Chapter One

I am Huron Blackheart. Some of you may of heard of me. Others of you may not have. There are many tales of my life out there. Some say I am a hero. Others say I am a villain. Some few believe that I don’t even exist. Be assured that I do. I believe that it is in the tales of my life that you will find the reason for me writing this pamphlet, the writ of the Jade Coin. Perhaps in my memoirs you will find insight into my mind, a window into my reasons for doing what I do and saying what I say. Take my words as they are. I do not care what you believe from my memoirs, what you think is exaggeration or what you think is a lie. I present things as they happened, an outline of my life and how it played a part in many of the events of the past fifty or so years.

It is true that I have ruled and founded two cities, and that there are multiple coins bearing my image; but I was not born a king. I was born nothing. On the brutal streets of old Lockinton I was raised; not the Lockinton of Latheric, but the Lockinton of Tabber: the mad lich Jacob Tabber. My father was a mindless foot soldier inĀ  Tabber’s army, a pompous and greedy little man who made his living on raids and pensions. My mother was his prize: an elven maid from the Pomarj who he kept as a slave, housing her in a cage and using her whenever he could. My best memories of my mother are the tales and songs that she sung to me: of the Elven lands and Elven heroes: of the undying lands across the sea and the heroes who long ago battled fierce orcs and monstrous dragons. My mother, to me, was something different and alien to the dirty streets of the city and the ugly folk who lived there. In her I saw something of the rest of the world: something bigger than the unimportant little life that I was born into, something noble, special; in a way that the elves have always possessed. She could not live long in Lockinton, stuck as a captive in a cage. She yearned for the pleasures of her home, for the distant forests of the Pomarj, that lovely land now gone from the world. Thus she died, when I was around ten years old. My father sent me out into the streets as beggar and later a pickpocket. Later, as I learned, many people believed that there was something WRONG with stealing. I was never raised with that idea. I believed that if I could take something, it was mine; simple as that. After all, that was the way I lived; the way I was able to eat every day and have a shelter to live under. I think that’s the way many poor thieves think; and though I’ll admit that it’s a small way of looking at things, I can’t blame them. That’s the life they’re thrust into, and that’s the life they believe in. Still, it never profited me very much. My father took most of the money I earned, spending it on cheap wine and cheaper women. I never grew to respect my father. When he wasn’t lounging around the house he was out drinking, or picking fights on the street. As a child, I never believed him to be my master. Always I thought him a drunken, idiotic fool. I hated him then. When I came back with too little money he beat me, and when I came in with more than my quota he simply ignored me. I wanted to kill him, and in the end I did kill him. One night he came home drunker than ever, cursing to the gods themselves. The thieving business had been very bad that day too. When I came home without a copper piece in my pocket, he went into a rage. He jumped at me, knocking me to the ground, ready to end my life. I reached for whatever I could; a kitchen knife. Out of defensive instinct I stabbed him in the stomach, killing him quickly. I do not regret killing my father. I can’t say that it was something I enjoyed, despite the fact that he was a wretched and perhaps evil man. Even though I have now killed perhaps thousands of enemies, both man and beast, it is not something that I particularly enjoy. Though it is perhaps what I am best at, it is not what I love. Still, at that time it was necessary to slay my father, and although at times I do not enjoy what I do, I must acknowledge that it is sometimes needed.

After the death of my father, I had to leave that home. I spent many years on the streets, stealing to survive, hiding from the local guards; not trying to make anything of my life: merely trying to live. Until I was seventeen I lived my life out on the streets of Lockinton as a thief. With the money I earned I rented a room at the local inn, and spent my spare change on hookers, booze and better thieves? tools. All through my time there, I hated life. I was young ,angry and uncaring. What I believed was this: that life had offered me nothing worth living for, nothing pretty or pleasant or kind: just a load of garbage. With no family and no friends to speak of, I lived only out of habit, only because I had nothing better to do with myself. Having never seen a cleric, I didn’t believe in the gods, and even such a concept would have sounded ridiculous and stupid to me back then. I lived only for myself, to benefit and sustain my own body. Let me tell you, living for yourself is hardly a life when you haven’t really gotten much of a self to live for. When I was a kid, my main goal was to become the best thief ever. I had no reason to do it; but I had no reason not to. Thus I began robbing bigger and bigger targets. At first it was merchants; easy goals; such men whose minds are clouded by money are simple to fool. Then I went after the lesser nobles, and finally the upper crust of Lockinton society: Tabber’s own elite followers. One such man was Sir William du Fiend. Most of you, even natives of Lockinton, may not remember the name of Du Fiend, but at the time he was well known, both as a scoundrel and a warrior, and later, as a notorious bandit leader. I knew no such things, however, and so I decided to rob his home, hearing rumors on the street of a ?Jade Coin? he supposedly kept. Getting into his home was a challenge, to be sure: a good amount of traps, a magical guardian. I was nearly killed, but my youthful vigor got me out of the worst of it. Finally, I arrived at the chamber where I thought his treasure was kept. To put it simply, the whole thing was just at test. There stood Du Fiend, grinning evilly, laughing as he applauded my efforts. At that point he gave me two options: either I could be turned in to King Tabber, or I could join a society that he called ?The Jade Coin,? some kind of secret organization of thieves and assassins. As I had no desire to meet good old Jacob Tabber, I accepted his offer.

