But not with a story about Raphael. It's turned out to be a bit harder to recount that story than I though.
So instead, I present some snippets for games that, sadly, never got off the ground. I wrote them well over a year ago and just stumbled upon them again. Enjoy!
Magaska, called Venomwind
or, Would You Kiss Your Father With That Mouth!?
Mag grunts as his punch lands in her gut. She tries to strike back, but her opponent is already out of reach. Out of reach, and out of sight. She is shoved from behind, and she very nearly falls over, but rolls at the last second and rights herself. Spinning around with a back kick, her foot grazes skin, and she feels a surge of pride before he grabs her leg, sets his heel behind her support, wraps his arm beneath her breasts, and unceremoniously dumps her on the ground. There were several sickening cracks despite the soft earth of the forest, all the wind left her body so quickly that she couldn't even make a noise, and she spent almost a minute arching her back and screaming silently before her lungs would work again, breathing in what felt like fire instead of air. She rolls over and slowly pushes herself off the ground, coughing and sputtering the whole way.
"Stay down, lass. I've broken five of your ribs, and cracked the rest. To fight with an injury such as that is admirable, but ultimately stupid. The battle is over."
She mutters something derogatory about his manhood, then finishes standing, keeping her arms in a low guard as it hurt too much to bring them up. "It's not over until I'm unconscious, you son of a troll."
The slight elf chuckled. "I see the fire that flows from the snake's fangs also flows from your tongue. If you desire to keep learning, I suppose I have no alternative than to teach." With that, he dashed forward, intent on knocking her out before she insisted that he hurt her too much.
She fought well, all things considered, but was in no shape to go toe to toe with Feras the Giant. He wound up behind her, applying pressure to her carotid arteries with his forearm. She struggled, then fell limp. When he let go, she slumped to the floor. Suddenly worried that he had hurt her too much after all, he bent over her. "Mag? Magaska, are you alright, can you hear me?" Her eyelids fluttered, and a light sigh escaped her lips. He exhaled in relief, and was unable to inhale again because she was digging her fingernails into his trachea. Blood welled up around the punctures, but she didn't let go. Wheezing between words, she said "Remember the first thing you taught me? Never let your guard down." He gurgled, and suddenly she was digging her nails into a very, very, very large serpent. She could no longer penetrate the muscle, and though she was still holding onto the neck, she could not hold it still as it thrashed from side to side, and she soon found herself wrapped in it's powerful coils. It gave the slightest of squeezes, and she shrieked as the rest of her ribs shattered under the immense pressure.
Feras the Giant shifted back into his 4'8, 110 pound self, collapsed next to Mag, and began rubbing the holes in his throat. Each time his fingers passed over them, they became smaller and smaller, until all that was left was 5 crescent shaped scars, raw and red. Chest heaving with the effort of breathing, he growled "Now are you finished?" She merely nodded, unable to speak. "You've learned well. Had it been anyone but me, you very well may have taken your first life today. But you must remember: No one else you fight will care whether you live or die. In fact, they'll probably be trying to kill you. That is rather the point of a fight." She nodded again. "Good." With great effort, he rolled himself over to face her. "More importantly, it doesn't matter that you almost killed me. Almost gets you almost. You either win, or you do not." She nodded once more, nearly crying from the pain. "Good. Give me a minute, and I will tend to your injuries." After catching his breath, he gently turned her over and repaired her ribs the way he did his neck. She then limped to her bedroll, saying nothing else, and fell asleep.
The next morning, she is shaken awake. "Come. There is something I must show you." Still sullen from last night, she nevertheless obeys Feras for fear of incurring his ire. He led her miles into the woods away from the camp, and though she was curious, she asked no questions and he volunteered no information. Without warning, he stopped. "What do you see?"
"I...I see the forest. I see the forest that has been our home for many seasons now."
"Is it beautiful?"
"Yes, of course it is. Have you gone soft in the head to ask me such a thing?"
She turns around, and gasps. The forest they had passed through was no longer there. In its place was another forest, brighter, greener, softer, and more beautiful than anything she had ever seen.
