I conceived this while washing dishes, thinking about a narrative introduction as a PC in a new campaign, although it would have to be a very special group to allow such a table backstory! I really want to play this guy, however, and I really liked creating this aloud so I could hear his voice even clearer. Hope you enjoy.
In my village we worship Lord Moon, as is right and proper, praise be his name. It is through his gifts that the people prosper, and it is through his servants, the Moon Kings, that his will is done. My family comes from a long line of Moon Kings, and my grandfather was a Moon King, and his son, my father, was a Moon King, and me, I am a Moon King too. Oh yes. Great and powerful, was I. Destined, from birth, as the path of my father and his fathers, as the living reincarnation of the avatar of Lord Moon himself. I was given everything I wanted, and I wanted for nothing more than knowledge. How I hungered for it! I read every great work in the Golden Hall and read them again and again over the years. I was whispered, into my left ear, from the day I was born, that “I was the special chosen one, destined to guide us all into salvation”. I was whispered to, into my ear, every day since the day I was born, by my father himself.
Do you see my prison?
The Moon King does one thing. He tells the people the will of Lord Moon. He guides their futures, answers their questions, settles their disputes, tells their fortunes, blesses their children, and a thousand other Right and Holy things. The Moon King is told what to do by Lord Moon himself! Through portents, and dreams, omens and signs, would his will be revealed to me. Through direct conversation, his Divine Lips would whisper in my right ear, and guide my path and all I had to do was say the words and remain pure.
I speak now of my crimes, and they are shameful to the extreme. If this company would see fit to not have me among them, say the word, and my departure is assured, you have my word on that, though my word may not hold much weight after I reveal the remainder of my tale. Hear me out and decide for yourself, but know that I have blamed and doubted myself for so long that any anger you’ve towards me is old and familiar ground, and I will not defend myself.
My village and my people needed me and the look of pride in my father’s eyes, and my mother’s smile when I wore the regalia was so pure to me, do you understand? It was not sullied by anything so sordid as human pride or fear. I saw only love in their eyes, and I, devoted son, could not disappoint them.
I heard no words in my right ear. I saw no portents. Could not interpret an omen if it kicked me in the shin. Lord Moon did not guide me. I was alone in the night with all my doubts and terrors. What was I to do? My father would come in the morning and recite that hateful litany in my left ear and I swore if I heard it again I would scream, but when the morning came and I felt my father’s breath on my neck I said nothing and I did nothing.
That’s not true.
I did do something. I lied.
I had read every scroll in the Golden Hall. More than once. I knew every ruling from every Moon King to have come before me. Every piece of advice, every omen of good fortune or bad, all was recorded by the Water Witch, as is her right and duty. I had studied them all, for they fascinated me, and I was a dutiful student, and I had a mind that could retain what I’d seen one or twice in almost perfect detail.
So I said the words and I lied. Over and over again. I proclaimed good fortune and bad. I sat in judgement of men who trusted me! I punished innocent men, of that there can be no doubt. I guided the lives of all who falsely trusted me and Lord Moon, forgive me, but I lied because I was afraid of the look on my father’s face if I told him that I was no Moon King, that I was a fraud, and I couldn’t. I wouldn’t.
But time passes and people change and as I grew older I began to feel the prison of my lie most keenly. It sat ill with me and was a constant burden that I felt I could physically feel, weighing me down. I began to drink. A lot. I fornicated even more. I must have plowed every maiden (and spinster and widow) in the village more than once. My crimes were not just confined to the Lunar Throne, no. I walked among them, you see? I exploited them to cover my own disgust and weakness. I threw myself into drink and debauchery so I could run away from myself. The worst crime of all.
And now we come to my comeuppance and exile, and I tell you friends, if your benevolence is still with me, I hope you will forbear a little more, for what I have to tell you next still shames me in truth.
It was midwinter and I had been senseless for days. I had grown sullen and been skunked on winter ales and last year’s wines for days. The hall was filled for supper and the place was stifling from the fireplaces and all the bodies. I remember hearing the howls of some storm over the cascading bubble of the crowd’s voice, and I heard my mother’s voice suddenly rise up and declare that the Moon King would know when the blizzard would pass and I saw her turn and face me, her eyes shining and bright like always, her ready smile so joyful to behold, and I felt the wine in my belly sour. I felt that rushing heat that signals vomitus and before I could be sick I opened my mouth and told her to shut up.
She didn’t hear me, of course, and I saw her questioning face and I shouted “SHUT UP!” and the room dropped still. My stomach was churning and I was sick of it. I’d had enough. I almost confessed then, and I still wish I had, for what I said next is so vile, I’m ashamed to voice it aloud, but you deserve the truth. I told them Lord Moon had told me that a great and perilous doom was coming to destroy the people. I told them that Lord Moon had lost favor with them, that his rage was terrible and growing and I described in great detail of the deaths that awaited each and every one of them. I stared my friends, my neighbors, my people in the eye, one-by-one, and I let out all my grief and self-loathing and hatred onto those innocents. I looked my mother in the eye and described the gruesome fate of my baby brother and I didn’t even flinch. I howled of the ending of the world.
There were shouts now. Angry folk who didn’t understand anything beyond what they were told was Right and True. Simple people. My people. They were hurt and scared and I did not care. Not any more. The shouts got louder and now people were starting to argue among themselves and many were pointing at me and my mother and my father, I didn’t recognize them anymore, their faces were closed and confused.
My father came to me, hands outstretched, slow – like you would approach a wild animal, and he babbled some platitudes to me, but I didn’t even acknowledge him, I just wept and wept like the coward I am, I still couldn’t tell him, and then he started to say the words, he started to say the words but not in a whisper, he looked right at me and he said them, like some rock a drowning man clings to, and my mother was crying, and I had never seen her cry, never once in my twenty years and my father said those words to me and I grabbed him and shouted in his ear, “LORD MOON DOES NOT SPEAK TO ME AND NEVER DID! I AM NOT SPECIAL! I AM NOTHING!”
I was drunk, yes. Mad with grief. Frustrated, beyond measure. Yes. What I did was not right and I fled.
I hid behind the fleece shed and lost my guts in the snow over and over again. I heard voices shouting nearby, Gunson, I think, and the Miller, Doberton, and I fled again, up into the hills above the village, but when I looked back, I saw something I did not expect, but which seems foolish to have denied now. A knot of torchlight was following, and I suddenly felt myself go cold all over. For the first time in my life, I was seeing the consequences of my actions as they affected me, and me alone.
I fled higher, into the mountains. I ate game and drank icy cold water and slept dry where I could, but the torches followed me. A week later I heard the baying of hounds and I knew those voices well, they belonged to Narhill, the Hunter, and I stopped sleeping.
They found me in Sunday Village two days later, my belly full from menial labor, and I fled north along the coast. I remained a few days ahead of them, I think, as I kept stopping to work and eat and collect a few coins where I could. I zig-zagged between village and wilderness and though I stayed at arm’s length, I could not lose them.
After two months I reached the Port and my labors earned me passage on the vessel that brought me here, into your gracious company. I have not seen my pursuers since, and that was nearly a month ago, more than enough time for them to arrived here and begun the pursuit, anew.
Know that I am deeply ashamed of my life to this point, and have dedicated myself to a lifetime of penance and redemption, and would offer my life in your stead, gladly, if my pursuers find me again. I will be a true and steadfast companion, and you may test my word at your leisure, I assure you that you will not find it wanting.
We are well met, and I am Ipsah, a Paladin of Mercy.