(NOTE: This is a micro-narrative I wrote as part of a communique with the GM of a role-playing game I’m part of. Falk Oodelaly is a dwarven barbarian, and this brief story relates how he feels about his home as a young warrior on the road.)
As our heroes travelled the road to Marronburg, they found refuge one night at a roadside inn, one not entirely of ill-repute as to satisfy the demands of Ser Smashinglooks. While Nalsa and Freya attended their animal companions outside near the trough, Falk had raced even Fhathana to the bar, his quickness almost mocking the dwarf’s stumpy little legs. Here our heroes would rest before taking up the last of the trek to Marronburg to see that a priest’s basement is cleared of vermin. A laughable task for a warrior, but Falk accepted it as suitable nonetheless.
But after the drinking and merriment they found in the common room, as the others were settling in for the night, Falk had sauntered up to the lap of an unremarkable human whore named Delores, purchasing the pleasure of her company for the night with what little coin he had remaining. Once the deed was done, Delores began prying playfully into Falk’s background. He offered his answers freely at first, seeing no reason to keep secrets from this roadside harlot, but he fell silent when she asked a simple question: “Where are you from?”
“By the stone, woman! Don’t you know dwarves come from the dirt. We live beneath you folk, so you needn’t worry where I’m from,” was Falk’s gruff reply he only managed to muster a moment later.
“But that’s not what I asked you, dwarf,” she responded curiously, her voice still coy. “Tell me about your home.”
Falk let out a blustering huge sigh, then turned to her, his face grim, and looking her straight in the eye he said, “My home is to the North. I hail from the clan Merestone. Meresden was my home, nestled deep within the mist-covered mountains far to the North.”
“There, dwarf,” Delores interjected, “was that so hard. You’re home is in Meresden. You mustn’t look so grim.”
“Not ‘is,’ whore,” Falk replied hotly, “Meresden was my home. Now I have no home and I wander, a vagabond.”
“Many of us can’t return home, dwarf,” she said with an air of arrogance. “D’you think I’d be welcomed in my old home? My family would never have me within the city’s walls, they’d rather I hanged outside them.”
Falk did not pick up on the tone of compassion in Delores’ voice, but he continued his story regardless, finding solace in the anonymity of this random human tramp. “Some of us could choose to return home and face whatever madness awaits them there. My home is in ruins, ransacked by marauding frost giants,” Falk said, the timbre of his voice wavering. “I was just a fledgling warrior. My days were filled with hunting by axe and spear. I had never faced a giant in combat; I never got to take the Rite. So I wield that cursed club!” Falk spit at his fierce-looking great club, which lay haphazardly tossed into the corner, while his axe and spear rested neatly alongside the bed. Falk continued, “I cannot wield a hammer until I’ve passed the Rite, and so my father made me run when the giants came. He commanded me to run, said there were too many this time, and he said I could not return. I bawled then. Like a sheepish, dandy elf I cried. He had already packed my spear, axe, and – PHFFFT – that miserable practice club into a rucksack along with some hardbread and a skin of cider. He pushed me away, and I could see from our storehouse the massive boulders flying through the air, smashing through the stone walls built by my ancestors. I could hear the rumble like thunder as the walls toppled to the ground. I could smell the smoke and burnt flesh from fires burning in the town’s speaking circle. Oh, how I thirst for giantsblood! But my father pushed me away, and I ran.”
Delores looked at him, saddened. Without a thought she asked, “But, what of your family and clansmen? How have they fared? Have you returned–”
“Dammit, woman!” Falk spit the words angrily. “Where am I? Here. What do I know of there if I am here?” It wasn’t a question that needed a response. “All you women want to talk afterwards. Well, we’ve talked enough. Time to sleep.”
Falk turned his back to Delores, rustling the straw mattress and settling in. Delores sat in the bed a minute longer, thinking on the young dwarf’s tale. Then she cozied up behind him and held him tight throughout the night.