This campaign is actually still ongoing as I write this, but due to moving off to college, I had to leave the group for some time. This story still has pages left in it, so for those of you asking what happened after the events of this tale, I cannot tell you. Additionally, this was nearly a year ago and I, unfortunately, can't find my notes I had written for this character so some exact details about NPCs I can't provide, all I have is from memory.
For reference, this is a story about my second character in this campaign, my first of whom had moral values that did not align with the parties as we had a murder hobo goliath barbarian and half-orc champion fighter. This did not bother me in real life, but I did have a novel idea. Instead of simply making my new character something that fell into the stereotype and blended with these two, I decided to go the alternate route, a character that was static themselves, one who had already experienced their character development and was instead there to only help others flush out their characters and help develop cool storylines themselves. For inspiration, I referred to one of the first characters I ever made for a campaign that I unfortunately never got to use. The idea came in the shape of the young boy, the path of tranquility monk, Kalib Mistdrift.
Kalib grew up an orphan, parents being overtaken by plague and disease at an age far before he could remember. He grew up as a pickpocketer on the streets of a port city in a distant land. Kalib learned how to steal coin from people's belts to pay for food and clothes. He had no one but himself and that's all he worried about. One day, at around the age of 8, Kalib was up to his thievery when he stole the coin purse of a sailor who had taken a rest in the city tavern. The boy did not realize this yet, but this man was unlike any other he had ever met. Kalib went back to his lean-to in a nearby ally, counting out his coin, only to be surprised when this middle-aged, black-haired and thin sailor asked for his name. His name was Reeve Filbert, a simple man, a sailing man. He was no more than a work hand for a rich merchant's ship transporting goods across the sea. But this man, as poor as he already was, this man showed pity on him and raised him and offered this young child a new opportunity to live. A promise that he would be fed but that he would have to work as anyone else does. The young boy hesitantly took the hand of this strange sailor, a man who had loss in his eyes and compassion and empathy for this young boy. Kalib left that port city later that day, and from that day forth, his life had changed forever.
Over the course of the next six years, Reeve taught Kalib everything he knew, how to sail, how to diffuse a situation, and how to strike with the fist in order to protect those who couldn't protect themselves. Reeve and Kalib's bond grew to that of father and son. Reeve introduced Kalib to the deities and even let him choose one to follow. Kalib chose Sarenrae, The Everlight, goddess of compassion and peace. Kalib chose her because he knew that he had been redeemed and that many others, like him, could be as well. Reeve even pulled some strings so that he could bring the young Kalib to Sarenrae's temple in order to witness the Festival of Lights. From that moment on, Kalib was entranced and was a sole follower of the goddess. It was here that Kalib felt most at peace, and little did he know it, but this temple where he felt so alive, would also be where he made his greatest sacrifice…
It was shortly after leaving this temple, moving back northward in the Sea of Dragons where a large storm hit. Waves the size of the ship itself crashing upon the deck. It was a storm like no other. Through the darkness and the mist, with the only light coming from the occasional crack of lightning, the ship didn't stand a chance. Kalib, Reeve, and the rest of the crew on the ship fought their hardest to keep the ship afloat, but at one point during the struggle, the mast itself snapped, splitting the side of the ship into splinters, causing the ship to take on vast amounts of water. It was in this moment that Kalib heard a roar of fury, and a large, strange shape moved behind the clouds, past the lightning. Kalib was so distracted that he didn't see the wave coming from behind him, the wave that resulted in his unconsciousness. Kalib awoke to find himself on the shore of the beach amongst a shipwreck. Looking around, Kalib saw the barely alive body of his mentor lying in the sand. The young boy took his father into his arms and wept. The young sailor had enough breath to give Kalib his final words, "Child, I am so sorry, but this path is now yours and yours alone. Pass on what I have taught you, pass on what she has taught you, and find a new family that needs those teachings. You have a destiny Kalib, I can sense it, go share with the world the light I see sparking within you, and do what you must to save those who cannot save themselves, and stop those who will not be stopped." Kalib looked up as a golden dragon that was perched farther up along the beach took to the skies, and flew out across the ocean. The creature from the storm, and the creature that his senses told him had saved his life from certain death.
