The Story of a Mercenary


"I was born Vastyr Goranson in the halls of King Cinsina. My parents were Weaponthanes for him in the last days of the Kingdom of Sartar. I didn't know this of course. For me they were mommy and daddy."

"Because my parents were Humakti mine was a lonely childhood. I have no siblings and at first didn't have any friends. I was not lonely though. Mother stayed home and took care of me. The first thing I remember is her singing to me. I can't remember the melody, but it comforted me in a strange way when I was sick."

"Later when I began to explore the world with my own feet, I discovered that there was more than just our rooms. And I even found a friend that didn't run when my parents came around. Though I think that Gastar was trying to prove his Orlanthi courage..."

"We became friends, Gastar and me, and soon were inseparable. I think we were about eight when we first performed our first disappearing act. After that it was almost every season that we tried to outwit our parents and stay 'lost' for days at a time. We'd pretend that the halls and the forests were the domain of some God, and went Heroquesting. Mostly we'd kill imaginary foes in imaginary battles, eat our lunch and fall asleep in the out-of-way corners."

"I was even 'adopted' to Gastar's family, mostly because his mother couldn't keep track of her own children. You see Gastar was the son of the Tribal Champion Garal Strongloins and had many brothers and sisters. It made up for me not having siblings of my own."

"Then came a turning point in my life. As I said I never had much thought about What my parents were. Sure I knew they were Humakti, but that didn't mean much to me."

"But then we had the bright idea of looting the King's Armoury. My idea and not the last bad one I've had. Somehow we pulled it off, getting away with a sword and a dagger. For a few happy hours we just sat in a abandoned corridor and looked at the brightness of the blades. We knew nothing of the skill and did not dare to try. And then Garal and Myara, my mother, found us."

"I've stood in the shield wall against everything from scorpionmen to meldek heavy cavalry, and nothing has scared me more than my mother's face that day. I was ten and my childhood ended. For a long time I blamed my mother, but in the end she was right."

"Garal had dragged Gastar away by the ear leaving me alone in the barren corridor with mother. I gave her the usual lame excuses, until she straightened and told me to shut up and slapped me. She had never spoken to me like that and neither had she laid a hand on me."

"Next day I met Gastar briefly. He couldn't sit at lunch and I was too sore from practise. You see, my punishment was the beginning of my training. I woke that morning by being hoisted from bed by the scariest man alive. Helgan was an old friend of mother's and she had given me as a trainee to him."

"From that day on I spent more time with Helgan than with my parents, who were fighting the Lunars in ever more desperate battles. He was hard as Iron and as supple as a willow tree. He must have been in his sixties, but he consistently beat anyone that came to challenge him. For the next two years I practically lived with him and he was not the most pleasant of men. But he taught me the sword. And battle. And Humakt. I thank him for that. Even though I still hate his guts."

"But I'm glad that I had him around in 1602. I was twelve and the end had came. The Lunar filth made a final assault on our freedom and Boldhome fell. And with it my parents. They had gone with the Spears to fight. And nothing came back but my father's sword."

"Helgan came to my room when I was expecting them back. That was the first and last time I ever saw a tear in his eye. Goran and Myara fell back to back and Sword to Sword, like they had lived. Helgan said that the last sound he heard from their lips was my name. That was the last time I have ever cried."

"The next few years are a blur. I continued training with Helgan with a fanaticism that goes beyond all. Perhaps it is good that I don't remember. As I got to the age of initiation, there was no question. Humakt chose me."

"Unlike my parents I chose not to remain with the tribe of my birth. The winds were calling me to far away places and experiences. So on my seventeenth birthday I packed what little belongings I had, strapped on Slithering Bane and headed west on foot. Helgan wasn't too happy see me leave, but the increasing Lunar influences forced my hand. Had I stayed I would have done something rash that would have led to reprisals."

"So I went to Runegate and from there as a caravan guard to Nochet. After a while I got used to the jewel among cities. Business was good as tensions among the nations grew. Lunars causing trouble there too. I signed on with a Issaries Merchant that was making a regular runs from Nochet through Heortland and back again."

"He paid well considering that the run was far from milky. There were the local clans that thought that we were prime targets for a little raiding. They learned soon enough that we weren't. And then there was the Print with all the chaotics *spit*. That's how I got these scars on my face. It was a scorpionman raid, one of the bad ones. I heard later that they had already destroyed several small villages and eaten couple of caravans in between."

"They didn't get to eat us. Like so many times before and after I heard Master's call for battle. I'd not faced an actual Chaos menace before that and the tales were not fact. I could hear other guards gasp and must say that I didn't feel too hot myself. But unlike some I didn't run. We barely had time to set up any defence before the horde was upon us."

