Character Name: Mark Fireoak
Player Name: NPC
|At only 15, Mark already has the mature looks of his father if not the height and bulk. Ruggedly handsome with long, shaggy black hair and startling green eyes, the lean, well-muscled boy is never without female attention. Preferring styles in clothing that vary with his environment, Mark is at home in the greens and browns of the forest or jeans and tees of Earth and no matter which, he wears them well.|
The Seeker ghosted through the darkened streets on silent, booted feet, the voluminous cloak that covered her from throat to asphalt hiding any hint of the shape beneath. While it was possible to have landed in a city with a higher crime rate, for someone completely innocent of such matters, she had been horrified by the acts of pure evil she had witnessed in her short time in the area. Here in the ‘Cold and Green’ people killed one another over such insignificant matters that it was not hard to understand her conclusion that the entire population must be mad.
That night she tracked a rumor overheard as she sat in a dark corner of one of the danker establishments the people of this land frequented in an effort to eradicate all thoughts of their troubles using various means. Strong drink, strong herbs, and even stronger concoctions undreamt of in her distant homeland along with fevered couplings in foul places following an exchange of coin seemed to her to be the norm of the city. She had learned, however, that even in this most foul of lands, occasionally a spark of innocence shone out like a beacon. It was such a beacon she sought that night.
Two, a man and a woman, nearly as secluded as she, groped one another in an alcove near where she sat, their voices clearly audible to one born with superb hearing. After a few hurried moments of animalistic grunts and moans the duo subsided and spoke softly.
“You gotta get rid of that brat,” the man said, his breathing still harsh from his exertions.
“What do ya want me to do, throw him out on the street? He’s only five!” the woman replied.
“Well, he ain’t yours!” the man said, the zipping of his pants distinct even over the background sounds of the bar.
“Baby, I can’t do that,” the woman said, her voice a coo.
“There’s that shelter just up the block from you, drop the little bastard off there,” the man replied.
Glass shattered and sparks flew as small metal pellets peppered the inside of the building, instantly killing the pair so near. Struck on her left side just below one breast, the seeker was knocked from her seat onto the stickiness of the saloon’s floor. At least three other of the slugs tugged at the leather of her cloak and instinctively she pulled a dagger from a sheath at her hip. Taking a slow breath she determined that, other than a bruise, she had taken no lasting damage. Slowly she rose to a crouch, her eyes just above the level of the table she has so recently occupied, to find the room in the expected chaos. Keeping low, she rounded the corner of the alcove and pulled aside the dingy drape.
Immediately she knew there was nothing she could do for the couple, both stared at her through sightless eyes. Crawling under the table, she felt along the bench-like seat and found what she was looking for. The object disappeared into the interior of the cloak as she backed out. Once clear, she rose to her feet and, deftly weaving between over-turned chairs and panicked people, left through the open front door. Once out onto the street she took a deep breath to clear the stench of death from her nose though the city’s odors were only a marginal improvement. Unhurriedly she disappeared into the night.
Faint grey had begun to tint the eastern sky before she arrived at her destination. Had it not been for a gift from the Great One, the night’s chill damp air would have rendered her comatose. Even so she shivered at the thought of being unprotected. Pulling the cloak tighter around her slender body, she studied the numerous tiny placards displayed in two rows beside the building’s entrance. Finding the one she sought, she tried the door, finding it locked. For a moment she considered then in a blink stood on inside the small front hall.
Moving quickly, for the wail of distant sirens were growing louder, she mounted the stairs to the topmost floor and found the proper door. Again it was locked but she hesitated to duplicate her earlier trick with the glass front door. To step thus into an unknown space was to invite death but she did have to hurry. Raising a gloved fist, she rapped smartly on the door and listened. For a moment, she heard only the increasing noise of approaching authority then a click and the door opened just enough for an eye to appear, an eye considerably lower than her own diminutive five feet. Without words, the door swung open and the Seeker stepped inside.
The apartment was every bit as run down as she expected, with a shabby couch set before a table holding one of the ubiquitous entertainment devices she had no use for. A table and four mis-matched chairs were wedged against a wall beside a stove, several white paper containers scattered about. Through the open door to the only other room, she could see an iron framed bed with grey sheets and a tattered blanket. Assured the rooms had but the one occupant, she turned her attention to the small figure in pink pajamas.
The boy was about five, as she had expected and thin to the point of malnutrition. He stood watching her silently through huge brown eyes. He looked slightly dirty, his thatch of brown hair tousled and stringy and the Seeker could see no joy in his eyes only weary resignation. For a moment she thought her heart would break then she stepped up to him and opened her cloak, pulling him inside where his cold body pressed against hers. Squatting she took him in her arms and stood.
“What is your name, child,” she said softly, her accent so strange to the boy that he pulled away slightly to get a better look at her. Their eyes met and she smiled.
“Mark,” he said in a whisper. “Are you my mommy?”
“Yes, my son, I am your mommy.”
The family sat around the library on various pieces for comfortable furniture or played quietly on the thick Persian rug before the fireplace, a single member, and the youngest, held in the arms of his mother. Ten had hair as dark a raven’s wing, the eleventh was a blaze of gold, a star in the firmament of the night. All regarded the world through the same shade of green eyes.