So that's what Kalib did, for the next year or so he traveled the land in search of those in need. He did so until he came across a family whose child had been taken by a group of cultist a few miles away, determined to save the boy, Kalib made his way to this camp. Kalib ran into a large group of these dragon fanatic cultists, trying to be peaceful and convince them to release their prisoner, they wouldn't have it. The large group started harassing him, kicking him to the ground and beating the boy to a pulp. That was until he heard a loud shockwave as a band of merry heroes came to his rescue, incinerating or decapitating every last one of the men there, despite Kalib's pleading for them to keep them alive. Even the man he had grappled and was questioning was no match for the extremely unnecessary lightning bolt from the evocation wizard. The boy was astonished, and quite appalled at how brutal these adventurers were. He quickly realized that while these people meant good, that they had no regard for life, hasty in taking it, and very unforgiving. However, something within Kalib told him these people were in need of his aid. It seemed as if they too were heading to this camp of cultist so Kalib joined them for the ride. It was here at this camp that the boy soon learned that these adventurers had dealt with this menace before, and that they knew more than he did.
The camp of cultist resulted in a bloody battle that was no different than the first one, mindless decapitation and gore like the boy had never seen. He was incredibly disturbed, and even considered rethinking his alliance with these people, but it was then that the cultist lit on fire the tent that held their own prisoners in sheer spite. No one survived, not even the boy he came to rescue. After realizing how dangerous and barbaric this group of cultist was, Kalib was devoted to stopping them. He knew that whatever they had planned was not good, and with his curiosity of dragons that had come up over the past few years, he could only use his imagination to imagine the horrors of what these men hoped to accomplish. And so the young boy joined this party, they had information that he did not have and they were already on a path towards defeating these tyrants. After traveling to a nearby city with this party, and spending the next week underground in search of a secret illithid lair within the Underdark, Kalib learned a lot from these adventurers. He learned that the Light Cleric, Egan, had a pure heart and only wanted to bring peace to the world. He learned that the Paladin, Ezekes (eh-ZEKS-ees), followed the same goddess as he, and she was on a quest to kill this illithid creature, one whom called himself The Whispered One. It was here that Kalib learned of the seemingly innocent nature of the goliath named Gordo, a man with a body bigger than his mind. One who did not grasp the importance of life and death and who failed to realize that his actions had consequences. It was also here within these caves that Kalib got a glimpse into his own future no matter how small.
During their journey, Kalib and the party met an elven woman and her group of friends who also sook out the same path against these mind flayers and their legions duergar and drow. It was after running into a group of defenseless miners who the parties promptly slaughtered as so they could not spread word of their presence that Kalib began to question the morality of those who even called themselves heroes. This elven woman tried to explain herself to the young boy, telling him and herself that what they did was okay as they were evil. Kalib decided he had had enough of people justifying their evil actions. Breaking out into uncharacteristic frustration, "What if those people had families? People they provided for? They were simple miners, they didn't fight back! You all walked in and without a word ended their lives short. Who are you to decide who lives and dies? Who are you to determine the worthiness of a man based on the color of his skin or on his leaders of whom he is forced to follow? What makes you so much greater than these people whose lives you took today? What gives you the right to take a life without question? Was it because it was convenient? Or was it because you want to believe that?"
The woman grew quiet, unsure of how to react. All she said next was the following, "you have great wisdom Kalib, against the which I have never seen in even the oldest souls. Your face is so young, but your eyes and soul have seen so much and are full of sorrow like I have never seen." The woman took her rest, and little did Kalib realize but this woman listened to him that night, possibly, a little too much for Kalib's liking.
