Whispers in Tamris
A Vigilante with a mind for Engineering.
Eye Color: Central Heterochromia (Two eye colors: Hazel inner ring, brown outer ring)
Hair: Unkempt, Dark Brown Hair
Facial Hair: Partial Beard
Gavin wears full leather armor and a hooded cloak. For most situations the hood is down; however if Gavin deems that it is better off if his face isn’t shown he pulls it up. He is equipped with a cutlass, which hangs in its scabbard at his side, and his hand-crossbow, which is also at his side along with a bolt satchel. Within the backpack Gavin has ten days worth of trail rations for himself, fifty feet of hempen rope, and a grappling hook.
Gavin was last seen in Rasloc at the Golden Cask the night before the rest of the party departed for the annual Tournament in Dalenroth. He said no goodbyes, and was gone in the morning. It is unclear what became of him.
Gavin Crosswell hails from Stabourne, a bustling port-city located on the southern peninsula of Qennalce, where he lived with his father, James, and two older brothers Benjamin and William. His father was an engineer, a pioneer that designed and, in most cases, helped build the many clock towers across the land. While this may seem a prestigious occupation, once the towers were built his career had effectively ended. There wasn’t a great need for engineers at the time, the profession had really only just begun. As a result, those who once considered themselves engineers abandoned their careers to pursue jobs that could put food on the table for their families. Without any obvious path to go, he found very little work to support his family. But, he always made ends meet; he refused to let his boys turn to a life of crime. Eventually, he managed to obtain a job from the Regent of Stabourne to maintain the very clock tower he built in the northwestern part of the city. This became their new home, as the space within the tower was big enough to house a small family. Gavin was very close to his father; being the youngest of the family, he spent a lot of time around his father and as such spent a great deal of time in the clock tower with him.
Gavin’s brothers, Benjamin and William (who are about seven and eight years, respectively, his elder), were different however. They preferred life outside the tower, and life away from Gavin. For when Gavin was born, his mother died in labor. Associating Gavin with her death, resentment for him had been instilled in the both of them. They blame him for her death and while not openly admitting it, as he is family, a little bit of it is noticeable in the manner they talk to him. Gavin had never truly understood why his brothers resented him so; because the reasons were never spoke of, he merely thought that he had to prove something to them in order to gain their respect. As such he often undertook tasks that they assigned him, tasks that were sometimes dangerous.
One such instance was to acquire some clock parts from the harbor that had just been shipped in. Normally this would have been a trivial task. However, his brothers put a spin on it: he had to get pick them up as soon as possible, as he was led to believe that someone would steal the parts if they were left unattended for too long. Being this was the first time that he had made runs to the southern harbor, Gavin accepted this story without question. What this meant was that Gavin had to take a shortcut through the bad side of Western Stabourne.
During his travel through this section of Stabourne, he was mugged by three men. They pinned him against a wall of an alleyway and said, “We’re the, uh, tax collectors for Dax, and it’s time to pay up.” The leader of the three searched Gavin for his gold, and quickly found it. After taking the gold he was beaten up a fair bit. The leader of the muggers pulled out a dagger and pressed it up against Gavin’s throat and said, “It seems that you don’t have enough to pay the tax, tsk, tsk, tsk, what a shame. Unfortunately, that means this is the worst and the last day of your life.”
Just as the last word of that sentence had been said, a hooded man in leather armor drew a hand crossbow and said, “No, this is the worst day of your life.” When the mugger wielding the dagger turned his head to face the hooded man, a crossbow bolt got shot straight into his gut, causing him to keel over. The other muggers, in total shock, let go of Gavin and sprinted off, leaving their friend behind. The hooded man drew his cutlass and walked up to the man he had just shot. Pressing the blade up to his neck, the hooded man told the mugger, “Tell Dax that if he tries to ‘collect taxes’ here again, it’ll be him this bolt will be in. At that, he yanked the bolt straight out of the mugger, causing him to writhe and cry out in pain. He kicked the man and said, “Go now! Or do you want me to deliver the message personally with your head?!” At that the man, clutching his gut, scrambled to his feet and ran off as fast as he could.
