Clay was always a strong boy; he worked with his hands for his whole life as a smith's apprentice. He was tall, with short auburn hair and blue eyes. He loved steel; his father often said he must have a little dwarf blood in him. His village was small but close knit. Everyone knew and cared for each other, except maybe the town sheriff. Most people didn't care for him or the taxes he took, and for the fact that he threatened those that would not pay. (Or could not pay) The worst thing about his taxes was that they were not imposed by any government, but they were imposed by the sheriff himself. He made the taxes only to pay for himself. He used to be a soldier and is one of the few in the community that knew how to use a sword, so everyone is afraid to invoke his wrath.
Clay was thinning the metal into a horseshoe when the sheriff himself came in. Clay put on his best impersonation of a groveling assistant. "Hello, Mr. Percy. What can I do for you today, sir?" Clay asked with a curt bow.
"I got a few nicks in my blade while I was fighting off the goblins the other day, protecting this ungrateful town. I need you to fix the blade for my." Sheriff Percy said as he drew his rugged longsword and set it on the anvil.
"Sir, yes, sir. I'll have it done within the hour." Clay answered respectfully.
"No, boy, I don't want you to fix my blade. Are you dumb? Or just plain foolish? I want Smith to fix the blade. Gods above, boy, why would I let a foolish apprentice fix my blade?" Percy sneered at Clay.
Clay's father walked in the door when the sheriff was screaming at Clay. Clay's father was a big, stout man. He was a huntsman and probably killed more goblins with his bow than Percy ever slew in his years as a soldier. He also did some work as a logger and helped defend the town with his axe on more than one occasion. Clay's father, Wesley, hollered at the sheriff, "What in the Abyss are you screaming at my boy for!?"
"Wesley, shut your mouth. Else, I shall have your tongue." Percy screamed at Clay's father.
"Yeah, you and what army?" Wesley screamed back as his face was turning red. His left hand was angling for his buck knife at his waste.
"I am the sheriff of this town, I am the leader, I am the law," Percy screamed as he drew his dagger.
"Aye, if words make you anything than I'm the damn king!" Wesley slammed the sheriff with a deadly right hand. Clay swore he heard a crack from Percy's jaw. Somehow the sheriff held his feet.
He punched Wes back and slid the knife through his ribs. Clay fell to his knees as his father drew his last breath. "Have the smith fix my sword," Percy replied and threw a single gold coin at Clay. Clay, in a fit of rage, picked up the nicked sword and charged.
Percy grabbed his wrist and threw him through the door. "Like father, like son. I know where you're coming from, boy. However, if you so much as think to strike me again, I will have your head."
Four years later, Clay had begun to serve in the small militia for the town. He had his old master forge him a blade, and a crippled adventurer taught him to use it. He had distinguished himself in the defense against a large group of orcs. The sheriff had retreated claiming he was going to hold down the barn of the women and children. Really, he fled to the mines. Clay held the militia in check as he waded in against the orcs. He was nearly killed when an arrow took his shoulder, and the wound festered.
He was healed by the only cleric in the ever growing town. When Percy arrived back to scavenge what he was sure was a burnt village, he was met by the people he had oppressed for nearly ten years. Percy screamed, "What do you want? Money? More land? Free protection? Well, too damn bad!"
Clay walked to the front of the townspeople with his hand on his blade. The crowd was hushed. They had dreamed of the moment Clay would free them for the past year. He eyed the sheriff and said, "We don't want money, or gold, or free protection. We want you to leave."
Percy locked stares with Clay. The wicked man thought to himself, he's tall, and he's strong. Like his father. He's gotten good with a blade, but I'm better. Putting him in his place will show these fools. "Who's going to make me leave, boy? Is it going to be you?"
"No, I won't make you leave. You can leave on your own, but if you choose not to. I guess I'll kill you, like you did my father." Clay flourished his sword and stared fiercely.
Percy turned away, and Clay sheathed his blade. In the blink of an eye, Percy was bearing down on Clay. He hit the young man square in the jaw once. Clay stumbled for just a moment. He saw Percy snap his sword from the sheath. Clay did likewise and shook away the dizziness. They began to circle each other. Percy made a few half hearted swings trying to gage Clay's prowess.
Clay dodged the strikes to save energy. Suddenly, Percy was attacking as swiftly and fiercely as he could. He wanted to win fast. Clay worked hard to block the slashes and thrusts. If it was not for his speed, Clay would have been cut to ribbons. Clay decided to let the older man wear himself out. As he noticed Percy slow down, he started on the attack. He slashed left, then right, then left, and left again. He stabbed high and nicked Percy's shoulder. It was nothing but a grazing wound, however. The crowd heard the clang of steel on steel and was dazzled at the varying styles. Clay was straight forward and fierce, while Percy was unorthodox and swift. As Clay launched a vicious slash from right to left, Percy blocked and did the same back. Clay dropped to one knee and stabbed forward. His blade knifed in to Percy's stomach. Clay rose to lock eyes with the dying man. "Please…." Percy gasped.
"At least my father didn't beg, you son of a bitch," Clay twisted the sword before drawing the sword forth.
Clay remained at the town as it grew. He helped train the militia and guard traders. The people asked him, as he neared his twenty second year, to become the captain of the guard. His exact words were, "My father should have been the sheriff, but I am no leader."
When they asked what he would he would do. His reply was, "I might go to Waterdeep."
One day, he was gone.