I always enjoyed creative writing as a child and we recently started playing D&D with some friends. Our DM asked us to write out our backstories, so I gave it a go for the first time in years.
It seems a shame that he's the only one that gets to read it, so thought I'd share it with you and see what you thought.
I'm considering writing more chapters on rainy afternoons when I want a break from gaming...
A good day of work.
Beldorien Dewdawn looked out over the rooftops of Celesthelm with a satisfied smile. The day had been long and the work hard, but the mill was repaired and finally up and running after the explosion three weeks ago. The fire had been fierce, but the stone construction had saved most of the structure. Outfitting the new gearing for the waterwheel had been hard work but ultimately made easy by the town engineers’ excellence in design. His old friend Arnor Stephenson had lead the design work and he’d lead the volunteer work crews in an effective combination to get the town’s bread supply up and running.
Beldorien still harboured his suspicions about how the explosion and subsequent fire had happened. Everyone knew the risks with flour mills, explosions were not unheard of, but Celesthelm’s mill had been well designed and maintained and Beldorien just couldn’t quite believe it had happened here. He’d voiced his concerns, albeit quietly, to Arnor who’d simply shrugged and written it off as one of those things that just happened from time to time in different towns. It had been a dry week, and perhaps the water buckets hadn’t been filled as much as they should have been. Still, nobody had been hurt and the damage was relatively easy to repair. The town stocks had coped for the three weeks it had taken to repair the mill, which would be up and running in the morning.
“Beloved, come inside and wash for dinner” called his wife Enora out to the balcony from the family room. Beldorien ducked inside and wandered up to his chambers and washed his hands and face to remove the dust of the day’s work. Descending back to the family area he smiled at Belnor and Belkas, his two sons.
“So how did you find the day boys? A bit of hard labour a shock to your noble sensibilities?”
Belnor grimaced, “Father, you know you’ve raised us better than that! We’re happy to help you and the town – we need the flour as much as anyone here.”
Beldorien suppressed a wry smile at his firstborn son’s earnestness. Belnor stood in line to take his place as head of the family and on the council of Celesthelm once Beldorien felt he’d given his best. Belnor had always taken his family duties seriously and clearly wished to follow in his Father’s footsteps as a beloved member of the town. Belnor had the makings of an excellent leader. He was diligent, focussed and showed great compassion to those less fortunate than the Dewdawn family. Beldorien noted the usual quiet nod of response that Belkas gave. The younger of his two sons, Belkas had always been quieter, more withdrawn. He was never objectionable, or unwilling to work hard, but he didn’t have Belnor’s more outgoing personality. Beldorien had worried about him when he was younger.
Belkas had been slow to start speaking as a youngster, and had never been quick to make friends with his peers, but he demonstrated some amazing physical skills. As a five year old he’d seen a travelling entertainer play the knife game, stabbing between his own fingers into a table at great speed. Beldorien had come into the kitchen that night to find Belkas twirling a carving knife with great skill, stabbing down with such precision and speed that his hand became barely a blur even to his acute Elven eye.
At eight Beldorien had taken him hunting for the first time. Like all Elves he demonstrated to his son how to move silently through the forest, scale trees to find prey, and track it. What he hadn’t counted on was his son’s innate ability with a bow and long knife. Belkas had closed on the young stag they had tracked for two hours and indicated his Father should pass him his bow. Beldorien had promised Enora he wouldn’t let Belkas make the kill as she felt eight was too young, but Beldorien could not resist the temptation to see what skills his younger son had developed. Belkas nocked the arrow softly and without even seeming to move, lifted, aimed and released in one smooth movement. The arrow took the young stag in the chest, right in the heart with all the precision of a blooded hunter and the stag took off. Belkas leapt into action before Beldorien had even finished exhaling the breath he didn’t even realise he’d been holding. In a few quick strides Belkas leapt to a low branch, hopped across a couple of trees and came down across the stag’s back. Beldorien didn’t even see his son shoulder his bow, or draw his knife as the movement was so smooth, but in a flash the stag’s throat was cut and spine severed. It dropped to the ground with Belkas rolling off as lightly as a circus tumbler and landing with perfect form.
