Merrix placed his hands on the controls for what must have been the 50th time that day. Earlier this day he had made a major breakthrough in the creation process and was eagerly testing out what variations were possible. Before today the creations forged from the device that stood to the top of the 200 foot domed chamber were capable of following direction perfectly, but had not been capable of lucid thought.
It had come to him in his dreams last night, what started out as a nightmare ended in a moment of clear imagery, a simple adjustment to the application of artifice to the device in the chamber over a mile beneath his bedroom. He had verily sprung out of bed and raced to go straight to the forge. And at his age, that had astonished many of his closest servants. The change was simple, and very subtle. After instructing the assistants to load the usual generic materials into the forge, he gripped the controls with great trepidation and willed it to life. When the light finally stopped pulsing from within his creation forge the hatch opened… and the construct within actually emerged on its own! His assistant magewrights scrambled to get their wands out, but Merrix stayed them with an outstretched hand. He cautiously approached the new warforged which stood staring at him, now motionless. When the warforged did not move Merrix spoke,
“Greetings… I am Merrix.”
The warforged did not respond.
With a slight slump of his shoulders Merrix then said,”You will be called ‘T-One’.” An assistant made a note of the designation on a ledger and a second one moved to mark the construct as usual.
Then without so much as a motion the warforged said simply,”T… One.”
The first assistant dropped his ledger and stared slack jawed, the second stopped in his tracks.
Merrix thrust a fist into the air in triumph and stepped forward,”No! Not T-One! You will be known from now on as ‘One’. You are a new starting point for us, my friend.”
The warforged did not respond, clearly lost in the vocabulary.
Merrix held the controls now easily on his 50th run, the first 40 tests were used with mundane materials to ensure he could recreate the process precisely without loss. The last 10 tests had been with their mithral variation, and he was now ready to begin his work with more the most difficult metal, adamantine. At his side his son’s child, who had been given his namesake stood, watching the work with the new discovery.
The elder Merrix looked down at his grandson and said,”Here young Merrix, help me work this lever on the right,” as he pointed to the 4th engage switch on the end of the panel.
The young boy, no more than 6 years of age, smiled up at his grandfather and grabbed it eagerly.
“Now when I tell you, I’ll need you to push the lever forward… and maybe… just maybe… we can create something remarkable together.”
The assistants had just finished closing the compartments on the creation forge that held the raw materials. The wood, the fibrous bundles, the oily liquid they used to grease the joints in the body, and.. the ore used to plate the construct. In this case, adamantine. After they stepped clear of the colossal device, Merrix pushed forward the 1st lever and the device began to glow with the energy applied… then the second lever after which the light grew ever brighter… then the third which caused the material compartments to spill light from the edges….
His grandson shoved the lever forward as he leaned forward on his toes, giving it everything he had with all his childlike exuberance. The light flooded the room and finally faded… the energy easing back and resetting the levers. The hatch opened into the core of the device and a slow fog rolled out as was the norm from the heat of the forging process.
Merrix senior patted his grandson on the shoulder,”Come on, lets see what you made.”
Together they strode to within 20 feet of the hatch and waited. Every warforged created today had emerged on its own and he expected no different. At first nothing, which caused Merrix great concern. Perhaps he’d applied the adamantine too soon? Then he could see a head peer out of the hatch, looking to the sides curiously. ‘That’s a first’ Merrix thought to himself. Then he heard the clank confirming the stepsof the warforged as it began to emerge from the forge. One sounded harder than the last and just as it stepped out its foot caught on the edge and it fell forward onto its face.
His grandson giggled,”He’s clumsy, grandpa.”
“Indeed he is a clumsy one.”
His assistants came over and helped the fallen warforged to its feet.
“You will be known as fi…”
“Tripper!!!!” yelled out his grandson, who broke into another fit of giggles.
“No, boy, his name will be..”
“Tripper…” the warforged mimed.
Elder Merrix rolled his eyes,”A fitting name for you, Tripper.”
“Someone escort my grandson back to the compound, he’s helped enough for one day I think.”
“But I just got here!”
“Not open for discussion.”
With a huff from the boy an assistant led him from the room. Merrix looked from the door where his grandson left, back to Tripper. Then back to the door. Then back to Tripper.
