Lothar: Beginnings

I'm not sure why I've never posted this on my gaming blog. I wrote it up in 4 parts in 2008. Here's the entirety.

Part 1

Lothar drove another replacement post into the ground behind Hobgoblin Wall. This section of the wall was named after the creatures that caused the wall to be built. Fifty years prior, the greenskins had attacked the town from out of the surrounding forest. A short rock wall which used to demark the town’s outer edge was the only thing separating the town’s defenders from the vicious goblinoids. After the attack, Hobbly decided to raise a more permanent barrier around town. Yesterday, though, it was a Chaos band led by a large, black armored warrior that had weakened the section.

The post slid deep into the earth and Lothar started replacing the dirt around it. F’lore, a suicidal dwarf recruited for his immense strength, held the post straight while Lothar worked. “Ye should get out and see more of the world, lad. Ye don’t alwae need to hide here behind weak wooden walls. Ye should get out there an’ find yer doom, lad!” With “doom”, F’lore clapped Lothar on the shoulder, sending the laborer sprawling to the ground.

“Getting out into the world may be fun for you and your adoptees, but I’m just a hired hand. Other than the sweat of my brow, the entirety of my skills lies in consuming generous amounts of alcohol without getting drunk.” Lothar picked himself up and brushed himself off. Dust caught in the rivulets of sweat running down his back.

“Not a bad skill to be havin’, either, is for sure, lad. Not a bad skill at all…” the dwarf trailed off as he stared into the forest beyond the breeched wall. F’lore often lost himself in memories when not strenuously engaged. “Sometimes the mug is your best defense in this cruel world.”

(Days pass)

“This be a sword, lad. It is yer key to great exploits in this grim world.” The weapon was rather nondescript, bearing only a few battle scratches to show that it wasn’t just another dusty town relic. “That one don’t be anything special, but it’ll do ye well enough. Come with me and the twins, lad. We’ll find ye a heroic doom.”

Lothar wasn’t at all looking for a heroic doom, or any kind of doom at all, but he was looking to break the tedium of life. The constant menial labors might be useful to some in town, but he yearned for a change. It only took a few weeks of hints from the dwarven Slayer to motivate him to change.

Part 2

Something happens when you put a sword into a man’s hands. A man who’s looking to break the tedium of his life isn’t just going to say, “That could come in handy some day,” and lean it by the front door. A man is going to hold the sword, swing the sword, and eventually swing at something with the sword. Trees and practicing posts become boring, and the man seeks a live opponent. That is when his adventure begins.

“There have got to be goblins out there somewhere. We didn’t build this wall just for the fun of it.” Lothar paced the dining area of the Golden Griffin Tavern.

“Aye, there are lad. An’ beatin’ yer sword against a post for hours is nothing compared to facin’ down the vile wretches. Are ye ready, then? We’re close enough to the mountains, if’n yer finally ready to get out.” F’lore drained his tankard and wiped off his moustache with his forearm. He picked up his axe from beside the table. The weapon practically gleamed in the candlelight. The gleam was over shined, however, by the look in the dwarf’s eye.

Part 3

Lothar walked out of Hobbly with a sword, a leather jacket, and something to prove, at least to himself. He walked down a dirt road beside a dwarf and two elves, but somehow the experience seemed to be all about him. Most people in the Empire wouldn’t think a Troll Slayer, an elven militiaman, and an elven wizard apprentice to be background players. Lothar, however, felt the whole group had gathered just to expand his horizons. And, who’s to say it wasn’t so?

Less than an hour later, the party met up with a band of beastmen rushing out of the forest. F’lore positively cackled with glee, while K’nar readied his sword and K’shan started casting. Lothar wasn’t so sure he wanted the adventure to be about him any more. This seemed to be a good time to hand the reigns over to the others. Steeling up his courage, he unsheathed the sword F’lore had given him. With a quick appeal to Sigmar for courage, Lothar cautiously walked toward the battle.

(One fight later)

F’lore yanked his axe out of the spine of a fallen beastman. “That’s good fun ‘n all, but they’re runnin’ from somethin’…somethin’ I smell in there.” The dwarf started for the newly blazed path out of the forest. K’nar quickly finished cleaning off his sword and rushed to the dwarf’s flank. K’shan sneared one last time at the fallen creatures and stately walked into the forest. Lothar was the only one left panting in the road. He took a deep breath and started running to catch up to the group.

