Fall of Baldur's Gate
Stout-loving male human paladin
Oi, innkeeper! Pour me a pint of yer finest stout, will ya? … Thanks. Here are yer coppers… Mmm… Black as sin and bitter, too. Just the way I like it… Huh? What are you staring at, kid? Scared of ol’ Billy? Well he ain’t gonna hurt you, not wrapped up in oilcloth and certainly not in a nice, cozy place like this tavern. Tell you what, you seem like the decent sort. So why don’t you fetch me a tankard of stout and in return, I’ll entertain you with the story of Herman Westford and plain ol’ Billy. … There’s a good lad. Well, it looks like there’s an audience forming, so I’d better get down to it. … What do you mean, “who the fuck is Herman Westford?” You’re supposed to find out by the end of the story, you dullard!
So, the Westfords were a family of common stock, hailing from the outskirts of Neverwinter up north. No big deal, really… Da had a lease on a farm with sheep, Ma knitted wool, and Herman and Abby tended to the sheep so that Ma had wool to knit and Da had meat to sell in order to meet the payments of the lease. Now, I know that most of these stories have a raid of orcish bandits or some such at some point, but this ain’t one of those. So, by the time Herman’s 14, Da has fulfilled all the payments and the Westford farm is truly theirs. Happy times… But two years later their sheep get the lung blight and they have to slaughter the herd for good measure and the farm goes bankrupt cuz who had the monies to pay for the damn insurance back then? … Anyway. So the Westfords move to the slums of Neverwinter to make a living. Abby’s almost thirteen now, and quite smart too – at least, that’s what the wizard said. Said she’d make sure Abby would get a spot in the House of Knowledge, too, which made lil’ sis very happy. True enough, the priests of Oghma contacted the family two weeks later, and Abby started studying under them soon after.
Now Herman on the other hand, he didn’t match Abby’s brains, but he could pack a mean punch, and that’s a useful trait in a place like the Neverwinter slums. However, he was never one to punch the undeserving to empty their pockets, so when it came down to joining a gang, he chose to roll with the Wintershield. It wasn’t the most glorious of callings, but he took it quite seriously, and was quite good at it, too. For what it’s worth, Billy was standard issue back then, and he and Herman were an instant match. So, where was I? Did I tell y’all ‘bout the discharge? … No? Well, guess you’ll have to wait a bit. In the meantime, what must a man do to get another pint of stout ‘round here?
… Finally. So, the first 3 years after Herman signed on with the guard were easy. Lots of training, simple patrols, chasing urchins who tried to run off with stuff from peoples’ stalls, that sort of thing. Eventually the captain decided to give Herman more important duties and made him a deputy sergeant. Herman liked that, cuz it meant a pay increase and a better uniform – two in fact. However, he soon found out that with more silvers comes more responsibility. For a good while he did quite well, his affable way with people helping coax info from various witnesses on a dozen cases. About one year later he met Anora… and then things started going south.
Almost every guard had chased Anora at some point. The half-elf was a brown-eyed, velvet-haired beauty, and the quite possibly one of the smoothest pickpockets Neverwinter had ever seen. No pouch was safe when she prowled the streets. It was whispered that she bribed some of the guards to look the other way when she did her work, but Herman if that was the case Herman never found out. At any rate, the fact that she never employed violence in her “trade” meant that under the regulations, the guards were prohibited from using too much force to bring her in, making her capture very difficult. After all, could you chase a fast moving elf mongrel while in splint mail, carrying Billy? Anyway, it doesn’t matter. One night, Herman met her for the first time at a tavern not unlike this one, and that was it. He was utterly smitten by her Sune-blessed smile.
Now, I know what y’ all thinking: This is one of those unlikely match love stories where boy meets girl, boy likes girl, they can’t be together because reasons, they overcome some obstacles, a spurned lover appears at some point trying to break ‘em apart but they live together happily ever after in the end. Hate to break it to you, but this ain’t my kind of story. Hell, Herman never even kissed this dam.
