Historian Rogue, Street Scholar, and Acquirer of the Unacquirable.
A Man Named Stark and a Man Who Will Earn the Name Stark
“Some would have you know that Thomas Stark was nothing more than a grave robber. I know better! And anyone who would say so could expect the toe of my boot firmly lodged in their arsehole. My father was nothing of the kind. He was a historian, venturer, speculator and acquirer of the unacquirable. He was a man of the highest moral caliber and always served a greater purpose than himself. I know with all certainty that he drinks wine with the gods each night as they toast his grand life here on our realm.”
Before I speak on the fellow quoted above, I must speak about the subject of the quote… Thomas Stark, husband to Dahlia and father of 2, Owen and Violet was many things in his life and all of the above descriptions are very possibly true, including the accusation of grave robbing. Thomas wasn’t a smith or a farmer or a carpenter or anything at all for that matter. His father wasn’t around long enough to offer him the opportunities some boys have available to them early in life. Jubal Stark was nothing more than a common thug and rabble-rouser who fathered a higher number of offspring than his arithmetical abilities would allow him to count. The story goes that Jubal was stabbed to death during a pub fight concerning 75 silver pieces and a bottle of Halfling ale. That being said, Thomas was left with no father and a mother who spent more time whoring at the local brothel than being a positive influence on the development of her young son. Thomas made his way in life the only way he knew how.
He started at a young age as a pick pocket and moved up to conning travelers out of their hard earned coin with fast talks, schemes and jives. He made a tidy living doing so as well. Life on the streets somehow suited him, he took too it like a fish takes to water… mostly because he didn’t have a choice. His life would take a turn for the better, though, on his 13th birthday, when he met a man named Ajax Redgate. Thomas attempted to con Ajax out of some coin, but Ajax was the wrong mark. Ajax was an older man with a graying beard and a deep blue robe. Thomas would later find out that he was a wizard of considerable ability, a scholar and treasure hunter. After a few exchanges of sharp tongues and razor wits that I won’t even begin to attempt to describe here something unexpected happened, Ajax either saw something in Thomas unnoticed by others or felt sorry for the poor wretch. Since he was new in town and in need of an assistant, Thomas would become just that.
Over the next 4 years, Thomas worked for and learned a great deal from Ajax. Though never truly proficient at the arcane arts, he did excel at the alchemic arts and assisting in ritual casting. Ajax and Thomas worked hard together on a number of archeological dig sites uncovering scores of valuable antiquities that still can be seen in the display cases of universities and museums of the core cities. Though Ajax has many pieces located in these locations, there are stories that few know about him and his adventures. As glamorous as that may sound, it’s not always a bed of roses. One of the lessons that Thomas quickly learned and took too heart, “There are more men than not out in the world who would sooner slit your throat than look at you… and more times than not, those men have the pieces we are looking for. There are times to be a gentleman, but gentlemen never finish first.” The exploits that this quote can be associated with never were revealed to the buyers of the treasures acquired, but over the years, rumors do circulate.
Shortly after Thomas’s 17th birthday, Ajax decided it was time to move on. Thomas’s services were no longer required. Thomas was confused and angered by this decision. Why would Ajax do this to him? Was it something he did or said? Hasn’t be been doing his job properly? It made no sense to him. There must be something more to it, but all of his inquiries went unsatisfied. Thomas knew that Ajax made many enemies over the years; maybe it was time to go into hiding. Maybe his many misdeeds over the years caught up with him. The day he walked out of Ajax’s Inn room just outside of Hollis’ Bluff was the last time he would see him. Thomas went to his grave never knowing why and it sat on his shoulders like a weight.
