With a jangle of metal, Dax thrust the key into the locked door and gave it a twist. The barred door flew open, and Dax leapt out of the cell, just in time to face the recovered guard. Shouting an alarm, the guard reached for the sword at his belt, but not quickly enough. Wielding his fists like a pair of dangerous clubs, Dax bludgeoned the guard across the head. Then he kicked the beast-man’s knees, knocking the two short pig legs out from under it. As the guard fell, Dax seized the pig-man’s sword belt, drawing the blade in one deft movement. Then he brought the blade down, hitting the guard with the flat of the sword. The pig-man slumped in the corner, unconscious. He did not get up.
From inside the cell, Sarah and Kay watched in amazement.
“That was incredible!” shouted Sarah.
“Not really,” moaned Dax. He put his hand on the small of his back and gave a loud sigh. “I think I threw my back out.”
Some people are just born lucky. Dax is not one of those people.
Dax was born in a forgotten realm similar to Greystone Valley, where magic worked but the overall technology of the world was far less than what we enjoy on Earth. He is the thirteenth son of the thirteenth son in his family, and has lived a life of misfortune and regret.
Dax yearned to be an adventurer like his older cousin Zarr, who had made a name for himself battling evil wizards and even supposedly slew a dragon at the age of eighteen. When Zarr achieved knighthood, Dax leapt at the opportunity and serve as his squire, learning swordplay and the skills he would one day need to become a great hero. He was a fair swordsman, but found that he couldn’t stand the sight of blood, often fainting when Zarr was in a duel with somebody else. Dax was also cursed with bad luck. He would misjudge the quality of horseshoes, prepare a sword for Zarr that got stuck in its sheath, and make a general mess of any meal he tried to prepare.
Years went by, and Zarr grew increasingly impatient with his cousin, keeping him as a squire only because of family loyalty and the fact that his own luck was able to overcome Dax’s misfortune. That luck seemed to run out, though, when Zarr faced down an evil wizard in his lair. Zarr had dispatched the wizard’s minions and had the villain himself at swordpoint. When the wizard tried to cast one last spell in desperation, Dax dove to the rescue of his cousin. He missed Zarr entirely, banging into the wizard instead and causing the last deadly spell to be miscast. The resulting explosion sent Dax and Zarr hurtling through time and space. When they came to, they found that they had been banished from their own world and placed in Greystone Valley.
Furious that he had been exiled from a world where he was beloved by all, Zarr parted ways with Dax, figuring that he could make a name for himself as a hero in Greystone Valley more easily if he didn’t have his bumbling cousin around anymore. Much to Zarr’s surprise, however, his luck seemed changed without Dax around. He no longer had quite the knack for swordsmanship or the way with the ladies that he once seemed to have. Years went by, and although Zarr accomplished some good deeds, he went largely unnoticed.
Dax, too, went unnoticed, but he was much more used to that. He became a blacksmith for a short time, but a cheating merchant sold him some bad ore that caused the swords he made to break when used. This put him out of business, forcing Dax to wander the valley as a swordsman for hire. This profession also worked poorly, since he never got over his fear of blood. Fortunately, Dax’s skill with a blade grew enough so that he could eventually fight blindfolded, allowing him to battle well without having to see the wounds he caused.
After years of failures, Zarr eventually returned to Dax and offered one last adventure that the two could embark upon. A maiden named Allayah had been kidnapped by a dragon. Zarr hoped to slay the dragon, rescue the maiden, and earn his place as a hero again with his cousin’s help. However, Zarr’s luck again ran badly. The dragon was actually a tiny creature named Keeley, who had protected Allayah from a snowstorm. Zarr was furious at the situation, but resolved to slay the dragon anyway. He could always retell the story later and make it seem like Keeley was a dangerous monster whose magic had befuddled poor Allayah.
Dax intervened at this point, finally turning against his cousin. In his rage, Zarr attacked Dax, but the skill Dax had learned with a blade overcame his normally bad luck. He disarmed Zarr easily but could not bring himself to kill his cousin. This became a moot point as the young dragon had grown agitated and wound up sneezing out a large fireball that caused an avalanche. Dax eventually found Keeley and Allayah, although Zarr was never found and has not been seen since.
Dax has lived as a sellsword ever since and is now well into middle age. He tends to moan and complain a lot, almost taking pleasure in his dreariness. Despite his complaints and general misfortune, Dax is still a steadfast companion whose skill with a sword and knowledge of the land will be an important asset as Sarah seeks a way out of Greystone Valley.
Image by Jessica von Braun