The fraying skin of the world
Challenge 1 What Shivered Your Skin
What Shivered Your Skin
This week in honor of All Hallows Eve we’ll be celebrating by exploring frightening moments from our Character’s pasts. These might be mundane (getting lost in the woods) eerie (spending a night in a haunted house on a dare) or deadly (dire boars attacked the village and your grammy hid you in the eaves of the barn to keep you safe)
The only requirements are that the memory made your character sweat, shiver, quake, cry, nervous creeped out, tense, begoosebumped, and generally scared.
The prize for best entry as decided by the group will be a floating +3 on any die roll throughout our next session.
Keep it Scary and have fun!
Dorfin is fourteen years old the first time he spars without magic pads. The enchanted leather armor is lightweight and resistant to fire, cold, and electrical attacks. The younger students at the academy wear it to prevent accidental injury. The older boys and girls just take their licks.
Dorfin stands in the dusty clearing that serves as a practice arena with a quarterstaff in his hand. There is a small crowd around them: Curious younger boys and girls, a few mustachioed instructors, a handful of villagers who like to watch the action, the academy healer with his bags of salves and potions. It’s midmorning in the early winter. It’s cold, but windless. The air is crisp and dry. A bead of sweat runs down Dorfin’s face from his warmup drills.
Twenty feet away stands his human opponent. He’s fifteen years old, already growing his own mustache, and he’s got three inches of reach on Dorfin. Moki is carelessly twirling his quarterstaff, which is light and heavily scratched and scorched. He’s not paying much attention to Dorfin, just getting his own head into the right mindset. The way they were both trained. Dorfin trembles and tries to clear his mind. The lull before the fight is where the danger lies, the students whisper to each other late at night in their barracks. That’s when you either win or lose the match.
Finally, the quarterstaff master blows a whistle through his fingers and signals them to the center of the clearing. He’s a heavyset dwarf whose preferred weapon is a battleaxe, but who’s been relegated to quarterstaff training by a curious whim of the academy’s leader. The wind is picking up now, cutting a chill through Dorfin’s loose, unpadded wool tunic. Dorfin tries to recall the dwarf’s lessons, but all he can think of is the ice blasts Moki has promised to freeze him with. They stand in the middle, face to face, and the left side of Moki’s mouth lifts in a sneer. Go.
Dorfin levels his quarterstaff at Moki, forgets his fear, and lets loose a fiery blast.
“The scariest thing I’ve ever seen? Huh. That’s kind of a hard—no, wait. Right. Yeah, that’s not hard at all.
“So you know I grew up in my parents’ inn, right? I couldn’t’ve been more’n five or six at the time — yeah, this was a long time ago. And whenever we had guests — which was pretty often, ‘cause there isn’t really anywhere else to go when you’re up by us that’s less than a day away on horseback — I’d hang out in the common room and listen to them talk. Not that I really got much of it when I was that young, even when they’d talk in a language I understood, but it was fun to listen anyway. And most of ‘em either didn’t notice me, or didn’t mind.
“Or once in awhile I’d actually talk with them myself. Soon as I got old enough, I started running errands for people — just little things, like passing messages to my parents or bringing something downstairs. And some of our guests liked kids, or liked having somebody listen to them talk, so they’d call me over and tell stories or let me ask questions or whatever. I always liked that.
“But there was this one guy, back around then. He wasn’t with a group or anything; a little weird, ‘cause usually people don’t take the pass alone, they’re with a caravan or band of adventurers or something, you know? But it’s happened before, so, no big deal. Pretty sure he was a magic-user, ‘cause he didn’t have obvious weapons with him or anything, and he was wearing robes like a lot of wizards like. Uh. You know what I mean. Anyway. So he called me over, and asked me to get him a drink. In a nice kinda way, like he was talking to a friend’s kid or something. I say okay, and go get it from Dad — Dad’s usually running the bar around mealtimes if he’s not performing, ‘cause Mom’s busy in the kitchen.
“So I bring him his drink, and he says he’ll give me a tip, and pulls this little cloth bag out of his pocket. It’s got a stone in it: egg-shaped, smooth, a little too big for my hands back then, and that kinda purpleish-blue that bruises get. Warm to the touch, too, and I don’t think that was just from being in the bag. Kinda like touching the back of somebody’s hand or something.
“I’m looking at it, and about to say thank you, when I hear Dad coming over. Now, Dad doesn’t like walking around when the place is busy, ‘cause of his leg — like I said, he sets up at the bar or a chair near the fireplace if he’s playing, and basically stays there till it quiets down. So I’m kinda surprised, and I look up.
“Dad’s a really friendly kinda guy, you know? That’s how he deals with everybody, even if he doesn’t like somebody he’ll just make fun of them without them noticing, that kinda thing. Works well with Mom; he pulls in the good customers and she kicks out the bad ones. More or less.
“So I look up, and I see Dad, and he’s just . . . cold. That’s the only way I can really describe it. Like he’s all closed up inside except for his eyes, and he’s just staring at me and the stone and that guest, and he’s got both hands on his cane like if he lets go he’s gonna do something with them he doesn’t want to do. Or maybe he really wants to do. And he looks at the guy, and says, ‘Take that, get your bags and go. And if you ever bring anything like that near my
family again, I’ll kill you.’
“. . . and the guy took the stone back, and smiled at me and Dad, and left. Never saw him again, and Dad just told me to tell him or Mom if I saw a guy like that or a stone like that again, and then it was like nothing ever happened.
“That’s the first and only time I’ve ever seen Dad really, truly angry. And I never wanna see it again.”
If everyone remembers, long before Bienzar was recruited for his current campaign, he was the prisoner of a Goblin civilization as a youngling. The trials and tribulations he endured there were beyond recognition. His tasks were always the most gruesome and horrendous than any other prisoners was. He would be shackled to the ground and told to sift through piles of bodies that the goblins had slain for anything of worth.
In the beginning the bloody limbs and entrails caused him to be ill daily. He suffered day in and day out, forced to do the goblins dirty work. All the while he was watched as if he was entertainment; smirks and snickers coming from every goblin within earshot. Although Bienzar was young and weak, he was anything but helpless. He had conceived a plan in order to escape his captors.
As the bodies piled up, he would find different and interesting things. Things like gold, armor, and reagents he would put in one pile, but he would always put things he could use in his pockets. After 8 months, he had been able to smuggle a few scraps of leather, a long piece of wood, and some pieces from a broken axe. In the darkness of his cell he fashioned a long club with jagged axe pieces in it. Because he couldn’t hide his weapon, he knew he had to act fast.
The next morning when a goblin guard entered his cell, Bienzar took the opportunity and bashed him over the head with his club. Bienzar’s eyes widened as he saw his creation shatter over the goblin’s head, leaving only a small scratch on its ear. The goblin looked at the shattered remains of the weapon, then slowly turned his head towards Bienzar. Bienzar’s heart sank as he realized what had happened, and what was about to occur. The goblin reached behind his back and pulled out a cat-o-nine tails. He let it unfurl and said in a quiet whisper “I knew today was going to be a good day”…