Redemption (Beltar’s backstory)
Linedan is my main–he always has been and barring catastrophe, he always will be. But my “Alliance main,” the dwarf hunter Beltar Forgebreaker, is probably my most fun character to roleplay.
On the surface, he looks like your typical fantasy dwarf…irascible, sarcastic, a bit on the greedy side, inordinately in love with his guns. But dig deeper and you’ll find that Beltar’s not exactly a stout-hearted dwarven hero in the Gimli mode. For over a hundred years, he’s wandered the Eastern Kingdoms as a gun for hire, on both sides of the law (sometimes simultaneously), not settling in any one place for long. He’s been a mercenary, an assassin, a guard, a hitman, a bodyguard, and more. His idea of a fair fight has always been one where he shoots his opponent in the head without ever being seen. And now, late in his life, he’s found his calling as an adventurer and general ne’er-do-well with the Wildfire Riders.
But even anti-heroes have to start somewhere. And in a fashion typical of the accidental nature of his wanderings, Beltar’s first steps on his wandering path didn’t happen the way you’d envision they might.
“Redemption” was a story that I wrote in late 2005, a few months after Beltar’s creation in August. I don’t remember how this backstory came to me, really It just popped into my head and I had to take some time out and write it right now dammit…so I did. I always knew Beltar was oldish, and a wanderer, but until this story body-checked me out of nowhere, I had no clue as to what started him on his lifelong odyssey of the gun.
It’s below a cut, because it’s hella long–4400 words. In case you haven’t noticed, I do tend to run on a bit.
I hope you enjoy it.
The two guards half-escorted, half-drug the young dwarf forward between them. They stopped in front of a stone table, behind which sat an old, grey-bearded dwarf. The gold seal he wore on a chain around his neck identified him as a magistrate here in the tiny mining village of Flintrock, high in the mountains on the edges of the dwarven lands. The carved stone nameplate on the table said, simply, “COALFORGER.”
The dwarf shackled between the guards was barely adolescent, still gangly–as gangly as a dwarf could ever get, anyhow. His hair hung, limp and greasy, long on either side of his head and down in front of his face; his clothes were dirty, and he smelled none too pleasant.
Magistrate Coalforger finished surveying a paper in front of him, then put it down and gazed over small glass spectacles at the trio in front of him. “Turn him loose,” he waved to one of the guards, who duly produced a key and freed Anias’ hands and ankles from the iron shackles. Both guards then stepped back a precise distance from their former charge; not close enough to crowd, but close enough to strike. Anias never looked up; he kept his head down, looking at the edge of the desk, hair hiding his face.
The magistrate picked the paper back up, then, with an aggrieved sigh, dropped it again. “Hell, I’ll dispense wi’ th’ formalities. Anias Steelson, y’done yer sentence fer thievin’, fifty days and fifty nights in th’ gaol, and now yer free t’go.” He removed the spectacles and looked at Anias with a mixture of frustration, pity, and sympathy. “Lad, I hope it taught y’a lesson. Quit this thievin’ business while y’can. Y’ain’t no damn good at it, we both know it. Stop runnin’ with those boys yer with, and do somethin’ honest with yer life. Y’keep goin’ this way, th’ next time ye be caught, boy, ain’ nothin’ none of us’ll be able t’do ’bout it…ye’ll either be guestin’ here fer half yer days, or it’ll be th’ rope’s end fer ye.”
Anias never looked up, never said a word. He just nodded, almost imperceptibly.
“Dammit, boy, look at me!”, the old dwarf yelled. The guards flinched; old Magistrate Coalforger never raised his voice. But Anias did not flinch; he slowly raised his head, and brushed his hair back with one slightly shaky hand. There was no rage, no defiance, no fear in the gaze that met Magistrate Coalforger’s; only apathy, resignation, and loss.
“Boy, what would yer mother say, if she seen ya like this? And I promised yer Da that I’d keep y’straight th’ best I could…he’d whup us both if he saw y’here now.” His tone softened. “Anias, I gotcha one more chance. Y’know well as I do y’re supposed t’ be in here for a half-year, nae just fifty days. I cut yer sentence, gave ya four months and a bit off. Don’t go makin’ me regret it.”
“May I go now, sir?” Anias’ voice was quiet as his head dropped again.
