Simidon the Brave largely fits the image of the barbarian, he is tall and covered with thicky ropy muscles. He wears a hooded cloak made from the hide of a great fanged lion, with the head serving as the hood. His arms and legs are criss-crossed with scars and under his rough tunic, odd tattoos and more scars can be partially seen. He has long blond hair he wears in several coarse braids, and his beard is likewise braided, and he is seldom seen without several necklaces of animal claws and teeth. He is more likely to act than speak, and when he does speak his voice has a raw sound to it, as if his vocal chords protest the breaking of their traditional silence.
Some men are born to greatness, others have it thrust upon them. Simidon was in the second position, having started his life as the only son of a goatherder of the Machair tribes. It wasnt until his teenage years that things changed, that he picked up his first weapon and made his first raid. The early years were good to Simidon, and his participation in many raids and victories made him a hero in his own time. The slaying of the Golden Lion, and being deemed worthy of his own war sledge cast a light upon the young warrior that his path led to the throne of the Barbarian King of Machair.
But this was almost too good, and too sweet a victory, and the world was poised to strike back. He lead a great raiding party north against the lair of Harhausen, a noted sorcerer and defiler of the gods. It was common knowledge that users of magic were weak and cowardly, and were fond of laying in the arms of other men. Such a milk-sopped and mewling existance combined with treasure troves of gold was more than enough to lure more than 100 barbarians to join Simidon on his venture. He planned that the glory and gold he would reap from the venture would be more than enough to gain him the hand of one of the King's daughters, and gain him a way to the throne.
Harhausen was indeed a lover of men, and did not possess great physical strength, nor did the sorcerer make any pretense of being a warrior. In his zeal, Simidon did not speak to sages or oracles to learn more of Harhausen. If he had, he very well might have changed his plans, for not only was Harhausen a potent and accomplished Black Summoner, but was also a woman. As his host arrived and shouted the challenge, they were taken back by the rail thin woman who strode to the top of her tower to glare at the unwashed and unruly mob. They knew nothing of her expertise of black summoning, calling forth undead and necrotic beasts from magic alone, need neither corpses nor extensive preparations.
The battle, known as the Shaming of the Lion, was a stunning defeat for the barbarians. Harhausen summoned undead giants that roared and threw warriors about like rag dolls, but the warriors were not broken yet. She cast spells of withering and death that cut them down like wheat and though they faltered, their courage still held. Finally she cast one of her mightiest spells and summoned a dragon made of darkness, and death, fear and despair. The beast of black sorcery fell on the barbarians and as it breathed out, they breathed their last and the valiant and foolhardy warriors were slain almost to the last. Of the 100 three survived, Simidon and two youths. Harhausen took the three into her tower as prisoners, and after three long years, Simidon was released, his arms and armor restored to him.
A Haunting Madness
After his release, Simidon could not speak of what had occured in the tower save for that it was terrible and even remembering it caused him pain. It is guessed that after his capture, that the sorceress interrogated the warrior, and tortured him until he was left a mental and physical wreck. While this is partly true, it defies the power commanded by the Sorceress Harhausen. During his captivity in the tower, the Sorceress slew him several times, each time bringing his soul back into his body after letting it linger in the hellish confines of the dungeons. She alternated between almost angelic sweetness and demonic sadism until even thinking of the sorceress left the once proud warrior shaking and weeping with fear. It was then that she gave him back his gear and bade him free release.
After the Storm, Memories of Thunder
Simidon was indeed free and completely released. He is still a capable warrior, and retains all of his abilities, though his stamina and endurance are not what they used to be. The stress of being slain and brought back to life repeatedly caused permanent degredation to his body, but not to the extent that he is unable to function at most actions. The warrior can raise his claub and fight and lead, so long as the foes are goblins, or gnolls, or other cowardly foes who are easily routed.
He lives in a state of paranoia, roped together with an almost paralytic fear of magic and those who command it. He is afraid that one of these days that Harhausen is going to return and tell him to come back because his release has been nothing more than another one of her games, like when she invited him into her bedroom, or when she took him from the dungeons and made him one of her captains. After each game ran it's course, she slew him in a brutal and merciless manner, raising him shortly after. As such he seldom sleeps and is frequently exhausted, his eyes glassy and mouth dry. When he does sleep it's usually either passing out from sleep deprivation or drinking himself into oblivion.
