Paranor KYD: 9 Immortals
Tristan "Shivers" Wormwood
Tristan “Shivers” Wormwood
My life was peaceful enough when I was a kid. My father raised us on our family farm. Then one night in fall, just before harvest, our farm was attacked by raiders. They broke down our door and held my family at sword-point, grabbed what little money they could find. I was 9 and scared shitless. I hid under my bed. Still don’t know how they didn’t find me. Maybe it was my gift, helping before I even knew it was there.
They burned down our fields and beat my father, mother and two sisters to try to get them to tell where we hid our money. After working them for a few hours, they decided we really were as dirt-poor as we seemed, and they put a blade through my parents bellies and dragged off my sisters. On their way out, they set fire to our house.
I felt things I didn’t understand, not then. All I knew was that I had to find those men and kill them. I traveled for days, sleeping on the side of the road when I couldn’t walk any more, until I found our local militia’s traveling camp. I told them my story and begged them to take me on, to teach me how to kill. For two years I worked as a camp follower, digging latrines and feeding the animals. Then, when I was eleven, our camp was attacked. I made my first kill that night. A giant of a man who would have smashed me into splinters if he had seen me coming. That night, the commander gave me a sword and armor of my own, and I started doing all the things the other soldiers did.
After nine more years of fighting in the militia, I got to the point where I didn’t know how to do anything but the business of killing. I got so damned good at it, I ended up killing one of our own over a game of dice. Five of the men were ordered to take me out into the woods and gut me, but they had known me too long, and no one really cared much for old Black Dow anyways. They let me go on the condition that I wouldn’t come back. I thought that was pretty reasonable.
I got to a city and tried to find work, but figured out pretty quick that I wasn’t good at anything. I burned the bread at the bakery, spooked cattle, couldn’t hammer a nail straight. I tried to work as a guard, but I was broke a man’s arm who bumped in to my boss on the street, and he had to let me go.
So I started drinking, and gambling. And whoring. I got in so many bar fights that pretty soon I had to pay folks to get liquor for me. Even the old Pissing Dog wouldn’t let me in the door.
I woke up one morning in a gutter, not remembering how I got there. All my money was gone and someone had stabbed me. Twice. That’s the morning I decided enough was enough.
The way I saw it I had two choices: find those demons deep down in me and rip em out, or die a penniless homeless drunk.
I went to the temples, but I stank so bad of booze and vomit they all turned me away. Finally after looking for a long time, I met a smiling young man who wasn’t afraid of me. He wore a brown robe. His name was Altair. He took me to the High Mountain Monastery. That was where I learned to control my hate and fear and lust for worldly things. But most of all I learned to control my breath.
They used to dunk us under water until we passed out. And then, when you could hold your breath longer, they would start putting ice in the water…
Every night I ate rice with the other brothers, and often I would be shaking so hard from the ice dunking that half my rice would fall out of my spoon before it reached my mouth. That’s when the new recruits started calling me Shivers. I always smiled at that. I knew they would eventually find out about the ice tub themselves.
My training was painful and continuous, but I taught me to focus my mind and body. After ten years I learned the basic secrets of the monks – to go days without water, weeks without food, how to make my skin hard enough to stop arrows, and other things…
After all my studies, in my heart I knew that there were people suffering in the world. I just woke up one morning and I knew I couldn’t sit there thinking one more day.
My services are free, so long as we do good in this world.