What follows is a small background I was working on for a Dungeons & Dragons character that I’ve started playing with some co-workers. I’ve enjoyed writing about this character and find their progression to be interesting, so I may write more about them in the future.
That said, I’ve been worldbuilding for something larger that I’d like to write about. The details about the world in which Darius Tupper lives fall within the confines of what the Dungeon Master (DM) created for this adventure. I may come back to this at a later date and re-write the character to a world of my own creation.
Father Darius Tupper.
That was what they called me.
I was a dutiful servant of Chauntea, and well regarded in the community of Kleb.
But all things must change.
I don’t have any sob stories to tell, I wasn’t an orphan, I wasn’t abused by the clergy; every decision that I have made in my life I have done so of my own volition and with my own self-interest at heart.
I had two parents who loved me dearly, as I loved them. We weren’t rich, but we weren’t destitute. My father was a reputable hatter, and my mother was a seamstress; together, they operated a shop, Tupper’s Tops, and were often called upon by nobility to provide the latest spring or fall fashions for their… refined taste. A peacock feather in a hat here, a dash of crimson velvet there, a smattering of pinecones wrapped up in a fine sky blue lace – for the season of course. Honestly, the things that these pretentious nobles paid for were ridiculous, but money was money as my father said.
These nobles were often accustomed to treating those of a different social standing as being beneath them. My dear father either refused to see it or remained willfully ignorant to the fact, but it always ignited a flame inside of me. The way the nobility treated my parents sickened me. Mother and father had spent years teaching me their trade so that I may one day inherit the family business, but I didn’t want to spend my life in servitude to “my social betters” without something tangible to show for it, or at least feeling satisfied at the end of the day with what I had done.
Given my feelings about bowing and scraping to others, it may seem ironic that I left my home at the age of sixteen to train as a priest. I saw in my service to the goddess Chauntea something that I hadn’t seen before: a chance to help people that didn’t have any other options. These nobles, they could have gone to any hatter in Kleb or anywhere that they wanted and purchased a hundred hats or a thousand, it didn’t matter to them. Their money was their freedom to do what they wish and treat people how they wish.
By the age of twenty I was raised to the priesthood of Chauntea. I remember the pride that I felt the first time I wore my priestly robes. Those days, my time was spent doling out chores to initiates, hearing the pleas of people without options, and praying with them. There was peace in this simple life that I had chosen, and I was able to go to bed with a clear conscience every night. It was enough that I should help others.
By the age of thirty I was tasked with traveling the countryside to bring Chauntea’s blessings to those unfortunate souls that require her assistance. My days were spent traveling, praying with farmers, with barren mothers, with the poor. My nights were spent in bawdy taverns or barns, wherever I could sleep on a pallet for a few coppers or someone’s charity. The days were long, the nights were often cold and there were many days I would go without a meal, but it was enough that others found it in their hearts to provide this humble servant of Chauntea with a roof over his weary head.
Ten years is a long time to wander the highways and byways of Beylor. Ten years can make a heart grow cold, if not for that black flame that was ignited within so long ago. One of the strange things about traveling for so long is that you come to recognize fellow travelers. It could be a fellow you saw at a bar a few years back or a mother you prayed with on the road in hopes of her bearing her husband a son. Many of these names and faces are forgettable, but I began to notice a man that I would encounter from time to time in sleazy taverns. I had never spoken to the man but he had an air about him, one that I recalled the nobility from my youth had about them. He looked strong. Confident, as though he were an adventurer of some sort. Somehow I didn’t think that were the case. He wore black from head to toe, even black mail armor, and he would have stood out in any crowd, but no one paid him any mind. One night in Klib at The Howling Harlot tavern, I worked up the nerve to take a seat at the bar beside him.
“It seems our travels bring us together often, friend, though I don’t even know your name,” I remarked to him.
He took a long draw from his ale, then set it aside and looked me dead in the eye, “I know you, Darius Tupper. I also know of that black flame that burns in your heart. I can see it. You may call me Charus,” his breathy voice had a distinct rasp to it, as though spoken by someone who had survived having their throat sliced, though this Charus bore no scars. I swallowed involuntarily at the unnerving fact that this man knew exactly who I was while I was completely ignorant of them.
“Are you, by chance, a nobleman?”
He laughed, a deep and mirthful laugh. “Titles only hold the value that we place on them, Mr. Tupper. I am no noble, I prefer true power.”
“True power,” I said incredulously, “True power is for the Gods alone.”
I’ll never forget his oily smile. A faint curve of his sinuous lips. His raspy voice spoke in the hushed tone of someone conveying some kind of great secret, “True power is that which we create for ourselves. You’ve served this feckless wench Chauntea for your entire life adult life. What do you have to show for it? A straw covered pallet in the stable of a shitty tavern in a shitty town full of shitty people that only care what you can do for them.”