“It is done.”
The man put out a hand to stop the youth at his side. Obediently, the boy stopped, becoming as still and silent as the man. Less than two meters in front of them the sun dappled a fawn as it lay curled up in the leaves. The man had spotted it long before the boy, and pointed it out.
“Let’s see how close we can get,” he had said his voice inaudible from more than a few inches.
Over the next five minutes the man had moved as wraith-like as only an elf in a forest could be. The boy, not originally of the same race, had to learn the hard way what his father had been practically born with. Following carefully in the man’s exact tracks the duo at last reach their current vantage point. The boy, his eyes tracking between his father and the fawn, saw an ear twitch on both almost simultaneously. Relaxing as he’d been taught, rather than tensing, a faint movement caught his attention. It was a glance of his father’s green eyes that allowed the boy to make out the carefully moving doe approaching her fawn.
At a gesture, the pair faded back the way they’d come making no more sound than a breeze through the leaves. Once a safe distance away, they relaxed and the man put his arm around the boy’s shoulder.
“We don’t have to kill to hunt, Mark,” the man called Ghost Archer said. “You were perfect, I am proud of you.”
The boy beamed up at his father and there could be no mistaking them for aught but father and son. It had not always been so. When his mother had brought him to his father, he had been filthy and badly under-nourished with mousy brown hair and eyes the color of mud. Now he stood tall, though still a half dozen inches below his father’s 6’4”, and well-muscled with a mop of raven-wing black hair and eyes the color of the pine needles around them.
The changes, however, had more to do with genetic manipulation than nature. He had been with his family only a few years when demands were made of his mother by authorities to return the homeless orphan children she’d collected over her short life in the ‘cold and green’ as she called it, meaning the Earth on which he had been born. In truth only three of his siblings had been born to Raven and fathered by Archer. The remaining 6, himself included, had been rescued from lives that would have turn out far different from the loving environment they now enjoyed. Josho, the eldest, had been rescued from the dead breast of his drug addicted mother, he, himself suffering from the same addiction. Jessy, his eldest sister, had been taken in after her assassin father was killed by one of his own bombs. Then there were the triplets, Luthien, Aaron and Nicky, all clones of Raven doomed to a life-span of only ten years, rescued from captivity from an organ farm by Raven and Archer.
Though he, Josho and Jessy were not genetically the children of Raven, she was prepared to die to keep them as part of her family. It had been Archer that had purposed the solution and though Mark only vaguely understood the strange ‘magic’ his father had used those three where now and forever the genetic children of and siblings to the family that took the name Fireoak, elves one and all. Genetic, however, did not an elf make and so, whenever possible, his father took each out for training. For Mark, it was the best times of his life.
“We got right up on it!” he said later to two of the triplets. Nicky, as usual was lost in a moldering old tome the wizard Narel had provided. Luthien gazed at him solemnly while Aaron’s eyes danced with the excitement of the tale.
“Daddy said I could go next year,” Aaron was almost bouncing as he sat cross-legged next to his sister.
“Why bother?” Nicky said, peering at the three over the top of his book. “We got other places to go!”
“Places dad wouldn’t let you go if you asked, right, Nicky?” Mark eyed the younger boy.
The boy shrugged and returned to his reading.
“Everything will be fine,” Luthien said softly in that odd tone she got when she was ‘predicting’. “Though two of us will regret it.” She looked directly at Aaron and the boy squirmed.
Mark was away when Luthien’s prediction came to pass but when he returned he had no problem taking the triplets to task.
“Why didn’t you come to me!” he growled. “I was only a few hundred miles away!”
Aaron was the only one of the three that appeared in the least shame-faced.
“Why travel all the distance when we could come out only ten miles off?” Nicky said heatedly. “I wanted to get there fast ‘cuz I knew Jessie’d call dad as soon as she decided it wasn’t fun anymore!”
“Not fun anymore!” Mark sometimes wished he could throttle the boy.
Nicky’s latest escapade had resulted in Luthien being shot in the thigh with an arrow and Aaron being struck on the head and rendered unconscious. Not only that but their eldest sister, Jessie, and her friends, had been put in a position that required them to defend the three children, not that that particular group wasn’t up to handling just about anything. However Wren Collins and Jessie had both gotten frostbite, Matt Doppler had been hit by a number of arrows and Nathaniel Ryan had been scalded by superheated stream from a shaft Jessie had created in an effort to provide the group with heat. As usual, only Nicky had escaped unscathed.
“I thought Jessy had more sense,” he muttered.
“More sense than what, brother,” the tone was accusatory and when he turned to face the door, Jessie was leaning against the jam, her arms folded across her chest.
Like her siblings, Jessy had beautiful green eyes but like their sister, Thistle, her hair was blonde, currently blonde. As Mark understood it, she was blonde at the moment to attract the attention of his new roommate at the Academy, Nat Ryan. Today she was dressed in shorts that hung low on her hips to reveal the strings of a bikini bottom and a tee shirt, a wet tee shirt, over a matching bikini top. Her hair was damp, probably from a swim. Sometimes Mark wished he didn’t have to call her ‘sister’ she was drop-dead beautiful and sexier than just about any girl he’d ever met . . . well, maybe not ANY girl. The elf girls of the forest were just as sexy and NOT his sister.
