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Northstar’s Tale
An autobiographic recollection, by Northstar

Who? Me? You want to know about my history? Well, there's not much to tell, I have lived a simple life. Or so I would like most folks to believe! I have spent most of it surviving by my own wits and luck. I guess that luck seems to be a common thread in most of my stories and adventures. That and locks!

Luck and Locks! Heh, those two are mainstays in my life. The love of a good lock came first. I fell in love with them the summer of my fourteenth year. That was the summer my poor old pap, may the gods rest his ale-sodden soul, arranged for me to apprentice to Master Torvil, the baron's grandmaster tinker. Ahh…..

Master Torvil had spent almost a full season training me to work the tinker's tools. I could make a fair pass at building a chest, most of the tools of other trades had yielded the secrets of their making to me, and I had worked some decent chairs. I was even about ready to take a swing at a throne! Grand, and plush for some noble's soft bum.

But, ye gods! The locks! Aye, the secret of a silky smooth, well made lock eluded my nimble fingers. Beyond that my simple country-folk mind seemed unable to hold the inner working of the lock mechanism itself. Some tinker I was cut out to be if I couldn't even make a good lock. The demon-spawned devices were a major source of frustration and anger in my training. I wonder if poor old Master Torvil still has that shed full of unopenable chests?

I could never quite manage to get the hasp to catch on the inner springs. My locks were either so much useless artwork (in other words, no real value!) or I was sought out by master mages wishing to entrap demons and djins for all eternity. Heh, at least that was how useless they were to hear the Master tell it.

Then, one warm summer day, inspiration hit!

I can still remember it clear as if it was yesterday. I had burst into Master Torvil's study, hair plastered to my forehead from sweat and holding an opened lock in one hand and a hastily made pick (actually it was a discarded scratch he used to work the fine detail on ornate silver pieces) in the other.

I had interrupted his late afternoon nap it seemed and in the flush of discovery I couldn't have cared less. Heh, I can also remember some small voice deep in my mind saying that there were other things I was forgetting, too. I really should have listened to that voice!

I laid the mechanism on his workbench, shoving various works-in-progress aside and to the floor. I hastily showed him how I had manipulated the catch inside the lock's body to get the hasp out of it's reach thus easily opening the device. I locked it and unlocked it twice more just to revel in my newfound powers!

I was beginning to realize that whole new literal doors were opening before me when I noticed the heat, nay the rage, pouring off of Master Torvil. The knuckles of his hands were bone-white where he gripped the edge of the table to control himself. His whole body was shaking with the anger inside.

'W-w-w-where did you get that?' He barely managed the simple sentence, spitting out the last word as if he had found a worm in his dinner.

Something was terribly amiss, and my young head was spinning trying to get it all under control. I was absently plucking a piece of hay from my hair when I saw it. There in the corner of the lock face, nestled in amongst the too familiar filigree were three simple letters: GMT. Grand Master Torvil!

I had picked the master's very own handiwork. Repeatedly. With ease.


'Master, I had no idea! I meant no disrespect, sir! Please, forgive me! I will go put it back, just as I found it!'

'YOU WILL DO NO SUCH THING!' he thundered, fist slamming into the pine table to accentuate the last three syllables.

Double-damn! There was still something wrong. Think, son, what?!? I saw another piece of hay fall from my tunic when memories started to return. Memories of the hayloft, something in the hayloft. Heat, and afternoon sunlight, mixed with sweat and…. What? No, not something……. Some ONE!

Ohmygods, Sharice! The master's beautiful daughter! Dreading what I knew I would see my head slowly swiveled towards his workbench. Only then did I recognize the heavy leather sewing that was attached to the rest of the lock. It resembled nothing so much as a heavy, stout diaper. With straps. And a lock.

Her chastity belt.

'NorthStar, my lover,' she had purred in that husky voice I have heard other women use many times since, 'get this fiendish device off of me and I will be your reward!' Then, with a truly beautiful and lustful smile she had lain back, nothing more than sunlight and hay draped across her bosom.

