About Reknar Heldergast
Horse, light (combat trained) CR –
Who is Reknar?:
"Boys! Boys! Just shut the hell up and listen! No one is asking your opinion right now, there will be time for it after we clear this damned hole - Alastair, keep those heals coming towards us - I am counting on you to keep us up and running for as long as needed, just make an extra prayer to your God this morning or whatever... Jules, I am still waiting on that intel for their setup - instead of going on with the blabbering, get your unseenness going and get moving! Lucian, I want to be fighting on our terms, bring on your pits, flames or whatever you need to bring, just keep it UNDER CONTROL. The rest of you boys and girls, stay tight on my hairy arse as ticks - MOVE OUT!"
He had been there before - another hole, another humanoid tribe robbing, pillaging, and being generally nasty - nothing different, nothing unusual. The Captain is still in diapers, so he leads them in, clean up the place, and Team Badger wins the day so the Cap. can collect the honors and... Buy some more diapers I guess...
It matters not, he is there for his share and his boys - they trust him and he knows he can take them where they need to go.
"G#$$$+n boys! What the hell are you doing Lucian?! Do you not see that goblin roller making short work of our left flank?! Stay sharp or I will be the one rolling over you, you bony excuse for a wizard - stay SHARP!"
He usually kept to himself, but they knew he would be the first to step up for the hardest of things when you are in the heat - decisions. No point in waiting for the Captain, too tied up in pleasing the Commander and making "strategic" decisions - when the s*** hits the fan, there is no time to ponder relations with the neighboring kingdom, or the Lady and kids waiting back home - you need to let go, evaluate the here and now and MOVE. Stop and you are dead.
That is why the boys and girls in Badger company turn to him - bottom line, no decision is worse than a bad decision.
Releasing his sword, previously stuck on a particularly hard hobgoblin head, he smiled at how far they have come since he was put in charge of the rag tag team - "The badgers lack Discipline!" - the Cap. would shout at him over and over again, but tat was the whole beauty of
It was raining hard that day - the Badgers soaked and pissed kept gnawing at his heels - "Makes no sense to invade a spookers hole under this weather - the traps will be harder to spot and disarm, visibility is reduced to crap, and we still need to manage the approach without losing half the men!" - Lucian shouted in his face - the wizard was much more than a friend after two years service in the Valashmai wilds, but he was starting to grate on his nerves - "Look Lucian, I agree with every single piece of crap you are throwing my way - but we ARE going in - Badger company gets the job done, and this needs to be done. Damn! Was I the only one listening when the crying girl recounted how these bastards tore up her family - we are doing this!"
Lucian just nodded as he usually did when Reknar suddenly got into altruistic mode - some things simply tickled him the wrong way, and he already knew there was no arguing against it - they would invade and clear out the goblin hole, as always.
"Hard work, that's how things get done" - it seemed those words had echoed in his head forever, initially associated to the image of his father toiling away in the fields with him in tow, he seemed gigantic, bigger and stronger than life as he pushed and urged the family horse - Underdog - ever forward, plowing the land, year after year. He was too young yest, too naive to understand that life is so much more complex than that - that the bruises and pained look on his mothers' face were anything besides bad luck of having bumped again against the damned door.
He grew up on this sunshining father figure that meant everything to the boy - ignorance never being so much blissful as it was in his own world, but no one stays young forever...
The sickening crunching sound felt disgustingly rewarding as his fist hit the mans' face once, and again, and again - "You dare?!" - came the retaliation amidst spittled blood and teeth, in the background a womans' scream he could not quite place or recognize among the haze of anger - again and again he hit and got hit - "Hard work!" - his mind shouted at him every time he bordered on the edges of consciousness, so he shook the sweet good night away and pressed on - the man was huge, strong as an ox and even more furious, but he was determined - it would end today.
