Sunday, March 31, 2013

Chapter Eleven, Scene 7

Happy Easter, everyone. If I could have hidden this little 'egg' somewhere on the blog, I would have, but I guess Blogger never planned for people to host Easter egg hunts on their pages. :-)

I often leave myself little notes as I write, such as "This needs more detail", or "What should we do about xxx?", where xxx is some issue or topic in the story that needs further explanation. In this particular scene, I did a certain amount of research on medieval-era ships, so that I probably have more knowledge than Balfrith would have. But since the story is written from his point of view, you as the reader only get to see what he sees - not what I do. I would have loved to add in more detail about the ship and its workings, but that would be outside of Balfrith's experience and knowledge, and potentially break his characterization.

The following scene is the final one in chapter eleven, completing the companions' preparations for, and journey to, Nifflgarde. Enjoy!

* * *

Throrsday afternoon came, and Balfrith and Eldamir paid their bill at the inn and departed, not planning to return. Calunoth awaited them at the pier, and Hallgeir arrived shortly thereafter so that they were all assembled on time. Once together, Calunoth led them to the ship, a wide-bodied Nifflgarde vessel called the Reindeer. Her captain welcomed them at the boarding gangway with a nod, not saying anything. Calunoth conferred with him for a moment, and then they exchanged a few coins. The others waited a few paces away, observing.

Hallgeir, looking about at her masts, sails and rigging, and her decks, and said, “Good ship. Calunoth chose well.”

Balfrith asked, “Oh, so you’ve heard of the Reindeer?”

“No. I see the quality of the ship now, with my eyes. The captain keeps her well.”

Balfrith nodded, looking about but not really knowing what it was that caught Hallgeir’s eye. What he did see was a ship about a hundred feet long, thirty feet wide, and floating fifteen feet above the water. It had a high prow with a sort of tower in it, a raised stern deck, and two sails, the main square mounted amidships and a smaller triangular sail mounted at the stern.

Eldamir spoke up then, and said, “I believe this is called a cog, is it not?”

Hallgeir answered, “Aye, or knarr, since it is of Nifflgarde. I am no sailing man, though I know something of ships. You can ask the captain, if you want to know more, though he may not want to spend his time explaining things to a ‘land-lover’.”

Balfrith shrugged. “It is no matter to me, I was just curious. If you say it’s been well-kept, then I will trust you.”

Just then Calunoth came back to them, having completed his transaction with the captain and shaken his hand. Approaching, he said, “We’re all set. Captain’s given us a cabin in the stern, better than I had asked or hoped for. I think he must have loaded extra cargo in the main hold, and didn’t want us stumbling about below the main deck. Whatever the case, we can board now and carry our things straight to the cabin. I’ll show you how to tie it down, so your things aren’t tossed about in rough seas.”

Calunoth led them up the gangway, taking one step at a time as the ship slowly rocked and the gangway itself rose up and down. Balfrith stumbled a bit, but managed to not fall over the rope hand-guide, and they all got aboard safely. Looking around, he said, “This is much smaller than the ship we took from Nûmidëa, don’t you think, Eldamir?”

“Aye, she is a bit. But don’t worry, the Men of Nifflgarde know how to sail the open seas better than any that I’ve heard of. And this vessel will handle rough waters better, I think, than the larger ship we took to Castor.”

Calunoth added, “And that’s a good thing. With winter coming fast, we’ll need a good ship and an experienced captain to ensure a safe journey - and we’ve got both in the Reindeer.” He led them aft to the stern deck, and Balfrith saw there were two doors under the raised rear deck, one on each side, with short stairs of a few steps from the main deck descending to them. Between them, a longer stairway led up to the raised stern deck. Calunoth led them down the stairs on the right side of the ship, opened the door and walked into the cabin that was to be theirs for the next two weeks.

Balfrith was right behind him, followed by Eldamir and Hallgeir. Stepping inside, the first thing he noticed was how small the cabin was: it couldn’t have been more than three paces across in either direction, and much of that was taken by the bunk beds on either side, and the single table at the aft end of the room. “We’re going to share this? The four of us?”

