Vandal Eyes had been waiting for an opportunity to come along that would allow her to escape her mentor quietly, putting many leagues between them. Having just celebrated her 18th name day she knew she could more than adequately take care of herself. Shoot, she’d been taking care of herself and that old scoundrel for these last 4 or 5 years. She was rather large for a Halfling at 3’11” and stoutly built, causing many to remark that her line must have had rather close dealings with dwarves. In addition to her stature she had become quite adept at making herself near invisible when she wished to escape detection. And that old scoundrel made sure that her light, quick hand were well practiced. At least she knew that she would never have to do without any supplies she may need for her journey.
Vandal Eyes had an odd affinity for the old scoundrel. His was called Vandal Mischief among the Thieves’ Den and by any who were unfortunate enough to have had dealings with him. A vile looking old human who had mastered the life of a Rogue thief well enough to keep himself comfortable most nights. It was hard to believe that the conniving old man had once taken pity on Vandal Eyes and rescued her straight out of the jaws of death.
I can assure you, however, that Vandal Mischief had no altruistic intentions on the day that he happened upon the wreckage of what was once a happy home to a small clan of halflings. Drawn by the small pillar of smoke that rose up over the river, Vandal Mischief decided to investigate.
“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And where fire has been…There has been a cleansing.” Smiling lustily to himself he wondered what treasures were waiting for him to rescue from demise.
After picking through the wreckage and only finding a few worthless tools and piles of smashed crates and bowls, Vandal Mischief decided to pick through the corpses for anything of value. It was obvious the little buggers put up quite a fight but were quickly over powered. The eldest male still gripped a small hatchet in his rigid left hand and a rather large dagger in his right. Face down in the muddy river’s banks, it was obvious the little man took a savage blow to the back of his head. There were several younger male halflings littered about the river banks but their plain tunics and drawstring pants made it clear that it was going to be slim pickings.
Vandal Mischief took the hatchet and dagger from the old patriarch “I don’t suppose you will be needing these anymore old man, will ya?” He rolled the corpse over to pilfer through his pockets. A hand-carved pipe, a half-filled tobacco pouch, and a pocket knife were the old scoundrel’s reward. “I’m not one to waste good baccy and this little pricker may fetch a fair sum.”
The femme halflings were all scattered amongst the riverboat’s carnage. Most the corpses bobbed in the currant of the river, jammed under planks and in between crates. While most people with any shred of decency would have cringed at the sight, Vandal Mischief just chuckled to himself, “Tiny little dancers playing on the shore. Ring around, Ring around. The all fell down”. He made short work of relieving the victims of their ring and arm bands but was disappointed at the ordinary craftsmanship of the trinkets.
As he was about to leave Vandal Mischief stopped short and turned back towards the boat. A glimpse of something shiny quickly flashed and was gone. A crate bobbed up and down, bouncing off the boat. Draped over the crate was a very small sproutling. A young Halfling no more than 8 years old had a tiny little fist clutched around something that shimmered. Vandal Mischief quickly tried to relieve the little sprout her treasure and noted that her grip was nearly as strong as the old patriarch’s had been on the hatchet and dagger. Once her prized trinket from her hand he saw that it was an intriguing old amulet. Intricate gold lapis enclosed a gem stone that changed color with every caress of the sun. The stone was like non other that he had seen before. “Maybe it is something, maybe it’s child’s fancy. With unknown trinkets we don’t take a chancey.” Sing-songed the old scoundrel as he deposited the amulet in the pouch he kept tethered to his neck.
Just then he heard a faint cry dome from the sproutling. “Well, well. It lives after all. Healthy young sprouts do fetch a handsome sum on the market. So easy to train.” Vandal Mischief gathered up the little sprout along with his pillaged treasures into the cart pulled behind his horse. He went on his way completely unaware the fates that had ordered his steps that day.
Vandal Eyes had very few memories of her family and life as it had been on the river. The few memories she had were powerful and fierce as a tidal wave. They always filled her with such love and longing and emptiness all at the same time. She remembered how her three older brothers constantly teased her and rough-housed in a constant tumble of mayhem. Her father loved to dote on his only daughter and would place her on his knee as he puffed his pipe and told stories to all the sproutlings just after tea-time. She remembered her mother’s tender hand and how townsfolk would line up at the shore when their boat docked seeking her mother’s healing skills. Her brothers would sprint down the dock straight to town and seek seasonal work tending crops and livestock, or whatever would put coin in their pockets for a pint of ale. Her father would trade goods to the townsfolk and buy their surplus to sell down river. It was a simple life and it was good.
All that changed though, the day of the attack. Vandal Eyes didn’t remember what had happened, only that one evening she was sitting on her father’s knee listening to another tall tale and then in a flash, it was all gone. When she woke again, a tall, menacing human was staring down at her. His features were plain enough and there was a smile on his lips, but there was something that gleamed in his eyes that made her feel ill at ease. He told her that her family had all been killed and all they owned were set ablaze and smashed to pieces. “Likely the work of those heartless elves. Always trust an elf I always say. Trust that bugger will slit your throat as you sleep”.
He told her how he heroically pulled her from the river and certain death as the sneaky elves scoured the banks for any unlucky survivors. He introduced himself as Vandal Mischief and asked the sproutling for her name. Shocked, confused and grief-stricken the sproutling stared dumbly back at him.
“It’s no matter” he said “Whoever you were was taken by that river. Once you are strong again you will find your new purpose.”
“What do you mean? My new purpose?” asked the little sprout.
“You have been gifted by the fates a chance of a new life you never could have imagined. You will become my unseen eyes. Vandal’s Eyes you will be!” he said with a gleam.
As the days went on and the seasons came and went and came back again, Vandal Eyes grew strong. The old scoundrel taught her the ways of stealth and quick hands upon unsuspecting travelers. She became quite accomplished as a pick-pocket and Vandal Mischief soon realized that the little sprout would be far more valuable to him than what those dottering old fools back in town would be willing to pay.
As she grew Vandal Eyes was thankful that the old scoundrel took her in but never could shake the feeling that he was not telling her everything in truth.
One day she finds the pipe and amulet, confronts Vandal Mischief. He says he found them washed up on the shore and had no idea that would be of any value to her. He gives her the pipe but keeps the amulet for himself saying that she is being greedy trying to trick an old man out of his trinkets.
She hears two travelers talking in a bar about an adventure on the other side of the continent and sees the ticket held for paid train fare to destination with instructions on who to ask for. She steals ticket, waits for old scoundrel to fall asleep and steals amulet from his tethered neck pouch and leaves all behind.