The Tale of Terran Forchhammer.
I wrote this in 2004 when I was playing a fantasy RPG with some friends. Not the coolest hobby I know, but I don't really care about the stigma and I'll back it up as a creative and sociable way to spend your time. This story was also pretty fun to write.
On a cool autumn night in a cabin of Northern Andara, a child was born to Greylon Forchhammer and his lady wife Sarah. The boy was named Terran for his father's love of the earth, and was taught from an early age to find north by the moss on the trees. His earliest memory is watching his father bring down a deer with his bow one winter; the stag's blood colours the snow and later fills the bellies of the boy and his parents. Much of Terran's youth is spent watching Greylon; his father is a bowyer by trade and a woodsman by nature, a hard-working and wise man whose tales of adventure capture the boy's imagination. Greylon and Sarah are very much in love, for he sees in her the beauty of nature that is so close to his soul. Terran's youth is shared with very few other than his parents, but the three of them are very close. The boy has his father's manual skill and his mother's half-elven features, and he grows up strong and healthy. On his tenth birthday his parents give him the good news: Sarah is carrying another child. The boy knows he will have to give up afternoons with his father to work in the mill or the stable, but he is happy for his parents and he is not afraid of hardship. His mother's pregnancy fills him with wonder and anticipation.
Later on, as a young man, he will remember these as the happiest days of his life. But the memory will turn sour, for the days of Sarah's pregnancy were as calm before the storm. Terran's mother dies in childbirth. The child survives and is named Lydia, a girl, but not even a daughter can heal the wound to Greylon's heart. Lydia's father becomes withdrawn and his eyes take on the flash of hot metal; he softens only when his children are near him, for they are all the man has. But Greylon is angry and the boy sees him hunting more often; soon the woodsman bears an axe wound and the boy knows he's been hunting orcs. Terran pictures his father slaying hundreds of orcs, piercing them with arrows and slashing them with a sword that once rested on the mantel. But in reality, Greylon hunts them as the owl hunts the hare; he cares too much for his children to risk his life against a bevy of orcs. In the months that follow, he begins to come to terms with his wife's death. His children become a source of hope in his life, especially young Terran, of whom he is already proud. Greylon's heart begins to heal, and the boy, who has his own grief, finds it somewhat eased by the return of his father.
On the last night that they spend together, Terran's father speaks of many things. He tells the boy that the world is full of possibility, that magic fills the smallest space between sand. He speaks of birds as big as a house, of mirrors that show one their true soul; he tells the boy that his mother lives on in something called a "plane". But he also speaks of great evil, of things much worse than orcs, and at this point he takes his heirloom sword from the mantle and slices through a stone as if it were butter. He tells his son to never give up, to strengthen his mind and his body and his will, but to remain gentle enough for a child to sleep in his arms. Terran nods, understanding the importance if not the implications of his father's wisdom. Greylon clasps his son's shoulder wordlessly, then sends him off to bed.
Terran is awakened in the night. There is a POUNDING on the front door, a violent slamming like an axe on a tree. Terran's door opens and his father enters; the man moves quickly, carrying Lydia in his one arm and his sword in the other. Terran's eyes widen at the sword. Greylon hands Terran his baby sister, and whispers for them to HIDE, and not to come out no matter what they hear. "The orcs have come for their revenge." He touches Lydia once, gently. "Take care of her." Greylon hustles out of the room and closes the door.
The sounds of battle come from downstairs. Terran sits in the darkness holding his baby sister, listening to the clash of sword on shield, the guttural war cries of orcs. Many a war cry chokes off into nothing, but there always seem to be MORE, coming from outside, from inside, from everywhere... and then the orcs raise their voices in a rallying cry and one enormous voice rises above them all. The voice is like an earthquake, making the house shiver, and its owner forms words of the common tongue. "FORCHHAMMER IS DEAD." Terran's father replies. "NO. Forchhammer brings death upon YOU!" The sounds of single combat begin and Terran can wait no longer. He slips his baby sister under the bed and rushes to his father's room. There he grabs Greylon's silver dagger and runs to the indoor balcony, where he can see his house in disarray. The main room is full of dead and bleeding orcs, the dinner table is overturned, and in the center of the room Terran's father is doing battle with an enormous orc bearing a bloody maw on his shield. Greylon fights skillfully, dodging and parrying the orc's massive blows, but he is armorless and already bears many wounds. The orcish henchmen are watching; one of them flanks Greylon and bashes him over the head with a club. Greylon is momentarily dazed; the large orc uses the opening, burying its axe in Greylon's stomach. Terran's father staggers. The orc laughs and shoves Greylon to the floor. "FORCHHAMMER IS DEAD," it says, and raises its wicked axe.
