evil, then it is our duty to amass it and root evil out.”
“C’mon now Lucien, its just money! Let’s have a bit of fun eh?”
“Just.Money?”…. As the coin danced between his fingers, Lucien Howls thought back to his father’s words.
He is 11 years old now and will learn a secret that will change him forever. Witness to yet another death on the streets of Ansura, a coin from the victim rolled it’s way forward and prodded Lucien’s shoe, demanding his attention, almost like it was calling to him.
He hesitated to pick it up.
His father, Lord Pragmus Howls, did not.
“But father, it’s just money. Shouldn’t it be returned to the victim’s family?”
“Just. Money?” Pragmus’s eyes sharpened and cut right through his son.
“I say there’s no more just reason for anything than the coin. See this, boy?”
Pragmus said as his thumbs hungrily cleansed the coin of the bloody smears, consecrating the gold held firmly in his hand.
“This gold coin has more power than you or I will ever hope to know. A man lay dead merely because someone felt the right to hold it was theirs. So who holds the power my boy, the man, or the coin?” He flicked it towards Lucien who caught it deftly… And quickly became lost in thought.
Over the years, Lucien would share his father’s creed with those he trusts.
“My father had many tenets to share with me about wealth, and it’s with a weary heart I admit I find them hard to dispute. He told me that the sanest man in the world would never kill for love, but the very same man would kill his beloved for the right price.”
“Its just money” they’d say reassuringly.
He’d offer a smirk in agreement but deep down he knew…
Money. Is. Just.
If dabbling in any tabletop RPGs, I can’t recommend doing a bit of personal fiction enough. It really helps get you into a headspace if your keen on the RP (roleplay) side of things! I never get to make PCs often as I’m usually the GM, but I try to do one whenever I can.