This time period isn't so bad. There's bodies in trees, monsters everywhere, magic is broken and everything that was once great is a dusty old ruin. All it's missing is literally any reason to live. I'll be at the bar. Those still exist here, right?
Before The Queen's Rebuke
, before the war with the Fae
and of the travesties that followed; Tairos was a much different place. Great kingdoms stood all across the land dedicated to lofty ideals and the prosperity of their people. And, none shined as brightly as Balmoral
. Things are a little different now, and as Bess would put it "they're all dead now and everything absolutely sucks". In the opinion of many, she's not entirely wrong. However; her choices for coping with the catastrophic new reality she's been thrust into have been less than healthy.
Life Among the Locks
The Lock family name is a truly despised one in modern Tairos. The Locks were the founders of the xenophobic nation of Lockland and known to be zealous adherents to a twisted version of Balmoral's code of honor. That history belongs to an evolution of the Locks that Bess would never have known. She, like so many others that are slowly being revealed to the world, is from a time period much earlier in Tairos' history when the Locks were one of many noble families who formed the backbone of Balmoran civilization.
The Locks of her era were wealthy even compared to the affluent families of the day. Their riches came from architectural engineering and construction. Many of the greatest structures in old Balmoral were built by the artisans of House Lock including including some of the most famous fortresses, cathedrals, and castles both in the city and in her colonies. Even today amid the scattered ruins all throughout the Balmoran Plains some of these structures still stand.
Bess' family was large, she herself was the oldest of four sisters and one brother, and much of the Lock's extended family all lived together in the same district on the eastern side of the imperial city. She grew up around the lavish celebrations hosted at the many manses and compounds of the Lock family. It's in this world she learned to become a caretaker for her younger siblings, an eager extrovert, and someone who enjoyed the cuisine of both home and the exotic corners of the empire that made their way to the Lock dining tables.
Food became something of a sanctuary for Bess when she needed a bit of quiet from the otherwise jubilant atmosphere of her family's life. Cooking, baking, gardening, visiting the market, all of these were activities were something the rest of the family preferred to leave to their loyal servants but Bess embraced them. Her name helped her to get access to some of the city's greatest chefs and restaurants to learn from them. And, though we family's wealth certainly played a role in opening up the doors to these opportunities there was no denying she was worthy of her place among these culinary artists. By her late twenties Bess Lock's kitchen talent was highly sought after by many venue owners and private kitchens, all of which paid handsomely for her talents.
A chance contract she took to lead the kitchen staff at the Balmoran College of Magic in preparing a feast for a graduating class of magicians is what led her down the next path her life would take. And, depending on Bess' current mood one she now looks on as terrible, terrible mistake.
Bess Goes to College
Having watched the graduation ceremonies and overheard the exciting plans many of the graduates had for themselves Bess couldn't help but be enamored by the idea of learning magic herself. Much like many of the other tasks that her family often left to servants the learning of magic was something the rest of the Locks generally didn't bother with. They instead relied on their house magicians and commercial casters for their access to the arcane. Bess had been exposed to those kinds of paid magic users all her life but the uses of their power seemed so banal, so perfunctory, that little thought was ever given to them. These graduates were different, they had lofty ambitions like joining the Order of the Golden Lion or traveling the continent doing righteous work, even serving the Grand Concordance of Tairos
in their fight to maintain peace across the land. They were going to make a difference and Bess wanted that for herself too.
The Lock family had made many donations to the Balmoran chapter of the College so getting Bess into the institution wasn't an issue. Life at the College of Magic was a mixture of studious education, lessons in history, and practical study of the arcane arts all layered on top of a rich social life filled with parties and meeting new people from all across the continent. Bess took to all aspects of school life zealously; making friends, engaging in short but exciting romances, and maintaining impeccable grades in her chosen field of Illusion.
Illusion appealed because it was harmless to those targeted by it but just as effective in ending a conflict as a well placed fireball. Her proclivity for social gatherings and artistic creativity made the crafting of illusions and mesmerism particularly potent as well. Two years of study would come and go quickly when the opportunity for learning in the field would present itself.
This expedition would take her and several other trainees from various warrior organization throughout the city to investigate a strange source of energy radiating within the vicinity of an elven farming village east of Melanthris
. This simple field trip exercise would alter Bess' life forever.
The group of fresh adventurers would explore the depths below the elven village of Avelenti and find there a tomb dedicated to warriors from ancient history and a secret, holy, place dedicated to the goddess Tatayne , The Breath of Life
A special tree grew beneath the earth acting like a suture that kept a mystical wound closed. That would was a portal of sorts and their naive investigation took them through that opening and into a very unlikely place... the shattered ruins of Azuraquat
. Here they leapt from fragment to fragment of floating city searching for clues to what this place was and how to escape it. Days would pass, members of their traveling group would vanish or succumb to the dangers here but finally salvation would come in the form of a second group of adventurers
. Unfortunately, those travelers who have grim news to share with Bess and her team. While only days might have passed here in this shattered realm, centuries played out back in Tairos.
