To Kill a Dragon
human mother, elf father, born in the slave pits. at some point he discovers his telekinetic-mind wild talent as a kid, and his mother tells him that it is a sign he is destined for more than just survival, but he wrote it off to mother-speak. at some point later he is purchased out of the slave pit as a laborer for a merchant house.
he worked as a simple laborer and really nothing more. no errands, no responsibility or respect, just hard labor. a couple years onhe is deemed expendable and gets sent to do the heavy lifting on a dangerous trade route that could open up new markets for the house. he is handed a shield and a spear but no “good luck.” this is his first time out of the city, and he feels oddly different, almost like he has come home. he figures it is just because he is out of the oppressive social norms (being a 1/2 elf and all) and out of the oppressive city rules, and doesn’t think much of it.
a couple weeks into the route, the caravan gets assaulted by raiders. before the raiders arrive the guard captain (who seemed like an okay guy) tells him to use his shield to protect himself and to try to mostly stay out of the way, as he doesn’t have any combat training. so that’s what our hero does, lurking around the outskirts of the chaotic fight, maybe poking his spear a little, but mostly just avoiding projectiles and the focus of the raiders.
toward the end of the battle, a raider spots our man. getting stalked, he backs up, figuring this is when he dies. as the raider draws within melee striking distance, some strange, feral calm overtakes our hero – he has no idea what he is doing. he stops his backpedal, plants his feet and bares his teeth. the raider takes a vicious swing with his axe but the blow bounces off the shield like sand off a castle. then our hero runs the raider right through on his spear like an erdlu shish-kabob. looking back on it later, he realizes that after he killed that raider, he didn’t flee, hide or feel any remorse or confusion, rather he gazed across the battlefield, looking for more threats, again with that feeling of wild calm. there was no uncontrollable rage, wild-eyed fury or shifting of being, just a heightened feeling of confidence and power.
now aware of some external force affecting him, this feeling continued to manifest itself throughout the trip. he would get a sick feeling minutes before the navigator would declare they were lost, and a feeling of comfort when the caravan would pass areas that would have been well suited for making camp. he also felt himself instinctively keeping an eye out for threats, even though the rest of the trip was uneventful.
when in the cities this feeling of power was less acute. he still felt it some, like when he passed by the house’s tree in the stone courtyard, or found a small puddle in an alley, but it was much weaker than when he was outside the city walls. when he returned home he asked to go on more caravans and the merchant house agreed to send him on as many as he wished, as a caravan volunteer is not to be turned away. over the course of many many many trips, he took it upon himself to learn from navigators, caravan directors and guard captains. but their lessons were always confirmed or refuted by his newfound sense of awareness. over time he honed his sense of direction, safety, alertness, hunting and so forth, until he felt he had some innate sense of the world outside the city walls. the guard captain still tells the story of when our hero insisted to him that they would be attacked up the path at a known safe spot and was able to describe the ambush exactly as it ended up happening, saving the entire caravan. still not much of a formally trained fighter, he learned to use his physical abilities and new power to lurk at the outside of a combat, protecting himself while giving enemies devastating axe and javelin throws and thrusts at opportune moments.
his new life as a valued member of the house’s main caravans was much better than slave labor, but he did not feel any gratification from that alone. something constantly gnawed at him – what was this power he now felt, and used to his immesne advantage? it was completely different than his telekinetic-mind-type power (which allowed him to bring/teleport small and medium objects to him almost at will). that mind-power he would just think about, and it happened. this was different – an external force or being filling his own body and mind with seemingly animal-like senses and ability. who/where did it come from? why did it affect only him (the guard captain had never heard anything about such things)? why was it stronger outside of the city? was this some part of the secret to the dry, barren world he lived on? would this turn him good? would it turn him evil? was he unwittingly in hock to a higher being? he had to find out. he had to know.
the dying spirits of athas had found their seeker, and maybe, their savior.