Calunoth grinned. “Aye, Balfrith. As I said, better than I had hoped we would get. Normally, only the senior officers would get such a cabin as this. I imagine that the captain is opening his own cabin to share with one or two of his officers, and the others will be sleeping below the main deck, with the rest of the sailors.”

Balfrith thought, If this is better, I’d hate to see worse. Smiling, he said, “I’m sure this will do well for us. Calunoth, my thanks for finding this ship for us.”

“Glad to be of service,” he replied, bowing and grinning. “I would suggest that, if you’re prone to sea-sickness, you take a lower bunk. Easier to get up quickly, if need be, and run outside for some fresh air.” He winked then, and Balfrith knew exactly what Calunoth meant by ‘fresh air’.

“Good advice,” Hallgeir added.

Eldamir said, “I can take an upper bunk, I’ve ridden many ships over the years and rarely gotten sick.”

“And I,” said Hallgeir.

“Guess that means we get the lower bunks, Balfrith,” said Calunoth.

“Indeed. That’s fine - though I’ll hope to avoid the sea-sickness just the same.” And just then, the ship rocked suddenly as a swell of water passed underneath her, and Balfrith swayed with the dizziness that struck him. Perhaps the lower bunk will be best.

The captain knocked on the door and opened it then, poking his head inside. “We’ll be casting off within the hour - high tide is upon us. Tie your things down, goodmen, for the waters look to be a bit rough tonight. If you like, after we’ve cast off and are well on our way, you can join me above-deck in the stern. If you need fresh air before then, keep yourselves to the main deck, and amidship, out of the way of my men. They’re not used to guests, so you’ll forgive them if their manners are a bit rough.”

Calunoth said, “Of course, captain - we understand. And we shall stay out of their way, as much as possible.”

The captain nodded, and left, closing the door behind him.

The companions remained in the cabin for the next couple of hours. Calunoth showed them how to tie their rucksacks and other gear down, with a simple knot that could be quickly undone if needed, but wouldn’t easily come untied by itself.

Later that evening they finally ventured out of the cabin to the main deck, remaining amidship as requested. But it wasn’t long before the captain called them to join him, and so they climbed the middle stairs up to the raised stern deck above their cabins, and stood with him to watch the sun set in the west, off the port side of the ship.

Fourteen days later, on the nineteenth day of Thror’s Hammer - a Throrsday, as Balfrith realized, and he laughed at the symmetry - they arrived at Drakenmount. Fortunately, aside from the occasional sudden need for fresh air, the trip was uneventful. It was only after they had been at sea for two days, that the captain admitted there had been some pirate attacks in those waters in recent months. He’d tried to reassure them that in this season it was very unlikely any pirates would be trolling the seas for prey, but Balfrith still spent an inordinate amount of time on deck, looking out over the port and starboard gunwales for any sign of sails on the horizon. Of course, that time spent on deck had nothing to do with his occasional sudden needs for ‘fresh air’.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Word Count: 30-March-2013

On this lovely Saturday, I relaxed and exercised in the morning, but spent the afternoon and early evening writing. Added another 3000 words to the story, pushing me past 125,000 (125,208 to be exact)!

I wish a Happy Easter to all, tomorrow. I'll be with family myself, and may not get back to writing for some days.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Word Count: 29-March-2013

Happy Good Friday! I'm making good use of this day off, to write. I spent a few hours this morning at the keyboard, and once again the muse sang her song. I added almost 2300 words to the story, putting it at 121,300, as it builds toward the climax, and the resolution of several threads.

Now it's time for lunch, but look for more updates over the weekend. I'm pushing to complete the current chapter and drive the climax to its conclusion. Still a few chapters left after that, to tie up the rest of the story, but it's all down hill from there.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Chapter Eleven, Scene Six

The novel writing continues apace! Wrote a few hundred words tonight, and broke past 119,000. Hope you enjoy this little sample, while I continue writing the last few chapters.