"This is the Feywild, the most beautiful, magical forest in all the planes. Here, all live in peace and harmony, with nature and with themselves. I hope one day you can stay here."
"Wh...What? Why can't I now?"
"Didn't you hear me? I said 'all live in peace and harmony.' Even if you could hold your tongue, which you couldn't, very soon the boys would all be fighting over you."
"Then why show me this, you stupid ox!?"
"Is that any way to talk to the man who found you as an infant, abandoned to the elements? My homeforest is here. Last night, I received a message from an owl who owed me a favor, sent by my brother. There is...trouble, of an extremely personal nature, and I must leave you, years before I'd intended."
"You were going to leave me? You're LEAVING me!?"
"Yes. I am. But I did not bring you here just to make you jealous."
With that, there was a rustling in the grass, and a beautiful black and green viper reared its head, staring intently into Mag's eyes.
"I do not know if you chose the snake, or if the snake chose you. But you take after your old man more than you think, and my friend here has agreed to initiate you."
The snake approached, slithering up her body until it was gazing into her eyes once more. Minutes that seemed like hours passed as she felt it probe her soul. Without warning, it sank its fangs into her neck. As liquid fire surged through her veins, she found she could not move at all, not even to breathe, but she wasn't in nearly as much pain as she thought dying would bring.
"You are not dying, Mag. When the venom wears off and you wake up, you will find yourself imbued with magical powers such as I have. Take a week or so to get used to them. Learn your limits. And then, I have one last favor to ask of you. The owl also brought very troubling news out of Blackweald. I need you to go to Blackweald, and sign up with the local mercenaries guild. Mention my name, and you'll have no issue with them. Captain Helmspur is a good man, more than competent from what I hear, but this is simply beyond him, and he will turn to the mercenaries eventually. Good luck, Magaska Venomwind." Though unable to speak, she thought very hard at him "Who are you to give me a family name? I will rip you to pieces and throw your carcass to the wolves." This seemed to have some effect, because he sighed and laid a kiss on her forehead. "What am I unleashing on the world?" he wondered aloud. And everything went black.
The Next Fix
or, Celestial Voice, Infernal Soul
Lines of brilliant red and luxurious purple followed his movements. Some days, he could entertain himself for hours simply by waving his hand in front of his face. But not today. Today, he was running low. Today, he was on assignment.
Marillion Silverwind hummed a simple melody to himself, reshaping the contours of his face as he altered his pitch and tone. Soon, he looked nothing like his beautiful self. He was plain, utterly forgettable. Good. A man of Marillion Silverwind's status could not afford to be seen where he was going.
He left his den, stumbling down the street towards the poor district, pulling his cloak around him, relishing in the feeling of wool on his skin in contrast to the cold air. Gods, what a beautiful day! It was a good thing he'd remembered to put on his cloak before he left; otherwise, he'd have danced down the street naked, reveling in the cool winter crispness.
"Mari? Is that you?"
A surge of red hot anger flowed through him, threatening to consume him alive, and he slammed the halfling against the wall of the inn. When did he get here? No matter: He'd broken the rules.
"How many times have I told you, Daris? NO. DAMN. NAMES." The essence of hatred flowed through his teeth, seeming to color the air green.
"Alright, alright, I'm sorry Ma...I'm sorry. Let's just be cool, ok? It was an accident."
Instantly a wave of remorse washed over Marillion, dousing his rage. He didn't mean to cause any problems. He just slipped up. Everyone slips up sometimes. "It's alright, friend. I am sorry, I...I just get frustrated sometimes."
"Don't worry about it, it's already forgotten." And indeed it was. Daris was one of the few genuinely nice people Marillion had met in his line of business. It would be his death someday, but right now, it was giving Marillion a steady supply of what he needed. "The target's in room 208. You don't need to know the specifics, but he's really been coming down on us, and it'd be most appreciated if you could make it go away. Here's a bottle of wine. Tell him the hotel sent you. It'll be simple, in and out. You know what to do."
