The Isle of Forgotten Dreams
Nygel is an unassuming halfling, a former accountant and overall insignificant small man.... more to come...
Formerly a very proper and well-behaved halfling, lately Nygel’s appearance has become less well-kept. This seems to be consistent with his demeanor, which has darkened after traveling with Corvis.
OOC: Looking at taking levels in Slayer. Oh man, this looks awesome! http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/advancedClassGuide/classes/slayer.html
“Alright rat! You go get me those pastries or I’ll beat ‘ya again! Understand?!?!”
Most people didn’t think of humans as giants but at that moment, Nygel Cobblewick did. The spittle showered his sad little face as he looked into his tormentor’s eyes with fear. The sweat and blood mixed as it dripped from his chin. He trembled in mid-air, hoisted by the scruff of his tunic. By Halfling standards, Nygel Cobblewick was almost a full-grown adult, yet true to the stature of his kind, he was merely the size of a human toddler. Although it made him a target for bullies it also provided him with an exceptional ability to slither about undetected. Unfortunately, Dyrk Grantham knew that.
“Uh… yes, of course Dyrk, anything for you!”
“Good.. good. Hurry up, ‘cause I’m hungry.” The brute let Nygel down.
The sun was just setting, which meant that many of the shops were closing for the day. It was the perfect time to make a quick grab while the baker, old Merle, was distracted with his end-of-day tasks. Although from a moral standpoint, Nygel was against stealing, he preferred not being beaten even more… and this wasn’t the first time.
The little Halfling slid into the shadows, in the alley behind the shop. The back window was left open to cool off the kitchen, which had the additional benefit of advertising Merle’s delicious baked-goods. Nygel waited patiently. The baker’s assistant, Finni, was washing one of a multitude of dishes. He waited some more. This was taking too long… he would need a distraction to get into the kitchen. Through the window, Nygel could see an arrangement of glass jars and other pottery on a high shelf.
“Tickety-boo! A little broken glass should do it then.” he whispered to himself. He picked up a small rock, took aim and threw. Unfortunately, the vase did not break but It did pitch forward and then… teetered on the shelf before falling with a loud crash.
“What in the Abyss!” the baker shouted. “Finni! Get in here. You’ve a mess to clean up.”
As expected, the apprentice left the kitchen. Nygel quickly climbed through the window and dropped to the kitchen floor. He walked silently over to the counter that held the treasure: golden-brown apple strudels. He pocketed one and then another, just as he was grabbing a third, the baker walked into the kitchen and witnessed the crime in action.
Nygel smiled and then took a quick glance at the window. Merle did the same, minus the smile, but he was closer. The little Halfling was trapped but ran for the window anyway. It was a long-shot but what other choice was there? He jumped up and grabbed the sill. He quickly began to pull himself up and for an instant thought he just might escape. But alas… the baker grabbed the back of his neck and hauled him down.
“Nygel Cobblewick! Looks like I got ya snookered this time! I should have known it was you all along and here I’ve been blaming my Finni.” As if on queue the apprentice walked into the kitchen and joined in the berating with a scowl, directed at Nygel.
“The way I see it, you owe me but I know you got no coin and yer folks are no better off.” The old baker had a surprisingly strong grip as Nygel’s neck began to grow sore.
He rubbed his chin and squinted, staring at Nygel, clearly deep in thought. Suddenly his eyebrows popped up like a pair of fresh-baked muffins. He gently released his prisoner, “I know what we’ll do. It just so happens I need a book-keeper and I know you’ve been learnin’ that ‘A’-counting stuff from the school down the road. The way I figure it, you’ll pay off your debt to me by the end of the season.”
“… well yes but I just started… I don’t think I can…”
The man bellowed, “It’s decided. You didn’t ask me if you could take my pastries or break my vase so I ain’t askin’ you about this either. I’ll see you here at dawn tomorrow. And don’t even think about skipping out on me…” He patted the large knife attached to his belt. “I know where you live Nygel Cobblewick!”
Nygel left the shop only to find Dyrk leaning against the recently lit lamp-post outside. Fortunately for Nygel, the baker did not remember to confiscate the stolen goods.
And so Nygel’s profession began. After the season ended, Merle offered him a full-time position, which didn’t pay much but it was a good start. With income came status. The bullies backed off as Nygel began to surround himself with new friends and business associates. Over the years, Nygel worked his way up from one business to another. He also had to take on some odd jobs to help support his parents, who were usually either drunk, bickering, or both. The chaos and drama from his home life drove Nygel to appreciate the order his new profession brought into his life. Doing the work made him feel in control. Eventually he founds himself working for a large mining operation, which paid really well.
