Orphan, beggar, and thief he had been in his childhood, an urchin in the slums of Greyhawk's Old City, then a prisoner indentured to the Beggarmaster Theobald. Seeking his fortune in the wide world beyond the city had brought him experience and skill that enabled him not only to survive but to prosper. Accomplished as a fighter with sword and dagger since his early training in Greyhawk, Gord had used his weapons all too often in the course of his wandering adventures, but he didn't really regret this. Coupled with his skill in the art of acrobatics, thievery had brought him many a fortune – which he lost with much the same ease.
Gord had loved and lost. That was life. His friends – Gellor, Curley Greenleaf, and the hulking barbarian Chert – were true friends and boon companions. Gellor had rescued him from jeopardy when Gord had been imprisoned by his lover's angry father, Count Blemu. Then, along with Curley Greenleaf and Chert, they had survived encounters with predatory monsters and pitched battles too.
He and Chert had eventually come to Cord's home, Greyhawk City, years after Gord had left that place for the first time as a mere stripling. A great fortune in precious gems, part of a prize they had wrested from a frightful demon, was soon converted into coin of the realm – silver nobles, electrum luckies, gold orbs, and platinum plates. Then, for nearly six months, the two young men had lived high.
Chert quickly learned to enjoy the fine life that an unlimited supply of money bought in the city. He wore fine clothes, drank the best of potables, and dined sumptuously. Gord had experienced a brief taste of such living when, as a young, enterprising thief, he would masquerade as a noble wastrel or the son of a rich merchant. Now, he and Chert rented their own villa in Greyhawk's Garden Quarter, gave parties, and were entertained by courtesans. Now? No, that was wrong. Next. That led to rapid depletion of even a treasury as great as the two had, and all too soon the funds were squandered.
The barbarian was growing tired of gaming, wenching, and foppery anyway. Born and bred in the wilderness, Chert was at first awed, then fascinated, by the delights and soft living offered by so sophisticated a city as Greyhawk. All of that paled quickly. The barbarian chafed at inaction and ease, seeking excitement and adventure. Occasional hunts beyond the city walls, even frequent brawls in some rowdy tavern along Greyhawk's notorious Strip, became boring to him. Chert had readily agreed to accompany Gord when the young thief had suggested that they augment their dwindling reserves by relieving the rich of excess wealth.
There was no question that the barbarian was quick and climbed like a cat, but in the urban surroundings his natural skills were otherwise useless, and he stood out far too much. Often, Gord's carefully laid plans were brought to naught by some noise Chert made, his all-too-ready approach to fighting, or simply the fact that he was too large to go where Gord could. This led to mutual frustration and quarreling. They gave up their expensive villa and took lodging in a small inn located in the Foreign Quarter.
Shortly thereafter, Chert announced his intention of joining a caravan bound for Dyvers, stating that as one of its mercenary guards he would be able to escape suffocation in the crowded city and perhaps have a bit of adventure too. Argument was useless, even reminding the barbarian that they awaited both reward and news from Curley Greenleaf did not sway his resolve. They had clasped hands in friendship, pledging to meet again soon, and then Chert had gathered the few belongings he cared about, taken his great axe, Brool, and departed. Gord recalled that he thought Chert looked happy for the first time in months then.
Actually, Gord had agreed with his barbarian friend about the likelihood of Curley Greenleaf ever coming back. When the druid had left them to carry back the strange relic taken from the lair of the slain cataboligne demon, Greenleaf had assured both young men that he would send money and news of the meaning of the prize. Not that either actually needed further reward – the gemstones the druid had given them were a fabulous treasure, but it was not like Greenleaf not to live up to his word. Six months of silence led both Gord and Chert to surmise that some ill fate had befallen their companion, or that the eldritch nature of his burden was such that no reward nor information could be sent.
With his last remaining friend gone, the young thief looked at Greyhawk from a new perspective. After leaving word with several ostlers to be on the lookout for the druid, and explaining that he would check back periodically to renew their stipend for doing this service, Gord moved his quarters to the Low Quarter, accumulated disguises, and set about rebuilding a career.
