The Beginnings of Baladar the Brave

Born on a cold winter’s night in the middle of a snow storm, he was the easiest and fastest delivery the midwife had ever attended. The whole family joked that he was in a hurry to get out and face the world. Thus Baladar earned his first, and truest moniker – The Brave.

One day Baladar came home from school with a black eye and torn clothes. His father had been summoned by the headmaster to take him home for getting into a fight at mealtime. Baladar had remained angrily silent the entire walk home, but once they got behind closed doors, his anger exploded once more.

“Why didn’t you tell me Great Uncle Roondar was crazy? All the other kids spent the whole morning laughing at me and our family after our History lesson today!” he shouted at his father.

“What? No. Don’t you talk that way about your uncle. He was a very brave and noble Gnome.” his father replied.

“He attacked trees, da! He often left his companions and went charging off into the woods to attack trees!” Baladar fumed. “With a lance!”

“Your Great Uncle Roondar had his entire family murdered by Drow in front of his very eyes. Drow that came out of the dark forest around his village and then disappeared back into it. He saw things no Gnome should ever have to see. And if he sometimes had to chase those nightmares into the woods, it was a lot safer than keeping them inside to tear at his soul.” His father signed. “Baladar, I’m sorry that I did not warn you about what others might think, but we all have demons, Uncle Roondar just had a unique way of dealing with them. And for all of that, he is still one of the greatest Gnomish heroes that ever lived. Now, I want you to remember that, and remember that Uncle Roondar never attacked another being for laughing at him. Never.”

“Yes, da. I’m sorry.”

One day when he was just 20, while out in the forest, he came upon a group of children taunting a lone, injured goblin. Baladar pushed his way through the group and stood over the cringing thing, glaring back at the other children.

“Leave him alone, he hasn’t done anything to you.” he told the others.

“But he’s a Goblin!”

“He’s ugly and dirty!”

“Da said all goblins deserve to die!” they replied. But Baladar just stood there, glaring silently until they gave up and left.

“Now, get out of here before they come back with more.” Baladar said, lifting the Goblin to his feet and turning him away from the village with a gentle push.

It was time for the annual artshow in the village. Baladar had been working on his piece for months now. A huge tree had fallen during a spring storm, and he had claimed a large portion of the trunk for his project. He kept it locked in his room at all times, not even letting his parents see what he was making. The day of the show arrived, and he woke up before dawn to get it in place in the showhall before anyone else arrived, keeping it covered with a sheet, and standing guard all morning.

Just before noon, the judges reached his display. A crowd had been following them around all morning, to get a glimpse of all the projects, but an even bigger crowd was already waiting to see what Baladar had made. Baladar gripped one corner of the cloth and yanked it away to reveal his masterpiece.

Many of the younger gnomes screamed and scattered, most of the rest gasped and took at least one step back. After a moment of stunned silence, the entire crowd burst into applause. Baladar had, in honor of his Great Uncle Roondar, carved a life-sized Drow warrior out of the dark wood, so realistic, that it looked like it might step forward and stab each and every one of them. No one in the village ever laughed at him about his Uncle again.

For his fortieth birthday, he took a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Roondar’s tomb. He stood vigil for three days and nights. In the middle of the third night, his uncle’s spirit visited him in a dream, and bade him take up the mantle of Paladin of Torm, for the threats to the Dales and their allies were growing once again, and Justice and Law must be served.

Still young to the world, Baladar has only just come to adulthood by gnomish standards. His family supports his path, but advised him to see the world before settling on a path so narrow as becoming a Paladin. His mind was made up, however, and with Roondar’s words in his soul, he

has dedicated his life to Torm. But, with the wanderlust of a Gnome, he has also followed his family’s advice, and spent the last year wandering the Dales, looking for the troubles Roondar warned him of.

He heard of the crown’s troubles in Cormyr, and the call for volunteers from the Purple Dragon’s Lt. Toren to find the Lady Alusair. Not sure how best to help, he headed for Tilverton, to learn what he can, and chose the best path forward.

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