A Paladin’s First Steps
The Chronicles of Braum Stormforge
Bruam’s first days away from Wyrms-horde were ones of confusion, despair, and a deep sense of loss. By all accounts, it was his decision to leave the mountain; to venture from the depths of Myrepeak in the name of the Trudd. No one had forced him and it was not as if he’d been coerced by the deity to do his bidding. If anything, he had been unconsciously searching so long and so hard for a cause that he truly felt drawn to that the reaction was practically reflex. A knee jerk reaction. Something that he’d thirsted after for decades without knowing what that thirst was.
Yet, with the initial thrill of acceptance dying down, it was replaced instead by the aching of his sore feet and a deep, gnawing feeling in his gut. And as he trudged through the long, forgotten halls traveled only by the few humans and even fewer gnomes that ventured down to the Dwarves’ great halls, all of the weight and fear of the decision was hitting him full force.
He didn’t know what he would do.
Sure, Braum had heard the tales of paladins. They had done many great things. He’d seen the Greataxe of Journ, the paladin of Torag from the third Eon, glittering in its perfect, Mithril splendor as sharp and gallant as the day the dwarf had fought and defeated the Scourge centuries earlier. He’d seen the statues of Lon and Glon, the twins in the service of Pelor that had slain the Great Crimson Wyrm Faranak whose home and treasure piles would give way to the tunnels of Wyrms-horde. He’d even listened with wholesome intent to a young human man by the name of Kalen Nodworth who claimed to be tasked by the god Zohls to procure the recipe to everlasting life.
Braum always chuckled at that one; wondering if, to a human, everlasting life was just living past their formative years and making it to a rich age of forty or so. It seems like their race was too foolhardy to get much further than that without divine intervention.
Still, Braum thought with a furrowed brow as his feet throbbed in their steel boots, there are a lot more stories of horror than of wonder.
For every tale of magnificence that he could recall about a paladin of this God or that, Braum could think of a half dozen stories that he’d heard in passing about the mistakes of following one’s god. Hell, it was just another reason his family was always disinclined to the cloth.
For every Journ that stood gleaming in the night against the forces of evil, there was a Koveg that was killed by his followers when they decided THEY were the chosen followers of some damned deity. Or there was a Thurdag who got beheaded in the name of some holy crusade to the Eastern Kingdoms. Or there was a Wennoki, or a Thentrol, or a Javi… All of them met their end horribly in some dank hole in the world because they’d been driven forward by some divine light. Even Journ, glittering and fucking perfect as he was supposed to be, died of the Scourge that overtook his body after he slew the Lich Pathos.
Braum swallowed hard as he thought about the implications.
The tunnel that reached out before him sloped upward. Cold and hard, it was little more than baren, quickly carved stone and a paved flat surface so carts could pass into the Lower Cities. He’d never seen the entrance or the Sky beyond, but he knew it was there based on the stories he’d heard about it. He could feel the wind rushing down in little gusts and bursts that rustled his beard and the air around him felt far colder than he was used to.
And here he was walking towards it.
In his left hand, he held his shield, the weight always so comforting now seemingly unyielding. Khadgar it was called. “Trust” in his dwarven tongue. In his right hand, Magna. “Protector”. He could trust his shield most of all and, with his hammer in hand, he’d protect those that would need it.
Braum felt the fear well further up in his throat.
No. Not just fear.
Something else far worse that boiled the bile at the top of his gut.
He craned his neck back to look down the tunnel he’d been following for the last three days. The way that led back to the Lower Cities of the Dwarves. To the Heart of Myrepeak and the capital city of Wyrms-horde. Could he really just abandon it? Abandon everything he’d done in the name of some god on a whim? Just do what the supernatural bastard wanted?!
As if response, Braum felt a soft warmth grow in his chest. At first he thought it was Trudd listening to his thoughts somehow and judging him for it. He would punish Braum for some perceived heresy and destroy him right here and now. A dead paladin before he’d ever even gotten out of the mountain because he’d dared question the will of his lord. A reminder to never question a god’s will again.
But, upon looking down, he saw that his armor was glowing softly. His god was listening and Trudd was sending a message, but not one of anger...but of reminder.
Braum touched the glowing spot on his armor and chuckled in realization as to what it illuminated.
Much like his hammer and shield, he had named his armor as well. Inscribed with the same dwarven runes, quite literally molded into the armor at the time of its birth, Durmgrist. “Home”. He had always felt safe within the steel and something about the name always brought comfort to him in the darkest times. It had seemed perfect when he named it.
And now it did again.
Braum looked back down the tunnel one more time before continuing onward up the tunnel, his feet no longer aching as they had a moment before.
He still felt afraid. Only an idiot wouldn’t be. And the thought of how he would die and what terrible fate this decision would lead him to still swirled about in his mind. However, the biggest one...a feeling that he couldn’t quite put his finger on...was beginning to fade.
Braum no longer felt homesick. For he carried his home with him. He carried his armor and his shield and his hammer and, he supposed most important of all, he carried a faith that Trudd would watch over him; not just as some angry, vengeful spirit that demanded retribution in his name like some, but as a benevolent protector. Just as Braum would defend the innocent with all his power, he knew Trudd would watch over him in his own travels.
And, when the time came, he would not be wrought with fear at slipping into the void. He would be welcomed to eternity by the very father that watched over him.
Braum smiled to himself.
These thoughts stayed with him for many miles, washing away all other anxieties and terrors of the dark, as, for the first time in his life, Braum stepped out into the sunlight beneath a wild blue sky.
I was quite surprised to see how well Braum's story was received earlier. Surprised, but happy. My Dungeon Master not only liked it but also wants more information. He's encouraging us all to highlight the in-between the origin of the character and when the story of the game that we're playing actually starts. While I don't think anyone is quite tackling it to the length I am, I find that actually fleshing out the character's story makes me feel for them and understand them more than just going "Braum fought this badguy" and leaving it at that.
I do hope you enjoyed. I intend to do more but I guess I'll see if they get posted or not.
Love you all and have a wonderful day,