D&D: Backstory Development

To help me deal with the fact that there are several weekends in between sessions, I have been writing Basile’s backstory for Eddie to work with when we move forward.

However, as a writer, I can’t just write a simple backstory. No. I have to write a 65 page backstory including several developed scenes.

Oops. At least it gives me something creative to do while I wait for the next session, and keeps my writing juices flowing.

I’m still in the process of editing, but I will eventually post the entire backstory to read when it’s 100% finished! Until then, enjoy the first short story in Basile’s backstory novella:

Eythan woke up earlier than usual.

The house was silent except for the gentle hum of the wood furnace trying to keep out the bitter chill. He rolled onto his side and curled into a ball, burrowing under the thick fleece blanket. Winter mornings in Modelheim were always unbearable until the sun poked over the mountains and warmed up the earth.

A loud snore broke the silence. Eythan peeked out from under the covers to stare at his brothers sharing the bunk bed at the opposite end of the room: Tomas the sleep-talker and Judah the snorer. He could barely see Tomas on the bottom, wrapped in a cocoon of blankets with only the top of his strawberry blond hair poking out. Meanwhile, Judah was practically hanging over the edge of the top bunk, his mouth open and drooling as he let one arm dangle.

Beside them, the door to their room was cracked open – most likely from their mother checking on them periodically in the middle of the night. She had picked up the habit shortly after Eythan’s horns started growing in. He didn’t like to think about how his mom may be a little afraid of him.

Eythan could see the faint glow of light from in the hall seeping in through the crack. This was not unusual. His Dad always woke up before dawn to get ready for the day. He was careful to be as quiet as possible as he cooked breakfast, allowing everyone else to sleep peacefully. Eythan could smell the faint scent of eggs and slightly burnt toast in the kitchen down the hall. He wrinkled his nose. He hated eggs, but his dad made him eat them.

“It’s a good source of protein to help start your day!” 

With a huff, Eythan turned over and stared out the frost covered window. Although it was dawn, the canopy of trees that surrounded their home kept them in shadow, just how Eythan preferred it.

He lay in bed for another ten minutes, counting sheep to lull himself back to sleep. When that didn’t work, he sat up in bed and stretched. He slipped out of the room into the hall, careful to avoid the squeaky floorboards.

The house was still dark, except for the lantern sitting on the kitchen table. Eythan trudged in and grabbed a piece of toast from the stove. He scraped off the burnt edges with a knife before slathering it with his mother’s homemade raspberry jam. As he washed the knife off, he noticed some dirty dishes left over from the night before.

Dammit Judah… He always forgot to finish his chores. Sighing, he washed them as well so his brother wouldn’t have to worry about doing it when he woke up.

A gust of wind blew, knocking open the back door and letting in the chill. Eythan shivered as he dried his hands with a towel. No wonder it’s so cold in here… He walked over to close the door and noticed that footsteps were leading down to the Temple of Ioun.

Dad’s already at the temple? Did someone come early for a consultation? Although early visits were uncommon, they weren’t something that his dad hadn’t done before. Curious, Eythan slipped on his snow boots and found his dad’s fur-lined cloak still hanging on the coat rack. He took it and pulled it over his shoulders, the fur insulating him from the breeze. After closing the door behind him, he walked down the snow-covered path to the Temple of Ioun in the valley behind their home.

In the spring the walkway would be framed with flowers and trees, but in the dead of winter there was only a canopy of barren branches decorated with lanterns. They weren’t lit yet, making the path more frightening that it should be.

His father’s long stride was stamped deeply into the snow, leading to the back of the temple. However, there wasn’t a second set of tracks suggesting that he had brought a visitor with him. Eythan hopped from one footprint to another to keep his feet as dry as possible as he continued down.

As he approached, he noticed that the porch hadn’t been swept clean of snow. He walked up to the front door and pulled, noticing that it was still locked. Dad wouldn’t bring someone through the back… With anxiety slowly itching underneath his skin, Eythan quickly made his way around to the back door and saw that it was open. He shook off his snow boots and bowed briefly in reverence before entering.

It was dark inside the temple. None of the candles had been lit yet.

“Dad?” he called out, his voice echoing against the arched ceilings. “Are you in here?”