For the next ten years Thomas continued the work that he and Ajax had done in the past to the best of his ability. He actually made quite a name for himself rivaling the reputation made by Ajax himself. This reputation was of course not always in a positive. He was the man to see when you wanted that perfect this or that at a reasonable price. He worked for private collectors, scholars, historians, museum curators, nobles and often for his own need for excitement, adventure and to acquire the unacquirable. It was his passion. Over those ten years his adventures included living among savage island cannibals, sailing with a ruthless pirate crew, scaling the tallest peaks of the Falkhirst Mountains alone, crossing the Endless Dunes on camelback and having more than one entanglement with the agents of the crown while crossing Tirinoth, just to mention a few. If you would have asked him, though, this greatest adventure was the pursuit of love after meeting the lovely Dahlia. His reputation most defiantly preceded him and he had his work cut out for him while trying to woe his beloved. She wanted nothing to do with a scoundrel of his caliber. But as time passed and he proved his nature to her she began to realize who he really was and it became HER greatest adventure to tame the rugged, unrefined creature she had fallen in love with.
After a short year of marriage Dahlia birthed twins, Owen and Violet. Violet was a mommy’s girl to the end. She was always putting on her mother’s jewelry and dressing pretty. Owen couldn’t be more opposite… he wanted to be exactly like his father. Every night before bed he begged Thomas to retell the story of when swung from the mast of the Alexia Re onto the upper deck of a Tirinothian galleon during a midnight boarding. He held the rapier his father gave him out of the very treasure acquired that night, out like he was a pirate himself while his father spun the yarn for the 33rd time. He was too heavy for him, but he would never let his father see him straining. He wanted nothing more than to be exactly like his father when he grew up.
Thomas would not live long enough to see his son follow in his footsteps. When Owen and Violet were only 7 years old men came to see Thomas. He wouldn’t allow the twins to follow when he accompanied the men outside, but Dahlia watched though the window. They twins were too young to know what was happening but they knew it wasn’t good. They could hear arguing from outside… the voices grew to shouting. The details are fuzzy in their minds, all they can really remember how is their mother screaming and running outside. As she attempted to leave the cabin, the door burst open and 2 men pushed her aside and began to ransack. Dahlia grabbed the twins and ran out the door. Owen still clutching his prized rapier they ran to Thomas’ motionless body lying on the dirt path leading to the doorway. She stopped to help but it was too late. Most of the details are lost his mind, but there is one thing that Owen will always remember, the face of the man who first came to the door. It was a grizzled unshaven face that looked to have been made of leather. A scar ran across his cheek and one eye was pure white. He name was Grumio.
When Dahlia returned with the constable, the cabin was totally a shambles and all of the acquired treasures inside were gone. Thomas’ body still lay on the path. There was nothing to do… they had nothing, only a ransacked cabin where all their future dreams died along with Thomas. After a month of shuffling around to different neighbors who charitably helped the family, Dahlia decided to do something unthinkable. Ask Thomas’ estranged brother Rupert for help.
“Rupert Stark, a man not befitting the name Stark. He calls himself a holy man, but as I am certain the gods toast my father each night, I am equally certain that they flatulent in Rupert Stark’s general direction. The less I see or hear of him better my demeanor will be. I haven’t seen him if 656 days and I shall now be purchasing a round for every man, woman and child within line of sight!”
I haven’t spoken of Rupert to this point because Thomas and Rupert never saw eye to eye on anything in life. To be honest, they barely knew one another. The rest of Owen and Violets childhood was vastly different from the first 7 year. Rupert, being just about the staunchest of holymen and the MOST unforgiving and difficult man that may have lived made it a misery. Rupert married Dahlia out of pity and charity. Though the family was provided for it was not the ideal life. He was always dragged to Rupert’s sermon at the local temple. Though the twins never saw a copper piece of it, Rupert also became quite wealthy from his congregation’s generous tithe offerings. Owen was constantly being disciplined for this and that and whatever. All of these things were annoying and difficult to bear, but one thing Owen could never abide, he grew up being told that his father was a thief, murderer and a blaspheming grave robber. This made Owen hate Rupert. He knew his father was a good man. He always remembered what his father told him, “There are more men than not out in the world who would sooner slit your throat than look at you. There are times to be a gentleman, but gentlemen never finish first.” Dahlia hated it when Thomas would say that. Owen never lost the will to follow in his father’s footsteps… he only had to wait until he was old enough to make it on his own. That is exactly what he did. On his 13th birthday, the same age his father was when he met Ajax, he left home. He only told Violet knowing that his mother wouldn’t let him leave and Rupert would tan his hide for even suggesting such an fool’s idea.
