When I was born to my human parents, it was immediately apparent that I was not like them – not entirely. I looked like a human baby in every other way, except that my eyes were golden and glowed brightly; the rare mark of an Aasimar and the result of the divine blood that coursed through my father’s veins. When my birth was announced – along with what I was – the village cheered and placed me on a pedestal that I could never hope to descend from.
My family and I lived in a small village just outside of Amphail, which was a larger village just North of the magnificent city of Waterdeep on the Sword Coast. Our village was founded with the goal of studying and upholding the principles of Torm – the True Deity – to live lives of righteousness, honesty, and loyalty. Though our village was small, its population was ever-growing due to the bounties afforded us by the nearby Dessarin River and our well managed farms.
Life as an Aasimarian isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. My parents never let me forget what I was, and pushed me harder than my siblings. I was forced to live life a certain way, regardless of my wishes. Any time a new child was born in the village, I was summoned to kiss its forehead as a blessing. I was forced to attend every wedding, every funeral, and every other event deemed worthy of the Gods’ attention. When I reached my teenage years, it all became very suffocating and I began to feel trapped – shackled – by my own destiny.
One night, after a heated argument with my parents, I packed a backpack with rations, a set of clothes, little else, and left the village. I traveled south down the long road towards Waterdeep, unsure of where I could eventually call home. As I walked down the road, I noticed that great attention was being paid to my glowing eyes by passing travelers, and it was then I realized I had to somehow hide my identity. I ripped a sleeve from a dark shirt I had in my backpack, twisted it into a rag, and tied it tightly around my head – across my eyes. I couldn’t see anything, but I was finally free of the burden of my heritage – it was the first time I’d felt human in my life.
I stumbled over rocks, drifted to the side, tripped and fell so often, that I eventually just remained on my knees and felt for the sides of the road to guide me. That’s when I heard the hooves of a passing group of horses come to a halt across the road from me, and then the labored breathing of what had to have been a very large, or a very old man – or both – draw closer to me.
“Must have lost those recently, eh?” He said. “Most folk I run into can’t use their eyes got good enough sense to carry a stick about with ‘em. What’s your name, son?”
I didn’t want to give him my real name in case he knew my parents, so I blurted out the first thing that came to mind, which was…
“…Gabriel. My name is Gabriel.”
“A fine name, indeed. Just came up with that, did ya?” He said. I could hear his cheeks bend slowly into a smile near the end of the question.
My silence was conspicuous.
“Well then, Gabriel, how about you travel with my boys and I? We’re goin’ to Waterdeep for a spell, and then we’re off in search of sacred ground to build on. I’m gon’ kick back, put my feet up – let my boys here put up a grand temple in my honor.”
I heard several men scoff behind him. “You mean Torm’s honor!” one of them shouted at us.
“Torm?” I asked. “What kind of temple?”
“You ever heard of Torm? Order of the Golden Lion? He asked.
“No, should I have?” I lied, attempting to protect my identity.
“The True Deity? The Loyal Fury? So many Gods and Godesses, hard to keep track of ‘em all I guess. Torm’s a keeper, though. Soon ‘nuff everyone on the Sword Coast’ll know his name.“ He said.
“I’m not going anywhere in particular, old man. Just away from here… Does that work for you?” I interrupted.
“Sure, sure. That’s the path of most everyone in these parts is on, son. Here, let me help you up.”
I grabbed his wrinkled, limp hand, and stood up entirely by myself. It was the thought that counted.
“Thanks.” I said with a smile. “Any idea how far from Waterdeep we are?”
“Right over the horizon there. You got pretty close on your own, eh?” He answered, and I assume he also pointed South, forgetting I couldn’t see his hand.
Over the course of the next several years, I lived with the old man and his sons, worked with them, studied the word of Torm, prayed with them, and trained as a warrior in the temple we eventually constructed – without the old man’s help as promised – a bit east of Waterdeep near the Delimbiyr River.
I never revealed my identity as an Aasimar to them, and never sought to climb the ranks of the temple’s hierarchy. I learned to live without the use of my eyes. I had finally found peace and happiness in peasantry, and I discovered that I would gladly trade my sight for the chance to be left alone to be unimportant, uninvolved, and out of the way. They were the most enjoyable years of my life.
Then the news came from travelers passing through from Waterdeep. Several villages had been ransacked by hill giants to the North. Farms were stripped clean, villagers murdered, temples looted, and homes burned to the ground. I felt uneasiness in my stomach that I hadn’t felt since I left home so many years ago. Instead of wondering how my family would get on without me as I stumbled down the long road towards Waterdeep, I wondered if my family had been slaughtered by giants because I wasn’t there to protect them.
I hurriedly gathered rations and a waterskin, threw them into a backpack, grabbed my walking stick and took off west towards Waterdeep. I would stop only to rest and sleep before heading North towards Amphail – North to the remains of my childhood. Many days later, I arrived home, removed the cloth band from my eyes, and found myself standing before the stone-cold hearth I’d spent many winters’ nights bundled in front of. The fireplace stood tall, but the walls and roof of my home were gone.
I stood alone in eerie silence that was once filled by livestock prattling on, children laughing and squealing, and bells tolling. My memories filled in the walls and the roof – placed my family in the room – with the ghostly visage of my parents weeping and begging for my return; their voices were ethereal and loud at first but slowly faded into the distance… as I once did.
I took one more look around the remains of my youth and then re-wrapped my eyes with a soggy cloth. This time I wasn’t blind in a bid to chase independence, but rather because I was deeply ashamed of myself. I didn’t want to be recognized.
I headed back South down the long road once more, this time much more adeptly than I had as a teenager, and arrived a few days later in Waterdeep, where I stopped for a night to rest in relative comfort. When I awoke and found a stool in the tavern to plop down on, looking to scrounge up some breakfast, I overheard travelers speaking of more giant attacks… this time East of Waterdeep. A temple had been ransacked by giants, its followers murdered and tossed into the Delimbiyr river where they were left to drift into the Sea of Swords.
I sat silently, alone and sorrowful. I didn’t dare ask him which temples had been attacked, but the knot in my stomach knew the answer. One of the travelers that had been spreading the news stopped talking suddenly.
“Friend,” he said in my direction from across the room. “I couldn’t help but notice that insigna on your cloak, friend. Is that Torm’s gauntlet?”
“Yes.” I responded quietly.
“Oh.” He sighed.
I had my answer and with that, seared deeply into my soul, my new mission in life. Justice in the name of Torm. Vengeance for my family, friends, and spiritual leaders. A vow to wipe the giants that would do evil from the face of Faerûn forever, and the end of any other evildoer who would stand in my way.