4 True & 1 False, you decide which is which…
• Cherno deals are never what they seem
• Cherno is willing to listen and help anyone
• Cherno once out negotiated one of the Fey
• Cherno has led others to their death
• Cherno has powerful friends
Cherno, named for the darkness of his skin, was the son of a fire genasi, Pyra. Like his mother, the smell of brimstone followed him, and his heritage was apparent when stressed or emotional. Pyra’s features were considered rather hot both literally and figuratively. She was an exceptional entertainer who, after what she calls a ‘cold streak’ in her youth found a lucky break (made a deal with Hades) and became renown for both her beauty and skill. She is known for her hot headed ways, a fiery passion in the way she tells stories, and the mesmerizing way she moves. More than a few men had been burned trying to touch her, and a few woman too. Her features were made more obvious by the fact that an almost endless amount of smoke wisps followed her around, and it added something extra when she danced during her plays.
Her flamboyant style changed drastically when Cherno was a toddler. He had some strange fascination with the flames, and her burning long hair. With his constant attempts to make her emotional, be it good or bad, and his annoying habit it to argue with loopholes in any argument (even so young) she found it harder and harder to control her burning nature. As he aged though, her stress started growing when he would make comments about seeing people, who had been recently deceased. She was used to drawing attention, but not /this/ kind of attention.
Because of this, she chopped her hair into a fire ball/pixie cut and started trying to attract less attention. Cherno continued to have a fascination with loopholes, the flames, and the dead. This was the furthest thing from what Pyra wanted. Enough so that she moved from Fire Port to Beggar’s Hole with Cherno. There, where everything was always on fire, and nobody really questioned anything, she was finally able to relax a little. By this point Cherno was around 5 years old. He was proficient with Common, and she had started teaching him the language of her mother, Primordial. He was proving himself a quick learner in everything to do with language. Be it writing, reading, or speaking. He also was starting to show some physical characteristics of his father (Hades), which she kept playing off as different djinn genes. It was when he lost his temper on one of his teachers. Rather than the normal red/orange flames the fire genasi are known for, he flared blue. Later, this would prompt a lot of questions to Pyra about Cherno’s father, and exactly who he was.
She told everyone she didn’t know the father well, and it was a dalliance during her days in the plays. She was careful to keep her stage name concealed, and to keep all questions away from Cherno’s prying eyes.
Cherno continued to work on his studies, and work with Pyra to keep a cool head (literally, he didn’t have his flaming hair unless he was emotional!) Pyra learned to be able to accurately judge his emotional stress based on the flames/smoke coming off of him. The usual black brimstone smoke in normal situations, the light blue flames when he was getting emotional (this often showed up when he was really invested in good literature and riddles), and the hot red of the genasi when he became fired up.
Otherwise Cherno was continuing to be more and more interested in language, and the art of the deal. He started talking with the travelers to see any texts they had on them. Be it scholarly, religious, or mundane texts.
It was when Cherno was nine that he found his real passion with languages. One of the kids at school was fascinated with the nice set of quills he had received as a gift from his mother and one of his teachers. The kid wanted to see his quill, and Cherno wasn’t sure if he would get it back. The kid, a dragonborn, was considerably stronger and physically faster than Cherno. So Cherno struck him a deal, he would give him a quill if the other kid (Fighter) would make sure nobody bothered him for a month. When Pyra heard word of this, Cherno was scolded harshly. And he learned a couple of lessons.
When making deals, make sure he has a way to win. In every way.
Make his deals good enough that his mother doesn’t mind/know.
Be careful of an angry Pyra.
Becoming more and more careful in how he made his deals, he started finding things working better and better for him. He started making deals for not just protection, but also for knowledge. He realized how much power he had when he knew the other kids secrets. He also learned people would trade secrets for secrets, but that came at a great risk. If the secret was out, he could lose the trust of others, and that secret could become worthless. So he kept making deals – trying his best to offer services for secrets. Sometimes he would help people find other people to do things for them. He even, on one special valentines day, played matchmaker between two people who secretly had feelings for each other. The best part of that deal, is he got juicy secrets about both of their parents – who had a mutual friend.
