The campfire was crackling as the few straggling villagers who were yet to
evacuate sat, staring at the flames, tending bumps and bruises. Kori, the
elven archer, approached bearing a new bundle of firewood to keep the flames
burning. He scanned the aching folk with puzzlement, and noticed a
"Where is the one called Lothar the Testy?" asked the woodland elf. With a
general chorus of groans and a few mild curses, the assembled villagers
pointed toward the village's battered old ale house, the Spoon and Frog.
Kori sighed, dropping the wood and trudging off toward the ramshackle old
A flying body greeted him as he approached the door. The door, sadly, hadn't
been open, and so shattered pieces of wood went flying as well. The body,
also sadly, was not meant to fly - at least, not with legs upward and head
downward and arms asplay. The formerly airborne villager hit the ground with
a tumble as a voice inside the bar shouted, "KORD!" Kori nearly bumped heads
with a big, burly warrior as he peered into the doorway as the warrior
"Wanna try for two out of three falls?" the big behemoth asked the villager
as he helped the not-quite-airworthy peasant back to his feet. The offer was
declined, with much waving of hands to clear the air of the big warrior's
alcohol-drenched breath. The villager quickly joined the others in the
safety around the campfire.
"Lothar, what in the Nine Hells have you been up to?" demanded Kori.
"Aww, come on, pointy-ears," replied Lothar, "It's part of a celebration to Kord!
For today's victory and tomorrow's battles! Besides, it's just a little
wrestling, and I'm trying not to hurt 'em...." Although Kori could smell the
alcohol Lothar had been saluting his god with, and there was a slight
slur in the big human's voice, he could tell that Lothar was indeed keeping
from injuring the villagers ... too much. There was something in the big
man's eyes, however, that seemed just a bit out of kilter- but that look was
there even when Lothar was sober.
"Well, please stop hurling the locals. We're here to help," chided the elf.
"Okie doo," replied the human, smelling like a brewery. "Besides, I've
wrestled everyone left in town ... 'cept you."
Kori stepped back a pace as he
saw the strange look in Lothar's eyes flare up like a great bonfire. "Look,
we have work to..," stammered he elf, but before he could finish, Lothar had
grabbed a couple of mugs of drink, and had pressed one into Kori's hands.
The elf looked down into the mug and felt disdain. Granted, he wasn't a
teetotaler, but this stuff was smoking, and the pewter mug seemed to be
dissolving quickly. It was either drink it or wear it.
The two warriors downed their drinks quickly, and as Kori grimaced at the
awful taste and strange effect it had on his brain, Lothar shouted "Kord!"
and locked up with the elf, collar and elbow.
The only way to keep him from
hurting anybody else or himself, thought Kori, is to keep him occupied.
But by the gods, is he big! The elven archer locked his arms with Lothar's
as he attempted to sort out how many of him there were. According to his
eyes, Kori counted four. It was going to be a tough time.
The two warriors tumbled and turned about for a while, knocking over the
remains of furniture and other detritus from Lothar's previous matches. The
elf felt like a rag doll attached to a bull as Lothar's massive frame
tumbled throughout the bar. I'm not bigger than him, but I am faster,
thought Kori, as his senses began to refocus. It was either that, or the
crashing about of the two wrestlers matched his spinning brain. Either way,
Kori seized an opportune moment, ducking behind Lothar and twisting the big
man's arm in a classic cockatrice-wing arm lock.
The big man flailed his free arm and grunted, spinning about, trying to free
his arm. Kori matched the spin, and decided to make small conversation with
Lothar as he tried to wear the warrior down. "So, Lothar," he began, "how
did you ever get the moniker 'the Testy?' I thought you close combat fighter
types had names like 'Phil The Avenger,' 'Lanagan the Stealthy,' or 'Ogg the
Lothar grunted and flailed some more, and began his reply. "Well," he
huffed. "It all started out when I was a young child. I was given the name
Lothar Ulrich Bjornsen Detaaste." His voice began showing hints of a
northern accent as he continued, "My father was a traveling weapon smith,
Bjorn Gunter Jansen Detaaste. He, Mother, my sister Gretel and I would
travel about in our wagon as father sold his wares to warriors in towns
across the land. As I grew older, I helped him out, although I was much more
aware of customers trying to cheat us than father was. I would get upset
sometimes during these transactions, and one day, just outside of Luskan, a
fairly disgruntled wizard said 'Detaaste? Kid, they should call you Lothar
the Testy!' Father laughed so hard, he gave the enchanted dagger to the mage
for free. Eventually, everybody started calling me that. It bothered me at
first, but I eventually took it as a symbol of pride - the hard-bargaining
Lothar the Testy."