Coalforger leaned back in his chair, frustrated, and looked out the window to his left. Three young dwarves stood outside in the snow, clad raggedly, simply. One, the oldest of the bunch, saw Coalforger through the window and locked eyes with him, lips curling back in a sneer of pure hatred. Theatrically, he hocked and spit onto the flagstones in front of the keep.
With another sigh, Coalforger closed his eyes and threw his head back. “Aye, yer ‘friends’ are here, Anias. Y’kin go.” His head stayed back and his eyes stayed closed as Anias walked out of the room. When he heard the door shut, he looked back out the window again, saw Anias meet the three dwarven youths, and the group of them head down the hill toward town.
“Light save ya if’n I ever see y’here again, lad,” he murmured softly. “I cannae save ya next time.”
The Mineshaft Tavern was a virtual copy of a hundred other dwarven taverns in a hundred other dwarven mining towns. With evening coming on, and the release of the miners from the nearby mines, it was noisy and crowded with dozens of patrons.
Around one particular corner table, there extended a small bubble of space that existed nowhere else in the room. It was a space enforced by threatening glares from its occupants–Anias and his three friends.
Anias sat back against one wall, pinned in by the other young dwarves around him. On either side of him sat the brothers Eaglewing–Dalmas, the older one, a hulking, stupid brute of a dwarf on one side, and Gullan, almost as slight as Anias but older and quicker, on the other. And across from him, his back arrogantly exposed to the room, sat the leader of the small band, their half-brother Delwyn Hammerblow. There was no doubt that Delwyn was in charge; he had proven that through too many beatings and threats.
The four of them–really, the three of them, with the younger Anias more as a mascot than anything else–had run roughshod over Flintrock for many months. Petty thievery. Protection money to avoid beatings. Burglary. Everyone in Flintrock knew that Delwyn, Dalmas, Gullan, and Anias were behind them all. But no one could…or would…legally prove it. The rulers were old and weak, and the people, even the tough miners, were cowed. “I,” Delwyn was fond of proclaiming, quite openly, “run this worthless stable of a town!” An exaggeration, but still uncomfortably close to the truth.
The serving wench brought their food and ale, receiving nothing but a grope from Delwyn for her efforts as she hurried away, tears forming in her eyes as she heard the brothers’ laughter and crude comments. Anias wasn’t paying attention to that; his eyes were focused on the steaming-hot tuber root in front of him, his first food other than bread and water since he’d been sent to the dungeons fifty days earlier.
From a nearby table, a roaring voice carried above even the tumult of the crowded tavern, the voice of a drunk old dwarf.
“…an’ then I BIT ‘IM! Roight on th’ nose, I did! Th’ bear lets go o’me, he din’t ‘spec me t’fight back, see? S’I grab me boomstick and I shoves it roight doon his throot!”
Gullan shook his head. “Shapers, doesn’t that ol’ bastard ever shut th’hell up? I can’ eat wi’ him screamin’ ‘is lies like tha’!”
Delwyn turned and glared at the table where the old dwarf held court. “He is right annoyin’, he is,” he replied, seeming to grow annoyed that he couldn’t silence the storytelling drunk with the same icy glare he used to control the rest of the room. He snapped his focus back to the table and fixed on Anias’ plate. “Here. Gimme that.”
With a single quick motion Delwyn snapped the tuber root from under Anias’ knife. “Hey!”, Anias cried. “That’s m’ first decent meal in fifty days!”
“Shut it or y’ll eat boot leather instead,” Delwyn snapped. He turned again toward the table where the old dwarf was holding court. He had levered himself to standing, weaving, hands gesticulating wildly as he continued his improbable story of escaping from a dwarf-eating bear.
Delwyn half-rose from his chair, waited a second, then snapped his right arm overhand. With a flick of his wrist, the tuber sailed across the room and smacked into the side of the old dwarf’s head, on the jaw just below the ear. Hot root splattered all over his head and the dwarves next to him, and the impact sent him staggering back a step and crashing to the floor in a drunken sprawl.
“Ha!”, Dalmas slapped his knee. “Good ‘un, boss!” Gullan spit out a mouthful of ale and chokingly laughed. The dwarves surrounding the fallen drunk glared at the table of four, and one made a move to get up. But a single glare from Delwyn, cold as the mountains at Winterveil, made him think better of it.
Duly satisfied, Delwyn turned back around to his three companions and allowed himself a smile. “That’ll shut th’ old fart up.” He clapped Gullan on the back as he coughed. “Breathe, damn ya, breathe! I need ya tomorra night for that visit t’ the Snowglade house!”
