A Northman Tale by Peter Truter

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SUMMARY: Young Arnulf is a non descript teenager in the Wild North of the Kingdom of Grenz, with a burning desire to be an adventurer. At first this seems but a dream to him, as he is unlike the naturally brawny northmen of his tribe. However due to certain circum

CHAPTER 1
Young Arnulf gazed in awe as the strapping warrior with the chain mail vest and the huge two handed sword strapped across his back, entered the General Dealer. Underberg was something of a magnet for adventurers, stuck so far north in the wild region known as the Wild North. Most were however inexperienced and didn't last long, running home to more civilized urban centers like Port Bailey or Paranaeth. The bearded man with the scar above the eye was clearly different. He was in his thirties and a veteran.
"Looking for lamp oil boy," growled the big man in a gruff terse tone. Sixteen year old Arnulf, the stores clerk, put aside his broom, which he had been using to sweep up a maize spill, and grinned.
"Over here mister," he showed the man. The warrior selected five clay jars and then collected up a length of rope.
"How much?" he asked the young clerk. Arnulf told him and the man handed over the coins. Arnulf, who had not been working in the General Dealer long, was minding the store for the owner Fossberg, who was out meeting with the local carpenter Surtep, about alterations.
"So you heading out into the Ridge?" asked the young clerk, referring to the foreboding range within the Wyrmsberg Mountains, rife with adventure opportunities.
"Yep," nodded the big man as he packed away his recently purchased supplies.
"You on your own or with an adventuring party?" pressed the boy excitedly. The thought of living like an adventurer really appealed to Arnulf, but he was average of build, and had not shown much prowess athletically or when the local youngsters all went hunting during the year. In order to live he had taken a job with Fossberg who owed his father a favor. Sigurd, Arnulf's dad, had passed away the previous winter from the fever and his mother had joined family in far off Twin Rivers.
"Groups called The Shields of Baradrac," replied the adventurer, eying the youngster, "You gonna be a adventurer one day?"
"Gee mister that would be fantastic, but I don't think I'm cut out for it," admitted the boy who physically was as average as could be. Some other boys his age were already training with the militia but he was turned down, and told to come and ask again the following spring.
"Not cut out for it?" mused the gruff warrior. He stroked his bushy frontiersman beard and underneath it possibly grinned, "Well only you can decide on that," he told the teenager.
"Decide?" frowned Arnulf, "If it were that easy..."
"It is," declared the man, "It is boy." With that the man shouldered his pack and left, nodding a parting greeting to the young clerk. Arnulf thought long and hard on the man's words after he left. By the time he laid his head down to sleep that evening, he was still thinking about it.
*
With his jaw clenched the un muscled teenager struggled to make the twentieth pushup. Arnulf dropped flat on the wooden floor, panting and grimacing. Some warrior type he was. Three sets of twenty pushups and he was done! But it was a start he decided as he rolled onto his back. He was lying on the raw wooden floor of the room he rented from Bowdan the wheelwright.

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