"DEAD!" - the word pierced the haze, making him pause and ponder - he knew the voice and knew the word, but he was unaware of the conjuncture until he noticed his bloody knuckles and the, by now unrecognizable, face he had been pounding into oblivion - "Hard work..."
"Prison is not easy fellas, but then again, what is in this life?" - he would sometimes recount to Badger company around a fire and a hearthy meal - "It gets you doing things that you never thought possible - you either toughen up or you die on the spot. And don't believe any stories that you always find someone honorable inside, willing to give you a hand - that is plain and simple bull****. You need to fend for yourself or suck it up when you can't, but above anything else, it is all about surviving, living to eat the damned gruel another day, and face a threat at lunch time - I learned a lot though"
After murdering his father, Reknar was quickly and summarily condemned to incarceration, spending most of his juvenile years in prison - the boy was broken when he entered that place, and callous when he left - the opportunity presented itself as it usually did every couple of years - anyone willing to serve in the army got their sentence commuted by 2 years for each one served - he grabbed it with two hands and crawled out of the hellhole.
The military weren't much better, ex-convicts being considered 2nd class soldiers, treated almost as poorly as they were in prison, poorly geared, thrown at the worst of assignments, commanded by the less able of the officers - no one cared about body count among Jailites, they were there as fodder. Instead of fighting it, Reknar embraced it - amongst the rabble he found variety - anyone can end up in jail, so he met with the most varied walks of life, and he soaked it all in - he learned discipline from Riktor, and old grizzled veteran of war who had murdered his commanding officer after he had sent them to be massacred on a tactical deathtrap, with Janice the dual wielding dagger hired assassin to be, he learned passion and to speak before swinging his blade...
He met countless, befriended some, and watched most of them die on the field.
"Hah! Honorable death you say?! Come on... Nothing honorable about dying lad, and by the way, you say you will meet your God in the Seven Heavens heh? Well, show me someone that has seen them, and if it is half as wonderful as you are painting it, I'll slit my own throat just to get there. In the meantime, just keep your wits about ya and stay ALIVE. As for death, and if you really must pray for anything at all, pray that yours is a quick and painless one"
Through grit and blood he climbed the ranks - proved himself and his Badger Company able and willing, but it was for naught as he came to understand - even after his 5 years of service were completed things did not improve - others still looked at him and his boys and girls like "Jailites", they kept throwing them into the deepest of possible mess, and his commanding officer was still an incompetent jerk. Curiously enough, that was perhaps the only time in his life that he felt some sort of sense of duty - towards those that looked at him for leadership, encouragement, and above all those oh so dreaded decisions.
By this point he was free to leave, but he chose not to - at a certain point, and after a particularly messy affair at the Drecchard Bog, he was even offered another command, not a jailite team this time, but real soldiers - he refused without a second thought, and returned to his soggy and filthy barracks to down a couple of watered ales with the Badgers.
He was already seven years into service, and never made it past sergeant - "When a troll comes wailing at ya, it really doesn't matter how many stripes you have on your shoulder, or how many plumes you have on your helmet now does it?" - it mattered not, he was being quite successful at keeping the Badger company up and running, causalties to a minimum, and a high rate of success - so much so that it made a lot of high ranked officers feel awkward, and that is never good.
The badgers operated smoothly - parts were well defined and the hierarchy well taken in - listen to the Sargent, ignore the Captain - simple. But nothing could have prepared them for that day - "With your permission SIR, you have got to be kidding me - you want me to take the whole company into a g#$ d~$ned crypt, with confirmed hauntings reported, as is?! Sir, we are ill-equipped to deal with any sort of undead menace - as I reported over six months ago at the Tellis offensive, we have received none of the blanches requested, Tulion has been refused his robes because the church believes his work here is a waste of resources, and Lucian tells me that the reports so far are an understatement of what can be found in there - the undead concentration points to something else in there... And we are supposed to get in the hole, and clean it up?!"