Thus I was initiated into the legendary Jade Coin. At that point, it was little more than a collection of scoundrels who believed that they possessed some kind of honor. They stole, but claimed to steal only from the rich. They killed, but supposedly only those who deserved it. The coins were a bunch of arrogant bastards, to tell the truth. With every job done, they would put a Jade Coin on their victim or in his treasure chest, just to let the authorities know who did it. They would only accept the most absurd and difficult assassinations: nobles, paladins, kings. During my time there they put me through a whole lot of training: training in not being noticed, in not being seen or heard: in not existing. They taught me how to kill without mercy, to slay my enemies and have no regrets about it. The Coin taught me that death is a natural and necessary thing. Though it is not pretty, it is real, and thus it should not be feared or hated. Du Fiend, though he was at heart a fool and a villain, told me that ?There is no honor in killing. The knights may tell you that you have to face a man head-on, or use only melee weapons, and so on, but that is all a load of pretentious lies. The only decent way to kill a man is to do it as quickly and painlessly as possible, making sure that he doesn’t kill you too.

For ten years I worked for the coin; getting rid of high-class targets, slaying those who the Jade Coin was paid to slay, stealing valuable artifacts and getting information on secret cults. All that time I worked mainly for Du Fiend, not really knowing much about the structure of the Jade Coin, only that it was actually organized in some far-off place and run by a group of secretive elders. During the later part of my training I was sent of various odd missions: to the ancient castles of fallen nobles, into the lowlands near Langston to work with Halfling gangsters and even to the depths of the underdark, where I dealt with the fabled drow elves. I felt like a more important person during my time with the old Jade Coin. I was an entity separate from society, isolated from laws and authority, a man above the common man, capable of killing those of higher station and taking what I wanted. Nobody knew I existed, and thus I could do anything and be anyone. It was a kind of release for me, a new sort of life, one where I had a purpose, no matter how dark and insidious that purpose might have been. Though I was not happy, I had something in my life then. There I became Blackheart, cold-blooded killer, assassin whose past was a mystery, who had never failed a single job. From what I learned of the Jade Coin, there was a reason for its existence. The society was an ancient one, far predating my membership, even predating Lockinton itself. It was not a thieves? guild, not like most people thought it was. It was originally meant for some other reason, the leaders said, to keep authority in check, to make sure that men like King Tabber didn’t get out of hand. The reason that the Coin never sent out pickpockets or associated with muggers, they said, was to protect the regular guy, the common man. The Jade Coin was there to keep the powerful from getting too powerful, or so they told me. Because of those words, and other reasons too, I was kept from going completely insane. Still, one summer night more than thirty years ago, it was all destroyed.

I still remember that night, when Tabber’s men raided the guild-house. They poured in, armed with enchanted swords and torches. They slew all the leaders they could find, burned all the Coin records, and murdered the initiates. I was out of the guild-house that night, on a mission from a higher-up, a mission to Tabber’s palace itself, to steal some valuable documents. When I returned I saw what had happened. The guild house was burning. The city guards were nearby, walking out from it and laughing. At their head was Du Fiend himself. I knew by the look in his eyes that he had betrayed us. The bastard had sold the Jade Coin out to Tabber. I knew that the guards had to be looking for me. The only safe place I knew of was the secret guild house, the one under the ground. I hid there for weeks, living off of rats and old rations, drinking purified sewer-water. It was hell, but I was used to hell. At that point, all that kept me going was thoughts of revenge on Du Fiend. I practiced the maneuvers he had taught me, so that one day I might use them on him.

When I got out of that place I had to get a new life, a new identity. Thus, I hung around the city for several months, investigating the destruction of my guild, looking onto where Du Fiend may have gone. I spent my time in the taverns again, and in the arena, trying to hone my fighting skills and become as good a warrior as Du Fiend himself. All I wanted was to kill him, kill Tabber, kill everyone who got in my way. A few times I was able to meet a man named Phelps. Phelps was the Champ, best fighter in the arena: big, bald and boisterous, he was the people’s champion, or so he wanted you to think. In reality, he was an illusion. Under the face of bravado, Phelps was just an arrogant jack-ass. He was in desperate need of money most of the time, and in reality wasn’t all that great with a blade, having won mostly due to the bribes of wealthy patrons. Though we never did like each other much, it was from Phelps that I learned how to really fight, both in and out of the arena. During this time, I also learned of another survivor of the Jade Coin massacre: Joshua Tansden, a gnome. Joshua had been captured by Tabber a year before while trying to raid the palace. As a kind of punishment, the king made him into a Jester. It was through Joshua that I learned of a rather interesting mission, a mission that would eventually take me to Du Fiend himself, and launch me into the position of a ruler.

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