"And when this is over?"
"You'll get your Mayella, no worries. Now get it on."
Marillion rolled his eyes, and began to sing again, this time a complex piece. He felt his bones rearranging inside his body as he sang. His legs lengthened, his hair turned raven, his hips widened, his chest swelled...very soon he wasn't a he at all.
Marillion dropped her cloak, revealing a tasteful yet teasing outfit. He felt his arm, reassuring him that it was still there under the sleeve, adjusted her cleavage, tossed his hair, and strolled into the hotel carrying a bottle of wine so cheap it was closer to vinegar.
Three knocks at the door.
"Good evening, sir. I'm from the hotel's welcoming committee, here to thank you for choosing to stay at The Flea-Bitten Cat."
The door opened.
A middle aged man, fat, and slightly balding. It was obvious he knew what she'd really been sent to do, and he couldn't be happier that she'd arrived. Marillion flashed his winningest smile at the man. "May I come in?"
"Of course, miss..."
"Please! Miss was my mother. Call me Mina." She set the bottle of wine on the table, waiting for the target to close the door before she turned around.
"So, uh...How, uhh..How do you, you know...I mean, this is my first time. No, it's not my first time, but it's my first time, you know? I mean -" Marillion shushed him, toying with the idea of giving the man what he wanted before Mina took what she needed. But Liri's dark haired and fine featured visage surfaced in his mind...Disturbed at this unusual display of care, Marillion stepped back.
"Don't worry, sweetie. Just let it happen. Sit down over there." The target happily obeyed. "Shall I sing for you?" Though slightly confused, he nodded, and Marillion began to sing. There were no words, but there didn't need to be; the sheer sound of his voice provided all the meaning that was needed.
"Oh my, Mina. You're very talented." The man was fairly wriggling on the seat, eager to get on with it. But Marillion wouldn't hear of it. He simply smiled, and continued to sing, beginning to weave his magic into the words.
"You're very good, but...I have a headache."
Mina pretended not to hear him, continuing to sing, now walking seductively towards the man.
"Really, please Mina, my head...It..." He began to whine and moan, softly at first, growing louder as Mina walked closer. His face contorted in agony, his body writhing on the couch, and still Marillion sang. He began to scream, but couldn't hear himself over her angelic voice.
As Marillion sustained the last note, he flicked his wrist, extending the hidden dagger and slashing the man's throat in the same swift motion. A corresponding but much shallower cut appeared on Mina's neck, filling him with ecstasy without missing a beat. The last strains of Marillion's voice died as blood sprayed from his severed arteries, painting the ceiling in brilliant colors that only Marillion could see, until his heart finally stopped beating.
A minute later, Mina stepped out of the man's room. He'd used magic to clean herself up and remove any traces of her from the man's room. The body wouldn't be discovered until morning, by which time he'd be singing for the head of the local merchant's guild. In the extremely unlikely event that an alibi were even needed -after all, who'd suspect Marillion Silverwind, the loveliest voice this town had seen, of being a drug-addled murderer?- Liri would swear on Corellon's Bow that he'd passed the night in her passionate embrace.
But he would not spend this night with Liri.
He would spend this night in the arms of his mistress, his lady, his one true love...Mayella.
And 3 background snippets for the same character, in roughly chronological order. The first one is Leon as a young man, the next two occur after his retirement.
or, Goblins Are Stubborn
"Kryyg snyshya lynhey!! Pynhya nas Nenda!"
Leon winced at the harsh, guttural sound of the chief's voice. "Wha' did tha' gobbo say?"
Ribald, who was rather short and stout for an elf, peered down his pointy nose at the scrappy little greenskin. "My goblin's a little rusty, but if I had to take a guess, it would be something along the lines of 'Go mate with a manticore.'" The chief laughed hoarsely, and even though he was dangling upside down from Andar's massive fist, he looked like he felt he'd accomplished something useful.
Jinnie said "He used less polite words, but you're essentially right." The dark-haired halfling knelt down to the chief's level and said "I know you speak Common."
