Character name: Fenton Romasanta
Height: five feet, seven and a half inches.
Weight: one hundred and fifty pounds.
Other notes on physical description: rather plump, an easily forgettable face the visage of which appears to be perpetually and delightedly confused.
Birth place/place of raising: The Rahad.
The Rahad: a cesspool of thieves and treachery, a conglomeration of mankind's negativity, petty resentments and hate. The Rahad; world within a world; universe conforming to very -- different -- rules. Murder, rape, prostitution, abduction - all commonplace, all acceptable providing it stays within the confines... the palpable shield of amorality forefending the rest of Ebou Dar.
A paupers existence at best, The Rahad's population wrap their yoke of suffering about their shoulders like a frail cloak of dignity -- community -- all wore it, all endured and all accepted. Protest muted: seldom did anyone dare to dream the dream. Instead they carried out their wretched 'life' in uniform waiting for the ferryman of death to sail them beyond the threshold, to the bowels of the nethers and Shai'tan's resting place... I - however - felt as though I were already there.
My name is Fenton Romasanta and I dared the dream.
Born in a virtual hovel my most valued possession was a knife to ward off would-be thugs. This paltry display of defiance would stop little that truly wished to succeed but perhaps it would evoke hesitation, a momentary waver of impulse and grant me a trice -- time enough to have accelerated fully and disappear into the murky depths. There is no greater skill than that birthed from necessity and for that reason the people of the Rahad had developed an exceptional running game.
My mother was a seamstress -- early in my youth I had decided to learn this craft. I spent much of my time as her apprentice, battling viciously with fabrics, in heated discussion with thread and nursing subsequent injuries from clumsy mishandling and the sharp point of a needle. As for my siblings, both had various occupations with which to support the family... yet it was never enough. Money was a precious commodity, many would trade their lives with insipid ventures for so small a sum... such a waste.
I learned quickly the true value of coin. The need to obtain it at any cost began to slither inside me, insidiously it worked, carving itself into the very slate of my personality -- so deep it burrowed that no amount of discourse or prattle - to the contrary of its apotheosis could dislodge the thought: I extolled it! What I could not fathom then was that it was merely the symptom of a much greater malady. What I craved was freedom. My Lord chooses his advocates in a fashion inconceivable by the human mind and my salvation came in the form of strange circumstance.
I was in the streets of the Rahad when he came upon me. The blackness of night welled between allies and wherever the light from burning sconces was inadequate to reach. I felt every muscle in my body come alive with the tension of fear, only a fool moved alone in the darkness even as close to their home as I was. My hand had ceased to caress the hilt of my dagger, instead my palm was slick was sweat, caused by the death grip I was applying.
I felt a hand grope for my purse: with terrified violence I bore my dagger repeatedly into my attacker. Over and over, striking out wherever I could make the seemingly flimsy weapon connect. When the blood-splattered gurgling ceased; trembling of foot I fled to the safety of my home. It was a blur of moments - its duration?--Seconds! Yet I felt a cold eternity close in upon me with the weight of shock. After fifteen years of life it had taken only an instant to make the transition between innocent child and taker of life. Barely audible whimpers were all that accompanied my torment as the shock slowly passed.
In its place lay a secret of incalculable magnitude. The key to wealth, power, victory. The desires of my heart were unfettered and the dawn of hope washed away my guilt and disgust at the terrible action I had wrought against my fellow man. My conscience was interred forever at that moment, it had been superseded by a more potent force... for I had learned the fragility of human life.
I did not know it in an academic sense, the biological weaknesses of the human condition, for that is knowledge conferred -- parent to child -- from birth and for eons. I felt the truth in my flesh, in the blood that pulsed through my veins. I felt it in my bones, to the very core of the self. It coursed through the neural paths of my brain, I exhaled it with every breath. I had been freed from the moral chain that caged against success. At an instant I could become deathwright, taking life and it was easy... so easy.
Slowly, I descended into a fitful sleep... thoughts of a brighter tomorrow insinuating themselves into my dreams.
To defeat the tyrannous stars, I would elude the tomb of poverty - emerge from the womb of rebirth and shatter the manacles of banal existence. No longer would I suffer gladly with my brethren the necrotic finality that stole their ambition, insatiably feasting on their aspirations like a ghoul and leaving them to rot like corpses under the waves of Aceron.
The first step on the journey I was to embark upon, called for patience. I had waited fifteen years to exhume the esoteric revelation, to trace my path to freedom -- I could wait. In my present state I could not successfully employ my bouleversement, my foray would come only after my edification. I would need to don a masque, a disguise of such precise incision that no trace of my true providence would shine through the cracks.
I watched those around me, friends, family, strangers, predators. With the patience of the dead I weighed their appearance, visage, voice, walk -- every aspect of their characters against my own internal scales. Through this voyeurism I hoped to manufacture and cultivate the most disarming and benign guise possible, one that would repel topical accusation and render me indistinguishable, a faceless nobody in the common throng.