It was a few days later that the parties made their way to the main complex of the arcanist mind flayer and its underlings. In a battle to free one of the party members who had been captured while on patrol, Kalib had positioned himself in front of the illithid, guarding this prison chamber, trapped by a mystic barrier of force, cut off from the rest of the party. Only he, Ezekes, and the elven woman faced the creature. However, Kalib did not fight this creature, instead, he stood there, dodging its attacks and simply trying to get in the way of his two allies. The creature, tired of missing all of his spells, fired off a sickly green bolt at the boy, a bolt disintegration, Kalib prepared to dive out of the way, watched as the elven woman jumped in front of the blast, turning to dust before Kalib's very eyes. Kalib was filled with confusion and frustration, the frustration that anyone would sacrifice their life for his. Kalib stood there in confusion as Ezekes finished off the foul creature. Reinforcements came from down the hall and the party was forced to retreat. When at a safe distance away, the elves friends mourned her, but Kalib, Kalib was simply annoyed, insistent that he would have been fine, that even if it had hit him he would have survived the blast. Kalib had much to reconsider, and before he knew it, he would be returning the favor.
After the conflict with the illithids, this so-called Whispered One escaped, but within these caves, the party found a vital clue about these dragon cultists, a white dragon head necklace deep within a forgotten temple. These cultists were collecting these necklaces in an attempt to summon the great Tiamat from her prison in hell. Ezekes took the necklace around her neck to protect it, and as it turned out, it was here that Kalib discovered that the rogue of the party had the red necklace, one which she acquired somewhere in her previous journeys. Just when it was thought that a break would be had, Kalib had realized that he had missed the Festival of Lights, with the chaos of being in the caves for over a week, time had passed faster than he realized. However, news soon hit that trouble hit the celebration, trouble that he and Ezekes sensed a few days prior. Something dark had happened, the two felt a pull to seek out what it was that lie before them. Meeting up with some survivors in the mountains that separated the dwarven city from the ancient temple, their worst fears had been realized, these dragon cultists had taken up residence within the temple, slaughtering all who attended the celebration in relentless rage. One of the survivors even aided in helping the party reach the temple. It was several hours later that Kalib looked down off the mountain to see the temple cracked, as large spikes of ice are seen jettisoned outward as if the breath of a great dragon broke it apart from the inside. This place had changed so much since he was here just last year, and from the first time he had visited. So much darkness, so much evil lie here now, only a mere ember still lay, and those embers were ready to burn bright as Kalib and Ezekes were ready for some retribution.
However, enough blood had been spilled here, and Kalib had a plan to get the party through this in one piece. Approaching alone, Kalib decided that the only way to avoid bloodshed was through some deceit and convincing. "Hello, my name is Kalib Mistdrift, I am here seeking you, for I seek the queen of dragons and have seen that you all serve her." The cultists looked confused, on guard. "We had tried to join previously in this group of yours around two weeks ago in a camp several days away when it was attacked and lit on fire by some soldiers. We were about to be initiated but were forced to flee. We went back to the ruins and saw that you may be here within the coming weeks, and sure enough, here you all are." The guards, hesitant at first, welcome the party forward. Kalib returned to the party telling them to follow his lead. He also looked to Ezekes and the rogue, telling them to hide their necklaces as they were entering enemy territory.
The party was led through the corridors of the ancient temple where prisoners were seen chipping away at the stone walls of the temple and into chunks of stone and ice that lie behind it. It was here that the party was led into the lair of an adult white dragon. Kalib stood there, speaking with the creature, asking for his blessing, however, it was then that everyone realized the trap they had fallen into, those survivors they found, the man who so willingly came with them to act as a guide. Kalib and his friends were quickly turned over to the dragon and exposed as villains. Keeping cool, Kalib had a plan to turn this against their traitorous friend of theirs, however, the half-orc was too hasty, and in his fear of being on the receiving end of a dragon's breath, he launched his attack.
