Brim Dox Guld
languages: common, draconic
skill proficiency: arcana, intimidate, history, streetwise
Since the malefic founding of the Tiefling race in Bael Turath, forged upon a dark pact between demon and man, the Ruahd clan of warlocks has been one of few bloodlines to continue and preserve the rite of blood oaths. After the rebirth, the noble house of Ruahd settled Unther and began to supplement their treasuries with libraries. Within they archived volumes of contracts, penned in the blood of some of the wealthiest lords and purse-heavy adventurers in Toril, sealed in magic and locked away indefinitely — unless, of course, the unfortunate should occur. But few would dare break a contract with the Ruahdir, for their words are known to all: “Ymmute-ui ymmute,” which translates to “law is law.”
Their holdings proved exceedingly useful in the ongoing war against the Dragonborn, their false gods and piously misguided sense of honor revolting any respectable Tiefling. From assassinations and caravan raids to protective services and rescue missions, the Warlocks of the Ruahdir always held their product to the highest esteem, a product that rested heavily upon the physical and mental perfection of their offspring. Any newborn falling short of the required endowments were sold to slavers or simply discarded outside the city walls, left to die in the desert wastes beyond.
Cursed with ape-like, clawed feet beneath his hocks rather than hooves, Brim Dox Guld, second son of the Lord of Ruahd fell victim to the former, exiled to the copper mines of Thay. For ten years he labored, keeping a low profile and obeying his new masters diligently. Yet they underestimated him, regarding the child as exactly that, and a freak to boot. For inside the deep chasms he had found the comfort of books and eventually come to learn who his true identity, a vessel for the fires of Asmodeus, the molten will of the Ruahdir. This, he vowed he would not forget.
The boy spent his free time, if there was such a thing, learning the dark arts of his ancestors in secret. Frequently he traded food and water for tomes and scrolls of the arcane, risking execution with each spell he supped and every curse molded by his lips.
Finally, the day came to act. Luring his masters into a glittering tunnel he had carved out in secrecy months prior, Brim called upon the black hatred that had been festering for more than a decade. They couldn’t smell it. How could they, with their primitive human snouts? But to Brim, it was a smell as sweet as home. When the gas ignited and the screams began, the copper veins became gelatinous, showering the barbaric wretches with the liquid copper they coveted so. Two milky eyes watched from the dark and white hot rivulets dripped through flesh like paper in the rain. Fire washed over their collapsing bones and young Brim basked in the licking flame and the sickening crescendo of screams, arms outstretched. From there, a thousand feet of tunnel led him to salvation under a jaundiced harvest moon.
After unburdening a company of merchants he had everything he needed to return home. But he hadn’t forgotten the words Ruahd, fully aware of the strict criteria held in tradition by his family and the risk he took in seeking out his birthright, but the power he felt from liberation was euphoric — a gift from Asmodeus himself. He bore his kin no ill will for sending him to die in that horrible pit. In fact, he would prove it had made him stronger. Maybe that was the whole point. A trial of sorts.
“They must accept me after all of this,” he told himself. “For the powers of our clan had come so viscerally. Their ears would hear the Killing Curse, which I have recited myriad times, and in the sweet song of dragon-tongue, the second language of Ruahd. They’d smell the perfume of sulfur when the Flames of Phlegethos were summoned, the very spell that earned me my freedom. What a tale that would be! They’d bear witness to the rites of the Infernal Pact as I swear undying allegiance to the Nine Hells. I will prove the blood swelling my heart is that of a true Warlock of the Ruahdir.”
He was nearly twelve when he arrived at the outer wall of Lux Ruahd, his family estate. A feeling of dread took him but he quickly shook it off when the guards appeared atop the wall. They received him coldly but delivered his message to the House Lord regardless. Hours later they returned with no answer, so Brim waited out the night. Then the next night, and the next. Each day the sun passed him over he began to grow more anxious, but he would not falter. He could not. It could be another trial, after all, and sleep was a luxury that the wild dogs waiting in the night would not afford him.
Days stretched into weeks. His frame sank into itself and his mind with it and so one day, in a twilight state of delirium, Brim began chanting the rites of the Infernal Pact. It was a chilling sound, and soon the eyes that had been glowing green and hungry from atop the black dunes were nowhere to be found.
