Lords of Chaos
Young woman from Freeland looking for adventure, Fighter.
Carries long sword and shield, ropes, daggers, gutting knife (girls gotta eat)
Constitution – 22
Will power – 18
Charisma – 20
Wears normal clothes under leather armor and a kick ass pair of boots she bought from a pirate.
Religious beliefs – Depends on the moment, though when she does pray or curse a God in vain, it is Ryaa, the default Goddess of New Xandar port dwellers (she hasn’t mentioned this to Askaradin).
It was still early, and unusually warm for a day in early autumn. Maddie was at the docks, as usual, pulling nets out of the water and relieving them of the night’s catch. It was thankless work. Most dock workers didn’t want to do it, as it didn’t have the glory and “adventure” of being out on the fishing boat for weeks of a time. For Maddie, that was fine. It afforded her the luxury of a bath and bed at night in the hotel her mother owned. It also kept her available to help with the customers, and care for her little brother, Tiberion.
Maddie had gone out on the boats for a few weeks every winter for the last seven years, since she was 15. She could sail, fish, tie knots, gut fish, as well as any man, she could spear a fish 30 feet out. At 5’8’, she was 150 pounds of sleek muscle, nobody ever claimed she wasn’t up to the task. in general life, was a good, even blessed. So why was she so restless?
She stood up and took a deep breath and a long drink of water. She was hungover, as usual after an evening with Sergio. They had a typical date, drinking and fighting. They fought about everything. She had no idea what they fought about last night, probably the usual. She saw the beginning of a pretty nasty black eye forming on him this morning when she left the hotel. She, herself, was a little sore. He was not one to shrink from a fight or defending himself against her. They have known each other forever, and she loved him, but boy he was annoying sometimes.
Maddie knew that growing up in Freeland gave her certain allowances as a woman that she had heard did not exist everywhere. She knew a lot of the world. New Xandar was a thriving trade port all months of the years. While it was true, it slowed down in the winter, there were lots of people, elves, dwarves, even goblins, going through town from all over the mapped and even unmapped regions, all year long. Soldiers, pirates, adventurers of any ilk, some disgraced nobility, criminals, traders, merchants, and many more. Most stayed in the summer months, when trade was more active, but as the largest and most easily accessible port in Freeland, New Xandar was always entertaining. She had met a lot of people, and many of the regular visitors have helped raise her. In the winter months, with less dock work, she helped her mother at the hotel and practiced her sword fighting, knife work and hand to hand skills with the men and women who took an interest in teaching her. She and her brother also took to the mountains a few weeks a year to practice survival and mountaineering skills. She loved the mountains as much as the water, and found them less terrifying.
Everybody loved her mother; charming, generous, caring and great at hospitality, she had the most prosperous hotel in the city. Everybody knew her mother, and so, everybody knew Maddie. Working at the hotel provided the opportunity for Maddie to learn languages from many of the other regions of the world, and their cultural differences. She found it fascinating, especially the different Gods and demons. Some races didn’t even know that there were Gods out there other than their own. She remained ever confused about which were real. For her purposes, it hadn’t really mattered. The stories the adventures told were by far the most compelling and varied as their backgrounds. She also loved to find out the things that motivated the travelers, traders and adventurers to do what they do, how they came to live their lives they now lead. For how a person chooses to live the life given is the only thing that really matters, though many didn’t really have a choice. This has been on her mind a lot lately.
Ugh, her back hurt. She looked at the water, she was wearing a short sleeved top and short pants, so she jumped in. The cool felt good, and her head felt a little better. Being in the water always helped her, until the fear gripped her. Maddie could always swim, and stay underwater for long periods. She never thought about it until she was eight. One fateful day playing at the docks with her friends, with one armed Ronan as the babysitter. It seemed that having a half human, half goblin who literally lost his arm in a bet, was not a great choice to watch children. One of his fishing nets was caught below the dock, and he asked the children to jump in and release it. Despite their efforts, it remained a tangled mess after the storm the night before. Storms always brought a good catch, so Maddie went down again, with a knife. She was under water for so long, that several men jumped in to rescue her (though why they weren’t sent down in the first place never came up), only to find her still cutting away at the nets, and totally fine. It was that day that one armed Ronan hired her to help around the dock. He was a bit of a handful from day one, but Maddie loved him like a father.