Since that hunt, until today, Beldorien had let his son practice archery once a week. He liked the way his boy focussed so quietly and diligently on the skill, but again at Enora’s insistence he didn’t let him hunt often, or over-practice. Enora had come from a family who had particularly strong feelings for nature, and she didn’t like the idea of her son being such a competent hunter, much as she adored him, and was happy for him to have a talent.
Beldorien shook himself from the reverie and strode into the dining area of the house with his two sons, where they joined with Enora for a hearty meal to reward themselves for a day of hard labour.
An evening celebration interrupted.
Days passed, a week, a fortnight. The mill was back in full production and the town was quiet. Traders came and went, hunting parties kept the larders stocked and merchants passed through. Beldorien was pleased that the town had settled back into routine, but he couldn’t shake the feeling he was missing something. Arnor, the engineering lead had checked and rechecked the mill for him, but found nothing of note. The explosion was unexplained certainly, but there was no indication of malevolent forces at play. Shrugging off the uncertain feeling Beldorien focussed on the evening’s festivities.
Tonight was Belkas’ 15th birthday. Enora had been slaving over the stoves in the kitchen with help from some family friends all day, and Belnor had been hard at work preparing decorations. A larger party was planned for a few days time when Arnor and his family were able to attend, but this evening was supposed to be a small, intimate gathering for family only. The family sat down to eat a magnificent meal. Enora had excelled as usual. A vegetable soup to start, followed by a succulent boar that Belnor had hunted for his younger brother personally. The family ate quietly, as was their custom, without much talk except the usual patter. After they were done, Beldorien stood and raised his mead to his youngest son.
“My son, today we celebrate a coming of age for you. For 15 years I have watched with pride as you have grown into the man you are today. We Elves may be long lived creatures, but by the early age of 15 you may consider yourself grown. I recall with fondness your first hunt, though I seem to remember your mother being less keen” he added with a soft smile. Enora coughed lightly and smiled in deference to her husband. “You demonstrated great agility and ability with both bow and knife, and since then you have become accomplished in the skills of the forest. Perhaps it is not the direction either I or your mother would have chosen for you, but it fills my heart with joy that you have come to embrace skills that our ancestors honed when they lived in the great forest.” Belkas allowed a slight smile to wash over his face at the memories his Father was prompting. Beldorien continued to toast his son, “today you come of age and we wish you…”
Beldorien was interrupted by thudding on the door.
“What? Who could this be at this time of night?” Beldorien strode towards the heavy wooden door and opened it to reveal one of the swarthy human guards of the town’s Sherriff Enoch.
“What is it Geoffrey?” asked Beldorien, slightly perturbed that their dinner had been interrupted.
“Sir, you need to come quickly” said Geoffrey rather breathlessly, “there’s trouble at the mill, Enoch’s there and said to send for you as soon as possible.”
“He knows we’re celebrating tonight doesn’t he?” asked Beldorien. Enoch had never been a fan of the Dewdawns. Beldorien quietly suspected that if was a race problem. For a predominantly human town, it was a little unusual for an Elf to be in such a position of power as Beldorien was, and he suspected it rankled with Enoch.
“Yes Sir,” Geoffrey replied “he wouldn’t have called for you if it wasn’t urgent.”
Beldorien sighed and motioned for Geoffrey to go. “Hurry ahead, let Enoch know we’re on our way.”
“We? Sir it was just you that Enoch sent for.”
“I know, but my sons are of age and will assist me in matters as I see fit.”
“Uh, ok Sir, I’ll run ahead and let Enoch know.”
With that Geoffrey turned on his heel and disappeared into the night. Beldorien left the door ajar and strode back to the dining room.
