A human from the streets of New Baronage who has been changed into a cat folk, he is deadly with his kukris
Corby’s life began when thieves in the city of New Haven came across the bodies of a farmer couple stuffed in an alleyway. Even though anything of value had probably been stripped by the murderers, the thieves halfheartedly chased away the ravens that had been feasting.
Nothing of value was found, but a live baby had been carelessly tossed in with the adults. One of the thieves was a woman who had lost a child and she took the boy as a replacement, naming after the birds decorating his parents.
He grew up trained in the ways of thieving, his many surrogate fathers and mothers delighting the child in the feats of the art. With his quickness in learning, he became an exceptional thief, specializing in breaking and entering. Nothing gave him more pleasure than walking through a room containing someone sleeping and reliving them of their wealth.
One day as he was casing his next job, he noticed a commotion starting up in a market square. Drifting over to it, he noticed several of the pickpocket squad working their trade while people were distracted. After a brief professional acknowledgment, he ignored them.
Two people were faced off against each other. One was a typical fighter, chain mail and a long sword, more brawn than brains. The other was a smaller man, had no armor and was armed with daggers.
The time for words was over by the time Corby had arrived and the weapons came out. The oaf wielded his long sword with impressive skill. It never hit though. He was always swinging in the wrong place. The smaller man’s dagger bit into his opponent over and over though.
After every hit, the smaller fighter calmly asked his enemy if he had had enough. The oaf was past the point of backing down and kept attacking.
Soon it was over, the oaf was bleeding his life out into the city streets. Corby was shocked when the victor turned away and started walking down the street without looting the body. By the Gods, there was a full purse hanging off of the fallen fighter’s belt in plain sight!
He dashed up, dodging people with ease, grabbed the purse before other greedy hands got a hold of it and took off after the fighter. Quickly he caught up and got the man’s attention.
“Sir, you left this behind” He said, helpfully holding out the purse.
The knife fighter reached down to his belt and felt that his coin pouch was still there. “Where did that come from boy?”
Bristling at being called a boy, but putting the insult aside, “You didn’t take the purse from your foe. I brought it to you.”
The fighter glared. “Son, that fight was over honor, not robbing him.” Seeing the puzzled look on Corby’s face, he sighed “His body has been stripped hasn’t it?”
Glancing around, the man held out his hand for the purse. Corby gave it to him, happy that his universe had come back to being normal.
“Kind brother and sister,” the fighter walked over to a pair of Moon Clerics. “There is a man down the street that needs some physicians to tend to him. Please use this purse to help him out would you?”
The clergy blessed the man and they hurried off to tend to the wounded man.
Once again Corby was stunned. This man was crazy not taking money that was his.
He caught up to the man once more. When he was noticed, the fighter stopped again.
“What? You find another purse?”
“Um, no, ah, I was, uh, wondering about your fighting style.” He stammered.
“What about it?”
“I, uh, would like to learn how to fight like that.”
“Ah.” The man thought for a bit. “Let me see your blade.”
Corby pulled out his knife, a small thing, better used for thieving and menacing fruits than killing and handed it over.
“Small, but well cared for. Sharper than my ex-wife’s tongue too.” He paused to think some more. “I will teach you, but you will learn how to fight honorably, not gut someone in an alley for their purse. You understand that?”
Corby nodded ecstatically.
The man told Corby to address him as ‘Knife’ or ‘Master’. He gave the young man directions and told Corby to meet him the next morning.
Corby thought to learn everything quickly, perhaps in a few months or at most a season. He stayed with Knife nearly a year and a different world was opened to him. Not only did he become a proficient knife fighter, the concept of honor was introduced and in many cases, beaten into him. One of his lessons was weekly attendance to the temple of Pamora. Corby came to respect the God’s tenants and became a worshipper.
Knife stated one day that he could teach his student no more. He recommended Corby develop his skills in real combat. Knife also recommended that Corby travel more, perhaps to the larger city eastward so that he could see different fighting styles.
“Lad,” he began, “you have great skill and talent, perhaps too much. You have spirit and confidence aplenty, perhaps too much. You are a young man and a bit of cautious prudence might keep you alive long enough to reach the greatness you want and are capable of. I can’t be there to give it to you. But I can do something for you that might help. I have something for you.” Saying this, Knife pulled a green enameled box from his pack. He gave it to Corby and sat quietly waiting for it to be opened.
Corby paused long enough to ensure it was not another test then opened it. Within there were two small blades, similar to daggers, but different in design and employment. The kukris had white sharkskin leather bound grips. Fine filigree etched the polished blades in a complex but seemingly random pattern. Each hilt ended in a silver feline or weasel like head and two small ruby gems were set in the eye sockets.
To Corby’s inquiring look, Knife answered, “These kukris are have said to come from a land far to the south of the Great Marsh, but I have never confirmed that. The previous owner said they had a secret. He did not know what the secret was and he said that he never used them, fearing a curse or flaw.”
“I have never used them either. But you are young and vain in your own way. So, I give you this gift and, akin to the blades, this gift has two edges. The weapons as you can see are of the highest quality and are beautiful in a way that only a perfect weapon can be. But they are unique and assuming that you can master them, they will identify you. Further, that they bear a secret, of that I have no doubt. That means something unknown that might reveal itself in the worst possible moment.”
Corby’s teacher stood and shouldered his pack. He held out his hand to shake and said “Farewell Corby.” addressing his apprentice as a man. To Corby, that was a sign that he had graduated. He also found a ring in his hand after the handshake. It was cast bronze with the center filled with gold. It had the inscription “Live Honorably but with Discrimination” On the face was the raised depiction of an acorn on a scroll.
Knife left, heading east. Corby never saw or heard from him again. While Corby gave up the thieving lifestyle, he kept in touch with his thief contacts. He worked as a bouncer at several taverns and did some caravan guard duty for merchants making runs to the East. In doing so, he developed a few contacts in New Baronage and soon became a frequent courier, making runs between New Haven and New Baronage. On one of these runs was where he met the group from Kilm.