They say Mom never spoke of the attack…but she bore the scars from it until she died. In childbirth. Giving birth to me. An abomination of elf and demon.
My elven father never forgave me for mom’s death. I was different. I was “of him that had hurt her”. I’d been the tool that finished the job. I was to be resented. Abhored. To be endured…only, because she would have wanted it that way.
I’d been born a Tiefling. Half elf, half…evil thing to be hated. I kept my hair long, so my small horns were not seen. I could usually pass for an elf…but I was taller than strictly average, possessed of lean muscle, and an unnatural intelligence. My skin was a bit darker than normal, and almost translucent. After dark, I was told my red-brown eyes reflected the night sky similar to those of a large hunting cat. And as if I wasn’t already “different enough”…I also possessed a small, scaled, reptilian tail.
We moved frequently, my dad taking odd, meaningless jobs…until folks realized who he was, or who or what I was. Despite my best efforts to hide beneath a cowls, cloaks and baggy clothes, I would inevitably be seen for the abomination that I was. A farmer once told me why his animals were uneasy around me…”Boy, you have the look and smell of a predator”. Not a pleasant analogy, but it was good to at least be acknowledged by another being. My father merely sneered at me when that had happened…ashamed that I’d been noticed at all.
I can remember the day my dad took his own life. He stared at me as he did so…a blade to his wrists, his eyes filled with tears. But his eyes were cold…so cold. Completely without compassion or remorse. I was 11.
I was in and out of orphanages for years following. No one wanted the responsibility of raising me, being near me. I was often beaten by staff members. I escaped when I could, found other cities and other orphanages when winter came. I was bullied…always bullied. Persecuted for being different. I was bigger, faster, stronger, more intelligent than others my age…and was resented for it. And I was “different”. I honestly tried to help others, if for no other reason than to atone for the fact that I existed at all. Few others would accept my help. Many feared me, most hated me. Sometimes when I was ganged up on, I’d respond…with fierce words of hate. Bad things…unexplainable things would sometimes happen to those I’d been angry with. It felt good to lash out…physically…mentally, but with it too came shame…for in those moments, I would become that which they most wanted me to be. A monster…
Unable to cope with public perception, and refusing to give my dad’s ghost an ounce of satisfaction…I struck out on my own at 13. Alone.
One late summer day, I was sleeping near a remote mountain lake. It was an ancient and peaceful place, of solid stone and earth. I attempted to start a fire, and it jumped to life. The air was sweet and clean, the wind a gentle caress. Everything seemed so…wild. Untamed. I spent several blissful and tranquil weeks in the grotto there. Over time, I was visited by…a presence. No name, no words…just…a presence. An understanding took place…although I had no way to prove it, for we’d not communicated. At least not in the traditional sense. The presence took nothing, and promised even less…but when I awoke the next morning, I felt different. I can’t explain why or how, only that it felt as if…something had awoken within me.
At 15, I was captured stealing food one winter, and beaten terribly. Was again put in an “orphanage”, but this time that was really just a fancy term for a “jail for young folks”. I wasn’t quite as alone here, as I was bigger than others—I was treated with a sort of distant respect, only because I was an ally of sorts. There was no loyalty there, however. Kids here were periodically sold into slavery, or as mercenaries—there wasn’t time or the desire to make more of the situation.
One day we were awoken early, yanked from bed, and examined…like cattle. Three of us were taken. We “had the mark”, they had said. I didn’t know what they’d meant, at the time. Now I understand that my dragonmark had begun to reveal itself high up on my chest and left shoulder.
I welcomed the location change, at first. But soon realized these were cruel people. They experimented on us, with science and magicks. Some of us died from the abuse, some were damaged mentally. Some few of us responded in different ways. The experiments were terrible, but amid the agony—subtle powers revealed themselves to me…shadows in particular, but even the elements seemed aware of my proximity. Stone, air and water, even fire…it felt as though they could sense me the way my senses were aware of them. I’ve not experimented with these powers, I’ve kept them hidden from my cruel masters, mostly because I don’t know how they’d react. But something has changed within me. And perhaps without, as well. Over time, I grew to enjoy the pain. In ways I don’t fully understand…the alertness of my surroundings and of those around me grew as well.
I think there may be a way out of here, am pretty sure I have a fair chance of escape. But I won’t go without the others. I’m not fooling myself, I have no friends here…but no one deserves this. Perhaps I can even the score…make a difference. Repent. Repent for…for just having been born at all…