The hooded man sighed, started to wipe off the blood from the bolt he took out of the mugger with his cloak and said, “Are you all right, kid?” Startled, Gavin didn’t entirely know what to say. After a few moments, he finally found the composure to speak. “Thank you, truly. Had you not shown up when you did—-” The man interrupted him, saying, “Don’t focus on what could’ve happened, focus on what did.” He finished wiping the bolt off at this point and loaded it again. “Speculating on those kinds of things only makes you depressed. Now, get out of here before you find more trouble, or it finds you.”
Nodding, Gavin prepared to run when he stopped. He turned and asked, “Wait, I never got your name!”
The hooded man chuckled and pulled down his hood. His was the face of an older man, white hair and a full beard of the same color. Over his right eye and down that side of the face was a scar. He had an eye patch, and on the eye that remained had the look of a man that had seen many, many battles. The way he carried himself suggested training of some sort, likely that of military or at the very least a scout.
He merely replied, “I’m just an old man, my name isn’t important.”
At that the man turned and walked away. Gavin hesitated, wanting to follow him and ask more questions; but at this point he remembered that he needed to retrieve the parts from the harbor and ran off.
When Gavin arrived at the harbor some time near dusk, he picked up the shipment and breathed a sigh of relief. When he said that he was lucky that the shipment was still here, the attendant replied, “Well of course it’s still here, we keep all shipments under lock and key until they’re picked up. Didn’t you know that?”
Needless to say, it was a very eventful 15th birthday.
During the years spent with his father, Gavin picked up his father’s talent and ambition for designing engineering contraptions and schematics for said contraptions. Though the majority of these was more on the impractical side (such as his design for an engine that powered very large objects) some were actually feasible. These consisted of improvements to the clock tower that his father designed, many of which were implemented once his father looked them over. This gave Gavin a sense of pride in both his work and himself, subsequently making him feel like he meant something; a feeling that wasn’t ever given to him by his brothers.
A week before his 19th birthday, his father became very ill and found himself unable to leave his bed. On Gavin’s 19th birthday, a particularly stormy day, his father acknowledged the fact that he was dying and that he needed to speak to his sons. To William he left his love and affection, saying that he would be able to do whatever he wished and be successful in it. To Benjamin he said that he had the calculating mind of a leader, and that he’d very easily rule a country if he pursued it to that end. And finally, he said, weakly, to Gavin who knelt by the bed, holding his father’s hand with a tear welling in his eye, “My boy, you remind me so much of your mother. When you were born, I like to think that her passing was her way of transferring her soul into your body.” He paused to cough a bit, then continued. “I cherished every moment I spent with you; you took up my profession with ease, challenging my designs and making me a better man because of it. I have no doubt that you will do well for yourself in this world.”
He coughed some more before saying, “I don’t have many possessions left, and this tower won’t be your home any longer; the Regent has already appointed someone else to watch it. The few gold pieces I have remain in that drawer next to me. Split it up between you all, and spend it wisely.” He coughed more harshly this time, then spoke his final words. “I love you all, my boys. Take care of yourselves, for this world is harsh and unforgiving.”
He coughed some more, and then stopped. He stopped breathing and Gavin felt the blood drain from his father’s hand as he slipped away.
Lightning cracked in the background, and Gavin wept softly.
After the funeral, Gavin and his brothers parted ways. His brothers struck out together, convinced that Gavin’s birthday is cursed, leaving Gavin behind to fend for himself. The gold that he was given by his father amounted to a single gold piece.
Gavin never spent a copper.
He made it into a necklace and keeps it on him at all times; it’s the last possession that he has to remind him of his father. It isn’t visible anywhere on his body. He keeps it below his clothing, on a small leather strap, hanging on his neck.
Feeling depressed in the overcast weather, Gavin found himself wandering around the backstreets of Western Stabourne once more. It started to rain when he was again pinned against an alleyway wall. He was searched for gold but they found none. “Tsk, tsk, tsk,” said the leader of the three. “To walk these streets alone is dangerous. You never know who you’ll run into.” The man punched him in the gut. “You don’t even have gold to appease common folk who live here? What a shame.” The man drew a dagger and pressed up against Gavin’s throat, to which Gavin said, dejectedly,
“Go ahead and kill me; I’ve got nothing left to live for. I have no home, my father’s dead and my brothers have abandoned me.”
This gave the mugger pause. Now soaked, Gavin became noticeably angry. He started to thrash about, his dampened hair flailing and sending droplets of water off into the faces of his muggers.
