A Dungeons & Dragons story
For those of you familiar with the role play game Dungeons & Dragons, it is typical to write up some form of backstory for the character that you are playing in the game. My character for one of my latest campaigns had dissociative identity disorder–colloquially known as multiple personality disorder. The host personality was Robin (in blue), and the sub personalities were Perdrix (in red), Erik (in green), and Falker (in grey).
So here I am, stuck in the underdark, devoid of pride, alone, and—quite honestly—terrified. I’m probably going to die here.
You never would have gotten into this kind of trouble if you’d just listened to me, one of the ever-helpful voices in my head points out.
There is a unanimous Shut up, Perdrix, from the rest of us.
He isn’t even right. Most of this was his fault—though I will admit I played a small part in our fall. But Perdrix was the one who wanted to play assassin. I had my own agenda, and, not to point fingers, but he ruined it.
Although, all things said, I guess I’m lucky. My wife’s a drow elf—a good, reformed drow, but still. I know how to communicate with them. You could probably go as far as to call me an elf friend, or something similar. Until someone else takes over. Then it’s… iffy.
Perdrix doesn’t have anything against the drow in particular—just against my wife. That’s because he has his own girl in Westgate. I don’t like her. She’s probably just trying to scam him, but he can’t see past her pretty eyes and breasts. It’s disgusting. I’ve successfully stopped him from violating our body thus far, but… I worry. I intend to stay a virgin, no matter the cost.
…not that there’s much I could do if he tries to suppress me again. That’s never fun.
I wander the streets of Menzoberranzan, keeping one hand on the knife in my pocket. Can’t be too careful.
I’m bored, Erik complains.
I ignore him. We treat him a bit like our annoying little brother. He’s only really happy if you put a book in front of his face.
My wife treats him almost like a son, which gets… weird. But all of this is weird. I’m her husband, Perdrix’s her bodyguard, Erik’s her pseudo-son, and Falker’s her basket case.
I suppress a shiver and do a survey of my mind, making sure Falker’s well in the back. I don’t need him taking control, seeing a tree or something, and collapsing into a shivering, teary wreck. We have things to do.
You should let me take a job, Perdrix whispers.
“I don’t want to take a job,” I reply.
Robin… we need money.
“I have skills.”
There’s a vague feeling of amusement, and I roll my eyes.
“I don’t want to kill.”
I’d be the one killing.
“That doesn’t make it better. The blood is still on my hands.”
I get a couple sidelong looks from the people on the street at my words—in addition to the stares I was already getting for being a human in the underdark.
I lower my voice. “I just need to contact Marian. She’ll work things out with the rebellion and get us home.”
Perdrix laughs. We got kicked out. Marian took up the mantle. Face it, Robin—we’re not going back.
I swallow. I hate to admit he’s right. I won’t admit he’s right. If I lose faith in my wife… what do I have?
We could go home, Erik’s young, timid voice chimes in. I close my eyes.
He doesn’t have a home. He made one up—a perfect, loving family with darling sisters and perfect parents and aunts and uncles and cousins… huge and stifling and wonderful and fake.
We’ve never really been able to convince him of that last bit, though.
We don’t have a home, Perdrix says bluntly.
I look down. He… isn’t wrong.
Face it, Robin, Perdrix says, you were run out of your own rebellion. All we have is the clothes on our back and 16 gold pieces. That won’t last us a week. We need a job.
“I can get a job…”
Doing what? Making world domination flowcharts?
I flush. That was mean.
I can get a job, Erik says quietly.
I don’t think any of us would prefer living off a librarian’s salary, Perdrix snaps.
I feel Erik flinch away—nervous little thing. I keep telling Perdrix to be nicer to him.
You know what we need to do, Robin, Perdrix says.
“Yes, but I… I don’t want to…”
One job. Then we find a way back to your precious rebellion.
I bow my head and press my palms to my temples. Arguing like this gives me such an awful headache… I can feel Perdrix pushing against me, vying for control. And honestly… I’m too tired to fight him. I give in.
I stretch my arms above my head and switch the ring on my left ring finger to my middle finger. It magically adjusts to fit.
“So,” I say, “to the tavern?”
Robin groans. Don’t you dare get drunk… I hate having to deal with your hangovers.
I wave a hand dismissively. “You can deal with it.”
And no girls, he insists. For my sake, our body’s sake, and poor, innocent Erik’s sake.
I’m not that innocent… Erik mumbles, but I can practically feel him blush.
Their concerns are unwarranted. I only care for Colette, even if they don’t believe me. Sure, I might take a few looks, but… Well. Robin loves Marian. I love Colette.
It’s a damn shame we all share the same asexual body.
I keep walking the streets, keeping an eye out for a tavern that might cater to our needs. We pass a drow woman who looks vaguely like Marian, and I feel Robin’s heartache.
Idiot. She was practically the one who spearheaded his fall from grace.
It was your fault, Robin whispers.
I look down. Okay. So it kind of was. The leader of the rebellion sneaking out three to five times a week to visit a brothel… It doesn’t look good. But it’s not my fault Colette works there. And we never did anything more than kiss and hold each other when the nights got too difficult.
And… I’ve had a lot of difficult nights.
But the rebels saw it as a security breach, and Marian… Well, Robin explained what had happened, and she believed him, but she had to agree with the masses. It wasn’t worth it.
It broke Robin’s heart. He’s still in denial.
I’m not in denial.
“Yes you are.”
I enter the tavern and am overcome with the smells of sweat and blood and alcohol. Robin, Erik, and I work together to keep Falker calm and untriggered—we’ve gotten good at that. He stays quiet in the back of our mind, and I press forward to the bar.
