Ten Is My Number
A story about the background of a role-playing character, the witch hunter Ten.
Ten is my number. How do I know this? The voices inside my head showed me.
I was born a single child into a loving elven family, having inherited my mother’s dark hair and green eyes. She used to read to me, nurturing my sense of wonder with various tales about fantastic places she dreamed up, filled with strange creatures and mighty gods. I recall us together with a man, my father probably. That’s all I remember about him, and despite having her image clear in my mind, I can no longer recall my mother’s name. Each passing day I’m losing more of myself, yet becoming more than I was.
Ten is my number. The man died in an accident when I was ten years old.
After that things changed. My mother no longer smiled at the world, only at me. Her stories became grey and lifeless, the magical forests turning into dark places filled with dangerous creatures and whimsical gods. Now that she had to support us alone, I got left to my own devices, playing in the streets. I listened to tales of faraway places, and roamed the outskirts of town, shooting sticks at trees with a crude bow I got for one of my birthdays. Little did I know that this was not so different from what the future would bring.
Ten is my number. Day turned to night under the eclipse when I was twenty years old.
The eclipse came and darkened the world. It was followed by the creatures from Otherworld, that turned the world something darker than black. Some say that the biggest loss that day was the fatal injury of our king. I say that was nothing compared to the loss of my mother, who was slain before my eyes, shattering my mind. In an instant my whole world was gone, replaced by a living nightmare I could not awake from. The next decade I spent in an asylum, mending a broken mind. But I was not alone, even with her gone.
Ten is my number. A modicum of sanity returned to me when I was thirty years old.
After several years, the cracks in my mind lessened. Still, through the cracks they had come; soothing, shouting and seductive voices. I almost killed myself several times, but in the chorus of them all, I learned that the darkness was festering inside me, waiting to be released and herald eternal night. I started honing my physical body, which combined with meditation, forced the voices to the background. While I was better mentally and physically than I had been in many years, my release into society was not for another decade.
Ten is my number. I conquered the maze that was my mind and got released when I was forty years old.
Still literally fighting my inner demons, I was drawn to the field of academia, allowing myself to be absorbed by reading and studying, trying to make sense of the world, barely sleeping. It was hard at times, playing catch-up and keeping my concentration, with the voices following my every thought, but I needed to win. I was naturally drawn to the occult, studying the eclipse and whatever tidbits of demon lore could be found. Despite slowly forgetting myself, I found that whatever I read stuck, with me being able to recall it to the smallest detail.
Ten is my number. I found my calling when I was fifty years old.
There was little I could glean from scrolls and theoretic debates about Otherworld, and even tales from travelers, never yielded anything. That is, until I met the right traveler, the one who initiated me into the ranks of the witch hunters. The coming years was spent with her teaching me everything she knew about magic, the occult, fighting and love. We were on track to change the world together, until one day when my concentration broke down, and I joined the nine voices for a while, drowning her in her own blood.
Ten is my number. I shouldered my sorrow and braved the world when I was sixty years old.
Rigorous training and studying the past many years left me much different. I was no longer the ignorant child, I possessed knowledge. I was no longer the weak child, I possessed strength. I was no longer the lonely child, I possessed friends. I was, no, not friends, enemies. Several times they’ve helped me, faking friendship and trying to win my trust though advice, both helpful and insane. But while one voice speaks of friendship, at the same time another speaks of betrayal. I must fight the dark. I must fight the dark. I must fight the dark…
Ten is my number. Another great event will pass in my life when I become seventy years old.
Rumors of the most powerful artifact in the world reached my ears, something that surely could be used in the fight against the Otherworld, both outside and within me. Something in ten fragments, just like my mind and the nine voices. I’ve been on the hunt for bandits that are rumored to have possession of a fragment. Once I catch up to them, they will reveal what they know, one way or the other, and then they will die. No loose ends, nothing to alert the creatures of the Otherworld. For we are coming for them.
Ten is our name. And for all the mothers in the world, another eclipse will not come to pass. This I swear.