“Well? Are you going to do it?! END ME, DAMN IT!!!”
The mugger hesitated again when he looked off to his left. He then said, “Let’s go, there’s nothing here worth taking.”
Gavin fell to his knees when they let go, the rain pouring down all around him.
He then heard the footsteps of someone walking in puddles coming closer.
“You shouldn’t walk around these streets, it’s dangerous out here.”
When Gavin looked up, he saw the hooded man once more. “I remember you. You saved my life four years ago. A shame that I want to throw it away now.”
The hooded man picked Gavin up by his shirt.
“You don’t get to make that decision! Do you really think that if you die here, in this rat-infested alley, that you’ll get your father back?!”
This stung Gavin. “How did you—-”
“I heard what you said, few people couldn’t! Do you think this is what your father would’ve wanted for you?! To kill yourself?!”
“I only wanted—-”
“To hell what you wanted! You’re living in the here and now, kid!”
Suddenly, Gavin blacked out.
When he awoke, he found himself inside of a small, rundown home. He lay on top of some hay stacked together. The rain pattered on the roof above, some of it dripping down inside. The old man was leaning by the doorway.
“I brought you back here when you passed out in my arms. Couldn’t leave you out there by yourself. I won’t have another death on my conscience.”
“Why did you do it? What am I worth to you?”
“I did it because I’ve seen too many die when I could’ve helped them. As for what you’re worth to me, the answer is nothing.”
Gavin hung his head at that.
“Nothing yet, anyway. You need a friend, and I need help cleaning up this district. So, I’m going to train you to fight, since you seem to find yourself pinned against walls a fair bit.”
“Don’t I have a say in this?”
“Nope. You’re not in the correct mental state to make decisions right now. When you’re better, we’ll talk.”
For the first time since his father’s death, Gavin felt like he was worth something again.
“Well, thanks. I guess. Can I at least get your name?”
“Heh. I suppose, since we’ll be seeing each other more often. Roland, my name’s Roland. And yourself?”
“Great, now that the pleasantries are taken care of, rest up. When the weather clears, I’m going to train you. And don’t expect leniency, because I won’t give it.”
For the next four years of his life, Gavin and Roland started to clean up the slums of Western Stabourne together. At least to a point where people could walk the streets again. While the criminal referred to only as Dax was never captured by the duo, his hold over this district became substantially lowered by their actions.
Gavin was trained by Roland in the art of combat, utilizing the cutlass and hand crossbow Roland possessed. He learned how to move silently, to hide, climb building structures and use ropes, to disable traps (which became more frequent in Western Stabourne as Dax learned of how much influence he had lost because of these two), escape bonds, jump and balance himself on thin structures (and to fall gracefully, should he lose his balance), strike deals with other people, gather information (Which had aided in tracking a large portion of criminals down in Western Stabourne), intimidate those when needed, search for rackets, disguise himself in a crowd when being chased, tell when someone is lying, and listen closely.
He was also taught how to tell a lie, to pocket small things without being noticed and to pick locks. These last three traits were hard to convince Gavin to do, as his father never wanted him to lead a life of crime. But Roland convinced him that they were necessary to survival out in the world, if not only in these slums. “To be able to do these things,” Roland said, “is to be able to adapt to your surroundings. I won’t be around to hold your hand so if you get caught doing something, whether it’s for friends, yourself, or some other cause, you need to know how to get out of danger.”
Despite all his training, however, Gavin still had a few triggers that set him off. During one raid of Dax’s strongholds, Gavin and Roland captured one of Dax’s lieutenants, and bound him in a chair.
“Where is he?!” Roland barked, punching the lieutenant in the gut.
“I don’t know. And even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you."
Roland punched him in the gut again.
“I don’t have the patience for dealing with your lies! Answer me, NOW!”
Roland punched him in the face. The lieutenant started to bleed from his nose. Roland grasped his own hand.
“What’s the matter, old man,” the lieutenant chided, “hurt your hand on my face?” The lieutenant started to laugh.
Roland glared at him. The lieutenant continued to laugh.
“That’s enough out of you,” Gavin said. He stopped leaning on the wall and walked over.
“What do you want, bo—- wait… I know you. Yea… you’re the kid that I almost killed nine years ago.”
