Nobody really trusted the young tiefling1 and her extended family, but not because they were tieflings. No, because they were … actors, and theater people were even more disreputable than tieflings.
The tiefling’s extended family and their theatrical company performed popular comedies and dramatic tragedies for the commoners and morality plays or historical recreations on behalf of the local clergy or nobility. The company was established enough to support a couple of fully‑accredited Bards, some on their way up in the world and some now down on their luck, and usually more than one illusionist, not to mention a gaggle of poets and scholars and historians. Additionally, behind the scenes, their services were used by local criminals in populating con games, for advice and assistance in disguises and in producing the infrequent forged document. It was even whispered that once their services were employed by the very secret and secretive Royal Inquisitors in ferreting out a ring of traitorous nobles. The company may not have been individually trusted, but on the whole their audiences were always entertained, amused and awed, and their other customers always satisfied, which meant a more‑or‑less constant stream of income for the company.
The young tiefling was born into this world, and expected to live and die in this world. Her birth cries backstage came right on cue.2 She was rocked to sleep every night in a cradle lined with leftover curtain material, when it wasn’t being used as a prop on stage, and wore cast‑off costumes for clothing more often than not. She learned her letters by memorizing lines and her numbers by counting tickets. She first appeared on stage as the evil queen’s innocent child while still nursing3 and spoke her first line as an orphan child asking for bread4 of a cruel taskmaster at the age of six. By her mid‑teen years she was the lead understudy of the leading actress and a dependable supporting actress, a passable juggler and tumbler and a reliable makeup artist. Everyone said she had a bright future ahead of her on or off the stage, perhaps even becoming a Bard, and that was everything she ever dreamed or wanted.
Then, one night, that dream changed, because that night, she dreamed The Dream.
The company was preparing to perform a traditional play5 that involved maidens and marriages and mistaken identities and madness in the midnight moonlight and, most importantly, mischievous Fey, and the young tiefling was to play one of the young maidens. The night before the opening, she dreamed of the play itself, and she Dreamed. In The Dream, there was a woman, and that Woman was wicked and divine and enchanting and noble and royal and perilous and fair and all other things Fey, and in that dream She seduced the young tiefling She called “Precious”6 into Her service, granting her the magic through the Pact that transforms the beneficiary into a Warlock. In return, Precious pledged Her her eternal service and worship, and unbidden and unrequited love.
When she awoke, Precious was wearing the proof of their Pact, the token of her Patron and the arcane focus of her Art in the form of an ornate magical ring7 crafted of heavy silver and sparkling crystals and emeralds in the form of a wide circle of ivy vines and leaves.8 True to her theater upbringing, however, Precious completed the run of the play before informing her family of what happened to her and her intent of leaving the company: a wider stage awaited her. In return, the company supplied her with the equipment she would need to make her way in the world, and sent her on her way in true theatrical fashion with a party that lasted three days and nights.
- She had another name, once, but she forgot it when the took the Pact. Strangely enough, so did everyone else.
- “Rassyndyl’s Revenge” at the end of the first act, signaling the birth of the hero Rassyndyl.
- And did so, several times during performances, from her mother who played the evil queen.
- “Please, sir, may I have some more?”
- “A Midsummer Marriage Madness” (A Merrie Folke Comedie in Four Actes) based on an even older Elven tragedy.
- “Our Precious Pawn” were the exact words used. Whether the royal plural was used or not is still in question.
- Those with eyes or other sensory organs or elements which can detect or perceive magic will know the ring radiates faint enchantment, illusion and transformation magic that corresponds to no known type of magic ring.
- At least to her eyes and to those of whom she trusts, and for a select number of other people at the whims or designs of her Patron. To anyone else, it looks like cheap tin and enamel and quartz. Which is the real form is unknown: it may be another trick of the Fey or a means of protecting Precious’ focus from theft, or it may be something else entirely.