By Tymora, once I started to divine the lock's secrets, she ceased to exist for me. (grin) Shameful, I know, but true.

But not to worry. Hell having no fury and all that, I was snapped back to the then present by the beautiful Sharice's scream of rage and mock assault pealing out of the hayloft just about then. The scream galvanized me into action just a second too late, though. Her furious father literally threw me out the window of his study. I think he was going for distance. Or height, I was never certain.

At any rate that was my first night being on the run. I managed to evade the baron's dogs only by wallowing in pig crap. I tried once to go home, but fate and fear conspired to prevent that from ever happening. I have even stopped using my family name for fear of someone looking them up for things I have done. One day, maybe. But not anytime soon.

And it was also my first night being in love. Not with the voluptuous and vocal Sharice, no, not that. In my opinion, women have always been money flies. Nothing more. The love the bards sing of must be fated for other men. I have always been in love with locks.

Not just the mechanical aspect but the whole idea of preventing other people, always lesser people, from accessing something. And even better, the idea of me being able to defeat those very same locks! Now there's a challenge!


The luck part of it?

Well, that's a whole other tale. I'll tell it next time. For now, my throat is sore and it is time to return some of this sorry ale the barkeep has loaned me.

Which way was the privy?

Chapter 2

You're still here? Well, my friend, the bard must be poor indeed, if I am the only entertainment you can find. (grin)

No problem, but there is the matter of this empty mug...

Heh, you are too kind, indeed.

So you wish to know of luck, eh? Then you wish to know of the fickle Lady Tymora. Tymora is the Goddess of Luck, at least where I come from. You can't bargain with her, and no one I know of has figured out how to woo her. You merely accept her attention when she gives it and pray to your other gods when she doesn't.

My first brush with her was just a few years after my rather hurried leave-taking from Master Torvil. It was also a rather more somber tale. Had it not been for the sure hand of Tymora I would not be drinking this ale. By the way, the alewife here needs to learn the fine art of hopping, it would definitely help her brews!

Lady Tymora introduced herself to me in the throne room of a rather eccentric wizard who had wronged the sister of an associate of mine. Yes, yes, I understand how tenuous such a chain of connection is, but there were silver and gold pieces involved! And locks.

My 'friend' had a plan to get us into this wizard's palace. We would get into it late at night and accomplish two goals. We were going in to 'liberate' him of some minor valuables and rifle through his papers looking for something we could use to take him down a notch or two. I was along to ensure that we didn't run into any especially troublesome locks or traps.

Things had been going rather well all the way into the inner sanctum. It was that last trip wire strung inside the statue to the back of the gem embedded there. When I pried that multi-faceted gem out, I set off the catrap that alarmed the wizard.

Ever seen an enraged wizard come to defend his hard won goods? It's a sight to make the stoutest heart skip. No sooner had the thunder of the recall spell finished bouncing around the room than neither my friend nor myself could move a muscle. The wizened old bastard had frozen us both in place.

Things were very quiet in that large marbled room, indeed. The only sound was the clicking of his gnarled staff as he came around to look us both over, trapped like flies in a spider's web. Well, that sound and the hammering of my heart in my throat.

"So, intruders, is it?" His voice was whispery with age and the strain of uttering unutterable syllables. But his eyes were certainly clear. They burned their way across my skin, I was certain that he missed no single item that I had hidden about my person. "Intruders who happen to be... well, let us just say that they happen to be in a rather bad way!" he wheezed.

"So, what am I to do with these intruders, eh?" he asked us. Most people in this position would have taken the opportunity to drive some fear into us by describing vivid pictures of our eventual demise. And what he planned to do with the body parts!

Instead he stood between us and put his hands on each of us. What happened next could only be described as a mental rape. Our minds were flooded with images of horror too vivid to describe. Images of us in various states of torture, death, and decay. Have you ever tried to throw up while your muscles were frozen? No, it isn't pleasant.