Anias just sat and sulked as the three others collapsed into laughter, too hungry to laugh. But from his angle, he was the one that noticed first that their victim had stood back up…and was moving toward them.
A tense silence radiated from the tables around as the old dwarf limped toward them, his right knee locked and the leg dragging. Dalmas saw Anias’ shocked look and followed his eyes to the limping drunk. “Boss,” Dalmas muttered. “Behind ya.”
Delwyn slowly turned in his chair, then stood up as the old dwarf clomped up to them. He was a big one, half a head taller than Delwyn, broad-chested with the muscle of youth fading into the fat of age. But it was obvious that once he had been a very impressive dwarf indeed.
“You got a problem, ancient one?”, Delwyn asked quietly, his voice carrying an edge of steel.
“I ain’ th’ one wi’ th’ problem, lad!”, the other dwarf replied, shouting and sweating. “Ye an’ yer sprats be thinkin’ yer some kinda stuff, aincha? Well I’m tellin’ ya, lad, I seen troll shit scarier’n’ye and didnae smell half as bad neither!” Gasps echoed through the room around them, and the whole tavern fell silent except for whispered murmurs, heads bobbing as those further away strained to see.
“Old man,” Delwyn hissed. “Watch what ye’re sayin’.”
“Or ye’ll do what?”, the old dwarf replied mockingly. “Whatcha gonna do, boychild? Cut me in fronta half a hunnert pair’o’eyes? Go fer it, then, if y’re s’godsdamned brave! I ain’ nothin’ but nae ol’ drunk lame dwarf, y’could open me up likes a rabbit!” He flung his arms wide. “DO IT, BRAVE BOY! DO IT!”
Delwyn stood, shaking with rage. Dalmas had stood up on the dwarf’s left, his hand groping for his dagger; Gullan had already drawn his and hidden it under the table. Anias still sat, across the table from the scene, open-mouthed.
“‘AT’S WHAT I THOUGHT!”, the old dwarf roared and turned to the rest of the room, waving wildly. “Brave buncha lads here, we got! But they scared like bunnies when y’stand up at ’em!”
“I’m warning ye, y’fossil…”
The “fossil” whirled back around and planted a huge hand in Delwyn’s chest, pushing him back into his chair as the room let out a collective gasp. “OR YE’LL DO WHA’? Beat me up, an’ ol’ drunk fart?” He looked up at Dalmas, whose dagger was half out of its sheath. “Come ON, boychild! Y’brave enough t’kill an ol’ dwarf and face th’ gallahs?” Slowly, Dalmas edged the dagger back into its sheath.
Delwyn tried to stand up again but the old dwarf shoved him back down into his seat. “Lissen t’me good, boy! I ain’ nothin’ but a ol’ drunk lame bastard, but I seen and fought thin’s that make ye look like th’ mamaboy ye is! S’ye remember, lad, ye remember t’night well, th’ night y’messed wi’ th’ wrong dwarf!” He was roaring at the top of his lungs now, bent down, his face mere inches from Delwyn’s, spittle coating the younger dwarf’s red face. “Ye REMEMBER, boy! Remember ‘is here name! I’M BELTAR FUCKIN’ FORGEBREAKER, YE STUPID BASTARD, AND YE’D DAMNED WELL BEST REMEMBER IT!”
Without waiting for a response, Forgebreaker turned and clomped back toward his table, the only sound the irregular thudding of his boots on the stone floor. Then, from the back of the room, came a single handclap. Then another one from another corner joined it. And another. And another. Within seconds, the room swelled with applause, then with hearty cheers. The only ones not clapping and cheering were Delwyn, Dalmas, Gullan, and Anias.
Innkeeper Tulum forced his way through the growing tumult and jerked a finger at Delwyn, then a thumb at the door. “Git oot,” he growled.
“What did you say?”, Delwyn hissed.
“I said, GIT OOT! Don’ worry ‘boot payin’ fer yer drinks, just git th’hell oota me inn, and don’t be comin’ back. Ever! NOW SCRAM!”
Slowly, the four youths rose, and the cheers for Beltar Forgebreaker turned into jeers aimed at them. As they made their way to the door, a bread roll came out of the mass of dwarves and bounced off Dalmas’ head; he turned and made to charge into the crowd, but Delwyn and Gullan held him back. That only egged the crowd on more, and they made their way out of the Mineshaft accompanied by a hail of bread crusts and the contents of more than one leftover plate.
