“Winter’s Edge is a town of ‘bout six hunnerd folks or so. During th’ High Snow we woke one mornin’ after a hard snow fall to find Jannik Autumnleaf (or Jann), a lad ‘bout 11 or 12 winters boardin’ and workin’ at th’ Cloven Hoof Inn for his “uncle” Peg Parson. Now Peg, he been in Winter’s Edge for so long, nobody rightly knows his real name. Naw, he got that name cause of all them tall stories he’s always braggin on, some pretty good ones too! He, he! See, he’s got a peg below th’ knee on his right leg, says he was a preacher for Mielikki and he lost that right leg fightin’ that green devil Wyrm Claugiyliamatar.
“Shoot! That Worm ain’t never been this far north! Th’ bard songs always croonin’ ‘bout that devil roaming th’ north only as high as Neverwinter an all th’ way down to Waterdeep. Until Jann moved in, don’t rightly recall no stories of Peg havin’ no family.
“Anyways, Jann shows up an’ it probably weren’t been no big deal, rightly would have gone unnoticed, except a few things just weren’t right with that boy. First, he was big! I mean, really big! Why, at 11 or 12 winters he was nearly as tall an wider as most of those just gettin’ they first sets of whiskers. T’ other thing that sets him off was his orange eyes an he got’s fangs, well ok, not rightly fangs. He ain’t no vampire or nothing, no, no, more like tusks. Ya know, like a pig? Sticking up past his bottom lip, makin’ him look fierce! Poor lad had a lisp for a long time, till he finally grew up in those fangs. People talk, says he’s a half breed, some kind of Orc-kin I guess. Still, most of that, pishaw, ain’t no big deal really, we seen weirder, sure thing!
“But it be th’ last thing, like scared th’ shivers right out of half th’ folks throwing back a pint that night! Wind howling, snow comin’ fierce, beatin’ at th’ shutters, cold to da’ bones. Flump, th’ fire blew out all of a sudden-like, turnin’ the taproom black as pitch. There was a pop an sizzle, place lit up a sudden like we was cast into hell! Standin’ there were th’ half-blood, hellish purple an red flames wrapped round his hand! Th’ flames was leapin’ a good 2 feet from his fist, an then he reaches right into th’ hearth! An, th’ logs, what was smokin’ an still covered in snow what fell from th’ chimney, burst inta flames again!
“I woke up sometime later, all wet an spluttering; Jeeter Creekmiller threw a bucket in my face of something that weren’t no water! Don’t worry, I won’t turn yer insides explainin’ what it were, but it weren’t no water, I can tell you that!
“Fer a long time, I steered clear of that boy! Every time I seen him, all I seen were those flames. Gave me gnome bumps they did. Makin’ my hair stand up, an that’s sayin’ somethin’ fer this dome. Some time gone by, an afore I knew it, he was bringin’ me food. Goofy grin on his face; course, it coulda’ been them fangs. Always laughing, I think’d he was soft in th’ head. Turned out, he were a gentle lad, quick fer a smile, an smart. Why, he taught me my letters an numbers! Nobody ever taken the time to teach this old bones his letters.
“’Nother night I’m not thinkin’ I’ll likely ferget was when some outta towner’s showed up, struttin, actin all tough-like. They picked Felton Barwick, startin’ a tussle. Most times, Peg were handy and he’d go grabbin’ that big ax ‘bove th’ bar. This night, he were in the back an the lad, well, he were standin’ at the bar, orange eyes big (Peg didn’t rightly let the boy in th’ tap room when outta towner’s were ‘bouts), I don’t reckon the boy never seen nothin’ like
that afore. When alla’ o’ sudden, he jumps up, an grabs that ax with one hand an thunks the flat, whack and whack! That were two toughs fell ta th’ ground. Place sure got quiet after that. Ever’one lookin’ around, eyes wide, I can tell you what, th’ other two grabbed their friends an lit out.
“That were th’ day, we seen we need ta be respectin’ that boy and teachin’ him right. Soft heart, sure, but hard hands if’n you what I mean. Funny thing ‘bout that wit family an all. Turns out, we was pretty much what he thought fer family. Sure, him bein’ a boy an all, he made some friends, seen a few of them ‘round here an there, but one day, messenger shows up an talks all quite-like to Peg Parson in th’ back. He come out, an I swears, he’s a crying. Come’s out an grabs th’ boy an takes him into th’ back. Soon, we could hear a wailin’, soundin’ like some sort o’ death cry. Boy come staggerin’ out, an put my ghost part way inta’ the grave he did. Looked like murder!
