Yriggs Corger never intended to become a thief, but every decision he ever made set him upon the path towards a life of skulking in the shadows. There were, after all, plenty of shadows in his hometown - Baldur's Gate. His father, Golared Corger, was a minor merchant. The family trade coster wasn't exactly huge business, but it was more than enough to keep them out of the poor house.
Yriggs' father figured that all five of his children would join in the family business, and all of them were involved. However, Yriggs' first love was research. He studied everything he could. First it started with mathematics and trade: a natural place for the son of a merchant to start his education. But that held little lasting interest. From there he moved onto the natural world. He got the abyss for sure when his mother caught him dissecting the family cat. She just wouldn't listen. He planned to put it back together when he was done.
After butting heads with him a few times, Yriggs' parents realized that his inquisitive nature could be an asset to the trade coster, but he needed to be guided in his learning first.
They went back and forth with a few different ideas, but what was finally settled upon absolutely delighted him when he realized what it really meant. They gave him to the temple of Oghma. He lived in the temple among the other neophytes.
As Yriggs learned the tenets of the Oghman faith, he readily converted. The young man had grand visions of doing research in huge dust filled libraries and in the field with skilled researchers. At first it looked promising, but in very little time he realized that the kind of knowledge and secrets he yearned to discover were for high ranking clergy of the temple, and he was just the lowest of the neophytes.
For almost a month he lived in the temple and tried to bide his time. Yriggs knew that if he was patient, he could earn their trust. The clergy would see his inquisitive nature and welcome him as a brother. Maybe that would have worked out in time, but there were a couple of problems. He was not especially smart, or for that matter, pious. The clerics could see it. Yriggs didn't want to compile lore as an act of worship to the Master Librarian, Oghma.
He wanted to learn because he had to; he couldn't stop himself. It was an obsessive need to find things out, to discover the unknown, and to weasel out secret truths from the world around him.
Really a place like a sacred library containing closely guarded secrets - about the spellplague, the nature of the pantheon, the political dealings of the Baldurian government, and the myriad planes - was not a wise place for an obsessive learner. Luckily for them Yriggs could rarely remember what he had learned the week earlier. His mind was in such a constant flux, he rarely had time to commit much of what he read to memory.
Yriggs had a good heart though; he honestly planned to go through the proper channels to have access to lore kept within the temple, but in the mean time, he wondered what harm could come of a little peek. He went through the motions of serving meekly throughout the day, biding his time until evening when most of the acolytes were at their prayers or reading. The other servants and neophytes were in their rooms under curfew waiting for their tasks to start again the next day. Meanwhile, Yriggs would be creeping about the hallways.
It started out as listening outside doorways while the higher ranking priests discussed fascinating findings or new theories. But this third- or fourth-hand knowledge was frustrating. Soon, he moved onto sneaking into the library at night or swiping tomes and scrolls from the Lorekeepers' desks when no one was looking. He was always careful to either put the reading materials back where he found them, or else somewhere where a priest was likely to misplace his book or scroll.
This too could only sate his curiosity for a time. As he continued in his quest to learn, he often wondered what he was really looking for. Nothing he learned satisfied his need. Yriggs always wondered even as he was reading and researching, what else could be found out elsewhere.
He should have known that the Lorekeepers were smarter than they acted. After the fact, he found out they had been keeping tabs on him with divination. The day came when they had had enough. On hindsight, sneaking into a meeting for the highest ranking Lorekeepers was not the wisest thing he attempted. Well, not attempted. He pulled it off. Only the priest involved in the divination knew Yriggs was there. Abyss! Those priests were shocked to see him being led out of their midst! They had had no inkling that there was an uninitiated neophyte among them!
After being thrown out of the temple, Yriggs had little else to do but go back to his home. Golared made a show of being "very disappointed" with him for the sake of his other siblings, but it was quite obvious fairly quickly that he saw the solution to their problems in the form of Yriggs"new path in life" as Yriggs' father called it.
