Birth Name Rolf Battlehammer Birthplace Sundabar, The Silver Marches Citizenship The Shaar
Age 98 Height 4-10 Weight 170 lbs Hair/Beard black and gray Eyes blue
Rolf has the tattoo of a hammer on his right shoulder, on the head of which hang icicles.
Rolf is quiet, reserved, and has a serious demeanor, though not without a sense of humor. Unlike his dwarven kinsmen, he is not overly fond of the drink (though he will hoist a pint in celebration), and is openly disdainful of what he considers “slovenly” behavior. He believes in the values of trust and loyalty. He also carries with him a certain indefinable sadness that sometimes reveals itself.
Rolf was born on 25 Tarsakh, 1277, in the fortress city of Sundabar in The Silver Marches, to a family in the Battlehammer clan, the mighty clan of shield dwarves founded by the legendary Gandalug Battlehammer at Mithral Hall. Rolf grew up living the typical life of a young shield dwarf, learning how to wield the hammer and axe, crafting with mithral, and speaking and writing in Shanatan. Unlike his contemporaries, Rolf was very tacit and reserved. While not shy, he did not seek to be the center of attention either. But he always had a quiet strength about him. Rolf’s best friend was Khol, his polar opposite. Khol was outgoing and gregarious, with a quip or barb always at the ready. Their two personalities seemed to complement each other, and they soon became inseparable.
Rolf and Khol were very competitive with each other, with Rolf mastering the hammer and Khol the axe. Khol used to jokingly prod Rolf about who was better, but Rolf never took the bait, to Khol’s mock disappointment. The pair excelled among their peers, and their talent did not go unnoticed by the clan elders. They were soon added to guard duty, and then assigned to one of the local militia forces that regularly went on patrol, engaging orcs and goblins and whatever other potential enemies they came across. Rolf and Khol piled up the kills and the victories, and were treated to many celebratory feasts in honor of their successes.
One dwarf who was particularly impressed by the duo was Thila, a young female who was especially smitten by Rolf. She would find ways to run into him and make small talk, but Rolf wasn’t very adept at socializing with the females, so things never progressed beyond that point. “Ye’ know, if yer not goin’ te’ have a go at that one, I will,” Khol said to him one day. Rolf shrugged, but inside he could feel his jealousy rising. Khol did court Thila, and soon they became a couple. He started to spend more and more time with her as the months passed, and he and Rolf began to grow apart. Some of the other dwarves would occasionally kid Rolf that Thila had stolen Khol from him, but Rolf would only shrug and continue with what he was doing.
One day, Rolf was in the forge hammering out a piece of metal for a tool he was making, when Thila entered. She seemed distressed as she approached his workbench. “I need te’ speak with ye’,” she said. “I want te’ know…why did ye’ spurn me?”
Rolf turned his attention back to his task. “I don’ know what yer talkin’ about,” he said, pounding the metal. “We were jes’ friends, we talked on occasion, an' then ye’ went wit’ Khol. Ye’ belong te’ him now, so I don’ know what yer problem is.”
“My problem is…I love ye’, ye’ fool,” she said.
Rolf stopped hammering for a moment, then continued after a pause. “That be no matter,” he said finally. “Ye’ chose my friends, and ye’ belong te’ him now. Nothin’ I can do ‘bout it.” He paused again without looking up. “I’m sorry, Thila…I wish twer’ diff’rent, but that’s how it is.”
“Then ye’ do have feelin’s!,” she exclaimed.
“My feelin’s don’ matter, that is my friends, an' I can no more have none of this. Please leave, Thila.”
The next day, Rolf was at the tree line bordering their village cutting down an elm when Khol approached, furious. “You bring shame upon me, brotha’,” he yelled. “Thila has left me, and it’s all over the village tis’ you she wants.”
“Tis’ not my doing, Khol,” Rolf replied. “She came te’ me yest’day and I sent her away.”
“But now that she is free of me, ye’ goin’ te’ take her as yer wife, I s’pose?,” he yelled.
“The two of ye’ plotted this, dint’ ya? I am now the laughing stock of this village. A fool who was taken by his bes’ friends, his own brotha’,” he yelled louder, his face red.
“Khol…I would’n never do that te’ ye’.”
“I will not have ye’ take my pride! Ye’ an' yer fool hammer, ye’ never was as good as me!,” Khol said, looking at Rolf disparagingly.
Rolf felt his own pride and anger rise for the first time. “Ye’ best watch what ye’ say, brotha,” he warned.
“We are no longer brothas,” Khol rounded back, “and when I am done with ye’, I am gonna shove yer hammer in yer arse an’ swing ye’ into the trees.”
“Ye’ really want te’ fight me over this fool business?,” Rolf glowered.
“Yes, I do…brotha’,” Khol spat the words into Rolf’s face. “T'morra’ noon, in the square.” He trudged off.