By sunup his voice had nearly faded when a sound jolted him. Brass and wood rumbled from behind the outer gates and he hoisted his posture as befit his status. When they groaned open Brim was ushered in by an army of servants who led him through ornate chambers lined with obsidian pillar statues of his forbearers, having only a brief, hazy glance at each. Haavin and Shale, his brother and sister, were carved among them and it was they who Brim first laid eyes upon when he entered the Inner Sanctum. Their faces looked on him with the same cold expression as their stone-carved likenesses. To the right, the Lord’s thirty wives knelt in a long column. Surely his mother was among them, but their faces were hidden in subjugation. Above them all sat the Lord of Ruahd, Blane Dox Guld, proud upon his onyx seat in the center of the chamber.
But it wasn’t the unfamiliar sight Brim was expecting. Dox Guld’s skin was the color of orc blood painted over brick. His horns were long, ibexian and black as slate, beset by a thick silver main. His face was more akin to human than demon, like most of the Tiefling noble class… but it was more than that.
The resemblance was staggering.
As if caught, Dox Guld’s gaze faltered, sinking to Brim’s scaled legs and resting on his broad, taloned feet.
“So you’ve returned,” his voice boomed throughout the hall.
“Yes, Father,” Brim answered in draconic as he touched a knee to the ground. Before him thick legs draped in coarse, black hair descended the dais, steel shod hoofs echoing as heavily as his voice.
“‘My Lord’ will suffice,” he replied coldly. “What would you have of me?”
Brim was stung, but he refused show weakness or doubt. He replied, “Only a life in your service, my Lord.”
At this, Dox Guld nodded thoughtfully.
Swift as a bolt, a hoof crushed Brim’s jaw, sending him sliding across the cold black marble. The guards pounced, pinning him on his back as his father began chanting something all too familiar. The sweet smell caused his nostrils to flare, and then he knew.
“Granted,” Dox Guld growled. “Your life will serve as a message to any who would defy our sacred laws, to the Dragonborn and any others who would expect mercy.”
Beneath Dox Guld, Phlegethic hellfire sprouted from the splitting rock like grass. His hoofs sank into the superheated marble like wax, igniting their fringes as he stepped forward. The steel glowed white hot as the shoe came down, allowing Brim only a moment’s glance at the words embossed across its arch just before it bit into his sternum. Jaw shattered, voice cracked, Brim had no voice left to plead or pray with. His brother and sister only gawked. He was helpless to Fate.
“The Ruahdir cannot show weakness,” Dox Guld said. “Even unto our own blood.”
Frozen in agony, Brim’s skin sizzled and his ribcage cracked. His pale eyes began to roll when Dox Guld stepped off, leaving a hideous smoldering impression. The guards steadied the points of Brims horns atop the stone floor as Dox Guld circled him like a prowling beast.
He looked down on his son with matching white eyes. “Now go. Go and serve.”
His hoof fell again, and the world sank into blackness.
When a Tiefling is gelded of its horns, many believe their power is gelded with it. So when Brim’s were taken he vowed anew to find them and restore his arcane strength. Only then could he overcome the final task.
For five years he scoured all of Unther, signing up with the Teek-ael, a local thieves guild with a broad network and accepted his kind. Life on the street served him well as he learned to blend with society, hiding his less savory Tiefling features beneath cloak and hood. It was much easier than expected with his human facial features and lack of horns. A curse turned blessing. The brotherhood allowed him solitude enough for crafting new arcana, and called upon his services only occasionally. Many of his “brothers” cared not to fight alongside him as they preferred their gold in the form of coin or baubles, rather than dried puddles of melted gold scraped from beneath charred corpses. But he knew better. It was just plain bigotry.
One day he got a lead from a guildmate, a rogue sent to spy on a black market trader in Mulhorand. He tracked the horn to the dusty avenues of a bazaar where Tiefling anatomy were prized by sorcerers for their magical properties. Luckily he arrived in time, but even so, there wasn’t much left. As he inspected the smooth black sickle, it was a fellow warlock standing across the counter top, an elf called Edina. The horn fit perfectly with the jagged left stump making the sullen teen was momentarily ecstatic, until he was asked to return it. Naturally, he hesitated.
Seeing the arch branded over his heart for the first time, Edina studied it a moment. “Law is law,” she said in a smooth, ancient voice.
Hearing these loathesome words for the first time since his banishment, Brim gripped the horn so tightly his knuckles cracked. He looked grimly upon the words mirrored backwards in his flesh, noticing a similar mark on her sternum, the elven rune for slave. If it were up to Edina the horn would already be his. That much read clearly in her eyes. He decided that rather than simply killing her and taking the horn as he originally planned, he would offer a blood pact. The horn in exchange for a life — that of her master.
