This is just a bit of back story I wrote for an upcoming D&D 5th Edition play by post game, so I thought I’d throw a little Fantasy fiction on my page since it’s been lacking over the last month or so.
Devglar sat in the tavern, enjoying the soft harp music that flowed through the air. He leaned back against the wall and relaxed; today had been a blessed day indeed. Every day he was able to brew and maintain his absence from the battlefield was a blessing. In his one hundred fifty years, he had seen a lot of fighting and, Bahamut willing, he had finally seen the last of it.
In his youth, he had been victim to a hot headed streak that led to mistakes. It was important to remember that once a life was lost, it was often lost forever. The Gods rarely saw fit to restore a spirit to its mortal coil and the dead even less often wished to come back to the pain and struggle of life once they had experienced what waited for them in the beyond.
He’d worked hard in the army, having sworn to save one hundred lives for each one he had taken in his younger days. It had been a long, arduous task but with the blessings of the Dragon God Bahamut, he had come through it with his sanity and a feeling of peace. It had been a relief to turn in his shield and armor, retiring to brew the ales for the tavern Moradin’s Beard. Long hours spent slaving over different brews to produce the exact flavor he wanted were so… fulfilling.
Packing his pipe full of tobacco, he lit it from a candle on the table before sampling a pint of his latest brew. A commotion outside jolted him from his reverie. The door burst open, and a frantic girl ran inside, looking around with wild eyes.
“Please, there’s been a terrible accident! Is there a healer here?”
“Calm yourself child.” Devglar said, “I am versed in the healing arts. I can heal anything short of death itself. Please, what has happened?”
“My brother, he was run over by a carriage! I think his leg is broken!”
“Ah, a broken leg is no trouble child. I will have him up and his usual self in but moments.” Devglar said, “What is your name?”
“I’m called Mel, please sir, my brother!”
Devglar smiled, taking his holy symbol from beneath his shirt. “Take me to him.”
When he followed Mel outside, the scene was far from what he’d imagined it would be. A group of men stood in a circle, arguing in loud voices.
“He ran in front of me, I’d say he and his sister were trying some thieving scam!”
“Clearly you were going too fast you crude bastard!”
“Oh my leg, MY LEG!”
“Shut up you brat!”
Devglar walked through their angry, shoving forms without apparent concern. “Young Sir, will you allow me to see to your wounds?”
The boy nodded, tears streaming down his face.
“I warn you, this will hurt. I have no way to deaden the pain and I must set the break before I can heal you.” He said, “If you can bear with the pain, I will be able to make your leg as good as new. Are you strong enough?”
“Yes sir.” The boy said, his voice dulled by pain.
“Well done young Sir. Well done.” Devglar knelt and set the leg with a swift tug. The sharp crack the bone made as he pulled it straight was enough to finally attract the attention of the men surrounding him.
“Just what do you think you’re doing?”
“Obviously I am assisting a young man who needs immediate medical attention.” Devglar replied easily, “Please stand back and allow me to heal the wound now that I’ve set the bone.”
“What? Who is going to pay for this?” A man in fine robes demanded, “I certainly hope you don’t expect compensation from me!”
“That’s between me and the boy Sir.” The Dwarf said, narrowing his eyes, “Why would I assume you would be responsible for the cost of his healing?”
“Uh.” The man seemed to crumple before the question.
“Well, that’s no worry of mine. Please stand back.” Devglar took the worn steel symbol of Bahamut from beneath his shirt and held it forth, chanting the divine words. The boy’s tears ceased and the onlookers stopped their arguing.
“Please mister Dwarf, what’s your name?” The boy grabbed Devglar’s arm as he turned to go.
“Ah, young Sir. My name hardly matters, but if you insist on knowing, it is Devglar.”
“Thank you.” The boy said, vanishing into the crowd without a backward glance. Devglar turned, frowning and looking for Mel, but she was gone also. Even the merchants and wagoneers who had been standing around arguing seemed to have vanished like morning mist.
“Well. That was odd.” Devglar stumped back inside, relit his pipe and sat once again. Just as he began to relax, his wandering eye landed on a large shape covered by rough sack cloth leaning against the wall just inside the door. Grumbling idly to himself, he levered his heavy frame up from his comfortable spot and stumped over, pulling the cover off.
His pipe fell from his open mouth. It was his old shield, and with it he could smell the distinctive steel and oil scent of polished chainmaile. Devglar retrieved his pipe with shaking fingers and took the time to tamp fresh tobacco in it and get it burning before confronting the problem of his armor once again. Who could have brought it here and to what purpose?
Devglar reached out a hand and traced the sigil of Bahamut that was blazoned on the front of the massive shield. Was this a sign from his God? Was trouble coming again? The shield rocked slightly at his touch and a small parchment fell to the floor. Wrinkling his brow, Devglar smoothed it out and read.
‘The Faithful gather. The Cult stirs. Stand ready. Remember your Oaths.’
Running his fingers through his thick hair, he leaned back and blew a cloud of smoke up toward the rafters. Vaelian, the Elf harpist returned from the kitchen where she had gone to get a glass of wine and a plate of cheese and fruit. She quirked an artful eyebrow at him, noticing the shield and armor sitting next to him. The shield was fully as large as he was, therefore hard to miss.
“Reminiscing are we?” Her honey smooth and sweet voice grated on his last nerve as usual. “I thought you had left all of that nasty warrior business behind?”
“Sometimes the past catches up with you, even if you try to avoid it.” He responded, “At least they have respected my wishes in some ways.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” She asked, “I thought you had hung up your shield.”
“Ah, well… the shield isn’t what I gave up Vae. I will always protect folk… the ax is what I have forsaken and as you can see, whoever decided to bring me my armor was at least kind enough to not to add injury to the insult.”
“Do you deny that you will have to kill again if you answer the call of your God?” Vaelian asked, amusement coloring the words. “Oh come now, surely even a devotee such as yourself doesn’t believe he can be a pacifist in the face of impending battles.”
“I am not a pacifist Vae.” Devglar said easily, refusing to rise to her mocking tone. “I merely see violence and killing as last resorts. The best battles are won without blood spilled. I do wonder at the method of delivery however. Why the secrecy?”
“They probably wanted to shock you with it.” Vaelian shrugged, “Looks to me like they succeeded.”
“That they have Vae. That they have.”
A pair of customers entered the tavern. Vaelian began to play, filling the air with the liquid gold of her harping and Devglar served beers and platters of salty cheeses and sausage. As the afternoon progressed, the custom picked up and although his hands were busy, Devglar’s mind still pondered the mystery.
Finally he came to his decision. If the Lord Bahamut required his service again he could not refuse regardless of the cost. If war was coming, it was his responsibility to attempt to minimize the killing.