This is awkward, me grabbing this pen to tell you my story… Let’s face it; I’ve never been good with these things. Oh sure, I can write about military maneuvers, but telling my life, my story. Of course this is Joelle’s idea, not mine, and what a woman wants… you know the saying… This is not the good start and I think I have to begin with my actual story, and how I happened to meet with the woman that shares my adventures.
I was born a little more than 24 years ago, in a small hamlet near the town of Jolzin, on the southern shores of the Lirean Sea, about 500 miles south-east of Punjar. The town borders the splendid Gherdian Forest. You probably know that the Lirean Sea is the result of a cataclysm that destroyed the lands of the Elves and Dwarves during the wars of Divine Rights about 3200 years ago. There are still many Elves and Dwarves that live around the Sea, especially in the Gherdian Forest and the Sentinel Mounts. At least in our area. What it does have to do with me? Ok, ok, let me get to it.
I was raised in this small village by my parents. My father was a farmer and my mother a nice housewife. I have no siblings. My birth was a very difficult one and both my mother and I almost died during that terrible winter. I was very fragile and I stayed in the farm with my mom. Books were the only thing that kept me busy when I was a kid and I was very shy and afraid of other people. According to my father, my mother was overprotecting me. He was right in a way, but would I be the man I am now without that? Who knows…
Anyway, my youth made me a lonely kid filled with books and stories of heroes fighting against monsters to protect their families and friends. I learned very early to read and write as my father thought that a healthy body must come with a healthy head. And he was right.
When I was about 10, the first orcish raids began in the area. The militia of Jolzin came to help us, but there were so many villages and hamlet and farms that they couldn’t protect everybody. A family close to our farm lost everything and only two of their sons survived. My parents took them home and this is how I got two brothers – an elder one Loris, and younger one Justin. They both have been traumatized by the death of their parents and were like me silent kids, only sadder than me. Loris was 13 and went to help my father in the farm. Seeing him working so hard made me go out of the house more often and work out a little bit more. This helped me build that strength that helped me killed orcs in many occasions!
Justin was 8 at that time. He knew a little bit how to read and I decided to help him improve. After a few months, we were really good friends, almost like real brothers. Life was a little better as the militia finally put an end to the raids and the area was safe again. I heard that the elves helped us too because this orc band caused many problems in their forest too and killed many of them. Of course, I learned later the extent of the story, but those were just rumors. Elves could sometimes be seen in Jolzin, as well as Dwarves, but not in our villages and then I had to rely on peddler’s stories.
But back to the farm! After a year, Loris, Justin and me were really close and our family was a really happy one. We boys were happy to have siblings and my parents were happy to have more kids at home. Life was a little frugal, but the village was a nice place to live, especially after building some defense and guard towers in the area for if the orcs decide to come again.
At the age of 15, Loris entered in the militia of Jolzin to help protect the city. I would join his steps 3 years later, followed by Justin 2 years after that. A band of brothers, united to protect our beloved ones.
Loris was the strongest one and became one of the most valorous fighters of the garrison. His feats were numerous and made our father really proud. Being more intellectual than physical, I quickly gained promotions and became the youngest to become captain of a troop at the age of 19. Loris and Justin joined my group and our work was so good that we were able to get rid of various menaces like bandits, roaming kobolds and even some daring orcs that tried to come by our area.
I had the chance to meet some elves during that time. They would provide us with good weapons and armor in exchange of some goods. Their friendship with us would prove decisive one year later, when the strongest orc army ever seen in the area fell upon us. Thanks to the various protections we built and our guard towers, we were able to protect most of the people of the surrounding in town in time, but the siege didn’t last long. They came with a big army, siege machine and the city was about to fall when the elves arrived.
With my brothers and our friends, we decided to turn our militia troop into commandos. Seeing the coat of arms of the orc army, we knew what leader was there, it was the one that took the life of Justin and Loris’ parents. This orc had been raiding the area for more than 20 years now, it was payback time. While the elves charged the orcish army from the forest, the orcs tried to invade the town. We used armor taken off dead orcs to sneak through their ranks (I tell you the smell was barely bearable) and arrived near their main HQ. Most of the orcs had been sent either to secure an area in town or to stop the attack from the elves, so the place was not too heavily guarded.
Attacking during the day, when the orcs where more vulnerable (they have no tactical brain, if it wasn’t for their numbers, we would have wiped them out of the surface of Aereth long ago…), made our task easier. Leading my men, I was able to give the final blow to Grorthuk, as I learned later his name. With his fall and the proficiency of the elves, the orcs where annihilated.
The town had suffered some damage, but the fight had only lasted a few days and most of it could be repaired. The losses were big amongst us but thanks to the elves, we were able to survive. Again. And the elves would help us the following days to clean the town, bury our dead, humans as well as elves, and heal the wounded. A delegation came from their towns to help us heal who could be saved, and thanks to them, the town was almost like before the attack.
During those days, the word of our deed spread through the city and soon my troop was considered to be the heroes of the town. Even if we only did our duty, killing the orc leader put our names on everyone’s lips, and soon, the leader of the elves asked to see us. I had seen some of them in the city, but nothing could have prepared me for that. Their majesty, the way they move, their equipment… I could only see how great it would be to train with them until I met their leader.
The elves were grateful that I killed Grorthuk. They told me that a great number of their valiant fighters had fallen under the weapons of this beast and his death was a great relief for their people and for the whole area. And then he asked me that he would give me anything I asked in exchange of my bravery, and the same for all of the men of my troop. I let my friends and brothers ask for what they wanted, not listening to their requests as I was trying to see what I would like.
Then I realized the silence, people wanted to hear what I had to ask. I saw my friends with splendid armors and weapons offered by the elves, but it seemed that it was not what I wanted most. I looked at all those elven soldiers, wizards, priests, all incredibly powerful and majestic. I knew what I had to ask.
“Sir, I’d request to join your army to learn about your ways of fighting.”
My proposition seemed to shock many people around. My friends and family were surprised that I asked to leave and the elves are not accustomed to such requests. The leader smiled at me and turned to one of the young female wizard.
“Joelle, this young lad reminds me of your father. And as he killed Grorthuk, I think that fate has put him in our path.”
Then turning to me, he said: “Young man, your request is accepted. You have 2 hours to pack everything you want to take with you and say good bye to your friends. Then we leave with or without you.”
My two brothers came to me and held me in their arms. I could see their eyes full of tears that they tried to suppress. They were sad to see me go away, but they knew that reading was not enough for me, that I wanted to see the world, see things that I wouldn’t see in this town. No words were said. After a few minutes, I left them, ran to the farm, grabbed my things and joined the army. I didn’t say a word to my parents as I knew I wouldn’t be able to go through with my commitment if I saw them.
I thought about the young wizard and how she looked at me intently. I don’t know what she was thinking but she seemed to evaluate me. By her appearance, I realized that she was probably half-elf. Was her father a human like me? Was she as young as she looked? How do elves age?
Suddenly my head was full of questions. Why did I ask to go with them? I only knew this town, and the people here. I was going to be alone, again…
Coming next… Part 2 of the background stories… How they fell in love, were married, and set off for Punjar, of all places.