Qwynn had always dreamed of a life of adventure, form a very young age. A lot of this was due to the stories he would overhear from incoming traders and mercenaries that would arrive from far off, exotic places. But mostly, it was due to his uncle; Adrian Briarheart.
Adrian was an elderly retired paladin whose countless stories kept Qwynn and the rest of the young mouselings enthralled for hours on end. He would tell stories of wondrous places, dangerous creatures, daring escapades, wars, nobility. Qwynn hung on to every single word.
When he was about 5, Qwynn decided to confide a secret with Adrian. He wanted to be a paladin just like him. Instead of being proud as Qwynn had expected, Adrian was horrified. He didn't realise the young mouselings were picking up aspirations from him.
"Life of adventure? Pah! This land was made for the big folk. Find your mouse hole and stick to it. It's no life for a mouseling. You want proof?"
With that he lifted his cape and showed a huge scar that had taken out a large chunk of his back. With that he stormed off leaving Qwynn alone on the pier.
A week later he heard that Qwynn had been badly hurt after falling off the pier onto some rocks. He went to see him and soon found out the cause. Qwynn had been practicing swordfighting with one of his friends, while balancing on one of the railings. While dodging he had lost his footing and fallen. Qwynn's father, Tomas, who wasn't on best terms with Adrian asked him to speak to Qwynn.
"Although I don't like any of it, he looks up to you. You've put all these crazy ideas in his head, it's up to you to get them out."
Qwynn wasn't too badly hurt, just a sprained ankle – it would heal with time. Adrian sat by the foot of his bed and talked.
"You still really want a life of adventure don't you? *sigh* Look, there's not really much point. You've got good brains. Think about it, carefully. An adventuring group walks into town. Who're they going to pick? The runty little mouseling who can only just reach their ankles? Or the fully armoured, greatsword wielding warrior. There's plenty of good jobs for a bright little mouseling like you to be doing."
With that he left, leaving Qwynn to think about all he had said.
Qwynn came to see him again a little while after he had recovered. He'd thought about all that Adrian had advised him, yet he still wanted to go adventuring and see the world. After yet another talk with him, Adrian managed to convince Qwynn that there were plenty of better ways to see the world that wouldn't get him killed. Adrian listed plenty, yet there was only one that really appealed to Qwynn. A bard. He could already play the fiddle reasonably well. He thanked Adrian and ran off to practice.
The next few months Qwynn devoted to learning the tricks of the trade. He could regularly be heard practising away on his fiddle on the roof of his house. One thing that onlookers did notice though, was that his feet never seemed to stop moving as he played. This was mostly due to his choice of music. He preferred to play fast, lively jigs, and didn't really like playing the slower, more mournful, tunes. As well as the practice, he also chatted to the many bards that would visit. From this he learnt many new things about the world, new places and stories, but most importantly; he learnt more tricks and tips on how to improve.
One day an old, dwarven bard by the name of Arin Galvard came into town. He was fairly well known, so Qwynn went straight to see him after he had performed. Arin was more than happy to help. Qwynn was up most of the night listening to his stories, but one in particular reawoke something within him. He showed Qwynn a large burn on his shoulder that he had got in a fight against a Balor. He advised Qwynn to do something that Arin hadn't paid much attention to when he had started; learn how to fight and defend himself. Qwynn approached Adrian later that week, armed with this snippet of advice. He pleaded and begged for Adrian to teach him. Eventually Adrian caved in and, secretly pleased, he took the young mouseling under his wing.
What followed was a vigorous training regime. He had Qwynn perform tumbles, rolls, scale walls, wriggle through gaps. Qwynn returned home tired most nights and slumped into bed. many times, he asked when they were going to get round to learning some proper fighting. To this Adrian just replied: "When you're ready. Now get back to it." The exercises seemed to increase in difficulty as he progressed. he had him race objects as they floated down the river, hold his balance in the middle of howling winds, run and dodge through an obstacle course as it burnt behind him and hide himself in daylight from a ratling group that Adrian sent to capture him. At the end of this, Qwynn returned, panting, and slammed his fist on the desk in front of Adrian. "Am I ready, yet?!" Adrian smiled. "In body, yes. In mind, you still have much to learn." Thus began the next stage of training. He had Qwynn solve mind games, puzzles, riddles. He made up elaborate mazes for him to escape from, tested his mind by firing off rapid questions at him. To his pleasant surprise, Qwynn excelled at all of these. He then moved on to games of chess, lessons in tactics (both for full scale war and much smaller scenarios) and how to read an opponents body language.
Adrian was also still insistent that Qwynn carried on learning to play. Qwynn now used his music to earn a living at the Hammerfall Tavern. He had since learn to diverge his skills. He was now proficient in both the fiddle and the flute and also performed jigs to entertain the crowds. He could also often sung to his own music, or recited ballads and stories that he had heard from other travellers. Adrian had told him quite early on that he would need those skills in order to gain enough money to head out on any adventures. His choice of music had also diverged. Although he mostly played the more joyful, bouncy tunes that he could jig too, he also played slower music when the atmosphere called for it.
Approximately a year had passed since Qwynn had first asked to be taken under his wing. They were both engaged in an elaborate game of chess, involving the use of three boards. Adrian twitched and suddenly drew his wooden rapier from beside his seat. Qwynn countered this by flipping the middle board upwards to act as a shield. Adrian smiled. "It's time."
Qwynn then started his weaponry training. Adrian taught him the basics of most weapons, before letting him settle on one in particular. Qwynn chose the rapier, as this allowed him to be light on his feet while being able to outwit an opponent and deal some damage. This also suited Adrian, as this was what he was most proficient in.
Thanks to all the prior training, Qwynn sailed through the basics of the training. With the rapier, Adrian could also teach him the etiquette and techniques of duelling. Most of the next few months was dedicated to the footwork and intricacies required to make Qwynn proficient.
Just when he was getting good though, Adrian decided to cancel the lessons. Qwynn was both confused and upset. He wanted to continue.
"Sure I could teach you more. But that's not really the right way to learn. I could teach you the particular footwork and manoeuvre to perform this technique or that, but that's not really the right way to learn. When a 7ft gnoll comes charging towards you wielding two short swords, you don't have time to remember the correct footwork to perform a certain manoeuvre. As long as you know the basics, you'll find yourself automatically finding the best way of outwitting and taking him down. Basically what I'm trying to say is, you'll learn more in a minute of a real fight that you would in a whole month training with someone like me."
"So you think I'm ready?"
"I think you've known that for a while. But if you really want me to confirm it, then yes; you are ready. If you want I can go through some basics of survival out there; what to take, what not to do and so on."
"Sure..." And with that he launched back at Adrian dealing a volley of blows. They continued duelling into the night.