“Boys, something is happening at the mill again and Enoch has requested my presence. Grab your cloaks and join me. Enora, I’m sorry we’ll be missing dessert.”
As his sons jumped to their Father’s request, Beldorien turned to his wife.
“I’m sure it’s nothing, but I want the boys with me. Belnor needs to learn ever more of my duties and Belkas could do with getting out, he’s been very quiet this week.” Enora smiled softly and bade him farewell.
A suspicion confirmed
Beldorien and his sons made good progress to the mill. Elves are by nature fleet footed creatures and have far greater stamina than most other races. They ran the entire way across town to the mill. On arrival they found it dark and gloomy. The lack of moon and a cloudy night made it dark. The torches from town wall did little to light the area, but the Elves had excellent night vision. Seeing nobody in the area the three of them sauntered into the mill.
A dim light was glowing in one of the storerooms next to the river. Beldorien led the way in and found Enoch snooping amongst sacks of grain. The air tasted of flour and stank of something unfamiliar and sour.
“Enoch, what brings us to your tonight?” queried Beldorien, anxious to discover why their celebrations had been cut short.
Turning and regarding them sourly, Enoch climbed down from the crate on which he’d been standing, fiddling with something behind some sacks of grain. Casually wandering round to the doorway, putting himself between the three Elves and their exit, he turned and sneered at them.
“Well, seeing as you busybodies couldn’t help but make such a good job of putting this place back together, I thought I’d better take a closer look-see.”
Sighing Beldorien answered calmly, “I’m not sure what problem you have with my being in this town Enoch, but I don’t see how you could possibly be annoyed at us for getting a critical food manufacturing building back in order.”
“Well Beldorien, that’s why things are about to change. For an Elf you seem to be remarkably short-sighted.” Snapped Enoch, moving back through the door.
“Enoch, I don’t know what you mean, but I think you owe me an apology. I’ve done nothing but work hard for this town. We’ve been here for years since we left the forest refuge at Hackwell’s Valley and given without asking for anything.”
“Indeed” snarked Enoch “you’ve given so much. You’ve ‘protected’ us from bad eggs, merchants who would defraud us, mercenaries and bounty hunters who would lower the prestige of your precious town. The problem is, those were MY merchants, MY bounty hunters, MY mercenaries.” Enoch’s gruff voice rose to a slightly manic shriek. “You and your precious family think they’ve done so much, when all you’ve really done is kept me from my rightful place running this town. Well, now things are about to change. I tried to do it quietly, to pressure you into letting me be in the council meetings, but you just wouldn’t have it. So now we’re going to do things the hard way. It’s such a shame your friend Arnor built in a flaw to the mill when it was being repaired. Such a tragedy that I found it while searching for evidence for you about the previous explosion, that you came to look at what I’d found and you accidentally set off a second explosion. Such a very real tragedy for your wife, losing her husband and both her sons.” With this last comment Enoch stepped completely out of the doorway, revealing four brawny mercenaries pointing crossbows at the three Elves.
“Enoch, how could you!” Shouted Belnor stepping forwards quickly. Before Beldorien could react, one of the mercenaries released a quarrel from his crossbow, hitting Belnor hard under the sternum. With an oof his breath left him and he collapsed toward the floor, just the flights of the quarrel protruding from his chest. In a flash his Brother and Father were at his side, holding him as the shock of what had just occurred sit in. A fifth mercenary took the place of the one who had loosed the quarrel while he reloaded.
From outside the room came the instruction from Enoch. “Both of you bring him out here.”
Father and son carried their wounded relative out through the doorway, their guards backing up slowly and keeping them covered with watchful intent.
“Tie them to the grind stone, we don’t want them going anywhere and missing the birthday fireworks we have planned for Belkas.” crowed Enoch, now grinning alarmingly maniacally.