“These people need my help,” I argued, “how can I just turn a blind eye?”
“You need your own help. “
The man who called himself Charus leaned closer, “While you walk the roads of Beylor your father lies at home dying. He succumbs to a lifelong lack of ventilation from his hatter’s glue. If your family had been able to raise more money, they may have been able to afford some semblance of a ventilation system.”
Tears stung my eyes. I didn’t even know. “What can I do? For my father?”
This man in black, Charus, casually pressed a glittering ruby into the palm of my hand. “Take this. Use it. Go to him, and return to me when you are ready. The power is within you to heal him. Become the instrument of your own will. We’ll speak again when you return.”
With that, he returned to his ale.
Wasting only the time it took to wipe the tears from my eyes, I dashed from the tavern to find the nearest money changer and accepted a sum of five hundred gold coins for the ruby that Charus had gifted to me. No one would allow me to hire their carriage at this late hour, saying the roads are too dangerous to risk a horse hurting themselves; instead, I bought a horse from them, never mind that I had never ridden a horse before, and I raced west down the dark roads toward Kleb.
The nameless horse I paid too much for died from exertion shortly before dawn on the outskirts of the city. I left its body by the side of the road and ran the rest of the way. I burst through the door of my parents’ home out of breath, exhausted, dirty, and with sweat soaking through the robes I was once so proud to don. “Mother? I’m here mother! Where is father?” I raced through the house to their bedroom. I know mother said something to me as I came into their bedroom, but I didn’t hear her. Falling to my knees at my father’s bedside, I pleaded desperately with Chauntea to bestow her divine mercy upon my dying father.
Those prayers went unanswered.
My mind raced for a solution to my father’s suffering and Charus’s dry rasp echoed within me, “The power is within you to heal him. Become the instrument of your own will.” Determined, I placed my hand upon his chest and light exploded from within him, filling the room. My previously unmoving father arched his back violently and began thrashing about, then emitted a primal scream as light shot out of his eyes and mouth.
In the blink of an eye, the light filling the room extinguished and my mother and father embraced me. This man who was about to die only moments before beamed at me with the sort of pride that only a father can feel for their son. “By Chauntea! Darius, you’ve worked a miracle! A true miracle!”
“Chauntea didn’t answer my prayers, father. I don’t know how I healed you, I just… I needed to. So I did it.”
“… return to me …” Charus’s rasp filled my subconscious.
“Father, mother… I love you both dearly, but I can’t stay.”
“Surely you can stay for lunch?” my mother asked, squeezing my hand.
“I’m afraid I cannot. There is something I need to do,” I paused for a moment, removing my belt pouch and emptying its contents on the nightstand. Gold coins rattled and rolled around to the astonished look from my parents. “This is four hundred ninety gold coins. Please, use this to improve the ventilation system of Tupper’s Tops. I love you both so much. So, so much. I must be away.”
Exhausted and road-weary, I began the long walk back to Klib, playing the events of that morning over and over again in my mind. How did I create that light? Why would a stranger give me such a kingly sum? Who was this man in black really? So many questions that needed to be answered, and I knew that the only place to get those answers would be to go to the source – Charus.
Charus was at his ale when I arrived at The Howling Harlot. Wordlessly I crossed the common room and sat down beside him. With a lazy index finger he nonchalantly pushed a short stack of platinum coins toward me, “You look tired, Darius. Treat yourself. No words. Just go. You’ll know where to find me.”
Before I even thought about it my hand closed around the stack of platinum coins and I was pocketing them as I exited the tavern. Somehow, I had never felt this free before. Was this how nobles felt? Freedom to do whatever they want because of the money they possessed?
I asked around town for the finest inn and found people surprisingly willing to offer up information for a dirty priest. An hour later I was standing before The King’s Chalice feeling the platinum coins through a fold in my robe. I stepped through the door and was greeted by the sight of a bard reciting poetry in the common room which boasted three fireplaces. Elegantly dressed serving maids weaved between the well-to-do patrons that were engrossed in the bard’s poetry as a portly man in an apron spotted me and made a beeline for me.
“Err, master priest, sir, don’t be wantin’ no trouble, no sir. We’re all Gods-fearin’ folk here in The King’s Chalice. Don’t no one be wantin’ no proselytizin’ here, no sir.” He appeared to be trying very hard not to look at the dirt on my once priestly robes.
I hated him immediately.
Flashing my best faux-satisfied smile that I had seen nobility use so often in the past, I addressed him, “My good man, you mistake me! I have not come here to spread the love and mercy of our dear goddess Chauntea, no sir. I’ve come to occupy your finest suite. I’d also like a hot bath, and fresh clothes brought to me, mister… ah, mister…?”
