Gark grinned. This young man was traveling alone across the forest path, armed only with a long skinny blade strapped to his back; and judging by his looks, he seemed quite rich. His entire upper body was covered in tattoo marks of all the colors of a rainbow, and his face had nine eyes; two of his own, and seven other of each of the colors. He wore a belt with pouches and straps, and Gark reckoned there was a nice bit of money in there.
When he walked past him, he gave a sign, and he saw his friend Rog come out of the bushes on the other side of the path. At the same time he stepped out behind the boy, holding his waraxe in one hand. The boy stopped walking and looked at Rog, then behind him at Gark. Rog said, in the Common Tongue:
'Boy. Don't you know its a bad idea to travel all alone through these woods? All your gold, or you die.' The boy sighed sadly, and then touched his forehead and spoke.
'Grin'tar, Swift.' The yellow parts of his tattoos lit up, and the yellow eye on his head seemed to open. Gark did not like the look of this. He had once before fought a magic-user; all he had gained from that battle were a few scars, and he barely fled with his life. He took his axe in both hands and swung at the boy, roaring. The axe hit only air, though; his target had ducked under the blade and stepped back, towards the bushes, faster than he would have deemed possible. Rog took up his own blade and told the boy to throw down his sword. He could not beat both of them.
All he did was draw his own blade, and sigh. Suddenly, he dashed forwards at Rog, and before he could so much as react to the charge, the blade was through his heart. Rog slumped down, a surprised look on his face. The man drew his blade from Rog's chest, spilling blood on the ground. It was still dripping from his sword as he turned to face Gark. Then he was gone, racing up towards him at incredible speed. Gark barely moved his axe in for a parry and then tried to counter the blow. He moved aside swiftly, but when he stepped back. Gark saw that he had cut him slightly below the shoulder. Before Gark could move in for another attack he had already stepped back further. Gark spat on the ground, calling him a craven to not fight him after killing his friend.
The tattooed man touched his forehead again, saying, 'Romyuo, Sight.' The blue marks on his body also lit up, the eye of the same color opening on his forehead. As he looked at Gark, the eyes above his also seemed to observe him.
Then he rushed forwards once again, at the same speed as he did before, his body becoming a blur of blue and yellow. Gark moved his axe to stop the blade, but the boy's blade stopped before impact, turned, and sliced Gark's neck open. Blood filled his mouth as he tried to curse, and he fell to his knees, dropping his axe. He saw his blood gushing down to the ground, and that was when all went dark.
Byrmen Thunderfist was the oldest son of the Thunderfist family, but he never really was a warrior. Though he definitely lacked no spirit, he just didn't have the skills or the body that a warrior needed to fight properly; his masters always told him that his arms were too long but his legs too short. Whenever he would train with weapons, he would just drop them as soon as he got hit. Or if he hit anything, for that matter. He didn't like unarmed combat any better, either, as he would just hurt his fingers whenever he scored a hit. Many a time had he rushed from the training room, trying to hide his tears of pain but still sobbing loudly. The other students mocked him, calling him names like Byrmen Blunderfist or Teary Eye. Byrmen hated the latter more than any of the names they called him, because it was a mockery of the warrior names that the Dome gave their graduated students. His dream had always been to be named this way; he enjoyed spending his time thinking of names that he would be called when his training would finally be complete. His own father, now known as Lightning Flash, was a great warrior at the Dome, and so his son was also expected to achieve much here.
Though deep down inside he thought he would never leave this school, he still did all that he could to be the best warrior that he could. Only as he grew older, he also grew more desperate. Many of his friends left the Dome around their 13th year, but he remained. As he grew older, he hardly seemed to improve at all, or so it seemed to him. He was growing more and more desperate, training day and night, to no avail.
One certain day his masters didn't call him to the training room, but instead he received a message that he was expected in one of the private rooms. The letter told him to come by night, just after lights out. The guards patrolling the halls usually would not be there, it assured him. So that night, he got out of his bed and put on his robes and sandals, the traditional training outfit for the Dome warriors. It was cold outside in the halls; the cold hard stone walls seemed to drench the heat from his body. Quickly but as silently as he could manage he shuffled towards the room. The door was closed, but when he knocked it opened before him. Inside he saw all his masters standing in a circle, around a large stone table. The man who opened the door was a man he did not know. He wore a white cloak, and he had a scruffy beard and unkempt hair. He looked rather worried, Byrmen thought. His master stepped out from the others and told the white-cloaked man to do it. Thats when Byrmen noticed the man had some kind of dagger in his hand, a short blade that seemed to glimmer when he moved. It was so skinny though, how could you harm anyone with something like that? He took a step backwards and raised his fists as he saw the man raise it and point it at him. He stepped to the side and tried to kick the man before he could stab him. The man caught his foot with his free hand and pulled it. Before Byrmen knew what was happening he was lying on the ground, and the man reached down and shoved the blade in his arm. Immediately, his vision became hazy, and he felt his muscles relax. His head moved sideways, and the last thing he saw before the world turned black was his master shaking his head.