This deal was the best and worst he made. The secrets they exchanged happened to be about a “family friend” who, as it turned out, was an informant for the Shadow Guild. When the new couple was visiting at one of the houses, the family friend happened to show up. Upon the recognition by all parties, that there was a connection here – how exactly this dragonborn and dwarf had a ‘friend’ in common with a drow. When it was mentioned that they had told a school friend, the drow went to speak with him directly.
Cherno was terrified. First, the Drow harshly punished him for having the knowledge. He was kept talking to the Drow about every secret he knew, and interrogated about every piece of knowledge he had collected (Cherno had long started recording things, and having others sign to their authenticity – to verify that it was true and they said it.) Every single scrap of paper was dragged out, and Cherno was kept there for two days and two nights.
At the end, the Drow realized he could use someone like Cherno, and with some work, Cherno could prove very useful. Outside the fey, the Drow had not met someone so careful with words and contracts. Cherno had also proved himself very adept at making contracts that consistently benefitted him. He left after going through all of Cherno’s belongings and said nothing more.
Back at school, both children didn’t show up for a week. When they did, they didn’t look well. Nobody outright said anything, but rumors stated both children had been punished severely for telling the parents secrets. Both Pyra and Cherno were looked at with a stern disapproving eye from that point forward. Shops would refuse to sell to them if Pyra was even a little late or early to arrive. Their quality of life decreased severely. It got so bad, Pyra knew she had to do something. It was around this time the Drow came back and introduced himself as Xytiss, The Shadow. Under the cover of night, they all left to go towards the Dragon’s Tail. There, they found a little bog that was always on fire – called Tângors.
This is how they ended up moving to Tângors just before Cherno was 13. Here they had no reputation, and were once again treated well. Cherno kept up his studies, though this bog hardly had the teachers of Beggar’s Hole. He also kept trading secrets, but made sure to swear his ‘friends’ to silence this time. Pyra did notice a few other things. Since the events of Beggar’s Hole, Cherno really didn’t have friends like he used to. He also seemed to regard people as marks, and not as individuals anymore. The spark of life was still there, but there was something almost malicious about it. He was still talking to everyone, and trying to learn – but it almost seemed like a desperate need to get more information. She was worried, he seemed to be learning because he was scared and there was nothing she could do.
Doing her best, she continued to try and impress the importance of relationships, of meaningful friends, and of being a good person. Cherno didn’t seem to care as much anymore. All of his free time was spent looking over his books, and writing in his journals. His greatest loves were his quills and journals. He did seem to light up whenever Xytiss would wander through town; always stealing Cherno away. Sometimes for a few hours, sometimes for a few days. She was constantly thankful that his visits were few and far between.
This continued for a few years, and life seemed to settle down. Pyra got working again, this time helping to teach children. The years of performance and play-acting allowed her to capture the imaginations of the children. Cherno was almost bitter at the attention she gave the other children, but also jealous over the children’s ability to see her in such a revering light. He had lost a lot of faith and respect for her when she had not come to save him from Xytiss. He now knew he could only count on himself for protection. With his physical disposition, that meant making deals with others for it. He now traded secrets for favors. At any time, he knew others, even some adults, owed him. He started getting confident, if not over confident. He had plans running all the time, and was trying to get everyone to play along in his game. He also had his special game from Xytiss. To make deals with others in such a way, that they were indebted to him. These deals, and learning the wording for this, was a challenge for Cherno. It was a small town, and event the people here knew not to make open ended deals. A promise of a favor was one thing, a long term promise in exchange for something was another thing entirely. It was at the age of 15 he made his first real one. Through some of the kids, he had learned that one of the dragonborn had been slowly stealing from the Ancient Red Dragon of this land. When bringing offerings, Kiva had been taking the odd jewel, gold piece, or (hopefully) magical item. One of the kids noticed Kiva’s daughter (Bright-Eyes) had a new necklace. Cherno recognized it for what it was from his reading, an Elven circlet. It was on one dark, nearly moonless night, that Cherno approached him about it. After a long discussion about who could hear about it, and an agreement that the possible consequences of that, that Cherno made his first pact. Kiva could continue doing what he was doing, without Cherno telling anyone he didn’t trust to keep the secret, if and only if, he would do any one thing without question when Cherno asked. Kiva, knowing he was talking to a kid, figured this was a fair deal. Upon their agreement, the air seemed to shift. This was a real pact. Cherno loved the feeling of this.