After several years, Nygel had managed to move out on his own and even build up some wealth. Things were looking good. Of course, right when he started to feel comfortable things began to change…
The miners would come to Nygel’s office every week to pick up their pay. The amount of pay was dependent on how well they did: the better the haul, the higher the pay. On one particular pay day, the books showed that the pay would be the lowest in years. Nygel was curious and also just a bit skittish as the burly miners were not happy.
Nygel smiled nervously as he held his accounting book open in front of him, as if it could protect him from a disgruntled worker.
“Uh-hem. I see here, uh Mr. Cresthill, that you have worked sixty-two hours this week. Sooo, that’s uh… well, that’s going to be three silver and four coppers.”
Nygel handed the seven small coins to the man, half expecting to be pummeled and was relieved when the man humbly took the coins before responding, “I don’t need pity from a Halfling. Hmph. It’s my fault anyways.” The miner slowly turned to leave but Nygel’s fear was replaced with curiosity.
He held out his hand in a stopping gesture “Wait. Mr. uh… Mr. Cresthill. If you don’t mind my asking… why do you think this is your fault? Your pay this week is just about the same as the other miners.”
“True enough. I guess we’re all to blame for the low production then. But I tell you what, nobody wants to go down to the deep tunnels anymore. Quentin was the last to go down there a couple of weeks ago. When he came back, he was different… broken. It was like he went numb or something. Something down there scared him so bad he could barely talk anymore. We did manage to figure out that there was a hole in the cave wall. It opened up into big ancient shrine or crypt or somethin’. Lots of treasure but then something dead came after him. It was trying to bite him, like it was hungry. He barely got away. But he ain’t half the man he used to be. It’s like he’s cursed.”
The miner took a deep cleansing breath and rubbed the top of his head, “Now nobody wants to go down that way and that’s about the only spot worth mining.” He turned and quietly shuffled out of the office. Nygel sat alone with a head full of mixed emotions and questions.
Later that night the little Halfling tossed and turned, unable to sleep. He was both disturbed and tormented by the thought of something undead, hungry for the living. At the same time, something inside him, was very excited about the possibility of… of what? Adventure? Wealth? Becoming a hero? The insomnia would not relent. Finally Nygel sat up in his cot, “Blimey, I’ve got to!”
He quickly went to his closet where he had a number of old things collecting dust: a backpack, his starknife, some picks and tools, an old lantern and even an old shoddy suit of leather armor. Nygel hastily geared up, muttering encouraging words to himself the whole time… “…can do this Cobblewick!”. “… can’t let opportunity pass by…”. Finally, once he was ready, he found himself standing before his door, shaking and sweating. Too nervous to move forward, he turned to grab his favorite accounting book nearby as his muttering increased in volume until finally he shouted to himself “I’M IN CONTROL HERE!” He stuffed the text into his backpack and swung the door open, heading out with a very determined march.
The mines were not guarded and even if they were, being an employee would provide Nygel unrestricted access. The trek was much further than he had anticipated and the darkness was complete. Nygel barely managed to light his lantern before he swallowed nervously, “Alright ‘ole boy. Just jaunt on down here and grab a few things then…right.”
The shadows just outside the reach of his light seemed to taunt him. He was nearing the breached area where the undead thing existed. Could those shadows be undead or were they merely shadows? Nygel grabbed his starknife, his arm cocked and ready to throw. “Desna, please be with me now!” He continued, cautiously, forward.
Up ahead he could see the large hole in the cave wall, beyond was inky darkness. Again, Nygel stopped, gripped by fear. What possessed him to even do this? He glanced back behind him as he considered turning back. He saw his accounting book peeking out the top of his backpack. With a gleam in his eye, he declared, “No, I’ve bloody-well got this!”
Nygel straightened his tunic and with new resolve marched forward. His lantern held in front, he was now more curious than afraid. As he entered the lost crypt he also stepped into a life-changing event. The mystery of the place filled him with awe. There were intricate statues and columns carved from the stone. What appeared to be an entrance to the crypt was now closed off, filled with rocks and debris. The ceiling was perfectly in tact and had a mosaic of a man knelt before a beautiful woman in a glade, her hand held in his. As Nygel gawked upward, he walked slowly about the place, taking it all in… except for what was right in front of him. He almost crashed into, or through it, before he realized what was happening. A ghostly figure stood less than two feet from him, regarding him.
“Ahhhh!!!” Nygel’s surprise was short-lived as amazement quickly replaced his sudden shock. He squinted, then rubbed his eyes. The apparition floated in front of him. It was a beautiful woman, much like the one in the mural above. He looked back up at the mural, then back to the apparition.
He pointed at the ghost, “Ya ya you…”
“Yes, I am the one in the painting.”