An Object Lesson
The barbarians of Machair saw what occured to Simidon, and it changed their minds. At the time of his release, they were planning a second raid on Harhausen's tower, both for loot and revenge. When the warrior returned, they were shocked, he knew the layout and spoke of the spells she commanded and the magical beasts she could summon. Seeing the ruin of his body, and the necromantic sigils burned into his flesh they faltered. Unless the entire tribe were gathered, and allies called from the settled lands mustered they would not likely win. Even if they did win, it would be at a terrible cost. They then decided to leave Harhausen alone, which was a good idea on their part as the sorceress had no interest in them or their lands.
Machairi Lion Cloak - in the tradition of Hecules and the Nemean lion, Simidon hunted and slew one of the long-fanged golden lions of Machair and slew it with nothing more than his bare hands and wits. He earned the right to skin the lion and wear it's skin as his own, and to consume it's heart for courage. The cloak offers a moderate degree of protection, which tends to make up for the lack of metal armor among the Machair and other barbarians.
Machairi War Sledge - The product of a master craftsman, the War Sledge is actually a handsomely carved greatclub favored by the Machairi barbarians. The wooden haft of the weapon has been carved and sanded until it resembles a a wooden arm and fist, it's lignous fingers wrapped around a rounded river stone. This weapon is capable of dealing out devastating blows that can crumple armor, rend shields and cave in helmets. It is only functional in the hands of a blooded barbarian warrior, to all others it is just a rock on the end of a stick.
The Hired Man - Upon reaching the wide steppe of Machair, the PCs are in need of a local guide to help them reach their destination. The only man available is Simidon, who looks the part and accepts their contract. As they travel, the depths of the warrior's condition starts to show. He takes every watch, seeming to never to sleep, then starts getting lost because he is too tired. He is also deeply afraid of the PCs if they have a wizard or sorcerer with them, and if there is a sorceress he will adopt a submissive demeanor to her.
Harhausen's Legacy - The PCs have been inquired of to deal with Harhausen as her experiments have been virulent of late and the tribe is concerned. They want the PCs to talk with Simidon, since he has seen the inside of the tower and knows of it's defences. Some think it is time that Simidon face his fears, with the PCs at his back, and slay the woman who slew him repeatedly. If the PCs and Simidon actually face Harhausen, she will command him to attack, the fallen warrior will attack the PCs without fear or a second thought. His master commands it.
Machair - MAHK-eer
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? Responses (8)-8
Creepy and somewhat disturbing. Very well done as well. I rarely feel for barbarians, but this one has my sympathy. I wonder if the PCs would be wise enough to not hire him, knowing his mental instability.
Oh, and kudos for the Psycho quote.
Ah-hoy. Nice. My only bad is, nah. No bad at all really. This rocks. Conanish...ish, Beowulfish and Scrasamaxi-ish. Nice one mate.
The sorceress was cliche, but Simidon is definitely not; an effect the magical world will have on some.
Well written... and yes, somewhat disturbing. More of both qualities will be welcome.
A barbarian with a great fear of magic.
As manfred said, somewhat disturbing, but altogether good.
Interesting tale! My favorite part is the mention of magic being seen by the barbarians early on as almost effeminate. (It was common knowledge that users of magic were weak and cowardly, and were fond of laying in the arms of other men). Good work. Well written, as others have said!
An excellent tale and well done necromantess(?) - I'd like to see more of her.
Together I see these characters playing part of a much bigger plot then those already there. Only a glimmer in my mind at the moment, but it's growing.
How many adventures have started with "You hear about a powerful and evil wizard in a tower"? How did the PCs hear about the evil wizard? Now we know how. A meeting with a mind-wrecked former barbarian hero makes a good alternative (or addition) to the old cliche "village council hiring notice."
And then, when the PCs go to Harhausen's tower, and they start facing capture-traps and incapacitating magic, they should be very, very afraid...