Terran screams. "NOOOOOOOO!!!!" He leaps from the balcony onto the orc's back, striking at its head with his dagger. The blow slices through scalp but stops at a rocky skull; another orc pulls Terran off and holds him fast. "TERRAN!" His father springs up and slices the orc's legs. Terran is released but Greylon is now vulnerable, and a huge orcish axe comes down upon his head.
It is here that time slows down. Terran watches his father fall to the floor, head broken, and feels his young world fall apart. He is quickly grabbed from behind and held again; he struggles but cannot escape. The large orc is tasting Greylon's blood. It rises and turns to face the boy, looks him over and laughs again. "YOUR FATHER KNEW HOW TO FIGHT." The orc grabs Terran's wrist in a gnarled hand and begins to carve into the soft side of his forearm. Terran grimaces with the pain but does not cry out; he glares at the orc with smoldering, hate-filled eyes. The orc finishes his carving, a bloody maw, and cruelly slaps the boy upside the head. "COME AND FIND ME, BOY, YOU'LL BE NEXT." It takes Greylon's heirloom sword and leaves, and Terran collapses to the floor, bleeding heavily from the arm. The house is eerily quiet and dark for a while, until the wail of a baby girl brings Terran back to awareness. The boy is in shock, but still lucid enough to staunch his wounds before he collapses and falls into sleep.
He awakens to the sound of a bird call outside. His eyes are still closed and the room appears bright; last night was a horrible dream. But a dull pain throbs in his arm, and when he reaches for that pain and finds a bandage, an awful sinking feeling takes him. He remembers what's under the bandage, and he remembers what happened to his father. He opens his eyes and his eyes fill with tears.
Terran buries his father at a high point in the woods, and raises a cairn of stones to his memory. He takes care of his baby sister, who is just beginning to learn how to walk. He burns the dead corpses of the orcs, forty-eight of them blackening the sky with soot... and he is filled inside with pain and anger. He swears to kill that orcish chieftain, and he wears the leather armour and the short sword he has been practicing with, thinking that if the orcs come back, he will somehow kill all of them, he will die to protect his little sister.. and yet he realizes that her life is dependent on his, and he promises himself to take care of her, knowing he must also learn to take care of himself. He decides to hide from the orcs and ride to the nearby town on his father's horse, a decision made in fear and doubt but backed by the need to go forward, the will to try and be strong. He lingers two days at his childhood home... then takes his sister on horseback, salutes his father's grave, and rides out into a bleak and uncertain future.
It is two weeks later that the sun priests find him, wandering and wounded from his first orcish kill. A battle party of soldiers and monks, they are led by a tall, dark-haired man in sky-blue robes, and by a large blonde man in full armour with the emblem of a sun on his breastplate. These are Father Lumin and the paladin Heidegger, two men who will play an important role in the next phase of Terran's life. The Church of Pelor in Robinston becomes Terran and Lydia's new home, but the boy cannot stay there... he is too angry and rebellious for the strict order of monks , and he is still haunted by the memory of his father's death. Two years later the sixteen-year-old Terran leaves the church, driven by the need for closure and by a growing desire to see the world. He leaves his sister in safety, and slips out into the night, seen only by an owl under the cold Andaran moon.
Alone now in the wilderness, the young man watches the slow unfolding of seasons, the subtle differences in every morning sun. He is strengthened by the hardship of the wilderness, and made perceptive by its beauty. Six years pass by, and Terran becomes a strong and skillful young ranger. It is in the small town of Shankston that his true future begins to unfold... and the rest of his story has yet to be written.