Kori grinned at the story, but his curiosity wouldn't let the matter be.
"So, how'd you become a wa-?" His question was cut off as Lothar took the
opportunity to spin out of the arm lock and grab the elf around the waist
and took him down with a belly-to-belly duplex. Kori rolled over as his back
hit the ground, keeping the bigger man from pinning him. Lothar fell atop
the elf, trying to turn his opponent over for a pin.
"How'd I become a warrior?" he grunted, "Well, that came a few years
after I got the nickname.
I'd always watched the warriors as they handled our weapons. I'd mimic their
moves, so that I could properly model our wares for others. One day, a group
of rough looking guys tried to offer Father ridiculously low prices for his
finest work. Even Father wouldn't bargain that low with them, and the men
went off empty-handed. He traveled on toward our next stop, the city of
Luskan, when we were attacked in the middle of the night. It was the rough
looking men, who'd tailed us and wanted to steal the weapons, our money,
everything. Father and I fought back bravely, but we were overmatched.
"Father fell first, and one of the robbers hewed at him with a great axe. I was
pinned against a tree, and watched as the monster cut down Mother and Gretel
as well. I was disarmed and beaten, and dragged over to my family. They were
badly injured, but still alive. The one with the great axe, obviously the
leader, sneered down at us and taunted us before he was to finish us off. He
raised his weapon to kill Father when suddenly, he was struck by a glowing
war hammer! The thieves were set upon by warrior-priests of Kord, and
leading the group was the same old wizard I had annoyed years before!
"We were taken back to the nearest temple of Kord, and our ills were healed.
Now, we hadn't been particularly religious, but from that day forward, my
family devoted itself to Kord. I trained as a warrior of Kord, while Father
stayed at the temple to make weapons for the Kordites. I still helped him
and learned much. Mother and Gretel cleaned the temple, and Gretel
eventually married a young acolyte, Zandar Stonybrok. They went off to do
missionary work for Kord. A few months later, I overheard Callahan, the old
wizard, talking with my father. 'Bjorn, old friend,' he said, 'I have grave
news. Zandar and Gretel have been captured by thugs, and taken for ransom.
What's worse is, you and she have met up with these men before.' I listened
as the old men discussed where the bandits were, and I set off, grabbing the
nearest weapon at hand- a freshly forged axe. On the way to the kidnapper's
hideout, I drained my wineskin to gain courage.
"I arrived at the camp, my head buzzing and my heart burning. Before I knew
what I was doing, I ran into the center of the camp, shouting, 'Kord!'
Bandits came at me from all sides, and were quickly dispatched. I saw only
shades of blood red in my fury. Still, I was outnumbered, and the wounded
bandits closed in - only to back off again, as their leader, brandishing his
axe, stepped forward. I still remember how the steel rang as the axes
clashed against one another, blocking and parrying massive blows! Alas, my
haste in choosing a weapon betrayed me - for my axe, freshly forged, had not
had its head properly bound to the handle. With a mighty down stroke, I
attempted to cleave the rogue leader in twain, but he easily parried the blow.
My axe's head sailed off, burying itself deeply in the chest of a (now former)
robber, and I fell on my back as the great weight of the axe head was gone.
The head thief stood over me, raised his axe, and swung downward for my
By this time, the two warriors had given up their wrestling match, and were
sitting on the floor of the inn as Lothar continued the story. Kori
listened intently. "As the blade came down, the only thing I could think of
doing was to reach in and grab the handle. And, by Kord, I did it! The blade
was against my chest, but I had the handle! I kicked out with my feet as I
rotated the axe handle like a lever. The head bandit was flipped over, and
released the weapon, which was mine alone! Quick as lightning, I rolled and
regained my feet, swinging the axe down and beheading the robber chief. The
others stood in stunned silence, and I set upon them - I did not show them
the mercy of Kord. After the last man was killed or driven off, I retrieved
my sister and my brother-in-law. I returned them, somewhat worse for wear,
to the temple, where all hurts were cured. I kept the ruffian's axe, and
trained extra hard in its use. It is the one weapon I carry not made by my
father. Ever since then, I wander the lands, smiting evil in the name of
Lothar staggered to his feet to get another drink. He returned to Kori, and
sat before the elf. "So, my pointy eared friend," he began. "What made you