Underfed and grubby, Simon Pryor looks much like many others in his unfortunate position. As an orphan, he is limited to what food and shelter he can scrounge up on his own, and that's not much on the rough streets of the Landsmeet slums. He frequently goes several days without food, and that lack of nutrition shows in his already stunted growth, and the rather puny state of his arms and legs.
At the tender age of four years old, Simon's parents sold him to an innkeeper for a measly five pieces of gold. The young boy was expected to spend his days scrubbing floors, pots and pans, and to mind the meat roasting on a spit over the fire. But as could be expected of a four year-old boy, Simon was easily distracted. He could often be found playing with insects found in the pantry, or drawing on the stone floor and walls with a bit of charcoal.
His master, the innkeeper, was an angry man at the best of times. He often took out his frustrations on poor Simon whether the boy had 'earned' such attention or not, and those frustrations took the form of regular beatings and verbal abuse. On a particularly busy night in the height of the evening meal rush, Simon heard the warbling voice of a minstrel coming from the taproom and had decided to investigate. In his fascination, he forgot that he had been instructed to turn the spit for a rather large (and therefore expensive) chunk of meat which was intended for public consumption that night. It burned so badly, the innkeeper couldn't salvage any of it, and the resulting smoke filled not only the kitchen, but the whole of the tavern.
So many tavern patrons fled for fear of being caught in a fire - and many of those without paying for their meals - that the innkeeper lost massive profits that night. In a fit of rage, he chased the poor boy through the smoke-filled tavern, and when he finally caught Simon, he wrapped both hands around the boy's neck and squeezed - intending to crush the life right out of the boy.
Terrified, yet unable to scream for help, Simon struggled with all his might. Internally, his mind screamed for help. As pain wracked his body and his vision began to fade, Simon's frantic mental and physical attempts at screaming caused something to snap within and without. Externally, the innkeeper crushed Simon's vocal cords and nearly did the same to his windpipe. Internally, in Simon's mind, something broke loose - and with it, a new kind of 'voice'.
'LEMME GO!' The 'sound' of it was so powerful that the innkeeper's head reeled with it. He let go of Simon's neck and clapped his hands to his ears. Simon, wheezing and whistling and barely able to breathe, kept up the onslaught. 'HELP! SOMEONE! ANYONE!'
The guards found them, then. They burst through the door to be met by a gruesome scene: the old innkeeper collapsed on the floor, with blood trailing from his eyes, ears and nose. And Simon, face down on the floor and clinging to life. If it hadn't been for those guardsmen, Simon would surely have died. But they saw it he was Healed to the best of the abilities of the local priest, and enrolled into the church's orphanage for continued care.
But Simon, with his newly awoken Gift, couldn't bear to be crammed into so small a building with so many other children. He could hear their every thought, and their minds pressed in on him all day and all night until he thought he'd go mad with the noise. He fled as soon as he felt well enough to do so, and has been living alone on the streets ever since.
It's been almost two years since the boy fled the orphanage, and he's been learning to control his Gift little by little. Unfortunately, the damage done to his vocal cords never healed except to allow Simon to breathe properly, and without the advent of surgical procedures, they likely never will. He still must keep away from large crowds of people, too. The poor kid can't bear the way the thoughts of strangers crowd into his mind until it's fit to burst.
Notes: Simon's Gift works in such a way that virtually anyone can 'hear' what his mind projects as speech. Those who have telepathy will hear him quite clearly, but they may also be able to block him out if their Gift is strong enough to match his.