David's Card Shark
Weight: 143 pounds
Hair: Jet black, straight, long, unkempt
Eyes: Dark green
Build: slim, clothes tend to hang off him and are ill fitting
Beard: unkempt and rugged, unwashed
Eli is a tall, slim man that seems vaguely uncomfortable in his own skin. He’s generally unwashed and awkward around others, and has various undefined blemishes covering his body (generally just dust).
Before Eli’s wandering though, he was a sharp, well dressed and tidy gambler. He kept his clothes clean, his hair in order, and he’d never be seen dead with a messy beard. Let us all hope these sensibilities come back to him soon.
Eli was born on a dark stormy night to a lonely middle aged lady: the product of a night hardly remembered. She was a card shark and a liar, a cheater and a sneak, and had been all her life, but looking at her son, this lady decided she would clean up her life and be better for him. She tried too. Over the next few months she got an honest job, she made friends with the neighbors and generally turned her life around. She even found religion. Sure, it was the local religion, and some folks looked askance at it, but the folks from her church accepted her and treated her right.
Over the next two years everything went well for the lady and her handsome boy. The local congregation came to love and respect her, and she felt that she fit in. Elijah’s life had started pretty well. As most things though, it wasn’t meant to be. The ladies past eventually caught up with her, and she was found dead in her home by her neighbours, her little boy no-where to be found. In the hubbub of the evening before her death, Eli’s mother had hidden him in her house, and over the next few months the small toddler started to stray further and further from his childhood home. He was only little, and most children would have died, but Elijah persevered. Or lived off the kindness of strangers, no one will ever know. What they do know is that over the next few years Elijah’s home was sold, a new family moved in and the boy became one of the lost boys of his city. Salt Lake City to be precise. He migrated into the Gentiles quarter, and took to hanging out with a bunch of other orphaned kids. The one possession he had from his home was a book he found in the hiding place his mother had placed him: a first edition copy of Hoyle’s book of games. Not that he could read it mind. He was only four, and he lived without any instruction. However, and he knows not when, but one day he was brought to a big house. An Orphanage run by a lady known as the Widow Grist. He still had his book, but that was about it. Someone had found him digging through the trash of the local shops looking for a meal, and brought him to the new orphanage.
Elijah stayed in the orphanage until he was sixteen. During that time he was picked on as “the weird kid” or “that night time nonsense kid”. Over that time he learned to read and write, to fight dirty and to play card games. While he was ostracised by many of the kids, he took refuge in reading. Borrowing books from wherever he could, sometimes even when he shouldn’t, Eli quickly gained a working knowledge of the world around him. He wasn’t overly fond of the religious teachings of his home city, but he was very fond of the roof over his head and found it was easier just to tell the widow he believed in her faith. To tell the truth, Eli found over the years that it was just generally easier to tell people what they wanted to hear. Sometimes that required lying, and other times the truth simply needed a colourful rewording, but at the end of the day if it worked so what.
As Eli got older he became more interested in his mother’s book. He didn’t remember anything about her except that she’d left him this book, and since no one even knew his birthday(all the orphans are registered as being born 1st of January) they certainly couldn’t tell him about his mother. Yet maybe the book could. At first he thought it was just a book about how to play card games better. So, he practised and became a proficient gambler. He practised in secret of course: Quiet games with the other kids, back alley games and the like. To Eli, it was a way to get closer to his parents, but as he read more into the book he came to suspect it of hiding things. Sometimes the things the book suggested he do in a card game were just plain wrong, or worse yet stupid. Considering it was the same book that had brought him such success before, he began to read more into the book, and made a shocking discovery. Magic was real, and Eli could use it to better his life. So that’s what he did. He started to gamble with the professionals in town, and he started winning. By the time he was sixteen he had enough money to buy a home and leave the orphanage. He’d won big, and the residents of Salt Lake City started calling him the lucky orphan lad. While the world beyond the City of Gloom had started to change in a big way, Eli barely noticed. He barely knew what the world was before, and he was too focused on his own life to see the world changing before his eyes.