That night, Byrmen had been tattooed across his entire body, being drugged from the poison on the blade. The tattoos were no ordinary ones, though; They were infused with the spirits of great warriors of the Dome. Seven colors crossed his body, and seven eyes were imprinted on his forehead. These eyes each represented a warrior known for some great feat. The red tattoos were for Blood Maw, a infamous warrior trained in the citadel, known to fear nothing and love battle more than life itself. Yellow was for Dark Blur, known for his speed and ability to think quickly and react to situations before anyone else could. Blue was for Steel Grace, a man who approached everything coldly and precisely, observing his opponent before going in for the strike. He was said to never have missed a strike. Orange represented Bear Skin, a mountain of a man, known for his death; he had been stabbed thrice in the heart and killed over 30 men before he finally went down. Hidden Blade was shown as yellow, known for his ability to sneak through almost anywhere, and strike at unexpected times. Mage Bane was indigo, a warrior capable of defeating even great wizards or sorcerers using hidden techniques to dodge or disable their spells. Finally, a warrior known only as Doom, trained many years ago in the capitol, was shown as violet. This man never lost a battle, according to the tales, and never let any man he fought escape with his life. He had finally died of old age.
The soul of each of these warriors had been taken by these masters of the Dome; some had been killed, others souls had just been taken at the moment of their death. What magical techniques these masters used is unknown. They thought they would use Brynden, because they knew him to be extremely loyal to the Dome, and he had enough mental power to endure the power of these mighty warriors. Of course, it is too much for one person to continuously have seven people inside your head, and this is why they added the eye tattoo; As long as the eye is closed, the power is locked. An eye can be opened by touching it and saying the command words. Once the eyes are open, however, the soul will try to take over the body. However, the souls have less power than they had in their original bodies, which means they can't actually take over, but can only try to influence his actions by talking to him in his head. This is why he often seems to talk to himself during combat. There is one exception to this rule, however. The great warrior Doom has a soul powerful enough to take over the new body, which means Byrmen will be killed. That is why he will never activate his violet eye.
Now he works for the Dome, doing their dirty work. He is known as Marked One, for the tattoos that he bears. The Dome hopes to one day have an army of Marked soldiers and take over the lands, because they believe the land should be ruled by the strong. He is usually bored or unhappy looking, because he doesn't really enjoy defeating his enemies, knowing that it is not him but the voices in his head fighting. In a campaign, he works best as the powerful weapon the big bad guy is using, instead of the bad guy himself. Perhaps he could even be convinced to join the side of the PCs if they find a way to remove the tattoos from his body.
His colors, and command words:
Blood, Swift, Sight, Endure, Skill, Mage, Death
Red, Yellow, Blue, Orange, Yellow, Indigo, Violet
K'lar, Grin'tar, Romyuo, Ser'kill, Urygio, Graktor
Tattoos. So personal yet so public.
Spells are often written in scrolls, scrawled across doorways or inscribed into mystic blades. What effects would they have if inked into the skin of a living creature? Think of ways to expand the use of tattoos within your existing magic system, laws, culture or develop a whole new system centered around body art. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
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? Responses (6)
sammo, if this is how you write at 16 I'm literally excited to see how you write in another decade or two. Great tale! Drew me right in. Good, solid, colorful (heh) npc!
I really like him, particularly because of his attitude. I suggest using a heading rule (one of those line things) or a blockquote to separate the in-situ writing from the background.
How do I use him in game?
What does his family think of him? Do they know what became of him?
I thought maybe his powers would grow stronger if he activates his eyes, but also his actions grow more and more random as all the voices are commanding him to do different things. So he would slowly be going mad during combat as he is forced to use more of his powers, and would start to become a mixture of all these warriors. I'm thinking about making a character sheet for him for D&D 3.5, but I don't know if that would be of any use to anyone.
As for his family, his father definitely disliked his son because of his weakness and incompetence. His mother did not, however. Before he left for the Dome she was a kind and loving woman. But when you join the Dome, all ties to your family must be removed, and he wasn't allowed to speak to his mother until he graduated. Unfortunately, he never did, so he probably will never see her again. She has received a message that her son died during training, so she won't be searching for him either. His father works for the Dome, and he knows what happened to Byrmen, but he believed that this way his son would at least be of some use to someone.
How do you do a blockquote? I can't find it anywhere. :)
Good work on this. The writing is nicely done, the idea is interesting and well-rounded. I think it might take some thought to figure out how to use him in a game, but his story is intriguing enough to make me want to do so.
I like the internal struggle he is forced to endure as a balance to all of the power he has attained. Beware madness as a price for power!
This character is very well ... painted :). Many potential uses, not all adversarial.
And a fine entry into the Tattoo quest - it would certainly been in the running when that one was active.