The hours turned into days; into weeks, into months. I emulated the aspects I sought and practiced in secret. I trained my voice to a musical lilt, my stance to ebullient excitement, my walk to a jovial saunter devoid of swagger and over-confidence, all of this I assumed and more... yet the most important ingredient in my recipe still remained lost. That is, until I happened to see a local autistic boy making his way merrily down a street, something so mundane and obvious as to have escaped my notice. Oblivious to the danger inherent in his environment, here was my facial poise, my expression!--A look of supreme ignorance, affable bemusement.
It had taken little under one year to fully incorporate these alien elements, assimilate them and slip into an illusionary form, yet it was worth the price... my ambition and avarice had fueled my reserve and finally I had achieved success, I was close, so very close. The next barrier on my road to freedom so very simple and yet so very convoluted and intricate at the same time, paradox within paradox... I had to procure clothing.
I had nothing serviceable, nothing to blend into the outside world, no, my garb would attract more attention than it would deflect. I would have to sew new clothing, using my mother's teaching -- simple. It would have to be done in secret, painstakingly: minutiae by minutiae for I could not arouse the suspicions of my family, nor anyone else -- not so simple.
It took a further two years to complete this task, after all my ardent labour the fruits had come to bear: a tunic and leggings of sallow green, a cape of rich brown and a pair of soft leather boots. I had advanced much in those two hectic years, stalking, dispatching -- doing so only when I could escape the detection of both my maternal and paternal benefactors and only when the moment was right. I had learned through agonising anxiety the need for patience... sometimes my victims were days apart and sometimes months. I hid them, mutilated them, killed with different strokes and different styles, all to enlarge the inexorably closing net -- only so much death went unnoticed. After a refreshing nights sleep, on the day of completion, I simply disappeared from The Rahad, never to return.
I quickly digested the subtle differences and the blunt, between Ebou Dar proper and The Rahad. Once I had surmounted this barrier; became more accustomed to my surroundings: I could set my sights on purchasing my freedom, access to the world beyond. Quickly I secured a position working in an inn, a pitifully small wage complemented by free food and lodging. From my room I earned additional income, using the skills I had been taught by my mother to mend clothing. I worked hard, very hard but I was from The Rahad, it was as natural to me as the rise and fall of my chest.
Without the need for additional funds, I could kill at leisure, spending months at a time selecting my prey, learning their habits, foibles, nuances... planning, waiting. Each death broadened the horizons of my awareness, each death brought precious knowledge and wisdom to the surface -- and I learned. Every consecutive execution became finer, I now acted with familiar ease -- finesse. The lions share of my victims were middle-class citizens living solely. After their untimely deaths I would sell their respective goods to fences and honest merchants alike.
Initially I had planned to stay a few months at best but my nocturnal debaucheries had gone unnoticed and I continued to earn good money, I saved every piece no matter how worthless or ancillary. After a year of stockpiling I had accrued a sizable quantity of coin and I was finally ready, the last cord had been severed, its tenuous hold on me cut. I was free and I was elated beyond all measure. Money was the universal language and I spoke it fluently but it was not enough... I wanted more.
The next six years of my life segued into an endless tide of illicit activity and pleasure. I had become both hedonist and Epicurean, sampling heavily the pleasures of life. My years of wealth had not softened me though I had gained weight. This change too became partner to the persona of bemused stupor that had long since replaced my original self... I had been a willing participant in the 'evil' I had done and yet I felt no remorse, only satisfaction and joy. I felt fulfilled, it was all so new and thus alluring, I reveled in my ambiance.
Burglary, abduction, murder, extortion, blackmail, racketeering, torture, perfidy: I was guilty of them all and more. I had even begun the occasional and exorbitantly priced stint as a freelance assassin. No training could endow the same degree of skill for life was a harsh instructor -- failure meant death. Every action taken, paid for with another's life, every coin I used -- tainted by the sanguine shade of brutality.
I had become quite the businessman since absconding from The Rahad. Though I swore an oath to myself that I would never return, I still managed to send money by trusted courier. No amount of ardent denial could change the fact that they were my family and as such, I owed at least a bond of gratitude. I was now silent partner in many establishments, using blood money to fund inns, stalls, brothels. I had even set up something of a loansharking business, a brilliant scheme suggested by a former associate who had unfortunately outlived his usefulness. I had finally achieved all that I could hope, even wish for and I was pleased -- untouchable and only stood to gain.
That was my story up until a year ago when it all came crashing down around my ears. It would seem in my haste I had killed a darkfriend belonging to one of the Dark Lord's Chosen, who was -- suffice to say -- a little irritated by my actions. My answer to my dilemma was of course one of pure survival. As an alternative to a grizzly and excruciating death I could serve him and swear fealty to Shai'tan. Naturally I acquiesced though I am not sure he cared which decision I made.
I have accepted Shai'tan as my Lord and the chosen as my master, my business ventures are now his as compensation for the nuisance I proved to be... I write this only as an exercise, for it is in truth my first major undertaking of the literary kind. Before my indoctrination and initiation into the fold, I could neither read nor write and even now, my mistakes are being pointed out to me.