Rats of Airspur
Gypsy vagabond allegedly turned respectable shopkeep
Resplendent in his threadbare brocade vest and many-pocketed leather longcoat, Nickolai is unmistakable. Ruddy skin and horns which sweep back over his greasy-haired scalp betray his tiefling heritage, while laugh-wrinkled red-irised eyes squint and sparkle and chapped lips pull back from sharp-looking pearly teeth. Perhaps his most distinct facial feature is the curled moustachio which is better-groomed than any of the rest of him.
Leader of the Gutter Rats; Proprietor of the Nightwatch Used Goods Shoppe; Troubador and investigator for hire; The Hero
By reputation, Nick is a crook and a swindler, and that is just the way he likes it. It does not stop people coming to his pawnshop looking for a fast cross-trade or a counter-hustle. In fact, it encourages the same.
In the nighttime hours, he can be found lounging behind the counter of his shop which never closes. He will greet you warmly, and if it looks like you have coin, he’ll offer you a drink and a pickled herring (his consistent consumption of which is probably his most odious habit). As you converse with him, you’ll find there to be a glimmer of intelligence beyond his obvious charming buffoonery. But you’ll only ever see as much of his cleverness as he wants you to see.
Nickolai is not evasive about his past, not exactly. He does speak of it on occasion, though usually while drunk, usually in vague terms, and almost always in contradiction to all other stories about his past.
If one were to stitch all his tales together into a rambling tapestry, and hung it on a tavern wall, one might identify swathes of lucidity and recurring themes amidst the fanciful chicanery and double-speak.
He grew up either as a prince in the lap of luxury or a peasant wallowing in filth. Either way, he speaks of once being married (usually to a princess or a charcoal-burner’s daughter). He speaks also of an invasion (by undead, the fey, orcs or dragons) where much of his home was destroyed. He speaks of betrayal (by his treacherous brother, best friend or father in law) which led to the execution of his wife.
Always exiled after the events, the young Nick joined a band of gypsies who traveled far from foreign lands. His adventures with them are usually the focus of his wild tales, none of which ever repeat or link with any other tales.
How then, does a gypsy wanderer come to settle in a place like Airspur? He’ll tell you his wandering days are over, that his friends and contacts here are worth more to him than the freedom and hardship of travel. Yet, as he says this, his eyes will wander to the window and seem to drift to dreams of lands beyond…