The trail led to the lair of a troll. The creature sat on the ground, crunching away on muscular beastman bits. Lothar froze, momentarily too frightened to move. He heard a deep roar as F’lore charged the monster.

Part 4

The dwarf, still soaked in beastman blood, charged in swinging. The startled creature just stared incoherently until F’lore’s axe hit it in the arm. Then the monster roared, though impossible to tell whether from pain or having its dinner interrupted. The troll stood while F’lore brought the axe around for another swing. It reached down to grab a club from a dead beastman’s hand, or rather along with a dead beastman’s hand. F’lore’s axe bit into the creature’s chest while it raised the club. With another angry roar, the troll began to swing.

K’nar circled the combatants, looking to flank the troll. K’shan readied what little magical abilities she had left after the fight with the beastmen.

Lothar reached deep inside himself to shake off the fear gripping his heart. His adventure, his moment, was happening directly in front of him…but without him. He began to moan in frustration, and the sound of his own voice snapped him from his paralysis. Raising his sword, Lothar charged the troll’s other exposed flank.

K’nar and Lothar swung simultaneously. One attacker had skill behind his swing while the other did not. The elf pierced the creature’s abdomen as it flailed at the dwarf. Lothar missed.

F’lore completely ignored the beating from the troll and concentrated on hitting the monster as hard and as fast as he could. It was a test of endurance to see which creature could take the greatest beating. It’s not exactly the kind of test any intelligent creature would challenge a Slayer to. The dwarf’s axe hit often and hit deep into the tough skin of the troll. K’nar and Lothar kept weakening it from the sides as well, until the creature’s body couldn’t possibly heal its wounds faster than it received them.

One particularly lucky stab by Lothar caught the troll’s attention. The monster turned and swung the club. Lothar was bludgeoned in the ribs and knocked, breathless, to the ground. F’lore didn’t miss the opening.

The dwarf took the opportunity to plant his feet and swing his axe with every once of strength remaining. The blow struck only too well. F’lore’s axe sliced open the troll’s abdominal cavity, sending blood, entrails, and potent acid spraying forward in an arc. The dwarf was well within splash range, though K’nar and Lothar were not. The troll fell to the ground, and all was silent for a split second.

K’shan ran for the dwarf, while K’nar helped Lothar back to his feet. K’shan tore off her cloak and wiped the dwarf down, despite his sputtering and swearing. F’lore spit blood out of his mouth. “I’ve ‘ad worse beatings from an elf!”

“I am not sure if that’s an insult or a compliment.” K’shan kept wiping the dwarf down. Her cloak was falling apart as she wiped. “It is the acid I am worried about, not your thick skull.” F’lore grunted.

“Nice thinkin’, lad, distractin’ it for me. Darned good strategy.” Lothar couldn’t reply, even if he wanted to admit he hadn’t used strategy. He was still fighting to get breath back into his lungs. He also thought a rib or two might be cracked. K’nar stepped forward to be the voice of reason.

“We have met a band of beastmen and a troll. We should return to Hobbly and warn the town. We could reprovision for a longer hunt, too, if the human is up to it.” Lothar’s mind caught on the idea of going back to Hobbly.

“Good…idea,” he panted between shallow breaths.

“Not before we raid this filthy beast’s lair!” F’lore looked up at the cave entrance. “He’s sure to have killed something with valuables. I’ve built up a mighty thirst, and the troll’s paying!” He walked away from K’shan’s ministrations. She was left holding a pocked, shabby cloak.

“Amazing. I have cleaned off pints and pints of blood, but none seems to be his. Also, look at my cloak. It is in tatters from the acid of the troll, yet none has left a mark on him.” Lothar shook his head.

“The dwarf has Ranald’s own luck. I was only hit once, and I was out of the fight.”

“Tis not luck, my human friend. Tis fate,” K’nar corrected. The three followed the dwarf’s path with their eyes. K’nar then looked back to the half eaten bodies at their feet. “I guess we get to plunder out here.” Lothar was amazed they had the presence of mind to think about money when they had almost been killed two times in the last ten minutes. Such is the life of an adventurer, though.

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