So, life being what it is in the Realms, not everyone wants to play nice. And at some point, one of those not-so-nice people decided to visit Neverwinter. At first, no-one understood what was going on. A beggar can’t exactly go missing, cuz most of the time ain’t nobody gonna look for him, right? So if an old beggar vanishes from his spot one day, people think he finally kicked the bucket and they go on with their lives. If a young beggar vanishes from his spot, people think he finally left town and they go on with their lives. Nobody files a complaint to the guards, and the guards can’t exactly go look for stuff blindly even if they got a hunch, cuz there’s only so many of them and the city is quite big to patrol.
So it happens that Anora’s description hasn’t shown up in any report for 2 weeks straight, and Herman starts to wonder. At first he’s hopeful that the pretty girl has turned legit, but he swiftly dismisses the notion. Shem’s balls, she must have gathered more than a thousand golds with all her escapades! So one night, when he’s off duty, he decides to go out to some alehouses to check if there are any rumors regarding her. One hour and four pints of fine black stout later, there’s this half-blind old fellow whispering to him about some assholes who prey on the slums’ downtrodden during the night. “Someone’s gotta do sumthin’, just cuz ‘tis beggars and orphans and copper-whores they be cuttin’ dinnae mean that those buggers have a bloody free pass for murder”. 2 more pints and Herman’s out into the night, looking for those bastards by himself. As luck would have it, he stumbles upon a pair of dark-garbed thugs dragging a screaming whore towards a dark alley. He looks around, and all the surrounding shutters are closed. He knows he’s drunk and unarmed, but there’s no-one else to help this woman. So he follows the black-clad scum into the alley… and he sees three more similarly clothed fellows waiting, their malicious intent evident in their eyes.
I can’t get into much detail regarding the fight that followed, but I can tell you it was a bloody struggle. And Herman didn’t win… but at least the strumpet took the chance and ran off into the night, shortly before a priest arrived, to find Herman inches from death’s embrace. It was this priest of Torm who fended the Ferryman off foolish Herman that night. The priest later told him that he saw the place Herman fought the would-be murderers in a most peculiar dream. After this ordeal, our man decided to follow the Loyal Fury from then on.
Anyway, his search for Anora’s whereabouts didn’t stop after this mishap. About a month later, he found out that his fears were correct: she had been taken by people wearing similar attire to the ones he fought. He initially despaired, but then his new friend in Torm’s church told him that he had a vision that she was still alive, but would be sacrificed on Highhaversttide’s eve – giving him a scant two days to find the place where she was kept. His friends in the guards tried to help, but navigating the slums without info was a fool’s errand.
On that fated night, he took Billy wrapped in a sheath as well as the rest of his weapons and went out to wander, in a last vain attempt to find the half-elf before it was too late. He made a few rounds in a fruitless effort, and then in despair he headed towards the nearest tavern intending to drink himself to a stout-induced stupor. It was then that he noticed a faint mark on a door, a mark that he vaguely remembered matching a tattoo on his assailants one month ago. His heart racing, he approached the derelict building… and he thought he heard the merest hint of some sort of chanting.
… What is it? You wanna hear more? Truth is, the rest doesn’t make very happy storytelling – and I don’t really enjoy remembering it. Long story short, I wasn’t in time to save the girl. Chances were I wouldn’t get out of there alive, but someone alerted the rest of the guards about an idiot who was wandering the slums armed to the teeth and they sent a patrol after him – me. I see their faces now… the cultists. Good thing my boys and I saw that they would never harm another soul. Of course, the Wintershield doesn’t condone my sort of vigilantism, and a few days later my position was revoked.
I did some thinking then. And I decided that Wintershield or no, Billy and I wouldn’t let anyone else suffer Anora’s fate if we had a say in the matter. I prayed to Torm and he answered. With the guidance of the True, no evil shall escape my sight. I may not look like the knight in shining armor, but you can count on Billy and me to smite all who would make you suffer.
Now, where’s that bloody pint?