Without the aid of a wizard in a deep blue robe, Owen has to learn on his own how to become an adventurer and acquirer of the unacquirable. His only teacher was the stories told to him by his father. Over the next 2 years Owen traveled. Some would consider it even bordering on “looking for trouble”. How else was he supposed to learn how to deal with a problem if you haven’t encountered it. Looking for trouble can prove to be a dangerous endeavor when you can barely swing a sword.
Thought his “looking for trouble” times, Owen actually managed get pretty proficient with a sword. Not the rapier his father had given him though, that’s a weapon for Stark… it has to be earned and he hadn’t yet earned it. He will. It’s foremost on his mind. He wants to be able to tell people that he is the son of the great Thomas Stark and people would say – “That’s figures, let’s have a drink.”
Owen has become to date a fairly good acquirer of the relatively unacquirable. He has regular buyers for many of the antiquities he uncovers and many of them are actually very pleased with his promptness and prices. He has been on a few adventures that would seriously pale in comparison to those of his father, but something that he doesn’t really know about himself that he surely inherited from his father – When the account is retold through the mouth of a Stark, every adventure is a campaign of greatness that is nothing less than legend.
The People in the Lives of the Starks
Jubal Stark: Father of Thomas, grandfather to Owen. The stories of his death are basically legend within the family. No one really knows for sure what happened to him. He may very well he alive out there somewhere, but Owen doesn’t really bother looking for him.
Katharine “Kat” Byrne: Mother of Thomas, grandmother to Owen. She was a whore in her day, but has since risen to the ranks of Madam of her very own den of inequity within a pub and gambling house owned by man named E.B. Honeywell. Such businesses are very profitable in a frontier area such as the area surrounding Stillwater. Owen doesn’t really have much contact with her. He sees her periodically when he’s traveling though (fill in a nearby city here). She’s an irritant to Owen, but she’s family, some times you gotta put aside bad blood for family. Owen defiantly doesn’t get along well with E.B., he is one of the people who see Owen and his father as scoundrels and grave robbers – BUT he is a scoundrel as well and understands and openly admits that. He looks as Owen as a man who doesn’t admit to himself that they are on the same level.
Thomas Stark: Father of Owen. I saw his dead body lying there. I’m fairly certain he’s dead.
Ajax Redgate: Wizard and mentor to Thomas Stark. Not sure where he is or if he’s even alive at this point. Never met him. I feel like I know him intimately because of all of the stories my father told me over the years. My father would always lament about how he wish he knew why Ajax sent him away in the way he did. There was always speculation, particularly after spending 10 years in the same line of work as Ajax that he and Thomas were in some kind of danger and Ajax was protecting a young Thomas. But there’s no way to know.
Violet Stark: Sister of Owen. Violet is one of the night time barmaids at the Burley Bore. She’s a wonderfully attractive woman and all the available men in town would love to marry her. Violet could have the pick of the litter, but he never chooses, nor has she really ever dated many of them to their chagrin. She is a very independent woman who lives on her own and supports herself. I always assumed she got this trait from watching her mother beg for food and lodging and eventually marrying a man she had no love for just to survive. She didn’t want to be like that and she doesn’t want to be dependent on anyone. Though she’s extremely girl (loving to wear pretty clothing, jewelry and makeup) she’s also extremely intelligent. She always has her nose in a good book. Many times she’s aided me in researching my man treasure hunting expeditions. Violet and I have a good relationship and I make it a point to visit her each time I’m though town – I also tend to stay with her if I’m a little strapped on cash at that very moment. I think she likes that I need her sometimes, but I don’t want to be the kind of person that needs anyone either.
