was a true adventurer; dangerous with a sword, deadly with an eleven foot extendible pole, and never too far from whatever ancient evil needed killing that week.
…That was how Ned told it anyway; the fighter was known to exaggerate a tale or two if there was a barmaid nearby. He probably hadn’t stabbed quite as many evil wizards to death as he claimed, but there was no doubt the human Fighter and his group of not-quite-outlaws had done more good than bad for the lands they drifted through. Belven the Ranger and his quicksilver bow, Erik the Defender who knew no fear, Eldon the Wise and his arcane powers… Together they rode, fought, and wenched their way from town to town, sending foul creatures to the grave and letting nothing stand in the way of their quest for glory.
That is, until Ned met Tiania Silverkin.
She was a rogue, as cunning as she was beautiful and able to drink three dwarves under the table (although Ned might’ve embellished that last bit). They were on opposite sides of a barfight, each about to strike the other… until their eyes met, and they turned their blows on an unsuspecting Dragonborn at the last second. The poor creature crashed straight through a table, and from that moment on they were inseparable.
Tiana and Ned decided to adventure on their own for a while, the two proving to be an incredibly frightening team. They were by no means invincible, but you didn’t hear about their losses. Only about the time they tricked a Sorcerer into lighting his own home on fire, or how Tiana could steal the jewelry off someone’s neck only for Ned to return it and claim the reward a week later. The idea of settling down together only became more appealing as their list of rivals grew however, and when they reached the relatively calm town of Duringham they decided to buy a house to store their numerous treasures and ill-gotten goods (but again, that was only how Ned told it). The two found home life strangely appealing, and before they knew it Tiana was heavy with child. The labor was hard, but the Rogue wasn’t one to give up. It was a boy, and they named him James.
James quite obviously took after his parents, becoming an adventurous little child with a knack for thievery. Anyone else might've been worried by the little child's behavior, but Ned and Tiana were almost proud; the two were still adventurers at heart, telling him stories of their adventures from the moment he was old enough to understand them. They taught the boy some tricks too; when James was caught trying to pilfer a slice of pie from a baker's cart, his mother scolded him for stealing... and showed him what he had done wrong once the baker was out of earshot. James returned home eating a pastry the next day, and neither of his parents asked where he had gotten it. They only laughed. He wasn't blindly encouraged to steal, of course; his mother taught him just as much about honor and respect as she did about sneaking and pickpocketing, and his father made sure he knew the difference between bravery and stupidity. The child listened, of course; he idolized his parents, and wanted nothing more than to become an adventurer like they had. Their tales were admittedly a little exaggerated, but James didn't care. He knew
there were amazing things out there somewhere, like stories in hiding just waiting to be told. The only trick was finding them.
Time passed, and the older James turned out to be either an odd blessing or a massive headache depending on who you were. By the time he was 18 his father had taught him almost every shortsword and dagger flourish he knew, and his skills as a thief were as almost as sharp as the dagger he carried. He was well and truly a Rogue now, and both his lust for adventure and his mischievous side had only grown with age. Duringham was a small town, but it had crime and posted bounties the same as anywhere else, along with an annoyingly large number of stuck-up merchants. It was here that James made his friends and enemies; the Rogue would spend most of his time trading blows with wannabe bandits and collecting bounties, hoping to stumble upon something truly song-worthy. The only crimes he refused to investigate were ones of petty theft and strange japery (it wasn't any fun hunting yourself). He turned in bounties like this for months, but no matter how many thugs he followed home James never stumbled upon a single cursed sword or chest of gold. Sure, he had gotten in a few exciting fights and done some good for his town, but that wasn't really
all adventuring was, was it? Where was all the magic? The arcane tomes and the wicked demons? The thought that he was perusing a childish fantasy haunted him for a while, but then he had a revelation; if one opens a clam and doesn't find a pearl, that doesn't mean that pearls don't exist; only that you're looking in the wrong clam. If Duringham didn't hold the adventure he sought, the Rogue would have to look elsewhere.
