posted by werepug
January 18, 2006, 19:01
Category: Other Characters

As a child, Ben Shettleton led a somewhat privileged life. The only son of a widowed bureaucrat in the service of the King, he lived in and around Court, but his common birth kept him from being a part of it. His father was well liked, and deemed harmless, so Ben was generally uninvolved with the normal dangers and intrigues of the Nobility.

Ben was a bright boy, and his easy nature and charm helped to persuade bored tutors, so frequently spurned by their official charges, to provide him lessons on a wide range of subjects. One such tutor, known for spotting children with magical talent, pronounced him gifted, and arranged a position for him as an apprentice to the King’s own Mage. His father was a bit confused, but proud of Ben for this accomplishment, pleased that his son could bring such honor to their name.

As one of eight human apprentices of varying ages, Ben was instructed by a journeyman wizard that had served before him. Haxton d’Alnay was noble-born, and bitter for the drudgery that his apprenticeship had forced upon him. He took every opportunity to vent that bitterness on his charges, especially on Ben Shettleton. Ben got special treatment because, despite his supposed potential, he just couldn’t seem to progress in his studies. The spellbooks, the grimoires, the scrolls, all were gibberish. The simplest of cantrips seemed beyond him. As the months rolled by, Ben became more and more frustrated, and Haxton’s constant mockery didn’t help.

One night, in a dive bar near the harbor, Ben had worked himself into a real lather complaining to his friends. They were as drunk as he was, and were entertaining themselves by egging him on. Unfortunately, Haxton and a few companions had chosen that night to slum, and walked into the bar during a particularly nasty outburst on Ben’s part. An argument started, words were exchanged, hands went to daggers, and suddenly a green blob flew from Ben’s hand and struck Haxton in the face. All was confusion after that – Haxton was dragged screaming from the bar by his friends, and Ben bolted for the back door.

It didn’t take the Guard long to find him, passed out in a doorway. Ben woke in an odd cell, alone. Hung-over and scared, he was still amazed to find some kind of invisible force-wall just outside of the bars. An hour passed, and the single door opened to two visitors: the King’s Mage, and his father.

His father started the conversation, after staring at his son for a few long minutes. He told Ben that Haxton was never in any real danger, but the blob of acid that Ben had conjured had left a scar that wasn’t likely to fade. His father had burned up every bit of political pull that he had left to counter the d’Alnay family’s attempts to have the young man put to death. The aging bureaucrat stood, dropped a small bag of gold on the bench, and said that he had to get back to work, reconstructing his destroyed career. Ben was to be leaving soon, and he wasn’t to come back.

Ben’s father left the room, closing the door behind him. After a moment, the mage stood, and began a spell. Ben felt an intrusion into his mind, and hastily tried to defend himself. His defenses were shredded painfully in a second’s time, and he stood, rigid, while his thoughts were read. To this day, he fears thought-reading, and searches for stronger and stronger defenses against it.

The mage sat and contemplated the young man. After a few moments, he spoke:

“You, son, are a problem. You are no mage, and you never will be, given your performance to date. However, you obviously can tap power. You have no control over it, which makes you dangerous. So, since you aren’t to be killed, we must find something to do with you.

I have a colleague near Fairhaven that has agreed to take you in. He suspects that you may be trained as a sorcerer, an odd and distasteful branch of magic. True mages distrust those who attempt to shape magical energies without the guidance of the written word, but if it will bring your “talent” under control, I suppose I won’t be blamed for creating another one. You will travel under guard to Fairhaven, and you will speak to no one on your way. You will take the clothes that you wear, and the gold your father has left for you, and you will stay away from this Court. Aside from the embarrassment your presence would cause your father, a formerly well-respected servant of the King, you will likely be an assassin’s target once the d’Alnays can organize themselves.

By the word of the King, you are no longer welcome in this Court, Ben Shettleton. Do try to avoid shaming your father further.”

And with that, he left.

The trip to Fairhaven was uneventful. He was delivered to a small cottage by members of the Guard, who only left after he entered the open door. It shut behind him, leaving him alone in a comfortable, two-room home. After a minute or two, a trap door opened in the middle of the seamless floor, and an old man in stained work-robes popped nimbly up the ladder. He took a look at Ben, rubbed an oversized pendant, and said, “By Boccob, you’ll do. Come on, I need you work the bellows.” And he scrambled back into the hole.

Thus began Ben’s real apprenticeship. His new master was the rarest of magic-users: a mystic theurge. His life was devoted to Boccob, God of Magic, and his research focused on the fusing of arcane and divine energies. He took Ben in, taught him the mental disciplines that allowed him to shape spells, and worked him to exhaustion. They worshiped together in the little cottage, ate together, and rarely saw another person. Supplies were mysteriously delivered from town, and Ben saw to the cooking and cleaning. It was a good life, and a simple one, for which Ben was grateful.

Eventually, Ben was pronounced a sorcerer, if an inexperienced one. He expressed an interested in following his mentor’s path, learning the divine powers in addition to the arcane. This interest was encouraged, but he was told that he must go out into the world and find a practical use for his magic before he could properly appreciate the blessing that Boccob had given him. When he was ready, he could return, and be dedicated in the Deity’s service.

So one morning, Ben left the cottage with his bag of gold in hand, and walked into town, as near a stranger to it as any other traveller. He would prove himself to the world, and perhaps to his father. And so he did.

Joined by familiar, Ellis the weasel.

Ben and Ellis, image (c) Kristin Johnson

Character sheet: Ben Shettleton [Sorcerer/Cleric of Boccob]
Companion sheet: Ellis [Weasel Familiar]
(Originally played by Mike)