He was still alive with this power, and this pact when his 16th birthday came around. He was so focused on his pact with Kiva, that his mother offering to tell him a bit about his father completely blindsided him. He was dumbfounded and awestruck. She had never mentioned anything about his father. He had overheard that she met him while working in the plays but never anything more. So, he sat down to listen. They made tea, sat quietly, and waited until night to be at its peak. She mentioned that she had heard him say he was out enjoying the moon a short while ago (on the night of his pact with Kiva) when there was no known moon. She also knew that meant his fathers nature was coming more and more to light (as it were). So, upon waiting for the dead of night, she began to tell him the story of how she met his father.
When she was young, about the same age he is now, she was trying to make it as a performer in the plays. She was good, but nobody really cared to see a fire genasi perform. There was nothing special about what she did. She was attractive, sure. But so were many others. That all changed one day, when a strange man was in the audience. There was nothing overtly different about him, but at the same time, he was not the same as everyone else. She knew something was different about him. So she put on the most brilliant dance she could. She moved as though she was one with the smoke coming off of her, her hair flared up with her intensity and emotion, the very air around her waving with her heat. She lost herself in the performance, but when she was done – it was everything she could hope for. People were applauding, and the strange but yet more than human man was standing and applauding. She got off stage to enjoy her audience, and their praises. That is when he touched her hand. It chilled her to the bone, but set her soul on fire. They had a nice dinner, but never stopped touching, be it the holding of hands, a hand on a shoulder, or interlocked arms. They talked for hours. It wasn’t until the night was at its darkest that she noticed he definitely had something supernatural about him. This man definitely seemed unnatural, and that was coming from the offspring of a djinn. It was then that he made her an offer. An offer she would think about every day after. He said he could make her every performance as impactful as that nights, if she would do one thing for him – be his for the night. His intent was clear, and the offer seemed too good to be true. Try as she might, she could not say no to what she wanted so much (zone of truth). So the offer was made, and the night spent. When the next day came, he was gone without as much as a wisp of smoke. She would not hear nor see from him again until 9 months later. In the agony of childbirth he would show again, and confess to being one of the old gods. He also gifted her a book, to be passed to her son. It would only attune to someone who shared his blood.
Cherno spent the rest of the night, and the better part of the next month thinking of this new information. He would write every detail, ask every question he could think of and write again. He had the book on him at all times, but never once dared to open it.
It was only a few months later that Xytiss made his rounds into town. When they went to their usual place, an hour’s walk out of town, that Cherno excitedly told him what was done. Xytiss was impressed, and saw that his hunch may not have been misplaced. With a glint in his dark eyes, he decided it was time to prepare Cherno for his quest. In a long, kind of circular and confusing talk, Xytiss mentioned he had friends in a guild. A guild that would be interested in the kind of skills Cherno seemed to be developing. They would help him continue to develop them, if he would help them. But membership was not easy, not for everyone, and rarely considered. It also always came at a price. In this case, his would be to add the Ancient Red Dragon of this land, Balagos, to his book. Yes, Xytiss knew of his birth right. It is hard for one as powerful as his father to walk the lands without being noticed, and as The Shadow, it was Xytiss’ job to know all things.
Xytiss left Cherno in their meeting spot. A dark part of the bog left usually smoldering. Not three hours journey from the Dragon’s Tail. Cherno sat here for most of the rest of the day. In that time he eventually opened the book, to see it had entities already listed… Or more accurately gifted to him. It was a Book of Pacts. It gave him the ability to make contracts in the name and powers of beings so much more powerful than him. It also had a message from his father:
To the son of death and flame,
A gift from the father to blame.
This book of pacts gives great power,
The kind that makes fearsome men cower.
While holding this book you will see,
All written languages are available to thee.
When in combat take a moment and yield,
For an enemies’ type and challenge will soon be revealed.
Use this book of contracts and pacts,
Making sure to only deal on facts.
Binding another takes a ritual,
Though their presence can be spiritual.
When making a ritual you will feel,
The need to speak only a truthful deal.
The time to bind is one hour,
Or else the ritual does go sour.
Failure to do so will make you weep,
For unconscious you will fall deep.
When an accord among parties is met,
You will receive a passive and active effect.
The passive gift that is cast,
Is always of the entity last.
But consistency is dealings are wise,
For repeat deals strengthens ties.
Warlocks you can make while you travel,
Empowering the common folk or ravel.
