Mezriss, the Scum
Half-breed. Scum. These were words ringing in Mezriss' ears while growing up as an orphan in the dirty streets of Pal Ador. As a half-elf, Mezriss had to deal with constant harassment, because humans and elves in the kingdom of Pal Ador had been in an uneasy and fragile co-existence for generations. Open warfare was rare, but one commonly saw discrimination and back-alley beatings between the two races. Being both human and elf, Mezriss was often a target for both groups. This taught him to be tough, resilient, and callous.
Mezriss survived through petty theft and odd jobs for criminals who could care less about his race or where he came from. He kept to himself, and he thought of very few people as friends. Eventually, he caught the attention of a crime boss, Sylic, who ran a band of thugs and cutpurses called the Scars.
Mezriss: The Thug
Mezriss quickly garnered a reputation as being smart and efficient, and he worked his way up the criminal ladder with a cold-hearted detachment. He used his connections to exact revenge against various bullies and enemies that he had to contend with while growing up. He took special care to eliminate the humans and elves who had once mocked him.
Soon, the mocking taunts of "half-breed" were replaced with respectful calls of "sir." During the years that he robbed and murdered for the Scars, he had quietly been building up resources and contacts to take it over for his own. When his band of thieves found and stole an ancient crown, Mezriss presented it to Sylic as a sign of respect. The crime boss loved the present and took to wearing it every moment possible. However, Mezriss had learned of a way to get into Sylic's private quarters, and every couple of nights, he coated the inside of the crown with poison. Over several weeks, the poison worked into his system, eventually causing him to go mad. Sylic's own guards eventually killed him after he went on a delusional rampage, swinging his sword around wildly and claiming that spiders were trying to steal his crown.
Mezriss was named successor of the Scars, and no one discovered his treachery. . . .
Mezriss: The Killer
Assuming control of the Scars, Mezriss gathered lieutenants from the organization. His sole criterion was simple: They must be half-elves. Hand-picking several bitter and hardened criminals, Mezriss turned the Scars from a two-bit crime organization into an efficient assassin's guild.
The Scars were so successful, in fact, that they eliminated (literally) all of the competition in Pal Ador. Commoners and nobles alike quaked in fear at the power of the Scars, who left behind bodies with a trademark scar down one of their cheeks. A small group of nobles, city elders, and merchants met in secret to discuss ways to stop the Scars from completely taking over the city. However, the deep racial tension that still existed between the humans and elves made coming to a solution very difficult. Eventually they that someone from the outside would have to handle the problem -- someone who could not be bribed, threatened, or swayed by the Scars.
They eventually found a tough dwarf by the name of Jesrug, who acted as a freelance vigilante for justice. The group offered Jesrug a huge sum of money to help eradicate the Scars and gave him the title of Magistrate, along with great leeway to get the job done. At first, Mezriss didn't take the threat seriously and continued with business as usual. Over time, however, more and more of his lower-level thugs were being killed or arrested by an increasingly efficient police force.
Mezriss dispatched some of his lieutenants to take care of the dwarf, but his people were stymied by the dwarf's ability to stay out of harm's way. Mezriss had his sorcerer, Zola, infiltrate Jesrug's house/compound to find out as much information as possible about the dwarf. They finally cornered Jesrug along the wharf, thinking that he was completely alone. The plan backfired when they realized it was a sting the whole time. A massive battle took place, and Mezriss barely escaped. He retreated to the sewer stronghold of the Scars and pondered which route to take next.
Mezriss realized that his lieutenants knew far too much to remain in prison -- they would either turn on him, hoping for their release, or be tortured for any crucial information. Knowing that he had no choice, Mezriss planned and executed a breakout for the surviving lieutenants . . .
About the Author
Eric Cagle is the Administrative Assistant to the R&D Department at Wizards of the Coast. Don't let the title fool you: he's also a regular gamer. Eric has co-designed a D&D sourcebook due in 2002, written articles for Dragon Magazine, participates in numerous playtest assignments, and has a few articles online. He personally thinks the half-elf got a bum wrap in D&D, and he's doing his best to give them a fighting chance.