“Some time later; I woke, sputterin’. Peg had wasted some good ale throwin’ it in my face. He grabbed me, said, “Git out!”. I looked ‘round, place were empty, furniture broke, th’ lad over by th’ fire; quiet an peaceful, like death. I gat!
“Sad times that, th’ lad weren’t ‘round much after that. Sure, we seen him. He still smiled a lot, but it weren’t th’ same. There were a fire in his eyes, an his kind smile cold. He were good at his chores, he still kind an helpful-like. But there were a fire. We could see it burnin’.
“I asked Peg after a couple months gone by. He told me we got th’ boy when his dad come lookin’ for him an his mum. Mum smuggled him out, rightly savin’ the boy an lit off to distract his dad. Yep, that’s how we gots him, here in Winter’s Edge. Would ya believe, she hid out fer two years afore finally gettin’ caught, wouldn’t give up th’ boy an were kilt for it. I cried that night, right into my mug. I hate salty dogs, an that’s what I made that night. But I drunk it up, honorin’ th’ boys loss. He want’s ‘em dead, all them Orc, yep. Orc’s done it. Boy hates ‘em. Not sure why, but he calls em Tanarukk’s!
Wants ’em all dead.
“Talkin’ this much makes an old bones thirsty… I don’t supposin’ you’d be fer payin’ for ’nother pint? Throat dry-like, makes it hard to talk ’bout the boy…”
Parents: Lysil Autumnleaf (human) & Tanakah Swiftforge (Tanarukk)
Lysil was a rogue of no small skill who grew up on the streets of Luskan in the shadows of the Twin Teeth. Along with her siblings, (Lydia & Marcus) Lysil was orphaned when she was only 7. Lydia, the eldest did her best to keep their family together. She started turning tricks at the age 12, just as the budding signs of womanhood started to manifest. However, at such a young age, she was as often as not left without the silver she negotiated for her services. They went hungry frequently. Marcus was the middle child at 10 with Lysil bringing up the rear. All three children were exceptionally intelligent and beautiful. Marcus was the rake of the three, after their first couple of months of poverty and privation, he began to sneak in when his sister’s customers were otherwise occupied and sort through their funds, taking only some coppers at first and as time progressed, if their was a lot of coins, he would risk a silver or three. After a year of successful pilfering, he risked entering the crowded market and trying his luck there.
Marcus became a successfully talented pick pocket, acquiring more than enough silver for his sister Lydia to “retire”. It wasn’t long before they were able move into a studio apartment that they leased from a baker. Lydia began to work at the bakery and in her off time, would work with Lysil on her letters and numbers. Marcus refused to do such mundane and trivial work, daring more and more in his pocketing. This came to an abrupt halt one day when Lysil was a winter passed 10, he was caught with his hand literally in the pouch of one of the Five High Captains. He was carted off to the Host Tower of the Arcane and word quickly came to Lydia who was given a small pouch of gold from the baker who had come to view the girls with compassion and was barely able to smuggle them out of the city before soldiers arrived to escort them to the Host Tower of the Arcane.
The following two years were hard on the girls. Lydia traveled with Lysil in tow Northeast to Mirabar, then south to Longsaddle and Triboar. Northeast again to Yartar and eventually to Everlund. The girls were finally able to settle in with a halfling family in Everlund. Lydia had worked there way as a cook and Lysil as a scullery through their travels and settled into that routine when they nestled in with the Tallfellow family. Their was rumored to be human in their family tree, they were nearly the height of a short dwarf. They loved both girls. Lydia was content, Lysil shared more of her brothers temperament; she had only known adventure and hardship. The life of a scullery; while she enjoyed the warmth of the hearth and the contentment of a full belly, by gods, she was bored!
Within a summer, she had made several friends. At 12, she was just beginning to bloom into the beautiful woman she would grow up to be. She was not like other girls and had several boys as friends. She didn’t mind getting dirty, or climbing into a tree. She had a mean fist, and was quick to thrash anybody that picked on one of her friends. When she turned 15, she started roaming the local farms and sometimes as far as the Nether Mtns., or across the River Rauvin to the outskirts of The High Forest. This is how she met her companions for the next decade. Their company was the Four Stars, consisting of Lysil Autumnleaf, a ranger for Gwaeron Windstrom, Fitscalten Tommarscan (gnome) wizard of Azuth, Hans “Peg” Smithson (human) priest of Meilikki, as well Merrill Hillcrest, a dashing half-elf rogue of Mask.