Soon the thief known only as Blackcat became the talk of the city. Rare glimpses enabled a few to state that this burglar was black of skin and garb, fast as a cat, and as agile too. Some speculated that the cat burglar was a drow, one of the dark elvenfolk of subterranean places. Others said that such a thief could not be human or demi-human at all, but some spawn of supernatural sort entirely.
Blackcat confounded guards, foiled traps, laughed at locks, and eluded all pursuit. Searches and spies could find nothing. Informants had no news to sell to the masters of the city or to their police. Even the Thieves' Guild was mystified, and chagrined, by the success of this daring unknown. The identity of Blackcat became a subject for conversation from the lowest slums to the grand halls of the Lord Mayor's residence. He was, of course, none other than Gord.
Remaining anonymous was out of the question. Gord resumed his role of gambler and thief openly. Eventually, he was recognized by his old companion, San. The boy had grown into manhood and was now a master of high station in the guild and married to the daughter of the aging Guildmaster, Arentol. It was likely, in fact, that San would soon be elected to the exalted office held by his father-in-law.
Neither San nor the old Guildmaster was interested in unearthing past grudges. The skeletons revealed would be bad for son-in-law and embarrassing to Guildmaster. Having such open presence in Greyhawk, Gord was watched with great suspicion for a time, but his activity was judged harmless enough. Where he had gained his fortune was unknown, but it was easy enough to discover that Gord had returned to the city months previously, complete with untold riches and a brawny companion. The latter had recently departed Grey-hawk for parts unknown, but Gord still remained to enjoy his wealth.
He was not a registered thief, but Gord mainly gambled and bet upon sports and like things, doing well enough with such wagering, although hardly in need of the proceeds. The young adventurer sported jewelry and fine clothes that indicated no need for burglaries such as those Blackcat performed. Besides, Cord's skills were known to the guild, which had estimated him a master in his own right – rating disguise, stealth, and lock-picking excellent; pocket-picking, purse-slitting, and sleight of hand superb; and impersonation and confidence schemes masterful. San suggested that he himself, even as inferior to his father-in-law as he was, was certainly a better thief than Gord would ever be. So the members of the guild looked elsewhere in their efforts to discover and end the career of the cat-burglar who was near to destroying their repute in Greyhawk.
Actually, Gord had little to show for his daring exploits at crime. While risking life and limb in feats of balance and gymnastic prowess needed to accomplish his midnight burglaries, Gord gained hardly enough to maintain his high-living style. Victims always claimed their loss from his work to be far more than the young thief actually took from strongbox or secret cache. True, he had a small store of jewelry he dared not fence, a few great pieces carefully kept in the old wooden box that was the only possession he had from his childhood. Otherwise, though, the gold spent in a night's carouse was nearly always a tithe of Gord's total fortune.
He debated changing his habits, even thought seriously of going westward after Chert and seeking adventure in other places, but for whatever reason he stayed and lived his dual existence without alteration. It was, all in all, as exciting and dangerous as could be hoped for. The glamor had faded, the pleasures gained were tarnishing, but there was something keeping him going that Gord could not himself understand. Perhaps dissatisfaction was engendering a death wish.
Gord nearly ceased his periodic inquiries as to Curley Greenleafs possible presence in the city. One day, months later, and on a whim brought on by boredom, he casually entered the Green Dragon Inn. It was a place frequented by foreigners, mercenaries, tough adventurers, and others of less savory aspect. Even as he sought the proprietor to ask if he had news of a druid, he saw the rotund fellow in person. Greenleaf was unmistakable in nearly any crowd – a pudgy, bald-headed half-elf with slightly pointed ears showing his heritage, and clad in druidical garments. The druid did not immediately recognize Gord, however, for his former associate had changed. Dressed in elegant fashion, hair worn in the length currently vogue in the city, and not presently beardless, the young man he saw enter could have been any of hundreds of rakes and other gentry common to Greyhawk.
It took only a moment for Gord to realize this fact, and he thought a good joke to be in order. Floppy hat pulled low and set at roguish angle, gait swaggering, he came to the druid's table and purposely bumped it so as to spill the flagon of dark ale set before its occupant. Greenleaf uttered a most unclerical sounding oath and leaped to his feet, ready to teach the perpetrator of such an offense some manners. The bald man glared angrily at the smirking fop before him for a full second before he finally saw it was none other than his young friend, Gord, playing tricks.