After Brim had the horn carved to fit hand and sheath, it was the slavemaster’s hyde he used to swaddle the grip. The stump was filed down to a smooth cylinder, leaving the other be for the next fitting. Finally, he had one of the two symbols of his shaming and could feel his power returning, but power is a fickle thing without the mind and the skill to wield it. Brim knew he had a long way to go, and books could take him only so far. Urgency was a concern, as there was no guarantee that the horn hadn’t already been into potion, but Edina reassured him that nobody who could afford such a rare trade as an authentic Beshabic horn would destroy it. She continued, speaking of his bloodline holding a great and dreadful power and knew his family words and history better than himself. With this knowledge came an air of both dread and respect that he could relate to… first hand.
Whether out of pity or power hunger, he did not know why Edina begged to sire him. This was too low a task, even for a slave, but he had remembered how capable she was in battle when they had slain her master — an elven cleric with a particularly potent skill set. Besides, the next horn wouldn’t be so easy to reclaim and he was going to have to hone his skills if he hoped to meet his family again on more just terms. It couldn’t be avoided.
In the years to follow, Edina helped him master his so-called deformity with the graceful Black Spider Climb, a wall scaling maneuver that lets him slip into the shelter of darkness. She showed him how fear served as effective a weapon on the streets as it did the battlefield. His dreaded Flames of Phlegethos burned with his hatred, ever-hotter. His Diabolic Grasp and Infernal Moon Curse drew upon his telekinetic prowess kindled by the dreaded Inferno Pact with the Lords of the Nine Hells, despite the fact that since his altercation with Blane Dox Guld he renounced Asmodeus, the Nine and all other gods. However, he never denied their existence, believing Fate was a force that even the gods must obey. Even the gods had to stoop.
After eight years of adventuring together, Brim’s tutelage came to a devastating end when Edina died from poisoning at two hundred and thirty-two years of life in the city of Tyr. Many believed it was revenge for the slavers she was stolen from. Others thought it the work of common thieves. Every rumor was humored into circulation among underground channels, and eventually one was chosen to conduct the official hearings. They were brief and shallow, even for an ex-slave.
Brim believed not a word of it. In fact, he didn’t know what to believe, but as sure as the Nine he’d find out. He owed her that much. As her body was returned to ash, Brim recited new words as the smoke rolled over his crimson skin: “Ymmute jikmadaic coinah,” or “law breaks itself.”
At twenty-four, Brim has found new pride in his noble blood thanks to his schooling, loathing petty acts of barbarism. Many think this hypocritical given his infamous combat tactics, but words like “noble” and “barbaric” weren’t mere exposition to him. He preferred to scrum with the lower of the mercenaries because he could find more of what he called honor in a handful of lowborn than he could in most noble houses.
First, he had to leave Tyr. Brim had learned that Edina’s killers had fled into the mountains and the sight of the city only brought up ill feelings. As he was venturing forth he happened upon another lead in the form of an elven fighter, Tir Sadi. Having proof of the horn’s whereabouts, the elf sympathized with Brim’s cause, particularly the death of his elven master. Fate had now noticed Brim and was now playing its hand on the side of justice. A skeptic of coincidence, he entered into a blood pact with Tir Sadi in exchange for the horn. Until then, all the elf asked for was undying loyalty. He was reluctant to trust this stranger, but if Brim had learned anything from Edina, it was that if he wanted true glory then he would have to stoop.
When the vellum was inked, signed and sealed, Brim owed loyalty for a promise, and he would die to pay it in full. However, if Tir or anyone anybody dare come between Brim and his reunion, well… his new words would serve — words to usher in a new age for the Rohadir, and restore it to honor.
Their travels brought them to camp outside of Tyr when, in their slumber, some dark magic had infiltrated and enslaved their minds. When they woke up, they were in darkness, caged and stripped of all their belongings. Brim patted himself down…
He spotted it in a pile of loot surrounded by a hand-full of drow guards, disregarded for other trinkets. The fools. Their lust for shiny rocks had misguided their eye from the true prize. Brim struggled discreetly, but the attempt to free himself with arcana was in vain. A powerful binding spell had enchanted his shackles. Tir, affable as always, simply shot Brim a respectful glance. It said all that needed saying, for they knew their doom was eminent.
Alerted by their cognizance, one of the guards yanked Brim from his cage. Tir kicked at the bars in protest, keeping his threats curt, however surprisingly vile. They bound Brim’s mouth, racked him and tortured his body within inches of death, never asking a single question. In the throws of agony, he saw his father’s colorless eyes staring down at him. Pain jolted him again and the cloudy orbs faded into a blur. His eyes struggled to focus, but he refused to believe them when finally they did. Gazing down on him, the hazy apparition of Edina caressed his unworthy face. Her lips moved to words unheard, and then, by some grace of the gods, all pain faded with her…