Being the Short History of Oddr Last-Laugh


I haven’t written/posted anything creative in a long while, which has kind of been bringing me down. So I was fiddling with this program that generates characters for P&P RPG (it’s HeroLab for those who might be interested) and I wrote up this little background/character sketch. It’s not half bad and I like the character himself quite a bit. While this wasn’t necessarily intended for actual fiction I thought I’d post this up as just some new content as well as showing a little of how I develop the characters I end up using in my stories. I almost always do one of these little write ups either on paper or just in my head to get a grasp on who the character really is. Even if the background is never mentioned in whatever I’m writing I have it in mind to give me a handle on how they might react to a situation or feel about something. Just an insight about my process, for those interested.

Oddr earned the name “Last-laugh” for two reasons. The first was simply the fact that despite what cruelty and hardship life has presented him with he always maintained a good humor, taking the view that any day he was not dead was a good day, that there was always something worse and dwelling on the hand fate had dealt was as pointless as trying to charge the waves of the incoming tide. This outlook served him in good stead as the ships boy on a longship raiding up and down the northern coasts. His father was a drunk and a gambler and had fallen so deeply into debt he sold his only son into indentured servitude as wergild to a Viking captain.
Oddr spent his boyhood among hard men, performing back breaking labor, subjected to beatings and a world of violence and bloodshed. Despite this environment he managed to keep a sense of honor and what was right. It was this that lead to the second event that led to his epithet. On one particular raid the captain of Oddr’s ship was in an especially cruel and bloodthirsty mood and had decided that having slaughtered all of the coast town’s menfolk, taken most if the women as slaves and burning the town to the ground was not enough he also decided to butcher the town’s children just to add to his already fearsome reputation along the Varisian coast. Despite having participated in the raid, this act of senseless violence was too much for Oddr who stood between his captain and the children huddle on the beach between the longship and the roaring flames of their village behind them. He would not move and the captain took this as a challenge to his authority. A ring was formed around the two men and a brutal combat was fought. It really was one sided as the captain was a seasoned veteran, having survived more raids and duels than he could count and Oddr was repeatedly driven to his knees or laid out on his back, only to return to his feet with a grim, almost suicidal determination. Even the crew and captain began to look on with a certain respect as this boy stood swaying, bloody, barely able to raise his weapons but still willing to fight. Still, the captain could not brook this upstart’s challenge, so again and again they clashed until at last Oddr was on his knees, disarmed, barely conscious. Believing the battle won, the captain chose not to slay Oddr, feeling such as he would one day make a valuable warrior, but he also thought one more lesson was in order. Taking his dagger, the captain held Oddr by his hair and sliced his cheeks from the corner of the lip in a horrific grin. “Now you will always know that I have the last laugh little boy” the captain gloated, turning his back on Oddr to complete the slaughter he had set himself upon before he was interrupted by this pup who thought himself a man.
Oddr swayed on his knees, his vision blurred by blood, sweat, and pain watching the tall shadow of his captain walking with sword draw towards the helpless victims, the captain’s harsh laughter ringing in his ears. All of the pain, all of his helplessness, shame, anger, and hate drew into the pit of Oddr’s stomach, flaring into an intense, bright point of cold fire. New strength lifted Oddr to his feat with a bloody snarl and he charged. Hearing this, the captain turned, sword raised only to be faced not with his battered ships boy but a blood soaked hell wight bearing down on him. The one moment of shock was all Oddr needed, batting aside the advancing blade he crashed into the captain, his fists crashing again and again into ribs, face, the bones snapping like kindling. He drove the captain to the ground, continuing to drive his hands into the hated face until it was no more, just a gory, gaping ruin.
Long after the captain was a cold corpse, Oddr kept pummeling him until the rage passed and overcome with fatigue and loss of blood, he swooned, blacking out onto the cold sand. He awoke several days later in a crude shelter, bringing tended by one if the village women. He was told that after he had so savagely killed the captain, the remaining reavers had taken the spoils of the raid but had left the children and released the women to honor what they believed had been a heroic death. Even though he had been one of the men who had helped slay their husband’s and sons the women folk had taken pity on Oddr, still little more than a boy himself, who had struggled so hard to save their children. They stitched up his wounds and tended to his fever as he slowly recovered. The scars on his face did knit together, however his face will forever bear a horrible permanent grin. Once he was well enough, Oddr thanked his saviors, taking his leave to make his way in the world. From the stories of the villagers and his former shipmates that spread he had garnered some small note particularly in his homeland of the Linnorm Kings. Soon he was appended the name “Last-Laugh” as he travelled the lands, earning his way with sword and axe as a mercenary and enforcer, doing his best to live by his own code of right and honor in a hard, cruel world often bereft of both.

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4 Responses to “Being the Short History of Oddr Last-Laugh”

  1. monty pablo Says:

    V. & B.K. have scarred you for life, eh?

  2. pater crimsonus Says:

    as well you should; the visit to adventurous mariners’ touch on a foreign rocky shore

    • I think about that a lot actually, standing on that rocky land covered by a thin layer of green, looking out onto the grey expanse of the ocean, wondering what they must have been like, sailing that salty desert just to see what was on the other side of the horizon

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