Searching The Night
Oh Shiny! *swipe* Purrrrr....
Swashbuckler 5 / Invisible Blade 5 / Rouge 0
- Knight of Halavent
- Marshal of the Realm
- Lord of Dunklen Wald
His earliest memories were of smoke and fire. During the long dark nights while he works his mind would sometimes drift, as he sits silent and still, to those memories and he would wonder where he really came from and how different his life would have been.
Smoke and fire and running. He remembered running away into the darkness. The cold night swallowing him up. Running for hours until he collapsed from exhaustion. Waking up to the weak sunlight with the stench of smoke still heavy in the air. Sneaking his way through the grasslands and the woods. Shying away from roads and towns and the unfamiliar forms he saw among the buildings.
He remembered the day the fear gave way to hunger. He wasn’t sure how long it had been but both the smoke and fire far behind him and the strange town in front of him melted away to be replaced by hunger. Slowly, carefully he made his way to the edge of the village in the middle of the night. Being so young and small he slipped past the watch under the cover of darkness and hunted for scraps to fill his belly. He slipped back out before dawn leaving unnoticed. After a few days he noticed there were more watchers, and that they were closer to the places that had the best scraps. He decided to find another place to hunt so he moved on until he found another town.
This is how it was, at first. For weeks, or months, or years he wasn’t sure. He went from settlement, to village, to caravan, sneaking in and feeding off of scraps. Sometimes he went for days without eating but he was able to survive. Then everything changed. He remembered the first time he saw it, Grace Grove. It was enormous compared to the villages he had seen before. There must be enough food in there to feed him everyday for a life time he figured. So that night he crept in.
He remembered that first night clearly. He was only a few streets in when he saw someone empty out a big box of scraps in an alley. He crept around and sneaked up to a spot where he could see the alley clearly but remained hidden. He watched and waited and then saw what he expected. He was not alone. With this much food others had come to rummage through the scraps. He saw as the older and bigger ones were able to take what they wanted and leave little or nothing for those who could not fight them off. He looked down at his own slight limbs knowing that he had better figure out another way to get food. He moved on until he saw another fresh pile of food. This time he followed one of the bigger ones moved away munching on his prize. He waited patiently until the big one was alone and then pounced. He knew he was no match in shear strength but his goal was not to subdue his opponent. He just wanted the food. He managed to knock the scraps away on the initial blow and sprang after them. Scooping them up he sprinted away before the enemy could be sure who he was or what he saw. And thus it was that his daring, finesse, and intelligence kept him fed.
After a few years of begging, Kato had picked up a few other tricks. He had learned how to pick a pocket and cut a purse. He had made ‘friends’ with some of the smaller children, as he had learned they were called (not cubs), and taught them that if they worked with him they got more food than working alone. He had also become fluent in many of the different languages he heard spoken on the streets after learning that he could often hear things no one else could and on occasion could get paid by the right people for sharing those secrets. He still avoided fights, as best he could, as he tended to be smaller and more slight than the other orphans. He figured out that there was no point in fighting ‘fair’ as he sometimes hear it called. Either he would talk his way out of whatever trouble he was in or if he had to fight it was on his own terms. If you have to strike then strike hard and fast and, if possible, strike so hard that your opponent cannot retaliate. The equivalent of a young boy he had started making a name for himself in the circles he ran with and many of the older children knew better than to challenge him.
As he grew older and larger he grew more bold. The hunger had changed. He no longer needed food to survive but he was still hungry for more. He saw how the nobles lived in opulence, never having to work, and he hunger for that. He saw how they never had to bow and scrap or pay heed to anyone beneath them and he hungered for that. He saw how they had power and influence and could make others obey with just a word and he hungered for that. He was not aware of it but others were watching him. It was not just the beggars and orphans that were learning who he was but it seems members of the guild for procurement of certain items had an eye and an ear on him as well. He did not know this but was about to find out.
It was shortly into his adolescence that he was approached by a quite man, dressed richly, but covered in a deep cloak and asked to meet someone. He had shared some secrets with this man before and was usually paid well. Though his sense of danger and caution was rising, he knew that this encounter held great opportunity. He lead into the basement of a seedy inn and greeted by a handful of men sitting behind a table. It was here that the interrogation began.
He stood quietly at first and gave short quiet answers. After providing his name, the area/shops he controlled (i.e. which taverns he scavenged from), and the name of his ‘gang’ has was asked to show what he could do. Kato raised an eyebrow and calmly asked, “What do you mean?” He explained he was merely a poor beggar orphan who was scraping by with a few fellows. He had no special skills or abilities. The interviewers then confronted him with deeds he performed and how he was the only ‘black cat’ in the city. Kato responded that it could not have been him, he was too slow, too weak. He was sure there were many other catfolk in the city but only he was the only one noticed since he begged. The rest were too sly to be seen so of course they suspected him. The interviewers eyed him closely and silently for a long time once he had finished.