“I think its time for a second experiment today. You, Tripper, will be my grandson’s companion. You will protect him for the entirety of his life, and let no harm come to him unless it befalls you first.”
Tripper didn’t respond, just stared at Merrix blankly.
And so it passed that Tripper was given 3 months of rudimentary motor skill training, 3 months of combat training, and 1 week of extra remedial walking training at the end, before being passed on to the younger Merrix. From that moment on Tripper spent the majority of his time as his guardian and escort, keeping a wither eye at all times on the surroundings. As the younger Merrix grew, he shared much of his curiousity and education with Tripper, who eagerly absorbed it and asked more questions back to which Merrix couldn’t answer.
As time passed and Merrix grew older he attended formal schooling less and had less to share with Tripper. Tripper had less questions as a result and followed his directions to the letter as the decades crawled past. Following Merrix around to various administrative meetings, attending him during stints working the creation forge, and any other activity Merrix undertook. What started out as a childhood friendship turned to a formal arrangement as Merrix grew up.
During the last 2 years Merrix would leave Tripper guarding him outside the rooms he occupied, not inside. This was extremely odd behavior, but Tripper did as he was told and felt more alienated toward Merrix than ever. Often times Tripper would be sent to practice combat training with other warforged and was replaced temporarily by House Cannith human guards at Merrix’s private quarters, which also troubled him.
Finally in 998 YK Merrix brought him into his office… and in short… relieved him of his service to him… permanently.
You are a Warforged. What does that mean? You are a servant of house Cannith. Why? “Do I have a purpose?” you ask yourself. Then you answer, “Of course I do. Whatever the master says, I do it.” But you struggle with that. You don’t really believe it. You tell yourself that because you don’t want to cause trouble. I mean, Baron Merrix d’Cannith, Master, created your kind. He could just as easily destroy you. Besides, you weren’t forced to fight in the War like all your other “brothers.” Your place has been at Master’s side. Overlooking his continued work in spite of the laws against it. Your duty has been to protect him. You’ve done your job well. Even foiled several assassination attempts. You’ve been invaluable to him. So why complicate that relationship by questioning your station? It’s the words of that damnable Lord of Blades. You didn’t mean to hear them in the markets that day. But they sunk into your mind like a hook in flesh and they haven’t left you. In fact, they haunt you. Every day you seem to catch yourself wondering why. Why what? Why everything. Why do you serve these bags of flesh? “No. I cannot think such things. Humans have just as much right to exist as I do.” And the irony of those words echo in your metallic skull like a bellowing Operatic in a concert hall. “Rights.” You realize you said that out loud and, if you could blush, you might have. You quickly glance about. No one heard you. Good. I am supposedly free. Yet I am not. Master continues to do his creating against the law’s will. And I am a major component of this. I keep him safe. What will I do if he is discovered? Do I sacrifice myself to keep him safe? To what end? I am a sentient being. I have a life that has meaning. Why am I not treated as such? Oh, Master rewards me. But I don’t think he truly sees me as anything more than a servant. A thing. He didn’t even ask if I wanted to be released. He just assumed I was happy with my station.
You debate this for a while until you get so angry, you almost begin speaking out. But you collect yourself and retain your post outside the quarters of Baron Merrix dCannith, head of the Southern House d’Cannith. Your shift is almost over for this day and your replacement will arrive in only another hour. You start to think ahead to your trip to the Markets. You heard of a buzz down there and it piqued your curiosity. What could be drawing in so many people to Sharn this day? There are no holidays that I am aware of. For any race.
Just then, the door next to you opens and Merrix steps out.
“Tripper,” he says. “You have been a great asset to me throughout my years. You were one of the first from the forge when my father, Aarren, discovered the secret of your sentience. And you have faithfully stood by me every step of the way.”
He pauses a moment, sizing your reaction. Though Warforged are expressionless, it goes without saying that the descendant of the creator of Warforged and current maker would be able to read them better than any other.
He continues, “So, it is with a heavy heart that I come to you on this day. I am both proud and sad to finally offer you your emancipation from my service. It has been a long time coming, I know. 2 years after the Treaty is inexcusable. I am ashamed of myself, but I selfishly kept you by my side. Those you can trust are extremely hard to come by. But, I am aware now, that you must be given the choice of wether or not you continue to serve me.”
Before you can answer, Merrix continues.
