Footsteps of the Fallen
Drunken devote cleric of Ellena
Fifteen years ago…
Ortan woke to the feeling of a large hand on his shoulder. His face warm from the fire, his head
throbbing with pain, and his stomach somewhere near his throat. He had a feeling this was going to be
the worst hangover he’d ever had.
As the hand tightened it’s grip on his shoulder, a strange feeling began to grow in his chest. It
was if he was literally being filled with light. Recognizing it as one of his brothers stupid spells, Ortan
pretended to be asleep. He allowed the spell begin to take hold, but as soon as it began to materialize
into something else, he swung his legs around to trip his brother. Something strange happened. Instead
on knocking his brother flat on his ass, just like every time in the past, it felt as if his leg connected
with a tree made of steel.
His eyes burned as he opened them to see a man that was not his brother, Orsik. This man
leaning over him was a large, bald, beardless human. His face was set in peaceful concentration, while
he mouthed silent words. The man’s right hand was on Ortan’s right shoulder, looking down to see what
his leg had connected with, Ortan could see the man had contorted himself to block the trip with his
bare shin. Ortan rolled out from his assailants grip, stumbled upright and into a tackle. The man had
risen to his knees, which made him about the same height as Ortan standing up completely. The tackle
ended with Ortan on top of the man, the handle of his great hammer, Earthbreaker, laying across the
mans throat while pinning his arms down.
“What tha’ hell do ya think yer doin’?” Ortan billowed at the human underneath him.
“I mean you no harm, brother,” the man said smiling, spreading his hands in a gesture of
surrender. “I simply meant to help with the hangover I’m sure you’re feeling.”
“You ain’t my brother, you’re too big, and you ain’t ugly enough,” Ortan said while slightly
relieving the pressure on the mans throat. “Besides, magic ain’t no cure for a hangover, more ale is.”
“Spoken like a true dwarf,” the man said with a smile on his face and laughter in his voice.
“So why the magic and not more booze? You should know that’s the only polite way to wake a
dwarf,” Ortan said, looking around for the first time, and realizing he wasn’t underground.
It wasn’t a fire that was warming his face, or some strange magic blinding him, it was the sun.
As his eyes began to adjust to the light, he could see that he was in the middle of a large field in front
of a temple. The buildings large marble pillars held aloft a roof covered in highly detailed scrolling
artistry, the stonework was amazing. It seemed unlikely that anyone other than a dwarf had done the
work, though how humans found one to do the work was beyond him. The grounds were well kept, and
it appeared they were in a field intended for some sort of sporting event.
Looking back down at the man, finally able to see clearly, Ortan could see that he was clean
shaven, even the top of his head. His eyes were a brilliant blue, under thick, ashen white eyebrows. The
smile on his face looked perfectly at home. He wore a blue sleeveless tunic, and around his neck hung
a silver chain with a small silver greathammer hanging from it.
“Who in the nine hells are ya’?” Ortan asked gruffly.
“I am Brother Silas, High Priest of the Temple of Ellena here in Tri-gate,” the man said, “I was
on my way to my morning prayers when I saw you in the field here, with one hand on that
greathammer you have there, and the other on that wineskin down over there. I don’t have any ale to
offer, but you still have your wineskin. I doubt from the way you were snoring there’s much left, but if
you let me up you can check.”
Ortan removed Earthbreaker from Brother Silas’ throat, and used it to stand up, his head
spinning to the sudden exertion of effort. As Brother Silas stood up, Ortan was taken aback at how big
he was. Standing several feet over Ortan, he looked almost like a half-giant.
“Tri-gate? Last I remember, I was drinkin’ at the Silver Hammer, in Stonedeep, no, wait,” Ortan
said as he pulled out a large silver flask. On the face of the flask was an engraving of Earthbreaker, his
family’s ancestral greathammer.
As Ortan drank from the flask, he could feel the burn as it went down his throat. His head began
to clear almost immediately, and his stomach decided to settle down as well. Brother Silas was able to
see the engraving on the flask, as he did, the smile on his face grew even more.
