The pain faded.
He lay there for a time savoring its absence.
Once he was reasonably sure that it wasn't going to return any time soon he dared to open his eyes.
No pain. That was good. But there wasn't much to see either. Blank stone ceiling in a dimly lit room.
He sat up. Still no pain. And not much of an improvement on the view.
Small, dim room, carved out of stone with a shallow pool of water beside him and some sort of table and cupboard arrangement against the wall; and a door.
That was it.
No source of light. Yet he could see, dimly to be sure, But how ?
No windows. Nothing giving off light. And things were clearly no brighter near the door.
The room should be pitch black, yet he could see well enough. This was not something he could do before.
Before? The word echoed loudly in his mind. Fragments of memory flooded his mind and faded away before he could grasp them.
Memories that felt right mixed with ones that could not possibly belong.
He tried to reach for them, any of them, even the "wrong" ones.
It was like trying to grasp fog.
He kept trying anyway.
And finally he was able to grab one.
Just a fragment of time. Walking down some dimly lit hallway. Torch held high, for better light. Then Pain. And darkness.
So, he'd been ambushed, knocked out, captured. And brought here?
Where was here? Who? Why?
The fog in his mind swirled and churned.
And then he knew.
His blood ran cold at the thought.
He was clever and now that he was thinking in abstract ideas and not trying for personal memories knowledge was flowing much more quickly and freely in his mind. Which was good; except he did not like the answers he was getting.
Why Thulians took people. The fact that he could now see in the dark. His clouded memories. Not good.
But the fact that he saw it as bad. Didn't just accept it as how things should be...
Maybe there was hope.
Dreading what he would find but needing to know. He closed his eyes and started exploring his body by touch.
Right now I'm just sort of sketching out the main character and related points.
So if you want the story without spoilers skip down to chapter 1.
Throckmorton was born in the town of Demi. The half-elf son of a half-elf mother. Which means that his father is likely also a half-elf. Although he could be anywhere from 1/4 to 3/4 Elf and still have a son who would count as 1/2.
Now as to Who exactly his father is...
Well, given that his mother is a Tavern Winch; that's a bit of an open question.
After all Demi is a Half-elf city. Not to say that there aren't a fair number of Humans, Full Blood Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, Halflings, and so on living there. With nearly half again that many just passing through.
Which is hardly surprising given that Demi is one of the three biggest port cities on the Eastern coast of Estria.
The other two, just for the record are:
WayMeet to the South. The largest Elf run city in the region that allows other races inside its walls in large numbers.
And Ha' Ven to the North. Home to the Adventures Guild. A with enough racial/species diversity that you Are a Minority, no matter what race you belong to.
There are slightly more humans than any other single race but they still only make up 20 to 25 percent of the total population.
But enough about the world. We're here to talk about young Throckmorton and his early years.
Being the son of a Tavern Winch naturally lead to the learning of the skills associated with the Rogue's trade. And when given a chance by some of the local Bards he discovered that he had rather a bit of talent for that craft as well.
Which lead to his attracting the notice of the Dragon SilverFrost who just happened to have stopped in( in human form) for a drink.
SilverFrost was impressed by young Throckmorton's talent and gave him a letter of introduction to the Bards Collage at the Adventures Guild in Ha'Ven along with a bit of traveling money.
At the Guild young Throckmorton excelled at both music, and Rogue craft. Well, once he was able to find the Rogue's section of the Guild. Being able to find it is, after all, one of the requirements for admittance.
Over time he became an Adventurer, joined a party, and after a number of rather routine missions aboveground, he set out on a mission to the Underdark.
And that is where our story begins.
And as his memory is rather fogged over at first...
Well I had planned on just starting in the Morphosis chamber
So if you want to be as befuddled as our hero skip to chapter one
If you don't think it will matter if you know the high points of his backstory;
Well if you're reading this you probably already read the rest of this section anyway.
A couple of questions about the ChoKa have been brought to my attention as not having been fully covered.
The first being there relations with the Aqualith. Given that the ChoKa can retain the ability to breathe water, and their low/outcast status in Thulian society.
And you are quite correct; ChoKa are used as envoys to the Aqualith by some groups of Thulians. As well as Varna and even the occasional group of free ChoKa. Free in this case may be a bit of a misnomer as such groups are found almost exclusively in coastal areas that also harbor Aqualith outposts. And so such groups may be better considered as part of the Aqualith empire than actual members of Thulian society.
This is further confirmed by the frequent presence of free Varna groups and some level of trade between all three. With Aqualith slime being a notable trade item. And the apparent use of that slime in regulating their lifecycles in favor of Varna ChoKa offspring.
It is unclear at this time just what the Aqualith are taking in trade for the slime or what other advantages they gain from their association with the ChoKa and Varna. Further research into this is clearly needed.
In any event, the fact of a connection between the ChoKa and Aqualith brings us around to the second question to be addressed here. Namely the remarkable regenerative abilities of the ChoKa.