Battle ensued. The dragon reigned havoc on the adventurers who found it difficult to traverse the cave with the icy landscape that lie around them. Kalib, realizing that reinforcements were coming, sook out an escape route, opening some sort of frosty portal within the dragon's cave, Kalib called out that he found a way out. It was then that Kalib realized the mistake he had made. Creatures of ice and bloodlust came through the portal and attacked the party as they finished off the dragon. Ezekes, battling bravely was struck down, the ice of the creatures preventing her from recovering health, Ezekes died in front of Kalib, falling to the ground as her skin turned to ice. Everything had been slain for now, but reinforcements would still be coming, and Kalib knew not what to do, for he had failed the Everlight, letting one of her bravest warriors fall. Kalib kneeled over Ezekes body, her golden locks of hair now turned white. Cultist poured into the room, demanding their surrender. The leader of them cried out to the party, "we know you hold one of these dragon necklaces," he scoffed, "hand it over and we might let you live."
What this dwarven cultist had failed to realize is that Kalib had finished crying. That Kalib was now using the skills he had taught himself, the art of sleight of hand to remove Ezekes dragon-head necklace from her pocket, the very one he saw her put it in just minutes before. No one in the room noticed, and Kalib now had a plan. Quickly jumping up and dashing as far as he could to the strange icy portal, Kalib was met by multiple swings of steel and pain before standing there, calmly, looking to the cultist as he held up the white-dragon head necklace, bloodied and about to drop. "Let my friends and all of your prisoners go, and this necklace is yours to keep." The leader thought about this for a moment and agreed to the terms.
"So long as you don't do anything stupid, I don't see why not."
Kalib's face was unmoving, "I need to know that they'll make it out of here alive, give them two hours to leave this place and flee into the mountains, my friend will send me a message to assure me they are safe. When that is done, you will get your artifact." Satisfied, the cultist allowed it. Kalib watched as they entered the room, and he waited. He stood there waiting as all these men, elves, dragonborn, and dwarves all stood there with their swords readied. As time went on, most of them got bored, still standing there looking at Kalib but no longer tense, not their leader. For those two hours, Kalib stood there, freezing cold as he stared into the face of this man, his eyes cold and unmoving, full of lust for power and hatred for those who oppose him. It was when Kalib received the message that all was well, that he was ready to make his final move.
"You know you're going to die here right?" The dwarf mocked, "if you had handed us that necklace like I first asked you'd be able to walk out of here alive."
Kalib gave a slight smirk, "well, you're right about two things…" Kalib turned, dashing towards the portal, the dwarf throwing his hammer into Kalib's back only for him to catch it, toss it back, and step through the portal. Kalib ran for hours, through snow and ice. His feet kept moving when his body told him to stop. Small avalanches and pitfalls were no match for his determination to get this cursed artifact as far as he could. Hour by hour, Kalib felt as his very soul slipped farther and farther out of reach. His movement began to slow, the snow became so hard to push through, but still, he walked. The tip of his sea green and blue-dyed hair began to freeze and his feet and hands got frostbite. It was then that Kalib fell to his knees. He had traveled as far as he could. 8 hours through the snow, nearly 26 miles into the unknown of this frosty landscape before he threw the necklace as far as he could with the last of his strength. Kalib lay down in the snow looking up as the white flakes fell onto his face. Clasping his hands together over the pendant the lie across his chest, the young Kalib closed his eyes knowing he had done all he could.
Sanrenrae had lost many disciples that night, Ezekes the Paladin and Kalib the Monk. I like to think Kalib now looks down over this world from the heavens and watches the party from above with glee. You see the party doesn't know Kalib is dead, they've gotten to the point that they assume as much, but my initial goal with that character was achieved, and while I can't lie and say I didn't get emotional when I decided that this is what Kalib would do, and that I was killing one of my favorite characters I ever played, it was for the better. But I got to watch in the coming weeks how everyone was changed from that, and the murder hobos, while quite bloodthirsty, began to take some of Kalibs wisdom to heart. Also, just for note, I played Kalib for several months, but only two or three weeks in-game so the party didn't even know him for that long. There is nothing more to his story, this is it, beginning to end. This is the story of a boy, a boy from the sea who saw wonder in the world and sook to share the light and peace that he saw with others, the boy who fulfilled his greater calling and, while temporary, thwarted the plans of Tiamat, taking her precious artifact as far as he could before it was lost to the vast unknown of the snowy wastelands which he now rests.