Now why did she start thinking about him? She never knew the man, but she must have gotten her swimming skills from her father. Rumor had it that he was a descendent from an ancient race of amphibious humanoids. Claptrap talk in the bars, and stuff made of legends, and probably untrue. But who could really ever know for sure. One thing she did know, no matter how well she could swim, hold her breath, or how cleansing the water felt, she was ultimately terrified of it. She knew the evil that dwelled in the depths of the sea. And the deeper she went, the more panicked she would become. But not only of the evil she felt in the water, but the evil she felt in herself. On land, she could ignore her thoughts and desires for evil acts she wouldn’t even dare speak about. In the water, at the depths, they haunted her. She knew evil lived at the ocean floor. She knew men and monsters dared not to delve too deep to discover what lay below. She knew the inhabitants of the world would find a way to explore the stars and moons before ever asking “what lies right beneath us?” She was getting too philosophical. Maybe she needed food.
She got out of the water and started pulling at the nets on the other side of the dock, plucking out fish and garbage and tossing them in the appropriate piles. Yes, she knew she was evil. In New Xandar she was safe enough from herself. Although it was a large town, and very busy with travelers and trade, the law keepers protected the locals. The military kept the town thriving and safe from pirates, organized crime and utter lawlessness. The law keepers handled scammers, petty thieves, brawling, and drunkenness.
Maddie had spent a few nights in a law keeper cell for drunkenness and fighting, usually with Sergio. Behavior that was probably not so normal for most young women. She couldn’t control her negative emotions. She feared the day that they caught up with her. Sometimes she beat up other men. It was assumed that they offended her honor, when in reality she wanted nothing more than for them to take her honor from her. So she punched them, instead. Sometimes quite violently, after all, even in Freeland, all a woman really had was her reputation.
Yes, Maddie had a good life, in paradise, a life set out before her. Though she knew it couldn’t go on forever. Her mother showed her tricks to not become with child, but clearly, these were not full proof. She saw her mother’s life and knew that would be her fate as well. Not bad, but she didn’t need to live it, she felt that she had experienced it already. And it would always be here, waiting. She looked up and noticed the sun was getting low. Her day’s musings had consumed her, as they have been doing of late. The one thing she long for most of all, the one thing she could never have here where she grew up, where even the travelers and transients knew her name, was anonymity. And adventure. She knew why she always fought with her lover, she was done with Sergio, done with New Xandar, and she knew it was time to leave. She longed for adventure. The following morning, she left.
1/28/17 A Day in Elgan
what do you want, where your loyalties are, and who do you trust?
Maddie sighed, grabbed the ropes around the box Sando hoisted up from the cargo hold and passed it down the gangplank to Edo. She was slightly hung over, with an uncharacteristically hot Indian summer day beating down on her. She was having what some travelers in New Xander had called reeds gesien, that feeling that she had been here before. Of course she had lived days like this for most of her life. She sighed again. Back in a port, working on ships for the last few days now, but it felt like weeks. She knew it was temporary, and that the crew was trying to find information regarding some Elvin mystery. “The crew” was how she categorized her new companions in her mind. Notwithstanding the large crew of The Dawn Star, her crew woke with her that fateful day on Captain Matterly’s ship.
She had no idea what had happened to her, nor had the others any idea how they got to the Dawn Star. She left home after a day much like today, and awoke to her new life. She remembers walking about 15 miles up the coast, along the wooded trail, then readying a campfire for the evening on her first day out. Then she woke on the ship. Whatever had happened occurred during the night, and caused her to lose a few hours of memory. Although she and her new companions barraged the crew and captain of the Dawn Star with questions and made entreaties for an explanation, none were forthcoming. No answers were given that would satisfy, how could they? But for some reason, they all decided to stay. She found exactly what she had been seeking; adventure, travel, mystery, and anonymity. A chance to re-invent herself; to live a new life. But here she was, again. For other it was a chance for adventure or curiosity, and quite a few who seemed they would rather not be found. For some of her companions, there was a religious element and possible evil plot. The elves were thigh deep in intrigue and suspicion, and she hoped it would stay below their heads, as the saying went.
Maddie, in particular, had been relentless in her questions. Badgering the Captain at every opportunity. Following him, spying on him, in the hopes of hearing him speak one word about this mystery. He said little beside orders to his crew. She could only guess that her experience on fishing boats had kept him from tossing her overboard. Though the Captain never outwardly showed his irritation (too much), he often sent Maddie up one of the masts to check the sails to keep her occupied. She was becoming a pretty good climber as a result.