To this, the goblin responded with a series of gestures and noises that were as obscene as they were offensive.
Percy sighed in disgust. "Can't we just kill him and be done with it? The rest of the tribe will scatter after we've dealt with him. Problem solved."
Wiping goblin spittle off of her cheek, Jinnie said "You know, I think I'm inclined to agree with you."
"Go ahead! Kill me then! Cut my neck! I am Riknik, king of the Greeneye Clan, and my tongue shall be eaten out my head by ants before I dishonor myself and my people by consorting with TooTalls and TooSmalls!"
Ribald cleared his throat. "I, er, can make that ant thing happen, if that'll speed things up."
"Would you mind? He's kinda heavy."
"ALRIGHTALRIGHTALRIGHT! There's no need to be uncivil!"
"Well then, tell us; Why has your tribe been taking people from the village?"
Riknik opened his mouth, then closed it and stared sullenly at Jinnie.
Andar lifted the goblin until their faces were even and said in a low, threatening voice "Alright, you little turd, listen closely. My arm's getting tired, so this is what's going to happen. You're going to tell us what's going on, and then we'll kill you... or we lock everyone in that nice little church to...whatever god it is would accept such disgusting followers as you, and we burn it to the ground, and THEN we kill you. Am I clear?"
Leon felt sick to his stomach. How could he...But the goblin spoke up before he did.
"Fine! Fine, you barbarian! A mage has been coming around, telling me to kidnap the TooTalls or that he'd burn the village down. He comes around every couple months to pick them up. I don't know where he takes them." Andar shook him a little. "I swear on my tribe that's the truth! All I know is that my scouts say he always heads to the east afterwards. Now kill me! I am not afraid to die for my people!"
“Ugh, finally.” Jinnie rolled her eyes, and drew her dagger out of her boot. “Hold him still. I don’t want goblin blood on my shirt.”
“Jinnie, ye put that knife back in yer boot right now!”
Surprised to hear such forceful language from Leon, she stopped moving towards Riknik, though she didn’t sheathe her dagger. “Excuse me?”
“Ye heard me. We cannae kill a hapless person like this!”
Percy snorted. “I see no ‘person’ here.”
Leon whirled on Percy. “Have ye gone daft, or have ye forgotten which god it is ye serve!? Ye know as well as I do that Pelor cares not for yer species.”
“But Leon, this goblin ordered the kidnapping of tens of humans! Who knows what he's condemned them to?”
“Aye, under threat o’ tha destruction o’ his village. Would any of ye no’ have done tha same? The goblins ha’ lived peacefully with tha humans for generations, and they would again, and ye would start a blood feud by killing their chief!?” Percy looked like he was about to speak, then thought better of it; everyone else looked away, suddenly feeling ashamed. Andar was the first to speak.
“I never thought I’d say this, but Leon’s right. We let our anger get the best of us. Let us move on from this place, to the east.”
“No! Kill me, you cowards! I can't face my tribe now!! Ny hen Yygga! ******** ******** ******* ***********!!!!!” Jinnie blushed despite herself; though she was the only one in the group who could speak Goblin, she’d never heard a string of invective quite this foul. Ribald drew a complex symbol in the air, scattering rose petals as he did so and punctuating it with what sounded like a lizard attempting to bark. Riknik’s litany of expletives gradually faded, to be replaced by a gentle snoring as Andar set him down on the grass.
“Well, we all learned something today, and we have Leon to thank for it.”
Aye…I learned somethin' as well.
The adventurers headed off, sun at their backs. After about a half hour walking in silence, Andar came up alongside Leon and coughed awkwardly. “I, er…I was bluffing. About the whole…burning…thing. I, uh…I just thought I should tell you.”
Yer a terrible liar, Andar.
“Of course ye were. Don’t worry about it, friend, it’s water under the bridge.”
or, Ye've Been Hornswoggled!
"Come on, Dirk! Hurry up and dig! We need to be out of here by sun-up!"
"Yeah, well, there's another shovel."
"Jeth's busy being the lookout, and we both know I'd just get in the way."
