The Lastlight Chronicles

Backstory: Tagar

I'm not crying, you are

Tagar was born to one of the mixed clans of the Heathlands.  He never knew his  father, and his mother died when he was 3.  He was passed onto another clan, as was the custom, but adoption isn’t the right term for what happens there in the Heathlands.  Slavery is too far but closer to the truth.  Adopted children can be traded for others and are expected to earn their keep.  It’s a hard life but better than none.

 

So after being moved from one family to another for his unruly behaviour he found himself with Clan McBrae.  They had once ruled this land long ago, so he was told but they have been closer to the time of the Great War than now.  Now the land was ruled by Baron Raethorn and has been for at least as long as Tagar knows.  While the McBrae clan did their duties as peasants and servants on the Raethorn land and castle they also are the major backers of the local rebellion.  

 

Tagar was taken in by Connor and Gilda and while Connor was a capable blacksmith and hoped that Tagar’s strength would lend him to the craft it was not something that Tagar had much interest in or knack for.  So during the days he was helpful in the manual labour he was not good at the instruction for metallurgy.  Gilda’s cousin Gretta was an accomplished huntswoman though, and when she visited Tagar was always captivated by her stories of hunting and tracking game and beasts.  Gretta took Tagar along for a hunt after he followed her as she left one morning and was surprised when he managed to not only keep up but looked for tracks and signs of where she went once she snuck ahead and concealed her self, waiting for him to catch up.

 

So between labouring work and hunting trips Tagar entered into his teens and when one of the rebellion recruiters passed his hamlet they thought they had a perfect fighter on their hands.  Talon was the rebels name and he filled Tagar with tales of fighting oppression and rescuing the downtrodden.  Tagar went back to Connor and Gilda to ask if he could join.  He was 14 and in another year would be considered a freeperson to take a craft or make his own way.  They told him no and to join the rebellion would get him killed.  They didn’t tell him about how many swords or armours that they had supplied the rebels with or food hampers they supplied them with from the farm.  They told him no and that was it.

 

He left that night with Talon and a few other rebellious kids and a few older ones who had lost something or someone due to the taxes and brutality of the Raethorn soldiers. When they got to the rebel camp in the woods they were sorted out into squads and given weapons and told to make camp.  For some it was the first time they hadn’t been sleeping near the hearth but for Tagar his trips with his Aunt he found a good spot.  

 

The rebels were not quite the freedom fighters they made out to be, Tagar learned after a time.  They did raid the baron's caravans and storehouses from time to time but it was just as often travelling merchants.  That was often explained away as funding the rebellion.  Recruiters like Talon turned up now and again with some recruits sometime and left with most of the plunder to take elsewhere.  The leader of the band, a human by the name of Griff, while a bit of a bully and braggart did try and keep most of the rebels safe. Griff was, Tagar found out, part of a larger group of bandits run through a man named Harald Redthen, although he never saw Redthen and no one had ever met him.

 

They moved camp from time to time and sorted out which of the new recruits were able to make it.  He pushed other hard  to make them into the bandits that they were.  The more agile were trained to be sneaks and thieves to get into store houses and caravans and cut loose the coin and supplies.  Others were trained in weapons and how to fight the guards.  Although direct confrontation was mostly avoided.  Ambushes and illusion of numbers usually had the guards and soldiers disarmed and they didn’t want to die for a chest of gold.

From time to time Aunt Gretta would stop by the camps, much like a lot of hunters and rangers did.  Pass on news and teach a few things, some even helped on raids.  She would always check on Tagar and let him know how Connor and Gilda are doing.  Tagar felt bad for leaving them but always hoped they were doing well as they didn’t treat him badly.  

 

