The Nether Scrolls
Dark skinned Bedine ranger with exotic dress and weaponry.
Benardrick stands a shade over 6 foot with a well muscled, athletic build. His dark brown skin, hazel eyes, and noble features immediately signals his exotic heritage. His charcoal black hair is rarely seen, but is typically kept tight within a headwrap called a kufiya that is secured by a decorative igai made of crimson died camel hair inset with blue crystal. It is not unusual for this to be wrapped about his face as well. His leather armor is covered with a Bedine robe called an Aba that wraps loosely below his waist. Two exotic looking curved short swords hang from his waste and longbow is strapped to his back. A hip quiver rests gently in the small of his back.
Benardrick seems cool at first preferring to keep others at arms length. His icy glare can be unnerving for those who first meet him. He is clearly a man of few words, but it seems when he speaks it has weight. His thick accent can also be difficult to understand, and he can seem frustrated by those who struggle understanding him. He speaks little of his background and if pressed will change the subject or leave the conversation. It would seem he would rather be in the company of his horse in the wild than in the confines of a city. If given the chance he will camp on the outskirts of any city before accepting the hospitality of an inn.
If time is spent with Benardrick a melancholy can be sensed, and his hesitation toward intimacy in conversation may belie a wounded past. He rarely speaks of his family or homeland and would prefer to speak of the task at hand. If Benardrick does speak up it will be at the defense of others for some injustice he sees. He is not afraid to step forward if needed.
He does not seem the sort you want to get on your bad side or cross swords with. He is a capable tracker, guide, and outdoorsman.
Defining Event: Evildoers destroyed my home
Wanderers. Nomads. My people have been called many things, but I prefer…Survivors. My ancestors, the Bedine, have carved out an existence in the most dangerous, inhospitable, barren wasteland in all of the Realms; The Sword. The Sword is a brutal, unforgiving, and desolate stretch of the southern Anauroch. Eeking out an existence is like living on the edge of a knife; one wrong move could spell disaster. My people call it the Great Sand Sea because the dunes flow like waves and are ever changing. Each day the land looks different so your memory does you no good. Entire Netherese ruins can disappear overnight. Only my people have mastered it’s mysteries and those seeking the lost treasure and knowledge of the Netherese will pay a pretty penny for a guide.
I was raised by two D’tarig thieves who kidnapped me at an oasis stop when I was only five years old. I remember little of my birth parents, but I remember my father was important. While I was with my Bedine mother at the well, her memory now escapes me, a strange woman, not much taller than a child, caught my attention with a wave. She showed me some fruit, a delicacy for a child, and waved for me to join her with a smile. The next thing I remember is a bag going over my head and being picked up. I would come to know her as Alba, my adopted mother. I was raised in a life of panhandling, cutpurses, and misdirection, used by my “parents” to distract unsuspecting victims. The D’tarig are a short, stocky people who are tricksters without loyalty. They flow like the sands at the mercy of the wind.
Detran and Alba treated me like their own child, but it was a difficult existence. They taught me the ways of survival in the desert and also how to get what you wanted from others. When I soon surpassed their height, they told me of my heritage and that I was a member of a noble Bedine tribe, and the son of a great sheikh. They feared that they would one day be found and killed for what they had done and begged me to keep their secret. To me it seemed like just another story.
Detran and Alba were murdered in front of me at the age of ten by a Zhent caravan guard named Shepsa. He caught them in one of their scams and immediately executed them both. The Zhents “owned” the Black Road and patrolled it mercilessly to ensure the safe passage of goods and merchants. The Zhentarim were brutally efficient and paid well for their services. Thieves were not tolerated and dealt with mercilessly; their highway justice was well known. It was foolish of Detran to target them and he paid a high price.
For my part, a mere child, I was forced to watch their execution and coldly sentenced to “The Walk”. The Walk is a death sentence, but it puts the final judgement of a soul at the mercy of the Anauroch herself. I was left to the wilds – a test of my strength. I would either be consumed by the sands or survive and be made stronger. I was banished with only a rusty janbiya at my side, a tattered kufiya for my head and a dusty aba for my back. They could take my family, my life, but they could not take my greatest gift, my wits. Alba would often say, “You’re mind must be as sharp as your jambiya, if you are to survive her wiles.”
As my final punishment, I was fire branded with the mark of the walking dead, a sign of warning on my neck for any who came upon me. If I survived, I would garner great respect and fear from my people. It is believed that those who survived carried with them a spirit of vengeance that made them powerful foes.
There are more than a few stories I could tell from my time of exposure, but all that matters is it made me stronger. I survived. Honestly, I remember very little of it, but I have Detran and Alba to thank – without their diligent teaching I would have perished. As I walked mile after mile, my grief clouded my mind and soon turned to anger and then…nothing…numb. My heart longed for vengeance, but I knew that my parents lived by the sword and so died by the sword. It was their way and there was nothing I could do to change it. I left my grief in the Great Sand Sea, forever adrift in her merciless sands.
I lost count of the moons that past over my head. One does not survive without a little luck. It had been nearly a week since a drop of water had touched my lips. I began seeing illusions of my past, and soon began weeping over Detran and Alba, but no tears fell from my eyes. I would soon die in this place. It was time. I curled up under a Broomtree; the only tree I had seen for miles, nestled under the shadow of a canyon cutting it’s way through the sand.