After much exchange of greetings and appropriate toasts, the pair staggered joyfully back to Gord's apartment above a small shop in a better neighborhood of the Low Quarter. Eventually they sobered sufficiently to find supper in a nearby public eating house, return to Gord's quarters once again, and exchange tales of what had happened since their last meeting. Despite Cord's protests, Curley insisted that Gord recount his tale first.
Curley was sorry to learn of the barbarian warrior's departure. He clucked reprovingly at Cord's exploits as Blackcat. He hardly glanced at the splendid items of jewelry Gord revealed for his perusal, although the druid did remark on the splendid old box they were in, urging Gord to have it restored. At last it was Greenleafs turn.
The druid related an uneventful and rapid return to the Celadon Forest, the dwelling place of the Great Druid from whom Curley Greenleaf sought counsel. The workings of the strange relic were as mysterious to that personage as they were to his lesser fellow, so the two had eventually gone to the Grand Druid himself. The result was still unsatisfactory, so nothing would do but for all three to seek the assistance of certain Hierophants, an arcane order of druidical priests, which Curley knew but little about. Much was learned thereby.
What the relic actually was, of what nature and origin, who placed it in its underground repository and guarded it with a demon, and the true powers it held Greenleaf refused to enumerate. Perhaps he was himself ignorant. In any event, all the stocky fellow would tell his young friend related to but a single dweomer of the relic – the object could be used to discover events elsewhere and elsewhen, including many other planes of existence, dimensions, and probabilities. It was thus empowered, Greenleaf related, to serve as a counterbalance to another ancient object, an artifact of blackest Evil.
Much more had occurred regarding the strange object before Curley – now given status as Druid, a ranking number of the druidical hierarchy – gained permission to contact his long-separated companions. Thus, he had explained to Gord, a year had slipped away before he was able to come bearing the rewards he had promised for their part in recovering the lost relic.
From his bundle Greenleaf brought forth a long, extraordinarily thin cloak of gray with soft boots to match. These, Gord learned, were of elfin make and bestowed near-invisibility and almost perfect silence to their wearer. Curley also had magical wrist-guards for the massive barbarian; Chert had often expressed contempt for armor and similar protection, so the druids had thought that such bracers would be most appreciated.
Restoring the latter items to his pack, Greenleaf had then asked for the young thief's further assistance. Gord had surprised himself by jumping at the opportunity to find adventure and purpose. He agreed before even asking as to the nature of his friend's mission and needs. The druid seemed somewhat surprised at such ready acquiescence himself, and briefly related the circumstances of the affair to Gord.
Gellor, the veteran agent and spy, participant in many deeds of derring-do and countless skirmishes and battles, was involved! The bard had left off his endless missions for this or that sovereign head of state, abandoned his watch on the Bandit Kingdoms, Aerdy, and all the rest. He had come instantly to the summons of the Cabal.
By the time Curley came from his conclave with the Hierophants, Gellor was already an integral part of the enterprise. He and Greenleaf had sped westward, and even as the druid was speaking with Gord, the one-eyed adventurer was gathering a force of like folk and mercenary soldiers below the city – working his way down the Wild Coast, bound for the Drachensgrab Hills. Would Gord help the effort by lending his skills and fighting abilities?
The force Gellor was raising was to assist the Prince of Ulek in his effort to take Strandkeep Castle and make war upon the men and humanoids of the Pomarj. Of course, Gord was ready, being more interested than ever in the undertaking. The young thief was clever enough to know that there was more to this than a simple military campaign, no matter the worth of that fight. Greenleaf had refused to speak of any other purpose save joining with the dwarven monarch, and this whetted Gord's appetite for the whole business still more! Next day, the pair had quitted the walls of Greyhawk for the countryside and the long journey southward for the Pomarj. Thus had Gord come to the shores of the Azure Sea, helped to take the great fortress of Strandkeep, and dispatched many of its evil garrison, men-at-arms and their masters alike…
"I said, a brass bit for your thoughts!" Gellor nearly shouted in his ear.
Gord snapped out of his reverie, and blinked rather foolishly at the hard-featured bard. "I was reflecting on the past… Sorry."