Character Name: Blind Otto

Blind Faith - the Tale of Blind Otto

Chapter 1 - Beginnings...

Draw close, young ones, and let us enjoy the warmth of this tavern's fire and the fine ale it has to offer, while I tell the tale of how I came to this place.

I am Otto Orethane, known hereabouts as Blind Otto. I was born in the far off lands of Europa, where I studied the arts of the forge at the feet of many of the great masters of that land. I learnt to make every type of weapon, and to master every form of ore that can be found in the rocks and soil of the land. It meant many long hard years of toil and study, but I loved the craft, and did not feel it to be a burden.

After many years, my own skill became renowned across the land, and many a warrior was proud to wear the armour that sprang from my hammer, or wield the blades that came from my forge. Many of my creations have already passed into the stuff of legends, for my love of my craft was often compared to magic, and that love would, from time to time, manifest itself by giving unusual enhancements to some of my finest creations.

The singing blade of Lady Moiré, for instance, slew an entire brood of ancient wyrms, and brought her great honour. The reflective shield of Sir Moonhelm, the screaming dagger of Twixt, all of these were my creations. Lord British himself wore a set of my best gauntlets into many a battle, while he walked this realm! I believe he may still have them, wherever he may roam.

But, as time went by, my reputation became a little more than I could bear. I have but two hands, and can not create such wonderments for every would-be hero who happens by my forge. So, as I had made a fair amount of gold, certainly enough to live on for several lifetimes, I went into semi-retirement, and there I should have had the sense to stay.

Still, a quiet life was not to be my destiny. Listen closely, for this is a tale filled with mystery, wonderment and magic!

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Chapter 2 - A mage comes calling

One dark day, a battered looking mage came pounding on my door, faint wisps of smoke still rising from his singed robe, and staggering under the weight of a large sack of ingots. Ah, would that I had shut the door in his face, but I have always had a soft spot for those in need. One day I might learn some sense, but this was not to be the day. Far, far from it indeed!

"Smith! Noble smith, ye must help me! Ye must!!!" he cried, tears leaving lines down his soot-stained face. I noticed that he no longer had any eyebrows, and his beard had been reduced to a single, smouldering hair. "I am Andreus the mystic, and the Cult of the Dark's casters are moving across the land! I have born witness to four villages, their inhabitants torn to shreds in the most gruesome way! Even the youngest ones - I could not save them, Mithras forgive me! Their spirits are now bound by magic, and their bodies are far beyond my strongest healing spells! 'Tis terrible! Help me! Ye must help, or the land will surely be lost beneath their cruel blades and dark wizardry! Help me!"

I looked carefully at the battered figure that swayed in front of me. "Good Andreus, I am no wizard or warrior. I have no skill in combat. I own no tame dragons. What is it that ye ask of me?" Ah, such a foolish question. I should remember that a door is made that it can close for a good reason!

"Sir, I have a bag of enchanted ingots here, stolen from under their evil noses. I have enhanced them further with many a spell of blessing. All that I ask is that thou would make me a good, strong sword from them. I do not ask for thy own enchantments, though I would not turn them down, should it be in your heart to help in that way. I will supply all the enchantment that this weapon needs with my own spells if not. Once it is ready, I know of a mighty hero who can wield it, who will help me stem the horde's red tide across this land!"

Oh, what a fool I am! "Mage at the door, disasters and more!", as my dear, departed mother used to say. She never did trust magic-users, and with good reason - my father was one.

Still, I took the bag of ingots, gave the quivering mage a tankard of ale to calm him, and led him, still shaking and smouldering, to my smithy. The forge was still hot, for I had been making some new iron chests to keep my goods in that very morning. I stoked it a little more, and inspected the ingots he had brought. They seemed to be common iron, but there was a strange, low humming sound coming from them, and they made my hands tingle slightly when I lifted them, even through my thick gloves. Still, ore is ore, and weapons were a part of my craft, so, I set to work, and the ore seemed eager to obey my every blow.

Soon, a fine sword lay cooling on my workbench, glistening in the fire light. I created the blade just as he asked, making it strong, sharp, and durable enough to last many a battle. That is my art, and I am very good at it. Sadly, I did not think to enquire as to how skilled the shaken mage who sat nearby reducing my ale supply was at his…

As I handed the completed sword to Andreus, it's blade shining with a strange purple and blue light, it reacted to his touch, perhaps sensing the magic within. The pouch he wore on his belt exploded, showering us with herbs and roots! As if in response to this small explosion, my forge glowed redder than I had ever seen, and then as bright as the midday sun! It shook, it bulged at the sides, and then shot into the air, showering us with red hot coals, sulphur and ash! A large hole was left in my roof, but when I looked down, there was a far larger one in my floor, with huge, red, claw-like hands reaching up out of it!

