Not always the brave, strong, charismatic warrior he is renowned as, John Tiller led an unremarkable life as a simple farmer from the town of Stagberry. John always romanticized the idea of adventure and heroism, the idea of great men doing great deeds, but never thought he himself would get the opportunity to do such things. He reserved himself to living life peacefully, growing crops and helping his community in his small way. All that would change when an Imperial decree came to his village ordering any able-bodied person to enlist in the army and be prepared for war. This was quite exciting for John, but also a little bit terrifying, the idea of being a soldier in battle, but John did what was required of him all the same, knowing the consequences of not doing what his lord had asked of him.
In training, John showed much promise. Turns out a lifetime of tilling fields and manual labor gave him a strong arm for swinging a sword. He even picked up the basic skills of combat fairly easily. But practicing on stationary dummies that do not fight back, or with other recruits wielding blunted training sticks was one thing, the real thing would be something else entirely as John would soon find out.
When the order was given to prepare for battle, John donned his uniform and grabbed his sword and shield. He formed up with his regiment. Much to his shock, John realized that he and his unit were in the vanguard. They would be the first to engage the enemy. This was the start of the War of the Obsidian Guard. Everything happened very quickly, and John found himself in the thick of the fighting. John froze. He was terrified by what was going on around him. Fearing for his life John laid down on the field and feign death, hoping nobody would discover him.
John must have blacked out because the next thing he knew, he was waking up with a crushing weight on top of him and a warm, coppery taste on his lips. Something very heavy was crushing him, as a warm liquid was dripping into his open mouth. John realized he was at the bottom of a corpse wagon, and the panic took him, he tried to scream for help, but his voice was muffled by the bodies on top of him. John knew he would die if he did not get help. That’s when he heard that voice for the first time.
The voice in his head told him he could help him get out of this predicament. And not only that, but nobody would think him a coward, but a hero, praised by all. And all John had to do was say “please…”
John did not hesitate for an instant. He said the word, and with that, one of the wheels gave out on the cart and it toppled over. Before anyone could notice, John crawled away and out of sight. As John snuck around, trying to figure out how to get out of this enemy camp. He took a wrong turn and found himself in front of one of the general’s elite guards. Spotting John, he brandished his weapon. “Drop it!” he ordered John.
“I don’t have a weapon!” is what John wanted to say, but after getting just the first two words out, John found himself holding a sword that he did not recall picking up. The guard lunged for him, and John put his arms up to protect himself. But when he did, he felt something emanate from his hand and into the guard. The guard slipped in the mud and fell prone at John’s feet. John froze for only a moment, then raised his sword and plunged it down through the back of his neck. When the shock of his first kill passed, John was astounded to find nobody had seen him, but he had to get rid of the body, and fast. He dragged him onto the tent he was guarding. This was not wise of John, for this man was protecting the general’s tent.
But John’s astounding luck did not end there, for what he had stumbled into was the aftermath of what could only be described as the general’s post-battle victory orgy. The tent was filled with beautiful concubines, all with chains and collars around their necks, and in the middle of them was the general, naked as the day he was born. And all were passed out from consumption of various substances. John quickly hatched a plan.
John would don the uniform of the Guard he killed, and then he would put his own uniform on the general. He then fastened one of the concubine’s collars around the general’s neck, put a gag into his mouth, and a bag over his head. John woke the general with a few hard slaps to the face. He pulled the general along, walking out of the encampment with what looked to everyone like an enemy prisoner in tow.
At dawn of the following day, all were astounded to see John arriving at his regiment’s camp with an incredible prize in tow. He wove an amazing tale of how he got separated in the heat of battle from his company, standing his ground to give his allies a chance to retreat before getting surrounded and captured. How he broke free from his cage, single handedly defeated an elite member of the general’s personal bodyguard, knocked out the general, and then walked out of the camp with him in his clever disguise. It was his brilliant plan all along.
As farfetched as all of this was, the men bought it, and John was awarded the highest honors from his superiors. John would change his name to something more heroic, calling himself Lance Stormshield so as to be more memorable. This new name would be more interesting in a song or tale than John Tiller. And he would continue to use his “gift” to win battles and be a decorated hero of the people. But deep in the recesses of his mind, John was afraid of what might happen if his secret was revealed, and why this mysterious entity saved him, and why it has never asked anything of him in return.