"I don't want to repeat what I saw that day. Let us leave it by saying that the attack is the reason why my hair is grey. We fought and fought, but there seemed to be no stopping them. We saw more and more running from the woods as the first ones were cut down. Lucky for us they were as interested in eating the draft animals as killing and eating us."

"But they were too many. And we began to take losses. First fell one, then another, and another, and another. Then it was just me standing hip deed in corpses. I chanted my Dying Chant and leapt at them, determined to take as many of them with me. But suddenly they retreated, as if scared of something. I was totally in the Grim One's grip so I followed. And suddenly It was there."

"Had I been a normal Orlanthi, my mind would have gone boing. But as a dead man, I merely sang harder and attacked. For what seemed like hours we fought, sword to claw, sword to tentacle, sword to stinger... The other monsters were more afraid of It than me, I think."

"But I'm only a man, and we have our limits. I was tiring, even though I felt it not. It began to overpower me and I was failing fast. I was aware of a noise somewhere near, but ignored them and lunged for the last time. Bane slid into It up to the hilt and It's last claw slashed in my face. All became black."

"I thought that I had died, but that was not to be. That noise I heard was the warband of the local Orlanthi. They fell on the scorpionmen as I was brought down under the Chaos Thing I had killed. We lay like dead, he totally and I almost. For nearly a week it was touch and go for me, with poison burning in my veins and my injuries lethal. In the end the Grim One said I must fight more before it is time to claim my place in the Hall."

"It took almost a season before I was fit enough to lift a blade, the poison doing something to the wounds so they would not heal properly. But in the end I proved stronger and started training again. Still It left me with these beauties on my face and several more on my body."

"Having lost the caravan and my employer I had lost my job and stayed with the local chieftain. He needed hard blades and eventually I was hard enough. That is the time that I met Joran. He had heard about my fight and demanded to be allowed to follow me. Demanded! Had I been fit I would have slapped him on his way. But when I finally got fit enough, I'd grown to like the lad."

"For a time we stayed there guarding the steads against Chaos reprisals, but none were coming. People said that Predark had suffered too many casualties to launch another raid for a long time. So when things calmed down I felt the winds calling again. They said that Prax was warm and comfy that time of the year. With plenty of work for mercenaries guarding trade caravans against what-you-have."

"The chieftain was sorry to see us leave, but he was taking some heat for having too much Death among his retinue, people demanded opportunity for their sons and other Orlanthi. So he agreed to let us out of our contract. We made our way across the Stormwalk Mountains to Barbarian Town and from there to Tourney Altar."

"We must have walked to ruin more pairs of shoes than we could carry walking the caravan routes of Prax. The funniest things and the most dangerous sights we saw. But nothing that could kill us."

"One Death Day we were in Pavis Temple attending the services when a young Praxian, barely out of his initiation, steps in front of the Temple and boasts his deeds. And then he states that there is not a man in house that can best him. Even the Warleader chuckled at that! So we Swords gather together and decide to give boy a chance to prove himself."

"The next day the boy returns to the temple and is greeted by every Sword in attendance. The Warleader steps up and declares that a challenge has been made and honour demands a duel. He states that since there are unusually many Swords there, the challenger will be given an hour (or less if he wants) between duels with the lot of us."

"We had of course decided our contender the previous night with our own duels. The Honour fell on me. So, after recovering from the shock, the boy steps to the arena and tells us to begin. I pick up my gear and confront him. Immediately he attacks. There is some skill in him, but more potential than we'd seen. So I drag on the fight. Not usually done in a duel, but that is a lesson in itself. We didn't set out to humiliate the lad, and ending the fight too soon would have been just that. With making him give all that he had and then showing that there was more to be learned, we hoped to gain a fine swordsman."

"And did we ever! When we had been going at it for too long and I could see that he was tired, he drew on some inner strength. He fought well that day, but he still had more to learn. After what I think is two hours he finally lifted his sword and yielded. And then almost fell asleep on his feet. Next week Joran and me are heading out with a ship down the river when that Praxian lad jumps aboard and claims to be coming too. The Grim One apparently spoke to him in sleep and ordered it. Who am I to question Him? So Morg joined us."

"In Corflu we run in to this little flaky Issaries that is outfitting an expedition to go along the shore west eventually coming to Heortland from the south. Seemed crazy to me, but he was paying top silver... He wanted to sell luxury items to the inhabitants. Silliest idea I ever heard, but like I said he was paying."

"Mud. And more mud. Enough mud to last a man forever. The flood plains were mud. The people ate mud. Their houses were made of mud. And they traded in mud. We even got to kill some mud... Issaries trader was even more flaky when we arrived at Mount Passant. Somehow he made a fortune with mud."