At noon the following day, the former friends faced each other across the square before the council hall, each in full battle armor. Khol’s dwarven waraxe glinted in the cold sun, while Rolf’s hammer hung heavily over his shoulder. The whole village gathered for the showdown, including Thila, who begged them to stop. But Rolf and Khol locked eyes and never took their gaze from each other. This was a match for pride and honor, and reason would not prevail that day. Khol came at Rolf first, bringing his axe down heavily into Rolf’s shield. Rolf stepped back and swung his hammer, which Khol blocked easily. The two exchanged blows well into the afternoon, neither tiring, their shields showing the damage caused by their powerful strikes.
At last, Khol took a step back and slipped on some wet mud, causing him to raise his shield off and to the side to correct his balance. Rolf, seeing his opening, struck Khol's weapon hand with his hammer, crushing it and sending his axe flying. Rolf let his momentum carry him through in a full circle and brought his hammer around in a deadly arc into the side of Khol’s skull, tearing his helmet off and sending him crashing into the ground. Khol lay there, lifeless, blood pooling by his head, as the crowd went silent. Thila screamed, and ran to where Khol lay, cradling his head in her arms. “Look what ye’ done,” she sobbed, “Look what ye’ done.”
One of the other dwarves put his hand on Rolf’s shoulder. “Twas’ a fair and honorable fight, Rolf, don’ blame yerself,” he said. “Khol will be given a fittin’ sendoff, we promise ye’.”
Rolf just stared ahead, his face blank. “I killed my brotha’,” he said, barely above a whisper. “Tis’ no honor in that.” Rolf gently laid his hammer and shield on the ground before him, turned, and walked out of the square and through the citadel gates.
Years would pass before anyone ever saw him again.
Rolf entered the small dry goods shop and casually looked at the merchandise, moving toward the clothing section at the back where some belts caught his eye. As he pulled one of the belts off a hook, he heard a voice behind him say, "Can I help ye'?"
"No, tis' fine," Rolf said. He settled on a broad hand-tooled leather belt depicting a pack of wolves walking through some nameless forest, and took it to the front counter. A stout dwarf was behind the counter wiping a bowl with a rag, his back turned. "I'll take this," Rolf said.
The dwarf turned to face him, the side of his skull caved in, blood leaking down his face and neck. "Will that be all, brotha',?" Khol asked.
Rolf woke up with a start, his head covered in a cold sweat. Dawn was breaking, and the caravan would be moving again soon. Rolf had been on the move for months, running from what, he did not know. But knowing that he could not go back, he could never go back. "Aye, a fine 'scuse for a dwarf I am," he said to himself. He had paid his way by helping the caravan driver with the loading and unloading of goods along the way south. They had stopped in Hardcastle last night, in the northern reaches of The Shaar, a little town in the middle of nowhere. But the road had to end somewhere, and Rolf knew that when it did, he would finally have to confront his demons once and for all.
A couple of days later, the caravan pulled into Hillgard. "We'll be heading south to Trader's Way and on to Delzimmer," the driver said, a portly man with a gray-stubbled face and a gold front tooth. "Then down to hin country. Lot of money to be made in hin country."
Rolf helped the driver offload some goods, then went into town to get something to drink. As he approached the local inn, he saw a halfling standing outside dressed in plain brown robes. Rolf had seen hins before, but they were always a curious sight to him. "Not a safe place for a little 'un like ye' te' be'," Rolf said as he approached.
"Oh really really?," the hin said excitedly.
"Yes...go home to yer parents, lad. I'm gettin' me somtin' te' drink."
"Oh my parents are home in Luiren," the hin said. "I live in those hills over there," he continued, pointing north.
"Don't look like much is up ther', lad," Rolf said.
The hin skittered about from foot to foot. "There is a monastery up there, it's just out of sight. We train great fighters there, like me!," he said.
Rolf let out a laugh. "Like ye'," he said. "That is a good one, lad. Now if ye' 'scuse me, I need te' drink, tis' thirsty on the road."
"Oh but I am I really am," the hin continued. "My name is Devlin Beestinger, and I am a monk of the Hin Fist monastery in the Council Hills."
Rolf snorted. “Yer a monk? Now I seen i’tall. No offense, but I think I’d be more afeard of a real bee than ye’.”
“Oh I can beat you, want to see?,” Devlin clapped excitedly.
“I really don’t have time fer this,” Rolf said as he started to walk away, when he felt a thwack on the side of his head. “What the devil?,” he said. Devlin was no longer in front of him. Then something was poking him in the back, and when he half-turned, he got another rap on the head. “Enough of this!,” Rolf yelled as he turned around to see Devlin standing in front of him again. “I don’ know how ye’ did that, but now yer gonna get a lesson.” Rolf swung and missed, then swung again, the halfling easily dodging his blows. A third time he swung, and felt his legs go out from under him. Rolf landed on his backside with a thump.
