Tale of Fools
He is a mystery, even unto himself...
Balthas was born a refugee. He was raised in virtual slavery by a vicious old hag of a woman that he knew only as Grandmother. He never understood how, but he knew she was no blood relative. Grandmother told him that his family was dead, victims of the pogrom of the Pomarj of forty years before, when the Hateful Wars finished and the displaced orc and goblinoid tribes descended on the Suel estates of the independent Pomarj. Abandoned by the Lion Guarded Throne after their earlier rebellion, the estates of the humans were quickly overrun. Their owners and servants slaughtered, or enslaved. Balthas' first memory is of fleeing and fear, and death.
According to Grandmother, she found him as a toddler in the arms of his mother, as she lay dying in the swamp that Grandmother had long made her home. His mother had time only to tell Grandmother a little of her family before she died. As he grew what she told him was that his family was descended from a disgraced branch of a powerful Suel noble house back in the Kingdom of Keoland. Even this little knowledge of his heritage came after persistent pleading, and with reluctance from Grandmother; he knows that bitch was a liar.
One day he asked where his mother's grave was. At first the old witch sneered as she always did, and refused to help. After much begging, and many beatings, she finally took him into the swamp, to the mound where his mother was buried. The witch laughed at him and left him there. Balthas knew what he had to do. He dug up the grave with his bare hands . After so many years, all that was left was bones; but they told a story. It was obvious that the bones had been butchered. The same familiar serrated knife that he had seen cut up many a supper over the years had been used on his mother. Worse still were the marks where familiar and sharp teeth had cracked and sucked the marrow from her bones. With fury in his heart he ran back to Grandmother. He doesn't know how it arose in him, but the dark power was there when he needed it. Surprising the old witch, and him, eldritch fire leapt from his hands and struck the old hag down. Blast after blast flew from his fists as cold fury and the desire for freedom gripped him. When Grandmother breathed her last the flesh melted from her body, leaving iron like bones, that crumbled in the weak sunshine. It was clear that she was not, and never had been, human.
All that was left of her was a ring on a chain that she had always worn around her neck. The ring was too small to have fitted the hag's claws. As he slipped it on his finger, Balthas knew that it had belonged to his mother. At that moment it was as if a key had opened the heart of the young warlock. He knew he had to find his family and answer the riddle of his unearthly power. He left the swamp that day and never returned.
The ring was engraved with a simple letter V.