At first he merely asked his son to enter their competitors' costers during day-light hours, incognito to eavesdrop. But with each success, his confidence in Yriggs' infiltration abilities grew, and his expectations increased in the same measure.
Yriggs certainly enjoyed having something to contribute to the family business. Dealing in goods didn't do it for him, but what he enjoyed doing, he was good at.
Over time, his missions to enter during the day, disguised, to listen became missions to enter at night to copy records, "misplace" contracts, and ferret out leads on new business. It gave the family business the edge it needed to soon out-pace the competition. The skullduggery helped to raise their status to the point where they started dealing a bit out of their depth.
For starters, their new competition was cutthroat - just like Golared - but those other companies had a legacy of shrewd dealings and questionable means. It was at that time when things took a turn for Yriggs - for his family.
The young theif was on a job in the merchant's quarter, at round the third hour till dawn. He had already gotten into the rival coster and was poking around in the offices. After having just finished copying down a set of promising looking figures, Yriggs heard a slight noise outside the office door way. He barely had time to dive and roll into the corner when a pair of burly thugs burst into the room brandishing short swords.
So far, he had never actually met that kind of resistance. Of course, he knew that lots of businesses had guards, but in the past he had avoided them adeptly. How had those guards knownsomething was up?
Yriggs drew his dagger and waited. A lone candle still sat upon the desk at the far end of the office, while he was hiding in a corner not far from the door. One guard strode quickly to the desk to look at the papers and the inexplicably burning candle, to see what was amiss. The other stood a pace within the doorway, peering into the gloom of the hallway.
Somehow, the rogue hadn't been noticed yet. A heartbeat later, when the door guard turned his head away from the right side of the hallway, Yriggs made his move. He was between the guard and the door in a flash, but inexplicably, the guard was faster. His was hand on Yriggs' cloak, and he tried to pull the slight man from his feet. It almost worked too, but after a second of struggling against the him, Yriggs turned and threw all his weight into the pull.
In that split-second, the son of a minor merchant made a decision that changed everything in his life. He wasn't sure if he could get away without killing that guard, but Yriggs didn't have time to think it through.
The guard wasn't expecting the change in direction. When Yriggs stopped offering resistance to the pull, he started to stumble. Yriggs drove his dagger hilt-deep into the guard's eye.
Blood drenched his hand, and worse yet, the dagger was stuck, so the young thief scooped up the guard's fallen short sword and sprinted down the hall. Sounds of the other guard cursing and taking up the chase echoed after him. Just before the stairwell, instead of leaping down, step to step, Yriggs flung himself out the window onto his waiting rope.
The rope was tied to the chimney; on the way in, Yriggs had carefully, and quietly gotten himself into the window from above, but in the heat of the chase, he felt getting to the alleys would be safer than trying to climb back up to the roof.
That night Yriggs was too hyped up on adrenaline and scared out of his skull. He used the rope to slow his descent, but that was about it. That's all that saved him from breaking his neck on the way down. He was already halfway down when that hired goon chopped through the rope. Luckily for him there was a pile of empty crates and barrels below the window. That debris and all the air in his lungs helped to break his fall. Yriggs leaped up, but just as promptly collapsed as his body made sure he knew how much air was needed during an escape.
The seconds seemed like minutes as he waited for his body to obey his commands. Finally the scared thief was able to drag himself to his feet and shamble to the nearest alley. Just as he was rounding the corner, Yriggs heard the trade coster doors fly open and three more guards took up the chase; he wondered how he had been unaware of that many guards lurking about the premises.
Cursing his lungs for weakness, Yriggs made his way into the darkness of the alley. By then he could move a bit faster, and he pushed his body to the limit. Despite all the research, he kept himself in decent shape. Stumbling in the darkness only twice Yriggs made it to the next street and turned west, away from the Corger estate. At the next alley he turned back to the north, and then at the next street he turned west again.
