Myrd was born into a rather unusual family. His father, Galvan, was an evil, small-time sorcerer who dabbled in the dark arts; he “specialized” in summoning outsiders in an attempt to get wealthy, although his plans often backfired. His mother, Diayne, was a good woman, a pacifist at heart who refused to fight physically or verbally with anyone; she put up with her husband’s physical and emotional abuse, never saying a word otherwise and always believing that someday he would see the error of his ways.
How they got together, Myrd never understood… but highly suspected that his father had used magic to make her fall in love with him. His mother always told him stories of growing up together with his father in a small farming town and how his father had made advances at her over the years, but she had always turned him down as he was “creepy” and “lazy”. However, one day she remembers suddenly seeing how wonderful he was and they ran away from home and got married that afternoon. The smile she would give at the end of this story would always make Myrd’s heart hurt.
From as earlier as Myrd can remember, their family traveled around the countryside, putting on “magic” shows with his father’s Imp familiar named Xonlyth. Mom would cook, clean, handle the ticket and concession sales, and every other bit of real work. Between Dad and Xonlyth, more than a few valuables and coin purses would end up being mysteriously relocated to the wagon that they called home. Dad would take almost coin they made, leaving just a few coppers to feed the family on.
Myrd had very little free time; he was constantly put to work on one chore or another. The life of a traveling gypsy was not an easy one, with wagons to maintain and props to load and unload. By the time he had any a break, he was exhausted, it was dark, and time for bed. There were some benefits to the life of constant lifting and loading: he was strong, even as a child. He started loading the hundreds of pounds of props and stages when he was just eight years old, when a strength spell would be cast on Myrd so that his father could sit around and watch. Eventually, the sometimes thrice daily spells and the manual labor left him as one of the strongest youths around.
The highlight of his life during these years was driving the wagons from village to village; he reveled in the beautiful terrain, and loved identifying the various flora and fauna as they passed by. Sometimes, he would catch a glimpse of a reclusive wolf or mountain lion amidst the steady viewings of deer, rabbits, and birds. It was during travel, that he truly allowed his mind to wander from the undesirable realities of his daily life and focused instead on being in tune and connected to his environment.
It was only a matter of time until Galvan was betrayed by Xonlyth. The devious nature and intrinsic evil of an Imp pretty much assures that they will betray their “masters” when the chance arrives; or in this case, when Xonlyth had laid a dastardly enough plan and put it into action.
One of their next destinations would take them through a large forest between settlements; Xonlyth had known the route ahead of time and found a gang of redcaps that lived deep in the woods nearby. He let them know when and where they would be camping for the night. Further, he had let them know that his master generally enjoyed summoning a succubus for his pleasure when they were far away from civilization. He planted in their minds that this sorcerer would be vulnerable during this time as he would have to maintain concentration just to prevent the demon from being able to break his hold and would be weakened afterwards.
And his plan worked perfectly. The redcaps waited until the succubus had arrived and quickly invaded the small camp. They began kicking the surprised sorcerer with their large, spiked boots and Galvan quickly dismissed the succubus to prevent its escape. He quickly realized that the fight was already won, and began offering the dark fey whatever they wanted to stop. He offered them gems and coins, to no avail. He offered them magic items, at which they only scoffed. In desperation, Galvan offered them his wife and son if they would only leave him alive.
As if they were one mind and body, the redcaps all immediately stopped and nodded in agreement to the deal with capricious smiles on their faces. Galvan, relieved to have struck a deal to stay alive, pointed towards the covered wagon where his wife and child lay sleeping.
Galvan didn’t even have the courage to sit and watch his family being butchered, he simply wandered away as the creatures dragged his wife and child from the wagon. Myrd’s last image of him is slinking into the dark woods with Xonlyth on his shoulder, failing to even look back over his shoulder as cries of terror sailed into the air.
It is here that Myrd’s nightmare began. One would think that watching your mother torn to pieces and thrown into your family’s stew pot by three-foot tall “devils” would be the worst. But the aspect that really haunts him to this day is watching the redcaps dip their hats into the pot, soaking up his mother’s pooled blood, and gleefully placing the caps back on their heads; the image of their twisted tongues lapping up the blood as it trailed down their faces still makes him shudder.
Myrd tried to fight back, but even with his great strength could not escape the grip of the two creatures that forced him to watch his mother’s fate. The vile creatures then slaughtered each of the horses and kept taking “showers” as they soaked their caps over and over, placing them on their heads afterwards. He kept screaming at them while they dragged his body through the woods and eventually was knocked unconscious when his head hit a rock.
He woke up some time later to an intense pain all over his body and immediately wished that he had died. The redcaps were taking turns carving him up with a tiny, eerie, glowing blade. Looking down, Myrd saw that they had peeled back small pieces of his skin and muscle on his left hand, arm, and shoulder. Blood was freely flowing into a variety of caps that were lying on his left side to catch it. He screamed from the pain, and the last thing he remembered was them laughing as he passed out.
He woke up to the sun peeking through the forest canopy. He hurt, but as he looked at his wounds he saw that they had all healed over. He could see that it wasn’t a dream, as he had hundreds of scars littering his left arm; there was something that seemed deliberate in their placement, but he could find no real pattern.
Breaking from his pain for a moment, he saw two of the redcaps a few yards away, eyeing him with curiosity. There was a bowl of bread and meat lying next to him and a flask of some kind of liquid. Even at the young age of eleven, he wasn’t stupid enough to trust his captors, so he dumped the water on the ground and threw the food into the brush. One of the fey muttered something in a language that he didn’t understand, and the other flashed a toothy smile, but they left him alone.
He stood, watching the creatures carefully. They stared back, but did nothing to stop him. He took a painful step away from them, observing his new environment. He was in a meadow in the middle of a tall hardwood forest. Only the two redcaps were in sight, but there were several trees nearby with doors on them; the entrances were camouflaged well enough that if you were more than 20ft away, you wouldn’t even be able to see them. He took a few more steps away from the fey, and was about to run, when one of them spoke in a broken common, “I would not run if I were you. Your new necklace” he said, gesturing to Myrd’s neck and then to his own finger, “is tied to my ring. If you are more than a stone’s throw away from me, the magic will suffocate you until you are back where you belong. My name is Gyrlenthion, and I am your new master.” The evil creature smiled menacingly.
TO BE CONTINUED