“So, where ya been this time,” Jessy said snagging the leather backpack he’d carried on his last trip. Rummaging through it she hissed “Yeah!” as she brought out a liter-sized flask covered in thick felt. Unstoppering it without asking she tipped it back and swallowed about half before Mark snatched it from her.
“Hey!” he said indignantly. “That’s mine!” He made a grab for the stopper but she easily dodged him.
“Next time,” she said, “Bring two!”
“You ain’t old enough to drink,” he said sternly.
“I am a year older than you,” she said, making a grab for the bottle.
It was true. Only a few months ago, he’d been ‘big brother’ to a nine year old brat but somewhere in that time, Jessy had been taken to the Forest by her mother and when she’d returned, six years had passed for Jessy but only a few months for Mark. The manipulation of time had left him the junior sibling.
“Dad know you’re drinking?” Jessy asked foregoing her attempts to take the bottle.
“Its ELF wine,” Mark said. “All the elves at practically weaned on the stuff!”
“Still gets ya drunk,” she said holding out a hand for the flask.
“Thank you,” said Luthien as she smoothly intercepted the wine. She held out a small hand for the stopper and Jessy placed it in her palm. “You, brother, need to be someplace now, and you, sister, do as well.”
It was a typical Luthien pronouncement and brooked no arguments. Surrendering to the inevitable, Mark headed out of the room with the roll of his eyes. He caught the hint of a smile from Luthien and suddenly was excited about whatever was coming. The little girl’s normal ‘gloom and doom’ tone had been mitigated by the tiny knowing smile. Something good was about to happen!
Of the nine children of Raven and Archer, none is so like his father as Mark, not only in appearance but in interests. From the minute he had recovered sufficiently from his malnutrition Mark was Archer’s shadow nearly every moment his father was home. To everyone’s surprise, this tagging along didn’t bother the bowman in the least and from the beginning he made every effort to teach the boy lessons learn in his over 200 year lifetime. By the time he was seven, the two had spent weeks living off the land of the Valley, appearing to the rest of the inhabitants only rarely and then only to assuage Raven’s worry. At nine, Archer at last took the boy to the home of his ancestors and Mark loved it.
The elven city had been built in the high branches of vast trees that made up the forest and Mark wasted no time in exploring every foot. The other thing was the elves! They were everywhere and not the diminutive elves of his mother’s Fireoak Forest but tall and elegant elves of his father. The boy became a constant source of amusement to the serene beings that made their home in the trees. In all the long history of the forest, no human child had ever been seen, let alone, raised under its boughs. Genetically elf he might have been, but human he was in temperament.
In a few days the boy had recruited a dozen elves his own age, plus or minus a couple of decades, and the little band began to ‘adventure’ together. Soon the previously peaceful silence of the forest was torn asunder by Mark’s little band of what Archer called ‘hooligans’ so much so in fact that after about a month, the elders of the forest politely asked Archer to ‘take your child home!’ Complying gracefully, the pair returned to the Valley and Archer set about taming the wild child but he remembered his own periods of childhood insanity and smiled. When Mark returned to the Forest a year later he came as a respectful guest and only occasionally after that was the quiet disturbed. By the time he was 15 even that had passed.
|Mark, much to his own disappointment, did not inherit his father’s powers though Archer has hinted this may not be a certainty. He did, however, inherit a great deal of the physical aspects of the bowman. He has not only all of the physical advantages of his elvish blood; a perfect body, increased life-span, enhanced sense, immunity to diseases but also the advantage of all the training available in the Valley. Trained in the Way of the Sword and the Way of the Bow by his father, Mark has also become nearly as expert at woodscraft as his erstwhile Forest playmates. Linguistically adept he has also mastered the two variations of the elvish language as well as English but the skills he seems to rely on the most are his musical accomplishments. Living amongst the talented and artistic elves of his father’s people, coupled with his parents’ own talents, has produced a talented musician and singer. These two skills make him remarkably successful with the girls of his home world and his introduction of ‘modern’ music to the Forest has done much the same with the elvish maidens there as well.|
Of all the children of Archer and Raven, Mark, so far, is the most truly elvish. Knowing he is virtually immortal gives him a laid back outlook on life and a devil-may-care attitude. Though he does make regular trip home and has a large number of friends there, mainly female, he prefers to spend the majority of his time with his father’s people. At this time it is highly doubtful Mark will ever take up his father’s calling as a superhero, possibly due to his lack of true ‘powers’. This may change, however, if the boy ever develops such abilities.
Girls are one major difference between father and son. Where Archer has always been monogamous, Mark has no such proclivities. From the moment the boy discovered girls, he has been dedicated to conquering as many as possible in the short amount of time, be they human or elf. His eldest sister, Jessy, constantly warns him against this rampant promiscuity but the boy blithely ignores her. Luthien also warns him of consequences but as she refuses to be specific, Mark refuses to listen to her.
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