In the hallway, a large blond man breaks his meditation and stands to greet the priest. "Father Lumin." "Good morning, my son. You bring news of the children?" The large man nods. "The boy is hardly a child anymore. He bears a dagger with the crest of the Forchammer family and has been through many hardships." "Forchammer? It is familiar." "His father Greylon led a contingent in the Battle of First Isle, and is said to have slewn a water elemental without aid. His mother was a half-elven woman of great beauty, who died some seven years ago." "I see. What of the girl?" The large man stops mid-stride and catches Father Lumin's shining eye. "She bears the mark of Lathander from birth. I doubt not that she is here for a reason." Lumin pauses a moment, then nods. "I shall teach her the ways of the Morning Lord. You will see if the young man is fit for weapons training. Pray, Heidegger, that the light of Lathander will reach past their troubled lives and into their souls."
"Do you remember your mother?" Father Lumin is kneeling to face Lydia, who sits quietly on a child's small bed. Her blue eyes rise to meet his, before she looks down at her hands. "I dream about her." Lumin nods, a kind expression mixed with the ubiquitous calm on his face. "Perhaps she speaks to you..." Lydia looks up quickly with an excited smile, a smile that gives way to trembling lips. "I heard her, when the orcs were there... she said to stay still, and..." "Lydia..." Father Lumin gently touches her hand. "You're safe now. And your father is in a good place." "But she's not," Lydia says, "she's with me, I've heard her voice, and she tells me we'll be okay, but how can we?" Tears fall down her cheeks... "they almost killed Terran, and they killed my da..." her voice gives way to sobbing and she embraces the abbot. Father Lumin holds her and whispers, "the sun is behind every cloud." Her tears come out like a flooding, and the father's eyes close, and in time she falls asleep in his arms. He tucks her into bed and he rises to leave the room, but he walks out very slowly, like a man ten years older than he is.
"She's beautiful". Father Lumin says. Terran nods in silence. The sun priest brushes the hair back from Lydia's sleeping face, and looks back at Terran. "Like her mother." Terran's brow tightens and he nods again, his eyes lowered. Lumin looks him and sighs... "You must listen to Heidegger. Anger clouds the mind, sadness weakens it. A warrior's mind is but a mirror." Terran's eyes rise to meet the abbot's. "What do you know of war? Or sadness? Or anger? You hide in your monastery, while people outside fight and suffer and die. Your hands are as soft as your will." Father Lumin frowns and a voice comes from the doorway. "My hands are not so soft."
Heidegger stands in the doorway, a statue of sculpted muscle. He looks down on young Terran without expression. "Come with me, boy. We will learn about war." Hiedegger grabs Terran's wrist in a beefy hand and pulls him out into the hall, towards the weapons room. "Let go of me!" Terran struggles in the paladin's grip. "I can walk on my own." Hiedegger releases him and pushes him towards the armory. "Choose your weapon and meet me outside."
A moment later, Terran walks outside to see the paladin waiting, a broadsword unsheathed at his side. Terran steps closer, two paces away, and scowls at his opponent. "I'm not afraid of you." he whispers. "Good. Then fight me." Terran's short sword flashes out and the two swords meet, blocked. He strikes again, higher, and misses. Again, and blocked. "Fight me!" Heidegger roars. Terran's blade meets a wall of lightning steel. The flat of the paladin's blade stings his cheek. He cries out and attacks in a frenzy, and every slash is parried, every stab brushed aside. Finally Terran pauses his sword, though his eyes still flame with anger. "You're a better fighter than me. But you're nothing next to my father." His hand dips to his sheath and he whips out a second blade, striking the paladin with Greylon's whirling slash attack. The blade buries itself deep in Hiedegger's side, and the paladin roars with anger. The next thing Terran knows he is disarmed, and a huge figure is looming over him, twisting his wrist and making him helpless. Heidegger's free hand touches his wound, and it heals with an orange glow. "Your father is dead. If you want to conquer the orc, you must first conquer your anger." Terran trembles in pain and frustration. "I can't..." Heidegger pushes the boy away. "You can and you will." Terran's thoughts finish the paladin's sentence as he walks away... "just not here."