"But enough of mud. We were again in Heortland and things had got worse. After Pharaoh vanished the nations had fallen on each other in a civil war and meldeks had claimed Heortland. The traditionalists needed swords and honour, and money, demanded that we fight."

"For a few years we went about their business, protecting this site and demolishing that. Had to walk all the way to Ralios tracking down a relic that was absolutely vital to some ritual that had no effect that I could see. Orlanthi were happy and claimed that the winds got more alive. Dead men didn't care."

"Then Tigerheart went on the offensive. The raids and endless taxing problems had broken his soulless mind. There suddenly seemed to be knights and assassins everywhere. But as always, when the low lands are not safe we ran to the hills. And the fools followed with their cavalry! Something about no rabble bloodying their noble Eurmal-sniffing noses. Very bad juju. For them."

"That was the first time I met the Legion by the way. We were to be the Shield of the king as he made his stand in a deep valley where he'd lured the pursuit. He'd bought every Humakti sword he could get his hands to, because as we know windyboys are as likely to go a'flying as they are to stand firm. Anyway, there was this group that seemed more organised. I went looking and sure enough they was a Thousand. Eyed me funny as I walked to their tents, kinda like you did when I first met you. But we got to talking and this Illig dude really knew his business. I think I would have joined then and there, but I was sworn to the king and they were on for just one battle."

"So there were we. A miserable hundred of Humakti and some Orlanthi weaponthanes. And the Knights were arraying on the valley floor for an assault. Almost three hundred heavy horses with skirmishers and support footsoldiers to boot. They didn't even stop to respond to insults and taunts. They just galloped forth and lowered their lances. If they had bothered to look around and especially UP they would have maybe won."

"They were about a hundred steps away when the king sprung the trap. Vingans on the valley ridges, Hedkoranthi in the woods, godar and warriors raining from the clouds. Hail and lightning stabbing their ranks, causing them to falter and become confused. And when that happened, the king unleashed us. Disbanding the shield wall we made a spearhead of Iron and struck to the centre of their forces. King's personal guard took position behind us and the others rained stuff on the knights and troops. It was over in an hour. Their commander dead before capture by his own hand, nearly third dead, third captured and the rest fled."

"The meldeks didn't bother the uplands or the hills after that day. I stayed on for another year or so, Illig led the Legion away almost right after. The situation got more peaceful as there were agreements made. Pretty soon me and the boys found ourselves out of a job. Thought about going after Illig but he was long gone."

"That was some years ago, and since then I have been There and Back again. Nothing dramatic, just the usual stuff for a mercenary. Killing, walking, killing, praying, killing, walking, killing, walking and praying."

"It occurs to me that I have spent enough money on shoes to buy me castle!"

"It was only half a season ago when I ran into Illig again. I was taking a Lhankor Mhy to Far point, through the Hollow of course (he wanted to see the Chaos Land). Stupid if you ask me, but they never do. And I seem to always take the most craziest contracts..."

"Anywho we went to the Death House cause Wavekiller Day was coming. And there we ran into Illig and his troops. Again we got to talking and comparing stories about the foes we'd met. And things we'd killed. I would rather have taken him to a tavern, but being a Warleader has it's down sides..."

"So just out of curiosity I ask if he was hiring. Illig said he was... But there were conditions. Aren't there always? He called together his men and arranged for the tests... We all know that one doesn't talk of the tests afterwards, not even among sword-kin. But a day later I was accepted, and made a member of the finest Legion in the world."

Appearance:

Vastyr is relatively short (about 160cm) and weights about 90kg. His broad shoulders and long arms speak of strength and endurance. His hair is greyish and kept short. Vastyr's most notable feature, however, are the scars on his face. The three run parallel to each other, made by one swipe. First starts right above his left eye, runs down between the eyes and vanishes. The second begins below the left eye, runs down barely missing the nose and cuts the upper lip. Third begins in the cheek and cuts the chin. The scars are old, but look like they were made only recently. They are wide and highly visible against Vastyr's tanned skin.

Vastyr is a no-nonsense mercenary. His gear is functional, but always of good quality. He is most likely encountered in his chain hauberk. While on the road he carries a big backpack in which he has collected many things that have been found useful in the road. When in fight the pack is discarded, new ones can always be bought.

Behaviour:

Vastyr behaves as a cliche of a mercenary. He speaks with a rough tone, is comfortable only in the field and makes people easy around him, apart from his looks... Vastyr is an easygoing fellow, joking and telling stories around the campfire. He is also known to take the occasional drink.

On the battlefield things are different. Vastyr is a Sword first and everything else second. He wields his sword and shield in wall following orders but not blindly. He is not afraid to give his opinion when deems it necessary.
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