Albrecht Hohenheim

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“Hey! What’s your story?”

“Hmmm? Oh, you must be the new guard I’ve been hearing about. Welcome aboard!” I say as I crawl out of my bunk and make my way to the doorway. There I see a nervous and gangly looking guard who’s armor looks two sizes too large for him… but then again I’m not sure they make armor that small or thin. Seriously if this guy were any more green he would be the confused as the embodiment of jealousy.

“Um, thanks?!” “Absolutely! This is a pretty cushy job. You are lucky to have your first posting in the arcane dungeons of Ark Turath. The cells are enchanted so that we can’t cast and we’re always up for a good conversation or game to pass the time.” “Are things really that cushy around here?”

“Usually. I mean look at us… most of us barely have the upper body strength to keep our robes on, at least that is what I tell the ladies at the brothels.” I say with a smirk and wink. " Of course there are always exceptions to the rule, like that Dragonborn over there… but he doesn’t talk much. We’ve been calling him Steve since he hasn’t given us any information other than the occasional grunt and leer."

“I’ve been told by the other guards that you have one the most interesting story in getting yourself locked up in here. Which must be pretty fantastic compared to some of the other characters in here.”

“Well this isn’t where I expected to be at this point in my life… or ever… that much is certain, but I suppose when you cause an Imperial Dreadnought to sink by accidently lighting its powder stores… well its hard to defend yourself from being called a traitor and subsequently locked up.”

“You caused that?!” His eyes widening in horror.

“Aye, but I don’t know why they haven’t executed me for that yet… probably waiting for some ideal punishment for crippling one of the nations mightiest warships. On the upside very few people actually died! Most were maimed or disfigured, but you can hardly tell the difference from before.” If you want to hear the rest I suggest you get a pitcher of ale so my throat doesn’t get parched.

The guard left for a minute and approached with a mug and a pitcher filled with a dark stout. He started to pour it into the mug but reaching through the bars I managed to grab the pitcher and bring it inside of the cell. The guard stared at me slack jawed at my action with a glass half filled. “You drink that up lad, you need to loosen up some while here. None of us are going anywhere.” I managed to get out as I greedily swallowed the contents of the pitcher.

“Anyway where was I… Ah yes, the beginning. I grew up on the first tier of this mighty city, well before the overpopulation had the government considering a fifth tier. My family was poor… and I mean poor-poor. Barely had two coppers to rub together most days. My father worked down at the docks as an errand runner to one of the harbourmasters and my mother… well… we all do things we’re not proud of to get by. I’m pretty sure I have a sibling that is half halfling and half something else somewhere in this world. With my luck there’s a midget Tiefling running around.”

“Speaking of luck, there is one thing you should know about me, I’m a firm believer of fate, although many would call me a fool of chance. Both parents died while I was still a child, which wasn’t surprising, people died all the time on the first tier. There was usually a daily cart that would come by to collect bodies… if you were willing to haul the bodies you could make a few coins. Guess what I took up as a job? Oddly enough I had a bit o magic in me, couldn’t cast any spells per se, but I could sometimes make little flames or sparks appear on the tips of me fingers, but it didn’t provide any income other than a neat trick or a way to tickle the ladies. As with most of the lower class, any pay was too little pay and couldn’t even afford bread so I started taking my days pay down to the docks and gambling with the sailors of recently docked ships.”

“Is that where you near destroyed the dreadnought?” The guard interrupted. Others were starting to listen in as well. Mostly out of nothing better to do. Irritated I scolded the boy “Listen lad, don’t interrupt unless you’re offering me another pitcher of something to knock me on my ass!” “Sorry…” He muttered.

“Good, can’t have manners going awry in a dungeon. Anyway…. now I had a pretty good system going of losing all of my money but somehow keeping the shirt on my back, and after a few months I started to learn which games were more honest than others. Johun ran an honest shell game, at least it was honest after I knocked his teeth out for trying to cheat me. No one decides my fate for me, but me and whatever force is nudging my life along. We’ve been friends ever since so I routinely play his game and try to rouse others to play there. Gambling is gambling, but I hate a cheat. Although he would usually buy me a drink if I lost all of my money. One summer night I made my way down to Johun’s game and there was a wizard in a tattered blue robe and hat with a crooked point. He gestured me to the game, and after a hard day of hucking bodies I was ready to lose my money. The evening wore on and I somehow managed to clear out the purse of the wizard… now if I knew he was a sore loser I might have avoided it all together, but it was the most money I’ve ever heald. He asked me for one more game, and how could I refuse, I had been on fire all night! Soon to be literally! The wizard tossed a worn out die on the table, and the others around him gasped and started whispering amongst themselves. Noticing the confusion on my face he explained: “A vagabond die is the ultimate randomizer for someone who lives by chance. Don’t know how to approach a situation? Roll the die, the face will tell you how you should handle it and may change things in your favour. I can tell you are a man who believes in chance, or is it fate? So how about all or nothing? Let us see if you are destined for this die…”"

“So you won, pissed him off and somehow became a mage?” The guard asked excitedly. I sighed and shook the empty pitcher at him. He took it and came back a moment later, pouring a little for himself and passing the rest through the bars. “Much appreciated lad. And yes, that is what happened, but if you don’t let me embellish a little I’ll throttle you upside the head and won’t finish the rest.” "Fine… you grumpy midget… " “What did you say?!” “Nothing…” He murmured.