After "borrowing" a massive book on legends and myths from a particularly annoying merchant and bidding his parents farewell, James set off for Wylohd Meidkuad; a peak famously known as Wyvern Mountain. For years the mountain had been shrouded in myth, with every adventurer worth his salt having climbed the thing at least once. They used to claim that dragons, mindflayers, and even Warlocks worshipping the malevolent stars had made the mountain their home, but in recent years the rumors had begun to die off. A few travelers even claimed that the entire mountain had been
covered in mythical creatures, but the constant stream of treasure hunters drove them all away. James knew he would probably find the mountain empty and barren, but hoped that at least the journey would be eventful. In a strange way it would be, though not in the way he imagined.
The trip was oddly formulaic; the Rogue would reach a town, turn in a few low-level bounties to earn gold for supplies, and leave on a stolen horse after a few weeks of amateur bounty hunting and strange mischief. James worked his way through six different towns this way, his quick jaunt to the Mountain becoming a year-long epic. The Rogue himself barely noticed, but in the process of searching for a story he had written one himself. It all became clear when he finally reached the town of Barnacus, the closest one could get to the Mountain without actually climbing it.
It was nightfall when James set out for the inn, weary from travel and cloaked in black. It was a strange feeling to have finally arrived, the famed Mountain itself reaching high into the heavens. It looked
like a mythical spire; a dragon or Wyvern circling the peak wouldn't have seemed out of place. For a moment the Rogue let down his guard, looking up into the night sky and imagining what kinds of creatures once soared through the sea of stars above. A moment was all it took.
"Great night, ain't it?"
The voice came out of nowhere, as did the blade pressing into James's back, "Great night to make some g-"
The Rogue whipped around, grabbing the man's arm with one hand and striking it with the other. A disgusting crack echoed off the nearby buildings, and for a moment James thought he was safe. And then he saw the man's three friends, gleaming silver at their hips and clad in leather armor. He gave the thugs his most defiant look, knowing he was about to die.
Imagine his surprise when they fled in horror.
Fifteen minutes and a lot of screaming later, the unarmored man James had grabbed was rotting in a dungeon, and a city guard was explaining what the hell had just happened. Apparently word had begun to spread of a horse-stealing bounty hunter cloaked in shadow, ridding the towns he visited of thugs and bandits. The only criminal he left untouched was himself, visiting mischief on any merchant who offended the public with their prices. They called him the Balancer of the Scales. James had left home as a selfish, thrill-seeking thief who stabbed at petty thugs for cash and had somehow reached Wyvern Mountain as a local legend. He could only nod slowly at the guard and walk away in complete disbelief, realizing he had been wrong the entire time. Stories weren't "found" like lost clothing or tripped over like discarded gnomes, they were written.
That was what James had done; written a story.
And then it hit him; if all it had taken to begin his story was the small taste of adventure his parents had given him and a little practice with knives, why couldn't he do the same for someone else? A smile began to creep across his face; the land he traveled was annoyingly mundane now,
but perhaps if he gave a few aspiring adventurers a push in the right direction...
And so the Father of Legends was born.
In the coming weeks James's notoriety faded away, disappearing as quickly as it had come. The Rogue was far too busy to chase away thugs, spending his days starting others on the path to adventure. He would spread rumors of corruption in the city guard while subtly encouraging others to pick up the sword. Simple arcane tomes would appear on the bookshelves of hopeful apprentice wizards, disappearing from the carts of wealthy traveling merchants. Even his fellow Rogues were included, receiving monetary rewards from a nonexistent Thieves Guild... provided they honed their craft and practiced with honor. James would've likely kept on like this forever had the looming mountain above not reminded him what had been searching for in the first place. Rumors of monster sightings had begun again, and the promise of true adventure straight out of his parents' stories was too great to resist. He was currently dealing with an annoying rumor (apparently someone was searching for him), but once it was all taken care of...
Perhaps he would investigate Wyvern Mountain himself?