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Chapter 3 - Darkness falls

From the freshly made hole where my forge had stood, crawled a huge, hideous creature - it appeared that a dragon had chosen to mate with a fire elemental, with a few serpents mixed in for good measure! ( Aye, indeed, the mating habits of dragons are rumoured to be strange, but few have ever lived to truly tell of them - but that is another story! ) It was terrible, this beast from the depths, and it rose from the flames, looking about the room hungrily for fresh prey. Unfortunately, at that moment, it's choices of food were rather limited…

The frightened mage squealed, and fell over his cloak backwards, throwing a small fireball at the beast in panic. Honestly, I ask you, fireballs against a creature of flame? What are they teaching mages these days??? The Council of Mages has much to answer for, since the academy closed! The beast caught the fireball, and looked at it curiously. I hastily grabbed Andreus by the robes, and hurled him screaming through what remained of the window, while reaching for my best sledge hammer. The sounds of his frenzied squealing could be heard disappearing over the hills into the distance. It was probably too much to hope that he was going to summon aid, so I grabbed a nearby breastplate and helmet as well - not much protection, but they would have to do! I would not get the chance to don a full suit of armour with this creature contemplating the best way to cook a smith!

I do not remember much of the battle - I struck at the monster like a man possessed, doing my best to evade it's claws, fangs and flames. Still, after what seemed an eternity - a painful eternity - the beast fled screaming on bat-like wings from the ruins of my smithy, grievously wounded. After all, a large sledgehammer, swung by one who does little but smite metal all day, can do a lot of damage, combat training or no! I staggered to my feet, blood streaming from my forehead. The blurred outline of it's misshapen form heading skywards was the last thing I ever saw, for a huge green fireball spewed forth from it's mouth, straight towards me. Then, the blackness which has been my steadfast companion ever since took refuge in my eyes. I awoke several days later, in the local healer's hut.

Andreus the mage, coward he may be, made good on his word, and took my last legendary sword to his warrior friend. He named it Firesong, and with it, the land was soon freed of the terror of the cult, so at least some good came of that dark day. Andreus then returned, and, together with the healer, tried desperately to mend me, but to little avail. My skin was healed, my bones knitted back together, but my eyes were gone. I now wear two dead metalic orbs of my own creation where I once had the vision of an eagle, and could spot an ore vein from fifty feet away.

The fire beast has never been seen since, but after many threats cowed him, Andreus was able to track it to a portal that lead to my present home, in the dangerous realm of Siege Perilous. He protested that I should not go - that I would stand no chance against it without my eyesight.

Coward that he was, he would not accompany me into the unknown, but that may have been a blessing, considering that his choice of weapon against a fire beast is a small fireball! As my home was now smouldering ruins, and all the worldly wealth I had accumulated was now ash, I took the small amount of gold that I had in my bank box, and bade farewell to my lifelong home.

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Chapter 4 - Old dog, new tricks

I stepped through the shining portal, and arrived in the mining town of Minoc. At first, I started off living in a small, empty tent that I found outside of town, near a fairly good mining spot. Soon, however, the townsfolk there were good enough to take me in, and I was offered a place to sleep in a small wooden house at the north of the town. I mined away in the hills near town, and was glad to hear the occasional tread of the guards nearby as I worked on restoring myself to what I once was.

After a week there, several of the townsfolk guided me towards the guild known as Newborn on Siege. The people of NEW, as they are called, were good people, although one young alchemist did keep transforming my ingots into wool for some reason. His humour escapes me, but an old man has little time for practical jokes.

This was a most interesting group of people. Never before had I met a guild that existed for the sole purpose of welcoming newcomers to a place. I was offered tools, armour, weapons and other equipment, as well as advice, training and general information about the land in which I found myself. I was most grateful to them, and, even though my time there was short, I often find myself returning to see how they fare.

Aye, the good people helped me to re-learn my skills, and the good Lady Shalimar even brought a large beetle to me, who has been my constant companion ever since. I have named him Ottobug, and he is a most unusual beetle. Over time, I have come to learn that the clicking and hissing noises he makes are a language of sorts, and I have come to understand much of it. In many ways, he is my eyes nowadays, and we have been through much together.

I made many good friends in my time in that guild, and continue to do so to this day.

Still, that trembling mage may have been right - it has taken a long time to re-learn all I ever knew of mining, blacksmithing, and the like, in a new way, as I have no eyes to guide me. I have come to know the sounds of the ore, as my spade strikes it though, and I have come to smell when the forge is ready, and judge the heat by feel, rather than the glow of the coals. Touch and hearing are my way now, rather than sight. There are disadvantages, but please do not pity me - I have overcome great tragedy, and will continue to do so as long as I live!

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Chapter 5 - First encounters of the Siege kind

While my beetle was still being trained, I used a horse on most of my travels, and occasionally took a pack horse along to carry the ore that I found. One summer's day, I heard that there was good ore to be found in the area south of Britain, and decided to find out for myself. It was a very hot day, and I was lightly dressed, in my breeches and a light doublet - no armour to speak of, and only a light cloak for warmth.

