Growing up a Tiefling in human society is not easy. It's entirely more difficult when you're hidden away, made to believe that the world will despise you as much as the father that blames you for the death of your mother. Guess that means I killed both my parents.
I was a little over 2 when my mother died. I don't remember her myself but on occasion I would find my father drunk to oblivion clutching an image a gnomish conjurer had created for him, of a human woman I can only assume was her.
My father was always cold towards me, never abusive in a physical way, it was more like he was afraid of me, a feeling that was mirrored when I eventually discovered the larger world, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
In his more talkative days, before the ale eventually put him to sleep he would tell me bits of what happened, about bolts of energy and claps of thunder, and he would sob. It was a night like this when I killed him.
He had been drinking as usual and shouting at me about damnation and the evil powers I had. I had ran to my room to get away from the words and eventually heard the room grow silent. I peered into the room to see my father asleep, once again clutching at the image of the woman. I don't know what made me do it but I crept over to get a closer look at the picture.
She was beautiful, long dark hair that matched the black of my own hair and a warm smile that seemed alien to everything I knew. My father woke with a shout and startled me. With a start I felt a wave rush out of me and my father was thrown across the room, crashing into the wall opposite. I rushed to him as he coughed a bubble of blood and his eyes rolled back into his head.
I was barely 10 and an orphan. Looking back I took the name Blacktongue in remembrance of that moment, although it probably fit in other ways too. I know its a long path to redemption but each journey starts with a step and my first steps were to get as far away from there as I could. I was only a child but I had grown up believing I was evil and I knew I would be punished if I stayed there. I had no belongings to speak of and left the house in the robes I owned with just the image of my mother.
Life on the streets was hard and I grew to develop a self loathing matched by the feelings shown to me by the rest of the towns of my childhood. I would stay in each town until I was pushed to the point that my powers were provoked and I was once again forced out of town. Everywhere I went I felt a prejudice go before me, I don't know whether it was due to my tiefling heritage or stories of the tiefling beggar child that was surrounded by a cloud of death. The backwater towns of this world know very little about magic and trusted tieflings even less.
I wandered for a long time, staying where possible in the forests and natural caverns dotted around the area, learning much about the native life away from the streets where I couldn't help to fit in.
Eventually, I wound up on the outskirts of a well populated area and was about to head back into the wilderness when a procession of gaudily painted wagons rolled over the hill behind me towards the town. I put my head down and tried to avoid them but was taken aback to see a Tiefling merchant within the caravan, this was the first tiefling I had seen since my father and I stood open mouthed whilst they rolled past. As his wagon passed me he smiled and flicked a silver piece towards me.
That night as I lay in a cave overlooking the town I twirled the coin over and over in my hands I decided to find the tiefling the next day. As I thought of my past and the questions I had I found that the coin was still spinning although I was no longer touching it. As I paid conscious attention to it, however, it stopped and fell. I jumped up, certain that there must be something outside the normal creatures around, and more than a little scared. Silvery crackles of energy began dancing between my fingertips.
"Well, that's interesting,"
The voice at the opening of the cave startled me and before I knew what was happening the silvery bolts of energy flew from my fingertips towards the Tiefling from the caravans who stood in the opening.
He spun out of the way of the bolts and let out a low chuckle. "You must be the one they're calling 'Asmodeus' Harbinger', I must say that seeing you up close I can understand some of the terror the villagers must feel, but they're a superstitious lot, trust me there's more to this world than they understand. But where are my manners, I'm Skaidos, merchant to the scholars."
Skaidos and I sat for hours as he explained to me about the nature of magic, and whilst it was unusual for magic to flow so powerfully without an implement of focus it was not entirely unheard of. He explained much of the history of our shared race, helping me to understand the fear that humans felt towards us. It was the happiest I ever remember feeling, I had so many questions and Skaidos had many of the answers.
Skaidos came back night after night with packages of food and we would talk of many things, religion, politics and magic, but I knew it would have to end eventually. I wasn't prepared for the offer that came when his merchant group were ready to move onto another town, Skaidos had asked if I wanted to join his caravan. For the first time I could remember I felt I had a home.
I was on the road with Skaidos and the other merchants for many years and life on the road was good, especially the feasts we would have when we came across one of Avandra's wayshrines. I learnt to read and developed a hunger for knowledge. Skaidos had books on many subjects, but the ones on the arcane arts were the best. Through experimenting with my own talents and the knowledge in the books I was able to get a semblance of control over my abilities. It still felt however that there was more power than I dare tap flowing through my veins and it was rare that Skaidos would recieve new books on the arcane, leaving me, on some level, afraid of the power I had, a power that still had a part to play in my misery.
We had arrived in a larger town, but for its mix of races there was still a distrust in Tieflings and it was inevitable that it would result in trouble. It erupted in the market quarter the day before we were due to move on. I had seen a young half-elf steal a bag of coins from one of our customers and shouted after him, but the crowd wary of tieflings were not so quick to believe me, especially when it had been the son of the towns nobleman that had stolen the coins. As I was grabbed in response I instinctively let out a thunderwave that terrified the crowd and started a panic.
My caravan quickly packed and left the market before the town guard arrived but I could feel that the atmosphere had changed between myself and the other merchants. We took to the road and travelled for much of the night as I hid in the back of the wagon I shared with Skaidos. Eventually I was going to have to talk to the rest of the caravan and I thought that the longer I left it the harder it would be, so I crept out of my wagon to find the fire low with just a couple of figures around it.I recognised Skaidos and started in closer, but as I got closer I realised that I was the subject of conversation.