He didn't have to hear the answer to know what it was. As he left the tent, his two corporals waiting outside needed no questions - Reknars' grim face was enough - "This is going to hurt"
He hasn't shared any of what actually happened in the infested crypt with anyone since that day - the surviving members of the badger company emerged three days later - covered in blood, Reknar carried Tulion on his arms - his body showing evidents of dessication, barely a husk of skin and bones, Lucian followed them, his left arm swollen and festering with some sort of unholy sickness, one of his eyes gouged out, barely walking.
Around his chest, the sergeant bore a harness, connected via improvised ropes to a pall, where three others laid, their sunken eyes dark, their mouths locked into a perpetual, silent scream. Without a word the three wounded were delivered to the infirmary - the physicians shaking their heads, lost at what to do. Reknar kept on, crossing the barracks, and wading right into the church that served the military quarters, striding in before appalled eyes he deposited his priest companion body on the altar, turning to the priests to one side with a sneer - "There's your martyr - I'm sure you will praise his deeds - remember to say to everyone that he died screaming"
He did not murder the captain, did not even address him - even though he would never forget the Krastigan name, he was irrelevant after all, as a man, and as a commander - he just took the blood soaked pall from his back, and without missing a step, both him and Lucian gathered their gear and left the quarters that same day, stil bloodied and wounded.
"Sense of Duty... It has a nice sound to it does it not? Seems to roll off the tongue... But that is all there is to it - a nice sound"
Travelling with Lucian, instead of fighting alongside him proved to be a totally different experience for Reknar - he found him to be extremely knowlegeable, and much more than a combat indoctrinated wizard. He found pleasure in the next year they spent together, travelling for the simple sake of it, without apparent direction, from one land to the other, taking in the differences, sustained by odd mercenary jobs.
Surprisingly enough, his companion proved to be much more of an idealist than Reknar had perceived - "Not usual to find such big words coming from the mouth of a wizard - I always thought you all vied for absolute power and whatnot" - talks of absolute power usually brought laughs from both of them, and the ensuing discussions surrounding the will and principles of man would usually trail off into the night, around their makeshift fireplaces.
After many months of wandering, Lucian presented his will to return to his homeland, and his wizard apprenticeship - Reknar acquiesced and accompanied him into Absolom. He had been away from civilization for some time now, and the myriad sights and sounds invaded his mind with the strength of a punch - "Aaaah, I missed this Lucian, I gotta admit it" - As they walked through the city, having been detached from the main comercial circuits, there was much to catch up, but the word of War and Mayhem in the North came up a little everywhere - "Seems things are taking a turn for the worse up there"
He remained with Lucian as a guest for quite some time, but after some time he became much more than that - coming in contact with the Society had a defining impact on the man - in spite of Lucian having pointed it out more than once to him, he had always dismissed it with a shrug, but in fact he realized that assimilating and processing obscure information came naturally to him - for the first time in almost 8 years, he put his sword away and picked up something else - a book.
He found renewed motivation in pouring through the tomes he was granted access to. He found that knowledge was neutral, it did not choose sides, neither Good nor Evil, it was undaunted by askew visions of men - it was objective, much like himself. He found pleasure in losing himself into it.
Reknars' outlook on life did not change then - all he had been through in life had shaped him into a cold, callous man, unbelieving in higher principles or goals - but it did change his insights about those many years he spent fighting - namely the fact that there are many alternatives to simply drawing blood - concepts like strategy, tactics, and combat logic coalesced from mere vague ideas into true knowledge, and he embraced them, his brain more avid for such knowledge than he had ever expected.
I am still adding information to Reknar's backstory, it is all in my head, but I am simply struggling for time to have it all written down - here are the main bullet points, which will be developed as I have time to write it down:
- Reknar and Lucian traveled together for a while until Lucian decided he wanted to return to Absolom to continue his wizard training - Reknar accompanied him;
He did not admit it, but his head was in turmoil - after all, it had been years since he had left from that place... It felt strange calling it... Home...