* * *

Hallgeir was the first to arrive at Balfrith’s door, later that evening. Eldamir was already there, of course, since he was in the adjoining room, and they sat on the bed awaiting the others. Balfrith opened the door and Hallgeir entered with a nod, and took the one chair sitting near the window. Balfrith took his place back on the bed, on the opposite side from Eldamir.

Branulf lay, still sheathed, on the bed between them. Hallgeir didn’t notice it, or said nothing, and they only had to wait a few minutes before Calunoth knocked on the door and let himself in. Before Balfrith could speak, he said, “Decided to tell us the big secret before we left, eh?” He grinned and winked - apparently there were no hard feelings, which relieved Balfrith more than he wanted to admit.

Balfrith stood then, and said “Thanks for coming. Yes, I wanted to tell you the full tale here, before we departed, rather than trying to do it aboard ship where we wouldn’t have any privacy.” Turning to the bed, he picked up Branulf and unsheathed it with a sliding hiss, holding it up in one hand and laying the blade across his opposite forearm.

He continued, “This is Branulf, an heirloom of my family, and the reason for our quest.” He then went on to tell the tale of its forging by Sørkell, its use by Aethelred, and the curse placed upon it at his ancestor’s death. He excluded a few details in order to keep the story short, including its prior existence as an Elefdar blade. That wasn’t relevant anyway, he thought. Balfrith concluded the tale with, “And that is why we seek to find this Gregorius: he may be able to help us determine the nature of the curse, and how to remove it.”

They were silent for a moment, then Calunoth said, “That is quite a tale. And Adradomir believes it?” he asked, sounding skeptical.

Balfrith nodded. “Adradomir and lord Felaranthir have been friends for longer than any of us have been alive. If Felaranthir believes there is something to the curse, then Adradomir does too.”

Calunoth nodded, but his brows rose as if still questioning something.

Hallgeir said, “I have heard of this Draugeborg. It is an ancient fortress ruin, from the old Shandollëan empire that preceded the forming of our modern kingdoms. The stories say that wailing spirits wander about there at night, and no one who ventures near can remain for long. In the day-time it is safe enough, though some have reported an unnatural fear that came upon them even in the sunlight. But at night - it is said that the wailing of the dead can be heard for miles, and it threatens to drive the sanity from those who listen for too long. I hope that this Gregorius has heeded those warnings, lest we find only a mad-man and not a scholar.”

Balfrith nodded. “As do I,” he said.

Calunoth spoke again. “What I don’t understand is, why all the secrecy? I did not hear anything that sounded like it should be kept in confidence. It was all known history, even the bit about your ancestor Aethelred and his wife. So why the concern about sharing it only with trusted individuals?”

Balfrith said, “I was charged with keeping the story close to myself and Eldamir, by my lord and benefactor Felaranthir of Illithëon. I have simply tried to honor that charge.”

Eldamir, seeing that this answer did not satisfy either Calunoth or Hallgeir, spoke up and said, “I think at the start, my father wanted Branulf kept secret among our own people, as he knew that many of them might recognize the sword and know its history, and he did not want there to be undue attention placed upon either the sword or upon Balfrith while he was with us. As a people, we are not given to quick panic, but there might have come questions about the wisdom of keeping such a cursed item in Illithëon, and father simply wanted to avoid those.”

He continued, “After we departed Illithëon, I think his command still held for the same reason: one never knows who might recognize the sword, and react in a way that draws undue attention to us, possibly to the point of preventing us from completing our quest.”

Calunoth grinned then, and said, “It just occurred to me that there might be a simpler reason for the secrecy. This sword is, what, almost eight hundred years old?” Balfrith nodded. “And it’s in nearly perfect condition, as if it had just come from the forge. Not only that, but it is obviously a master work - any knowledgeable eye can see that with a glance. Now think of the things that most large cities have in common.” Calunoth began ticking off items on his fingers as he said, “Men of wealth, especially those who collect rare and valuable items of antiquity; an organized, thriving black market supplied by an underground guild of thieves; and those who are able to stand as brokers between the two. What if Felaranthir simply realized that keeping the sword hidden was the best way to avoid its being stolen from you?”