This undead was not horrifying at all. In fact, she was serene yet seemed to carry sadness on her face.
“I exist here for an eternity. Forever separated from my love, Sven. Soon, even his memory will fade and I will become a tortured and savage spirit. Already I lapse in and out of this state where I become deadly to those unfortunate to meet me and a curse to those who gaze upon me and live. Soon, I fear that I the change will become permanent. Can nothing save me from this fate?”
Eh-hem. “Well. I’m very pleased to meet you ma’am… Ms. Uh?…”
The apparition merely stared at him. No response.
“Well, I am Mr. Cobblewick, at your service!”, a flourishing bow followed.
Nygel took a step forward and extended his hand. The ghost looked at it and a smile began to grow on her face. Perhaps for the first time in many, many years.
“Truly?” She turned and floated up a small set of steps to the elaborate open stone casket where her body rested.
“Could it be true? A hero? I never even imagined!”
Nygel’s face twisted in confusion as he began to realize what she was thinking. “Well, I don’t know about all that. You see, it’s… it’s just an expression.”
But the ghost didn’t seem to hear him. Instead she floated back down the steps in front of him.
“Here is what you must do, Mr. Cobblewick: For my soul to finish its journey, it must be allowed to rest. There can not be any unresolved manners. My house must be in order, so to speak. My love had proposed to me on the very day that I passed. Because of this, my engagement ring holds great sentimental value, as you can imagine. To my knowledge it would have been on my finger at my funeral, yet as you can see, it is not here. You must find my ring and return it to where it belongs. Only then can I find rest.”
Nygel listened to the apparition carefully before responding, “So you would like me to find your ring. Hmm, well it does sound like the kind of thing a hero would do, now doesn’t it? Yes, yes it does indeed. Right then, count me in!”
The hope and excitement of being a hero rapidly faded from the Halfling’s face as he realized… “Where exactly should I look for this ring? What did it look like? I mean how long ago did you uh… pass exactly?”
The woman-shaped fog paused in concentration. “It was a simple gold band. As for where to begin the search, I suppose many things could have changed over the years, although I know not how long it has been…”
“I remember a glade next to a lake, just outside of our property. That was a special place where ceremonies were often held, weddings, funerals…funerals…”
The apparition paused, her gaze cast to the floor. Soon, a vacant look dominated her expression. Her translucence began to shimmer, with dark spots of gray and black appearing. Her face began to twist into a menacing frown, her teeth resembling something that might belong to a wolf.
Nygel knew what was happening but wasn’t sure what to do about it, until a thought popped into his head, “Right… your ring! Your fiancé, Sven! I’m sure he would love to see you again.”
The transformation stopped, her prior appearance returning. “Mr. Cobblewick. Can you help me? I fear my time is nearing its end.”
This task seemed impossible. How could anyone expect to find a ring, from who knows how long ago with such little information? Being concerned about how his response could affect the tortured spirit, Nygel replied, “Certainly mylady! I will recover your ring so that your soul may find eternal rest.”
With that the little Halfling turned and left the crypt. His mind was racing, trying to solve this seemingly impossible task. Many more questions filled his head as he trekked up and out of the mine.
An hour later, he found himself standing in the middle of the glade that the ghost had mentioned. There were indeed ruins of a large manse nearby. By his best guess, and from what he had heard, it was at least three hundred years old. Nygel spent the next two hours searching the ruins.
Exhausted and thoroughly frustrated, Nygel exclaimed “Nothing! There is no way in all the layers of the Abyss that I can find this damn ring!” He paused, his mien dramatically transforming with hope along with his attitude, “Ha ha ha!! Bob’s your uncle! There is no way anyone could find THAT ring.”
By dawn, Nygel found himself heading back down into the mines. The workers would be showing up shortly so he wanted to get this done quickly. The journey this time was much less threatening. Soon he found himself approaching the mysterious lady, her form was flickering, with black and gray spots appearing randomly on her form. She was clearly struggling to keep the transformation at bay.
The little Halfling darted to the skeleton that lay in the stone casket. He paused as he had not taken the time earlier to notice the wedding gown she wore, barely intact. His moment of sympathy was disrupted by an unnatural and deafening scream. He saw that the ghost was losing her battle to keep the change at bay. He quickly thrust a gold ring onto her skeletal finger and then fell to the ground. Upon witnessing this, the transformation immediately ceased. The ghost’s form returned to normal. The woman smiled briefly and mouthed something but Nygel could not make it out as it dissipated in the air, like a fine mist.
The hero sat up, smiled, and then took a deep breath as he looked about at nothing in particular. Slapping his knees, he stood, straightened his tunic and marched out of the crypt, an adventurer. A hero.