Outside, the four stood together, silently. Delwyn looked at each of them, then said simply, “He dies. Tonight.”
A half-moon lit the snow as they picked their way up the last few feet of hillside toward the small stone hovel. Flintrock was a small town, and most everyone knew where most everyone else lived. Old drunk Forgebreaker’s tiny shack was not hard to find.
No one had said a word on the climb up from the village. Now they stood a few paces from Forgebreaker’s shack. “Delwyn,” Anias whispered. “Are y’sure…”
Delwyn’s gloved hand whipped out and grabbed Anias around the throat. “Shut up, sprat,” he hissed venomously, “or ye’ll join him. Word o’what that ol’ bastard did’s all over town b’now. Come mornin’, th’ guard’ll find their nuts and lock us all up ‘less’n we prove t’em y’don’t mess with Delwyn Hammerblow. Now, ye’re wit’ us, whether ye like it ‘r not.” His hand squeezed. “An’ I swear t’th’ Makers, y’screw thissun up, I’ll gut ye like a squirrel.” He looked around. “That goes fer th rest’a ye, too.” Delwyn shoved and released Anias, who sprawled backwards into the snow. “Now git up and c’mon.”
They crept quietly to the edge of the house. Gullan looked at the only window, tightly shuttered against the cold. “Dunno if’n I kin op’n it, boss,” he said.
Delwyn smiled tightly. “No worryin’. Fer once, I ain’ feelin’ like bein’ sneaky-like. Dalmas. Bust that damned door down. Get yer stickers out. Anias, pull that lightstone out when we’re inside.”
Dalmas grinned, showing missing teeth. “Y’got it.” He drew a large two-handed treeman’s axe from his back. Gullan had two daggers out, and Delwyn slowly, quietly drew his preferred weapon, a single-edged shortsword with a serrated edge. Anias had a simple knife in his belt, but he didn’t pull it. Instead he felt around in his pocket for the small magical lightstone that Delwyn had recently had enchanted…easier to carry and conceal than torches or lanterns.
Dalmas moved to the door and set himself. Then he raised his right foot and kicked inward with the flat. The door gave way with a splintering crash that echoed up and down the valley, and the four dwarves quickly piled inside.
There was only one room in the hovel. Two beds, nothing more than piles of furs, occupied opposite walls. A figure stirred in each.
Delwyn and Gullan dove to the right, Dalmas to the left. There was a commotion.
“Light, ye stupid sprat!”, Delwyn hissed.
Anias remembered the lightstone, and removed it from his pocket and threw it on the floor. Details resolved themselves in the dim reddish glow. Delwyn and Gullen had old Forgebreaker hoisted up by the arms. Dalmas had tossed his axe aside and was pulling another figure from under that bed’s blankets, one arm around her chest and another over her mouth…a young girl, perhaps Anias’ age.
“Hello, Beltar,” Delwyn smiled. “Remember us?” Before Forgebreaker could answer, Delwyn kicked him hard in his bad leg. Beltar roared in pain and sagged before Gullan could slam him back against the wall. Delwyn leaned in close, dagger raised to where Beltar could see it, the red light of the lightstone dully gleaming off the blade. “Ye made a very serious mistake t’night, ol’ fossil. I don’ take kindly t’humiliation.”
“Then don’ wake up th’ morning an’ look in a mirror, sprat,” Beltar spat.
Delwyn’s mocking smile faded. “There’s a difference between brave an’ stupid, whoreson,” he said. He sheathed the blade, and from the other side of his belt, he drew a leg-length, thumb-width black wooden baton. He brought the baton across into Forgebreaker’s ribs with a muted sound of cracking bone, and the old dwarf only stayed standing because Gullan strained to hold him. “An’ I aims t’teach ya.”
“What ’bout this’un?” Dalmas turned to show the dwarf girl to the room. Her features stood out in the light…body only covered by a light shirt, sweat on her brow, eyes huge and white over Dalmas’ huge paw of a hand covering her mouth.
“Fringe benefit,” Delwyn smiled again. “Maybe we’ll enjoy her first while ol’ Beltar here watches.”
“UNHAND HER, Y’SPRAT!”, Beltar roared and lunged, all but throwing Gullan across the room. His injured leg failed him, and he half-tripped forward as Delwyn brought the baton up into his face. He collapsed, hands to his face, and as Gullan yanked him back up by the hair, Anias saw that blood was running into the old dwarf’s beard from an obviously broken nose.