Gavin hesitated for a moment and the lieutenant started laughing uncontrollably. Through his laughing he said,
“So let me get this straight, heh, a kid and an old man have been the ones responsible for destroying Dax’s grasp on Stabourne? Bahahahahaha!”
Gavin tightened his fist.
“Oh, what’s the boy going to do? Hit me? Torture me? I’ve survived worse from better men than you. Dax would actually kill me, I fear him much more than you.”
Gavin lifted the lieutenant’s jaw.
“So, do you really think that I wouldn’t do the same?”
The lieutenant chuckled.
“Yeah, the look in your eyes isn’t that of a killer. You don’t have the guts.”
Gavin punched him in the face, and the lieutenant laughed.
“That tickled, you’ll have to try harder than that!”
Gavin punched him harder. The lieutenant started bleeding a bit from his mouth, and spat out a tooth.
“Now we’re getting somewhere!”
Gavin wound up his next punch, and when it landed it sent the lieutenant and his chair flying back. Gavin stood him back up again.
“That was a good punch, kid.” He spat out some blood. “I’m still not going to tell you anything though.”
“Fine. Roland, let’s go.”
Gavin and Roland began to walk out of the stronghold.
“Hmph. Leaving me for dead are you? How rude, didn’t your parents teach you better?”
Gavin stopped in his tracks. The lieutenant started laughing again. “Hit a nerve did I?”
“Leave my father out of this.”
Gavin turned to face him again.
“Your father you say? Tsk, tsk, tsk. He clearly failed as a parent. To think that the boy he raised turned into—-”
The lieutenant never got a chance to finish that sentence. The moment his father’s memory was insulted, Gavin took Roland’s cutlass from its scabbard and sliced the lieutenant’s throat. The lieutenant’s face changed instantaneously from smugness to great terror. He gurgled as the blood poured out, and shortly slumped over in his chair. Gavin’s heavy breathing subsided after a few moments; his adrenaline rush wearing off. Once he realized what he had done, he sighed and turned to face Roland, who now had a streak of shock across his face. Roland recomposed himself and sighed.
“C’mon kid, it’s time to go.”
Gavin solemnly nodded, and handed Roland the blade; they departed shortly thereafter. Later, after pondering his actions, Gavin asked for some guidance.
“Roland, what should I do? Should I pursue good or evil?”
“You pursue whatever you want. Just realize that one does not exist without the other, and that the other may need to be used to achieve the other.”
Gavin gave a blank stare.
“Evil may need to be used to achieve good, and vice versa. Though I’m not entirely sure why you’d go out of your way to do evil; it seems like a waste of time to me.”
“Well, what do you stand for? I know that you want to clean this place up, but is that for the people or your own interests?”
“I stand for myself. I don’t let people dictate what I do, I do what I want because I feel that there’s a need to do it.”
Roland became the role model Gavin had been seeking since his father died. He holds his father’s memory close to him, and still carries the gold piece necklace he made. However, while he strives to do right by his father’s wishes, Gavin understands, and embraces, that to achieve certain goals other things that may be questionable may be required.
During one night as they sat around a crackling bonfire by the edge of the city’s harbor, Gavin received a letter from Benjamin containing news that he needed to come to Rasloc on the central continent of Corrent. Included with the envelope was enough gold to cover the fare. He and Roland had one last chat before he left.
“You know, you never told me how you learned to fight as you do.”
“Heh. You learn a few things over the years once you get to be as old as I am.” Roland looked smugly at Gavin, and noticed that this answer wasn’t going to fly. “Alright, alright. I might as well tell you; I’m a part of the 7th division of the armed forces in Redcrest. Or rather I was. I deserted.”
Gavin widened his eyes at this.
“Don’t give me that look, I did it for good reasons. My captain wanted me to execute innocents because they were allied with the enemy. I refused to have their blood on their hands, and was court marshaled. During the night, I escaped from my platoon and took refuge here in Stabourne. Hide in plain sight, and they’ll never expect you to be there. This was forty years ago that I did this, mind you. So far, they haven’t found me; and at this point I doubt that they’d remember me.”
Roland sighed, shrugged and poked the dying fire with the tip of his blade.
“You know, things won’t be the same around here without you, kid. You’re the first person I’ve grown attached to in all these years. I’m going to miss you.”