Before long he figured that the guards would be well behind him. After all, they would have to poke around in the dark to make sure that their quarry hadn't hidden himself in a shadow-cloaked doorway or in a pile of garbage. With that in mind, Yriggs took the time to wash the blood from his arm in a dirty gutter.
By that time, young master Corger was a long walk from home. The hour was very late, yet still before even the earliest
risers typically began thier day. Yriggs had the streets and alleys to himself besides the occasional dog or rat. He had a lot of time to think of what to do next.
Obviously if Golared, his father, made a move based on the information Yriggs had copied that night, the Flaming Fist would be told. If the mercenary band turned city watch got involved, the Corger family trade coster wouldn't survive the ensuing damage - sanctions, accusations, boycotts; they couldn't afford any of that.
When he had finally rounded the last corner before his family's small estate, Yriggs was shocked by the sight before him.
The street in front of his home was half-choked with horses and soldiers and lit up with a myriad torches. From that light the coat of arms of the Flaming Fist could be seen on most of the soldiers. They were just finishing up a raid of his home. Yriggs could see his parents being pushed into a waiting jailer's wagon. In his shock, he just stood at the corner for a time.
Finally his good sense returned and he ducked back around the corner before someone noticed the remaining Corger standing free at the mouth of an alley.
It didn't make any sense! It seemed too much to guess it was a coincidence - that the night when Yriggs almost got caught was the same night that the Flaming Fist raided his home and dragged his family off to prison.
The young rogue didn't really know what to do next. He had always gotten his "jobs" from his father, and Golared was being carted off to prison at that moment! As he weighed his options he decided his best course of action was to go back to the temple of Oghma. Maybe they could help.
By the time Yriggs arrived at the temple of Oghma, not far from the docks, the sun was starting to creep over the horizon. He knew that there would be priests awake and about their duties already and since skullduggery was not a great way to get on the priests' good side, Yriggs entered without guile, if not boldly.
Though he had been expelled less than a year earlier, he figured their anger would have surely diminished with the time that had passed. When a burly monk of Oghma stepped in front of Yriggs to block his way, he wasn't surprised but he was definitely disappointed. The stern ascetic gestured that Yriggs should follow him.
Young master Corger was led into a grand alcove just off the main library. It was the head Lorekeeper's office. Brother Sules was a man of tremendous girth, to say the least. Yriggs always assumed that he got involved with the Orthodox Church of Oghma because he coveted intimate knowledge of all the recipes on Faerun. When the impetuous thief had asked him about it last time they met -when he was being put out of the temple - Sules had actually laughed!
Brother Sules looked up from a tome he had been perusing, smirked at Yriggs, and shut the book reverently. "Yriggs, my son, why are you here? You want to try to join us again? Saw the error of your ways, yes?"
"No, Sules. I am here because I just witnessed my parents being carted off to prison by the Flaming Fist!"
Sules' copiously jowled face watched Yriggs without betraying any thoughts as the supplicant talked, then when he had finished, the Lorekeeper gestured to the huge monk standing beside a pillar near the edge of the alcove.
Before Yriggs could even imagine what Sules communicated to the waiting monk, Yriggs felt an open palm slam into his kidney. From the floor where he could only see Sules' desk and the white marble floor, he heard Sules' robes rustle as the expansive priest hoisted himself from his chair. As he navigated around the desk and stood to the side and watched Yriggs start to get up, he calmly reminded the young man what to call him.
Yriggs wanted to be defiant, but he didn't know what the point would have been. As he began again, he was certain to add the honorific. "Brother Sules, do you know where my parents are? What they have been arrested for? I'm asking for your help. I don't know what to do." After his request for help, Yriggs just stood there waiting for a reply. He didn't know what "plan B" would be if Sules denied him. Even without the mountain of enlightened muscle behind Yriggs, the Loremaster held all the cards. Sules stood there watching his former neophyte for a moment and under the priest's gaze, Yriggs couldn't help but feel a little like a mouse in the lair of a snake.
"Of course I know where they are. And I know what the charge was. It was conspiracy to commit fraud." Sules answered, and then smirked again.
