I spent my first three days in Merilos living off what money my father had sent with me and what additional funding I could win at cards. I did fairly well at that, but only when I cheated -- and that was risky, too risky to rely on as a long-term strategy.
It was my third night, and I was taking a stroll through the warehouse district behind the docks -- just to clear my head, you understand. I certainly wasn't casing the buildings or considering how my fortunes might fare if I turned to a life of crime. And, of course, I was keeping myself in shape with an idle bit of night climbing, which was better practiced here than in more populated areas. It was in this perfectly innocent fashion that I happened to be near the edge of a rooftop when I heard the sounds of someone running: rapid footsteps coming closer, exhausted wheezing mixed with barely-gasped curses.
Several thoughts went through my head: that this might be some poor innocent, out for a nighttime stroll like myself, and now pursued by the city's criminal element. Or it might be some nefarious rogue, of the sort that I would never consider becoming, on the run from the guards after a job turned sour. From the sounds of shouting behind him, I rather thought the latter.
So, in recognition of my civic duty, I swung over the side of the building, dropped down, rolled, and came to my feet in front of him. He screamed, tried to stop or perhaps dodge around me, and managed -- entirely of his own accord -- to slam himself face-first into the wall of the alley we were currently occupying. It was, to be fair, a fairly clean and wide alley -- the trash carts came through the warehouse district regularly enough -- and he certainly had no reason to think that an upstanding citizen such as myself might spring up out of nowhere to inquire after his safety.
I was crouched down and checking him over -- purely to assure myself of his health -- when his pursuers slid the covers of their lanterns up, bathing us both in uncomfortably bright light. One of them, the nearer one, growled, "Where did you come from?"
"Me? I was out for a stroll, as anyone might be," I told them. My eyes were starting to adjust, and I thought they both looked dubious; and even after three days I knew that the rest of Sorilan didn't keep even remotely the sort of hours that I'd been raised to. "I heard someone running, and stopped to see if he needed help. Unfortunately, I startled him, and... well... I was just checking to see if he was okay. He doesn't seem to be carrying a purse, but he was carrying this."
I held up the item the man had obviously stolen. It looked to be some sort of brazier, made of some silvery metal. It looked expensive, but also distinctive -- the sort of thing that might net me a lot of money, but also might get me into a very great deal of trouble.
"You checked his purse?" asked the nearer of his pursuers -- a half-orc, I thought, or maybe even a full orc.
"Only to see if he had anything that might identify him," I said, radiating so much innocence that the half-orc actually hesitated before laughing softly. I forebore observing that he must have somehow dropped his purse while being pursued -- along with a rather nice dagger that I was already becoming quite fond of, actually. "Do you know the gentleman?"
"That's Calder Carefree," said the maybe-orc, and the man behind him nodded. "We captured the rest of his team, but he caught wise and almost escaped. You should come with us -- the boss will want to meet you."
I hesitated, but he added: "There's a bounty on him, and the boss'll also want to make sure you get your share."
"Oh?" I asked. "Is there money to be made, capturing criminals?"
"That's not the only sort of work we do, but yes." The probably-half-orc came forward, lowering the cover on his lantern.
"Damn it, Rrhoral, you know I can't see in the dark."
"So leave yours open, Barghif, but quit blinding our new friend."
He checked Calder over for weapons, then scooped up the half-conscious human. His companion turned his lantern away and approached me, holding a hand out; I handed him the brazier, and he nodded. "You really should come with us."
And that was how I met Rhoral the Quick and Barghif the Stubborn, and through them the dragonborn woman Sarail who commanded their troop. She asked if I was looking for work, and I admitted that I might be. I hadn't expected to find it with a troop of adventurous mercenaries and almost -- but not quite -- pirates, but I did. And I like to think that we were all the better for it.