“I’ll take a wh— Ale.” Robin hijacks my voice. Bastard.
The pretty barmaid looks confused. “A… whale, sir?”
“Ale,” I correct, putting down a gold piece. Only fifteen left…
She takes the gold and scurries back to fill me a tankard.
You get drunk way too easily on whiskey, Robin chides.
I roll my eyes and accept the beer.
Please don’t take a job, Robin says softly as I take a sip.
I just sigh.
I stand out in this place, a red-headed, pale-skinned human among the drow. Most eyes have turned to me by now, and I casually slip the edge of my coat from my waist, revealing a long, sharp dagger. Anyone who cares should recognize it as a sign of a knife for hire.
Sure enough, a few moments later, a hooded man approaches me. I can’t make out his face in the dim light of the tavern.
“Nice day,” I say, taking another drink.
“Are you reliable?” he asks, his voice barely more than a whisper.
“By my own word, yes.”
He slides over a piece of paper. It’s a picture of me, from Westgate. A wanted poster.
“You’ve gained a reputation.”
Colette probably turned you in, Robin says.
I clench my jaw. She wouldn’t have.
“I don’t trust you,” the man continues. “But I need some business taken care of, and there aren’t many capable human assassins wandering around the underdark.”
“Why does being human matter?”
“You look like a naïve tourist.”
I rest an elbow on the bar. “How much?”
“Name your price.”
I smirk. “Twenty thousand gold.”
“And who’s the mark?”
“Three marks. Severin Silrajin, Aerilus Liadon, and Immerial Siannodel.”
I keep my face impassive, but I know those names. They… will not be easy marks.
“Anything else you can tell me?” I ask.
“Nothing for now.”
I nod. “And how should I contact you when this is done?”
“Meet me here. Ask for L. They’ll make sure you find me.”
I nod again and stand. The man stands as well.
“One more thing.”
“If you fail…” He leans in close. “Your life, your loved ones’ lives, and the lives of everyone you have ever met are forfeit.”
I swallow. “Understood.”
He turns dramatically and disappears into the shadows.
I finish my drink with a shaking hand, then wave for another. As I do, though, I feel a tugging at my consciousness—the others are getting restless. I don’t want to relinquish control…
I get out of the bar as quickly as I can. I hate bars. I hate alcohol. And it’s loud and smelly and we were being threatened…
I wasn’t finished in there, Erik! Perdrix yells at me as I switch my ring to my pointer finger.
“You were plenty finished,” I mumble. I need a library. Somewhere quiet and warm.
You’re as bad as Falker, Perdrix grumbles.
“Shh!” Robin and I both warn. Falker is sleeping peacefully right now, and we all like it to stay that way.
So now we’re in a mess, Robin says bitterly as I walk. We were supposed to come here to get away from the rebels who want to skin us, but turns out that our face is known even here. And we’re being threatened by our new employer. Thank you, Perdrix.
You’re very welcome, Robin, Perdrix says dryly.
I clasp my hands over my ears. “Please be quiet…”
Let one of us back in control.
“I don’t want to,” I mumble. I like being in control. I can run or hide when they want to be stupid. I can write stories with Aunt Marian (yes, I know she’s my… wife. But really she’s Robin’s wife. And she’s always acted like an aunt to me).
Except now, Aunt Marian’s gone, and I’m stuck with just the voices in my head.
Mad boy, alone again.
I lost my family a long time ago. The others say I never had one, but I remember them. Mother and Father and Christine and Angela and Moira. I remember living with them, playing with them. We used to play pirates—my sisters and me against our cousins. I was happy. Then I lost them.
After I lost them, the other voices started to come. Robin first. Assertive, down-to-earth, always planning ahead Robin. He helped me through the early days, making sure I survived. He found and befriended Marian, an outcast herself at the time. I relied on both of them.
The one day, I snapped. Robin was forced to kill someone for the sake of the rebellion he joined, and Perdrix came to take that pain. Now he does the killing for us. He keeps us safe so Robin can lead and I can read. But Perdrix couldn’t handle everything. So Falker came to pick up the emotional slack. He’s stuck in a constant state of trauma, and absorbs more with each of Perdrix’s kills. It’s… painful when he takes control. Because there is no control. Just tears and screams and violent, catatonic shakes. And anything at all could trigger him.
So we try to keep him suppressed.
I keep walking, but can’t find any libraries. I’m sure there are some, but I can’t find them. So I end up in an alleyway and draw my knees to my chest, breathing deeply and pretending I’m home. Wherever home may be.
Stop being such a wimp, Perdrix says. We have to be strong. Strong for the people we love. Strong for what we believe in.
“I don’t believe in anything,” I whisper. “And everyone I love is lost.”
I feel Robin gently try to take back control. Erik, I know things are hard, but for once, Perdrix’s right. We have to be strong.
I bury my head in my knees. “I don’t want to be strong.”
A rough hand lands on my shoulder. Foul breath washes over my face.
“Well, look what we have here,” someone sneers, and I lose control.
Terror. Pain flashes through my body, my mind. I reel back, eyes shut, entire body shaking. I can’t fight. I can’t breathe. There’s screams, but I can’t tell if it’s my own or in my head or far away and everything’s so loud and I just want it all to end—
I seize control from Falker and grab the wrist of the man who touched me, plunging my knife into his chest without a second thought.
Merde. Damn kid…
I’ve got him, Robin assures me, gently suppressing Falker’s fear.
“Good,” I say. “I’m handing over control for now. Get us somewhere safe.”
I slide back as Robin takes control, and just watch as he takes us through the streets.
This will not be an easy job.