Name: Piper Hornblower
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Deity: None, but some devotion to both Deliar and Prunilla, as most halflings have.
Description: This halfling man has the tanned skin of the desert tribes, though his face is still young and smooth and bears no sign of weathering. Bright eyes take in everything before him, and he greets strangers with a wave and a cheerful grin. His traveling clothes look comfortable, and have a number of small pouches on them. A sling and a pouch of ammunition is often slung through his belt.
Piper scanned the horizon from his hidey place behind the big rock and its brush. Nope, still nothing. He patted the carved warning horn at his side, reassuring himself for the seventeenth time it was there, and then went back to sorting his pebble collection.
Green one, flecked one, speckled one, one that looked like it had Deliar's face on it ... there were some real treasures there. No matter where they set up camp for the night, he could always find a couple of interesting rocks. Trinkets and other curiosities might catch his eye, of a certainty--what halfling could possess so little curiosity as to pretend otherwise?--but the pebble collection, started when he was a child, was his favorite pastime. Of course, he probably shouldn't be playing with his pebble collection when he was supposed to be watching ...
Guiltily, he tucked the pebbles back into his pouch. Well, alright, one of about two dozen pouches on the comfortable traveling leathers he was wearing. Couldn't wear uncomfortable armor, not when you were moving around all day, not when you'd probably have to sleep in it that night! Not that he had any regrets about his decision to become a caravan guard. What more could you ask for? Always on the move, always getting to see a bit of the world, new people to talk to whenever you stopped, and new stories and a good pipe by the fire every night. Life was meant for living, and he was living it just as he wanted. For now.
No, Piper had no regrets about his decision to join the trading caravans, moving all over Mistone. He missed the Spirit Dunes when they were far away, but even there he hadn't been part of a clan with a permanent home, so he was used to being a wanderer. It felt right, and since he'd learned early he was quicker with a sling, a dart, or just about anything else he could throw than his fellows, well spending a couple of years as a guard had made sense. He might not be as brawny as the tall folk, but only tall folk would think size was the most important part of a fight.
Why, if a wild animal were to come over that hill right now, he'd have it down with a stinger dart before it knew what hit it, and the caravan would be gone before it even woke up. And if a goblin were to come over that hill right now, he had his sling and his pouch of ammunition pebbles (not to be confused with his keeper pebble pouch for his collection!) and he could hit it where it mattered and have it down in no time. And if a patrol of gnolls were to come over that hill right now ... well, that wouldn't be so good, since gnolls were definitely big and he was small. But that's what the horn was for--he'd signal the others, they'd find some way to distract the gnolls (maybe more of that choking powder fog stuff they had traded for back in Spellgard?) and they'd be gone before the gnolls finished wheezing and got around to looking for them.
Yep, he was a good guard. Give him a shortsword or a sling and he could take down anything his own size, and quite a few things even bigger! But he had the good sense the Couple had blessed him with too, and the stories of his Clan Mother to keep him from trying anything foolish if he was confronted by something bigger than him. Sure, he liked the story of the halfling who felled the giant with a sling and a pebble as much as anyone--had that been the beginning of his pebble obsession, he wondered suddenly?--but he also knew just how hard a giant's head was, and that the Storyteller hadn't meant they should go picking fights with giants when she told the story. No, she had been talking about something else. About how the giant had underestimated the halfling, and how the halfling had used that opportunity.
Piper felt an unexpected wave of homesickness, suddenly realizing how much he missed the kindly face of the Clan Mother of his childhood. And he knew that only another halfling would ever really understand that feeling. Tall folks wouldn't get how much he missed this woman who hadn't birthed him but had been a second mother, had bestowed upon him and all the children of his clan the wisdom and stories that made up their history. Yes, he missed the clan, and he knew he'd go back one day, but not yet. These were his wandering years. Maybe when he passed the century mark he'd settle down, find a woman who'd take him as a husband, and have some children of his own. For now, there was simply too much exploring to do.
Soft footsteps startled Piper out of his thoughts, and he tensed and crouched, one hand on a dart. Ah, but no, he recognized the tread--it was only Morris, come to relieve him from his watch and let him go catch a wink back at the camp. He gave his report, then headed off through the night back toward where he knew the caravans were, until he saw that welcoming glow and heard the friendly greetings.
His traveling companions made room for him by the fire, and someone handed him a plate of supper, and a pang of guilt hit him in the belly. He hadn't had the heart to tell them yet, but he'd made up his mind. The next big city they reached, he would part ways with the caravan for a while, and strike out on his own. It wasn't that he didn't like the life he was living--he did! But there was something fascinating about those bustling human cities, with tall folk hurrying everywhere. It was like looking at a bee hive or an ant hill. There was so much to see! But always they were moving on before Piper felt he'd had time to explore, so maybe it was time to take his cut of the pay and do a little wandering of his own. He could always meet up with them again later, or find another caravan ...
Yep, the next big city, he'd part ways. He hugged the thought to himself as he settled down by the fire that night. He'd be alone, but he was sure he had some distant cousins in a human city somewhere, so maybe he could track them down for a visit and a taste of home if he got too lonesome. And in the meantime, he'd be free to explore whatever he wanted, not having to follow where the caravan wanted to go.
The next big city, he thought to himself as sleep tickled at the back of his mind. He wondered which one it would be, and drifted off to dream of the excitement it would surely hold.