Variis’s childhood was like many others, a loving family living in the slums of a big city just trying to make it. Living in Brightport, his father, Fenriic, worked as a dockhand and his mother, Kaylith, worked at a local alchemist shop. Even though Variis had no formal education he was a smart, inquisitive, disciplined kid.
When Fenriic was at work, Kaylith would tell Variis stories about the adventures she took when she was young. Variis would always enjoy hearing the stories and dreamed of one day being at to see these amazing things. However, the stories made Fenriic uncomfortable. Fenriic, being a Brightport native and his own reasons, was not fond of leaving the city and enjoyed the protection it brought, no matter where they lived or how much they had to work.
Variis spent his free time with his neighbor, Oskar a young dwarf. They had a lot of similar interests and spent most of their time pretending to be adventurers. Swinging sticks and running around the alleyways as if they are fighting monsters and charging into battle. They did however get into their fair share of trouble. This was normally solved by running away and hiding in a small space and waiting for the coast to be clear.
A few years later, during Kaylith’s story time, Variis asked for the stories to stop and to spend his time learning the martial art that his mother knew instead. He figured he would rather know how to defend himself then to listen to stories, as much as he loved them. Kaylith agreed and from then on, they would spend hours every day learning “the art” that was taught to her in her youth.
As time passed, Variis became efficient in “the art” and Kaylith wore Fenriic down, convincing him to leave the city for the first time in his life. Walking out of the city gates, he finally opened up and told Kaylith why he was so stubborn. He feared Kaylith and Variis would share the same fate as his mother, Caroline, and father, Joe.
One day when he was young, his parents left the city to go see an old friend in Aldmoor. Weeks past and his parents never returned. Pleading for help and using that last of the money that as left for him, he was able to convince the guards to look for his parents on the road. After a few more weeks the guards came back and declared them to be dead.
Kaylith and Fenriic started to have date nights outside of the city walls; packing a meal and walking to “their spot” to watch the sunset. “Their spot” was 30 minutes outside of town, but it was on top of a small hill where the trees seemed to frame the sunset. It was a beautiful area that allowed Fenriic to look past his fears and grow closer to Kaylith. That was until that fateful night.
As the sun was setting, during a date night, Kaylith flinched in pain bringing her arm close to her chest. Fenriic jumped up to check on Kaylith, in the middle of her forearm a spider had bit her and started chewing on her arm. He was able to smack the spider off and chase it back to the nearest tree while trying to step on the creature. Unfortunately, he was only able to chase the spider away and no more.
Turning back towards his wife, he noticed she was laying on the ground barely moving. He quickly picked her up and started running back to town as fast as he could. Nearing the town gates, he screamed at the guards for help. Unfortunately, by the time the guards lead Fenriic and Kaylith to the monastery for healing, it was too late.
This event was the catalyst for the years to come. Fenriic’s distrust in the world outside of the walls was restored. Life was quite in the Allder house. Oskar seemed to be Variis’s only escape. However even Oskar started acting odd. After poking round Variis found out that Oskar was getting involved with a small gang and started stealing belongings from people on the street. Not wanting to get his friend in trouble, Variis never said a word to his parents, Darrak and Nora, but he started to put distance between himself and Oskar.
After a few short months, Oskar disappeared and no one knew what happened to him. Rumors were going around that he died trying to steal something from the wrong person, however there were other rumors that he was promoted and was now in leadership. Variis knew he didn’t do the right thing and that when this all started he should have told someone, but the past is the past. You can’t change it and at some point, you have to move on.
Without Kaylith to train with, Variis started to lose the gracefulness of “the art” and started to get frustrated. While talking to his father, Variis convinced his father to be his training partner and critique his form. Even though Fenriic was not trained in “the art”, he knew how to defend himself, was athletic and watched Variis and Kaylith practice for years. So, he simply exhaled and said “sure”.
In between Fenriic’s shifts at the docks, he would meet Variis at “The Park”. “The Park” was the name that all the neighbors used to describe the open area between all their homes. While there, Variis would work on his technique and forms while Fenriic critiqued. Over time this practice session evolved into sparring sessions and practicing self-defense techniques. Moving from a flowing art into a practical defensive art.
About a year later, an entertaining group set up camp in near the docks and started performing shows. Seemingly in the matter of minutes, everyone in town was aware of this group and lines started form. Variis decided to catch a glimpse of the show and listen to their stories because he was curious and not able to afford a ticket to a show.
Climbing his way to the top a building, he found a perch that let him see behind the curtain. He was left mesmerized by the performers practicing their acts and telling their stories. After about thirty minutes he felt something kick his boot. As he turned around he heard a low raspy voice say, “What do you think you are doing?” Before Variis could get a word out, the gentleman's face switched from angry to having a big grin.
He squatted down, extended his hand a said “The name is Hugo, this is my show here”. “I’m Variis, sorry I was just interested and don’t have the money for a show” Variis replied extending his hand out to return the handshake. Hugo pulled Variis up onto his feet and put his other hand on Variis’s shoulder. “Then how about you work for me for a bit, I will teach you what to do and pay you. After all, I’m short a juggler.” “Certainly, Sir” Variis replied excitedly.
It only took a few days to teach Variis how to juggle and get him caught up with the act. When Variis wasn't training with his father or juggling for the Kane Brothers, he now spent his time hanging out with the crew listening to their stories. Sitting down listening reminded him of the time he spent with his mother and the joy and excitement it brought him.
The stories of the performers and his mother rang through his head late one night. Not able to sleep he got up and went into the living room. Rounding the corner he found his father asleep in his chair. It looked as if he just got home, didn’t even have time to clean himself up before he fell asleep. Taking a nearby blanket, Variis covered his father and stepped outside to The Park”.
Looking around he realized that he would never be able to see the stories come to life if he stayed here. Turning around to look back at his home, he realized that he father would never be able to retire and he would end up working until he died if nothing changed. Looking at the ground he realized that he had to go. He had to go adventure. He had to go see the beautiful and disgusting things in the world. He had to go so he could earn money for his father to retire.
Quietly rushing back to his room, he pulled out a paper and started writing a letting to his father. He wasn’t brave enough to face his father; to tell him that he is going outside the city. Upon finishing the note, he walked back to the living room where his father was and set the note on the kitchen table with half of the gold he earned from his juggling act.
The letter read:
I am sorry I could not tell you in person, but I am leaving. I want to see the world and live as an adventurer. I know it is going to be tough. I will eventually find a group to travel with, after all… safety in numbers right? You and Mother taught me well. I can defend myself and I have a good head on my shoulders.
I know you will, but please don't worry.
I will check in from time to time and I will bring money with me. You have worked so hard for so long and deserve to live comfortable.I love you,
Taking one more glance at his father, he prayed. He didn't know to who or whom but he prayed for protection of his father. He then grabbed his bags, walked out the door, quietly closed it behind him and said to himself, “Ok” exhaling deeply “no turning back now, but where do I start?”