As I started to choke on my own dinner the wizard came over. "Hehe," he chuckled, "Seems every person I do that to has the same reaction, son." By now my throat was burning and I was beginning to suffocate. "Hard to get air, eh? I would guess, that by about now, your lungs are screaming for some air. Cool, clean air. You will be dying pretty soon, you know?"

The bastard. He was enjoying my suffering. I have never experienced such pain and such anger. Unfortunately my vision was closing in at the edges and I was moments from death. I saw, from the corner of my eye, the old mage make some blurred hand movement and the invisible bands that seemed to have me in their grips dropped away.

I hit the floor trying to clear the vomit from my gullet at the same time as my lungs demanded fresh air. Once my lungs had been satisfied I was seized by spasms of wretching, as my stomach finally got it's own release. Only barely did I perceive that my companion had been treated the same way, as he was laying on the same floor twitching and covered in spew.

The wizard moved past us and up onto his dais. "Well, then, what am I to do? I cannot allow such as this," he used his staff to indicate my friend, "to violate my domain at his will. Certainly not and live."

His gaze came to rest on me. "But you, my young man are something of an enigma. How should I handle you?"

"Well, milord, you can start by taking that staff of yours and… Gack!!" My witty rebuttal was choked off as he paralyzed me again.

"Hmmm….. a spirited one, eh? My boy you have the look of a man too dumb to live beyond the crib, yet here you are. There must be some other factor protecting you." His eyes narrowed as he appraised my equipment again. "Nothing there that would sustain one such as you…." He walked over and laid his hand on my sweaty brow, again I felt the intrusion in my mind, but this time he was pulling information out.

I felt as though I had relived every training session that Master Torvil had put me through. I again passed long hours working with the dagger and rapier at my father's house and relived every single learning instance in my life. All in about two minutes.

"Damnation, boy! You've no special skills about you that could possible keep you alive for long… but something about you just smells wrong." He started to circle my still paralyzed form, looking me up and down, scrutinizing me from head to toe.

Slowly a spark of understanding seemed to creep across his visage. "Ah! So there it is… I can barely see it now. Most interesting. And incredibly strong, too!" With that he snapped his fingers and my magic bonds released. Then he started to summon another magery. I watched, fascinated, knowing that this would be my death, but entranced by the beauty of the process, none the less.

With a sound barely on the edge of hearing a table appeared before me. The mage came to stand at my side and started to explain. "My boy, you are one of the luckiest mundanes I have ever met. I wish to test your luck. On this table are ten daggers. One of them is real, the others are fakes, illusions. I wish you to select one and use it. I will be taking notes here…" He produced a scroll and a quill from amongst his robes.

What the hell? If the old bugger wanted me dead, why didn't he just fireball me? Or the ever popular Energy Bolt? Despite his protests otherwise, I was actually rather clever, or so I thought, and figured that all the daggers were real. The sadistic bastard just didn't want to sully his wrinkled old hands.

Ten daggers were laid out in a circle on the table, points in to the center. All looked exactly identical. I picked one up. Test it, eh? He never said how… and plunged it deep into the old man's chest.

The look of puzzlement that washed across his face was a sight to see. "What the bloody hell? What are you doing, boy?"

"You said to test it, I did!"

"You were supposed to test it on yourself!! Try anoth…" and his eyes rolled back into his head as his body slumped to the floor. Dead. As he died his magery died with him and the remaining nine daggers, all illusions, faded away.

I sat down, hard, on my rump. My head was spinning about me and my ears were ringing from the close brush with death. He had meant for me to use the dagger on myself. I had misunderstood but still managed to grab the right one. I wondered… if I had understood him correctly, would my hand have grabbed a different dagger? There was no way to know.

I'm not sure how long I sat there contemplating my life, but eventually my friend collected me and we made our shaky way out of the mage's castle. We were both too stunned to take much of anything. We had our lives and we glad to have come away with them!

That very week I started looking into luck in all of her forms. I found a wandering priest who talked of the Lady Tymora and her nature. Since then I have been a convert in heart and soul.

So that's it. That's my story. The two events in my life that made me aware of both luck and locks. All else has just been icing on the cake.


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