“I was drinkin’ at the Silver Hammer, til that bitch, Ohza, kicked me out. Said something about
me drinking her to rags. I can’t believe my own blood would throw me out of our family’s pub!” Ortan
yelled at the sudden memory. “Though, I don’t really remember anything else between there and here.”
“The Gods work in mysterious ways, Ellena is no different. Perhaps she is the reason you are
here,” Brother Silas replied.
“Right, an’ I’m supposed to believe some Goddess is looking out for me? My ol’ man died tryin’
to rescue my Ma from some Imperium bastards, then they killed her. The same day, my big shot
brother, the mighty wizard Orsik, get’s himself flattened like like a bug by a hill giant. If a Goddess is
watching out for me, then you’re a damned gnome!” Otran billowed. Tears and snot were running down
his face by this point, mixing with the alcohol that already soaked his thick black beard. He wiped the
snot from his face with his forearm, and proceeded to drink what was left in his flask.
“Perhaps it was your pain that brought you to her attention, perhaps she saw your strength, sir
dwarf, and wanted to heal the pain you are in.”
Laughing, Ortan replied, “Sir dwarf? Heal my pain? Nothing happened to me, I didn’t get hurt, I
was doctorin’ miners down in the mines when it happened.”
“I apologize, I do not know your name, sir dwarf. If loosing your family in one day didn’t hurt
you, I would hate to see what would. Besides, not all pain is physical, ” Brother Silas replied calmly.
“Ain’t that the truth,” Ortan grumbled, “The name’s Ortan. Ortan Swillbeard. Sorry ‘bout tryin’
to kill ya. Err, I thought you were my bother. Bastard was always tryin’ to try new spells on me when I
“No harm done, and I should have known better then to try to use Ellena’s blessing to remove
the alcohol from you. That must have been a rather sober awakening,” Brother Silas said with laughter
in his voice.
Ortan, looking completely serious, stared pointedly up at Brother Silas and said, “Never remove
the alcohol from a Swillbeard, it’s like removing the beard from a Swillbeard. Either one will likely get
you killed, and I’d feel pretty bad killing a priest.” With a smile on his face, he added, “Besides, you
haven’t shown me where your holy wine is or told me about this Ellena, I think Dorin gave up on me.”
Brother Silas laughed at this, and said, “Of course, come join me for my morning prayer and I
shall tell you about Ellena. I don’t have any wine though.”
Ortan’s jaw dropped, the prospect of not drinking not something he could wrap his mind around.
“I do have some Dwarven Stout fresh from Brundicor, though. As well as a few Brundicor
Dwarven Cigars, but I think I would like to eat something first. Come, Brother Ortan, join me,” Brother
Silas said as he turned and began walking off.
Dwarven ale and cigars, Ortan’s respect for the man grew tenfold. He followed.
As the months passed Ortan became an initiate at the temple, where he was welcomed with
open arms. He took it as a sign that Ellena had led him there in his drunken stupor. For him the temple
became a place to heal, a place to call home, and a place to devote his life to a Goddess that would take
in a drunken sod like him.
Despite his drinking, he was rather skilled at treating injuries. Though initially his patients were
a little reluctant to be treated by an intoxicated dwarf, their fears dissolved with their pain under his
care. He seemed to have a natural talent at treating injuries too minor to use divine healing, which were
frequent from sporting events in the temple. His healing skills were respected by his fellow caretakers.
A few years later, the Imperium began it’s siege on Stonedeep. Word trickled slowly into
Trigate. When Ortan heard the rumors he initially laughed them off, no force could take the fortress
that was Stonedeep. As the months passed, and no word had come from Stonedeep in sometime, Ortan
began making preparations to travel to Stonedeep himself. After many discussions, Brother Silas talked
him out of making the journey.
“Ellena led you from Stonedeep for a reason, have faith that she knows what she’s doing,”
Brother Silas had told him. To this he consented, and he knew he had to have faith that the strength of
Stonedeep would repel the Imperium. A few years later, concerned for the loss of life, Thane Magrim
called for surrender.
The fall of Brundicor to the Imperium was a massive blow to the heart of Ortan, now on his
way to becoming a full cleric of Ellena. His drinking increased, and with it, so did his faith.