Dahlia Stark: After being forced to marry Rupert out of necessity, she became a sad and sometimes bitter woman. Over the years she’s mellowed considerably since she has really no other choice in life (at lease in her mind). She never wants for anything though – Rupert sees to her comfort and she has nearly anything she wants. I still see sadness in her eyes when we are together though. Violet told me before that she tends is sadder when I am around because I look so much like our father and it only brings back bad memories. I try not to visit too much, I think it only makes her life harder. She lives in the next town over – about 2 days ride with Rupert in the house the congregation built for him. And he calls me a thief.
Rupert Stark: Rupert Stark is a loathsome man with the morals of a goblin. If it weren’t for my mother, I’d have taught him a lesson long ago. It would be one he’d never forget. The very sight of him makes me want to vomit on his expensive leather boot. Even his black/graying goatee and slick hair makes him look like a villain. He is the portrait of what a villain should look like and that’s that. If I ever see him again it’ll be too soon.
Grumio: The man who killed my father. His face and name haunt my dreams at night. When I find him I will kill him in cold blood – and I will make sure it is a slow death so he can endure just a few moments of what my family has endured for years.
Elion Ealoren: Elion is a civilized Elven swordsmith who lives just inside the Upper Wilds north of Anewen. I became friendly with him while exploring the upper wilds looking. He was a great asset to me in those days for he would make sure that I didn’t screw up any customs or etiquette when I’d meet the Wild Spirits. He also was the person who trained me to be a proper swordsman. Whenever I see him he spars with me to see how my training is coming. He told me that I’m never going to be a real swordsman as long as I fumble around with a short sword – I must use the fine rapier at my side. One day I’ll best him with my rapier, but not yet. At the start of the game I am just returning to Stillwater after staying with Elion. I am returning with a bottle of Goji Berry Elven Wine requested by (Jesko’s Character).
Able Raferty: Able is a nice fellow, he works at the market house in Stillwater. He’s a very tall man skinny man with a big bushy gray mustache. Able was once like my father, an adventurer and explorer, but has since gone lame in one leg and can no longer travel great distances. Able knew my father and traveled with him on a few adventures. He’s in his mid to late 40’s but has gone very gray since he retired. Sedentary life doesn’t suit him. He likes to deal in artifacts like idols, statues, books, paintings – really any special interest antiques that would catch one’s eye. I’ve actually been commissioned by him on a number of occasions to retrieve items for his clients and we would share in the profits. He’s a good man, and we always share a meal and night of drinking together when I come through Stillwater. I feel sorry for him, I know all he really wants is to be out on the road doing what I’m doing.
Serpico Boone: Another marketplace vendor who deals in antiquities. This one is not quite so nice in my mind though. He often attempts to pass off shotty goods as valuable. He always has a story for each item he sells that may or may not be true. They typically aren’t. He knows that I and Able know the difference between good items and junk so he doesn’t typically try. I’m always guarded around him because if I let on that I don’t know something he’ll try and take advantage of that to get some coin out of me. I deal with him none the less – he does tend to get good piece from time to time and he rarely tries to cheat me out of my pay when I work with him. He’s not a bad sort, just has a bad sense of good business. He’s a short apeish sort with hairy arms and legs and hair on his toes and knuckles and always has a jungle pouring out of the top of his shirt. He rarely shaves so he often looks like an ape. If he gets loud, we poke fun of him about that and he typically shuts up.
Vince Mulberry: Vince deals primarily in coins and other forms an antiquated currency. This is more or less a hobby for him and never really makes any money off of it. His stand at the marketplace sells just about everything – he more or less sells junk by my standards (tools, wood carvings, pots and pans, garbage like that). I’m always on the lookout for old antique coins that I can sell off to them. It can be fairly profitable since they take up such a small amount of space and typically when I’m on other business rare coins are hanging around nearby. He’s an old fart with wild gray hair and really terrible eyesight – he always tends to have a jewelers loupe hanging out of his eye. He walks with an old wooden cane that he’s always complaining about.