D&D: Conservators of Ring World
War cleric, Member of the Sons of War, Conservator
Mathias grew up in a small farming village in the Frost March, his parents eked out a living growing crops during the short summer and raising sheep. The life was hard, but the village he grew up in was close knit and many nights were spent in song and laughter.
One day as the summer was coming to a close, Mathias, who was about seven at the time, was helping his father weed the crops when a horn sounded that sent chills up Mathias’s spine. His father told him to go into the house and into the root cellar. Mathias did as he was told and listened to the muffled sound of men running; it was not long before the sounds of battle made its way into the seller. Mathias desperately wanted to go and see, but his father had told him to stay, so he did.
An hour or so later, things were quiet and Mathias heard the door open and heavy boots on the floor. Mathias opened the trap door and took a peek, in the house was a man in blood-spattered gold armor, when he heard the trap door open he turned to look at Mathias and said.
“It is alright child, your father told me you were here and you must come with me”
Mathias felt honesty in the man’s words and followed him out, as he left the house, the coppery smell of blood was in the air, he could hear some screams emanating from some of the houses and some crying from others. He followed the man in gold to the central area of the village. There were men and woman with the symbol of the local lord on their tunics standing guard. He heard his name called and he saw his mother and father, he rushed over to see them. His mother was covered in blood and wearing a suit of padded armor, she was holding a large bandage over Mathias’s father’s stomach.
“He took a sword cut, it is long, but shallow, he will survive” his mother said with a tired smile.
“Who are these men?” asked Mathias
“They are Lord Loras’s men” his mother replied “and they also have with them one of those Sons of War” she said, pointing to the man in gold who was conversing with the man who acted as mayor for the village.
“Who are the Sons of War mom?” Mathias asked
“They are a group of warrior priests, they keep to themselves up in the Frostback mountains” she said “It was good he was here, the bandits would have routed us, but he stepped up into the middle of the fight and brought us the courage we needed the drive them out”
Years later Mathias was approaching adulthood he told his parents he wanted to go and join the guard of one of the local lords. His mother smiled and was about to speak when his father angrily cut her off. He told Mathias that his place was on the farm, they were getting older and they would need the help. Mathias dropped the matter and went on helping around the farm.
The next spring when they returned to the farm there were notices around the village calling for men and women to join the guard, apparently the bandits were particularly brutal and prevalent this year. That night Mathias went behind the house and dug up and old Warhammer he had found plowing a field the previous year. He left a note saying goodbye to his parents and left all the money he made during the winter in the castle save what he needed for the trip and started out.
It took him 2 days of walking and a day of riding in the back of a wagon to reach the city where the Jarl was calling for men. He walked into the barracked and said he was ready to sign up. He had grown into a large young man with a broad back from years of plowing and he was quickly accepted into the ranks. He was given an old patched up set of padded armor that someone had not been able to scrub all the blood of the previous owner out of yet as well as a worn but sturdy shield.
The next couple of years were full of patrols, patrols, and more patrols. He had his fair share of scrap-ups with bandits and found that he was quite apt at battle and whenever battle was joined the energy of it thrummed through his blood. He rose quickly through the ranks of the local guard and was seen as a lucky charm. Some of the men started to whisper that Mathias was blessed, they would swear they had seen an arrow fired by him veer just at the last second to hit the target, or for an enemy to stumble over some unseen object to miss his strike at Mathias.
A couple of months into the spring of his third year at the guard, they well assembled in the main barracks hall when the Jarl himself came to talk to the men. He told them that there were reports of some incursions in the forests close to the dragon lands and he was sending men as part of a larger force to re-secure the area.
After weeks of marching, they small group of soldiers met up with a large force of soldiers, they fell in and began moving towards the staging area. Mathias saw a flash of gold from the other side of the field and saw that there was one of the Sons of War his mother had talked about there. Mathias was intrigued to see how he would fight.
The next morning all the soldiers were split up into groups and assigned different areas of the woods to move through and engage all dragon forces they found. Mathias and his group were merged with two others and they began moving through the forest, in the distance Mathias and his men could hear someone start singing, but they did not know where it was coming from. Before they could wonder more, arrows flew at them from a thicket of bushes and the attack was on.