The night it changed was supposed to be another caravan to raid, on the road between Brocklund and Thistleton. The plan was like most they would obstruct the carriage, have rebels covering both sides and quick smash and grab the cargo.  Tagar barely listened to the plans any more, they were mostly the same and mostly the same thing happened each time.  Griff wanted him up the front to charge at the caravan from the hiding spots on the side of the road once they had the caravan stopped.  Being a big intimidating half orc this had become the usual plan in the last year or so.  It usually served its purpose.  Dragging a coach driver off his seat with one hand and throwing him to the ground does that.  So that is what happened this time much like the last half a dozen.  The tree was knocked over in front of the caravan and from his hiding spot he saw the carriage pull up in front of him as usual.  As he launched from his concealment he noticed that there was another carriage behind the first.  He reached up and pulled down the driver and pulled him down and slammed him to the ground.  The noise from around him seemed louder than usual more shouting and the carriage door swung open and someone leaped out .  It was then he felt the sting of steel across his back and he staggered forward from the slash to his back.  He turned with his short sword and saw a young male human not much different in age to himself.  He had a sneer on his lips as he slashed with his rapier again drawing blood across Tagar’s left arm as he held it up to block. The shouting and noise of the battle was deafening.  The guards were not surrendering they were fighting back.  The youth made a feint to the right and Tagar fell for it and felt the lunge as it hit him in the chest.  Textbook finishing stike that would be.  But text book strikes don’t always allow for chance or the stubbornness of orc blood in battle.  Tagar’s eyes went red and he gripped the youths sword arm with his bloody left arm and struck back with all his strength with his right. His thrust of his short sword exploded violently out the back of the youths neck almost decapitating him.  Another scream, but this one higher pitched.  A girl had been in the carriage too and she had climbed to the horse and cut it free.  She road off.  A retreat horn was sounded and the rebels ran for the trees and escaped from the guards.

 

Back at the camp the rebels bandaged wounds and the leaders argued loudly.  Talks about mis-information and that there was more guards than expected and it was only supposed to be the Baron's daughter not one of his sons as well.  Tagar didn’t listen too closely more concerned about applying the poltice correctly to his wounds with the help of Meg, one of the archers.  It wasn’t till he heard his name being used that he tried to focus on what was being said.  The argument starting talking about handing Tagar in to try and appease the baron.  Tagar wasn’t going any where in his condition and fell asleep to the noise of the argument.

 

Things were different after that.  The rebels had to move camp more frequently and the risks started to out weigh the rewards.  The baron increased the bounties on all rebels and came down harder on the peasants the supported them.  To make things worse the bands of orcs and goblins that sometimes trickled out of the mountains and caves seemed to be getting worse.  Tagar followed his orders but the rebels had to adapt to the harsher regime above them.  It was no longer take store houses by stealth and silence, it was rampage and pillage.  Caravans were less given quarter and more times than not they were all killed.  Less recruits arrived with each season and the ones left were hard and cold.  Gretta came by again in the Autumn and spoke with Griff.  They argued for a while and when she left his tent she came to Tagar.  “Your coming with me if you want to live.”

He did.

 

They travelled east and Gretta finished teaching him what she could about woodcraft and ranger trade.  She still captivated him with tales of hunts and adventures and even tales of the old war and rangers from it.  She eventually explained to him after a time why they could not go back to the cities or villages of Hearthland.  The boy he killed during that raid was son to the baron.  Connor and Gilda were identified as raising Tagar and the baron had taken them as punishment when I could not be found.  This weighed heavy on Tagar’s heart.  He never thought about the consequences of his action so much.  They lived in the wild for a few years, living off the land, occasionally they went into smaller villages that Gretta knew to be friendly to the cause and not likely to turn them over to the barons men.  Nights Tagar thought about the tales of the heroic rangers and heroes from those stories.  He wanted to be one but then felt the flash of rage when he killed Vincent Raethorn (the name of the son) he often felt unworthy of it.  

One day Tagar woke to find Gretta talking with another person.  They spoke quickly in a language he didn’t recognise.  It may have been elvish as the other person was an elf Tagar thought.  They turned to him and Gretta asked him to come and sit on a stone just out from where they were.  He sat and looked at the land stretched out from where they were.  Gretta told him he would be going with her friend Kaeril Rrywynd to Sunder and Lastlight.  It has gotten too dangerous to stay here any longer.  Tagar opened his mouth to argue but the look in her eyes told him all that he need to know.  He hugged his Aunt, wiped away his tears, grabbed his belongings and left her on in the highlands with tears in her eyes too.

 

Kaeril, a wood elf, set the half-orc up in Lastlight, and even got him an audience with Gillam Sucain. He's been there since – but is still enough of an outsider that they’re not calling him a Ranger of Sunder yet. That's a matter of time; he's not the only one  who is running from something. But Gillam trusts him, and wants to do right. Tagar hopes that one day he can use his strength and skills again, but that this time it will be to do some good in the world instead of spilling some idiot boy’s blood.

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Stu_MacLeod

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