== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ==
Hugh Mann, level 3
Human, Fighter (Weaponmaster)
Fighter Option: Combat Superiority
Fighter Talents Option: Battlerager Vigor
Human Power Selection Option: Heroic Effort
FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 18, CON 14, DEX 11, INT 10, WIS 14, CHA 10
STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 16, CON 14, DEX 11, INT 10, WIS 14, CHA 10
AC: 23 Fort: 20 Ref: 16 Will: 16
HP: 41 Surges: 11 Surge Value: 10
Athletics +8, Endurance +8, Intimidate +6, Streetwise +6
Acrobatics –1, Arcana +1, Bluff +1, Diplomacy +1, Dungeoneering +3, Heal +3, History +1, Insight +3, Nature +3, Perception +3, Religion +1, Stealth –1, Thievery –1
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Guardian Attack: Guardian’s Counter
Human Racial Power: Heroic Effort
Fighter Attack: Combat Challenge
Fighter Attack 1: Knockdown Assault
Fighter Attack 1: Resolute Shield
Fighter Attack 1: Shield Riposte
Fighter Attack 1: Lasting Threat
Fighter Utility 2: Boundless Endurance
Fighter Attack 3: Sweeping Blow
Level 1: Axe Expertise
Level 1: Defensive Challenge
Level 2: Improved Defenses
Heavy Shield x1
Potion of Cure Light Wounds
Amulet of Life +1 x1
Alchemist’s Fire (level 1)
Potion of Water Walking
Final Word Battleaxe +1 x1
Dwarven Scale Armor +2 x1
== End ==
The War. The Enemy. It was all so noble, so glorious. Everything was clear. There was Them, and Us. They were the hated foe, and ours were the righteous crusaders. For years, further than anyone could remember, They had raided our territories and pillaged our homelands. Our vengeance was swift, and mighty, and just. For generations, all made sense.
Until it escalated. We marched, further and deeper across the Line, into realms that They had held since time immemorial. They had started it; They always did. I don’t remember how. But here I was, caught up in the fervor, trying to remember the details of that parchment I had drunkenly affixed my mark to that night.
That glorious night. The Duke’s men themselves were there, full of passion and fire, regaling us with the stories of glory and honor and loot to be won, and the righteous certainty of the Cause. How the foe would fall before our might, quaking at the sight of our assembled manhood, and flee before the wrath of our fury. It would be swift, and each man’s share of the loot would be his prize out of this thrice-damned farmer’s existence. The drinks flowed freely, the stories grew bolder, the women grew more appreciative, and in the morning, I was enlisted in the 3rd Regiment.
Marching. Endless marching. In the rain. It was always cold. And always wet. But what I never understood was how it was always so godforsaken dark. Enchantments, the rumor claimed. The foul magic of the evil goblins had veiled our path, hoping against hope that we would flee in despair. But not us. Not the 3rd Regiment. We have a very proud history, and it did not include cowardice.
Noise. I never knew from what direction that first sickening thump came, but I remember the sound. The sound that haunts my soul like a hound with a scent. The horrifying, grinding sploosh of the Enemy’s weapons landing from above.
An ambush. The enemy dared to ambush the 3rd regiment. Of course. Such a tactic was, after all, their only hope for victory. The soldiers assembled, forming ranks, into the formation the 3rd regiment was legendary throughout the Duke’s army for. The Fighting Pentagram. The Five-Pointed Star, drawn from the Duke’s own heraldry, was the perfect formation for repelling cavalry charges and breaking down infantry assaults.
It was useless against area-magic. It was worse than useless. As the men closed ranks to maintain formation in the face of their losses, the enemy simply kept firing into the same space, conveniently refilled with fresh brave men. Losses mounted. Men became reluctant to reform, with the certainty of imminent death eventually overcoming the alcohol-fueled courage of the previous night. I cast my gaze about; where were the officers? Where was the order to move out? We were being massacred, and nobody was doing anything about it!
There. I saw them. To this day, they deny it. They ran me out of the service when I spoke of it, and forced me to flee my homelands for lands more southerly. To take random work, protecting the rich and entitled from their own imaginations. But I saw it. And I know what I saw. The officers, emerging from their tents. Their experienced gaze surveying the battlefield, and taking all the variables into account. Their decision, as seen in their eyes and their body language, to abandon the men. The way they mounted up on their mounts, and slunk off quietly south, to the rear. The shouted comment, from one to the other, overheard by freak chance through the maelstrom of the battle.
“Guess we’re gonna need another village full of dumb peasants.”
He was tired. This last fight had taken its toll. He moved methodically from corpse to corpse, ensuring that all of the fallen were actually fallen. He had learned that the hard way, once upon a time. Looking up, Hugh saw the rest of his erstwhile companions searching through the bodies, retrieving anything of value. Hugh left them to it; if there was anything that required his special skills, he was sure it would be brought to his attention. Other party members examined the Lizardmen’s egg caches; this too, he left in their hands; he knew little of the Lizardfolk Physic, aside from how to kill them. Such knowledge was helpful, but only to a degree. He continued his methodical task, moving from body to body, delivering merciful blows whenever there was the slightest doubt. Hugh let his mind wander; how had he come to this?
He remembered his time in the Regiment. He remembered his expulsion, his name slandered, his reputation cashiered. He remembered drifting, from job to job, as a guard, as a bodyguard, as a caravan guard. Always drawing his weapon in defense of others. In defense of ‘his betters’. Then he met Father Denek. It started out as just another odd job in a series of odd jobs. But he had found purpose, somehow. He and his companions were working, for money, yes, but also something greater.
Hugh had never had much opinion on the Empire as a whole. Certainly laws were a good thing; one had to have a certain order or all would fall to Chaos. Certain basic laws were obvious. Theft. Murder. Fraud. Assault of a defenseless person with no justification. Others were stupid, but harmless: No Mead on Holy Days. Certainly, the common defense of the Empire was worth it as well; Hugh had seen firsthand the depredations that could result if the foes of the Empire were allowed to roam free.
But Hugh had also seen that not all who were Imperials were blameless. The leaders of his Regiment, as of the last he had heard, still led. Their incompetence covered by their noble patents of birth and heraldry. Such men had never had there mettle tested. Such men had never been forced to sink or swim, to win or die, to emerge carrying their shields triumphantly aloft or buried with them. Such men were not fit to lead. Hugh himself had no aspirations for high office; politics bored him and economics confused him. Others did. It was a shame, then, that there was no way to ensure that only those who were fit to rule, those who were properly tested in battle, those whose moral fiber had been found beyond reproach, would hold the Throne. Or even lesser positions in the Empire. The trouble was, that most of those who had been battle tested had no desire to lead.
“Hugh! Quit fiddling with those corpses! There’s a dragon ahead with our name on it!” Hugh snapped out of his reverie; he had indeed finished with the corpses. He looked up at the speaker, and saw it was Ayrlen rallying the group forward to the next objective. Hugh wiped his dagger off, put it away, and drew forth his customary axe and shield. Forward once more. Once more into perilous danger, risking all for the job. Hugh smiled as he arrived at the front of the formation, with the others giving way to his clear martial prowess. But this time it wasn’t just another odd job.
This time it was noble and purposeful. This time they were making the world a better place, despite the Imperial leadership. This time… It would be an adventure.