18. October 2016 at 18:37 #17665
Oleg had once been a highly promising recruit, with decent melee skill and unusually high melee and ranged defence for one without any military background. He also displayed great talent at attacking from range (he had formerly been a fletcher) and seemed to become more energetic and euphoric in response to martial challenges.
For his first battle, I gave him a simple sword and shield as we wound our we around an ancient and eerie encampment that turned out to be inhabited by bandits bedecked in bandanas and mail. Mostly it was an easy fight. Oleg cornered an axe-throwing foe-man with a kite shield. The bandit took out a spiked flail and it thrashed around Oleg’s shield and through his mail with alarming ease, and I was tempted to send in support but wanted him (for the good of his own ego) to win without aid. He adopted a shieldwall, and this helped to evade the erratic whizzing spikes, but his skillful sword strokes merely scratched the bandit’s mail and I could see he was getting too tired to retain the shieldwall. The bandit was tired too and it turned into a tense grind. Another wanton whip whacked around the shield and into Oleg’s ribs, leaving his armour in tatters, but he held his nerve and delivered a sublime strike straight into the assailant’s unprotected skull. More grind ensued, but the bandit could now manage only the occasional clumsy sluggish assault, and another of Oleg’s swift sword strokes sliced into the skull and that was the end of the bandit.
By now, most of the other bandits lay dead and the remnants were being surrounded. Oleg, drunk within the aura of invincibility brewed by victory’s rays, rushed in to help finish off a billhook-bearing bastard. The bandit knew that he would die and that retreat was futile, but he had one more vicious strike in him, and this parting shot smashed straight into Oleg’s unprotected legs and left him lying in a pool of blood and mud. We thought he was dead, but he came to and could barely move because of a broken knee. We tried to treat it, and he was walking again with recovered energy and spirit, but he could no longer run and weave as before.
“What will you do with me, lord?” he asked. “I can wield weapons, but I can no longer dodge arrows and duck blows. Will I be removed from your pay?”
I hesitated a while. “No!” I said eventually, my air of custodial conviction admittedly a little belated. “You may have lost your mobility, but you are energetic and determined and still have value! I shall turn you into an obdurate colossus and you shall inspire others to exceed their limits!”
So I armed Oleg with a longaxe and he smashed shields at a remove from the melee and shouted encouragement at his allies. His knee never recovered, but his body became big and strong and his lungs also, as if forced to adapt to accommodate his awe-inspiring war-cries. Everything was looking rosy until a fearsome fight against some orc warriors, when Oleg (disdaining to withdraw from danger) was swarmed by the bastards and was once again left swamped in blood and mud.
The result was a weakened heart and an Oleg that was frail in body but still fierce in spirit. “No matter!” I assured him. “You still have great energy and resolve, and I shall coat you in fine armour that matches your unbreakable spirit!”
Oleg’s next injury (brain damage courtesy of another swarm of orcs) merely reinforced his emergent aura.
Unfortunately, his next injury (a partially collapsed lung, this time at the hands of a withered vampire) took away his ability to keep smashing shields, and so I switched him to polearms. He was still skilled with weapons – until the next battle, against some insolent goblins, who trapped him in a net and kept prodding him with their peculiar pikes until he suffered a broken elbow joint.
“What now, lord?” he asked. “I can’t run and I can only walk with a limp. I can’t use weapons properly. My body is ever more frail and I am low on energy. What use am I?”
“You are still useful!” I assured him. “Your elbow is broken but you continue to improve with ranged weapons and can overcome your limitations. You don’t need much mobility to fire a crossbow, and they are light. Even if you only shoot on odd occasions, you can still deal devastating damage to our enemies and inspire your allies!”
So Oleg continued to be an inspiration, but his career as a crossbowman did not last long, since an ambush by a band of wolfriders resulted in him being surrounded and left with a missing eye that took away all ability to take aim.
“No matter!” I said with a dismissive swipe of my hand. “You are my unbreakable battle sergeant! You don’t even need a weapon to defy our foes! Just blow your trumpet and bellow orders on odd occasions, when your lungs are up to it. You can still inspire us to victory.”
Oleg did inspire us to victory, including in a fierce fight against some orc warlords and their blood-curdling battle-cries. Oleg held firm and matched them cry for cry, and we rallied and won the day. Unfortunately, I had had to remove much of Oleg’s armour so that he would have the energy to continue crying encouragement, and a desperate last-ditch assault by the last warlord left Oleg stewing in another murky gruel of guts and gore. He did survive, as ever before, but this time he was traumatized with no more ardour about battles.
Thereafter I kept Oleg in my pay but kept him out of battles, until after another tense and bloody battle that resulted in several serious injuries. Oleg and the other reserves were temporarily substituted in as we marched back through the mountains, where we stumbled across some undead that were orchestrated by a necromancer. It seemed like an easy fight, with the promise of precious loot, and I eagerly ordered us forth. Oleg had little armour and no weapon except a token dagger, and I kept him at the back and out of trouble. However, as we pressed on through the mounting pile of corpses, the necromancer brought fallen zombies back to life and one of them hacked poor Oleg unto death.
That was still not the end of Oleg: only a short while later, Wiederganger Oleg the Lucky rose from the dead and miraculously managed to breach Elrik the Wildman’s scale armour, leaving him with some pierced guts.
After the battle, we took all the corpses to the top of the highest peak in the landscape and buried them beneath a mound of earth and boulders. Stakes adorned with skulls were erected all around, and a colossal pillar (the Obelisk of Oleg the Lucky) was placed in the very middle of the mound. Tinder was piled around the pillar and we set it afire so that Oleg’s spirit would remain with us on our homeward march.6. January 2017 at 19:44 #18507
Oleg forever.20. January 2017 at 11:50 #18868
Though not quite living up to Oleg’s standards, Sigbold also took quite a beating. Notably, Sigbold was found alive after a goblin ambush that left an excellent fighter dead in his unscratched, undented armor (f***ing goblin ambushers and their f***ing puncture knife attacks).
Glory to Oleg.
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"It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live." ~Marcus Aurelius
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