Content of the article: "Targ’s Betrothed"
Be me, Level 5 Bard named Targ. A womanizing asshole who’s recently lost an arm during a disagreement with an irritated Megalodon (who was totally being a dick).
We’ve finally escaped from the opening scene of our campaign which involved being stuck on an island with a megalomaniac who ran a cult full of shark-people, and was rather intent on sacrificing us to some kind of blood moon. Rather than press on, our DM decided that he wanted to take a session to really get to know our characters, and their motivations. See, we were a group of seven players (three couples and the DM’s wife), so rather than deal with all of us at once he decided to split the party. Essentially, he would run two concurrent campaigns with the same end goal in mind.
So we went around the table, and he spoke with each of us about our characters’ wants, needs, backstory, and what they hoped to accomplish. There was a lot to unpack, between our half-orc paladin with an inferiority complex, the Tabaxi rogue who was wearing the furs of her dead parents, and the Tiefling warlock with abandonment issues and a really angry demigod invading her dreams.
The DM finally turns to me and says “Targ (he only ever referred to us by our character’s names at the table, which was really cool), what’s your story?”
MFW I flipped my notebook all the way to end.
“I’m so glad you asked.”
You see, Targ had not always started out as a womanizing asshole with one less arm than usual. He’d once been a simple farmer, tending the land of his Lord for crops. Inherited the farm from Ma and Pa; Gods bless them, the pox took them quick.
And his betrothed! Someone had smiled upon him, to bless him with such a lass. “Round of bottom, plump of bosom, and a lust that could not be sated. And believe me; I gave it me best shot.” <wink>
They worked the land with one of Targ’s lifelong friends, Joseph. They’d known each other since before they could walk and had spoken on nigh every subject. Never much luck with girls himself, good Joseph, but he had his fair share of womanly callers.
All was well until the accident. The betrothed had left a sturdy rake on the ground, and unlucky Joseph had tripped over it, falling face-first into the tines. We’d rushed him to the village physician as fast as we could, and the good doctor managed to save his life, but at a high price; Joseph had lost his eye. Felt absolutely terrible, my betrothed did, and we tended to him in our own house for several days while he recovered, his eye socket packed with bandages.
But before he could, the Lord’s men came calling. It was war with our neighbors. Some highly disagreement had escalated, and every able-bodied man who could swing a sword had to answer the call. Joseph was deemed exempt, on account of the accident. I kissed my betrothed goodbye and promised her on my honor that we’d be wed the day I got back.
A long war, it was. Lasted the full year and then some. Lots of marching, learning to swing the sword, and plenty of skirmishes big and small. I cleaved my way through plenty of men, I did. So many young boys fighting and dying because two Lords were angry about some line on some map none of those boys had ever seen. And when the fighting was done, nothing had really changed, except for the fields smelling like copper.
But the war did end, and I was lucky to survive it. I raced home as fast as I could, intent on bedding and wedding my betrothed as fast as possible (in either order, I wasn’t picky). But when I get back, the house was empty.
And there was a note on the table.
We can all guess what it said. All those years of love lost, down the drain. They were nice enough to leave me Joseph’s lands with my own, so there was that, at least. My heart hurt worse than it had during the war.
I couldn’t stay there any more. Sold the land for what I could get, took my father’s lute, and left. Developed a sense of wanderlust, I did. Sang and strummed my way across the world and back again. But at every town, when I arrived, I asked the guards if they’d seen a one-eyed man named Joseph with a beautiful (who’s name I couldn’t bear to speak) by his side.
Whenever I’d explain why I asked, they would sometimes say “Targ, it’s been so many years. Why do you keep looking?”
And I’d look off into the distance, and say sadly.
“… I’d have been married a long time ago…”
“… if it hadn’t been for Cotton-Eyed Joe.”
I told that whole story to the table, who’d been listening with rapt attention. The DM and five players are pissing themselves laughing. My wife is on the phone with what I’m pretty sure was a divorce lawyer. And our Centaur barbarian stood up, stating that she is one hundred percent done with me and my character before going to refill her wine glass.
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