Gavin paused in an effort to hold back the emotions he felt for leaving his friend and mentor behind. He then said softly, “Me too, Roland. Me too.”
As they were parting ways the following morning, Roland stopped him for a moment. He handed Gavin his cutlass and scabbard, hand crossbow and bolt satchel, leather armor and his hooded cloak. When Gavin tried to return them, Roland refused.
“Keep them, you’ll need them more than me. Besides, it’ll remind you of your time here. Keep safe, and don’t let me find you again in the state I did four years ago.”
Gavin looked at the equipment and put it on before he left. When he did, he hugged Roland.
“Thanks. Thanks for everything, Roland.”
With that, Gavin set off to Rasloc. He traveled by ship and one day on the journey, while he was laying on his bed reading an old engineering book, his hand crossbow fell off the shelf in his cabin onto his desk, near his journal. He looked at it for a moment, and for the first time in years, he was inspired to draw schematics again.
He designed a crossbow-like weapon that was even more compact, more powerful, and didn’t even fire bolts anymore. Through his understanding of clockwork, he reasoned that he could use it to power the weapon. After some calculations, Gavin determined that this first model would have a limited range, maybe fifty feet at best. To increase the range, he altered the design on a second document, creating a longer model of the first. While they would both have the same firing capacity, the second would be better for long range attacks, owing to the estimated reload rate. Gavin reasoned that these paper designs were good starting points for these contraptions, but he doesn’t have a clear idea how to go about building them. He did settle on what to call them, though.
During his time in the clock tower with his father, when he wasn’t working he read whatever books he could. Many of the books Gavin had read were picture-heavy books from before the establishment of Continental linguistics. He favored books that detailed other cultures, particularly Elven. One of the Elves’ musical terms, píšťala, described an instrument similar to what the minstrels called a flute. Because of the ornate shape of the first design, and the similarity to a flute, Gavin decided on the name “Pistol”.
As for the elongated version, it ceased to look like a flute anymore. Naming the second design proved more difficult for Gavin. He contemplated for a considerable amount of the journey what to name the contraption. Unable to come up with a name, Gavin resigned himself to watching the deckhands, going over the estimated components needed to create it. He realized that he’d need some kind of piping for the ammunition of both weapons to travel through. Not only that, but they had to be as accurate as possible to be able to do any real damage.
While looking over the second design one sunny day sitting on the deck of the ship, Gavin noted a piece of rigging was fraying, untwisting, loosening…suddenly, Gavin recalled a book he once read that depicted an Elven fletching technique, rīfeln, in which one would put a slight spiral twist to the feathers of the arrow to prevent the arrow from flying at the wrong angle and increase accuracy. If he could apply that notion to the interior of the piping, somehow cutting spiral grooves in the piping, there might be a good chance at ensuring the accuracy of the weapon given its length and range.
So, he translated the act of grooving the pipe to “rifling”. Given the result of this “rifling” would be something “rifled”, he also coined the term “rifle”. He liked the sound of it; the words rolled off the tongue. Because the weapons themselves were to be constructed with clockwork, Gavin decided to include that within the names of these new weapons. Thus the names Clockwork Pistol and Clockwork Rifle came to be.
It was about a week after he finished designing the documents that he heard the bells being rung from above deck, indicating land (and subsequently Rasloc) had been seen. When the ship was near port, Gavin gathered up his gear, ensuring he had everything: his equipment from Roland, some rations he picked up from the galley, a grappling hook and rope, the letter his brother had sent him, and finally his journal. Apart from the schematics. Gavin refrained from writing in it during his trip; what use would it be to record his thoughts on the journey across the sea? He saved its limited pages for his travels in Rasloc. Before he left his room, he read the vague letter from his brother one more time:
You are needed in Rasloc. When you receive this letter set out immediately for the continent of Corrent. Within this envelope is enough gold to cover the fare across the sea and some rations for when you get here. I have gone to great personal lengths to ensure the courier delivering this letter will not steal the contents. When you arrive, meet me at the Golden Cask; it will be a pub not far from the dock.
We have much to discuss.
When Gavin arrived at the port of Rasloc and stepped down the gangplank of the ship, the brisk, salty, air bit at his skin. He took a deep breath and strode forward, confident of a great many things to come.