At first Mathias’s groups was doing well, they had cut down the first wave of slave humans and were beginning to engage the dragon forces directly. After a few minutes Mathias realized they were beginning to get encircled, he began rallying his men back to a more defensible formation when he realized one of the other groups was encircled and close to getting annihilated. Mathias pointed to 8 of his best soldiers and told them to follow him. The balked at the order and said that the other group was as good as dead, no reason to get themselves killed. Mathias was enraged, but instead of backing down, he gave an impassioned plea to the men about not letting the dragons have more of humanity then they already did, how the Frost Marchers have always fought for freedom. This got the men moving and Mathias took them and charged the dragon forces, the fighting was fierce, but they were able to make their way to the encircled group. Mathias told them they were her to get them out and they began the fight towards where Mathias’s men were.
That day ended up being a victory for the human forces and there was much celebrating that evening. Mathias was just about to go to sleep when the gold armored Son of War come over to his fire.
“May I sit?” he said, Mathias motioned to a stump near the fire
The man continued “I heard some talk about of you today, some of the men that you rescued told me how you lead the charge to get them out. I also heard that you were able to inspire you men to help you even though they were afraid”
“I couldn’t leave those men to be killed or captured, and my men needed to remember, we all have to fight or face destruction” Mathias responded
The Son of War nodded and continued “I believe that you have what it takes to become a Son of War Mathias”
Noticing Mathias’s quizzical look he continued “The Sons of War are an order dedicated to helping men in battle, by healing them, pushing them to greater deeds then they thought possible, and also taking the fight to the enemy, we have a fortress deep in the Frostback Mountains called the Iron Redoubt. I would like to sponsor you admission to our order, if it is something you feel called to do”
Mathias was stunned, this man in his golden armor represented something that he felt calling to him ever since he first engaged in battle, he quickly stammered out a thanks and an acceptance.
The Son of War gave him a map and a letter and told him to journey to the Iron Redoubt in the Frostback Mountains as soon as he can.
Once the group had returned to the city he went and resigned his post, sold what items he could not carry and left to join the Sons of War.
It was a 7 day journey just to reach the base of the Frostback mountains, he found the trail on the map and started up. It took another 2 days to reach his destination, it was a snowy evening and the snow was beginning to whip when a massive fortification began to loom in front of him. He made his way to the massive gate and pounded on the smaller door. A few moment later it slid open and lantern light flooded out.
“State your purpose here” said a voice from behind the door
“I..I was instructed to come here. I have this letter” Mathias said as he held up the letter.
The man behind the door snatched the letter and the viewport slid shut. About half a minute later the door opened and the man stepped aside and said “Welcome recruit, take this letter to Seneschal Edward in the recruits wing just off the main hall”
With that the man turned back to his post and left Mathias to find his way. I did not take long to find where he was going, a few men passed him by and did not say anything. He knocked on the door he hoped was the right area and it was opened by a young man in grey robes who took one look at him and said “You must be looking for Seneschal Edward, first door on the right”
After thanking the young man he made his way to the indicated door and knocked.
“Enter” a deep voice said from within
Mathias pushed the door open and walked into a comfy but sparcely furnished room. There was an older man sitting in front of a fireplace reading a book, he glanced up and put the book down and stood up.
“Well, you look like someone who has been on the road, tell me, how long was your journey here?” the man asked
“Nine days sir” Mathias responded
“I assume you have a letter of sponsorship from one of our brothers in the field since I did not have a expectation of your arrival, may I see it?
Mathias gave him the letter and the Seneschal sat down and read. A minute or two passed and the man put the letter down and said “Brother Halvar thinks very highly of you and I trust his judgment very much. Let me ask you, how much do you know of the Sons of War?”
“Not very much” replied Mathias “I saw one of your order when I was a young boy and a few time in passing before meeting Brother Halvar the other week”
“We are an old order” Started Edward. “We are almost 650 years old, we were formed when the Free realms were still under control of the Dragon armies. We are a group that seeks to bring out the best in men, we may not be as strong as the dragonmen, nor as numerous as the Strithrix. but we have a conviction inside of us that can be as strong as the largest fortress. The Sons of War seek to inspire men to become greater then they believed they could be, in battle we steel the hearts of those not confident and give purpose to the battle that many of these men know they will not return from. It is not an easy life, you will have to give up any connection to your family, you will be forbidden to marry and you will be almost always traveling. What you gain is a brotherhood that you will always be able to count on. Men will look at you with wonder wherever you tread, but many expectations will be placed upon you as well. Is this something that you can handle and do you want it?