I felt a soft touch on my shoulder. Startled, I turned to see the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Her skin was not like mine, but fair, her hair was red like fire, and her eyes like the deep pools of a desert oasis. Her soft eyes welled with tears as she pitied me. Tears! Water! It was my luck that a wealthy noble from the land of Hillsfar was traveling in a merchant caravan being guided by a party of Bedine. Moved to pity she begged her husband to take me in. The Bedine new my mark, and shunned me, warning the couple that my presence was a bad omen. Undeterred, Lita took me in as her own from that day forward. Her husband, Brexton, was also a caring man, but consumed by his life’s work; the research of the fabled Netherese. He was on an exhibition to find one of the fallen floating cities in the sands when they stumbled upon me. I rarely saw him as he was usually traveling to distant lands on trading missions or doing his research. Had destiny not intervened to bring Lita on that trip, I may have suffered a different fate.
I was whisked away from the unforgiving desert sands to a foreign land of prejudice and commerce, Hillsfar. The people were fair skinned, and they lived in one place all their lives! No heat beating down upon you, stinging sand storms, or merciless winds, but still I longed for the wilds. Something changed me during that time. It was now a part of me.
Hillsfar was only accepting of humans, it was their law that any non-human caught within their walls would be sentenced to death in their arena. It was a city of tremendous trade and industry, but it’s heart was empty. There were two laws in Hillsfar:
- The Great Law of Trade – Do not interfere with any legitimate trade
- The Great Law of Humanity – Only humans are allowed in Hillsfar
I was marginally accepted due to my dark skin and life became difficult for my parents. The stares, whispers, and outright contempt soon became too much for them to bear. I was also shunned by my peers and was constantly getting into scuffles and outright brawls to defend myself. My new parents soon moved outside of the walls to escape the bigotry.
Over the next five years, I grew strong under Lita’s tutelage. Lita made sure I learned to read and write and she taught me about the world, politics, and the dealings of men. Brexton even taught me a thing or two about “the deal” as he called it. “Buy low and sell high, my son!” he would always say with a chuckle. I can’t say it interested me much, but I did my best to be respectful and thankful for their charity. He rarely spoke of his fascination with the lost Netherese empire, but he was very interested whenever I shared my knowledge of their ruins in the Anauroch. He never pushed or prodded, and seemed to understand that these memories were painful not so much because of what happened but what I had lost.
I made only one friend during my time, a half-elf named Talis. She shared my love of the wildst and also the pain of being shunned by the humans of Hillsfar. Soon after I arrived, she risked her life for me breaking up a fight where I was outnumbered by five older lads. Her exposure in the city would mean death for herself, but she risked it anyway. She made me laugh and we soon became fast friends.
For my part, I would often wander off into the woods against the wishes of Lita and seek the seclusion of the trees and animals of the forests that surrounded Hillsfar. Talis and I would often meet and spend time together in the forest. She was very knowledgeable and freely shared what she knew. I would often get in trouble for losing track of time or simply sleeping under the stars at night. I just felt more comfortable there. The idea of being cooped up in a house and staying in one place was unimaginable to me. I was born to wander.
Flame and Rage
As I returned from several days in the wild I saw smoke on the horizon. As I approached my family’s homestead on the edge of Hillsfar, I was gripped by panic. It’s hard to describe the moment you first hear the roar of a dragon, but it is unlike any I have heard sense. Loud as thunder, and more piercing than a thousand eagle screeches. It is death. Flames engulfed the house and property. My parents were nowhere to be found. Looking further into the city I could see other fires burning. The city watch perched on the walls and towers showered arrows at a great beast that flew over the city. Wizards cast lighting and flame into the sky. Once again, my family, those I held dearest, were ripped from my hands. Anger, rage, began to well in my young heart. Whoever I was near seemed to come to a terrible fate. I took what provisions I could find and I retreated to the wilderness never to return.
Talis and I agreed that if anything bad were to happen we were to meet at the giant Willow tree deep in the Cormanthyr Forrest. I waited a week following the dragon attack. I soon lost hope and convinced myself that even if she did survive it was better we went our separate ways. Only death follows those I love. I spent the next year wandering the forest of Cormanthyr and I returned to the Willow only one time. Hanging from the tree was a small satchel. Inside I found several of Talis’s personal effects…some ribbon, several arrow heads she carved, some rolled parchment, and something I knew she would never part with. My heart sank. A jeweled hair comb that she often wore in her hair. It was given to her by her human father as a birthday present and she held it dear above all things.
As I rolled open the parchment, there was handwriting I did not recognize.
We have been watching you. If you want to see Talis alive again, come to Baldur’s Gate and enlist with the Flaming Fist. Await further orders. Our Queen will Rise!
Stunned I stared at that parchment in disbelief. Questions raced through my mind. Queen? Baldur’s Gate? Flaming Fist? How did they find me and what does Talis have to do with all this? As I looked up from the note, a woman standing next to the Willow clothed only in leaves, vines, and branches is smiling at me gently. “You seek your friend, yes?” Her voice was like a soft breeze and a gentle rain. A dryad. I had heard of such creatures, but never before witnessed their beauty. Taking a step backwards, words could not escape my mouth. “Do not be afraid. I am the spirit of this mighty Willow.” With that the boughs of the Willow bend toward her. “You and your friend, Talis…yes? You have been kind to the forest. I will return that favor this one time.” As she stepped forward her footfalls barely make a sound and flowering vines sprout with each step. “I saw the people who left the satchel. They are evil men with a dark purpose that will put all of the Realms in danger.’
WIth a wave of her hand an image appeared in the air before her. Men dressed in purple gowns bearing the image of a dragon head breathed in flame can be seen tying up the satchel. “You must go now…seek your friend…find your destiny.” Her words faded on the wind as her form dissipated. With that she stepped into the Willow tree disappearing from sight.
With my path set before me, I set off with a new purpose; to Baldur’s Gate.