(( I am attempting a new format to tell Old Swamper's tale. Suggestions to make the process and/or story better are very welcome. Please feel free to let me know if there are errors in how your character is portrayed, or in how an event is recalled. I share Swamper's broken memory, and do screw things up, regularly, and royally! "I been married to the same redheaded woman fer 45 years, and been wrong so reg'lar that it don' even hurt mah feelin's anymore." *wink-n-grin* ))
Old Swamper's Journey
A Journal Found
The white haired old Cleric sat in the wreckage of fallen shelving, with tomes, scrolls, rolled maps, and assorted pages of handwritten notes scattered all around. He absently combed his long white beard with one frost gnarled hand, while the other held a dusty Journal. On his wrinkled face was a smile, as his inward focused blue eyes roamed the pages. He had thought it lost, this tale of his new beginning. Started at the suggestion of a wise mentor, in hopes of strengthening a freeze shattered mind, and one day recovering the memories of a past that had been stolen by the White Dragon attack off the island of Korthos.
While he still didn't even know his true name, he had created a new life, with new friends, and even a new family. His smile widened a bit, as thoughts turned to his adopted daughter Lilith, and her Elf husband Tibir. His family. It was true that an old life lurked in his past, mysterious and vaguely hinted at, only revealed through snippets of insight and wispy recollection that may, or may not resemble reality. Some fragments of recollection were reasonable, in light of abilities he could demonstrate; while some were pure supposition, based on seemingly random bits he still held from his past.
Reviewing the old Journal now was revealing things about himself that had escaped notice at the time they were written, or had been put aside and been buried by the crush of events at the time. Perhaps it was time to begin to identify and list them. He did have another family. Somewhere. He knew this in his heart, even if he could not recall images, names, or even how many there might be in that family. They existed, or had existed. They had been residents of Cyre, before the horror of horrors. He had been a resident of Cyre, before it had become known as the Mournlands. He knew this. It was burned into his heart as permanently as the wrinkled skin on his face, forearms, and hands was permanent evidence of the reality of the White Dragon's freezing breath on his exposed flesh.
The nameless, befuddled, freeze burned, and clearly simpleminded old man, had arrived out of the snow not long after that attack, seeking to work at the Wavecrest Tavern, in exchange for a meal and a dry place to sleep. A deal had been struck with the owner, Sigmund Bauerson, and the old man was supplied with a tattered blanket and sleeping mat in the creepy dank cellar, nestled among the stored kegs and crates. The deal came with duties involving a mop and bucket, broom and dustpan, wiping rag, fetching those kegs and crates from the warehouse, docks, and up and down the cellar stairs on command. The simple food, long hours, and constant exercise had been invaluable in recovering his Dragon battered health.
He was immediately known as "Old Swamper", from taking on the job of the "Young Swamper". As his new employer had explained, a "Swamper" is the person in a tavern or drinking establishment, who is master of the mop and bucket, "Swamping" the floor with soapy water, and mopping it up to remove the disgusting puddles drunken customers spew about. Previously, the "Young Swamper" had tossed in his mop, grabbed up a rusty rapier, and ran off to find fame and fortune as a lost treasure hunter. He was never to be seen again, after he passed through the gates of the village and into the wilderness beyond.
The "Old Swamper" was warned not to make the same mistake as the young one, and he did not. Instead, he soon became a fixture in the tavern. As such, he faded into the background, where he said little, and heard much. The stranded survivors from many a White Dragon ship sinking, and the seekers of fame and fortune who survived to repeat their adventures, all congregated at the only public house on the island. There, they talked openly of successes and failures, what worked and what did not, what was suspected, and what could be proved, about the problems all faced.
Swamper's presence was ignored, as if he did not exist. He felt as if he were invisible, as the physical person seemed a perfect match for the one inside his head. Nobody, nothing. A ghost, who yet held on to physical form. It was a lonely and frightening time. No name, no past, no skills, living in a dimwitted fog that cleared so very slowly he did not notice the incremental improvement.