“See, Devlin is a good fighter,” he said as Rolf leaped to his feet in a rage. “Don’t be mad, I was just having fun,” he said nervously.
“Fun me arse,” Rolf said, brushing himself off. He looked at the hin, who was bouncing on his feet, and his anger started to subside. “Well, I give ye’ credit, ye’ are pretty good at what ye’ do. Me name is Rolf Battlehammer,” he said, extending his hand. The hin shook it eagerly.
“Nice to meet you Rolf Battlehammer,” he said. “Want to become a monk? We mostly take hins, but we sometimes take in dwarves and gnomes too, they make good fighters and like us hins.”
Rolf considered this. The idea was foolish, but he was tired of all the aimless travelling. Maybe it would be a good idea to stay put in one place for awhile, he thought. “Me a monk,” he laughed, and shook his head. “Alright lad, lead on, might as well pay a visit to the home of such a great fighter as yerself.”
The hin now hopped enthusiastically. “Good good, Rolf Battlehammer, I can’t wait for you to meet my brothers,” Devlin said. Rolf closed his eyes at the last word, then opened them.
The Hin monastery was a simple sandstone structure surrounded by a low wall. The large central building was surrounded by small huts along the perimeter, as well as various workshops such as for smithing and stone working. Paths around either side led through vegetable gardens to the back of the main building, where there was a small stone plaza with a fountain, and a kitchen at the back. It was in this plaza where Rolf was practicing his defensive moves that morning. He deftly dodged to the right when his instructor thrust his quarterstaff, then ducked when he swept it high. But when he swept it low from the opposite direction, Rolf’s jump was just a fraction late, and the staff caught his left ankle and sent him toppling to the ground. Toto Padfoot stood over Rolf, the staff resting on his shoulder as Rolf sat up, a smile on his face.
“You’re getting better, dwarf brother,” the diminutive halfling said.
“Nay, it’s been six months an’ I still can’t jump like you hins. Dwarfs not be made fer jumpin’,” Rolf replied.
Padfoot laughed, shaking his small frame. “Only six months…it took me six years to perfect some of my dodging techniques,” he said. The elder monk and prior of the Council Hills monastery gave Rolf his hand and helped him to his feet with surprising strength. “Don’t get discouraged, you have come far in a short time. Keep practicing. We’re glad to have you in the order…even with the way you butcher our language,” clapping Rolf on the shoulder.
“Aye, good thing ye talk some dwarf. Last night I asked one o’ the brothers fer a cup and he brought me a chicken,” Rolf said, shaking his head.
Padfoot laughed again, then turned and walked back into the main building. “Meditation is at noon, Brother Rolf. Don’t be late.”
“Aye, Prior Toto.” Rolf went back to shadowing his moves, his robe getting hot under the late-morning sun. His new life at the monastery had allowed him to forget about his troubles for the time being. It was a good life, but in the back of his mind, Rolf knew that one day he would have to rejoin the world and face his past before he could be at peace again. He swept his foot around, planted, and tried another jump. Rolf landed with a dissatisfied grunt, and continued with his next move.
Rolf searched frantically through his meager belongings. Morning mediation was in five minutes and his robes were nowhere to be found. “I put ‘em right ‘ere last night,” he said, frustrated. “I was already late yesterday, if I be late again, Prior Padfoot’ll put me on kitchen duty the rest o’ the month!”
Finally giving up, Rolf ran out of the room in his shorts and asked Devlin and the other brothers if they knew where his robes were, or if they had a robe he could borrow. Of course, being that he was the only dwarf currently living at the monastery, all their spare robes were too small for him. Finally, a hin brother named Friday told him that he saw some robes hanging from the top of the bell tower of the monastery. Rolf ran past him without a word, and burst out into the front plaza. Toto Padfoot was just coming down the path at that exact moment, looked at Rolf in his ridiculous state with wide eyes and exclaimed, “For the gods, Brother Rolf, you can’t run around here looking like that!” Then he followed Rolf’s gaze up to the bell tower, and he began to laugh. “So I see your problem, brother. Looks like you will have to figure out a way to get those robes down before meditation starts…and don’t be late,” the prior said, as he walked away grinning.
Rolf scratched his head. “How did they manage te get me robes way up there?,” he mused. He went back inside and up to the second floor, where he climbed a ladder up to the tower. But from the inside of the tower he still couldn’t reach his robes hanging above, so he climbed out and then shimmied his way along the roof. But the steepness of the roof, combined with Rolf’s lack of clothing, made his progress around the bell tower treacherous. He finally got himself stuck in a spot where it was too slippery to take another step, and he looked down and froze. Dwarves aren’t known for liking heights, and Rolf was no exception.
