Byrrden’s earliest memories are of the thieves’ guild that trained him. His mother was a prostitute catering to the rich and powerful of the Imperial City. Being in the employ many influential men, her life became endangered when she found herself pregnant. When she could no longer hide that she was with child many clients became worried. The other prostitutes spread rumors and stoked the paranoia. She took off to the Arjuf believing that would be far enough.
She was able to raise young Byrrden for 3 years when the rumors finally caught up with her. Thinking the child would be safer if no one could associate the two, she gave a cunning and resourceful thief all the money she had. In exchange he would take the child in and raise him as one of the guild, teach him to be a shadow. And then she was gone, into the wind. The thief, Wisk, was the first person Byrrden truly remembers.
Wisk promised to train the child and to keep him alive, but he never promised to be a father. Cold and unaffectionate on purpose, Wisk was never satisfied. The guild needed be at the pinnacle of their abilities always if they had any hopes to avoid being caught. Wisk was quick to remind young Byrrden that his mother was a whore who gave him up and that the guild was the only family he had. And failure meant he was out of the family.
Byrrden learned a lot about himself over the next 16 years. He learned to withstand pain, to endure insults, to survive on as little as possible. But he also learned that he was an exceptional safecracker, quiet as a funeral home, and agile as cat. Being able to dilate his pupils to see perfectly in the dark helped. Wisk favored him, which in his twisted mind is why he sent Byrrden on the most difficult assignments.
One fateful evening Wisk handed him an assignment that would change everything. A client wanted a weapon of immense power retrieved from a stodgy old warrior. The warrior, Hawas, was the stuff of legends, but no one had seen him in years. According to the client the weapon he possessed could level mountains.
Byrrden was a very skilled burglar, but breaking into a hero’s home with him and a weapon of that magnitude inside made him nervous. But out of fear of losing the only home he knew he took the assignment. In the dead of night he crept in the dilapidated shack of this legendary warrior. He skulked through the shadows, past the snoring mountain of a man. He waited a very long while, studying his face. Worn and scarred, wrinkled and grayed. Even slumbering, Hawas exuded power.
Sure that he was asleep, Byrrden crept around the home until he found the weapon he was looking for. It was a massive axe, chipped and rusted from age and use. The second Byrdden’s hand touched the weapon Hawas’ hand was upon him. He locked eyes with the old man, deep blue orbs with flecks of silver. Hawas threw him across the room and was there to meet him with a punch when he reached the other side.
As fast and as quiet as Byrrden had become, he never really needed to throw a punch. Unfortunately for him Hawas spent his life punching things until they were no longer things. Byrrden made every effort to break away and escape, but he could not shake Hawas. As his heart rate escalated the sound of a big cat crept into the edge of his hearing. Just as the warrior brought his massive hand down to rip away Byrrden’s mask something happened. An empty circle appeared on Byrrden’s forehead and began to glow with all the colors of the evening sky.
On the verge of death his exaltation came, anima flaring out in plumes of smoke in every shade of sundown. The plumes twisted and swirled into a massive tiger, stripes of violet, gold, blue and green. The tiger opened its eyes to reveal two glowing yellow orbs, baleful setting suns. The tiger pounced on Byrrden wrapping its powerful forelegs around him. Upon contact the tiger shifted from smoke to light enrobing Byrrden’s form. Hawas was momentarily blinded by the display giving Byrrden just enough space to run. And run he did, into the night, battered, afraid, a failure, an anathema.
He returned to Wisk in the morning, empty handed and still covered in his own blood. Unaccustomed to hearing failure from Byrrden, Wisk became irate and attacked him. His reflexes quickened and awareness heightened, Wisk was unable to touch Byrrden. This frustrated Wisk. He called in the rest of the guild to hold Byrrden down. Byrrden panicked and his caste mark flared again. Although this time no smoke and glowing animal came to his rescue. But he wouldn’t need it, he was faster than these mortals now. They yelled after him calling him anathema and swore to kill him if they ever saw him again.
Byrrden was now completely on his own. He had no fear of the daytime, if he needed something he would just take it. It was the nights that brought fear. His former “family” could be lurking around any corner. After a week of skulking around the shadows of the city he turned to the only place he knew that they would not go. He went to Hawas’ house and knocked on the front door, mask in hand.
Hawas bellowed to leave him in peace, but he knocked again and again until the giant finally threw open the door. He looked down and saw the mask, he looked at the face of the boy he beat the living shit out of a week ago, with not a scratch on it. Byrrden begged him for mercy, begged him for shelter. Hawas was angry, mistrusting, but he knew what the kid was and knew he needed help, so he let him in.
Byrrden explained his assignment and what happened after with Wisk and the guild. Hawas let out a hearty laugh. Wiping away a tear he explained that he did indeed cleave a mountain in half, but he did it with his bare hands. Byrrden begged him to take him in and teach him how to fight. Hawas having chosen to exile himself inside a hut for the better part of a decade had no interest in adopting a teenager. Byrrden offered to retrieve whatever his heart desired in exchange for housing.
It was then that Hawas realized what he needed to do. This son of a whore and a mob boss for “father” now had unlimited power and no clue where it came from. So Hawas explained to him that he was chosen by the Unconquered Sun to bring glory back to creation. He told him of the life he left behind, of the Gold Faction and the work they did to help Solars survive in a world that hates them. He agreed to take him in and to teach him to fight, but he would need to listen to every lesson.
The old Sidereal was a both a master martial artist and an idealist. He was desperate to realign Byrrden’s moral compass. To do that he would need to focus on the ills that befell the boy-poverty, abuse, manipulation. Day by day Hawas would chip away at the twisted roots that Wisk had cultivated in Byrrden.
Finding a fitting style to teach Byrrden also proved difficult. He struggled and became frustrated until he realized where the boy’s strength lied-in the shadows. He taught him the art of the ninja, Ebon Shadow Style. Taught him that the value in stealth is that once someone realizes you are there it is too late to do anything about it.
Unfortunately, the client had not given up with the initial failure to retrieve the mountain cleaving weapon. Wisk sent more men to retrieve it. This time Byrrden was the one attacking from all angles in the darkness. In the melee one of the thieves escaped and reported back to Wisk what had happened. Wisk being the resourceful type decided not to throw anymore of his own men at the problem. He alerted the local authorities of anathema in town.
A wyld hunt was dispatched to deal with the menace. They descended upon Hawas’ hut with the fury of a volcano. Byrrden and Hawas fended them off as much as they could, but the warrior knew the tide was turning. He commanded Byrrden to flee. Byrrden fought him, but it was no use. Hawas died the mighty warrior’s death he had been avoiding for so many years.
Rage overtook Byrrden. He returned to Wisk and beat him to death. As Wisk lay dying he let out a sick giggle. He told Byrrden the whole truth about the deal his mother struck, and that she fled for her life. And just as he was about to give him the direction she went he took his last breath. With no clues and 17 years of time past Byrrden took to the open road to solve his own mystery. Little did he know…