Bio*Cursed by the Stars
I was born at Midnight, a time that many believe to be a cursed hour. Superstition and lore abound at the mere mention of it. It is the hour witches work their spells, the hour werewolves howl at the moon, and the hour cultists sacrifice unwilling victims to their heinous gods. Magic is at its most powerful, and it is the best time for mystics to cause chaos in the world.
That is perhaps how a curse came to be upon me. I still have no idea to this day why I had such a black start on life. It seemed like my birth should have been a joyous one. My father and mother were a happy and promising couple, living their life in the Winterbole Forest not far away from the town of Nenlast. My mother was a seamstress, very skilled in the making of clothes. My father is the greatest hunter in Winterbole Forest; he knew it like the back of his hand. He supported his growing family by selling pelts, skins, and leather armor. They were looking forward to having their first child, dreaming of a bright future full of love and children.
It was not to be that way, for my mother died not long after giving birth to me. It was up to my father to raise me alone. He was really bewildered by the crying bundle in his arms at first. Luckily though, his sister was able to help in the beginning with raising little baby me. Time passed, and I reached the age of five with a few scrapes and scars from unfortunate events. My father prayed everyday for the curse over my head to go away, hoping his faith was strong enough to rid me of it. Then he would tuck me into bed and say, “I love you, my little cat.” He called me that because I was always climbing whatever I could. I was a very adventurous and curious child.
Since I was old enough to learn, my father raised me the only way he knew how. He taught me the ways of the hunter. I learned about animals, their tracks, the trees and plants, Lake Nen, the fish in it, the sky above and the ground below, the very forest I called home. I can also handle a bow as well as my father. He was a wonderful teacher, patient and caring, yet stern and correcting when he needed to be. I thank Sehanine every day for blessing me with a guardian who loves me like I am his whole world.
I should say loved… My father and I were scouting in the forest, following the tracks of a wyntre lion. My father, always protective of me, went searching ahead of me. I lost sight of him as he went around a group of trees and bushes. Not long after, I heard a yell of terror. I ran in the direction it came from, to find my father on the ground, taking his last breath. There were huge claw marks on his chest. I fell down to my knees, stricken with grief. I took his body into my arms and began to cry. After a while, I put him back on the ground, and that is when I noticed the tracks of the lion ending several feet away, disappearing altogether. I also noticed a green symbol on my father’s palm. On both of them. The symbol of my curse. I wondered if my mother had had this on her palms when she perished. I have seen this image throughout my life, here and there. It infiltrates my dreams. It even appears on my drawings after I finish them. It is unfortunate that this happens because I do love to draw. Ever since my father bought me a leather bound book of blank pages for my twelfth birthday, I have drawn nearly everything my eyes have beheld. I would never give it up, even for the horrible symbol that spoils each of my sketches. It made my father proud each time he saw me sitting on the ground, drawing an animal’s likeness on the paper.
I still remember the way he would look down at me, and I would see the lines form at the corners of his eyes as he would smile. That was my thought as I looked back on the home I left almost one moon ago. I set off to find a way to end this dreadful curse. My journey began in Nenlast, and there I found a gypsy who was selling the future to those who would pay. She was not old and crinkled the way I would have imagined a gypsy to be. She was lovely; she had green luminescent eyes that seemed as though they peered into your soul. I sensed great power emanating from her. When I went up to her, she said in a melodic voice, “Please sit, child. I feel a presence about you… and that I can help you with what you seek!” My curiosity at its fullest, I sat down to hear what she would say next. She put her hands out on the table and asked, “May I have your name?” I put my hands in hers. “Jacqueline Murcatto.” was my reply. She looked into my eyes. “Jacqueline, you have had a life full of misfortune; born at Midnight, lost both of your parents, tragic. You have a journey ahead of you; with a curse upon you it will be a challenging one. You cannot ever lose hope. If you do, you will not find the end to your curse, or the black aura that surrounds your body. Has anyone ever told you about the aura before?” I told her, “No. No one has ever mentioned it to me, but I have gotten strange looks and stares; Malarech, the wizard who lives in this town, won’t even come near me. Maybe he sees it. Maybe he knows what is attached to me.”