“But, before you leave my service, I’d like to ask one final task of you. You will be paid for this service, of course. And, should you do this for me, I will even set you up with your own dwelling here in Sharn. Free of charge. it will be your final “mission” for me. After said time, if you should choose to stay, you will be an employee of mine, not a servant any longer.”
You stare at him quizzically. “This is odd,” you think to yourself. Merrix has never shown this kind of compassion to me before. What could have given him such a change of heart? But I’d be foolish to neglect such an awesome opportunity. Freedom. A free place to stay. AND the opportunity for employment right away?” No other Warforged you’ve heard of has had such an offer. It’s almost too good to be true. What would be the catch. Then you remember. The “mission.” “Whatever it is, it must be important, and possibly deadly for such a high reward, you think. “But wait. He’s offered me my freedom regardless.”
“What is the mission, Master?” you ask.
“Well, there is this young Artificer under my tutelage. He is not excelling as I think he should be. In fact, I think him to be up to something. As in, he’s hiding something from me.”
He pauses to see if you respond. After you stand staring at him, he continues.
“All i require of you is that you follow him. Watch him. Find out anything you can about him for me. He claims to be “slow.” But I know he is far more intelligent than he lets on. But i need proof. Will you do this for me?”
You agree. Again, you’d be foolish to turn down such a good deal, right? And this sounds simple enough.
You accept the offer and the next day, you catch the Artificer (I don’t know his name yet) leaving the ward, so you tail him. You’re not designed for this kind of work, so it doesn’t surprise you when he notices you following him. But he descends the airlift normally. Either he doesn’t suspect you yet, or he doesn’t care, you don’t know. But you give him some time before you follow.
Once you descend, you can see he is only a short way ahead of you. The crowd is extremely dense and he is moving very slowly. But, he notices you. This time he knows you’re following him. And he scurries away in the sea of people. You lose him. Master will be most unpleased.
But, since you came all this way, you might as well satiate your curiosity, so you push through the crowd toward a man on a makeshift pulpit.
He is making promise of a new life for those whose was shattered by the war. He offers pay and upkeep to any who would join his company. The task is to form up small groups and travel to sections of Khorvaire and eradicate any troubles left from the war. As well, you would be aiding in the keeping of peace as needed. It is the promise of work for those who have no other hope. But not just any person can be in his company. Only those deemed fit to serve will be accepted. He needs 5 groups total. One for each section of the continent. He already has 2. This one will “police” the south and west of Khorvaire.
You look about you, sizing up the faces and notice that almost every race imaginable is represented in the audience. Most are poor, but not all. And then you see him. The Artificer. He appears to be seriously entertaining the notion of the man’s offer.
“Should I continue to follow him?” you think. Or should I report back to MAster now? You decide to wait and see what the Artificer chooses to do.
You see the Artificer shake the man’s hand and follow him to a booth behind where a lady takes over. He begins filling out some paperwork. You take this opportunity to take your leave, unnoticed. You travel back to Merrix and reveal this information. Merrix tells you to continue to follow him as long as you can. Join this Mercenary Wrangler if you have to, you will be compensated in earnest when you come back with pertinent information. And make sure no harm comes of him (the Artificer). I suspect he is destined to be a great name for this house some day.
With that, you return to your station and do some minor repairs. You are interrupted by a knock at your door. You answer and a little female goblin is on the other side.
“Begging your pardon, sir,” she says, “But I’ve been sent to give you some information. The man you seek will be meeting with the Group he is to join in 2 nights back at the Market.”
She speaks in very good Common, better than any Human you’ve heard lately. Even if a little gruff.
You thank her and start to close the door, but she blocks the way. She is staring at you, as though she’s waiting for something. You realize that she is expecting a tip. So you reach behind the door where you keep your tunic (also where she cannot see) and pull out a crown for her. (A GP).
She bites it to check its validity. Satisfied, she bows and skips away. You close the door, shaking your head. “Goblins,” you think to yourself. “Such curious creatures.” And you go back to your work.
Two days pass and you head out to the Market, making sure to go a route the Artificer will not take. You arrive a little early and find a good position in an alley nearby. You see him approach from the South. He does not notice you, but you can tell he’s keeping an eye out for you. So you slink back in the shadows as best you can. It appears the man is about to speak…