Sando climbed out of the cargo hold, smacked Maddie on her back and said, “Come on luv, get your head back to the here and now, and let’s get some grub.” At that point Maddie realized that she was indeed hungry, and followed Sando down the dock. They looked around, sniffed, nodded at each other and smiled. All the dock had in this town were fish and work. And she had a lifetime of both in front of her. She tilted her head over her right shoulder and they headed to the market. Elgan had that mercantile feel similar to New Xander, and surprisingly, the market of this village felt more like home to her then the docks. Back home had an impressive wharf, with a large square for the bustling market. Just thinking of the smell of frying meats, roasted vegetable, fresh fruit and sweet cakes made her drool a little out the side of her mouth. They headed to the other end of the village. Maddie was craving lemon cakes and roasted nuts, and the children working the booths always had those, and sometimes a hand in the pocket. After eating her sweets and a downing a couple of pints of ale, they said goodbye and parted ways until the next day.
She went toward the river for a quick plunge, she was sweaty and the water felt good. As she was floating just under the surface the water she thought some more about her current state of affairs. The plunge back into her a pattern so similar to her previous life had brought to bear the main reason she had stayed with the group. More than adventure, but purpose, as well. She wasn’t quite sure what the purpose was, at this point. But she enjoyed working on the Dawn Star a lot more than she did the fishing boats. It was a great ship, with a reputation, and a feared and respected Captain. A Captain that, for some reason, had chosen her and the others to be part of something. “The purpose”. Unlike the Elves, she had no real concern for what that reason would be. She was annoyed and beguiled in equal measure. But she had the faith that Ra would reveal all in time. Not that she particularly believed in that, but it comforted her. She wanted to know what would happen next.
Several weeks in Elgan had passed, and Maddie was sure the group was gathering intel. Gunga was watching Qildor during the day. In the beginning, Qildor chased him off after just a few hours. But after the first two days the strange bird and his questionable music morphed into the normal backdrop of the docks. She often brought him a hot drink in the morning as she passed him on her way to work for a few hours. She tossed money in his hat, too, a little coin at the bottom of his bowl often led to a lot more coin during the day. Sometimes she brought him pigeon, or duck, or chicken to eat. He did not appreciate it, but she just laughed and ate it herself. She kept her ears open and reported all she heard to the others.
Maddie was getting restless, though. She felt they were almost at the end of their time in Elgan. She, Snow, Gara, and Freddie have been spending some of their evenings taking meals in taverns. Gunga playing outside for coin and back up. Eyes and ears opened. Mouths closed. Except at such times when an opportunity to question an unwitting drunk informer presented themselves, which never happened. And to drink; there was safety doing this kind of reconnaissance in numbers when alcohol was involved. Jevin had to be watched, too. If too many items went missing, the group couldn’t afford it to come back to them. While she and the others were playing spy, the Elves were up to their own form of information gathering. The crew thought it would be better to keep the Elves separate from the rest. They all stayed in the same inn, but weren’t seen together much in public. It was a very small port village, yet had the benefit of transience that all port towns provide. The number of people in Elgan that knew they all arrived on the barge together had reduced inversely to the time they spent there.
While in Elgan, she did try to make the best use of her downtime. She decided to learn how to shoot a bow, and often went out to the woods at dawn with Gunga or Thumper to practice. She and Askaradin also went to the village outskirts for sword practice. They were evenly matched in weight, height and skill. And although she and Askaradin had vastly different views, both were passionate in everything they did. The sword practices were particularly strenuous, and a bit fiery. She knew she was improving, and Maddie found herself thinking less and less often about Sergio.
Maddie had seen and battled many strange and wondrous, and yes, scary, things the last few weeks, and she felt that it was only going to become more challenging. The crew had Magnar and Snow (a bear!), who could do a great deal of damage to the enemies they faced. And the remainder could throw rocks, fire and sling arrows to great affect. Maddie had begun to realize the benefit of stepping back from a fight in their last two encounters. Skeletons and faeries? In the strange world she has become introduced to, things were not always as they seem.
It was getting late, and had they had left the tavern early. It had been slow, didn’t seem there would be much to hear. It seemed weird to have so little activity on a warm night. The heat has always increased her own restlessness, and she thought that was a common effect. Damn river village, so calm. She headed to the dock to meet Snow, who was up in flight, and due anytime. Walking, Maddie recalled the voice of her mother, and the three things to always remember: what do you want, where your loyalties are, and who do you trust?