“That settles it then,” Delwyn said. “Dalmas, gag her, then c’mover here an’ hold up th’ ol’ ‘gentleman’ here while I interduce m’self to ‘is grandaughter.” Beltar shifted again, and his reward was a boot-shod foot into the ruin of his bloody face.
Anias stood frozen as Dalmas gagged the struggling girl, and Gullan and Delwyn began to beat the helpless Forgebreaker. He couldn’t move forward, he couldn’t run, he couldn’t participate, he couldn’t stop them…
“Anias,” Delwyn snapped as he walked over to the girl. “Make yerself useful, sprat. Y’need t’get blooded, y’rabbit. He gestured down at his hip. “Take m’sword and have a couple practice whacks at ol’ Master Forgebreaker o’er there. Don’ kill ‘im. Just cut ‘im a bit.” He leered at the girl, then back to Anias. “Y’do good, y’get a shot at this lass ‘ere. Pretty one, ain’ she? Lot purtier than y’d get on yer own wi’out us.” He laughed, a harsh, discordant sound, as he unbuckled his swordbelt and tossed it as Anias’ feet. He grabbed the girl away from Dalmas, and she screamed through the gag. He slapped her across the face, hard. “Don’ make me bruise ya more, lass.” He turned and looked at Anias. “Sprat. Do what ye’re tol’, boy, or I’ll make y’regret it!”
Anias stood, shaking his head, and began backing up. He took two small steps backward and bumped into the doorframe, groped backward with his hand…and it hit something. A familiar shape. Long, metal, a half-cylinder of wood…a boomstick.
Beltar roared again as his granddaughter’s shirt ripped under Delwyn’s pawing hands. With a strength born of rage, he flung Gullan away and tried to stand up, catching Dalmas unaware. Driven by instinct, Dalmas grabbed a knife from his belt and turned…the knife buried itself in Beltar’s gut up to the hilt. The girl screamed through the gag, it might have been “Grandpa!” Delwyn slapped the girl again and reached for his belt.
It’s a boomstick.
“GET AWAY FROM THEM!” Anias’ voice was practically a child’s screech as he shouted and brought the boomstick up to point at Delwyn. Every motion in the room stopped, and there was no sound except for Beltar sagging to the floor. Anias’ hands were shaking, his eyes wide, his breath gasping as he swung the gun around the room.
“Lad.” Delwyn’s voice, surprisingly calm and even as he let the girl sag back against the wall. “Don’ do nothin’ stupid, now. Damn thing ain’t even loaded. Y’think a drunk’s gonna keep a loaded ‘stick ’round where he’d shoot his get with it?”
Anias swung the gun back to cover Delwyn five paces away. “Get away from her. Y’don’t know whether’s loaded’r’not.” From the corner of his eye he saw Gullan move a half-pace toward him and he swung to cover him. “Stay back!”
“Anias.” Delwyn again, and the gun swung back to point at him, now only four paces away, the muzzle vibrating violently as Anias panted. “Tell y’what, lad. ‘At’s a nice gun. Y’keep it. We’ll jus’ finish up here, an’ go. Jus’ don’t do nothin’ crazy, aright?”
For a split-second, Anias listened to him, and the gun wavered. Then Dalmas twitched, drawing Anias’ attention to his right. And in that half-second, Delwyn leapt.
The discharge of the boomstick was absolutely deafening in the tiny hovel. The gun was loaded with explosive shot, and Delwyn was two paces away when the load hit him flush in the chest and blew him back across the room preceeded by a red spray. He slammed into the back wall and slid down in a clatter of shelves and food, leaving a red-black smear behind.
Dalmas roared and raised his axe, taking a fatal half-second to do so. Anias swung and fired again. Again there was the deafening report. Dalmas’ head half-disappeared and he crashed down on top of Forgebreaker in a growing pool of blood.
Anias pointed the gun at Gullan. It shook less now. “You?”, Anias raised an eyebrow and asked.
Doesn’t look s’much th’ sprat w’that damned thing in his hand, Gullan thought and licked his lips, dropping his knives. “Lemme go, lad,” he said, quietly and quickly, “an’ I’ll tell ’em how ye and me saved ’em from them two. Y’can be th’ hero! She’ll back y’up fer it, won’ ya?” They both glanced at the girl, who sagged back against the wall, streaked with Delwyn’s blood, sobbing.