"...he has been largely getting his power under control master."
'Master?' The was no hierarchy of power in the caravan, so I was puzzled. As I crept closer I tripped and drew their attention. As the figures spun to face me I realised only Skaidos was physically there, the other figure was almost ethereal and dissapeared almost instantly. I ran and didn't look back.
I once again took to foraging in the wilderness to survive, although in my more desperate periods I resorted to using the magical energies that had cost me so much to kill enough to feed me. It was not a life I was proud of, I had even left the image of my mother behind in my haste, and I had nothing to tie me to my previous life.
I didn't know what to make of what happened with Skaidos, and to this day I am not sure, but when we had first met he had called me 'Asmodeus' Harbinger'. The more I had learnt of Asmodeus the less I liked the tag, but I was clever enough to play on it whenever I was threatened by the occasional people I would come across. With hindsight this was maybe what got me captured into his court.
I was about to drink from a quiet water hole when I caught a reflection of a figure behind me. As I turned and faced the man who had startled me I saw his bow trained on me and prepared to play the harbinger role, but before I knew what was happening I felt a thud over the back of my head and dropped unconscious.
I woke in a simple cell which became home for some time. Occasionally I would wake to find a heel of stale bread and water placed inside the bars, but I never had contact with anyone until the day of my escape.
I was awoken to find three large men inside my cell. They thrust me to my feet and marched me into a marble tiled room, larger than any I had seen before. At the edge of the room on a raised dias was a man dressed entirely in black with heavy looking ornate amulets and rings. I could see arcane symbols shimmer along his cloak. On his side was chained a large bipedal lizard, unlike anything I had ever seen before. This must be a dragonborn, like in the stories Skaidos told me of the wars between our races. I felt a wave of respect for my ancestors that fought a war against creatures such as this, Avandra willing I would not be so foolish as to try and make an enemy of a creature this size.
"So finally I get to meet the Harbinger. I must say I was expecting more. No matter, you will make a fine addition to my court." The dark cloaked man said in a deep powerful voice.
"What makes you think I won't destroy you like I have destroyed everyone else." I spat back, a little surprised by my own bravado. I had barely noticed them before but a circle of well armed men took a step closer.
"Quite the fiesty one aren't we," the dark cloaked man chuckled. "You seem to over estimate the choice you have here. This is not an offer, this was an appraisal."
"No, you are the one under estimating. I am the chosen harbinger of Asmodeus, I have power you could only dream of." I had to try all I could, I didn't want to be a tool of this man but I knew it would be a dangerous gambit.
All around me the armed men grew closer. "Finally there is some of the fury that I have heard about. I respect you for your strength of mind and not backing down under my rhetoric but I ask you now and make no mistake in your response. Join me or die here and now!"
"I shall never join you my Lord" I spat as the armed men fell upon me and held me bowed before the dark cloaked man. As he rose from his throne and started toward me I thought a quick prayer to Avandra and pushed out a thunderwave.
I felt something snap just beneath my consciousness and my skin felt on fire with raw energy, simultaneously envigorating and terrifying. The men holding me were thrown the entire distance of the room, but more men began pouring from the doors to either side of the black throne. I hurled a magic missile at the dark cloaked man, but he simply deflected the energy through his crossed blades. He looked at me a moment longer a sneer curled on his lips and dissapeared in a burst of smoke.
The dragonborn beside him strained against his shackles, and it seemed serendipity that he could create a diversion and help me escape and Avandra would be pleased that I could free another.
I concentrated and pointed at the shackles, knowing that the slightest miscalculation would leave me with an angry dragonborn to complicate things, but I sensed the fear in the eyes of the captive and realised that this is how I would always be seen.
I loosed the magic missile at the chains and prepared for the inevitable consequences. The dragonborn went into a frenzy of teeth and claw, making enough of a distraction for me to head for the exit.
This was the first time I had deliberately used my power to kill other people and I felt a shame mirrorred by the fear in the eyes of the dragonborn as he pursued me and asked me to take him with me.
I felt a cold numbness pull at me as we left, each conscious thought coming as though from a far off place. I remember little of our escape until we awoke in a cave once more.
I don't think I actively chose to be an adventurer, it was something that was forever in my destiny. I am constantly thrust into situations that require heroic actions. It's all part of my path to redemption, I can't turn my back on those that need someone to protect their liberty. I am just trying to balance the scales for the blood I have on my hands.
I am reluctant to use excessive force but I am realistic enough to realise that some threats are born of evil and it falls on the shoulders of the powerful to protect those that cannot protect themselves.
At the time I never realised there were ceremonies for honouring the dead, and it pains me that I never got to see my mother or fathers tombs, or even know if they have one.
I hate the disrespect I often see towards the final rest, through desecration of graves and the undead scourge of necromancy.
I also fear the power within me, I know that it could manifest much more powerfully than I feel I can control, and it puts everyone around me in danger but I know it is naive to believe that by ignoring the powers I have nothing bad will happen.
I long to learn more about the arcane arts and how I may be able to get a better control over my power. I hope to seek knowledge wherever I can, especially of my tiefling heritage, but also of Asmodeus so I can try to dispel the reputation that precedes me and haunts my past. As much as it confuses me I hope to one day understand Skaidos' actions and emulate his knowledge.