Library of Howling
Marble grew up the fourth son of a wealthy mercantiler in the family Windways. Marble was never really cut out for trading. He was big and strong and so his father decided that a military career would be best for him. Soldiering was risky, thankless work, so his father pulled some strings got him in the City Watch in the city of Three Roads.
Marble was not what one would call an honest man. He had a knack for being more conniving, greedier, and more sinister than the criminals he was charged with protecting the public against. He learned the ways of the streets fast and soon became one of the chief players among them. Not actually in power, as such, because that would certainly get him a dagger in the back in some dark alley. Rather, one of those official obstacles that criminals must pass through, or more importantly, bribe, to get their nefarious work done. Marble was actually a very effective investigator of crimes, even though he often used his skills to blackmail or gain informants as often as to actually solve crimes. He knew most of the underworld figures in Three Roads, and was on most of their payrolls. He learned all of the dirty tricks, not so much to learn the ways of his enemies, but rather to employ those same dirty tricks for his own benefit. He did learn one useful skill, sleight of hand, which he had practiced and used on a number of occasions to plant or switch evidence, filch items from crime scenes or even just cheat at bones and cards. He also learned how to work lock picks and various implements designed to by-pass security measures, but he rarely had an opportunity to use them.
Marble had always felt uncomfortable around crime scenes that had extreme violence. It was one of the reasons, he told himself, that shied away from direct martial confrontation, rather than say, cowardice. He also always had an itch when a witch, warlock, magician, wizard or even god worshipper was involved. He was always very sensitive. The worst came when he was called in to investigate a very “delicate” situation. The Captain of the Watch, Slender Nails, had a death in his building. His landlady had turned up dead and the circumstances were… unusual. While Marble was inside investigating the scene, he all of a sudden felt very cold and all his hair stood up on end. He went outside to get some fresh air once this happened and that’s when he had the most terrifying experience. An old woman dressed in rags threw herself at him, hands reaching for his face. As soon as Marble tried to fend her off, she went away.
For the next two days, he would see her here and there. In the day at the oddest moments, he would catch glimpses of her in a crowd, or the shadow of a stall. Especially at night, every shadow seemed to be lurking and following him. The strain was beginning to show and his fellow guards were noticing. As for the case, the landlady had been beaten and choked to death. It appeared as though her body had been dragged down to the cellar, but Marble couldn’t find blood anywhere else. There was blood in the kitchen, of course, but that was common for families that butchered meat. Nothing was missing and nothing seemed to have been stolen. Marble was just dying to find something that he could pin on the Captain, but there was simply nothing to go on. Marble had spent the two days trying to follow up leads of people who knew the landlady and see if they knew of any enemies, or even better, any arguments with tenets, or neighbors to see if they had heard anything, saw anything.
Finally, after two days, the woman came to him at night in his sleep. She was a glowing specter and was as clear as day. It was then that Marble recognized her as the Captain’s landlady. She pleaded with him to help her. She had been beaten. He was a monster. He was so cruel. He had hurt her and thrown her down in the cold, in the dirt. When Marble asked who, who had done this to her, she replied, “The Captain of the Watch!”
Marble got very excited when he heard this. Finally, Marble would climb to the rank of Captain, or so he thought. The next day, Marble confronted the Captain and the Father and told them he knows the Captain killed his landlady. Unfortunately, the Father did not believe Marble and called him a liar, cheat, and a thief. But Marble swears that he has an eyewitness, so the Father asks to see the witness, but Marble didn’t say anything to him.
Marble was summarily dismissed in shame from the city. The Windways also disowned him, not wanting to smear their reputation with his bad name. His father, however, took pity on him and managed to find him a job. There was a mercantiler, from the family Voyagers, who had an enterprise up north. He was looking for good men, skilled men, combat men and would be giving equal shares instead of daily pay. His father would give him a letter of good recommendation and send him along.
During his journey out of the land, Marble noticed more and more of the specters. He made the mistake of concentrating really hard to see one on purpose in a cemetery and was almost mobbed by dozens of them, more than there were headstones. With equal concentration, he could make them go away… sometimes. Sometimes they woke him up at night pleading for help or being furiously angry at some unknown slight. Sometimes they paid him no mind and he just stared at them as they went about their silent toil. Apparently, his employer, one Emerald Shines, lived in a big port city to the north called Howling. Marble decided that the Watch was not for him, but this power over the dead was. He’d learn to master it and then he’d be in charge again some day. But this time, not with petty tricks and extortions, but with real power.