“Err, me name’s Merryweather, master priest, sir, our finest suite do be occupied, so if you could just—“ with a flourish, I fished several platinum coins out of my pocket and tucked them in to Mr. Merryweather’s breast pocket and tapped them.
“I’m sure you’ll find these coins will cover the expenses, Mr. Merryweather.”
“It do appear that our finest suite just opened up!” a painted-face poff of a man across the common room visibly fainted and was carried away by a small team of serving maids. “Right this way, master priest, right this way. Eledwyn Merryweather runs the finest inn in all of Klib, you’ll see.”
When I arrived at the top level of the inn, there was another team of staff from the inn that were dutifully removing someone else’s belongings from the suite, probably the poff’s judging by the amount of lace, as I was ushered in to it by the portly Mr. Merryweather. The simpering fool stood there dry washing his hands and looking at me, “The bath will be up shortly, master priest. You do be in good hands. Miss Everly will be up with brand new clothes for you. She do have good taste, sir, the best taste in Klib. You’ll see! You will,” and with that he bowed his way out of the door and shut it behind him.
No one had bowed to me before.
Actually, I kind of liked it.
My mind snapped back as there was a knock at the door. I opened it to a team of inn workers bringing in a large copper tub followed by more team members hauling buckets of steaming herbal-smelling water. The tub was put in place, the water was poured, and they were all exiting the room when an elven girl in a sheer robe walked in clutching a sponge to her breast.
“If it pleases you, master priest, I’m here to bathe you.”
Oh, this was too much.
“It does please me. It pleases me greatly.”
Another knock at the door and a beautiful auburn haired woman pushed her way into the room. “Master priest? My name is Evelyn, Evelyn Everly.”
“Evelyn Everly? That’s an unfortunate combination,” I smirked.
It would seem that my technique had become rusty over the years, as it appeared I had wounded her. I would have to work on that. The elven girl began undressing me for my bath as Evelyn approached with a measuring tape.
“Twenty five centimeters, Miss Everly.”
“Twenty five centimeters.”
“Of what? Twenty five centimeters of what?”
The elven bath maiden pulled my breeches down revealing my endowment.
“Cock, Miss Everly.”
They both blushed. I spoke again to fill the deafening silence.
“Why else would you approach a nude man with a measuring tape?”
Evelyn turned an adorable shade of red that fit her auburn hair so well, making it appear almost black. I wanted her. The consummate professional stepped closer and brought the measuring tape up to measure me for my clothing sizes. Of course I knew she wanted my clothing sizes, my mother being a seamstress. But how else was I supposed to flirt?
“Miss Everly, I do believe you are blushing.”
“Noble women do not go about… measuring cocks! And you! A priest!”
“I used to be a priest.”
“Today.” She snorted in response. “Miss Everly, Mr. Merryweather tells me that you’re a woman of refined taste. That you’ll find me the perfect clothes.”
“That I will. My father is Lord Tychon Everly, our house may not be the most prestigious in Klib, but it is very old and well-respected. I’ve been living in the lap of luxury for my entire life. I know all of the best fashions for both men and women.”
“Promise me one thing, Miss Everly.”
“Don’t make me look like that ruffled lace-wearing poff of a man that fainted in the common room downstairs.”
Evelyn erupted in hysterical laughter before she schooled her face to stillness and bit her lip, realizing that the elf maiden was still present, washing me.
“Lord Peters is a man of unique style and taste,” she replied politely, barely able to contain her laughter. “Very well, no lace. Do you have a favorite color?”
“I don’t know. No one has ever asked me that before. Surprise me?”
“Very well, sir. May I ask a personal question?”
“Of course you may, Miss Everly.”
“How old are you?”
“Miss Everly, how scandalous! Why would you ask such a question?” I demanded with an overly dramatic insulted tone.
Evelyn giggled, “I just think you’re probably older than you look is all. Besides, people should dress their age, so it’s important to know a client’s age when you’re shopping for their personal style.”
“Forty four, Miss Everly. Yourself?”
“How scandalous!” she giggled, “I’m twenty.”
“Marvelous,” I replied with a wink.
She slipped out of the door again with a giggle. The elf maiden spent the next hour washing me, calling for additional hot water to be brought up twice. The entire thing was so relaxing that I fell asleep immediately after the inn’s work team drained the tub and removed it from my suite. I couldn’t remember the last time I had slept in a real bed. Surely it had been decades.
I was asleep when I heard the knock at the door. The knock came again, followed by the turn of a key. I could see Evelyn’s silhouette illuminated by the light from the hallway lanterns. She was carrying a wrapped bundle in her arms; my new clothes. As she approached the bedside to lay out my new clothes on the nightstand, I reached out and took her by the wrist. She didn’t resist or seem surprised as I pulled her in to the soft bed with me.
