Path of the Polestars
Zook "Badger" Scheppen
Rock Gnome, 50 years old, 3ft 9in, 40lbs, with honey colored skin, flaxen hair and beard, & bright emerald eyes
My name is Zook “Badger” Scheppen. Just over fifty years ago I was welcomed into this world by my parents, Boddynock and Zanna Scheppen. I was their first and only child and I inherited their honey colored skin and flaxen hair, but most importantly their love of life. My father used to always say that life was of unlimited beauty and joy, and that the only sad thing in this world was that there was a limit on how long we got to enjoy it. Gnomes are a fairly long lived race, but my father still insisted it was not enough time.
My father ran the family gem business. The family business had been handed down from generation to generation for many centuries. As a child I thought it was amazing the way he could take what looked like an ugly translucent or colored rock and turn it into a truly beautiful gem. He always told me that jewels were pure beauty immortalized in stone; and that through hard work and patient skill you could be a part of allowing that beauty to shine. My father loves his work and would talk about jewels non-stop if you let him. Of course it is that passion that has led him to become successful. Not only is he a master craftsman, he is a spectacular salesman as well.
The burrow I grew up in is a beautiful place nestled comfortably between rolling hills. It was also half way between one of the entrances to the nearby dwarf mine, and a mostly human town where we would sell our jewels. The Dwarves would mine the raw gems, my father would buy them, transform them into beautiful works of art, and then he and my mother would travel to the town and sell them. My mother has a beautiful singing voice and would draw people to my father’s stall at the market with her voice and the sounds of her lyre.
I became the best of friends with Orsik, the son of one of the dwarf miners. Our parents said we got along so well because we were both equally stubborn. My own stubbornness had quickly earned me “Badger” as a nickname. My mother said that once a badger decided he wanted something, he would fight to have it, and once he got it, he would never let go. I took this as a compliment; however I am not so sure it was meant as one. Our stubbornness aside, spending time with Orsik was always a lot of fun and he would often tell me of his grand plans for the future. He very much wanted to take up the family business. He had a knack for mining and looked forward to the day he would be running his family’s business and often talked about how the sale of stone would be between him and me, instead of our fathers. I however was not so interested in taking up my family’s business. I could be very persuasive and was quite the salesman; however it was never something I was passionate about. Deep down I just knew it was not for me.
My family is very fond of celebrating birthdays, and it was at one such birthday celebration that I found my true calling. It was my mother’s birthday and she was celebrating the big one hundred and fifty! Many people from her family were coming into town for the event and I was told even her great uncle Alston would be there. Alston actually lived fairly close, but did not often come to visit. He was almost four hundred years old, a widower, and my mother had always said he was so wrapped up in his studies that he would often forget he had even been invited. I had never found out what kind of studies he was doing, but I was very interested in meeting him.
When he arrived I quickly learned that he was both a wizard and an alchemist. He told me that he was a librarian and academic of alchemy and the arcane arts. He had done some teaching many years ago, but now quite enjoyed the quiet of his personal library and lab. He enjoyed reading all the old tomes and had correspondences with many other wizards all over the world discussing this idea or that. I listened to all his stories with undivided attention and loved every minute of it. I knew then that being a wizard was my destiny.
At first he was reluctant to the idea of taking on an apprentice. He said he enjoyed his quiet, and that I would be needed to help my father with the business. However, after he, my mother, my father and I talked he changed his mind. My father said that he wanted me to follow my heart and that if being a jeweler was not right for me then I should pursue something else. My mother was also on board and told her great uncle that a young man like me would bring life to his dusty library and could be of considerable help with day to day work. In truth I think being around all these people made him realize that he missed the companionship of others, but for whatever the reason he accepted me and after the celebrations were done I moved in with him.
I was Master Alston’s apprentice for several years. On the first day of my apprenticeship he presented me with a finely bound leather book to use as my spell book. The book quickly became my most treasured possession. Not too long after, he helped me carve a staff out of the wood from a tree near his burrow. The tree had been struck by lightning many years before, and Master Alston said that wood from lightning struck trees always made the best staffs.
I studied hard and learned all I could. Eventually, however, the time came for me to move on. Master Alston said that I was the brightest pupil he had ever had, but it was time to go out into the world and learn lessons from life itself. It was decided that my fiftieth birthday would be my last night staying with him. The night before my birthday Master Alston gave me my birthday gifts. He opened a chest and pulled out a beautiful midnight blue wizard’s robe with matching pointed hat. “If you are going to be a wizard you might as well look the part,” he said to me with a wink. I put on the robe and hat and they fit perfectly. He then told me to check the inner pocket. Inside was a letter he had written. He was still in correspondence with many wizards and alchemists around the world and he said that the letter would vouch for me if I ever wanted to visit a library or school of wizardry to learn more spells.
My parents and many other friends and family came to celebrate my birthday and to see me off. I was so excited for all the adventures I knew I would have. No one does birthday’s quite as well as my parents and it was a wonderful time. Even my friend Orsik was able to come. It had been a while since I had seen him. I had been so busy with my studies and he had been working hard in the mines. It was great to see him, and before the day was over he gave me two daggers. “I would have made you something more formidable if I thought you could manage it,” he said with a gruff smile. At 4ft 7in Orsik was almost a foot taller than me and much bigger. As children he had often joked about how much weaker gnomes were compared to dwarves. I always replied that what we lacked in brawn we more than made up for in brains. He would then remind me that, that brain of mine had gotten me into plenty of trouble.
My parents also gave me a birthday gift. My father often uses mastiffs to help him bring his jewels to market. On one of my most recent visits home I had watched the birth of a puppy. Only seconds after being born the pup stood up and tried to run around. Just being born, he was quite clumsy and I had nicknamed him Stumbleduck. My father ended up buying him, and gave him to me for my birthday. He was now fully grown, light brown in color, and had been outfitted with brown leather riding saddle & nice big saddlebags. Stumbleduck and I instantly became the best of friends.
The next morning I packed the saddle bags, put on my robe & hat, grabbed my staff, belted on my daggers, and mounted Stumbleduck. Scout came to land on my shoulder and off we set, determined to find adventure.