I’m only writing this because Perrin said it would be healthy for me to talk about my history and since I don’t talk much he’ll have to settle for me writing it.
Part One -
I only remember glimpses of the Underdark so much of this I’ve just had to piece together. I remember my parents talking about Blingdenstone. They lived there before the Drow destroyed it. They would have had to have been very young for that. They spent the next decades with our clan wandering the Underdark. Sometimes they would stay for years in one location, but always the Drow would come. If not the Drow some other horror from the deep.
I was born during this time. My memories from then are just glimpses. My father telling me stories about Belwar Dissengulp fighting the Drow at Mithral Hall. My mother giving me lessons. I can’t even remember their faces honestly.
Then there is blackness. I’ve tried to recall what happened in the last days. Sometimes I dream of it and then it slips away when I wake up.
My first clear memory is running through the dark. I don’t know what was chasing me. I was crying. I distinctly remember wondering why tears were only coming from my right eye and what smelled like burning ripplebark (For you surface-dwellers, this is an edible fungus in the Underdark). I rounded a corner and caught the first glimpse of solar light in my life. No surface dweller could have perceived the difference – I was likely still hundreds of feet below the surface – but to me it was the brightest light I had ever seen.
A group of human miners found me. The left side of my body – ribs, arm, neck, and face – had been severely burned and the healers weren’t able to repair it in time. Fortunately they were able to save my eye. I had reached the surface in a mining town near Silverymoon. Not knowing what to do with me, they brought me to an orphanage in Silverymoon.
That’s all I know of my younger days. My name is Ominicus; everyone calls me Omi. I don’t know my clan name or if they are still alive. I don’t know how old I am. The priests of the local Lords of the Golden Hills temple estimate I was about ten when I was brought to the orphanage. They had little experience with Svirfneblin though, so who knows if they were right. The only possession I have from that time is a stone figurine of Belwar that I wear in a pouch around my neck. I believe my father made it.
There is one thing that I will write that I’ve never spoken to anyone. In my quiet moments, I hear something from the Underdark. Or maybe feel it. Something calls to me from the Underdark. I spent much of my childhood sneaking around the under-city of Silverymoon, but it always called deeper. I don’t know if it’s a friend or foe, but one day I will answer the call. And this time I won’t be a frightened child.
Part Two -
I spent seven years in an orphanage. I didn’t break three feet till my fifth year and I was ugly. You can imagine how the other children treated me. I didn’t speak much and when I did I rarely spoke the surface language they tried so hard to teach me. The adults here didn’t seem to like me much either. I spent as much time as I could staying invisible and, as I said, exploring parts of the city I should not be in. That’s all I have to say about that time.
Part Three -
Glaucus Numa was not a kind mind, but he’s the first one that ever treated me as a creature worthy of respect. Glaucus was a dwarf, but had lived among humans his whole life. He had two hobbies – crafting strange contraptions and cultivating talent. He had several apprentices. Some of them had gone on to be master artificers on their own. He also kept an eye out for people who had a ‘knack’ for anything useful. If a friend’s daughter showed aptitude for magic, he’d pull strings to get her into one of the schools of magic. If a serving boy had a great voice, he’d know just the right minstrel looking for an apprentice.
So when he found a scrappy little Svirfneblin at a nearby orphanage he was overjoyed. He legally adopted me. I am the legal son of a dwarf in Silverymoon. This wasn’t out of some paternal feeling though. He did it as the most direct way to get what he wanted – another prodigy he could mold and ultimately have in his pocket. I didn’t mind. He got me out of the orphanage and I will forever have a great deal of respect and gratitude towards him.
Time and time again I foiled his plans to train me as an artificer (Belwar would never use a gun!), but I was fascinated by his magic. To his credit, he gave in to my obsession with the gnome hero and hired a retired halfling mercenary named Perrin to train me. Thinking about it now, I realize Perrin was the first friend I had, even though I had to speak to him in that surface language.
There were a few words and phrases that Glaucus and Perrin would use interchangeably – Zhentarim, “the family”, and the Black Network. I didn’t know and maybe still don’t know exactly what it is. Glaucus and Perrin are always mysterious about it, but there are two things I have picked up from them about the Zhentarim.
One, they believe that each one of us is the master of our own destiny. Perrin once told me, “Never be less than you deserve to be.” This gave me a sense of control about my own life that I had never had.
The other thing they stressed was that the Zhentarim is your family – you watch out for them and they will watch out for you. I longed for that feeling. To be part of something. To matter.
When a firbolg named Sender and his kobold companion, Sezki, showed up at Glaucus’ door and told him that one of his apprentice’s, Caseed, had been murdered I told Glaucus I would like to avenge his death. Maybe once I’ve proven myself, I can be part of this family.