Viewed as a simpleton, lacking in basic understanding of common concepts, with even his ability to communicate severely hindered by slow forming words on a uncooperative tongue, patrons of the tavern could not see the increasingly quick mind at work in the old man's head. His bright blue eyes were hidden beneath bushy white eyebrows, further concealed by a head always lowered to deal with his work, which may start head high for the customers, but generally ended up pooling at their feet. Because he was not seen as competition for treasures, or as a spy for the Sahuagin Necromancer's Cult, they spoke openly, as if he were a lamp, or a bottle of spiced seasoning oil on the table.
Because of that openness in conversation, Swamper learned much that might have been denied him under more normal circumstances. What he learned was of amazingly little real consequence to his personal problems, and had mostly to do with current problems with the White Dragon, the Sahuagin, the Cultists, and combat tactics and strategies heavily influence by too much ale. As his vocabulary and powers of reasoning returned, the realization of just how much of his past was missing also became apparent. The old man spent long hours contemplating what he had retained in the way of customs, common speech, knowledge of religions and the Gods, basic history of the last war, of geography and world history in general. He did seem to have an astonishingly broad and deep pool of basic knowledge about the mundane world.
It was really quite puzzling, that his recollections of family and personal past should be missing with such surgical precision, while leaving intact all the basic tools a person might need to survive at the bottom. The old man's growing mental prowess began to smell a rat... or perhaps the meddling hand of a powerful entity with God-like powers. He had been blasted indirectly with the freezing breath of the White Dragon, without a doubt. The attack had been witnessed by a number of inhabitants on the shore. He had been very fortunate, because if struck directly by the freezing breath, it would have meant instant death. Even indirectly, the intense cold could easily damage a person both physically and mentally, as he was walking proof. Swamper's niggling problem lay in the very precision of what was missing, and what was not. Those elements of the puzzle spoke of a finger in the pie that went beyond the pure destruction of the White Dragon, and it's broad capabilities to kill and damage.
He began to suspect the Dragon had been camouflage, a distraction from the real attack, and the real effects targeting his mind. It had been a means to an end, a delivery system. Perhaps the Mindflayer, that everyone spoke of as having controlled the Dragon, had not always maintained complete control. Perhaps another had overpowering access to both? The idea made the old man shudder. Such incredible power arrayed against him, and he had not even the most vague concept of either who, or why.
He could only work with what he had, so he had begun with what he knew. Clearly, the answers lay in his past. It was his past that he must reveal, to discover the who and the why. The icy blast of the White Dragon had stolen almost the entirety of his past, leaving scattered shards of memory to drift like smoke in a fog. What was real, and what was wishful dreaming? Could the tiny shards fit together to make coherent recollections? Would there be enough of the shard patched recollections to tell a life story? Would there be means to identify and locate his original family? Would they all live, or only some live? Or, would he be locating their final resting place, allowed only to pay his respects before moving on? He was driven to know their fate, and why he had been separated from them in this terrible manner. What lay in his past, to warrant the erasing of it, while leaving him alive in the world?
Naturally, aware of the failings of his still broken mind, the old man was reaching out to other venues for information about himself and his past. Each recollection or revelation about himself was a clue, and each was pursued to the ends his limited means allowed. From the Shelldiver off the coast of Korthos, seeking the wreckage of the ship that the Dragon sank beneath the Swamper, to the numerous street urchins in Stormreach, who heard and saw almost everything that went on, the information outreach was in place. Now he had to have patience on that front. Keep the questions out there, display continued curiosity to his core of seekers, maintain their dedication to his cause. Still, the hard part was the waiting for results. He needed to do something! But what?
What did he know about himself now? What had the last year and a half told him about his background and history? This recovered journal may hold things he missed, or remind of things noted at the time, but since forgotten. Looking around at the shelving wreckage, he sighed. Clean this up first, then worry about the journal. Take care of the present, and put the past into the future. He paused at that thought, chuckling to himself. No wonder he was considered to be a simpleton! With a twinkle in his blue eyes, he set about rebuilding overloaded shelving on the wall.
"Sam! Please find Nostrumus, or Sesil. I'm going to need some help here."
Now how, he pondered, did the shelving boards shrink in length, and by such a large amount? The Leaky Dinghy was located over the bay, in a tropical environment, so it was not a lack of humidity!