Oliver Attleson: The Life and Death of a Paladin
Oliver Attleson was born in AC 475, a distant nephew of King Mithras IV. Though he was of the Attleson line, he never belonged to the royal court of Darokin because his parents were considered outcasts of their respective families, his father being of the Attleson line while his mother was of the powerful Ithel family.
Because of this, Oliver was raised outside the politics of his time, and he eventually dedicated his life to the service of the church of Halav (1). He might have become a cleric had it not been for the great wars among the dragons and the mysterious ĎDragonlordí at the time. Because of the war, he entered military service, and at the end of it, he aspired to become a paladin so that he could join his religious philosophies with his skills as a warrior. As a paladin he began his quest to purge the land of the goblinoid menace that threatened in the north. This obviously led him to adventures on many occasions, and during one of these he obtained a powerful magical broad sword. This sword was Roc, one of the Swords of Wayland, which the dwarf Duric Orcsbane had used against the orcish hordes during the Battle of Sardal Pass in 492 BC. How Oliver came by the sword is not known. Some say he found it in some monsters lair. Some say that it was entrusted to him by the dwarves who had kept it as dedication to Duricís memory until a worthy successor could be found to wield it, and some say that the sword was granted to him by the will of his Immortal patron so that he could better oppose the goblinoid threat. Whichever is true, Oliverís many clashes with the orcs quickly caused him to awaken and discover its vast powers, and the swordís old name ďOrcslayerĒ, which it had earned in Duricís hands at the Battle of Sardal Pass, became feared among orcs again.
When the Elf War began in AC 501, Oliver joined his kinsman, King Mithras V Attleson, in his war against the elves. However, as Oliver fought the elves, he realized that the elves were not taking the matter seriously. In fact, most of them seemed to shun the war altogether. This surprised him because the war had begun over accusations of elven hostility, or so Oliver had been told. As he began to explore the matter, he realized that the claims of elven hostility were highly doubtful. In fact, the year after he eventually discovered that human bandits have been behind the attacks the elves had been accused of and he sought permission to bring them to justice instead of the futile hunt for the innocent elves. The king, however, harshly denied his request and demanded that he continue his duties of war! At the same time orcish hordes had taken the opportunity to repeatedly assault the northern city of Corunglain. Though the defenses held, the defenders of the city were reported to be in a desperate situation, which was appalled Oliver. Again he petitioned King Mithras and asked that they cease the Elf War. When the king angrily denied his request, Oliver asked if he could at least be allowed to lead reinforcements to the besieged city of Corunglain. King Mithras was furious and rediculed Oliver, then demanded that he lead a thousand soldiers into the Canolbarth forest to hunt down the elves. As he listened to the kingís tirade, Oliver realized that his kinsman was quite mad, and he refused to follow his orders. When Mithras tried to have him arrested for his insolence, Oliver escaped to the north.
For a time, Oliver then began gathering his own men. Most of these were humans who had served under him before and thought highly of him, but Oliverís refusal to bow to King Mithrasí will had an unexpected consequence as a few young, adventurous elves had been impressed with his actions against the orcs and his refusal to kill the elves and so offered to join his cause. At first there was much distrust between these comrades in arms, but in time, Oliver was able to turn them into allies, though the truth of his elven followers was kept a secret because of the Darokinian distrust of elves at the time. As Oliverís human soldiers were the heart of his army, his elven followers were his scouts and unseen archers, rarely, if ever, used openly in battle. At the time, the orcs were finally able to pierce the defenses and lead troops into the Corunglain itself (2). Hearing of this, Oliver hurried to lead his men to Corunglain. They fought valiantly and lost many of their numbers, but they were eventually able to help the defenders push the orcs out of the city again and seal it off. They then joined the defendersí ranks. King Mithras V was still furious with Oliver, of course, but he could scarcely afford to send his more experienced men to Corunglain to catch him when they were in the middle of the Elf War.
Though the orcs had been pushed out of Corunglain, they did not stop their attempts to raid the city. Many sieges came and went during this time. In AC 503, King Mithras V was killed during the Elf War, slain in battle by the elves. His successor, Corwyn XIII, continued the war, but eventually ended it in AC 504. While Oliver stayed in Corunglain, he sent a messenger to the new king to pledge his allegiance to him and explain his actions against King Mithras V. This never became public knowledge, but officially Corwyn announced that he would consider a pardon for Oliver, but only if he traveled to him to swear allegiance to him. Oliver did so, and Corwyn ruled that although his actions had been treacherous, the fact that he had helped defend Corunglain in its time of need had redeemed him. He then charged Oliver with continuing his quest to end the goblinoid menace. This Oliver was only too pleased to do, and he made Corunglain his base of operations in his quest over the following years. Over time his few elven followers began to grow tired of the adventurerís life and went elsewhere, but there was never any hostility between them.
His valiant efforts naturally made Oliver a bit of a hero in Corunglain and the surrounding areas. Unfortunately, this presented a political problem because the Corun family grew envious of his fame. He had been a hero to them in their time of need, but as a lasting hero, he was a problem for them for several reasons. For one, he was belonged to both the Attlesons, a more powerful dynasty, and the Ithels, who were fierce competitors to the Coruns. Although Oliver had never been accepted by either family, they could quickly use this to their advantage in the area, and that was a problem because Corunglain was fighting not only the orcs, but also to remain a free city in the kingdom. By AC 521, Oliverís popularity to grew to the point where the common people began to revere him, and the Coruns began plotting his downfall. Toward that end, they made a secret pact with the orcs to lead him into a trap. The orcs were only too pleased at the chance to be rid of him (and his nasty sword!) and jumped at the chance. The orcs set up an ambush and then the Coruns bribed one of their scouts to report to Oliver that a cousin of his in the Ithel family had been captured by orcs and was being taken north to the Broken Lands so that the orcs could avenge themselves on Oliverís relative for Oliverís actions against them. Oliver didnít hesitate for a moment, but rode alone into the night to catch up with the orcs, and right into the orcish ambush. Despite the surprise, Oliver fought with all his might and cut down almost all of the orcs, though he was eventually struck down himself. Fatally wounded, he fell into the Vesubian River and drowned, but the orcs recovered his famed shield with the symbol of his Immortal patron and his name underneath, which they took back to the Coruns as proof of their deed.
Oliver, however, did not drown. After days of confusion and pain from his fatal wounds, he finally walked into a small village called Gorania. He relayed much of his story, but he was so confused that the villagers never fully understood him, and because he had lost his shield and his armor had been lost in the river, they never realized who he was. After a few days, he finally died from his wounds and was buried in an unmarked grave in the villageís cemetery. No one knows what became of the sword Roc. Perhaps it was lost on the bottom of the Vesubian River or perhaps Oliver managed to carry it with him to the village where he died.
1) We have assumed that during this time period, Halav's worship was more widespread. This should especially be the case in areas plagued by humanoids.
2) Gazetteer 11: The Republic of Darokin states that for a period before the Elf Wars (which occured in AC 501), the land of Darokin was quiet and untouched by strife of any kind. Gazetteer 10: The Orcs of Thar records the beginning of the Orc Wars at AC 500, a full year before the Elf Wars even started. In this instance we have assumed that Gazetteer 11 is more accurate. To reconcile these two accounts we postulate that the orcs did indeed breach the walls of Corunglain in AC 501, but were not able to hold the city long enough to sack it.
Copyright © 2001, John Calvin, Max Monas, and Jens Schnabel. Used by permission. All rights reserved.