DrK's Age of Worms
A Halfling ranger who watches helplessly as his companions contantly jump into death's wide-open mouth
Landahl Snowstrider is tall for his kind and possessed of the lean ruggedness that most of the halflings of his tribe displayed … although it may seem different to those used to a more happy-go-lucky type of halfling. His shoulder-length black hair is usually tied into a tail, with wisps usually slipping free around his face periodically. His eyes are like chips of blue ice – hard and piercing. He favors long sleeves and pants, used to the cold weather of his homeland. However, underneath his clothes, his upper torso is covered with tattooes, each marking specific accomplishments he achieved through his tribe.
He tries to keep all of his gear with him, never knowing when he’ll need something … or when he’ll have to move out. Most of his possessions are in his pack, which he’ll set aside during battle, if necessary. One of his prized gifts is a plain-looking quiver that was magically enhanced to store extra equipment, ensuring that he rarely is without his bow … or the right arrow for the job.
Across his back, he carries a blade almost as long as he is, the hilt wrapped in white fur and sinew. He wears a dual-sided cloak, suitable for stealthy travel during the day or night.
In general, Landahl appears to be ready for whatever the world can, and will, throw at him.
Lan joined the group after he was recused by them in the mines inhabited by Ebon Triad cultists. He was trussed up and ready to be sacrificed to the Overgod the Triad was summoning.
Lan grew up in Diamond Lake, along with the others. But after the horrors he and his friends experienced in the mines, he left after a few months, wanderin to the east. He found a new home in the Abbor Alz mountains – it was harsh, severe, and deadly, but it became home. In such a hellish environment, few would ever see the cold beauty of the first sunrise after a snowfall, nature’s crisp blanket of snow untouched by mortals. Nor would they last long enough to witness a summer sunset on the Long Lake, the last rays of the day sparkling like diamonds on the still mountain waters. Yes, the land was dangerous, and not for the faint of heart; but with time and experience, one learned to avoid most of them.
Landahal Snowstrider learned quickly to survive; but it was a lonely life, with few to share it with. He found meager work as a tracker, scout and guide … when adventures or merchants had need of a skilled man they called upon him … as they did during his last trip into the mountains.
_Lan watched the group of hobgolins for a few more moments before melting back into the early morning shadows. Sniffing the air, feeling the crunch of the snow, he shook his head. While the sky was clear now, a storm was coming soon … and in the Peaks, that meant trouble. However, there was nothing he could do about it, so he headed back to his own camp as quickly as he could. It took him a little over half an hour to return to his companions. “Looks like they’ve linked up with another group. Now there’s ten hobs, six asleep, four on guard duty. Something big in the center, but couldn’t see it … just hot breath. No signs of prisoners, unless they’re in that pile.”
The huge half-giant fingered his axe, grinning in anticipation. The holy warrior nodded as he stood and pulled forth a large, glittering curved blade. “Let’s take it to them while we have the advantage of daylight.” The twin snow elves, one an archer and the other a bladeswoman, looked at each other and shrugged. The final member of the group was somewhat of a contradiction in terms – a glacier dwarf fire mage. He started chanting, encasing himself in a semi-transparent suit of banded armor, and waved to the others to move out.
Lan cleared his throat with a growl. “Hold yer arses a minute! I’m all for ambushing this lot, but give me a little more time and I can learn some more about our victimes, and avoid any surprises.”
The champion pondered for a moment, then looked at the half-giant who looked about to burst. Gazing at the sun, he shook his head. “No. The risk is too great to wait. We must attack before they decide to kill the prisoners.”
With a grunt of exasperation, Lan shook his head, pausing for a long moment before he finally motioned for the others to follow. He muttered to himself that something felt wrong, but he wasn’t going to undermine Daltaan. Besides, there was always a chance that the champion was correct, and Lan was wrong.
Yeah … right …
Lan ran through the trees, his breathing like the huffing of a dire lion, loud and harsh to his own ears. He kept glancing back past the lumbering dwarven mage, trying to spot the flying magi. Of course, their pursuer could turn invisible, so his efforts were probably wasted. The ambush had started out well enough, with four of the hobgoblins falling quickly to the group. However, when the ‘leader’ cast off his disguise and turned out to be an ogre mage, things took a turn for the worse. It had gutted the barbarian and ripped one of the twins apart with barely any effort. To his credit, Daltaan called for the others to retreat while he took rear guard … but the triumphant roar echoing across the valley mere moments later didn’t bode well for his survival. Borgrim had made it out, but between a dwarf and a halfling, there was little chance they could outrun their pursuit … it just meant they would die tired.
As they passed a large outcropping, covered in snow and ice, he slowed down and held his hand up, signalling to Borgrim to stop. Sniffing the air and looking around, he studied the outcropping a bit more. After a moment, he could see an opening in the rocks, hidden from the casual glance. But something else, near the entrance, caught his attention, too, and he smiled. Grabbing a branch, he motioned Borgrim closer and started to whisper as he worked on their tracks.
The ogre moved forward, now visible, as the three remaining hobgoblins trailing behind. The group approached the outcropping and would have passed it, but something drew the ogre mage’s attention. Looking down, he saw the tracks of his prey continuing on past the rocks, but something had disturbed the snow heading to the outcropping. Staring for a moment, the ogre snarled as he saw the faint lines of magic in the same direction, confident they had reached the endgame. “Poor, poor, half-men … trying so hard to hide. Do you think I am a fool? Do you think me STUPID?”
His voice rose to a roar, but a moment later, he disappeared from sight and flew towards the now visible opening in the outcropping. Landing lightly near the entrance, he peered in carefully, looking for the halfling and dwarf. Suddenly, a huge hand reached up from the snow and grabbed his foot. Startled, he glanced down to see a body, preserved in ice, holding onto his leg. As he stumbled back, the thing rose from the ground, standing at least as tall as the ogre mage. One-on-one, he would have easily escaped the creature, blasted it to bits with his magic. But when the second entombed body rose up behind the monster, the ogre magi was pulled down into the hardened ice, kicking and screaming in rage the entire way.
It was an easy thing for Lan and Borgrim to finish off the fleeing hobgoblins, and return to their camp to recover the artifact they had been searching for. Ironically, despite Daltaan’s concerns, the two found no survivors to save – all the signs suggested they have been eaten long before._
Lan and Borgrim returned to town once the quest was done. They worked together for a bit, but when the threat of the giants arose, Borgrim returned to his people to bring word and aid back. Lan decided he had enough of the mountains for a bit, and a yearning came to return home, and face the demons that had driven him away in the first place. Thus it was that Landahl Snowstrider returned to Diamond Lake, wondering what he would find in the small lake town …