Character Creation History – Cleric/Thief – Langdon (Elf)
Langdon finished rubbing the shivering horse down and stepped over to where he had lain the saddle. It was a cold, overcast and very dreary kind of day. Ugly black clouds skittered across a dull grey sky. A light, chilly breeze emphasized the end of late afternoon and the approach of night. He looked up at the clouds as the first flakes of snow began to drift down across the leaf-strewn hillside.
Collecting enough dry firewood to last through the undoubtedly cold, wet night that was in store had taken a bit longer than he had expected, but the thought of a warm fire cheered him a little. Setting to work with his flint, steel, and tinder, he had a small crackling blaze going in no time. Leaning back on his saddle, he watched the dark grey smoke disappear into the light grey sky. Even the setting sun seemed cheerless as it's dark red splotch settled behind the trees.
Pulling his prized silver flute from its chamois cloth case, he began to play a mournful little tune that seemed to suit the mood the weather was setting for the evening. Deadhead, his horse, comforted by the familiar ritual settled down and began to crop grass. While he played, he tried to think of a way out of his present predicament.
His father, Jarl, had just recently been killed fighting against the demons that had infested the town of Luben, quite some distance away. For demons of course, never far enough. Fors, his elder brother, no the Earl of Aerie, seemed even more distant now that he had assumed the title. He had suggested, and none too subtly, that Langdon go and seek his fortunes elsewhere. It seemed unlikely that Langdon would return to Aerie any time in the near future. Still, in a couple of hundred years, perhaps Fors would change his mind about his younger brother.
Although he was the eldest, Fors had always been jealous of Langdon. His better luck with the maidens, his ability to grow a beard (rare among the elves), his music, and worst of all, his success in the church. While Fors had never made it out of the ranks of the worshipers, Langdon had shown a remarkable affinity for the God's purpose. Enough so that he was chosen for training as an Acolyte. All Fors had was the certainty of the new Earl. And that interested Langdon not in the least – which was perhaps the worst insult of all.
Langdon was also far more graceful than Fors. He had even joined the Thieves' Guild. Fors, on the other hand, just barely managed to gain training as a fighter. Although Fors was good with the longsword, there were many who were much better. Langdon, on the other hand, seemed to pick up the way of the blade naturally. Just one more thorn in Fors' side.
He was just wrapping his tune up when something caught Deadhead's attention. The horse stopped his cropping and looked off in the distance, his ears up and his face alert. Langdon paused and listened intently. Off in the distance, maybe 300 yards off, he heard a distant scream. Putting his flute back in it's cover, he checked his weapons and began a slow jog to see what was going on. It didn't take him long to cover enough distance even with the underbrush and trees. As he crested the final hill blocking his view, he could hear the sounds of a fight; the ringing of steel on steel.
Checking his pace, he began to move as silently as he could and still make time. He gained the crest and looked down. There, in the slight valley formed by a small brook was the fight he had heard. Laying on its side, a small wagon was just beginning to burn. A young elven girl was screaming as loudly as she could while three laughing orcs chased her around in circles, enjoying their sport. Another girl lay slumped across the bottom of the wagon, an orcish spear pinning her there. What was evidently her mother was laying half in, half out of the brook, cut nearly in two.
The source of the ringing Langdon was hearing was a tall male elf, fighting furiously, but already injured. Five orcs lay around him while another four attempted to cut him to ribbons. Their swords rang off his chain mail or were intercepted by his small shield while they seemed powerless to block the weaving of his longsword. Unfortunately, he was outnumbered about fifty to one.
Listening, Langdon could hear him shouting curses at the orcs in their own filthy language. First one orc fell, then another, and a third – but always there were more waiting for their chance at the tiring, wounded elf. As Langdon watched helplessly, a smallish orc leapt in from behind and stabbed him in the back. The other orcs had apparently finished their sport with the little girl and had tied her up. Clearly they felt that she could wait until they had finished looting the bodies and the wagon.
Knowing what orcs did to elves – male or female – that they captured, Langdon wasn't going to let that happen to the young girl tied to the stakes down there. They would loot the dead, then eat – including their victims – and then drink, and then divvy up the loot. Inevitably they would begin to fight over the shares before one of them decided to turn their attention to the child. He would have to do something before then.
He spent the next couple hours planning and preparing. Finally, the orcs had settled their camp and began to eat. Praying to the lady Death that she would protect him and deliver a swift end to his enemies, he began to edge his way forward. Taking full advantage of the deepening shadows and the flickering firelight he moved as silently as he could. Crawling slowly through the deep leaves covering the ground, he took a young sapling and bent it double, setting a trigger so that anyone coming down this path would be hit full in the face.
