Tieflings are not looked upon with kindness, nor sympathy. Rather, they are scorned for actions that were not their own, actions committed by their ancestors who existed in a simpler time. Via covenants and curses, they bear varying levels of their demonic descent. Signifiers to society that they are different, born with a predisposition to evil.
Tafn- a word meaning orphan, one who has been left behind by those supposed to be a constant in one’s life.
Our Tafn, earned her name from the many folk that ignored her cries as a babe abandoned on the street. No one wanted a fiendish spawn in their meager homes.
Except for someone who was already a fiend themselves.
Whether it was out of a sense of duty or solidarity, Different wasn’t sure. She had just acted. Her home was little more than a tent, but it was adequate enough for her heart.
In the thin fabric held down by stones in the alley, tears were visible, a result of many bumps from Different’s horns. Luckily, the child had come in a basket so no search was needed for accommodations. She placed in the farthest corner from her own bedroll, and she would later always remind Tafn that she was lucky to have her own corner. Her own place.
The child cried so much the first few months that many, many times Different had considered just putting her back where she found her. Something always seemed to stop her on the walk there though. A particularly large and deep puddle in some broken cobblestone, an armed bandit and his victim along the way.
So Tafn was quieted every night with wine snatched from the brothel Different worked at. It was all she could figure to do, she had arranged to be barren years ago to avoid this exact situation…
As she grew, she was put to work immediately. Not in the brothel mind you. Awful of you to think so. No. Different taught her quasi-daughter the art of pickpocketing. She molded her hands into slippery snakes, like breezes by the better off pockets. Ensured she was always cautious, how to use her unique traits to get in and out fast. Getting caught could be deadly if the right adventurer was in a bad enough mood.
Tafn adopted these skills with the same ease with which Different had taken her in. They grew with mutual respect for each other. Well, as much respect as a 5-year-old could give. The two fought over bedtime like every family, and there were huffed timeouts in their little tent. They never explicitly stated it, but they loved each other.
So you could imagine young Tafn’s...dismay when she arrived, arms full of gold and silver to sell on some black market when she smelled blood. It decorated the tent, dying it red in past raindrops of splattering insides.
She bristled and shoved her goods behind a trash can before she stalked forward towards the front of the tent. Robberies weren’t uncommon among the poor, but Different was well-respected enough that this was unexpected.
A man laughed heartily and she quickly dashed to hide alongside her stolen inventory.
“Another sack of garbage off the streets!” he said jovially.
His figure was huge and distorted in the shadows. Hulking joints seemed to jut out from unlikely places, making him a monster in the early night.
He would have to pass her to leave the dead-end of the alleyway and Tafn’s heart pulsed into her ears. When he finally came into view, it was only the instincts drilled into her that kept her from crying out.
It was no creature, but it sure as hell was a monster. The limbs that seemed to stick out was none other than a dead Different slung over his shoulder, her horns crudely shaved off.
For hours Tafn couldn’t move. She hadn’t stopped him, hadn’t tried to get some retribution. She was simply frozen by her self preservation.
. . .
Once a street rat, always a street rat.
A circus was in town that week, surprisingly unperturbed by the rotting, stinking slums designed as a warning. Perhaps they were attracted to the notion of real-life freaks, unlike the phony getups they pranced around in. Either way, it meant people were about, foaming at the mouths to spend their pennies. And where there is money, there are thieves.
Tafn strolled through the crowds, smiling and nonchalant, apologizing as she bumped into people. Tafn reasoned it was their fault for their inattentiveness when they realized their wallets were gone. It was too late by then.
As she casually nabbed a candied apple from a cart, another traveling shop caught her trained eyes. Her tail flicked back and forth. Jewelry always went for nice prices, especially if the quality was authentic.
The seller barely raised his eyes as she feigned real interest in his products. She wrinkled her nose in annoyance. It was mostly homemade DIY crap that she could have made from dumpster string and random pebbles. However, a pair of earrings caught her eyes. She didn’t just steal to sell y’know.
For some reason, she was drawn to the pair of rabbit’s feet hanging from the coil formed into hooks.
“Don even fink bout tryin ta grab sumin under my eyes ya damned curséd.” the old dwarf shopkeep declared, not even glancing up when he spoke.
Tafn laughed, “Of course not sir! I was simply admiring your work.”
To this he looked up slightly, distrust gleaming in his misty eyes. Hell, he’s onto me.
“May I try them on? I want to be sure they’re not too heavy…” she said pointing at the severed paws, flashing her pouch of coins for extra emphasis.
It had its desired effect and he relaxed at the prospect of proper payment. At his nod, Tafn put them on and smiled. They were surprisingly lightweight and bouncy around her head. She decided she would indeed keep them.
Pretending to slip as she walked to put them back on their hook, she pushed his goods towards him and onto the ground. He cursed and started down to return them to their spots, but glancing up, he saw the culprit was gone.
“DAMNED HELL WHORE!”
Tafn was long accustomed to such derogatory terms and genuinely chuckled from her spot far from the geezer’s stand. She appreciated creativity and words bounced off her practically scarlet skin.
The whole way back to her tent, it seemed as though the universe was dropping her gifts, like some well off relative that sent money rather than visits. A pouch of gold in the dirt, a full bottle of wine in the middle of the street, rolled on its side.
It was a good day.
. . .
Nothing bad ever seemed to happen to Tafn. Stealing even got boring. She started to get overly bold, after all, nothing bad had gotten her yet, right?
One day a wizard she had pinned to a wall, blatantly robbing him, screamed a little loud. Local guards came rushing from a pub where they had previously been holed up, getting a good look at her face. All she managed to get off the scholar was some papers and a book, but pride stopped her from leaving her bounty as she sprinted through the streets she knew better than her own pinky nail.
As she skidded into her home alley, she made her way to her home tent with ease, and didn’t dare catch her breath till the sound of footsteps ceased to echo in the distance. Her earrings swung next to her face. It would be a while before she could go out again so she settled into her corner and sighed.
When her lungs finally stopped crying out, she unfolded the papers from her pants.
Huh, looks important.
They were documents that claimed his identity. Now, this would sell well. People were always running from something and needed a way to “legally” start again.
She tossed them aside and flipped through the pages of the book she now recognized as a journal.
Great, this is going to be useless.
However, as she skimmed the pages, her attention was more and more enthralled. The pages meticulously detailed bodily structures and anatomical regions of multiple races. There were numbers and formulas, cures and aids for nose bleeds to deadly diseases. Luckily, he had organized and neat notes, even an uneducated teen could understand.
What if….What if she restarted...She moved into some new city, with a shiny new identity.
There had to be a market for a doctor who would treat thieves….
. . .
She decided would rename herself, Ouija, one blessed by Lady Luck herself.
As she had left behind her tent, the ripped canopies that she called home for all these years, the once comfortable darkness nipping at her heels, she leaned on the brick one more time, almost turning back.
The small space had filled with a light at her touch, and it pushed her forward, hope surging her heart towards a new start.
. . .
A guild chair flew past her head from the table she was ducked behind.
Or so she thought.