Balfrith paused a moment. “Truthfully, I hadn’t thought of that. But it does make sense. I wouldn’t have thought of lord Felaranthir as one who had to consider such details.”

Eldamir laughed lightly, and said, “Balfrith, you clearly have not had many dealings with my father. He can be remarkably detail-oriented, not to mention knowledgeable of Men. Calunoth, this idea of yours had not occurred to me either. But I think your eye has seen most clearly that which neither mine nor Balfrith’s did. Well done.” He bowed in Calunoth’s direction, still smiling.

The conversation reduced to small-talk after that, as they discussed a few other items related to the journey to Nifflgarde. And finally, Hallgeir and Calunoth bade their farewells and good-nights, and departed for their own places of residence.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Word Count: 24-March-2013

Wrote almost 1700 words this morning, completed one chapter and started the next. Current word count: 117,600. Starting chapter 17, of an estimated 22.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Bit More on the Elefdar Language

Also a quick update on the word count: she stands at just over 115,500, most of which was written last weekend. It's been a busy week, with little time for writing except a couple of short evenings.

Now, on to the Elefdar language. In a chapter that is somewhat beyond where we currently are on with the samples, I have some Elefdar monolog that I thought might be of interest. I know it's out of context and may not make a lot of sense, but at least you get a feel for how it might be spoken plainly, rather than song lyrics.

“Hona galad? Hona galad shega im’ drethora, hai das im’ dolorr?”
Who dares? Who dares disturb my rest, and that of my servants?

“Su ben tennel hai shegael im’ drethora. Su ben shogarel im’ dolorner, ben megalel fern con fei drethori. Shi ya su bal? Sano!”
You have come and disturbed my rest. You have upset my slaves, awakened them from their rest. Why are you here? Begone!

“Got des? Hona su, das su shim ment im telen? Hai su nala das cheleb! Hona galad nala cun-tragel Tyrfing an des pass? Sano con im’ yara, hai lama da tragel hot su!”
What is this? Who are you, that you stand before me thus? And you bring that sword! Who dares to bring twice-cursed Tyrfing to this place? Begone from my presence, and take the cursed one with you!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Chapter Eleven, Scene 5

This scene is an opportunity to show Balfrith in the process of maturing, learning how to have both an adult conversation and adult relationships. He is also learning how to be a better leader, which starts out a bit rough, as is obvious here.

Incidentally, my current word count is 113,400, and I'm about half-way through chapter 17 out of an estimated 21 chapters to complete the story.

* * *

The four companions met the next day at the guild hall, having agreed to make their final plans prior to departure. Calunoth explained that he already had spoken with a ship’s captain down at the port, and paid in advance for their beds, in order to let him choose the ones he wanted. As he said, “This is a Nifflgarde merchant vessel. While they’re among the most sea-worthy of any ships made, they do tend to lack something in comfort for those traveling aboard them. I requested bunks under the foredeck, so that we have a bit more room than those under the main deck, and we’ll have quicker access to the deck that way too. And at this time of year, I can just about guarantee that we will need it.”

Balfrith and Eldamir saw the sense of it, having come across the Wyrmsea from Nûmidëa to Sildara, and experienced firsthand what rough waters could do to a ship - and the travelers aboard.

Calunoth continued, “The journey usually takes about two weeks. We’re just coming into the storm season, which could add some small delay to the trip, though we’re not likely to run into anything that would ground us. And anyway, this is why I chose a Nifflgarde ship and crew. Hallgeir can tell you that I was not wrong in this decision.”

Hallgeir, for his part, merely nodded agreement. He’d hardly said a word since they met at Adradomir’s home the day before, and Balfrith wondered what it was that kept him so silent.

Balfrith suddenly shuddered and said, “Storm season? How long does that last?”