“Yes” Said Mathias confidently “It is something I have felt deep inside for many years”
“Excellent!” Exclaimed Edward “Take your things to your bunk, find an empty one in the recruit barracks, your training begins in the morning”
Mathias picked up his bag and went to the barracks as instructed; there he found a bed with plain grey robe laying on it. Mathias fell asleep quickly that night.
The next morning began early, all the recruits, only clad in the grey roughspun robes were woken at dawn and began a run on a mountain path, after that they were tasked to get breakfast ready for the order. Once they themselves had eaten they were taken to a room and began learning some basics of command and warfare. That afternoon there was combat practice followed by another cold run before dinner and bed.
This training continued for this way for the next 6 months. He was also one of a couple of recruits that began receiving clerical training from the clerical leader of the order.
Mathias’s body had long ago become accustomed to the cold thin air and relished their morning runs. He had learned many things and had become proficient with weapons.
One afternoon Mathias was ordered to the Seneschal’s quarters. When he got to the room, there was another man in with him.
“Ahh Mathias, come in please, I would like you to meet brother Roderik, recently returned from a term in the Pharaoh Lands” Edward said
Mathias shook the man’s had as Edward continued “you have proven yourself an exceptional student and while training usually would go on for another 3 months, I have made the decision that your fieldwork will begin now, you will accompany brother Roderik when he leaves next week for a post in Krein Karlot, listen to what he tells you and learn”
“Thank you seneschal” Mathais said, he was extremely excited to be going out into the field.
Mathias spend the next 4 months in the field with Roderik working with a force of soldiers from Krein Karlot as they were securing the borders with the dragon land.
Upon completion to that assignment Mathias was inducted as a full member of the Sons of War.
Over the next couple of years Mathias was sent on assignments all over the Free Marches and made a name for himself within the order.
About 3 years after becoming a member he was sent to support a group of soldiers in the Pharaoh Lands. He traveled to the city and met up with the commander. Their assignment was to march to a series of smaller villages in the east that were experiencing troubles from the Strithrix
The time traveling was routine, Mathias used this time to move among the men, making sure to talk to all of them and was quickly accepted by them.
When they reached the first village Mathias went with the commander to talk to the local authorities. They were told that there had been increased Strithrix activity lately, and they had actually lost contact with a settlement about 15 miles farther east in the past couple of days.
The next morning they marched and later in the day the saw some wispy smoke ahead. The settlement was really only a cluster of 8 or so homes around a central plaza. The settlement was obviously attacked, buildings were torn open, blood was splattered about, but there were no bodies. As they were searching a woman came walking out of one of the other buildings, she wore leather armor and carried a crossbow as well as having two swords crossed over her back, she did not seem surprised to see them and came over to talk to the commander and Mathias.
“Greetings, I see that the government has decided to act, good” The woman said.
“I am Talana, I have come to investigate the goings on, I believe that this was not a regular attack” she continued
Behind him, Mathias could here whispers in the ranks of the men and could hear the word Conservator a couple of times. Although Mathias was very aware of the conservators, he had never met one.
“Greeting Talana, I am Mathias Creed, a brother in the Sons of War, if I may ask, what interest do the conservator’s have here? Mathias asked
“You may not ask, but I will be needing your help, I believe there is a large group of Strithrix hiding in the bluffs nearby, and with your group I believe we can destroy them” Talana said “have your men make camp here, we will set out at first light”
That night Talana disappeared into the darkness and Mathias sat around telling war stories to the men to keep their spirits up. The next morning at first light the men were mustered and they began the march, the bluffs were about an hours march from the settlement, as they got close the commander called for a battle-line to be formed with archers on the flanks and skirmishers up front.