“Uh-huh… Now my mother didn’t raise me to be no fool. But then again she was a lousy mother and wasn’t around long enough for that particular lesson to stick, so I agreed to his terms. As I’m not a bard my ability to make the most boring parts of a story sound exciting and riveting is lacking at best, so to make this somewhat shorter I won the game clean and fair. The wizard fumed with rage and as I grabbed the die and coin purse and turned to run I felt searing pain on my back, like nothing I had ever felt before. Now I’ve been shocked by a mage before when I tried my skills as a thief… they suck by the way… and this pales in comparison. All of a sudden I could feel magic radiating from my body, all of the magics, fire, cold, lightning, acid, all feeling like it was trying to rip my body apart. I heard screams, which may have been mine, shouts and scuffling before I blacked out.”

“I awoke to the sound of a seagull by my head screeching, I don’t think I’ve ever had the satisfaction of punching a seagull before or since… but let me tell you… it felt good! I eventually learned I was on the deck of a ship surrounded by mostly gnomes, I eventually found the words to ask “Where the fuck am I and what the fuck is going on?” and with my continued luck I apparently shouted this straight at the captain. Remembering the vagabond die in my pocket I took it out and rolled it… Hmm, the drunkard’s mug… well the die told me to be friendly and drink so I eased my attitude.The captain, a gnome of all things and a short one at that game me a glare and spoke to me with a tone of authority I honestly wasn’t expecting."

“Halfling, I suggest you change your attitude when speaking with the captain of a ship. You were brought on board for medical attention by our ships mage after his… outburst.”

“Umm… A wizard did it? What?” All I remember was that I got zapped by a wizard, had magic try and rip me apart and then awakened here…"

""Yes it was that wizard." The captain pointed. Following his finger to the frail old man on the rail who caused me the most pain I ever felt. I was very annoyed and angry so imagine my shock when I pointed at him and a lightning bolt flew from my hand towards the old man. Fear obviously spread across my face… I couldn’t do that before. I tried it again and a fireball flew out…. And then an icicle… What the hell did you do to me?! I hollered. The old man looked at me and very matter of factly said “I don’t know. Must have awoken something in you, but it seems to be unstable. I’m no scholar but I would guess you don’t have control of your magic, you get to gamble with spells now too…” At this point I noticed the icicle I flew at him managed to impale him in his side… but I didn’t notice amongst his blue robes… the old man coughed up some blood as his spirit left his body."

“The captain… who I learned was named Moogle… was none too pleased that I just killed his ships mage of course and in his best authoritarian stance… which was kinda adorable given his size asked me “You want a job?”… Of course I replied. Beats tossing dead bodies for fun and profit. “Good, you will mainly help supplement the cannons we have on board as the gunpowder is highly unstable.” “Well I suppose I should know what the ship is called then?” “The Triple Flutterblast” he replied. “I’m sorry… What?!” “Listen”, he squeaked angrily… “I don’t like it any more than you do, but let it be a lesson to you… don’t be late on payments to a shipyard when you order a ship. Renaming her would bring even more bad luck to the ship and crew so we make due.” “Why not just sell her for something else then?” “She’s still a damn fine ship despite her unfortunate name!” I learned to keep my mouth shut about that one since, the captain was clearly attached to her."

“So guess what?… The Triple Flutterblast was a pirate ship… not a very good with only moderate success against small cargo ships, but as it was mostly run by gnomes it was still amusing to be on. I was on her for months, taking my part in raids although my powers usually didn’t do what I wanted. Try to use thunder to deafen the crew, nope, a fireball would streak towards the sails and set the target ablaze. Then we had to try and raid the cargo before it sunk. The hardest part was adjusting to their pirate code. I mean whoever thought gambling on a ship would be a problem should be shot, with muskets and magic… apparently without using money its fine but where’s the risk and rewards then!? Moogle caught me trying to gamble for money and confiscated my vagabond die… I was heartbroken. That die was the foundation for my new lifestyle of believing in fate and chance over any diety.”

“We got a lead on an overburdened trading vessel filled with spices and silks that was supposedly lightly armed. It might as well of had a banner saying “Ravage Me” on it. We made our way to the cove wherethe ship was supposed to have taken refuge in from a storm. As we rounded the corner, sure enough the ship was there… what we didn’t expect was the Imperial Dreadnought sitting at the mouth of the cove. You know when people talk about their life flashing before their eyes… its not life… it is the entire broadside battery of one of those behemoths! The ship was crippled in the first volley. Half of the crew dead and the captain randomly firing at the warship with his pistol. If I wasn’t afraid about dying the scene would have been damn comical. Oh well, at the time I figured might as well go out fighting as we assumed we would have been executed if captured. So I did just that, I flung everything I could at it each attack being different from the last. The hull of the Triple Flutterblast eventually coasted to the side of the ship and I was able to lob a fireball (By pure chance) into one of the gun ports. I apparently caught one of the cannon operators right in the face and I could watch him run up and down the deck screaming for someone to put him out. Dread filled me when I realized panic had taken over the man’s senses and he ran into the room with the sign “Powder Storage. NO FLAMES!”. I yelled at Moogle “Get into the water!” and leapt off of the side into the blue. The sound was deafening even under water and could hear the splash of people and debris landing all around me. I swam up and hung on to a piece of wood and watched the mighty ship burn. I never caught the name of that ship but I’m pretty sure the nameplate spelled “Fuck You” as it burned. A shadow loomed over me and as I turned I saw the a brief glimpse of a ship’s hull as something heavy hit me on the side of the head."

“I woke up days later in this very cell! It’s been a couple of years but its not so bad. I have no idea what happened to Captain Moogle, no one seems to know or is just refusing to tell me. Hopefully he is still alive as I need to get my die back.”

As I finished the story and thus the pitcher, the guard captain showed up by behind the new guard. “Albrecht Hohenheim! You have been summoned by the Commander-in-Chief…”

“Well best of luck in your future lad, my punishment has apparently be found!”

Albrecht Hohenheim

A Pirate's Life JarOfAlmonds