Grumpkins

Conversations with Otto Arundel, Part Two

An ongoing series

“The Power of Tyr compels you: Enlighten!”

“Otto. You have to stop doing that.”

“I said: Enlighten!”

“My friend. I know you are excited that The Maimed God, in his infinite wisdom, has seen fit to allow you to channel his divine power. But you can’t keep trying to cast that damned spell on us. I believe we have all made this quite clear. Besides, you know as well as I, it only works on the weak-willed.”

“It worked on you before when I made you bark like a dog on stage, didn’t it? Ha!”

“Yes, indeed, you caught me unawares. Well played, my friend! I… did mention what I’d do if you ever again pulled a prank like that on me in the middle of a performance?”

“…”

“You do believe me when I say I will slip an enchanted singing worm in your ear while you sleep, yes? You recall which song it will…?”

“Yes, yes, ‘never during a set,’ I gave you my word.”

“Besides, if you have questions, you don’t need to cast a spell of command. You can just… ask.”

“…”

“So… what exactly is it you want to know this time, Otto?”

“The devil-kin lawyer.”

“Amor de Cosmos.”

“Him.”

“… you have a question.”

“Those… I mean… we didn't have those. Where I’m from.”

“Ah, of course. Tieflings are a young race.”

“But I thought, maybe this is just the way things are now. Maybe all the lawyers in this era are devil-kin. But when I asked the priests of Tyr about this, they looked at me funny.”

“I can imagine.”

“Look, I’m due to take my oath soon and I don’t want anything screwing it up for me. I need to know whether it’s okay for me to be seen with this devil-kin. I mean, I like the guy and all! But I need to know if he’s cursed or whatever.”

“Well, you’d not be alone in thinking so. Tieflings are hated and feared across the Realms. And you can scarcely blame folk for being apprehensive. I mean, they have devil’s horns and tails and pointy teeth.” 

“I know, right? I’ve seen some comely ones down in the Lower City. One of them beckoned at me with her tail. Imagine what she could do with… wait, it’s not contagious, is it? The curse?”

“It’s not a curse, Otto. Well, not exactly. But tieflings do bear the blood of Asmodeus.”

“What? The Lord of the Nine Hells?”

“He’s the God of Sin now. He ascended to divinity during the Spellplague when he, uh… ate Azuth, God of Spells. ”

“So all these devil-kin are his… children.”

“In a manner of speaking. The songs tell of a dark rite performed by a coven of thirteen warlocks, about a hundred years past, infusing them with the blood of Asmodeus. They became the first tieflings.”

“So they are cursed!”

“No more than you or I. Tieflings are as free-willed as any human. Some may decide to pledge their service to their… ‘father,’ but many choose to serve another — or choose not to serve.”

“And who does… he serve?”

“Come now, Otto, you’ve seen enough of Amor to know that he serves no man… nor devil. That one values his freedom as much as any pirate.”

“… I’m not sure the priests of Tyr want me associating with pirates either, come to think of it.”

“I’m sure they don’t! The acolytes of the God of Justice tend to frown on those who scoff at lords’ laws and take to the seas to seek fortune and freedom. But as my shipmates aboard Los Derechos del Hombre were wont to say, ‘a Pirate’s Life be the only Life for a man of any Spirit!’”

“But you’re an ex-pirate, yes?”

“For the time being, I find myself with neither ship nor crew.”

“You’re not going to… start pirating again before I take my oath.”

“Who can say, my friend? Who knows what Tymora has in store for any of us? Baldur’s Gate could be assaulted by dragons before we see the next dawn.”

“Just so long as it’s not mind flayers again… [stupid mind flayers… ]. But, ah, speaking of dragons… that big dragonspawn we rescued from the fighting pit.”

“Nissa.”

“Her.”

“… yes, Otto?”

“We didn’t have those either.”

“Ah. Of course.” 

They’re not cursed, are they?”

“No, Otto.” 

“Because she seemed to have a thing going. With the client. Ges whatshisname.”

“Geswanouth Slahoot, I believe. An unlikely name, even for a human.”

“So… humans and dragonspawn… they can… well… ”

“Otto, I’ve been a lot of places in this world. It’s my experience that humans will fuck anything, given the opportunity.”

“… you’re… not exactly wrong…”

“As to the… fecundity of such unions, I’m honestly not certain. ‘Dragonborn’ is a bit of a misnomer. My understanding is that they hatch. From eggs.”

“Ewwww. But… um…”

“Yes?”

“The… fertilization. Is it…”

“Oviparous.”

“…”

“Internal.”

“…”

“They rut. Dragonborn pairs do, at least. I’m not sure about interspecies intercourse.”

“Oh, right. So, uh, how did these dragonspawn get started? Another ritual?”

“You remember the nation of Unther? Out in the east, past the Bay of Chesenta?”

“What of it?”

“During the Spellplague, it was… well, crushed.”

“By what army?”

“No, I mean… literally crushed. A fragment of another world materialized in the sky above Unther and… fell on it.”

“… another world…”

“A place called Abeir. Sort of a twin world to ours, it seems. It is said Aebir was home to the race of dragonborn, where they toiled as slaves under the yoke of their merciless draconic masters. Until the Spellplague somehow brought them here. There didn’t seem to be any way for them to return home — nor were they anxious to give up their newfound liberty — so they founded the free nation of Tymanther amidst the ruins of what was once Unther. Dragonborn are a clannish bunch, so most of them stick close to Tymanther, but occasionally you’ll find one such as Nissa making their way in the realms.”

“And what of the Untherians? I remember my father had a trophy case full of ancient Untheric relics — vases and such. Boy was he every angry when I… well, never mind. So you’re saying the Untherians are all dead?”

“Well… it had seemed so, yes. But just six years past, in the Year of the Nether Mountain Scrolls, the Sundering returned the people of Unther to Toril. It appears they had somehow… traded places with the dragonborn?”

“But now they’re back.” 

“Indeed.”

“And I presume they’re none too happy to find what has become of their former lands?”

“‘Death to the godless lizards’ is a popular Untheric rallying cry, I understand.”

“… You’re sure these dragonspawn aren’t cursed?”

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