“ There is also a symbol attached to you, isn’t there? One that you see often?” the gypsy inquired. I nodded my head, and I went to pull my drawing book from my pack. I showed her many of my drawings, all covered with the symbol. “Hmmm, how interesting child. I have never seen this before. It is a shame that it ruins your amazing drawings.” I smiled, “Thank you for saying my drawings are amazing. It means a lot to me.” It made me instantly think of my father. I really miss him. The gypsy continued on, “I know how you may remove the curse, but not where you will find it. It is magic that put this spell upon you. It is magic that will remove it. You will need to find the Dust of the Stars, and of course, the person that cast this jinx. Once you discover the person who has the Dust of the Stars, she will inform you of its purpose and what you will need to do next. This is all I can do to help you child, and send you on your way to Fallcrest, where I believe your journey should continue. Have hope and faith, Jaqueline. They will be what keeps you on your path.” I thanked her with all the gratefulness I could show. I walked away with optimism in my heart, and thought I was very fortunate to meet this woman. I turned around to wave and smile at her, but she was gone. She and her setup were no longer there. I puzzled over this as I continued walking. I left the town feeling that the curse would not hold me down, and that I would end it, once and for all.
I traveled to Fallcrest, wondering what I would find there. I did not come across anyone or anything that would help me locate the Dust of the Stars. No one I asked knew what it was. What I did find in the town was a group of adventurers preparing a wagon for a trip. I had a feeling telling me that I needed to get on this wagon, that it would be a good choice to join them. I stepped up to the dwarf who was hitching up the horses, and I extended my hand out for him to shake it. “Hello, sir. My name is Jacqueline Murcatto. I am curious as to where you will be traveling to, and if it would be possible for me to join this expedition?” He took my hand and shook it with strength and a firm grip. “How do you do, Jacqueline? It is nice to meet ye! I am called Jasick. I must admit that my wagon is full, but only nearly. I think there is room for one more adventurer and I would gladly welcome ye. We are going to Hammerfast, looking to leave within the hour.” “Hammerfast… I have never been there. I would like visit it, to see if what I need will be there,” I said. Jasick replied, “I am sure it will have whatever ye are needing. Some advice though, don’t mess with the ghosts or any unopened tombs. There are dire consequences for doing so. Other than that, Hammerfast is a great place to go! Do ye still want to travel there?” I was surprised by his directness, but I was not about to let ghosts scare me into not going. “Yes, I still want to. It seems like the best place to continue my journey to. I need to get a few supplies, and then I will be ready to leave. I will be back quickly.” I went to various shops to resupply myself, and the last item I bought was a new drawing book. I was excited about filling its pages. I returned to the wagon to find everyone making their final preparations.
With a big smile that made his long beard about an inch shorter, Jasick announced excitedly, “It looks like we’re all ready to go! I am pleased to have such company along for the ride. Let’s hope this is a fruitful trip for all of us. Now everyone into the wagon!” The warlock known as Kirrin sat in the front next to Jasick. He seemed mentally challenged, prone to changing personalities often. The rest of us piled into the back of the wagon. We introduced ourselves to each other. Steve Vallo is a Githyanki Swordmage, his hands blackened and rough from blacksmithing. He is eager about going to Hammerfast to try his luck at opening a business there. The artificer, Jert, was the next one to introduce himself. He lost his parents to a disastrous magical experiment. He was adopted by dwarves in Fallcrest that gave him a job enchanting the weapons they made. He became very annoyed with Fallcrest because of terrible customers, and wanted to leave it far behind. He was a great enchanter, and he knew he would find work easily in Hammerfast. David the Goliath, a massive and imposing barbarian, introduced himself with a slow and kind voice. He very excitedly and loudly told us that he loves lemon pie and karaoke. So that is why he smells of lemons… He is a gentle giant, but one not to be messed with. I then introduced myself to the group, and I when I mentioned the curse I have, they accepted the fact like it was nothing. I was thankful that fate lead me to these people. I knew our time together would be filled with adventure and laughter and many great things to come.
And so my search continues. On to Hammerfast!*