With a wave of a hand he was dismissed and turned to leave. Two grown men blocked his way with cudgels. He smiled and asked them men to please move out of his way. When they responded with a laugh he smiled viciously and pounced with daggers springing into his hands. The toughs never saw it coming and were quickly disabled, unconscious, and bleeding. He spun around ready to face more attackers an none were there. The interviewers were still watching closely and silently lacking any shock on their faces. Kato turned to the closed door and attempted to leave but the door was locked. “Did you think it would be that easy to escape?” Said the man who had lead him into this trap as he approached. Wasting no words Kato tumbled past him into the open in order to avoid being cornered. Again, Kato smiled viciously as he held up a key which had been attached to his opponents belt moments before and turned sprinting and leaped over the interviewers landing next to a concealed back door.
Before using the key he quickly scanned the room and saw that no one was advancing on him. He paused and began examining the door and there it was, a thin trip wire at the bottom of the door. A few seconds later he had disabled the trap and opened the door but did not leave. He turned, smiled viciously at the interviewers, and gave a bow asking, “Will that suffice?” A man emerged from the shadows whom Kato had not seen before and spoke but not in the ragged common tounge Kato was used to hearing but with refinement, “That will be sufficient. Your particular set of talents are not what we usually look for in our members but then again your set of talents are not usual. I have a proposition for you. Your kind is not widely accepted, not widely known, and easy to pick out and for those reasons alone we would deny you membership. But as you have show you are unusual and thus the normal rules do not apply. My proposition is this. We will train you, protect you, and equip you. You will perform certain duties, or jobs, for us from time to time. You will, of course, be compensated for your work. You will not be a full member of our group but you will not be outcast and alone either. You will be able to take on any and all additional work that you elect to. You will be a… contractor, to use a civilized term. What do you say?”
Kato pondered for a moment before flashing his vicious smile and replying, “Yes.”
Thus Kato entered a new world where he could finally begin to satiate his hunger. He spent years learning and honing his craft and had accumulated a fair amount of wealth in a relatively short time. He no longer dressed in rags but in rich garments that nobles wore. His speech quickly gained the refinement that he had heard on that first day in the basement. He had learned how to move in different circles in the city and was generally known as some minor noble or well to do merchant. He had different names but the same face which he enjoyed (Most people had no way to tell one cat folk from another unless the difference was glaring). He no longer preyed on the masses but began to go after real wealth. It was after his biggest job to date that he encountered the strange sign.
He had, very recently, infiltrated one of the major nobles manors and managed to steal an antique and prized halberd and regiment flag. It was not his concern why someone wanted it stolen, (though he knew a noble’s squabble over whose family really led that regiment in the great war was the source and a rival family had paid dearly for the guild to get it) all he was concerned with was the chance to practice his skills (and show them off), and that the contract be paid. Getting out of the manor house with a full regiment standard was quite a feat. In the end he had turned over the items and taken his allotted payment. Afterwards he met with Samus Wyvernjack, in order to return to discuss his future.
Kato knew that he was on a short list of people that could pull off something like this and that he had better take a vacation for a while so when he met with Samus he inquired if it was acceptable for him to be away for a while. Samus agreed that that was the best plan and asked that Kato return all guild equipment. It was then that Kato reminded him of the initial contract they had agreed to those many years ago. In order to venture into the country side and be independent he would need supplies, provisions, and equipment which the guild was obligated to provide. It was then that the Samus smiled and said, “It seems today you learn your final lesson from me. Always be careful in the wording of your contracts. We will continue to equip you but not with the equipment you desire.” as he tossed an old, used, smelly bedroll to Kato, “There is your guild equipment. Now return the rest.”
Kato was stunned. For all these years he had been growing more and more confident. He was always able to succeed where others had failed. Now this, to be betrayed, and cast out! That was wrong, that was evil, that was inconceivable… that was a breach of contract. With a vicious smile he fixed his eyes on Samus, “You promised me protection, you promised that I would not be outcast and alone. For the ‘good of the guild’ I am leaving and yet you are breaching the terms of our agreement by casting me out. Before this goes any further let me propose this. I will keep what I need to survive away from the city and in exchange I will pay an agreed upon reasonable price for the equipment I take with me. The previous agreement can carry on with this provision.”
Samus smiled warmly, “Agreed, and let us hope you return soon and safely for I see great things in our future.” Kato spent a few minutes working out a price and set off that evening. On his way out of town he stopped to check the crier’s board and noticed a strange sign. It was strange in that as he walked up to it a tab appeared for him to take where there had been none before. Forest Lake he thought. That sounds like it should be fun and he set off.