I stopped in what seemed a likely area, only to hear footsteps running towards me. "Who is there?" I called out "I can not see you, but I can hear you. May I be of any help?"

A very young voice with a strange accent returned my greeting with a snarl.

"Hey, pops, I am Mithril ThE GrEaT PlunDereR - give me all your manure!" (or something to that effect. Why he wanted manure, I will never know.)

My horse shied back, and I felt the breeze from a blade near my arm. Whatever was this man attacking me for??

"I Dry looT stupid nOObs - I ownz you" he shouted. He was obviously insane. I did not understand his words, but his meaning was clear. I swung out blindly with my smith's hammer - the only weapon I had.

Luck was on my side - my hammer connected with a dull thud. I struck again, towards the sound of the youth's wailing, and again, and again. I was taking no chances. He had threatened to kill me - young as he may be, I could not afford mercy. Young ruffians who are shown mercy tend to grow up into old ruffians who show no mercy. I could not take the chance that this was an exception.

I leapt from my horse, and struck at his fallen body once more, to be safe. I felt for his heartbeat - there was none, and I could hear no breathing. There was no sound of a mount nearby - it seems he was on foot. Most strange. I listened carefully, but nothing but birdsong reached my ears.

I stripped his body of all he had. I had learnt to identify much by touch in the time since I lost my sight, and was able to identify the items he carried.

I turned to his pack. There were several herbs and leaves there, of the sort a mage would carry. Why he did not use magic against me, I do not know. Perhaps I presented too soft a target, or perhaps he had stolen them from another hapless traveller. There was no spell book present, so most likely the latter. Finally, I could not believe what my fingers came across. The high quality paper was that of a bank of Britannia guaranteed check! How much it was for, I could not tell - being blind has many drawbacks.

Making sure there was nothing left on my would be attacker's body, I rolled it into a nearby ditch, and covered it with the little dirt I could dig with his dagger. He would not have given me a decent burial, but I feel I am of better breeding that that oaf.

I rode as fast as a blind man dares back to the city, and my good horse took me to the bank. I handed the parchment to the banker, and heard him draw in his breath. "Smithing and mining must be better employ than I recall, Otto" he said. "I'll put this half a million gold pieces into your account right away."

Half a million! I could not believe my ears! Or my luck! Before this, my bank balance had struggled to remain at one thousand gold pieces! My home had been the local inn, and thoughts of owning my own home once more had been a far distant dream! I would not normally take such a sum from one so young, but it is no less than he swore he would do to me.

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Chapter 6 - Crafting onwards, in the dark

I donated the rest of the late Mithril's items to the guild of NEW, and set about asking people where I might find a good spot to place my home. I eventually set up my first house on the shores of a lake near Umbra, where I met and employed my loyal scribe, Beatrice, who has been with me ever since.

I have moved twice since then, each time to a better home, as there is always great demand for weapons and armour here. I now reside in a large tower, in the snow strewn mountains of Malas, where there is plenty of ore nearby, and few troubles, save the occasional orc from the nearby encampment. I spend much of my time helping those who join the newborn guild, as a way of repaying the kindness shown to me when I first came here.

My skills have grown in the time that I was here. I am not yet what I was, but I have regained the levels of elder smith, master miner, and also added tinkering and tailoring to my repertoire. My scribe has even been teaching me some magery, although I question the wisdom in having a blind man casting spells at an unseen target! Still, our neighbour's cow seems to be recovering, and is finally giving milk again, even if it is apparently blue...

I have met many good people in these lands, and I have been lucky enough to receive much kindness in recent weeks, when my health took a turn for the worse. I have lost count of the number of people who have sent kind wishes, get well gifts, and stopped by to see how my recovery is progressing! The hearts of the people of the land are huge, and the community is strong! The few brigands who travel these lands have often met with the community's sense of justice, which is very strong indeed! There are a few darker souls in this land, some cut from the vilest cloth, but the good in the hearts of the community outshines the darkest of deeds!

The beast who took my sight certainly did not plan to change my life this way, but I have come from the smoking ruins of a devastated smithy to the shining future of a great land!

Ah, one day, I shall find that beast, and take it's eyes for my own, mark my words! Not tonight, though - this fire and ale are far too pleasant!

Sadly, I hear the bell that signifies that our drinking time is over, and the tavern is soon to close for the night. I trust ye have enjoyed our time together, and my tales - perhaps I shall have more for ye in coming days! Ah, I can tell ye of Val and the Balron, tales of the noble Castor's quests to become a knight, the shining charity of the Ladies Skylark, Hannah and Patty! I can speak of the deeds of the Blackoaks and the lonely vampiress, who are often mistaken for villains, and other times mistaken for heroes! Of the time I was lost in the mines of… but no, enough for today. Stories can be like this fine ale - too much at once, and the flavour is lost!

Safe travels!