Hillock high. I’m looking down at death gathered below. A swarm of angry goblins with bared teeth and blades. The smell of past bloody deeds fills my nostrils. The carrion of their past victims. I am alone with only the Grandfather’s spear and my simple shield to guard my skin. The sun is high and the heat burnt away my armor days ago. So close.

I can see the city in the distance, but it is more of a mirage to the madness that has been trying to conquer my mind. It’s high towers of steam stacks jut up from the ragged coast like a fearsome beast of Rielun’s ancient past. Its massive iron-wrought walls loom in the distance — protecting the steam metropolis’s populace from the wilds of Malecade. Green fields of safe haven, beyond those massive wallmounts, beckon me to run from the hillock.

I cannot.

The swarm encircling the mound would tear me to pieces if I ran. I must make my stand here. The goblins shout in their guttural tongue while banging bronze swords on wooden shields. They are protected more by their smell than their tattered garments. While they are weak when fought alone, they are deadly when gathered together.

I steel myself for the onslaught that is come at any moment. I know that they know my spear is considered a legend and that my history are now tales of victory. I bellow at them, in challenge. My voice rises into the air, primal — half human, half orc. Child of the Grandfather’s People of the wildlands. My blood is strong and filled with the spirits if my ancestors. If I am to die today, I will make it a tale to be told for generations to come.

The goblins finally come at me, hesitantly. They know my legend. They fear my strength. Yet they come with nashing teeth and putrid blades. They swarm at me. First only a dozen. Then two dozen. The hillock becomes a charnel of bodies. the piled dead becomes my shield wall. The goblins come to the last, mad with bloodlust.

Sunset. There are no more standing against me. I am bruised and bloodied. My face is wracked and my body aches. After the last of the horde fell, I stand there unable to move or speak. Hours pass. Fatigue tears me to my knees. I pray to the High Spirit of Honor and to my Grandfather. His spear lies next to me, shining. My legend will grow even if I tell know one what transpired. My ancestors will whisper to the oracles.

I stare out into the wilds of Malecade toward the distant coast where Da’aphet stands in all its glory. I will see it for myself soon enough.

After safety and sleep are found.

The First Hero

Before there was anything else for Rielun, there was the half-orc known only as “Spears.” Before I ran my first AD&D 2E campaign set on Rielun (then known as the Islands of Malecade), I created a hero who was raised by pygmy-like demihumans who lived in harmony with the wilds of nature on the continent of Malecade. His home and heart was two-fold. He became an adopted son of a village called “Gremlin” while keeping in touch with his primitive youth. His constant companion in his early years was a giant cat that was more like a gigantic house cat than a wild cat. (His nameless cat was tragically killed by evil humanoids.)

Later in his life, he would become fast friends with a group of characters that I now refer to as the Lions of Malecade — Knak Rynne (name was a homage to my favorite Dragonlance author), Marty Lionmountain, Nona Heartwood, and Simon Mardin (and Simon’s twin brother who turned to evil before being killed by the others). These characters were never a group of PCs being played by my friends at the time. Instead, they were all constructs of my own imagination. In the current era, they are known as the Heroes of the Past and are remembered with reverence by current adventures. Whether or not they were truly worthy of such praise is up for debate.

“Spears” is now known as The Spearion in the annals of history. His last name was never known, although Rielunian historians often doubt he ever had a last name. His adopted parents were most likely tigés (also known as the tligen) or trooda and a statue of his visage stands in his adopted town, now called Gremlin Home, which still exists in the forested hills of the region known as The Lions’ Gap. He is looked upon as a savior of the town and a icon for all civilized half-orcs to strive to emulate. In truth, he was far from civilized. In current D&D 3E terms, his final stats would be as follows: NG male half-orc, Animal Lord 11/Adept 9. Yes, his soul was good, but his heart was savage.

He was the first hero of the world I created and one of the first characters I ever created. I still remember him fondly and I was lucky enough to get a sketch done of him by an online artist whose name escapes me at the moment. (Once I re-remember the artist’s name, I’ll add it to the caption on the image below.)

* An alternate d20 system class from Legends & Lairs: Sorcery & Steam, which was published by Fantasy Flight Games.

"Spears," The Spearion

“Spears,” The Spearion