The Price of Freedom
A stout dwarf with a fiery temper in the field of battle...
Vandal has a powerful build and fierce war-cry to match. In battle, he dons chainmail that affords him the freedom to wield his trusty battleaxe to deliver powerful blows. He also wields a heavy shield to deflect an opponent’s attacks. Strapped across his chest is a bandoleer while behind his back is a quiver of 5 javelins.
Vandal was in the wrong place at the wrong time when heavy chained cuffs were shackled on his wrists and ankles. He was summarily put on perfunctory trail for an unnamed crime he did not commit. The foregone verdict, guilty as charged, was pronounced and the sentence, enslavement, was given. He let out a roar of defiance when he was hauled down into the slave pits…
Vandal vowed he will restore his honor. Someday he will avenge the wrong against him.
Marked with the brand of the Fallen, Vandal was tossed in with the other dregs of society, the goblinoids and lesser races, the criminal, and the world’s low-life. The other prisoners welcomed Vandal with open arms; they tore into him, beating him within an inch of his life. The guards arrived barely in time, with their shock rods and whips, beating back the dregs, but the damage was already done. Lying on the cold stone cell floor in a large pool of his own blood, Vandal’s mind wandered. In his delirium, his body broken if not in spirit… he dreamed back to his former life when he was free…
Even from a young age, Vandal was stronger and had greater fortitude than most of his peers. Like all Dwarves, when Vandal came of age, he was trained to defend the Clan and excelled at the martial arts. As a foot soldier, he performed watch and patrol duty where he was trained to be perceptive and stay alert whether it was during an overnight watch or in an overland or underdark patrol.
The slave pens were cleared after the slaves were taken to the auction. In his broken condition, Vandal was unchosen, left with the lowest of the low, the unworthy from amongst the worthless, and thus sold en-mass for 1/10th of a copper as fodder in the gladiatorial games. He did not realize how fortunate he really was, for the slavers did not end his miserable, useless life.
At the Games, Vandal was fed and treated much like the others and given time to recover from his injuries. The Games sponsors did not benefit from his broken condition when he first arrived. His remarkable fortitude greatly aided his recovery to the satisfaction of his slave-masters. When he sufficiently healed, a mass riot started from amongst the fodder with whom he was caged. Vandal appointed himself quite well. So impressed was an overseer with his apparent skills, training and natural fighting ability, Vandal was dragged out of the fodder cells. He would not be left with the fodder, not when he was of greater value if he were instead to die as a gladiator.
When they were led out into the Arena in their first event, the crowd was more than disconcerting and a bit disorienting. Looking down on them and shouting a cacophony that reverberated from end to end of the stadium and back again, the crowd was more than hostile; they sought blood, their blood. Then there was the sheer physical size of the Arena itself; it was so open, there was really nowhere to hide, no safe place. Then there was the knowledge that the very ground they stood on countless others died in orgies of blood. But worst of all was the anticipation they face imminent death whether by fang, tooth, steel or unimaginably far more ghastly.
The blowing of trumpets followed by the clanking of steel and iron chains signaled the start of the games. When the hyenas emerged followed by packs of rabid hounds, it was almost welcomed relief even knowing death will soon follow.
Someone from behind Vandal called for them to stay together; that made much sense to him. The Arena felt so big, too big… Momentarily, his feet froze to the very ground he stood. In the meantime, he saw the others take action… wow, that one, a Quickling it appears, was the first of them to act. He, at least Vandal thought he was a he, managed to strike multiple blows in quick succession.
Then there was the spirit, rhino? Vandal almost couldn’t believe his eyes as the rhino charged. The next few seconds went by as if in a blur… He moved towards the center, not far behind the rhino, hoping the others will still close to him, thinking, he would be in position to support the rhino should it need it and also be in position to take the brunt of the hyenas’ charge.
His heavy shield and fine chainmail armor will surely provide him with some respite against the inevitable onslaught. The stout dwarf prepared a crushing surge against the first creature that dared move in to attack him, counting on his adrenalin to sustain him when the other creatures continued with the torrent of attacks. His moment came as a creature charged into him. Readied, he unleashed his warhammer. It connected against fur, muscle and bone – Crunch! Adrenalin coursed through his veins renewing his vigor. He was as ready for the inevitable follow-on assaults as he was ever going to be…