"What? That's crazy! That doesn't even make sense. Who is behind this?"
Brother Sules' smirk transformed into a sly smile. "Doesn't make sense? Your father sent you to a competitor to steal secrets of commerce to help your family's coster come out ahead... No denial?... Of course not. As to who is behind the charges. I don't think it is something you need concern yourself with right now. Rest assured that I have agents investigating your parents' predicament."
The fact that he knew what illicit activities the Corger family had been involved in gave Yriggs pause for a moment. Plus, he was afraid that Brother Sules wasn't just offering to look into the Corger family's difficulties from the goodness of his heart. "I have nothing to offer in return for your help -"
"My presumptuous son, you couldn't be further from the truth. Money is not how you will repay me. The whole reason that you were ushered in to see me instead of thrown out on your ear, again, is for you to help me." Sules paused, perhaps to be dramatic. His smirk melted away as he let Yriggs think on what he had just said. "My agents are already hot on the trail of your parent's hidden enemy -" As Yriggs' eyes registered the good news, the priest's brow furrowed as he intoned "- but you must leave Baldur's Gate on an assignment for me."
"Leave? And go where?" Yriggs was reluctant to agree but he felt he owed his parents whatever he could do for them.
Sules smiled and rubbed his hands together. "Well, 'where' is the pivotal point, isn't it? The judicial system definitely has you and your family in a bit of a tight spot. If it weren't for my good word on your behalf, you'd be down in the same hell hole cell as they are, I would guess. I'll get right to it. I'll do my best to better your parents' state while working towards their release, but I need you to take care of some things away from the city."
For a second after hearing this, Yriggs was overjoyed. Finally his chance to win his rightful place within the church of Oghma. His jubilation was tempered by the suddenly scowling features of senior priest. "There is an agent of Oghma that you need to meet east of here, near Cormyr. Your duty to him is twofold. You are to help him with whatever tasks may arise. You are to stay with him. Should he feel that he doesn't need your services, you must follow him. Secondly, you are to keep your eyes and ears open for anything that would interest the church. Esoteric knowledge, fantastic rituals or spells, forgotten lore - all of it. You will be contacted from time to time to collect what you have learned."
After thinking about the proposition for a moment the last free member of the Corger family said, "This doesn't sound too bad. The agent, how will I know him? Is he a priest?"
With a chuckle Sules replied, "Goodness, no! And if you refer to him as my agent, he probably won't be too appreciative of the intimation. The truth is, he is a Red Wizard and he needs your help. He knows that he needs help, it is up to you to convince him that he needs it from you."
"So he's a peddler of arcane implements? Scrolls and wands and such?" the thief asked.
Sules seemed to enjoy Yriggs' misunderstanding. The Loremaster stared at his young charge expectantly and then a huge smile split his face. In that moment Yriggs mused that without teeth Sules would look like a happy baby. Then the priest shook his head.
"No, he is a wizard. And he was from Thay, before the Lich, Tam, took over. He apparently is in denial about what happened there. He still wears the red robes. He still calls himself a Red Wizard of Thay."
Yriggs answered back, "So he is eladrin then? Tam took over Thay... what is it?... a hundred years ago?"
Again shaking his head he stated, "No, my sources tell me that he is indeed human. The aging process seems to not apply to him."
"So what then? Illusion? Baelnorn? Lich?"
"That is one of many things you are to report to me once you find out. You will meet him in Proskur, on the road west of Cormyr. I'll have someone give you a map. You'll like it there. You'll fit right in."
"Oh? And how is that?"
"Before Cormyr took it over and gave it some semblance of law and order it was known as a city of thieves. Of course, it is still a city full of thieves, just now it is a little less overtly so."
"When am I to leave?"
"As soon as you are able. Tonight would be best. There is a trade ship going up river in a few hours, and unless you want to walk the first hundred miles to Elturel, you had best be on it."
That was the last day of the month of Mirtul.