A World In Chaos
Male Human Psion
Description: Ataan generally looks just like an average citizen of the city. He is not exceptionally tall, he stands at just under six feet, and he is neither exceptionally strong nor exceptionally dexterous. After all, what can one expect from a man who grew up working in a store selling wood crafts? His face, on the other hand, is exceptionally expressive. He can change it to look sincere at any moment in any situation, which helps him to persuade, bluff, or intimidate anyone into buying his wares. His face sits beneath a somewhat large forehead and large eyebrows, which are what give him his charismatic facial abilities. His face is crowned with a tuft of dark blond hair that is eternally messy, giving him a somewhat youthful and friendly look. Ataan wears standard civilian merchant clothing, though ever since he has taken to the street he has been wearing a dark brown hooded cloak which can obscure his face, and has taken to walking with one of the staffs his father had crafted in remembrance of his father. He has also recently let his beard grow out so as to help disguise his face.
Personality: Ataan is usually very charismatic. He can often persuade, bluff, or intimidate just about anyone to do what he needs of them, and when they don’t comply he is willing to use his will and his mind to force them. The man has made a living by stealing — not in the traditional manner, but by using his psionic powers to convince people to buy his wares — though he has never thought of it as such, and has never found anything wrong with it. He feels as though it is his right — as well as a good business tactic — to use his powers in whatever way he needs to survive. He is not constantly manipulative, though, and is always wary enough to allow people to maintain their choices at most times. Ataan has never revealed to anyone but his father, who is now dead, that he has such powers, as he is afraid of what people will think of him should they find out. Ever since his father’s murder, Ataan has been extremely cautious. He rarely lets people know his true identity, and often when people find out who he is he will reach into their minds and forcefully remove the memory, even though it causes them great pain.
Ataan grew up the son of a poor merchant in one of the dirtier sections of Farensin. His father owned a store which sold wooden crafts, from bowls and utensils to decorations to walking staffs. These items were crafted by both himself and his wife, and as his children grew they too joined the process. Ataan was never very good, however, and his items were usually of extremely poor quality. Even poorer quality than the rest of the family. The shop did not sell very much, only managing a meager income from some of the poorest denizens of the area.
This distraught Ataan, and when he sat at the shop with his father he would often find himself wishing… willing… the shoppers to purchase their wares. Much to his surprise, business began to pick up! The boy finally realized that he was able to suggest actions to their patrons mentally, and that they would often follow his suggestions. They didn’t even seem to notice that it was happening! Ataan divulged this to his father, who recognized that the boy must have psionic powers. From then on, his father paid him a portion of the income directly as long as he continued to influence their patron’s minds, convincing them to buy their wares. Ataan had no idea that this was stealing. He thought it was merely an effective business tactic. When he came of age, Ataan and his father switched positions: Ataan ran the shop while his father worked as the assistant. He knew of no reason why he would ever need to find a different line of work, even though his siblings had all left.
One day, Ataan fell ill. He decided that he would not go to the shop that day, and his father went alone. That evening, however, he was gone far later than expected. Finally, wondering what had happened, Ataan went to the store to investigate. When he arrived, he found the shop silent. He entered, only to be shoved aside by a man cackling with laughter as he proceeded to run down the street. Confused, Ataan moved forward, suddenly being met by the smell of smoke. He ran further in to the shop to search for his father and finally found him lying on the ground dead. He had been murdered! Ataan was sure that the man who had shoved him aside must have been the murderer.
Looking around, he found the source of the smoke: the shop was on fire! Ataan burst into action, gathering a bucket of water and trying to put it out, but it was too big and would not die. He ran back to the body of his father, intending to carry the body out, when suddenly he was confronted by two armed guards who had come to investigate the smoke. Seeing Ataan hunched over a dead body, they immediately assumed that he was the murderer. They grabbed hold of him and told him that he was under arrest.
Ataan suddenly panicked, and, rather than explaining the situation, fought back. He kicked one guard in the side, sending him staggering, but before he could make another move the other guard brought his sword to Ataan’s throat. Ataan froze. Then he remembered the trick he had been using on his patrons for years. He had been planting in them the idea that it would be beneficial to buy their wares. But he had never given anybody the idea that it was a bad idea to do anything. He realized, though, that it was his only chance.
Ataan focused on the image, from the guard’s perspective, of him being stabbed. Then, however, he created an image of his body erupting into a swarm of shadows which immediately consumed the body of the guard, rending his flesh though he yet lived. The image made Ataan shudder. He reached out with his mind and forcefully inserted it into the guard’s, who immediately began to scream with fear and disgust. He dropped his sword and crouched to the ground, cowering. Suddenly the other guard joined him. Ataan’s will must have been so strong that, without even meaning to, the image had entered both guards’ minds.
Finding himself now unhindered, Ataan ran from the burning building without looking back. He arrived at his home exhausted and was finally allowed the opportunity to weep for his father. When he calmed down, he thought through the events of the night. Someone had killed his father. Why? What had his father done to deserve such a punishment? Did the madman even need a reason? Perhaps he struck his victims at random. But what if his father had been involved with dark dealings without his son’s knowledge? He decided, then and there, that he would search for his father’s killer and seek both answers and revenge.
But what of the guards? Did they die in the fire? Or did they manage to escape? If so, would they recognize him? Would they search for him?
How had he managed to get himself into this situation?
Meanwhile the two guards were still cowering on the ground inside a burning building. Suddenly one guard began to scream even louder, and the smell of burning flesh joined the smoke. This woke the second guard from his state of fear. He suddenly snapped into full consciousness and saw that his comrade was already consumed in flame and that the building around him would collapse at any moment. He ran from the building, barely making it out alive, and made his way back to the guard house where he told his higher-ups what happened. Immediately there was an arrest warrant made out for Ataan, and signs were posted.
Ataan managed to keep enough wits not to stay in his house too long. He left with a coin purse full of all of his money as well as a bag full of everything else he needed. He also took a staff which his father had carved. He spent nearly all of his money enchanting the staff and buying a magical amulet which hung from a necklace which would help protect him if he ever needed to protect himself. He has been living on the streets since, using his mind powers to make it easier to steal food. This time he does recognize it as stealing, but he knows that it’s necessary for survival. Seeing the posters on the walls bearing his name and a reward has made Ataan very careful. He purchased a hooded cloak which could obscure his face when needed, he grew out his beard, and he began practicing both his mind powers and his combat abilities with his staff. He also began telling people, though never giving away his own identity, that it had been someone else who killed Ataan’s father, not Ataan himself.
Finally fearing that the city had become too dangerous for him, Ataan decided to leave. He cared little where he went, only that he left. With what little money he had left he bought some adventuring gear and a ticket on a ferry to travel south along the Staghorn River. Ataan never looked back once as the city fell back into the distance behind him.