Waltom the Ranger
Waltom the Ranger
Waltom crouched motionless in the brush. He silently watched the goblin patrol march down the trail. In the distance, he thought he could hear a bell ringing.
Mother was ringing the alarm bell. Father was in the fields, so Waltom ran to the hearth to fetch the bow. He clambered onto the stool, and perched precariously as he lifted the weapon from its peg. The quiver was hanging by the bow, but he couldn't reach high enough to unhook it. He managed to draw an arrow out, and raced out to protect Mother.
When she saw him, her expression instantly transformed from panic to steely resolve. She bent down and took him by the shoulders. Go fetch Uncle Tomas. He is captain of the town militia. We need them to drive away the goblins. You are the only one who can do it.
He ran and ran until his lungs would burst. He found Uncle Tomas already assembling a rescue squad.
They locked him in the cellar so he couldn't follow. In the morning, they found him bruised and unconscious against the door. He was still clutching the arrow. He never saw Mother, Father, or little Gwen again.
Today, he is twice as old as he was on that day. Today, he would stop the goblins. He would make them pay for what they did. They could never pay enough to replace his loss.
Waltom released the arrow.
Waltom is a 19 year-old human, six feet tall and 180 lbs, with green eyes and auburn hair. He is garbed in rusty brown and dark green, booted and cloaked for hunting in the wild.
Waltom has spent the last couple of years stalking the borderland wilderness between the orc lands and the Empire, hunting goblins. Although he is mostly a lone hunter, he is well-known along the frontier for bringing warnings of occasional goblin bands that have evaded the orc blockade, and aiding in the defense of settlements. He wears a cloth epaulette on his left shoulder which was bestowed on him as an "Orc Ally" for aiding an orc patrol that had been cornered by a band of goblins.
Mission for the Empire
Recently, Waltom was recruited by the Empire to help retrieve some diplomatic documents last known to be in the possession of a courier who had gone missing. He set out with a small band of adventurers, eventually finding the documents in the hands of a wizard leading a group of bandits in the Deep Woods.
Rufus the half-elven paid the price for retrieving the documents with horrible facial burns and disfigurement. The wizard was both powerful and malicious, and cruelly tortured Rufus until Waltom intervened.
The wizard expressed a consuming hatred for all non-human beings. Waltom has extensive experience with both orcs and goblins, and knows with certainty that there is both good and bad in non-humans and humans alike. Waltom views the wizard as a rabid animal, and is afraid that the disease will spread. Waltom now plans to patrol the borders of the Deep Woods to attempt to gather information about this wizard, and determine if the wizard is in contact with others outside the Deep Woods.
During their expedition, the party also discovered a large tree on a prominent hilltop that was infested with dryads who seek to ensnare mortals who venture too near. The party narrowly avoided disaster due to the quick thinking of Thorkel the warlock. This menace should be reported to the Empire as a place to avoid.
On a more pleasant note, the druid Pug introduced Waltom to a plant he called Metta Four, presumably because of the 4 leaves. The leaves can be brewed to make a tea that is quite pleasant and soothing with a dollop of honey. Now Waltom carries some dried leaves in his pouch, and often enjoys Metta Four.
Waltom found his companions Rufus, Thorkel, and Pug to be honorable, brave, and resourceful. He would be pleased to encounter them again during his travels in the Empire.
Agent of the Empire
After the mission was successfully completed, Rufus recognized that Waltom could perform valuable service to the Empire by employing his skills to monitor activity in the area surrounding the Deep Woods inhabited by the wizard. Waltom sends and receives messages at the courier post where he and Rufus began their adventure together.
Waltom recently sent his first report to Rufus:
It was an early spring day. The morning air was brisk. Waltom dropped what he was carrying, threw off his coat, and drew his blade as the goblins closed in.
"Waltom, I need both baskets full!" his mother called from the farmhouse. Waltom rolled his eyes (safely out of sight of Mother). Didn't she understand he was practicing to be a hero? The paring knife was a bit small to lop off a goblin head, but he needed to learn to handle a blade, didn't he? Mother just wanted him to use it to cut some spinach leaves. How could he learn to be a hero that way?
He picked up one of the baskets. As he turned to the garden, he saw the other basket overturned on the ground, with the edge perched on a rock. It looked like a little hut. Waltom distractedly picked a few leaves, still daydreaming about the fierce battles he would win. He set the basket down and began lunging and hacking at the air with his knife. When he tired, he sat next to the half-full basket with his back to a large tree.
As Waltom got his breath back, he noticed a small mottled black and tan animal peering at him from behind a daffodil. He had never seen one quite like this: a rodent about the size of a small rat, but without a tail. It was about six feet away. Waltom carefully reached in the basket, and set down a spinach leaf between them. Haltingly, the animal approached, sniffed at the leaf, then quickly consumed it. The animal looked at him expectantly. Moving slowly, Waltom set another leaf down in front of the animal. This time it quickly ate the leaf without hesitation. Waltom held out a leaf in his hand. The little animal hesitantly approached, then ate the leaf. Waltom reached out to touch it, but it darted away. "No, come back!" he pleaded. But the animal had disappeared.