“Most of winter,” replied Hallgeir. Lo, he speaks, after all!

Eldamir laughed ruefully and said, “Balfrith, perhaps we should winter here in Castor. I’ve heard that spring-time in Nifflgarde is lovely.”

Balfrith grinned back, but said, “Tempting… but no. Adradomir has given us a window of opportunity that may not open again. I will risk sea-sickness, and worse, to find our friend Gregorius.”

Calunoth spoke up then. “There’s that name again. Did we not travel together to Westmere so that you could meet with him? And did something happen to prevent that meeting?”

Balfrith paused, his mental guard rising. “I don’t recall ever mentioning him to you before.”

“You didn’t. But you and Eldamir also did not take many pains to hide your conversations. Roidh and I overheard you more than once. Though I cannot say with any confidence exactly what it is that you seek, or why, I do recall hearing that name.”

Balfrith nodded, annoyed at himself. We were supposed to keep this a secret, but now, the gods only know who Calunoth might have mentioned this to. He replied, “We can speak more of this aboard ship. For now, I would prefer to keep the details of our journey to myself. Wiser minds than mine gave us that advice, and I’ll do what I can to follow it, though it appears we’ve not done as well as we had thought.”

Calunoth said, not quite under his breath, “Well, that kills that conversation.” Then, in a louder volume, “As I was saying, the journey aboard ship should be about two weeks. We’ll need to provide our own food, and we depart in two days’ time, with the rising tide. That should be all that we need, aside from our traveling clothes, bedding and other standard gear. Unless, Balfrith, you care to share any special needs that may arise, should we agree to accompany you further north?” The last question was asked in an ironic tone that displayed Calunoth’s annoyance at all the secrecy.

Balfrith said, “Only prepare for whatever a northern winter may bring. I don’t anticipate anything out of the ordinary - just cold.”

Calunoth nodded, as did Hallgeir. The northerner appeared about to add something to the latter comment, but then stopped, and Balfrith wondered what it might have been.

They finished their various drinks in silence, sharing a few casual words with other guildsmen at nearby tables, but avoiding the topic of their coming travels. Hallgeir was the first to rise, and he nodded at each in turn before departing. As he walked away, Calunoth called out, “We meet at the docks on Throrsday - be there at five hours after noon.” Hallgeir nodded understanding, and continued on without turning back.

Calunoth left next, nodding at Eldamir but only glancing at Balfrith, still apparently annoyed, and left. Eldamir almost immediately turned to Balfrith and said, “I think we should share the purpose of our journey with them.”

Balfrith nodded. “I agree, but I wasn’t about to tell the story of my heirloom here in the hall, especially since I didn’t have it with me. And I would not have displayed it for all to see, even if I had. Calunoth will get over his pique, and we can share the entire story once we’re aboard ship.”

Eldamir raised a brow. “Do you realize that we’ll not have much privacy aboard the ship? We would be better off doing it here, before we leave - even if it means going back to the inn and telling the tale there.”

Balfrith sighed. “I hadn’t thought of that. But you’re right - if this ship is anything like the one we took from Hightower to Castor, we’ll not have any chance at privacy. Hmm… I would have thought Calunoth or Hallgeir would say something about that.”

Eldamir grinned wryly. “You would think that, wouldn’t you? Unless, of course, either or both of them were annoyed enough that they decided to let you embarrass yourself. But of course they are grown Men, and would never think of doing that to a younger Man who tells them to their faces that he isn’t sure he can trust them.”

Balfrith’s jaw dropped. “But that’s not what I meant at all!” he exclaimed. Then, collecting his wits and noticing that he’d drawn the attention of several others in the hall, he said more quietly, “My concern is with other eyes and ears in this place, not with them.”

“I understand that, but you might want to make it more clear to them. Adradomir gave his approval of their company, and I think they expected to be treated as equals and companions, not as hired lackeys. If you treat them with respect, they may even agree to accompany us without demanding any pay at all, simply for the companionship.”

