Ollivander Hastings Turnbull
Got a problem? I can solve it or I can punch it.
Ollivander Turnbull Hastings is the second child, and first son, of Margaret and John, and the younger brother of Mary. His mother tragically died while birthing Ollie, on May 18th, 1811, leaving his father, a mining foreman, a widower. The shiny, copper scales on Ollie’s thighs and feet were thought to be the cause of his mother’s death.
A week after Ollie’s first birthday, his father was felled in the mining accident at the Felling Colliery, along with another 91 mortal souls. Mary was sent south to the convent at Saint Mary’s Abbey in Dorset, and Ollie sent to the monastery at Downside Abbey in Somerset.
Raised in the monastery, and taught in the school therein, Ollie was anything but a model student. He made his way through his lessons relying on his intuition, his charm, and when those failed there were always the options of lying, cheating and stealing. His athleticism proved to be his greatest asset, but in his classes that rarely was of any use.
In the spring of 1830, Ollie’s fortunes changed. A traveling merchant came to the Abbey, his cart full of jars of a mysterious liquid which he claimed would make miracles happen. Ollie watched as his wizened teachers, important townspeople, and people of all economic levels lined up to buy the huckster’s oil. And where he saw the coins exchanging hands, Ollie had what he thought of at the time as a brilliant idea: He would con the conman, take his cart, and head to the big city.
So, he did. Under cover of darkness Ollie surprised the huckster, tied him up, splashed a fresh coat of paint on the side of the cart, and rode right out of Somerset, towards London. Village after village, sale after sale, news traveled back to Ollie of the… recoveries. Some who had ailments would claim their situation was improving. Still other were tales of miracles that could not be attributed to coincidence.
It wasn’t until the next full moon on July 5th that Ollie realized these cures, the actual cures were all only happening to children. Whether a sniffle or a pox, the elixirs were actually curing them. Ollie’s reputation, and his profits, grew. Traveling from city to city, sale after sale, the cart never seemed to run out. And it was on that night, when the clouds broke and the full moon shone directly on the cart on the outskirts of Edinburgh, that Ollie noticed something. The cart looked old, moldy, the wood decrepit, the horses gone and the grass around was as long and thick as if it had been there undisturbed for a hundred years. The jars, once clear with a light blue liquid, were now green, smelled of rot, and inside there were small undefinable blobs. Some jars with more, some with less, but with a murky blackness that seemed to move on their own.
And then the song began. Barely audible at first, the pipes were heard coming from the Ravelston Wood, and by the moonlight Ollie could see the tail end of a single-file line of children their lips singing words that matched the tune. Ollie ran into the city, house to house, frantically trying to rouse the parents to find their children. No adult would wake, and those that had taken the elixir were covered in a green sickly moss.
Ollie panicked. He ran to the cart to grab his illicit gains, his gear, and as he was hurriedly grabbing all he could he noticed three of the bottles were different than the rest. The glass and stoppers were finely made, and their labels in Draconic. Ollie put them in with his gear and he fled into the night.
Ollie made his way back to London, hearing stories along the way of the towns he had visited, the children from those towns who met the same fate on that night, and of the authorities on the lookout for a mysterious merchant.
Being on the lam, Ollie quickly fell back into old habits. Town to town, country to country, Ollie turned to bareknuckle boxing to make a living and to keep up appearances of why he needed to be on the move. Having sent a large amount of his money to his sister upon notice of the birth of her son, the prizes from the fights became more and more of a necessity.
Valencia, Brussels, Lyone, Marseille, Milan.
Milan. That was where Ollie first noticed him. The bruiser in the other corner was quicker than he should have been, too agile for his size. Between rounds, a swig of the draconic drought, and the rest of the bruisers’ hits landed soft. It was just a matter of time to defeat the bruiser then, but after doing so, Ollie found himself sitting on the corner stool, bruised, bloodied, sweaty and tired. Ollie looked out into the crowd, and there, staring intently back, was the Merchant. Quickly, Ollie found the boy who had collected his winnings, grabbed his belongings, and fled, losing the Merchant in the crowd.
Geneva, Stuttgart, Munich.
The Merchant is there at every match, no matter how small. Never at the beginning, always there at the end.
Thinking it best to lie low, Ollie takes a room at an inn, hosted by a Madam Gerber. There she introduced Ollie to a man recruiting for the militia in the service of the Family Bravóst. Ollie joins, under the command of Edward Braddock. He is stern, fair, perceptive. Against his better nature, Ollie finds as much loyalty to him as the rest of the men under his command do as well.
The nephew of Anton, the head of the Bravóst family, a 15 year old named Roman is a fine young man interested in everything related to the militia. He would be an easy angle to put a mark on Anton, and as such Ollie takes an interest in him, but in doing so he finds the lad also knows a thing or two about the places to have a laugh, a drink, or to find entertainment.
Ollie hadn’t been to a fight since leaving Munich, and had never ever been in the audience.
The fights that night were simple, none of the street thugs or dockside trash had any finesse. And through each Ollie couldn’t help thinking of the feint he would have used, the punch he would have thrown. The way he weaved around the blow of the smelly Irishman, with the breath that smells of tooth rot, just before his fist took advantage of that rot to shatter his jaw.
The Irishman fell, then another fighter entered the ring. Ollie had no idea how long he had been fighting. Long enough for the draconic drought to have worn off. Long enough for it to hurt. Next, an orc. Then, a half-ogre. One after another, the fighters enter and they fall. Each one larger than the last, each becoming less and less human. Minutes, hours, maybe even days go by.
At the end of each fight, a boy brings Ollie his winnings. A boy that was last seen walking into the woods outside of Edinburgh.
The crowd parts, and an Ogre steps into the ring.
“Stop!” — a voice from the crowd.
The Merchant. He stands in the empty center of the crowd cleared for the Ogre beside a woman at his side, Ollie’s sister Mary, and her son, a young boy only heard about in letters. Both seem oblivious that the crowd around them does not have another human in it.
“You stole from me, Mr. Turnbull. Your family owes me a debt.” His voice is slow and measured, almost lyric.
He walks to the side wall of the cellar where the fight was held and pulls down three fight bills. The first bears your name OLIVER ‘The Thief’ TURNBILL vs CHAMBORD ‘ The Fool’ PETIT. The other two have ink that is faded, hard to read.
“You have a year and a day to defeat three opponents for me, either alone or with the help of others. Succeed and your debt will be paid and, into the bargain, I will ensure the fortune of those you care about. Refuse or fail and the obligation and you, or another members of your line, will end their days here, in the ring.”
Ollie looks down to the ring, made of pure white marble, and reaches out to accept the three handbills being handed to him by the Merchant.
In an instant Ollie was in a deep wood, dressed in his traveling gear. The ring, the crowd, the Merchant, and his family all gone. Before him, a train of brass and tin, and in his hands three handbills, and a ticket.
– Continued at S1E12