(Just finishing up minor equipment)
"Life started off simple enough. Working class, no question there, but comfortable enough. Family mainly consisted of magewrights and merchants. My father was a trap smith. He sold them to merchants, mainly, or merc companies, sometimes just gave them away for discounts down the road. My mother was a magewright, talented enough. I was the youngest of three, and apparently the one to get all of my mother's magical talent and then some. My brother and sister ended up with simple lives, my brother becoming a merchant and my sister, the oldest of the three of us, working in textiles. Technically, they both did their time in the war, just like everyone had to, but my brother ended up a quartermaster and my sister never even saw military. They just had her at work producing uniforms and minor magic robes, cloaks and things. I wasn't as lucky there, or maybe I was the lucky one, but I'll get into that in a bit."
"No one was too surprised when I got selected by The Twelve to learn the arcane arts under them. It was a nice deal. I would learn the basic cantrips from apprentice mages, some low tier spells if I picked up fast enough (which I knew I would), spend my two years in the army out of the way as a magewright, then return to The Twelve as an apprentice to more senior members, where I would be introduced to stronger magic. It wasn't the most exciting life, but I accepted. Anyone in my situation would have."
"It didn't last long at all, less than a year. Turns out the kind of pranks and challenges I was used to with my siblings didn't go over so well with my new instructors. These apprentices spent so long on the bottom of the food chain that they think having someone under them makes them important. One of them took offense and challenged me, but didn't explicitly state the terms. I accepted and named my own. I knew he was more advanced than I was. After all, he was an instructor. He could cast back to back fireballs where I could only manage a single acid arrow. Fortunately, he was foolish."
"I hit him with the acid arrow he taught me to cast as he was walking down a corridor. He hadn't seen me hiding, and even as I cast it I crouched back behind the doorway. I let the acid continue to burn while he searched, readying my next spell as he blustered in search of me. A lesser orb caught him next, just as he was casting a spell on himself, and the spell failed. From there the battle was mine. He only hit me with one spell, and it was a good one, but it wasn't enough, and it didn't do nearly as much as the three spells that struck him. Some other students, having heard the noise, had flocked to the area by the time it was over. Thanks to them, I had witnesses that he never actually yielded, even though he was too dazed to do anything when my last spell hit him. He died before anyone could get a potion on him."
"Fortunately, there were witnesses to both his challenge and the lack of yield, so I wasn't charged with anything. Unfortunately, he was a member of one of the Houses, so that ended my apprenticeship to The Twelve. I was still under contract, though, so I was sent to the Warmage College of Karrnath. For the first year, it was horrible. Constant drills, repetition, opponent studies...horribly taxing stuff. Plus they made me 'unlearn' a lot of techniques. Believe me when I say that it was almost a year and a half before I successfully cast a spell I hadn't already known. By then, though, I loved it. The first year may have been nothing but rote memorization and classrooms, but the second year was tactics and magic. Any wizard would have hated his time there. In two years of constant study, I stayed in the same tier of spellcasting as when I arrived, but I learned so much. In that second year we were encouraged to fight and wield our new spells, and marvel at how much power even our cantrips had. Mine, especially, proved powerful."
"Unfortunately, my apprenticeship ended after that second year, and it was time to serve my two years. Initially I'd been slated as a magewright, but my transfer to the Warmage College had changed that. I was assigned to a Warmage unit, and since I wasn't advanced enough to cast fireballs or lightning bolts, I was placed on the front. Now, the front line for Warmages isn't the same as the front line for infantry, since there's a line of infantry in front of us, but there's plenty of folks that make it through, not to mention attacks from opposing mages and archers. I only had to do two battles before I got promoted and moved back to line defense. There my job was different.
Instead of just hurling all the spells I could at opposing forces, my job was to crouch just behind the 'fireballers' and protect them from anyone that had broken through or flanked around...we were very easy to flank."
"After...several months...maybe more, things changed for the worse. Remember what I said about infantry being our guards? That went away. Apparently trained infantry were too valuable to sit and guard us, so they took our infantry away and started putting zombies as our front line. It wasn't a complete failure. Enemies were less interested in charging a line of zombies, but flank attempts got a lot more successful. I had a small squad of folks
under me by then, as well as a nice variety of attack spells (still no fireballs), but I'll be damned if every one of them wasn't used up protecting our own flanks while the zombies just stood there waiting for a head on charge. Hell, sometimes we had to charge the enemy just to keep from getting routed from behind. Still, it was enough to almost wipe us out. Everyone thinks those undead kept Karrnath in the war, but moving them to guard us may be what kept us from winning. They pretty much lost all magic support by doing it."
"I didn't put up with that for long...maybe three battles. I had a bit of rank by then, on account of all the warmages above me getting wiped out by routes. I made it clear that undead infantry was not good enough for warmage units, that we were too valuable for that. He denied the request. I was reasonable, so I suggested that instead we disband as a unit and get merged into existing infantry divisions, live ones. That he denied, as well, said we weren't worthy of marching with them. That got a kick out of his assistant, some upjumped warrior. When I caught them both off guard with a quick fireburst, he died first. The commander went down with just one more spell. I thought about how it had taken me three spells to kill an apprentice mage once. Now I'd taken out two officers with just two spells."
"The commander had lived long enough to activate the traps around the office, but my father had taught me all about them as a child. It didn't take long to disable them and escape."
"Of course, I was spotted leaving, no helping that. The war wasn't finished, but I was, at least in Karrnath."
"I knew that there was no heading back to Karrnath. The apprentice mage had too many friends, and too many people saw me leaving the office of a now dead commander. Instead I headed to Breland, specifically Sharn. Large cities were easy to disappear into, and a high crime rate meant nothing but opportunity. I worked as a guard, a merchant, and at times a thief. Eventually I latched onto Morgrave University, and received a letter of marque as well as a light sponsorship to go exploring grave sites, many of which were overrun with undead, which I was happy to destroy. I was always happy to head down there with some untested cleric, watching him desperately try to turn a wave of zombies as I methodically picked them off one by one. I became known Larsen Grave, and I had a great reputation. Eventually, jobs got scarce. I'd made the mistake of never signing with any kind of guild or party, and once again I was wanted dead by important people, but this time I hadn't even wronged anyone. Oh well, I was tired of working solo anyways."
(How I ended up with the crew)
"Now I am a crew member on the Blaze, and I do a little of everything. My main responsibility seems to be crafting traps for both sale and defense, or getting rid of other folks' traps when they are in our way. Occasionally I forge documents of passage or registration, simple stuff that could have been authorized by a number of people. I serve as a strong arm when needed, though I'm far from the only one capable of handling himself."