“Enoch,” started Beldorien, “this has gone far enough. My son will die if you don’t let us get care for him immediately.”
“I’d say that’s the least of your worries my pointy eared friend,” guffawed Enoch, “you still don’t get it do you? There’s no point getting him help, none of you three are leaving this mill, except in pieces, piled in boxes once the townsfolk have dug through the rubble.
The three Elves were swiftly bound to the grindstone of the mill, Belnor barely conscious. Once done, the mercenaries moved sacks of flower around them from the walls, revealing small explosive packages piled by the joists. The water channels, used for keeping the air moist enough to subdue the explosive capacity of flour were dry, their sources plugged with rags. Enoch moved around, making final preparations.
“You see, this is how I did it the first time, but you just had to go and rebuild it. So this time, I’m not going to let you be around to do that. I’m not going to let you be around to ‘protect’ this town. It’s mine now. Mine and my friends’.”
Through all of this Belkas had watched and reacted quietly. Knowing nothing he could say would stop this evil man from whatever he had in mind. He knew he was quick and deadly, but quick and deadly can’t kill at least five heavily armed men. He trusted his Father’s lead and remained silent, even if fire burned in his heart that shone through to his eyes. Enoch was a Sherriff. He was supposed to uphold the law, and here he was desecrating it. Though it seemed unlikely to Belkas he would survive this night, he felt a sea-change in his perception of ‘the law’.
Enoch and his men finished setting up their charges and fuses and gradually filtered out, leaving only Enoch himself.
“So Beldorien, any last words before I leave you to your hero’s death investigating the sabotage of the town’s flour supply?”
Beldorien winced, sighed and lifted his eyes to Enoch, “Enoch, I pity you. Of course, you’ve schemed, and I admit I had no idea, but this? This is desperation. A schemer you may be, but you certainly lack compassion. You easily could have left my sons out of this. You may run this town now, but your lack of compassion will be your undoing. Go now, do what you must, but don’t insult us with any final words.”
Scowling, Enoch turned and stalked from the mill.The death of a family
After Enoch left, Beldorien turned urgently to Belkas. “Son, there isn’t much time. Can you reach my back?”
On the other side of the shaft of the grindstone, Belkas twisted and squirmed until he felt the back of his Father’s belt.
“Quickly, there won’t be much time, they’ll light the fuse soon. There’s a dirk in the small of my back, take it and free yourself.”
Belkas grasped hard and finally found it, at the same time they heard the unmistakable hiss of a burning fuse.
“Go!” shouted Beldorien, “free yourself and get out to the river through the gears. Don’t let them see you!”
Belkas sawed urgently at the ropes holding him, freeing himself quickly. Soon the light of the burning fuse was coming through the door and splitting off to head to all the charges. It was clear that it was too late for Belkas to extinguish them all.
“GO!” screamed his Father. “Live and remember!”
Belkas took three quick strides and dived for the opening down and out to the river. Too late though, the fuses met their ends and a massive explosion went up, sundering stone from stone and mortar, blowing the walls out, lifting the grindstone from its place. All three elves disappeared from the world.
A new beginning
Hours later, a mortally wounded elf washed up on the banks of the river Iben. Burn marks covered his back and one flank. His right ear caked with blood which was oozing from a nasty gash on his temple.
A sniffing and snuffling hound searching for scraps came upon the body and barked for his master, while licking the Elf’s cheek.
A druid appeared out of the overgrown forest on the banks of the river, knelt next to the elf and felt a weak and thready pulse. Moving him gently onto his back, the elf stirred and his eyes slowly flickered open, unfocused and confused.
“Well my friend, it seems you’ve a story to tell, let’s get you to my shack.” Intoned the kindly druid. “Tell me young friend, what is your name?”
Looking at the Druid who most likely had just saved his life, the young elf paused for a moment, opened his mouth as if to speak, paused once more and closed his mouth, a look a fear filling his eyes.
“I don’t know.” he said.