Six Pieces of the Whole
Clint is the son of a minor noble and is now a hero of the guild and champion of Redgar.
WARNING! No where near complete!
Image Disclaimer26 years ago the Baron and Baroness Crassus and Roselyn of the House of Westwood celebrated the addition of their newest son into the world. “Celebrated” might have been an overstatement. While a new male heir is never taken for granted, the fanfare dies off a little after about the eighth time. The fact that Clint nearly cost the Baroness her life because he was born almost a month premature made him out to be viewed by those closest as more of a burden than a blessing. There honestly was not much prospect for the youngest of the 14 children and the 9th in line to succeed to the modest title of Baron of the Westwood.
Most assume the Woods were given their name because they are west of the capital of Cathul, but the more scholarly individuals and anyone actually from Westwood would be quick to point out that the House of Westwood predates the establishment of both Aroupe and Cathul. This invariably leads to a strong sense of tradition, honor and pride from those who bear the family crest of the Old Oak on their shield.
Although Clint grew up a sickly and small statured child, it did not interfere with his bubbly and enthusiastic nature. He would watch from his father’s castle window out onto the yard and see his brothers closest to his age practicing with sword and shield or riding giant coursers through the lists. All the girls his age would gather around and watch with admiration as the young and dashing noble sons would spar. It always sent his imagination flying and he was caught more than once in his lofty tower room fighting off a dozen invisible evil knights with a broomstick to save a damsel in distress. When the house hold servants found out they would usually send him off at their chastisement to his bed to rest. This left him envious of his older brothers Maddox, Marcus and Mathias. Although they were just one year older than him, the triplets had been training to be knights for several years and none of the girls his age ever spared him a second look.
Neither his mother nor his father were particularly close with Clint. Roselyn was more concerned with her daughters and her needle craft while Crassus was caught up with his older sons and their prospective futures. Most of Clint’s brothers were indeed capable and impressive knights-in-training and the others were all off at colleges or in the service of the Church of Gawese, the patron goddess of the Westwood. It was quite clear that it was not in the cards for Clint to ever be a famous knight and his temperament suggested that it would be a waste to spend any of the barony’s small treasury on the necessary funds to secure him a spot at the colleges or an esteemed position within the priesthood.
As Clint neared his 10th nameday, his fortitude began to strengthen and he was allowed more freedom in his wanderings. In his first trip by himself outdoors he snuck off to the armory at the first opportunity and suited up in the smallest set of armor he could find that was made for his brothers when they were half his age. Still unwieldy and overly large for his small size he picked up a practice sword and lumbered off to the training yard. In his mind he envisioned himself striding confidently out to the yard to teach his older brothers a lesson in how a true knight could fight. What he was greeted by was laughter and derision.
He heard Maddox shout, “Who gave that sword to our dear sister? It looks like a stickbug in armor.”
In response, Clint whirled around and almost fell over, catching himself at the last second. He raised his small practice sword with both hands and shouted, “Step forward coward!” as his visor accidentally fell down with a jarring crash. “And let this stickbug show you how to wield a blade.” Came out muffled and inaudible. Clint had never been more determined in his life. This was all he ever dreamed about. While he wouldn’t openly admit it, he considered himself so capable with a broomstick against invisible enemies that this transition would be one of ease.
Taken a little off guard Maddox cocked his head to one side a little unsure of what to do. He slowly picked up his own practice sword and started to make his way toward Clint when Marcus and Mathias told him to ease off and forget about it. Clint was prepared for this though, he lifted up his visor so all could hear, “I’ve always heard from the girls around hear that the lances you wield between your legs were less than impressive, but I had no idea you guys were lacking when it came your balls as well.”
He barely had enough time to lift his sword up before all three of them were on him at once. He tried an over hand swing that normally would split his imaginary foes from crown to naval, but it was met with a quick block and a knee to the gut that knocked the wind out of him. As he dropped to his knees a sharp whack sent his whole head ringing and vibrating as a wooden practice sword shattered over his head. Clint instinctively tried to roll and do a 360 leg sweep, great cleave that would normally knock the legs out from underneath his broomstick knights, but he was only able to make Marcus stumble for half a second as he pounced on top of him, whipping his helmet off. Mathias beat him to the first blow to his face though. Blood erupted across Clint’s vision as his nose gave way. Instantly Clint did the only thing he could think of. He curled up in the fetal position and tried to wait it out as the blows came down. His fight or flight sensation had kicked in and the only thing he could think of was escape. The fear that gripped him sank deep into his heart.
Finally the weights were lifted off him and Dane, the old Master at Arms, was standing before him with Marcus and Mathias in each hand. Maddox took his queue and backed away.