What happened next was purely animalistic. I did not make love with Evelyn Everly, oh no; I fucked the shit out of her. I beat years upon years of pent up aggression toward nobility into every one of her holes for hours and hours. I lost count of how many times she came. I lost count of how many times I came, as well. The little slut loved every second of it. She’d never need a measuring tape to know what twenty five centimeters looks like again. I continued fucking her long after she passed out, and once I was bored of it I collected my bundle of new clothing and left, getting dressed in the hallway.
Evelyn had gotten some fine black clothing for me. It felt right. She had even gotten fine new boots, a tooled leather belt, new matching pouches with inlaid silver filigree, and, curiously, a single red rose. Was this girl in love with me? No matter. I made my way back to The Howling Harlot, thinking the name fitting now that I had had my way with Miss Everly.
There was Charus, still sitting there with his ale.
I crossed the common room with a new found spring in my step, my fine new boot heels scraping on the sawdust covered floor. People turned to look at me as I passed them by. I took a seat at the bar.
“I thank you for everything you’ve done for me.”
Charus grinned knowingly, “Everything you’ve done, you did for yourself. I merely gave you the tools to make it happen. You were the sculptor of your own destiny, and I was the chisel you put to the marble of your life. How do you like what you’ve crafted for yourself, sculptor?”
“It feels different,” I paused, “Good. It feels good. How did I create the light that saved my father? Why have you given me, a complete stranger, such a vast amount of wealth? Just who are you anyway?”
“I am known by many names, but it is enough for you to know that you may call me Charus. As for the money, it was a test.”
“A test to see what you would do with it. I wanted to see you do what you wanted with the money rather than donate it to charity or some other such foolishness. I must say, my boy, you performed flawlessly. You gave the gold to your family because it pleases you to know they are safe. You spent the platinum seeing how the other side lives. How was Evelyn?” Charus’s eyes took on a hawkish, almost expectant look at the direct question.
By now I had come to understand that Charus had a way of knowing things even when I didn’t say it. I didn’t need to, he just knew. It would be unnerving if I hadn’t come to actually trust him.
“She uses some kind of flower-scented soap, I think. Her hair smells like it,” I sniffed my fingers, “Maybe most of her smells like it.”
Charus clapped his hands together and howled with laughter, though no one in the tavern turned to regard him. His laughter cut off abruptly and he looked me dead in the eye again, “She was a virgin, you know. Her father will be furious.”
I shrugged, “Just a noble girl of no consequence. I used her like the nobles use everyone else.”
That answer seemed to please him. He placed a hefty belt pouch on the bar and slid it toward me. “This is for you to continue to do as you wish.”
I glanced from the pouch to Charus and back again. “Who… are you?”
“Just a fellow traveler.”
I worked my sweet flower-scented fingers in to the belt pouch to have a peek. It was full to bursting with platinum coins. I swallowed hard. “What of the light? From my father?”
“Ah, that. I’ll check in on you from time to time, fellow traveler. But let’s just say you’ve been raised to the clergy.”
“I don’t understand,” I began, “I was already a priest. How is that different?”
“The difference is that as a Cleric in service to me I won’t ask you to kneel before me. I only expect you to follow your passions. You have the power to create your own miracles as you see fit when you see fit to create them.”
My blood ran cold. I was sitting at a bar in a sleazy tavern with a god and I hadn’t even realized it! I glanced up from the bag of platinum I was staring into to where Charus was sitting but he was gone, with his rasping laughter echoing in the back of my mind. I stood up with urgency, knocking my rickety bar stool over and glanced about the common room but Charus was nowhere to be seen.
“Mind the stool, yeh faggish poff!” screamed the irritable bartender with a disgusting comb-over.
“Sorry about that. Barkeep, did you see the man sitting here leave?”
“Thur was only you, lad. Yeh been talkin’ inta thah there ale fer like two hours, yah git. You gonna pay for thah?”
“Sorry. Yes.” I slapped a platinum coin on the bar and ignored the barkeep’s vapid, stupid expression as he greedily snatched it up and bit in to it. I stood up, fastened the belt pouch to my belt, and walked out of the common room and out into the sun rising in the east of Klib.
I took a deep breath of the early morning Klib air. It occurred to me that this tasted like the first breath of air I had ever taken feeling truly free, though I was supposedly in the service to this mysterious Charus. I spent my first money as a free man on a weapon and armor. If Lord Everly was going to be as furious as Charus said, I would need to protect myself.
Clad in shining mail armor over my fine new clothes with a shield strapped to my back and a flail through my belt, I set off west to seek my own desires.
I would run in to Charus occasionally over the next ten years and he would always tell me that he was so pleased that he had found a truly carnal individual to carry his metaphorical banner across the lands. Whatever that means. Eventually I found myself in the City of Beylor, where our story truly begins in earnest.