On his way to the training room, Thormanil stops by the market for a few errands. His first visit was to the local tailor. Browsing the selection of fabrics, he settled on a bold red bolt of cloth, and requested that he be fitted for a tunic and a pair of slacks. The tailor smiled, approving of the barbarian's decision (to finally put on a shirt). After taking his measurements, the tailor asked if that was all he would be needing. Thormanil recalled the putrid swamp and could almost taste the foul air. He asked the tailor if it would be possible to fashion a headwrap, thick enough to filter the air, but lightweight enough to not stifle him. Again, the tailor smiled as he nodded, and set off to work.
While waiting for the tailor to stitch together his outfit, Thormanil headed off to the blacksmith. He had grown fond of his twin axes, but sorely missed the power he harnessed while swinging around his heavy old greataxe. There, he had the blacksmith join the handles of his blades together, a reasonable compromise, he thought.
His new axe-staff in hand, he heads back to the tailor's. Upon arriving, the man appears quite satisfied with his handiwork, and urges Thormanil to try it on. He does so but, much to his dismay, everything just felt far too constricting, like it was designed for royalty. The slacks were tight and left him no room to move about, and the tunic was decorated with frills and laces that could not possibly be beneficial to sneaking around. And the headwrap was not a headwrap at all, but a scarf. Not wanting to offend the tailor, Thormanil thanked and paid him, finally proceeding towards the training room. Along the way, he made his own adjustments to the outfit, tearing the slacks off at the knees, ripping the sleeves off of his tunic, and rewrapping his scarf, along with the scraps from the rest of his clothes, into a proper headwrap, one that would sufficiently hide his face.
Feeling comfortable and confident in his new-new outfit, he strode into the training room, approached The Copper Fox, and boldly announced,
"Mr. Fox! I've come to train in the arts of stealth and subterfuge!"
The Copper Fox turns to him and grins.
"Oh ho, well, I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I'm no miracle worker. I can't teach you to be a rogue, you know."
"Wasn't askin' ya to. I'm lookin' to become a Raider
The Copper Fox chuckles.
"Well, you're certainly dressed for it, aren't you? Heh heh! So be it. Now, there's not much to train, per se. Raiders don't possess much of the agility nor guile of the rogues. They're meant to be quite brutish. A rogue coming to me might have to train for weeks before they have the strength and brawn required to go around mugging folks."
"So, what'm I here for, then? You just gonna call me a Raider, pat me on the back and send me on my way? That all seems a bi-"
"Let me guess. A bit useless? Well, that depends. See, rogues who come here, they need to train physically, bulk up. But they're already used to deceiving people, lying and cheating and stealing. It's in their nature, it's who they are. But you, well, you're here to decide for yourself if you're really capable of such acts. Trust is a hard thing to regain, you know."
"Of course I am!"
His grin fading, the Copper Fox takes on a much more serious demeanor.
"Are you, though? Tell me, why do you wish to be a Raider so badly?"
"Gold's what makes the world go 'round, Fox. But it ain't exactly easy to come by. And I'm trying to do some good, here, but folks're takin' advantage of each other every day. If I'm gonna be any kind of effective, I'm gonna need a full wallet. I'm tired of being tricked and manipulated when I'm just lookin' out for the greater good."
"So, you've been pushed around, and now you feel it's your turn to push someone else around. That's a pretty vicious cycle, isn't it?"
"Well.. I.. I don't care. It's what needs to be done. I don't much like the idea of robbin' folk, but knowing that they'd not give it a second thought if the tables were turned..."
The smile returns to the Copper Fox's face.
"If it's what you really want, then fine, Mr. Nihai, I'll help you to elliminate those feelings of guilt and remorse, enabling you to be a ruthless Raider. But it's getting late, we'll begin training in the morning. Why don't you stay the night here? It's important that you get a good night's rest."
"I, uh... Thank you, Mr. Fox, I'll do that. I guess I'll see ya in the morning.."
Thormanil retires to one of the guest quarters, but has difficulty falling asleep. He wrestles with his thoughts for a good while before finally dozing off. But a peaceful night's sleep was not his to be had. He tosses and turns in his sleep until he finally wakes up, almost more exhausted than he had been the night before. He returns to the main training area, where the Copper Fox is already awake and waiting for him.
"Good morning, Mr. Nihai! Are you ready to cast aside your concern for others, in favor of your own interests?"
"I... No, Fox, I'm not. I'm not one for superstitions, but I had the worst dreams last night, and I don't know what they mean, if they even mean anythin' at all."
"That's good, Mr. Nihai. Let's talk about what you dreamt. Such heavy dreams are not to be ignored."
Thormanil tells the Copper Fox of his dreams. He had seen people from his previous journeys, the awful witch, the souk merchants, and Mr. Shawe. He knew them to all be deceitful, putting their own interests ahead of others'. This alone didn't bother him too much. But in his dreams, he had felt the disdain of all those who had interactions with them. He could feel their loathing, their hatred, even, and knew that no one trusted these individuals. Their friends were few and far between. And then he had seen himself, laughing along with the souk merchants..
"..and then I woke up, sweating and turned right around on the bed."
"Sounds like your conscience might not be able to meet the demands of being a Raider, Mr. Nihai. I could still train you, and we could get past this, as any other obstacle, bu-"
"That's not all, Mr. Fox. I managed to fall asleep again, hoping I'd actually get some rest. But I soon found myself in another dream. Except, this one wasn't awful. Not in the least bit. I saw my friends. Cinna, who's always looked out for others, especially in the cases of both De'kra and the boy, Bluto. And Tomas, and Hoptet, always givin' of 'emselves to keep the rest of us in good health and fightin' form. Even in the middle of some of the toughest trials we'd faced, we knew we could count on each other. No one ran away, even if it woulda been the safe thing t'do.."
"If I can stop you there, Mr. Nihai, I think I know wh-"
"All due respect, Fox, but I'm not done."
The Copper Fox grins and nods, allowing Thormanil to continue.
"There's some awful, bottom-of-th'barrel scum out there. They're lookin' out fer 'emselves, and some of 'em are doin' a damned fine job of it. But there's no joy to be had, there. They aren't makin' the world a better place. I don't want to become one o' them."
A wide, understanding smile now spread across his face, the Copper Fox asks,
"So then, Mr. Nihai, why are you here today?"
Thormanil confidently answers,
"Mr. Fox, I do believe I'm here to adopt the rituals and practices of a Shaman
, Level 18.5 Shaman