|| Asymmetry | Role-Playing | Dungeons & Dragons | Melantha ||
Name, Melantha Ailarian. Not that that means anything to anybody anymore. You could tell I'm Thyatian, if you bothered to look that close, which people don't and I like it that way (at least for now), what with not getting much washing and the only new clothes I've ever seen being on other people. I've got a little mirror that I stole a while back when I thought it might come in handy. On the tall side, skinny--too much to eat has never been a problem for us--with this sort of blonde-brown hair. Might be kinda pretty, even, I don't know. Probably for the best no one's noticed that; the money is supposed to be good, but there's ways I'd rather get it.
Don't have a whole lot of possessions weighing me down at this point, mostly stuff hidden so my folks don't hock it for beer money. Clothes about one thread away from useless. My mirror, which is hidden up in my roof stash along with the few pennies I've got right now. My tools--the picks don't leave my body if I can help it, they're too expensive to replace. Risky to maybe get caught with them, but worse if somebody found 'em up there and took 'em. I spent a long while saving up to get those. There's this one guy who comes through town two, three times a year with odd things for sale, kind of a tinker but not quiteprobably does a lot of stuff on the side. Didn't give me too hard a time about them, anyway, though I think he figured I'd be dead before he got back to Threshold again. And I've got a knifeone of the first things I ever stole. You need one, in the part of town we live in, but I don't go around flashing it or somebody'll try to take it away. That's pretty much the extent of what I own.
I ought to make it clear up front, just so you know, I'm not into hurting people. Maybe if I was bigger it'd be different, maybe I've just never been that hard up, but that's not my thing. Not unless I really have to, anyway. But some people have more than they'll ever need in ten lives, and me, I've got nothing but this damn name, so it all works out, see? And besides, it's fun.
Anyway. Seventeen years I've been in this dump of a town. Threshold, they call it, right out on the edge of some nasty lands to the north, with the whole rest of the Grand Duchy to the south and the Empireour real hometo the east. Never been there, none of us has since before Grandad's day, but my dad talks about it all the time, all the places our family's been and the stuff they did, so I know a bit about it.
Let me start from the beginning. I like telling stories, too, see. Might be the only thing we have in common, me and my dad. Long, long time ago, we Alarians lived in the Empire, and it was Baron Ailarian, faithful servant of the Emperor, with our own lands and keep, servants and soldiers, everything. Dad'll go on for hours about everything there, right down to the plates. Gods know how much of it he's got right after all these years.
Problem was, dozen-great-grandad liked dice, but they didn't like him. Got himself in debt to this moneylender, so the story goes. Had to sell off a bit of the land to pay him back eventually. Happened a couple more times after that. A couple generations and a few bad deals later, and a series of merchants took everything that was left, one piece at a time. Lousy vultures. We went mercenary for a while, those who were suited to it, and it kept the family together, following the battles here and there. Kept the hope alive we'd get back what was ours, get back to where we were supposed to be, but every time Fortune smiled it was followed by a worse frown. The way I hear it we just sort of drifted for a while, and this is where we stuck. Threshold. Which is pretty near bottom anyway, and we've been sliding closer ever since, far as I can tell.
So now there's Dad, who does the odd bit of work but mostly works at drinking. Nobody believes the stories, but he keeps telling them, even when they laugh at him. I hate that, but mostly I just keep my peace. They'll know he was telling the truth some day, if I have anything to say about it. Then there's Ma. She took a shine to Dad's stories once upon a time, but that's long since worn off. Now the only thing she likes more than a bottle is a chance to flay Dad about something he messed up, and giving the same to me is a close third. I just kind of ignore it all; I've got my plans, and stuff to do if they're going to happen.
You might have figured by now, I've got a kind of soft spot for my dad. Not that he's really done much to deserve it. I mean, he's not a bad guythose I've seen plenty of. Just makes me sad that he doesn't even try, just keeps begging for drinks and getting laughed at. Of course, they laugh at me, tooat all of usbut I can handle it.
So I spend my days making like Ma's wish is my command, and making sure I'm not in between them when the empty bottles start flying around. Or else wandering around the town, keep my eyes and ears open for people being careless, take advantage of it when I can. Keep to myself. I've gotten lucky a couple of times, and that helped. Not all luck, though. I'm good at roof-running in the dark, and knowing when not to run, too.
I need to be good. There's no one looking out for me but me, and there's a long way to go. See, I have this plan. Maybe a dumb plan, but there you have it. Maybe my family's cursed, we've all got to be dumb about something. But anyway, this is it: I want to get it back. I want our name to be worth knowing again.
I mean, Dad's not going to do it, that's bloody obvious. The rest of the kids don't seem to be shaping up to do much. Oh, they might pull themselves out of the pit we're in, maybe learn a trade or something, but what good will that do? We'll just keep fading on out until finally we disappear for good. So that leaves me to do something. Doing things takes money, so that's where I'm going to start.
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© 2000 Rebecca J. Stevenson