By this time, meditation had ended, and all the brothers began filing out the front of the monastery for their morning break. Then Friday pointed up at Rolf and shouted, and all the brothers burst out laughing at their half-naked friend, his back pressed against the bell tower as if he was glued to it.
“How’s the view up there?,” one of them called up to him, smiling.
Rolf turned red in the face, and glowered down at the assemblage. “What ye all lookin’ at? I know at least one o’ ye is behind this!,” he yelled.
Prior Padfoot had joined the laughing throng by this point, and told Devlin to go up to the roof to help Rolf. Devlin helped pull the embarrassed dwarf back through the opening into the tower. Then he grabbed a long pole from the corner and hooked the robes, and pulled those in as well. Rolf took his robes with saying anything, and put them on after they climbed back down.
Upon joining the others out front, a smiling Padfoot clapped him on the shoulder and said to him, “Well, Brother Rolf, you learned two things today. First, there is always a simpler solution to a problem if you only take a moment to look for it. And second…always keep a spare set of robes.” The plaza exploded in laughter at this.
Rolf had turned red again. “Aye, Prior Toto,” he said. And then he couldn’t make himself stay angry anymore, and started laughing as hard as the rest of them.
Rolf sat alone in the garden, lost in his thoughts. He had become increasingly moody and distant lately. His mind jumped from memory to memory. There was the time, some seventeen years earlier, when his settlement had gotten the word from Bruenor Battlehammer in Icewind Dale that all Battlehammers and other kin willing to help were to converge on Mithral Hall to take it back from the evil dragon Shadowglimmer and his duerger minions. Rolf and Khol eagerly made the journey to Mithral Hall, and together with the future king defeated the occupiers and killed Shimmergloom.
And then not two years later, after they had returned to Sundabar, the call went out again for all clan kin and anyone else willing to help to return to Mithral Hall. This time, it was the witch Baenre leading the drow up from the Underdark in a massive and unprecedented assault on Mithral Hall. So Rolf and Khol answered the call and again fought alongside Bruenor to defeat the invasion. Returning to Sundabar in glory, Rolf and Khol celebrated with their kin and discussed plans to one day resettle in Mithral Hall with the rest of the Battlehammers. The Battlehammers had been exiled from the hall long before Rolf was born - most following Bruenor to Icewind Dale but some, including Rolf's family, settling in Sundabar - and he dreamed of one day being able to call it home. That dream was almost about to be realized. And then…but Rolf didn’t want to think about that, and withdrew into himself instead, shutting out his hin brothers.
“What’s troubling you, Brother Rolf?,” Padfoot asked after Rolf had entered his study.
“Nuthin’,” Rolf muttered, looking down at his feet.
Toto Padfoot looked at Rolf knowingly. “I have known for a long time the circumstances which brought you here,” he began. “And I have known for a long time that the day would come when your need to confront your past would outweigh your need to take refuge. That day has arrived.”
“What?,” Rolf looked up, confused.
“You need to leave, Brother Rolf,” the prior went on. “There is nothing more for you here, and it is time for you to take what you have learned in this humble place and use it outside our walls. It is my belief that you will do good work on behalf of the Hin Fist, and also find peace with yourself.”
“But this be me home!,” Rolf stood up, agitated.
“It has been your home for the past twelve years, yes,” Padfoot said. “And it will always be your home. But the time has come for you to follow your path. I know it, your brothers know it…and deep down, you know it. That’s why you have been so unbearable these past several months.”
“Oh do sit down, brother,” Padfoot gestured dismissively.
“Sorry, prior. I was just gonna say…oh the Hells, yer right,” Rolf sighed heavily. “I guess I been puttin’ off the inevitable. I’ll get me things and be out by the morn’.”
“Brother Rolf, no one is trying to chase you out. Take your time to say your goodbyes, and we’ll have a special dinner in your honor in a few days,” Padfoot said. “We have been proud to call you a brother of the Hin Fist, and I know you will do good by us.”
Rolf spent the next several days saying goodbye and making amends to his brothers for his recent crankiness. His dark mood had lifted, and he knew what lay ahead for him. He would return to the Silver Marches and face the thing that had haunted him for nearly thirteen years, and maybe then finally find peace for himself.
“Well Devlin, this is where we part ways,” Rolf said, shaking his hand. “I still ne’er got ye back proper fer the time ye whumped me.”
“That’s because I’m still too fast for you, Brother Rolf!,” Devlin Beestinger said, smiling.
“Aye, that ye are,” Rolf said. “Maybe one day ye can come up te Sundabar and I’ll show ye me old home, like ye showed me yours.”
And with that, Rolf waved to the gathering at the front gate of the monastery, then turned and walked down the hill. He would miss his brothers greatly. But it was time to return home.