Meet with them in the entities’ place of desire,
And powers of the patron they will acquire.
This advice I leave to you,
Until your intent does ring true.
I leave this gift from the gods among men,
Until our path should cross again.
Cherno spent quite a bit of time reading those powerful words, understanding that in them was powerful magic, a promise to meet again, and some instructions – ten.
When he had digested just what the book was, he finally set on the path home. He started planning what he would do. As he crossed over the last stretch of path towards his house, he could see his mother was in tears. She came running up to him, holding him tight. Through teary eyes and a shaky voice, she kept telling him how worries she was that Xytiss had done something to him. He did his best to reassure her, and let her know that he was simply trying to help Cherno find a path in this life. Cherno, as he was saying this, realized he was really coming to trust and appreciate his relationship with the man who called himself “The Shadow”.
For a month Cherno planned, often at night with a low burning candle. He wanted to figure out how he could make such a pact with a dragon. An hour was a long time to be with one without being burned or eaten. How was he going to convince such a creature? His experience had told him one thing. He needed to make an offer, a deal. Something to attract it’s attention. So he let time continue to pass as he listened to everything he could hear and learn about the dragon. He learned of how it zealously held on to treasure, how it guarded its territory (surprisingly, this entire land mass!) and how it had many cities and districts under its thumb.
Eventually Xytiss came back, and they continued their discussions. Cherno was initially nervous he would be in trouble for not having acted yet, but it seemed to actually be in his favour. The Shadow was pleased that Cherno knew the importance of waiting for the most opportune time, and the value of patience. Cherno found himself more pleased than he thought he should have been, but was lifted with that praise. He refocused his efforts into finding exactly how to best get what he wanted. Then he remembered the pact he had made with Kiva. This inspired a new line of thinking, and with it – he bought himself a new book to record very specific details.
Cherno started recording all the dealings he could with the people of Tângors, and how they may relate to the dragon’s belongings. Being as near as they were to the Dragon’s Tail, it wasn’t hard to start seeing the patterns of increased wealth after the caravans of peddlers and sellers went through. People obviously had something to sell, and Cherno realized it likely wasn’t their belongings. Very slowly, over the span of the following year he started making detailed records of who sold what. He worked his way into the good graces of the usual traveling caravans so they would reveal the goods they received and (sometimes) who sold them. Then over the next year, he started approaching these people and making the same dangerous, but calculated, deals with them as he did Kiva. Soon he had 6 people who owed him an unconditional favor in the future. It was not long after that that he finally spoke to Xytiss of his plan.
Xytiss laughed at the gall and cunning of this young genasi. But was interested to see what would happen.
On the first day of working, in the last month of the fire season, Cherno prepared his plan. He got his items packed, and let his mother know he was going to travel with some of the townsfolk the following day. She seemed taken back, but he was 18 now. She considered herself lucky he had not left yet. Cherno then, very discretely, informed all of the people he had made a pact with, that they were going to go on a trip. He promised it would be less than a days journey. They would be going to see the dragons nest, and where they had been taking items from. He assured them they wouldn’t spend too much time there, and their business would be concluded in enough time that the journey home would be within the same day. Unable to disagree without raising alarm, they all made their preparations.
Then, on the 4th day in the month of Planning, they set off. Cherno and 6 of the townsfolk. They reached the dragon’s nest in 5 hours of travel. It was a path well known to his traveling companions. What none, but Cherno, were ready for was the dragon to be there and waiting for them. Cherno had sent a notice the week prior, on the day of Prosperity, to inform the dragon that he bring him a gracious gift. Here is was, with that gift.
Full of fear, and unable to take a step further, Cherno did his best to calm his shaking voice and make his offer. He wanted to add the noble dragon to his book, so that he may call upon its power. But he did not offer this without an offering of his own. As a sign of good faith, he had brought with him the people who had been stealing from the dragon. With that, he pointed towards his companions and offered the book of records to the dragon – including the signed pacts from the people confirming the authenticity. With that, his pact with the companions was done. And they ran. But not nearly fast enough to escape the enraged dragon.
The recently dead companions cried out in front of Cherno. Due to his heritage, and part of his birthright of being a child of Hades, Cherno could see, hear, and speak with them. He carefully explained to them that he had kept up his end of the promise. He had told nobody he didn’t trust to keep the secret – the dragon certainly wasn’t going to tell anyone. Nor were they. He was still easily within the days journey from home. All conditions of the agreement had been fulfilled.