Lysil had been romantically involved with Merrill for 5 years at the unfortunate time that she was captured by a tribe of Tanarukk Orcs while exploring the Nether Mtns. After a Tenday of planning, her companions risked everything to free her, losing Fits in the ensuing rescue. When they returned to Everlund, they decided to rest and recuperate for several months before returning to the field. Within that time Lysil took ill, they soon discovered she was pregnant. Merrill was indignant, on two counts; that she would “allow” herself to be raped by one of her captures and that in her shame and embarrassment, she hadn’t told him. Lysil tired for weeks to convince him that she loved him and hadn’t enjoyed her captivity and treatment at the hands of the Tanarukk. “Peg” was right there the entire time, showing support and trying to intercede with Merrill on the behalf of Lysil. Merrill wouldn’t have any of it and eventually disappeared to not be heard from again.
After Janniks birth, “Peg” stayed with Lysil and Jannik as much as he could. On Janniks first birth anniversary “Peg” pledged himself to Lysil. Lysil shocked, rebuked him kindly, breaking “Pegs” heart. Within in a Tenday, he had packed up his meager belongings and purchased passage out of Everlund. Two years later, he wrote to Lysil from the town Winters Edge, ashamed at his desertion, but unable to gain passage back.
The next several years Lysil and “Peg” exchanged letters every season. The last message he received from her was that the Tanarukk father of Jannik, Tanakah Swiftforge, was frequenting the taverns of Everlund asking for a woman matching her description; she was leaving Everlund and when it was safe enough, she would write again. For three years, “Peg” aged a great deal from worry. One day a letter arrived, signed by Lydia Hillcrest. “Peg” was confused, recognizing the names, but not together. Lysil had signed with an alias of two names he would know, but that weren’t hers to hopefully throw off her persuers. They continued to share a letter or two per year talking about her son Jannik, the type of man he was going to grow in to, and her fears of his father; until one day, the letters stopped.
One evening months later, during High Snow in the thickest blizzard of the season, a cowled visitor forced his way into the Cloven Hoof with a young half-Orc boy in tow. This boy turned out to be the son of his dear friend Lysil. The visitor, a Harper, also gave a letter from the the boys mother. The letter explained this would be her last missive, begging “Peg” to raise her son as his own and to love him as he had always loved her. She was going to lead Tanakah away from her son, and if that meant she sacrificed herself for her son, it was in Gwaeron’s hands.
The boy was a gentle lad, exhuberant, well mannered and loved his uncle “Peg”. Jannik was held to a high standard by his uncle. Frequently reminded of his size compared to the other children and to always be mindful of protecting those smaller then him. Jannik spent a good deal of time with his uncles tutoring, cleaning pots and cooking in the kitchen or splitting wood for the fire. The boy enjoyed the axe the most of his chores and was gifted with the wide shoulders and strong hands of a wood cutter. When he was free of his chores at the Inn he would sometimes wander the prairie around Winter’s Edge, never fearing the beasts in the fields. He seldom talked about his mother, not even to Peg, but he felt closest to her when wandering the animal trails, reading the signs that she taught him. That’s where he was most at home; comfortable and at ease.
A few years after Jannik joined Winter’s Edge, “Peg” received word of Lysil. Another stranger that Harps came to the Cloven Hoof to explain that he received instruction from his superiors that he was to come to the Cloven Hoof in Winter’s Edge and tell man called Peg Parson; “The ‘ward’ no longer has family.”
Events happened quickly after that. The boy named Jannik became a man overnight. Some within Winter’s Edge quickly grew to fear the stark determination and hatred the boy began to manifest regarding evil humanoids, particularly those of pure Orc blood! He began to slowly purchase equipment that only a fool adventurer would be outfitted with. Within a few months time, he had this great big axe, chain armor, a bow and other assorted items of flapdoodle… (Brittany – it’s a word, look it up)
Peg tried his best to convince the lad to lay low, not to draw attention to himself. Many of their neighbors thought that odd, but were too polite to comment or press on about it. In a tearful parting, Peg and several patrons of the Hoof wished the lad good fortune, and each gave him a small gift: The most memorable was the beaten pewter tankard given to Jannik by Old Bones, who promptly fainted when Jannik enveloped him in a hug. He eased the old man down on his customary bench, tucked blankets to hold him in place, put a copper on the bar and smiled to Peg. Kissed Pegs cheeks, turned without a word and left. A cold chill settled into the Hoof that night, as each patron realized the flame of warmth that had blessed Cloven Hoof Inn the last several years didn’t come from the heart, but the man who lit her fire.