The enormous greenskin in the hole sighed, his small tusks jutting out in frustration. "That's true enough. Tell me, Pad, were you BORN this squishy, or did you have to work at it?"
"A little bit of both."
Dirk chuckled, then bent back to his work. Minutes passed without conversation, the only sound the half-orc's shovel striking earth and the occasional owl hoot.
"Ya know, Pad, I've been thinking."
"A dangerous past-time."
"I know. The thing is, we fooled the whole town, and it was so...easy. I mean, you'd think SOMEONE would have been suspicious when we said there was a lair of Otyugh's nearby and they were headed this way."
"Yeah, but they weren't."
"Well...I don't know. That priest seemed a little...off."
"Please! The old fart doesn't suspect a thing."
"Oh, I would no' say that."
"Dirk...When did you get an accent?"
The half-orc looked up, puzzled. "What are you talking ab-OOF!" he asked as a roughly halfling shape landed on his head.
Now knowing that something was not quite going the way he'd planned, Padmich fumbled at his waist for his pouch, pulled out some guano, and sent a fireball screaming over the pit. The ensuing explosion illuminated the graveyard, and the mage glanced around wildly...
Just in time to see what appeared to be a large ham crash into the bridge of his nose. Blind with pain, he stumbled backward and fell into the pit. Fortunately Dirk, who'd just gotten back on his feet, broke Pad's fall. Leon stood at the lip of the hole, holding a small pouch that moments ago was tied to Pad's belt.
"Well, I dinnae think ye'll be needin' this anymore." With that, he turned the bag upside down, emptied it, kicked some earth over the heap of components, and flipped the bag over his shoulder. "By the way, lad, I think next time, ye might want ta make sure ye know where I am 'fore ye fire off a spell like that. Ye coulda hurt someone."
"Believe me *sniff* I will."
"Now, then...what brings ye to me little town?"
The halfling piped up. "Please, sir, we only want to help your town!"
"Aye, and I've got a dwarf growing out of me stomach." The priest rolled his eyes. "Why don't ye tell me what yer REALLY here for?"
The three exchanged glances, and then Padmich looked up at him. "We were told that...a powerful wizard was buried here centuries ago with his spellbook and several of his powerful items. I...I just wanted a look, I swear!"
Leon stared at the mage, beginning to shake. At first, it seemed like he was shaking with anger...and then he began to chuckle.
Leon fell over on the ground, laughing so hard that he began to cry. He managed to say between gulps of air "Ha ha! Oh my goodness, lads! Ye-Ye've been swindled! Hornswoggled! Hehehehe...A WIZARD! HERE!? BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! How...How much did ye PAY him for tha' tripe!?"
Dirk looked down at his feet and sighed. "A thousand gold pieces."
Leon had just managed to regain composure when he heard this. He fell over again and began to slap the ground with mirth. After a few minutes, he calmed down. Wiping tears from his eyes, he said "Oh, ye poor things. Here, let me grab hold o' tha shovel, I'll pull ye out."
A few minutes later, they were all standing around the pit, Dirk and Leon refilling the grave.
"I would just like to say again, Mr. Abbot, that I am VERY sorry about that fireball."
"I'm sorry about wallopin' ye. And about dumpin' yer pouch out. And Dirk, I'm sorry for droppin' yer friends on ye."
"Eh, bigger things have fallen on me from higher. Don't worry about it."
Jeth took off her pack and held it out. "Here, Mr. Abbot. It's the supplies the town gave us to help deal with the Otyughs."
"Och, don't worry. Ye need tha potions an' such more than we. We're a quiet little place. In fact, ye're the most excitement we've had in years."
Unsure of how to feel about this, the adventurers kept quiet until the grave was filled.
Afterwards, Leon borrowed Jeth's pen and paper and scribbled some names and addresses on it. "Here, if ye ever find yerself in the town of Riveroak, ask for Ribald Moonwhisper. Tell him Leon sent ye, he'll let ye sneak a peek at his spellbook. And this card gives ye full protection from tha thieves in North Bend. Now go on, get outta here 'fore I change me mind. And don't worry about the town, I'll tell em...Ah, I'll tell em you were too embarrassed to come back and be thanked and such." He grinned, shook hands with all three of them, and then sent them on their way.