Anias thought for a second, and then cocked his head over the barrel. “Gullan,” he said quietly. “D’ye remember two month ago, when we went t’th’ mine toolshed an’ th’ guards caught us? An’ y’tol’ ’em I did it? An’ got me sent t’ gaol fer fifty days?”
Gullan laughed nervously. “Aye, lad, ‘at was Delwyn! ‘E made me do it. Y’know I’d never do ‘at if I ‘ad a choice of it. C’mon, Anias. We’s practically brothers, lad. Our Das died in mine t’gether, our Mas raised us t’gether. Y’ wouldnae shoot yer brother, please?”
Anias lowered the gun slightly after a pause. “Nae. Guess I wouldn’t shoot me brother.”
Gullan visibly relaxed and laughed again. “Thankye, Anias.” He walked forward, making a motion to wipe his hand off on his pants and extend it in a handshake.
“‘Cept I ain’t never had a brother.”
The gun blasted one more time, from Anias’ hip. Gullan went flying off to the left, and a small knife, something green and wet glinting on its blade, flew out of his hand to the right.
Only then did Anias lower the gun and carefully set it down. He moved over to the fallen Beltar Forgebreaker and, with difficulty, pulled Dalmas’ body off of him. Forgebreaker lay, still alive, in a pool of blood, some his, some Dalmas’. The knife was still buried in his stomach. Anias reached for it but Beltar gasped, “N…nae, boy. Don’ m…move it. Hells.”
“I…hold on, I’ll get a healer from town…”
“D…dinnae bother. I’m dead…boy. Yer friends seen t’tha. I…I do thank ye f…fer savin’ me girl.”
“G…” A racking cough that brought up blood. “Go. Git oot. Take gun an’ fly, lad, or y’ll hang. Guard’ll be here w’all tha’ noise.” What might have been a smile. “G…guess I was wrong. One of ya was brave a’ter all.” A final rattling sigh, and Beltar Forgebreaker lay still.
Anias stood up, realizing his predicament. Four dead bodies in the house, and the girl…he spun. The girl was sobbing, hysterical, not realizing the boomstick was one lunge away from her hands. He reached over and grabbed it, and stood, looking around in a hysteria born of panic.
Don’t panic, he thought. Quit shaking. Think, boy, damn you, THINK. He had to run. He’d see the rope’s end for this…yes. Run. That was all he could do.
A few minutes later he slipped out of the smashed front door and ran for the hills behind the hovel. He still carried the boomstick, and over his back was slung a bag with all the provisions he could loot from the house–jerky, bread, some bloodstained furs. It wasn’t much, but it would have to hold him until he could find his way to…where? Where could he go? Somewhere that isn’t here.
With a final glance over his shoulder at the lanternlights of Flintrock, he turned and trudged up the hill into the wilderness.
He’d calculated the provisions would last him seven days, and he was right. It was nine days before he stumbled into another town, one whose name he wasn’t even sure of. He was lost, and hungry, and cold, and without hope.
He sat on the edge of the town square, still clutching the boomstick, and looked at the smiling dwarf approaching him. He looked friendly enough, but Anias was worldwise enough to see the cobra behind the smiling forked tongue. This, he thought, is someone that wants something. For a second he thought about running, but where would he run? He had no food, no idea where he was.
“G’day, lad,” the older dwarf said cheerfully. “I see yer new here.”
“Aye,” Anias replied cautiously. “‘Tis right. What concern’s it of yers?”
The other dwarf laughed. “Just seein’ yer lookin’ a mite peckish, is all. Wouldya be intersted in a bite t’eat and a warm bed, in return fer doin’ me some work? Nothin’ immoral or illegal, mindye.”
By whose definition? But he couldn’t ignore the rumbling of his stomach. “Aye then, nice of ya,” Anias replied, shakily wobbling to his feet. “I’ll take it.”
“Good,” his new benefactor beamed. “By th’ by, lad, y’got a name?”
“A…” Anias stopped. They could’ve sent messengers on, be lookin’ fer me. Word travels. A name, I need a name, he won’t know no better… He looked down at the gun still clutched in his right hand, and remembered words that burned themselves into his memory a week, a lifetime before. And for the first time in months, he smiled a bit.
“Name’s Beltar Forgebreaker. And ye’d best remember it.”