Balfrith sat back, silent. “You may be right - I hadn’t thought about that.” He paused for a moment, then continued, “We don’t know where they’re staying, do we?”

“No, but I would wager that deacon Diarmid does.”

“Perfect!” Balfrith snapped his fingers, growing excited. He drained off the last of his ale, and slammed the cup down on the table. “I don’t want to wait any longer than necessary. Perhaps Diarmid can send them messages on my behalf, asking them to come to the Frost Giant’s Beard and meet with us.”

Eldamir set his own cup down, having finished his wine, and said “Aye, perhaps he can. Let us go.”

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Word Count: 10-March-2013

Wrote over 3,000 words today, and broke past 112,000 for the story so far. Inspiration makes things go so much more smoothly! Of course it helps (me, at least) to have a solid story outline from which to draw my ideas. But sometimes the muse sings, and suddenly the words flow like water from a tipped pitcher, until the song is over.

Inspiration 10-Mar-2013

Just had an amazing bit of inspiration that would leave a semi-loose thread in the current Balfrith novel, but lay the foundation for a future novel that could be really cool. Love when that happens. :-)

I actually felt my brain re-aligning around that idea as a physical sensation. Am I the only one that happens to?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Word Count: 6-March-2013

Working my way through Chapter 16, and just passed 108,000 words. Progress has been a bit slow lately, but I'm moving forward!

Chapter Eleven, Scene 4

Moonday morning could not come soon enough for Balfrith. Though he and Eldamir used the time to good effect, making a few last-hour purchases, cleaning their weapons and armor, and packing their gear for travel, still he grew more anxious by the day, looking forward to meeting this new helper that Adradomir had mentioned.

They ate a quick breakfast that morning, then took their gear and walked to Adradomir’s home in the merchants’ quarter. As promised, Roidh was there awaiting their arrival, clearly expecting them. He welcomed them with a smile this time, which was better than they’d received before, and Balfrith smiled in return, genuinely glad to see the man.

He ushered them into the meeting room, where Adradomir sat, along with two others. Calunoth was there at the table, leaning back in his chair to the point where he looked like he might fall backwards, and another man that Balfrith recognized from the guild: it was Hallgeir, the one who had tested Eldamir upon their application to join the free-lancers.

Eldamir spoke first, exclaiming, “Hallgeir! Glad I am to meet you here. Adradomir had informed us he was bringing in another free-lancer to join us, but he gave no name in his letter.”

Hallgeir nodded in greeting. He also sat at the table, though he kept all four chair-feet on the floor, slouching comfortably in it. Calunoth tipped himself forward, and said, “Balfrith, Eldamir - your countenances bring a light to the room that was lacking. I fear my counterpart, here, brought a shroud of gloom that is not easily dispersed.” He grinned and winked in Hallgeir’s direction, but the northerner merely glowered and said nothing.

Adradomir stood and spoke up then, saying, “I see you all know each other. I had no idea this was the case, but I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised. Calunoth recommended Hallgeir when I mentioned this little journey, and after meeting him, I was satisfied that he would be able to help us. And now that all four of you are here, I will share some additional details that I’ve withheld from each of you until now.

“Balfrith and Eldamir, you both know of the task that I had planned for you: to deliver a letter from me to my associate in Drakenmount. Of course I do not need four men to courier a simple letter for me. But in the time since we last met, I also came across an object of some value that I wish to have delivered with the letter, to the same man. I hired Calunoth and Hallgeir to help with this, for I have Roidh busy with other tasks at the moment. Though the object is not very large, it will take one man his full strength to carry it. And it is valuable enough that I want to have the rest of you able to defend it, and the one carrying it, should you be assaulted.”

“What is this thing?” asked Balfrith.

“Simply a gift for my associate. It’s a small statue, from lands far to the south, across the Inner Sea. I know it is something he has desired for some time, and as it happened, I came across this in my own travels recently. I’d almost forgotten that I had it in my possession. And now, I can send it to him as a gift, with the letter. I have already given Calunoth and Hallgeir instructions about its delivery, so there’s no need for me to go over that again. They can tell you more about it as you travel, for you’ll be at sea for some days, as you know.

