This is a collection of "snapshots" I wrote for my character Ralius Verinius. The idea behind them was that a friend would give me a prompt in the form of a song or picture, and I would write a short story for my character using the prompt as inspiration. I found it was a great way to both flesh out the character and practice my creative writing all at once.
For just a slight bit of background on Ralius, he is a former member of the Imperial Legion turned sellsword. These snapshots provide a little bit on insight on who he was before the Soulburst as well as the downward spiral his life took right after.
These little stories are supposed to lack context and really raise more questions than they answer, and though they may make much less sense without knowing the character, I hope you enjoy them all the same!
(And if you're ever looking for RP, hit me up here or in game @MCullet)
"Easy now, Tolan! He's had enough!"
"Piss off! He's still waggin' his tongue!" Tolan roared as he shoved his friend back a few steps before lurching toward the Imperial lying face down in the snow. A handful of spectators watched the scene from the porch of the inn, and save one particularly unhappy woman, they remained quiet aside from a few hushed conversations.
Lifted from the snow by the back of his shirt, Ralius cast a bloody grin up at his Nordic attacker. "Your lass there didn't seem to mind my wagging tongue before you showed up. Might try following her example." His words were slurred and the smell of whiskey-laden breath wafted up at the Nord.
Anger fueled by the Imperial's remark, Tolan threw a punch at the drunk's face, sending him right back into the cold snow . The smaller man let out a muffled groan into the snow and made a weak attempt at lifting himself up, only to collapse at the effort.
"The guard will be here any minute! He's had enough," warned Tolan's friend for a second time. Surprisingly, the lass who seemed to be the focus of this 'brawl' nodded in agreement, watching the prone Imperial with a piteous expression.
Tolan seemed to calm a bit at the mention of the guard and the imploring look from his woman, and settled for giving Ralius a heavy kick to the ribs, flopping the dazed man onto his side with a pained grunt before turning to storm back into the warmth of the inn. With the show over, the rest of the crowd dispersed quite quickly, some heading inside and others heading into the night to return home.
Within moments, only the loud-mouthed Imperial remained outside the inn. A steady stream of blood poured from a nostril and snaked its way into the snow. Before long, unmistakable sound of boots against snow signaled someone's approach. Fading vision met with the sight of a pair of armored boots, the bloodied Imperial slipped from consciousness.
"He always liked you better, you know."
Ralius looked up, stirred from his thoughts by his brother's remark. "What are you on about now? He loved us equally, as parents do." His gaze dipped to the bottle of whiskey at the center of the table. It had been shared between them, but it was clear his brother, Marcus, had taken a much larger portion.
Marcus shook his head and give Ralius a flat look. "You're not naive enough to think that's how it truly works. Father always went on about his soldier of a son, 'winning rebellions and siring children'." He rolled his eyes at that. "Guess he didn't see what I do."
"Yeah, and what do you see? Because all I see is you insulting father's memory before he's even cold." Ralius shook his head in disapproval. "You know better than to think that."
Scowling back at his brother, Marcus reached for the bottle and took a swig. "And I see a boy who abandoned the family on some fool's quest for glory and adventure. You knew he was already sick when you left. We needed the extra hands for the harvests, and you knew that too." He mutters something unintelligible beneath his breath."Yet here you are, the grand war hero come home, while those who kept the family together got pushed off to the side. No grand toasts for us at dinner, no sir." Marcus let out a mirthless laugh as he shook his head. "Might've lived longer if he wasn't doing your share of the work."
Ralius sprung up from his chair, sending it toppling to the floor behind him. Fists planted on the table and narrowed eyes locked on his brother, it seemed quite likely that he meant to leap at him at any moment. Instead, his shoulders sagged with defeat, the fire extinguished as quickly as it came. Without another word, he headed for the door.
"Aye, run on out. Stick to what you know." Marcus scoffed and just went back to minding his bottle.
Small flecks of sawdust flew toward the warm glow of the fire as Ralius blew against a small block of wood. It was clearly meant to resemble some sort of animal, but it was not nearly finished enough to determine what animal that might be. Seemingly satisfied with his work, Ralius smiled faintly before putting the small carving knife back to work and continued to shape his project.
"Something for your boy?"
Ralius looked up at the voice, finding it belonged to one of the archers in his unit, Atticus. Pulled from the distraction of his craft, he was suddenly keenly aware of the various noises around him. Horses neighed somewhere in the distance, and the sound of carpenter's hammers rang through the night air as they built engines of war. Even at night, these camps didn't seem to rest. "Aye, it is," he told the man. "Not of sure what babies do with this kind of thing, but at least it's something to keep me busy, yeah?"
Atticus cracked a soft smile as he took a seat on one of the logs surrounding the fire. "Oh, I'm sure he'll like it just fine. When we first had Remus, he was happy to grab at just about anything he could. He'd probably like a rock just as much as whatever you're making there." He chuckled lightly as he held his palms out toward the fire in an attempt to warm them. "Must be excited to meet him, eh?"
Clearly pleased at the prospect of returning home, Ralius cast a soft smile at the fire. "Aye... Would've been nice if we had waited another year or two to rebel. It would have been nice to-" His words were cut short by the piercing sound of alarm bells that filled the air without any warning and drowned out all other noise in the camp.
Watchmen cried out from their towers. "Fire! Fire in the north side!" The camp erupted with activity as soldiers scrambled out of their tents, grabbing what bits of clothing and weaponry they could in the process. Ralius and Atticus were no exception, and they too were soon lost in the crowd. All that remained by the fireside was a small knife and a roughly-carved block of wood.
Ralius stirred from his sleep as the morning light poured through the crack in the curtains and fell directly on his face. A faint smile on his lips, he turned his head toward the other side of the bed. "I just had the be-" He stopped short upon realizing that the other half of the bed was empty and that this was an inn, not his bedroom.
"Right..." He sighed quietly, casting a scowl at the empty half of the bed before turning on his back to gaze up at the ceiling. Even a year later, he couldn't seem to get used to using all of the bed himself. Despite having had a particularly pleasant dream and having slept uninterrupted the entire night, he felt far from well-rested.
A knock then sounded at his door. "Ralius, get up! We need to get going," a heavily-accented Nordic voice called through the door.
With another sigh, Ralius swung his legs over the bed and got to his feet. "Yeah, yeah," he called back. "I'll be out in two minutes. See about breakfast, will you?" True to his word, he was heading down to the common room of the inn in minutes, reluctantly ready to start his day and wanting nothing more than to return to his pleasant dream.
As it had every night that week, an owl's screech pierced the night to continue its demonic mission to ensure nothing slept.
"That thing has to be possessed," Ralius muttered, bringing his pillow down over his head in an attempt to block out the sound. "I'm going to burn down the forest, I swear."
Letting out a small chuckle of amusement, Claudia pushed herself up with an elbow and looked down at her husband beside her. "I'm sure you will, but you're going to wake Lucius more than that owl ever will, dear," she told him in a whisper, her eyes drifting over to the wall that stood between them and their sleeping son.
As if on cue, the sound of a child's cry joined in with the owl's calls. Ralius just let out a sigh of complete defeat and lifted the pillow from his head. "I suppose it's only fair I get it this time." He leaned over to kiss his wife on the forehead before swinging his legs over the side of the bed.
"Try not to get too much sleep without me." He grinned at her silhouette in the darkness of the room before shuffling out into the hall. "Who knew parents got less sleep than soldiers?"