With his theft problem quickly taken care of, the dragon returned to his place on his hoard. The dragon watched with interest as this genasi spoke with, what appeared to be, the corpses of his dead friends. Balagos could tell that Cherno had not only tricked them, but was able to justify how he was in the right for doing so. When the genasi was done, he faced the dragon once again.
Cherno had not moved a step. The dragon put his head down and gestured for Cherno to continue, and so he did. The second offer was that he would make contracts and pacts in the great dragon’s name. These would give others a small portion of the dragon’s power, in exchange for being indebted and/or in servitude to the dragon. Cherno was to be the author of such pacts, not dissimilar to how the warlocks get their magic. He was very clear that the dragon would not be the only entity he can and would make pacts with, but that the dragon could be one of the ones he offered pacts with. This would allow his influence to grow, as Cherno had no intent to stay on the Fire Isles.
The dragon first laid down, and laughed. His laughter brought up great billows of smoke that made Cherno cough. Thanks to his fire genasi ancestry he did not feel much of the heat. But he did still need to breathe. After some time, most of it spent ignoring the recently deceased travelling companions protests and anger, the dragon stopped laughing and musing. It agreed to Cherno’s deal, and thus Cherno performed the ritual as outlined in his cobalt blue book. This, his first real taste of magic, added Balagos to his book.
Cherno set off back towards Tângors, walking steadily even as the sun set. His dual heritage made seeing in the dark rather easy, if not interesting. Everything would take on hints of red. Much to his surprise, he ran into Xytiss on the way. It turns out the Drow had watched the entire exchange, and Cherno had passed his test. They were not going to return to his home this night, as that would raise suspicion. Instead Xytiss gave Cherno the seal of the Shadow Guild, and was going to escort him back to Fire Port so he could head to Port City and make his initiation into the Shadow Guild official. There, he would also learn the ways of the documancer – though Xytiss would share with him what he knew along the way.
14th of Planting, 347 p.s.
Cherno of Tangors takes off from the Fire Isles to Port City on the orders of a high ranking member of the Shadow’s Guild. While checking out a local inn, and being swindled by the innkeeper, he ends up gaining the help of an unlikely glaive wielding ally. While attempting to leave Fire Port he is attacked by some unknown Dragoon assassins. After defeating them he leaves for Port City. Upon arriving he joins the Shadows Guild officially and is tasked with infiltrating the Temples Guild. He “joins” then temple of Knowledge setting up his alternate identity.
15th & 16th of Planting
Cherno investigates the craziness of the Seed Sowing Festival, and assists the Temple Guild is their official capacity of giving out blessings. While wondering around he meets a Bardic Merchant with many amazing magical instruments for sale. Cherno purchased a set of small finger cymbals in remembrance of his mother. He also manages to run into an enchanter who’s items were out of his price range but the merchant gives him a crystal to summon him at a later point. After seeing a young warrior performing some sort of good luck ritual, Cherno uses his Book of Pacts to bind this young man to the Ancient Red Dragon, Balagos.
17th of Planting
Arpeggio, Alsaphat, Cherno, and Bob set off in search of a dangerous new drug that seems to be killing those who take it, including many children. This task was assigned to them by a harmless looking matron who runs an orphanage in the Docks District. 3 major gangs in town seem to be the obvious suspects and the 4 adventurers do their best to uncover what could be going on. They end a robbery early and further investigate the drugs but can’t find a connection between them and the gangs anywhere. Being to suspect foul play they head back toward the orphanage to find they have been misled and betrayed. The final battle that takes place nearly claims their lives as they take down 2 powerful foes in the orphanages basement.
18th of Planting
Today Cherno headed to the Temple of Justice and he offers his services as a litigator and case investigator. The temple says they will call him if they have need of him. After leaving the temple he runs into Bob and meets with Salem, one of the priestesses of the Raven Queen’s Temple. He makes introductions between them and leaves. Cherno agrees to treat Salem to a meal to discuss how he can get a meeting with the Raven Queen to add her to his Book of Pacts. Salem says that if Cherno agrees to help Bob in his quest she will do this for him. He agrees and the meeting takes place between them. The Raven Queen and Cherno are able to strike a deal and they part ways.