Moving a few yards further, he found a large log balanced on a stump. This he rigged to a trip wire so that the log would fall on the person triggering it and roll over any companions. Just in back of this, he set another sapling whip. Some ten feet further on, he set a trip wire, then another whip. Crawling past some large rocks, he set these along the trail with trip wires so that they would fall on anyone following him, or roll under their feet so that they would lose their footing and fall. Now all he had to do was remember where all these things were when he ran by – if any orcs followed him.
Judging by the noises they were making, the orcs were beginning to play with their take; he would have to hurry. Creeping as quickly as he could, in silence, move he finally made it to the girl. Tied cruelly to four stakes driven into the ground, she had been left for hours. Her hands and feet showed blue where the circulation had been cut off. Whispering to her to be as quiet as she could be, he drew his dagger and cut the ropes. With a quick prayer, he cast the one spell he had prepared – a cure light wounds so that she could use her hands and feet again.
Carrying her piggy-back, he began to work his way towards his series of traps. If he didn't have to use them, fine. His escape was nearly flawless. Had an orc not chosen that particular place and time to relieve himself, he might have made it. As the orc took a few steps into the underbrush, he nearly stepped on the pair of elves. Looking down, he cried out in the piggish sounding language of the orcs "Elves! And stealing our prize!"
Langdon called him something unspeakable in Orcish and slashed sideways with his sword. In an incredible stroke of bad luck, the blade hit a buckle holding the thing's armor together, shearing it in two but doing very little damage to the orc underneath. Grunting loudly at the impact, the orc responded by slashing his own blade across Langdon's face, slicing deeply across his right eye. Screaming in pain, Langdon threw the dagger he carried hidden in his right sleeve into the orc's throat and began to run. The trip wires would give him a little time, but not much; and he needed to do something about his eye in a hurry.
As he struggled with the girl back to where he had Deadhead waiting, he could hear the orcs cursing as they tripped over the ropes, or the rocks, or the saplings smacked into them, or logs or rocks fell on them. They were clearly slowing down and beginning to move with caution.
Taking the time to tie a rag across his face, he tossed the girl onto Deadhead's broad back and reached for his flute and backpack. Jumping onto Deadhead himself, he pushed the horse into a gallop. Although he could see out of only one eye, he trusted the horse enough to turn him away from any trees he might hit. It was going to be a long, long run until he got someplace to safe.
All night long, they ran, imagining the orcs to be just one step behind them. Langdon kept ducking as he imagined branches or trees looming up in the darkness. He had only a vague idea where he was going, and no real path to follow. Deadhead was showing a lot of froth, and his eyes were wild, but Langdon wouldn't let him slow down. He couldn't. Not until they were safe.
The sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon as they crested a hill and saw a small walled town in the distance. They also saw a large cloud of dust off to their left and a little ahead of them.
"Shit." Langdon cursed. Leaning over the tired horse, he whispered in his ear "Just a little further old friend, just a little further." Spurring the horse as hard as he could, they broke out from the woods and began the longest ride Langdon had ever taken.
On the town wall, a bored guard walked around the turret guarding this section and leaned on the merlins. He always liked this stretch of duty. You could watch the sun come up. He looked out and saw a lot more than just the sun coming up. A single horse was riding as fast as it could, and right behind it were about fifty others.
"Captain!" he called the alarm, "Something approaching! Quickly!"
The captain of the guard, an aged fighter, looked out at the converging dust clouds. He pulled out the telescope he always carried and focused it on the leading edge and described the scene. "Two people on a horse, riding hard. Right behind them, maybe sixty yards, are a lot of other horses...ORCS!" He turned around and began to shout orders. "Sound the alarm! The city is under attack by orcs!" as the warning gong began to sound he turned to the soldier and said, "You, and ten others, mount up and follow me. We'll sortie and try to escort these people in. I want an entire company to follow as quickly as possible."
Meanwhile, Langdon was sweating hard. He'd lost a lot of blood and he was trying to hold the young girl on the horse, as well as trying to keep his shield protecting his back and the child, all while urging Deadhead on. The orcs, on fresher horses, were gaining; Deadhead had run out of steam. "Almost within arrow range." he thought to himself. Sure enough, a few seconds later, some shafts began to fall around the fleeing horse. He spurred Deadhead again, getting a slight burst of speed from the wasted animal. A moment later, he felt a dull impact on his left shoulder. Glancing back, he could see the blackened shaft and feathers of an arrow emerging from the seam in his armor. Seeing the terrified look in the girl's eyes as the blood welled up and ran down his back, he said "Shit honey, I tried..."
He could almost see the orcs riding the horses chasing him. He was also losing a lot more blood. Things were getting a little bit hazy. Focusing his gaze on the town in front of him, he prayed once more for deliverance, or for a swift and painless journey to meet his goddess. When he saw the big iron bound gates swing open and a party of cavalry ride out, he decided he was dreaming. But they couldn't possibly reach them in time.