“What is the meaning of this!?” Dane shouted.
As the triplets started to explain, Clint rose to his feet and sprinted off the field in shame. He ran straight to his room and locked the door. Only then did he take his helmet off. He had worn it to hide the tears that were streaming down his face. With his heart beating faster than he thought possible he realized then and there that being a knight was not for him.
A few hours later a knock was heard at his door. When he answered it a servant presented himself with summons from Crassus. Clint was filled with nothing but shame and dread as he made the long march to his father’s audience hall. Luckily it was late by this time and no one other than those who had to be present were there.
As he approached his father he noticed that the gaze cast over him was not of disappointment or anger. The eyes he looked into hinted at sadness if anything.
“Clint, you have been a sickly child your entire life. Our first and foremost goal with you has always been to keep you alive, but now that your resolve has strengthened and you no longer need to be kept locked in your bed chamber, it is time for you to find your calling in life.”
Clint was a little taken aback by what his father was saying. It was his presumption that no one cared enough about him to give him stuff to do. Not because he was too weak. In Clint’s mind he had been as strong as an ox the whole time. As his father was speaking, the only thing Clint could do was pray that his father was not thinking about making him a knight-in-training like his brothers.
Crassus continued, “Dane has given me a detailed account of what happened today in the practice yard. While it makes me proud to see a son of the Old Oak yearning to be a hero you must realize that not all heroes are born on the battlefield. It takes a hero to keep track of an army’s daily rations, supply and payment. It takes a hero to tend to the sick and offer them the comforts of the gods, and it takes a hero to bend and twist the metals of the earth into the fighting materials for Arms and Armor.”
Clint was not sure where his father was going with this but he was secretly pleased that it sounded like his father did not expect him to be a knight.
“Unfortunately you did not inherent the common strength and stature that the sons of this house normally receive.” As he said these words Clint saw the sadness in his eyes grow. He knew that his father, despite his words would always be disappointed in Clint’s shortcomings.
“It has been brought to my attention that you are quite good with your hands. The servants tell me that you often pass time by taking things apart and putting them back together. Dane also tells me that despite your inability to pull anything but the smallest of bows that you are one of the best shots he has ever seen. This has lead me to conclude that although you may not ever be able to wield a blade in combat, your love for weapons and your steady hands should make you a perfect candidate to be a smith’s apprentice. Perhaps a few years in a smithy, a growth spurt or two and who knows, you may one day be able to join the rest of your kin in the practice yard.”
Although in Clint’s heart he was relieved not to have to be a knight, he wanted nothing more than to impress his father at the same time. Instead he made up his mind then and there to be the sort of hero that best suited his skills. The one that could craft Arms and Armor from the earth.
With nothing more than a nod, Clint retired from the hall to his own quarters. That night as he lay in bed he thought of his future and everything he would be giving up. There would be no be glory won for a simple smith, but he knew it would be a good life. People respected smiths and perhaps his father and his brothers could one day respect him if he became a great craftsmen.
Despite his father’s faith, the next day was quite a trial for Clint. For starters, he was too short to even be able to use the forge or the craft table. A stepping stool accompanied him as he went from place to place. Every time he was supposed to shape a piece of metal it took 4 or 5 times longer than it was supposed to because his hammer strikes on the anvil did not produce much effect. Before long the metal would cool to the point it could no longer be worked. As a result he was constantly having to reheat whatever he was working on to keep it malleable. To his surprise, Decimus, the master smith found his work to be above average for a beginner despite the amount of time it was taking to complete even the most simple of tasks. During his lunch break he was covered in soot and grime, but it was fine by him. He grabbed an apple from the kitchen and snuck off to the practice fields to watch as the knights would spar with the weapons and armor he was helping to create.
Sitting atop a barrel to get a better view of the yard Clint caught site of the most beautiful girl he had ever seen, a maid with flowers in her long and wavy chestnut hair. He was mesmerized, her gown was simple, but fit her form perfectly. She saw his gaze and began to walk straight towards him.
Clint looked once over his shoulder to see if some gallant knight was standing behind him. Nothing was there and as he turned back he swallowed hard when he heard, “That was really brave of you for standing up to your brothers like that the other day. We had always heard there was another Westwood in the castle, but none so gallant.”
Clint began speaking quickly, not even thinking about what he was saying, “What the other day out there?” he nodded towards the practice field they were standing in front of.”
She let out the sweetest laugh he had ever heard, “Of course, no offense to your brothers, but they are a little full of themselves.”
Clint smiled, not sure of what to say.
….. and then he left the heroes and the author of his biography got bored. you know the rest. Perhaps I will pick it up again another day.