The unit cautiously moved towards the bluffs, many small holes were studded all around it, making excellent hiding places for the Strithrix. A movement caught Mathias’s notice and he looked up as a large Strithrix was on top of the bluff, it clicked its chitin together and from all around, out of burrows cleverly hidden in the ground as well as from the bluff the Strithrix came. At first it was the smaller ones, still as large as a man with two large scythed talons. The commander gave the command for the archers to loose while the battle wizard who was in the ranks conjured up a sheet of flame from his hands.
Mathias began to sing and brought the blessing of battle down on the front ranks that were just about to take the brunt of the charge. With a clash the Strithrix hit the front lines, some of the spears found the soft parts, while others missed their mark. Mathias strode into the front lines, his hammer rising and falling, pulling wounded men back from the lines. Mathis saw Talana on the right flank, here twin swords cutting a swath through the Strithrix troops.
The line of men were diminished but holding, there were Strithrix dead all around when a horrid screech rent the air. Coming from one of the larger caves in the bluff was a Strithrix larger then any Mathias had seen before, four sets of the talons and twice the height of the man, coming with it were another wave of the small ones. The monstrosity crashed through the front lines and the commander stepped in with his tower shield to meet the beast. Mathias knew that the commander was not a match for the beast so Mathias wove a bond of warding to help protect the commander during his fight. As the beast and the commander fought, every time the beast hit the commander the damage was far less than expected, but an identical wound would open on Mathias. Men were still dying around him so Mathias set about gathering the men back into a battle-line so they would be better able to kill the remaining small Strithrix.
He turned back to the battle between the monstrosity and the commander and the commander was faltering. Mathias moves up and touched the beast on its back and channeled the wrath of battle, the Stritharch let out a screech as the chitin split under Mathias’s touch.
The huge beast turned to face Mathias, who raised his shield to block a blow. Mathias was faltering, he had taken a lot of the damage the commander had taken and he knew he couldn’t hold too long. He did his best to keep the monster at bay, sending a wave of searing flames into its face.
Suddenly in a blur of motion Talana was next to him, her blades were moving in a blur, cutting chunks off the beast. The commander had recovered enough to join the battle, even though bleeding from many wounds, the beast was a formidable opponent, it was only under the renewed assault from the three that the beast finally fell, knee snapped by Mathias’s hammer, stabbed in the side by the commander, and a sword in its gullet from Talana.
As the beast fell, Mathias looked around, many men were dead, he saw a few remaining Strithrix skittering east. He began to tend to the wounded and enlisted the help of some of the unwounded to help move the wounded into a more sheltered area.
That night Mathias Was sitting around the fire, finding time to bind his own wounds when Talana joined him next to the fire.
“I was very impressed with you today” she said. “
“Thank you” replied Mathias “I have heard stories of conservators, you truly are as skilled as the stories say”
Talana continued “You were the force that held the men together out there today, and the commander would have perished if not for your magical and physical interference. You have shown me an uncommon character here today and it is with no small amount of thought that I would present this to you”
Talana held out 2 pieces of paper and continued “One is a map to a small town called Shalestrom where you will wait. The second is a personal recommendation from me to Miranda Bradson for your application to become a Conservator”
Mathias was stunned as he reached for the papers and managed to get out a word of thanks before Tanala disappeared back into the night.
The next morning the much smaller group made ready to move out. Talana was gone, having left during the night, but nobody could see any tracks.
The Trip back was uneventful and Mathias gave his goodbyes and began the trip to Kirott, he knew there was a small Sons of War post there where he could get a missive sent to the Seneschal at the Iron Redoubt.
Making his way through the trader heavy streets of Kirott he found the post and went inside. He wrote the message that was to be sent and promptly found an inn to spend the night in.
The next morning he found there was a message from the Seneschal waiting at the post, it read
“Mathias, this is unexpected and interesting news. I always knew you were destined for great things, but this is something I have not dreamed, it has been over 200 years since a Son of War has been chosen to join the ranks of the Conservators. Go with my blessing and remember that you carry with you the pride and the reputation of the Sons of War.”
With that Mathias gathered his thinks and made his way to Shalestrom.
The mountain was gigantic, there was a winding path, it took the better part of a day until the path opened up into a small town not unlike the one Mathias grew up in. He was quickly pointed to a cottage on the outskirts of town. As Mathias opened the door, he found he was not the only one there…