Sadly, Waltom turned back to the garden. He picked up the basket again and went back to pick more spinach. When the basket was full, he walked back with it to where the other basket lay, still overturned. As he set down the full basket and picked up the other one, the little animal was sitting underneath it. Slowly, Waltom backed away. The rodent didn't move. Waltom carefully set down the empty basket and reached into the full one. He held out the spinach leaf as he slowly advanced towards the animal. As he held his breath, he crouched down and extended the leaf. The little animal sat still, then began to nibble at it. Waltom's other hand darted out. There was a short, sharp squeal, and the furry little creature was in his arms. It was quite still, and didn't struggle. Waltom whispered and tried to sooth it. As the boy stroked it's fur, the little muzzle turned to continue eating the leaf that Waltom still held.
Waltom stacked the baskets, and put rodent on top, wrapped in his coat. As he came into the farmhouse, his Mother scolded “Waltom! I told you In needed both baskets full.” For a moment, it appeared that a spell had transformed her into a statue. A little nose poked out of Waltom’s coat. “WHAT is THAT doing in here?! Get that rat out of here NOW!”
“It’s not a rat Mother. It followed me into the garden. PLEASE let me keep him. He’s my only friend!”
It was true that neighbors were few, and Waltom rarely saw other children except on infrequent trips to town (Waltom hadn’t yet noticed that Mother appeared a bit heavier of late). Her face shifted from anger, to indecision, to resignation. “You have to make a place to keep it. And take care of it. And you have to do your chores better.”
“Oh yes Mother, I will. I promise. Anything you want.” Waltom gathered up his coat carefully. “C’mon little friend. We’re going to make you a place to live!”
Waltom made a little enclosure. He found some wood scraps, and made a small "house" for the new pet that he called Littlefriend. There was a small opening for Littlefriend to use as a doorway, and Waltom scrounged a hinge and a latch for the top.
Waltom would clean the enclosure and give Littlefriend a handful of hay in the mornings on the way to do his chores. In the evenings he would give the rodent some more hay, and try to sneak in something from the garden. In a happy coincidence, Littlefriend loved to eat what Waltom hated: spinach, carrots, and green beans. Waltom snuck Littlefriend into his room before going to bed. The little animal was inquisitive, and tried to nibble on anything he could get in his mouth. Waltom would gently prod Littlefriend with his finger, who would react by leaping and twisting in the air. After a few times, Littlefriend would scamper around the room, hopping rabbit-like. Waltom would coax him back with a treat, and stroke his fur. The little animal made a bubbling sort of purring sound.
Waltom would try to be stealthy about bringing Littlefriend to his room, but no Ranger was ever was more adept at stealth than a mother following her child. Waltom's mother knew that rodents were pests than ate precious food, but she could not help but smile as she sometimes secretly watched the two at play. Waltom had been as good as his word, and thankfully he was responsible and a hard worker; that was even more important now that a sibling would be arriving soon. Since the arrival of the animal - it was called a guinea pig, for some odd reason - Waltom had become more cheerful and less brooding. She had found out that it had come from a neighboring farmer who was raising the animals as exotic pets - or food - for city dwellers. Littlefriend had been a runt that was cast out, and somehow made his way to Waltom.
On afternoons when Waltom got his chores done early, he took out an old basket he had mended, and he and Littlefriend set out in search of adventure. There was a stream nearby, and Waltom would wade out to the tiny island This was their kingdom, which they defended from hordes of evil invaders. Today, Waltom imagined the arrival Princess Gwen, who would soon be able to join them in their adventures. Littlefriend munched on a particularly juicy stalk.
That night, Waltom snuck a candle into his room with Littlefriend. He set Littlefriend on his bed, and put the candle on the table next to it. He took out the paring knife he was carrying on the day he found his pet. Using a nail, he went to work, scratching a likeness of Littlefriend into the handle.
Waltom awoke muzzily. His nose tickled. He opened his eyes to see Littlefriend licking his nose. The candle had burned low. He bolted upright, and scooped up his pet. Waltom scurried to put LIttlefriend in his enclosure. He paused for a moment to stroke his fur. "We're going to be heroes!" he whispered. Littlefriend purred.
The next day, the goblins came, and killed everyone he had ever loved.
Waltom the Ranger and Pug the Druid sat next to the campfire. They were often seen together: the young, brooding taciturn Waltom, and the elderly, affable old man. As was often the case, they were preparing to share their favorite beverage. Waltom drew out some leaves from his pouch to brew the tea, and a small knife to trim the leaves. He set down the knife, and placed the leaves in the steaming water.
Pug glanced at the knife. He had stood by Waltom in many battles, and immediately recognized his Hunter's Mark. Their eyes met. Slowly and quietly Waltom spoke: "He was...my pet…my friend…"
Pug's voice was cheerful and kindly: "Ah yes. Friends can be a source of great comfort and inspiration."
After the briefest of pauses, Waltom lightened. "Yes, my friend, you are a source of great comfort and inspiration. How much honey would you like in your tea?"