Eythan went into the small storage room to grab a set of holy matches. He walked into the main sanctuary and began to light the lanterns, murmuring the prayer his father had engrained into his brain. Each one flickered to life with a slight violet hue, casting the room in a magical glow.

A gilded chandelier hung from the ceiling, the candles enchanted to begin glowing at dawn and to burn out at night. The entire room was encased in bookshelves, resembling more of a library than a place of worship. However, it was perfect for those to come and praise the god of knowledge and prophecy. Eythan used to bring Tomas and Judah here at night to read them a story before going to bed. They were too old for that now, but Eythan still liked to read the many texts collected on the shelves.

At the front of the temple was a small altar framed in stained glass windows. When the sun shone through, it would cascade a rainbow of colors onto the altar. In the center with a massive statue of Ioun that nearly reached the ceiling. He was sculpted out of quartz, and decorated with seasonal flowers and fruits. His hands were cupped in front of him, gesturing toward the offering bowl in front of him. It too was made of quartz, where guests could leave what they could afford as a gift.

Lying next to the offering bowl was Eythan’s father.

“Dad!” Eythan shouted as he dropped the matches and ran over. He collapsed to his knees and tried to rouse him. However, his dad was unresponsive and felt like ice. Eythan shrugged off the cloak and draped it over his dad’s body to try and warm him up.

Did he slip and hit his head? Eythan wondered in a panic. He knew the floors sometimes got icy during the winter, but there was no visible trauma or blood suggesting a head wound. Eythan rolled his dad over onto his back and trembled when he saw the blue tint in his lips and the dull glaze in his eyes. He pressed his fingers against his dad’s throat and could just barely feel a pulse.

“In an emergency, stay calm. If someone is unconscious and isn’t breathing, tilt their head and clear out the airways. If their heart has stopped, roll them onto their back and start chest compressions.”

Eythan listened to the years of instruction and leaned his hands against his dad’s sternum, pressing all of his weight down as he began to try and resuscitate him.

“Y-you’ll be okay! You’re gonna be okay!” he said, his voice hitching as he tried to keep his composure. Tears made his vision blurry as he kept count of his compressions. It helped him ignore the empty look in his father’s gaze as his eyes rolled back. “You can’t…you’ll be fine…!”

After a full set, his dad was still unresponsive. Eythan choked back a sob and clenched his fists into his father’s shirt. He could no longer feel his father’s heart beat beneath the fabric. “No…no, Dad…this can’t be happening!” He started another set, his pressure harder and his pace more erratic. “You need to wake up!”

He completed another set, and then another, each time becoming more desperate. Every once in a while he would pause to try and listen for a breath, but his father wasn’t breathing. He wasn’t doing anything except staring back toward the statue that loomed over them.

“Ioun, you can’t…anyone but him!” Eythan screamed, tears streaming down his face. “He doesn’t deserve this! Ioun, save him, please!”

“If you are unable to heal someone, find the next person who can. If you are alone, pray and keep trying your best,” his father advised in his mind.

“Ioun…Mom!” he shouted, his voice cracking. “Judah…Tomas…anybody! Someone please help!” Eythan staggered to his feet and ran to the bell chamber. He yanked on the thick rope hanging from the ceiling, his entire body vibrating as the gong resonated through the temple. He kept screaming, his voice drowned out by the deafening bell. He kept ringing and ringing until eventually he felt someone tug on him from behind. He stumbled back into his mother’s arms as she pulled him away.

All he could hear was ringing. All he could see were blurs of color. The front doors had been broken open, and several men – both locals and visiting adventurers – were crowded around his dad. They were casting spells and feeding him berries, trying to revive him. His mom shrouded him in a blanket and guided him out the back door, half carrying him. Eythan barely felt the chill of the morning on his skin and his tears freezing against his cheeks as she shuffled him back inside the house.

He slumped down in front of the fireplace in the living room to thaw. Tomas and Judah were then ushered into the room and told to sit and wait. Scared, they huddled up close to Eythan, who tried to dry his tears and look strong.  But he couldn’t stop himself from sobbing. He bent forward on his knees, pressing his forehead into the floor and squeezing his eyes shut.

Then he started to wail.

Please, Ioun, don’t let him die…


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