It’s not that I’m a bad person. What I do isn’t wrong, so much as necessary. You see, when I take things, I make sure it’s from someone who can afford the loss. I don’t take from the folks in tent town. You won’t see me lifting purses off the ladies in Scurvytown or Drac’s End, unless they’re some noblewoman slumming. Besides, one good lift off a rich mark and I don’t have to work for a few days. I’ve got enough for meals, maybe even a bed. I’m not a bad guy. I’m just making the best of a bad situation. Someday, I’m going to rise above it. Join the Guard. Hell, I’ll be Captain of the Guard. That might seem strange to you, but who better to guard against thieves than a guy who used to be one?
Your mother died of plague when you were five. Your father entrusted your upbringing to the neighbors in Drac’s End, while he went to work. You weren’t sure what that work was, but it never made enough to get you out of the low-rent garret room in the east of Drac’s End. Things got complicated though, when your father got caught working, and put in the Hulks. You were eight when that happened. In the ensuing years, you’ve learned what that meant. With all the back alleys, basements, and side streets in Freeport, the casual wanderer might forget a simple fact: The city is an island, and space is at a premium. That’s why even the wealthiest merchants and politicians make do with townhouses instead of castles; that’s why the average citizen ends up living in a two-room flat above a tailor shop or groghouse. And that’s why the city’s worst criminals end up in the Hulks.
Essentially huge, decommissioned freighters, the Hulks sit just outside Freeport’s harbor, ballasted with the vilest collection of reprobates, recidivists, and deviants Freeport can muster. While the city jail is formidable, there just isn’t enough room to house all these blackguards. When the crime is bad enough—when blades are bloodied, when deadly magic gets used, when a house that’s a little too fancy gets broken into—the offender ends up manacled hand and foot and must row his own launch out to the floating prisons. Watching over him is a stern guardsman, who’s immune to bribes and indisposed to speech— except to tell the prisoner, as he’s hauled up on deck, to get a good look. He won’t be seeing the sun for a while.
You’re eleven years old now, and you’ve done as good a job as anyone could taking care of yourself on the streets of Drac’s End. You’re a decent pickpocket, and you pride yourself on avoiding the dealers and pimps who want a cut from the local thieves. Part of the reason for your good luck is Aleksander Tovac, one of the local guardsmen. He was one of the men who caught your father, and for whatever reason, took on some responsibility for you. He’s an excellent lawman, but is also fair and compassionate towards the lower classes. You’ve had numerous run-ins with Tovac and his partner, Tanko Sandek, or Tanko and Tovac as they’re known popularly (Aleksandek by those who are not fond of them). This last run-in was a bad one though. You’d chosen too wealthy a mark: Nathan Grymes, a member of the Captains’ Council. Tovac was told to deal with you in some fashion that would get you off the streets: to either join your father in the Hulks, or be reformed under Euglenus Cleaves’ watchful eye. While you’re not fond of the idea of living in an orphanage, it certainly beats the way you’ve imagined the Hulks in your mind’s eye.
When you arrived at the home, Tovac explained your situation, and then left you with Cleaves: Years at sea gave Euglenus’s skin the consistency and color of leather, though the five years since spent behind a desk have taken away much of the color. He’s in his 50s, which shows mostly in his salt-and-pepper beard (salt now dominating). At just under five-and-a-half feet tall, he’s short, and with his stooped posture, he appears even more so. His typical expression is a schoolmasterly frown. He gave you a speech which you later found out was given to every student, stressing the words “WAYWARD CHILDREN” and “SOMEONE WHO SEEKS TO CONSUME OTHERS.” This chafed, since you do not consider yourself wayward. You did not lose your way – there was only one way for you to take, and you flaming took it. After a week of enduring ridicule and bullying from the older, pet students of Cleaves, you were approached by another student named Hutch, who offered you a place in a plan he’s forming.
Having struck a pact with Hutch, the next month flew by, as you both watched for potential recruits to Hutch’s crew. You’re still waiting to hear back from that new kid who came in last week, with red eyes like fire. Hutch approached him, but he seemed hesitant. Told Hutch he’d think it over. And then came the half-orc, who seemed promising, but cries in his sleep. It’s good to have a sense of belonging, something you haven’t felt since your mother died. Hutch is no replacement, but he’s a sight better than your father ever was. Tovac occasionally checks in on you when you go for work duty with Oskar Broadhammer for whatever odd jobs are on deck for the day.
Contacts:Oskar Broadhammer has been a miner, sailor, stonemason, and blacksmith at various times in his life, but now finds other people to do manual labor. Anyone who needs a crew to unload a ship, build a house, or excavate a drain comes to Oskar, who (for a fee) finds day laborers and workers from the folks of the Cluster or the transients of Tent Town. Oskar travels throughout Drac’s End every day, recruiting and hiring, and keeping an eye open for new faces with new skills. Oskar tries to do his best for the community while also making a profit; he’s decent and reasonably honest but not above finding warm bodies to do something shady as long as “his boys” are paid well and not put into too much danger. You are among the crew of boys he takes with him from Cleaves to do work detail.
Aleksander Tovac: The Freeport equivalent of a forensics investigation team: he uses his skills, keen eyes, deductive talents, and magic to solve crimes. He can find evidence others usually miss – magic auras, concealed doors, and the perp’s hairs, skin flecks, or blood. He then casts spells to identify and locate those implicated by the evidence. Finally, he and his partner, Sergeant Tanko Sandek arrest and interrogate them. Tovac and Tanko respect each other and are close friends.
Tanko Sandek: Over his years of policing Freeport, Sandek has earned renown as the most dogged and deadliest member of the Sea Lord’s Guard. Stories of the time he killed four thugs in five seconds are still told. Since partnering up with Aleksander Tovac, the only criminals who have escaped after becoming the duo’s suspects, did so by fleeing the Serpent’s Teeth entirely.Strange to say, rumor also holds that Sandek started out bad. Sandek stands a compact five foot six, a small wall of muscle. His dark eyebrows and bushy mustache are the only hair on his head. His features are deeply lined and tanned.
Egil Horne, owner of The Pawn’s Shop in Drac’s End, is a businessman, pure and simple. He’s happy to buy just about anything from anyone at a below-market price, as long as he’s reasonably confident that he can turn it around later—and that the real owners aren’t going to come around to give him any grief. If he gets hassled by the law or anyone else over anything, he’s usually more than happy to hang the people out to dry who sold him the goods in question. After all, it should be their problem, not his. Egil fenced many stolen items for you over the years, and he’s always glad to see you – not because he cares, but because he knows you bring in excellent loot in small amounts: the perfect situation for a pawnshop.