The members of the Westbound Star company managed to find a means of escaping this maddening realm and shared little of how they managed the feat with Bess. Little of that mattered to her anyway. When they arrived back in Tairos immediately she felt the agonizing venom of the Leylines
, she learned of the Queen's War
and the Fae
, the disasters that brought low the great nations of the continent, the sins of her ancestors in Lockland, that her home and everyone she loved had been reduced to dust hundreds of years ago. Though she and the other new adventurers traveled with the company she wasn't really there. She was lost in her head; in the deepest despair that left her unable to even summon the strength needed to weep for all that was lost.
A Darker Path
Bess was truly alone now. Everyone she loved was dead and the family that had supported her all these years with their wealth and influence were dead. She quickly learned to conceal her heritage as the mention of the Lock name earned her scathing levels of animosity from the gnomes, halflings, and dwarves in the New Sanctuary Expedition
who had suffered at the hands of Locklanders
for over a century now. She opted quickly to fade into the background of the caravan as they built their city and eventually their port settlement as well. Her treatment by so many and her lack of funds to support herself quickly led Bess to a life of petty crime. She'd scrounge Manacite
from wherever she could or get by purely on her simple cantrips in order to reap ill-gotten gains from laborers.
She's sold stolen goods to pirates, local thieves, and even agents of the Black Thorn Society
. This downward spiral culminated in her using her illusions to dupe a small coastal village into thinking she was some kind of chosen prophet to who's every whim they'd have to cater to... Including emptying their savings into her coffers.
All the while Bess' mental state continued to spiral downward. First, she embraced the numbing effects of alcohol but that proved far to weak to soothe the emptiness that plagued her. She began experimenting with her own illusions - targeting herself with the mesmerizing effects of their power. She became less and less aware of the outside world and the crimes she was committing to support her lifestyle more erratic... sloppy. She was eventually apprehended in a room at an inn in New Sanctuary transfixed by her own spells, surrounded by empty bottles of wine, and with nine silver pieces to her name. She was an addict, a slave to a habit known as Phantasmal Craving
Bess spent only two weeks in New Sanctuary's jail, plagued by the harrowing effects of withdrawals from Phantasmal Craving, before she was approached by Rehele Odred
to join the crew of the The Paradise Lost
in exchange for freedom. The previous flagship of the city and it's crew were lost and Rehele had few options to turn to. Bess became one of several criminals offered freedom in exchange for service on the merchant vessel. Bess was fitted with a unique piece of equipment called a Mage Bane Collar, a device designed by Locklanders to enslave spellcasters by preventing them from so much as conjuring a simple cantrip and then turned over to Kazim Musharif
, the first officer of the ship.
Whatever fate ultimately awaits Bess it's sure to be one she never expected and likely one she doesn't deserve. Between fugues, hallucinations, and bouts of hysteria she manages to do grand job of cook with the simple ingredients at hand. Just returning to a simple grounding activity like cooking helps to fight back the phantoms and the illusory pain as well as the deep sadness of being unbearably alone. In her few quiet moments of lucidity she thinks back on her family, her college, her luxurious kitchens and smiles before praying to any god that still listens - sink the ship and spare me another tomorrow, please.
General Physical Condition
Generally feeling ill due to the impact of her addiction and withdrawals. Generally dehydrated, malnourished and other simple maladies from a lack of self care
Mild allergies to certain pollen resulting in sneezing fits
Apparel & Accessories
Used to prefer fine clothing and expensive accessories
College of Magic at Balmoral
Work-release program for New Sanctuary. Currently serving as a cook and general laborer onboard the Paradise Lost
Accomplishments & Achievements
Being a cutting edge chef in Old Balmoral, getting exceptional marks for her studies in the College of Magic
Morality & Philosophy
In more recent years she has adopted an attitude of "survival at any cost". However; Bess was previously a person of strong family values and deep respect for others and their cultures.
Bess lacks all motivation. Her days are an endless cycle of withdrawal, casting spells upon herself to alleviate those symptoms, and conducting schemes to earn money to support her habits
Savvies & Ineptitudes
Bess is an excellent student and excels at research. She also is proficient in operating a kitchen and creating new recipes
Bess used be known for impeccable hygiene and expensive soaps, perfumes, and other beauty products. Today, she manages to bath semi-regularly and that is the extent of her efforts