Deep Gnome Thief
As a young Svirfneblin, Halkin lived among family and a small community of his kind in the Underdark. His group never came into touch with the outside world, to his knowledge now, and numbered only around 30 gnomes. He remembers the regular tension of his family and friends coming into contact with monsters of the deep, and the ever-present fear of the Drow threat, but his childhood was not an unhappy one. He remembers little of that time now, only foggy visions and things which he suspects may be actual falsehoods, remnants of an imagination.
Early in his life his community was set upon by Drow raiders. In one chaotic scrum, his life was shattered and all of his family and friends captured or murdered. All around him, death and screams. A blur. His mother, missing, his father on the ground. Rushing to his side he saw his last breath of life, and took a small dagger from his hand to defend himself. Some few gnomes managed to flee that bloody attack and elude capture for days after. On the run in the Underdark, though, they were one-by-one lost to monster attack, pitfall, or mystery, and Halkin was left alone. During one of the last, perilous assaults in that confusing time, a rock collapse revealed that he was closer to the surface world than ever he realized; a shaft of light exposed just above his head showing a path to escape. He headed above ground with only his tattered clothes and his father’s dagger.
In the time that followed, Halkin lived on the outskirts of cities and in their gutters and back alleys. He observed the lives of lowly people and survived on scraps and hastily stolen objects. Few ever saw him, for he traveled only at night and stayed well-hidden during the day. Some years later, his habit of occupying dangerous and dank areas of cities led him to attempt a robbery of a facility which had already been targeted by the local guild of thieves. In that raid, he was captured, taken to the local guild master and questioned. That man saw the obvious gifts of the young gnome and pressed him into service as a burglar.
At first, Halkin was a prisoner, and he realized the fear and mistrust that the other thieves had for him and his kind. His skin was different, he was not even like other gnomes he came into contact with. Still, he was better able to begin making sense of himself and his value in the world amongst the other rogues and vagabonds whose skills he quickly eclipsed. In the years that followed he earned the respect and even admiration of his peers and was released from the initially-constrictive arrangement pressed on him by the guild, and he wandered freely outside and to other cities.
Over those years he learned to keep from sight, and to use grease paint to camouflage his face and hands when traveling during the day. The world is suspicious of such a creature, and he is suspicious of them. He wanders, a man without a home or family, from city to city, his stomach twisted with an unresolved rage of tragedy, a lust for gold, but a basic (perhaps genetic) code which prevents him from straying to desperate murder or other truly heinous acts. In quiet reflection he knows that he has killed, he has stolen, he has lied. He knows he does more harm in the world than good. But what else is his lot? He must have survived for some reason. Grasping that last relic of his past – his father’s blade – he wonders if he may ever see a Drow again, if he could get his revenge, if some of his kin might still be alive as slaves below him somewhere. It’s that thought that keeps him learning, that keeps him angry, that keeps him alive. One day he may see those elves again, and on that day he must be ready.
He now finds himself in Wrackweed Bay, a city of his distant relatives, sticking mostly out of sight to avoid attention. He senses that something portentous has brought him to this backwater amongst the insufferably chipper surface Gnomes. He awaits what that portent might bring.