“Other than that, as I mentioned in my summons, I have told both Hallgeir and Calunoth of your planned journey further to the north, though I’ve not given them any details. Again, you can tell them about it while you’re aboard ship. I should mention that Calunoth and Hallgeir are not hired for that part - if they choose, they may decide to not accompany you. I have left that choice to them, and you can work out whatever payment you deem reasonable, should you choose to hire either or both.”

Balfrith and Eldamir nodded their understanding.

Adradomir continued, “And now, my friends and associates, I must bid you farewell. I have other business to attend this morning, and I know you will want to prepare for your journey. I’ve entrusted Calunoth with the purse, and enough coin to cover your travel expenses as far as Drakenmount. Roidh will see you to the door.”

And that was the end of the meeting. All four of the free-lancers rose, nodded or bowed toward Adradomir, and departed the room, followed by Roidh who said his own farewells before closing the door behind them.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Character - Calunoth

Calunoth is Man of Sildara, thirty years old, but he carries a weight of experience greater than his years. He is five feet nine inches tall, about average for a Sildaran male. Calunoth has a medium skin complexion, and light brown hair that he keeps short in a military-style cut. He also keeps his face clean-shaven, though he tends to let it go for a day or two between shaves, leaving him with a stubble more often than not. He has light brown eyes that match his hair color, and expressive dark brows that he uses to good effect.

Calunoth has a sharp jawline and a quick smile, however it doesn’t often reach his eyes, which gives people the impression that he’s not happy very often, but merely acting the part. He has a smirk on his face much of the time, as if he’s silently mocking those with whom he associates, which tends to annoy many and drive them away from a closer friendship. His sharp wit has a similar effect, bringing laughs from outsiders and casual acquaintances, but preventing potential friends from getting too close.

Calunoth doesn’t talk of his family, but he does have a father still living somewhere in Sildara, from whom he ran away at an early age. He has no siblings, and his mother is dead. His reasons for running away were better than Balfrith’s, though they do have some similarities in their source: an abusive father. But in Calunoth’s case, it was much worse, for his father was a cruel drunk, and Calunoth still carries the scars of the punishments he suffered under his father’s hand - and his belt.

Since Calunoth ran away as a youth, little more than a boy, he was quickly taken advantage of by those who prey on the innocent for their own gain, and after several such experiences, he quickly became jaded and cynical. He spent several years living on the streets of different cities, stealing what he could not beg or earn, including food and occasional shelter.

Calunoth was on a path that would likely have led an early death, but he was caught breaking into the home of an army officer, who, rather than pressing charges, agreed to take him into custody as an indentured soldier. All he had to do was complete his ten-year term of service, and he would be a free man. This wasn’t all that uncommon, for youths who lived on the street were regularly caught by the city guard and turned over to the army in Sildara. It was a hard life, but certainly no worse than living on the streets, and better in many other ways: they were given regular meals, decent clothing, shelter from the elements, and military training that could be put to good use as a free-lancer, if they survived their term of service.

Calunoth not only survived his ten years of service, but he thrived as a soldier, and opted to enter the world as a free-lancer, like many others did. Army life didn’t change his attitude about men very much, for he saw some of the same injustices in the military that he had seen on the streets. He also saw men of honor, serving to the best of their ability, and it was because of this that his outlook slowly began to change. He was still a cynic, knowing that Men are far from perfect, and many are just plain selfish and wicked, but he no longer actively hated others as he had before.

Calunoth served in the free-lancers guild for several years before meeting Balfrith. He befriended Balfrith because he saw in the younger man a certain innocence that needed protection, something which he never received for himself, and so he decided, unconsciously, to adopt Balfrith as a little brother of sorts. Any optimism that Calunoth shows is largely due to the positive influence of Balfrith and his other companions, while in his darker moments, he remembers how hard it was growing up, and how wicked men can be, and returns to his old mentality.