Ahh...Ta be young again...They're good kids. I hope they don't have it too hard out there.
With a smile on his face, Leon turned around and made his way back to the church, promptly falling asleep in his chambers.
He woke up at first light two hours later with a splitting headache, cursing those darned kids.
A Holy Calling
or, Go Away Already!
"Merciful Pelor, whose loving rays nourish tha land, I ask that Ye look after your loyal subjects in this humble province. Shine your holy light on us, and cause tha tiny seeds ta become the grains that will feed us all. And though the night is long, and the darkness full of terrors, we shall be comforted knowing that your brilliance will radiate the sky...And, as always, give me tha strength to endure those who would wish me dead. Amen."
Ilnin cleared his throat.
"You, ah...You do realize that we're standing right here."
Without opening his eyes or unclasping his hands, Leon responded "Aye, and ye've been there for a while now. I drew my prayers out 'specially for you. I hope you liked it."
Maari wheezed "Oh yes, your prayers were lovely. I quite enjoyed the bit about the gra-wha?", interrupted by Ilnin's elbow. "Oh yes. Have you given any thought to our request?"
"Have I given any thought? I've done nary a thing but give it thought, and my answer is tha same as it was last week. Find someone better suited to this task. I am old, and tired, a horse tha's been put out ta pasture."
"But, Leon, there IS no one better suited to this task. Maari and I may be higher in the hierarchy than you, but that is only because you insist on staying in this town. No other priest has the experience that you do."
"Ya mean that no other priest has ever raised arms, or even traveled?"
"I just returned from my mission to the southern continent two months ago, but it was dreadfully boring." Maari piped up.
"They ha' CANNIBALS there."
"Oh, nonsense! They're really more civilized than people think, and quite friendly too! Delightful cooks, as well. They served me the most exquisite pork chop for my last meal with them."
At this, Leon's eyes popped open. He blinked twice, then looked at Ilnin. "Er...Ye wanna tell him, or should I?"
"Tell me what?" Ilnin shook his head so violently that he became dizzy for a second while Maari remained oblivious.
"Er, never ye mind. Still, I'm afraid I must decline. Now please, leave me be."
"As you wish." Ilnin took the still-bemused Maari by the arm and steered him out the door, gently closing it as they left.
"Ach, finally! I dinnae trust them, and now I can finally return to my prayers."
But Leon discovered that he could no longer concentrate on his prayers, and after a fruitless 10 minutes, he stood, disgruntled, and went into his chambers.
It was a simple room; A bed in one corner, a dresser in the other, a desk in the third, and a rack for armor in the last, decorated only with a sketch that Jinnie had drawn of their deceased captain, which his eyes were drawn to more than usual. She had a remarkable talent, really. He pulled himself away, and looked instead at the shattered phylactery on the desk. Most men would have buried it upside down at a crossroads and set several heavy rocks on it, but not Leon. He needed it close, needed to remember that evil could lurk anywhere, even in the hearts of those who claimed to be Pelor's servants...Even in the hearts of his friends. He traced the sunburst pattern, still warm to the touch. Percy...I still cannae understand...
Opposite was suspended a suit of full-plate armor; it was of truly fantastic craftsmanship, if a bit fuzzy around the edges.
How long's it been...9 years since I last wore this...9 years since... He recoiled at the memories, looking away, then looking down at his gut. It'd probably still fit me.
Next to the armor hung his mace and dagger. Leon reached out, drawing a finger across one of the flanges on his mace, repeating aloud what Andar had replied to Jinnie when asked why HE needed to destroy the Lich.
"If no' I...then who?"
A half hour later, Leon had kissed his mother goodbye, loaded his things into a chest, put the chest on the wagon, and was riding out of town with Ilnin and Maari.
I still dinnae trust them.