I've noted elsewhere both that they have the ability and that they use it as their means of reproduction. What I failed to address was the rather obvious question of how and why the ChoKa have a healing factor that is clearly much stronger than that of other types of Thulians and Thulian kin.
There seem to be two factors at play here. The first is the fact that ChoKa, unlike other Thulian spawn, never go through a morphosis process. True there is the initial transformation from tadpole to humanoid form. But if we regard that as simply normal growth, then there is no morphosis in there lifecycle. And that is, I believe, the key to their fast healing. The ability to breakdown and reform their bodies, as other Thulians do, has simply become an ability to repair themselves all through their life rather than using all that ability in a single transformation.
So, what does this have to do with Aqualith slime, given that I alluded to a connection between the slime and their healing factor earlier?
First off, good for you for paying such close attention. And second, there is some evidence that the ChoKa are able to use the slime to not only argument their healing factor for themselves but to also use it to make a potion useable by other races.
The exact formula is, of course, a closely guarded secret. But it seems to involve a mix of Aqualith slime and ChoKa blood along with at least some of the standard ingredients of basic healing potions.
Which could well be one of the things that the Aqualith gain from their trade with the ChoKa. There are almost certainly other factors at play on both sides as I am quite certain that the Aqualith are fully able to make healing potions for themselves. But I am also convinced that there are clear advantages to gaining healing potions this way even though I have not as yet discovered what those advantages are.
And so it came to pass, the High and Mightiness, Great Lord lumlum, slid down from the lushy exorbitance of the Grand Barcalounger of All Imaginable Reslacksation and muttered unto the scattered masses, "hear me, hear me! But listen not . . . for I have had a Delirium. An apocalyptic dream of Universal Sanity. The future shadow of All, joyfully reveling in the comfort of false security . . . gleefully binding itself in the chains of subjugation unto the Powers That Be . . . hurriedly scurrying about, fulfilling the will of their betters, in order to appease them . . . only so they may, willfully, hold out their hands to receive their Masters blessings." The Great Lord lumlum looked about at the scattered masses and shouted, "SHE FLEES! SHE FLEES!" . . . not a single head turned . . . nor an ear perked in curiosity. The Great Lord lumlum wept, "she flees . . . our Beloved . . . she flees . . . she shall be missed . . . even if watching her walk away is such a gorgeous sight."
And so it was that the Age of Wonder and Confusion, the Last Age of Greatness, came to an end and the Age of Willful Ignorance and Conformity dawned. Sanity and peace reigned among the sedated masses as individualism and, unsanctioned, creativity were wiped away by invisible Agencies of Secret Universal Conglomeration.
*Taken from a remnant, of a scrap, of one of the Forbidden Midnight Epistles of Sean the Heretic to His Unenlightedness, Sean the Heretic, found scribbled, haphazardly on the back of a torn, discarded pop-tart wrapper.*
The light broke over Harmony's face like a warm caress...she had not realized how deeply she missed the sun. Maybe it was the length of her stay under ground? Maybe it was the circumstances of her burial, which were still a fog? Maybe it was Muse, who lept at the crack of light and swarmed through it, leaving her alone, for once...seconds later, a quick 'tapping' rang out as the edges of the door burst inward, some invisible seal breaking, and loosing gusts of dust which spurted at Harmony's face. Slowly she reached out and grasped the handle, a simple curve of metal set in the heavy wood. "PUSH, Muse!" she thought, and pulled, leaning back, using her newfound weight. Slowly the door swung inward, til it stood open, and Harmony tumbled forward through it, laughing and gasping. She shaded her eyes as they adjusted to the bright golden light. Muse was skipping around in miniature fawn form, head-butting tree trunks...tree trunks! And grass! A blue sky opened its soaring chasm above her, and the sunlight sparked and glittered off dew-drops on a long, sloping hillside which spread on two sides. Between the hills, almost directly in front of her, Harmony saw a dimple of a valley, with a tiny brown creek winding down the center. It found its beginnings at the side of the rock-wall face through which she herself had just passed. Harmony left Muse to her rejoicing and studied the wall. It wasn't that high--only a few feet of wall appeared above the door, before disappearing under a thick cover of ivy, and then more grassy hillside, which rose above that. Further up, Harmony saw craggy slopes and snow-capped cliffs. It appeared the entire burial maze was beneath a mountain. No wonder it had been dark...and oddly magical. Harmony started for a moment at the stream, rippling merrily out of a hole in the solid rock beside the door; where did the water come from? There had been no trace of water within, only a moldering dampness. Yet here it was.
Muse stopped head-butting trees and chose to jump in the water instead, splashing drops everywhere, bending down to scoop handfuls and fling them; laughing squeakily, she came up with a fish and hurled it at Harmony. Harmony pinned it on the grass with her foot, and grabbling a few sticks, she clicked her fingers to start a fire. It would be nice to eat something real.