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What follows is a translation of the first fragment from a series of vellum scrolls found in 3 Alabaster jars sealed in a cave. The discoverer was a nomad wanderer somewhere on the shores of Lake Vread in the Province of Elswyer. I can neither vouch for nor deny its authenticity or veracity - only that the scrolls, as such, DO exist. Read and judge for yourself:
Baan Dar, The Legend... Thief, Warlock, ShadowMaster, Ruthless Assassin, Undying Avenger, Dark God, Robber Baron, MasterMind of Nefarious Plots. All these things and more are the Legendary Baan Dar, he who is called The Bandit God. But what is the Truth?
Baan Dar, The Man is a much more simple and complex being. I pen this tale as I slowly die of old age and a mortifying arrow wound. I cannot decide if the truth will add to or subtract from the legend that is Baan Dar, nor if the original Baan Dar would want the truth to be known. Therefore, I will leave this tale hidden when I am done and gone, and let Fate (which was ever Baan Dar's true master and motivator) decide.
I was a child of 12 Seasons when I first met Baan Dar. Orphan of a Slaver raid during one of the many inter-provincial border wars. Living by my quick wits, nimble fingers, and the grace of Lady Luck in the back alleys and byways of my birth city. I had just "liberated" a loaf of bread and a few small apples from a local street vendor in the Bazaar on the edge of the city near the tumbled outer wall, and had withdrawn down an ill-lit alley to feast on my bounty when I was beset by an older band of my ilk. The older and lazier variety which were want to engage in the easier and less dangerous art of stealing from the stealers.
There were 5 of the bully boys who had decided they were more deserving of my booty than I, and they were beating me half to death with staves in between bites and laughter at the time. Lying on the ground curled up into as tight a ball as I could manage, trying to protect my head and groin, I heard a quiet voice ask if they were not "more suited to go down to the wharf and take food from your brother rats, or would you care to try your tricks on game a bit more your size and number?"
Since my "companions" had become otherwise engaged with the newcomer and had for the nonce ceased thumping, kicking and cuffing at me, I looked up to see a dark shadow of boots, cloak, and chainmail hood leaning against the wall at the end of the alleyway.
The others, being what they were, took this as a challenge to their manhood - and easy prey to their superior number with a promise of coin of the realm as added reward (else the first part would have been overlooked). The leader of my band of playmates suggested that the stranger take a leap off the mentioned wharf unless he wished to join me there when they were done with their evening meal.
Having drawn chuckles and courage from his underlings, he then proceeded forward with staff at high port. I'm not quite sure exactly what followed, but within a short space of time, Lead Bully was lying in the dirt with a thrown dagger in his chest, number two bully had lost three teeth to a boot (I still carry them in a leather pouch as a keepsake), and number three bully was brought short by his own staff applied forcefully up between his toes (the two big ones!). Bullies four and five thought better of the entertainment and departed rapidly for parts unknown.
Baan Dar picked me up, dusted me off, and dragged me round to a near tavern where we shared a meal and a mug. I attempted to thank him for saving my life. How can I ever repay this favor, I asked? His reply was short, to the point, and has driven my actions in life ever since...
"THE PROPER WAY TO REPAY A FAVOR, IS NOT TO - PASS IT ON INSTEAD."
Things having not progressed well along the lines of health, wealth and welfare for me until that point in my life came upon a sudden change that night. I later learned (along with MANY other things) that Baan Dar had decided to take a direct and immediate interest in me because my situation reminded him very much of the bad start his own life had taken, and the odds he had faced to survive it. On that night he took me under his wing as a kind of apprentice. He saw to it that I learned weaponcraft and stealth, that I learned to read and write! He took me along when he traveled for the next year. I served as messenger, valet, packmule, lookout, cook - many things. I saw other towns, cities, races, provinces, and broadened my view and knowledge of the world far beyond belief. He taught me both morals and coldhearted ruthlessness - and when and how to apply each as the ethics of the situation required.
At the end of the year, he gave me good dagger, and decent horse, the 3 teeth, and leave (nay, Command) to make my own way in the world from that day forward - but to remember all I had been given, and to attempt to pass such a gift to another when and where I should find need and opportunity. That I have done, several times... as I assume he has also, and as I hope my various charges have after me (and they theirs).
Thus has the Legendary Baan Dar been seen time and again in various lands of our world at numerous and the same times in days of need. Thus also is the description so very hard to obtain and track - for in truth, there have been, and continue to be, many Baan Dars in the world. The most valuable lesson he ever taught me was that "for Evil to triumph required not so much that many bad men to do wrong, as for One good man to fail to do what was right." We only hope that our combined and concatenated efforts have produced enough single men and women that will not fail to do the right thing, regardless of current local, morals, laws, religion, creed, or lure of coin of the realm.
The Legend grows still. Of the Dark Avenging Blade on the Wings of Night that make no sound. The Patron Saint of the Lone Wolf. The Thousand Eyes and Ears, the Hundred Arms direspectful of Time or Distance. Undying, Master of Disguise, Man of a Thousand Faces, Shapes and Sizes, Gentle, Rough-Edged, Gay, Stern. All the Mystery of the "Man Unknown and Undying"... not a single man nor God at all, but a string of seeds sown upon the land and left to grow into a forest. How to reconcile this truth with the tales of cruelty and the gangs of "Baan Dars" or "Bandits"? Some are jealous Thieves who take the name only for the cloak of mystery and hope of hiding in it's Shadow. Others are tales twisted to reverse by those justly served by Baan Dar's unfettered by technicalities of law and custom. Some are backsliders drawn of the true path by temptation and returning to their old ways. Many are the things that any one Baan Dar cannot answer for, as others did the deeds in the same name. Some are tales of fishwives, made up to scare the child into doing what is wanted. Some are left as part of the "Mystery" that is both cloak and shield to the hidden purposes - a case where the fear of the tale serves to save the need of arms or action.
But, by and large, the true Baan Dar is a string of beings taught to act upon what they believe in, and stand to take the yoke of needed action upon their own shoulders.
Don't fight if you can avoid blood or war, But if you must make War, do so with all your Heart and Might. Leave it at Threats if Threats be enough - but never make threats you are unwilling to carry to conclusion if required. Use all the arts at hand. But ever keep the true purpose in mind. Stand Tall, but never forget how to bend your knee to help another.
The rest of the scrolls are tales and tellings of various parts of the Legend, some as passed from Bard to Bard, some as the true tales underlying the Ballads. These fragments are still to be translated and debated. This fragment, however, contains the kernel of the Revelation and the true source of the questions surrounding the Baan Dar Legend. What Say You, Reader? For myself, I do not know... but God or unrelated string of linked souls as laid out here... I do know that Baan Dar IS a force in our Land and Lives, and one that gives Hope to many that need it, and pause to many I despise.