The girl was hugging him as tightly as she could, whimpering, driving the pouch of caltrops into his back adding to his discomfort. "The spikes!" he thought, cursing himself for his stupidity. Reaching around behind himself, he grabbed a handful of the inch-long tetrahedral spikes and began to sprinkle them behind Deadhead. He emptied the entire pouch. A second or so later, he could hear the orcs' horses screaming as the sharp metal points drove into their hooves, and they reared or fell and rolled over onto more spikes – and their riders.
That, coupled with the advancing horse troops were all it took to break the spirit of the orcs' chase. They began to peel off and turn back. A few die-hards shot some last arrows, but Langdon and the girl were by then, out of range. As the townsmen caught up to them and rode around them, Deadhead slowed to a walk; A bit too late, for the animal had given all it had. He stumbled and fell to his front knees and then rolled over onto one side. Langdon, weak from loss of blood did likewise.
When he awoke, he was laying in a clean bed, staring at a plaster ceiling. Sitting next to him was a cleric, and the girl.
"We made it?" he asked, a little shakily.
"Yes, barely." the cleric answered. "It was too late to save your horse though. I've never seen an animal that wasted before."
"He was the best horse I've ever had." Langdon was going to miss him. "How is the she?" he asked, indicating the child with a nod of his head. She looked much better clean, in fresh clothes, and not screaming.
The cleric answered, "Aside from being terrified that you were going to die too, and in shock from the attack, she's all right. She told us what happened. We've sent to Andular for some help eradicating those orcs."
Turning to the little girl, Langdon said "I'm Langdon. What's your name?"
Finally, a small smile and she answered "Lura."
"And how old are you, Lura?"
"I'm only twenty."
"You're very pretty and very grown up. You did very well last night, I want you to know that." She smiled again. "Cleric, can we speak privately?"
"Certainly. Lura, you run along to the kitchens and get something to eat, okay?"
"I'm afraid." She looked as though she was about to cry again.
"Bili is right outside the door. He'll go with you."
She turned to Langdon, "You won't leave?"
"No honey, I'm not going anyplace. She left the room with the guard that was outside the door."
The cleric smiled, "I am called Dawlin."
"Dawlin, did she tell you exactly what happened?"
"She told me that her family was ambushed and murdered by orcs and that you rescued her."
"Did she say WHO she was?
"Just that her daddy was a fighter and heading to Jorag. We don't get many elves through here – and now we seem to be inundated with your people." the cleric chuckled.
"I didn't recognize the family symbol on their wagon at all so they're not from anyplace that I know. I guess I'm going to have to be responsible for her until I can find her relatives."
"Well as far as we're concerned you ARE her next of kin, so that's fine."
"Great. Oh,"he put his hand on the bandage over his right eye, "When does this come off?"
Dawlin leaned in, "I've got some bad news for you there. The eye was very badly damaged. The wound was infected and swollen. We don't have the capability to deal with that sort of thing here. My cure light wounds spell was never meant to cover an injury of that magnitude. There's going to be a large scar and your eye will never quite be the same. You'll be able to see out of it, barely, but it's always going to be sore. The only way you'll ever really get it back up to par is a regeneration spell of some sort.
"Oh great God Death herself." he lay back on the pillow. "Do you know where there are any available?"
"I'm sorry – I don't know any clerics anywhere on the continent that can throw that spell."
"I'm going to be half-blind the rest of my life? Get me a mirror..."
"It's not going to be pretty. The wound hasn't even finished closing. It's raw and..."
"Just hand me the mirror." Dawlin handed him the looking glass. An ugly red tear ran from the right temple all the way down and across his nose. The bandage over his eye was soaked with blood and pus. "Oh good Lord, how can you stand the sight of me?"
"It's not that bad, truly."
"Not that bad he says! Ha ha! Half my face is cut off and it's not that bad. Care to trade?!"
"There wasn't anything else we could do for you. At least you are alive – and you saved the girl."
"Wonderful. That helps a lot doesn't it? I should've minded my own business. No, that's not right. I'm upset. I should be grateful to Death for my deliverance. She is merciful and kind."
A week or so later when Langdon and Lura left the little town of Fiona, they had a fresh horse named Clyde and a little better outlook on things. The livid pink scar running across his face and under the black patch he now worse stood out vividly from the weathered tan of his skin. When they finally arrived in Luben, the city was devastated. He had heard that the Demon Wars had caused a lot of damage, but not this much! They moved on to Andular. Perhaps they could help-rebuild the city...Certainly he had enough gold to buy some land and build a small house. And from there, who knows?