Salabak hailed from a certain tribe in the Great Gray Land of Thar. Following the custom of all young males in his tribe, he'd embarked on a rite of passage. Unfortunately, he was kidnapped by slavers, who led him away to the sea and thence to Calimshan and Manshaka.
There, he was owned by Pasha Abon Duum and made to fight as a gladiator in the Arena of Blood, where he was billed as the "Savage of Thar". Among Duum's stable of gladiators, he became a steadfast friend to fellow gladiator Vajra Valmeyjar, the popular champion, and he told her his story. In the mid-1350s DR, however, Vajra escaped the Arena, seriously wounding several of Duum's best fighters in the effort. She left behind Salabak and her other fellow gladiators, and would for a long time fear they remained captives or had inevitably been killed.
Afterward, Salabak completed his rite of passage himself—cutting his own throat and destroying his ability to speak, gaining the power of thought speech and illusion in return. He also revealed his treacherous side, making a deal with his master, Abon Duum, to recapture his old friend Vajra.[note 1]
In the Year of the Prince, 1357 DR, Duum's bounty hunters caught Vajra at the Selûne's Smile in Waterdeep and rode off with her. Salabak intercepted them, creating the illusion of a dracolich to distract the bounty hunters, before Conner and Timoth Eyesbright shot them with arrows. Rescued, Vajra was reunited with Salabak, and was shocked by his lost voice; Salabak didn't explain.
Together, Vajra, Conner, and Salabak tracked the kidnapped cat child and the mage Chancil Crystalheart to Memnon in Calimshan. Using his illusions, Salabak related a false story of how he'd attempted to escape after Vajra, been recaptured, and had his throat slit on Duum's orders as punishment. Conner was dubious of how this led to thought speech, but Vajra believed her old friend, deciding that thoughts could not lie. Conner made good use of Salabak's power nonetheless, requesting an illusion of a kitten to trick Chancil's apprentice into leading them to Chancil's house, where they learned he had the cat child and served Abon Duum. Waiting outside, Salabak kissed Vajra, beginning a romantic relationship between them. However, their plan to rescue the cat child failed; Salabak slew Chancil's apprentice as they escaped. In the aftermath, Conner and Vajra parted on bad terms. The treacherous Salabak then knocked out Vajra from behind. He'd only rescued her from the bounty hunters and fought against Chancil so he could turn her over to Duum himself.
Salabak delivered her to Abon Duum in Manshaka—Vajra did not learn of Salabak's duplicitiousness—but the avaricious Duum desired much more, having a plan to capture the Catlord as well. Salabak visited Vajra in the dungeon, promising an opportunity to escape when she fought in the Arena again. That day, Salabak created an illusory manticore to appear to assault Duum in the stands as Vajra escaped into the dungeons beneath the Arena. Salabak joined her there, where the Catlord appeared to slay Conner for his failings. Salabak comforted the grieving Vajra.
They left Manshaka and hid in a swamp, where the Catlord revealed the secret of the cat child and Conner's role in his protection against Abon Duum. Vajra was torn over her mixed feelings for Conner, but was consoled by Salabak, before they kissed and made love. However, she awoke to find Duum and his forces had captured the lot of them, with Salabak in his employ and threatening the cat child to force the Catlord's obedience. Duum explained the truth of his treachery and the source of his thought speech. Duum went on with his scheme, using the Catlord's power to take them to the plane of Gladsheim to confront Tyr, god of justice. This failed, and Tyr returned Vajra, an alive-and-well Conner, the Catlord, and the cat child to the swamp, where Salabak stood waiting to see what had befallen Duum and Vajra, for fear she would seek revenge if she lived. At last, Vajra had her showdown against her true betrayer, Salabak. He manifested flames and a vargouille before she knocked him into a bog. He tried to drag her in and down with him, but a froghemoth burst out and devoured him. Thinking she could hear him screaming, Vajra grieved and was comforted by Conner.
All the men of Salabak's tribe sacrificed their voices to their god. Those the god apparently deemed worthy, as Salabak was, were granted the power of "thought speech"; this was a high honor. Salabak was able to project his thoughts as images of any size, whether to communicate through thought pictures or to manifest illusions of creatures, such as a kitten, a vargouille, a squealer, a manticore, and even a massive dracolich. However, he was left a mute as a result.[note 2]
Salabak had a strong build, pale skin, blue eyes, and long gray hair. His face was crisscrossed with scars of battle. He wore dark breeches and a loose open shirt, coat, fingerless gloves, and scarf he could wear as a keffiyeh, all in pale shades. He wore a belt with a skull-emblem buckle, an earring holding a fang or claw, and the golden skull manacle of a gladiator of the Arena of Blood on his right wrist. He wielded a slightly curved sword.
Bereft of his voice, Salabak's personality was difficult to fathom, but the loss of speech actually enabled his treachery. Vajra trusted that his thought images reflected his true thoughts, but this was far from the case. He would even romance her after he'd secretly betrayed her.
- ↑ The actual relationship between Salabak and Duum at this stage is unknown. Initially it appears he escaped, but Empires of the Shining Sea page 111 (following these events in the comics) mentions that Vajra and Jhalarn were the only ones to have escaped the Arena of Blood. Therefore, it appears that Duum let Salabak out to recapture Vajra, and thus Salabak was serving Duum all through the story. In the end, Conner suggests that Salabak had been plotting to take over Abon Duum's power and holdings, but there is no evidence for this.
- ↑ It is unknown which god Salabak followed, nor whether his power was magical or psionic in nature. "Thought speech" suggests telepathy, but Salabak showed no ability to communicate mentally via language, only via projected images. When he was swallowed by the frogehemoth, Vajra said that she could hear him screaming, but it is unclear if this was real or imagined.
- Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (comic book series)
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Dan Mishkin (January 1990). “Shell Game”. In Elliot S. Maggin ed. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #14 (DC Comics).
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Dan Mishkin (December 1989). “Shackles of the Past”. In Elliot S. Maggin ed. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #13 (DC Comics).
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Dan Mishkin (February 1990). “Cat & Mouse”. In Elliot S. Maggin ed. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #15 (DC Comics).
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Dan Mishkin (March 1990). “The Last Betrayal”. In Elliot S. Maggin ed. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #16 (DC Comics).
- ↑ Michael Fleisher (January 1989). “The Bounty Seekers Of Manshaka”. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #2 (DC Comics).