Over the next two years Eli’s lucky streak continued. Sure there was the occasional loss, but nothing big. He always seemed to have the right card for the hand, and it was almost like the devil himself was smiling with him. He married a young lass named Marigold, and she was a right terror. Marigold wasn’t known for her charity or pleasant demeanour, but all the men in town noticed her as she walked past, even those that were happily married. Eli thought she was an angel, and once she’d set her sights on him there was nothing he could do to resist. The more time Eli spent with her, the nastier he got. It wasn’t enough to simply win anymore; he needed to take everything from his opponents. He would lie, cheat and scheme to get what he wanted, and what he wanted was Marigolds affection. A good lad gone bad if ever there was one, Eli got more and more desperate to please her. She didn’t just want a pretty dress from that store; she wanted the prettiest dress in town. It wasn’t enough to have a servant, she needed a dozen. An so on and so forth. Every time Eli got what she wanted, she wanted more, and he’d get that too. There was only so long that that could go on.
One day not long after his eighteenth birthday, in a smokey room in the back of a dingy bar, Eli went all in. Not just with the money he had, but everything he owned. It had been a hard week for Eli, and the men at the table knew it. Marigold had been flirting with one of the new kitchen hands, and she’d been making sure Eli knew it. He told himself it wasn’t her fault; she was just lonely because he was out late every night. He told himself that she would stop once she realised he was doing it for her, that her constant demands needed the money. He knew she was just trying to make him angry, but truth be told it was working. Elijah hadn’t been sleeping much and it made him sloppy. So he bet it all: Every last dime, even his wedding ring. He bet against an up and coming rail road tycoon, and he counted on his special tricks to keep him safe. Problem was, his luck had come up short, and he rolled snake eyes everywhere it counted. He barely remembered what happened after that. There were flashes of memory where he was stumbling though the street, of Marigold screaming at him and strange men taking his possessions away. It all fell away from him for a moment.
When he came back, everything was gone and he was sitting in the gutter with nothing but the clothes on his back. Over the next few days he tried to talk to Marigold, but she would have nothing to do with him. She’d retreated to her family home, and her father was busy making arrangements to annul the marriage. Eli honestly believed if he could just talk to her and explain things that she would come back to him. That thinking got him shot. One dark, raining night he stumbled up to her house. It had taken him a day’s hard labour to afford the flowers he brought. He was soaked to the bone, and looked like a mess. When he knocked on the door, she answered, and then slammed it in his face when he tried to talk. He waited. Over the last few weeks the town had started to buzz about the love struck boy and his terrible lover. The story was making Marigold look bad, and she hated that. She thought if she could just make him go away, maybe they’d all love her again. So she stole out the back of the manse after telling the cooking staff she was in her room. She just wanted to scare him off. In a dark cloak, armed with her father’s gun, she snuck around to the front of the house where Eli waited. There, she threatened him and told him to leave her be. He looked confused, and asked who she was. She came closer, and told him to leave. She screamed at him, and railed about how horrible he was. Slowly, Eli came to see Marigold for what she was. In his sudden horrible realisation, Eli began to laugh.
He laughed at how cruel his life had been, and how many poor decisions he’d made for this pathetic person. He laughed that fate was so cruel as to keep smacking an orphan around. He laughed because he knew, honestly, that he deserved this. Marigold, believing that Elijah was laughing at her, grew angry. How dare this wretch laugh at her. He should be grovelling at her feet to keep her here, not laughing like a mad man. She started jabbing the gun into his chest, trying to make him move or act at least a little scared. Eli laughed all the harder for the consequences of his selfishness. Marigold grew so angry at this that she wacked him with the gun, and drew blood. Eli laughed more. Marigold couldn’t stand it anymore. She hated this man, all the more because he was making her look bad. People were even watching now, looking out their windows as this madman laughed at her. She saw red, and in that small moment in time she squeezed her hands closed. BANG! She blinked. Even as she watched Eli clutch his gut, he continued to laugh. As he fell back into the mud and rain, he laughed and giggled and thrashed about. Almost revelling in the pain his life had brought him. Realisation slowly dawned on Marigold, and she ran. No one saw her again.
Eli was cared for by the widow Grist and a local medicine man. He recovered in body, but his mind had left him. He simply wasn’t all there. He was coherent enough, but he’d lost any love of life he may have had. He left the orphanage a few weeks later. The following 6 years are a bit of a blank for Eli. He wandered from place to place. He took what work he needed to feed himself and then moved on. Over the years he found a knack for
shooting, and put it to work where it would pay. He didn’t gamble much, and he spoke less. Eli was a man on the run. He left himself behind, and paid no attention to the world around him. Maybe he even sought death. He never found Marigold. And he didn’t use magic. He simply was. In the last few weeks though, he’s started to have dreams. He’s started to come back to the world of the living. He even laughed the other day, and talked to an old friend. Hell, he even picked up a deck of cards.