“Danger’Tog” we called him. He was numbered among the Trailblazers.
Dangelo was a warrior through and through; a barbarian by guild, and a hero by trade. He led expeditions to the newest of adventuring destinations, rescues in the most dangerous, and tours of the best ones for newcomers. He was a man’s man – and adored by the ladies. Over the years, he learned a wisdom that made him both brilliant and dangerous.
It was not that he was impervious – quite the contrary, he had more than his fair share of falls in combat. Rescuing Dangelo usually took an entire group to do it – where he hunted solo was that dangerous to almost everyone else.
He always made time for the youngsters, especially in the Barbarian Guild. I know he had an utterly unrestrained outlook on a hunt or during times of danger, but he was one of the most patient people I knew as I grew up in River Crossings.
Let me tell you the measure of this man in an incident I witnessed. It was the year 349, and we were in the Crossing.
Valor is measured in different ways. When I witnessed this, several years ago, I knew I had seen one of the many facets of a true hero. This tale would have fallen into obscurity, had there been no bard there to remember it.
Not too long after the opening of the Bard’s Guild, I was teaching a class on the Town Green about the virtues of wearing leather armor. Several of my students were far more accomplished heroes and hunters than I was, but I was trying to convince them that there were advantages to them switching from that heavy, clunky metal stuff into leather armor.
One of those listening with attention and measuring my words against his own vast knowledge of hunting, was Dangelo.
He had just been out to the wood troll area to try to break in his new set of leather armor after a lengthy hunting trip into crocodiles. I shared a few pointers with him, and was doing my best to pass on all the knowledge of my own experiences in leather that I could. I had been hunting and wearing leather a long time.
Someone I had never heard of before walked by the class, interrupting my lecture, and proceeded to strike up a conversation with anyone he could get to talk. Especially the more experienced of my students like Mir and Dangelo, I noticed. No matter how I politely tried to divert the discussion back to leather armor, this young ne’er do well kept on insisting that his voice be heard.
Soon, he was heavy into bragging, with obviously more head knowledge than real experience. He seemed to be manuevering the conversation further and further into conflict, even though Mir and Dangelo were paying very little attention to his whining.
My intuition warned me this little boy meant trouble.
Patient and unruffled, Dangelo answered the boy’s questions and claims with simple, direct answers when required. I was amazed at his calm responses. So many times I had witnessed scenes like this erupt into blows when young men of less maturity were confronted with the boasting taunts of a bully-boy. But not Dangelo.
Then suddenly the boy boasted, “I bet I could kill you with this!” and he waved some pointed weapon in his hand at where Dangelo was sitting.
The next thing I saw was the boy advancing on Dangelo. Now, this was the Town Green. People tease each other all the time on the Town Green, because mature, law-abiding citizens know it is illegal to attack someone in town. I do not think anyone in the area was alarmed. Yet.
The dread of my intuition flooded me and my heart sank as this ill-mannered boy struck at Dangelo. Twice. And then stunned him. But Dangelo did not strike back at the boy, not once. He knew that he would have killed him if he did.
“Surely he thinks his point is now made and will stop,” I thought to myself as one of the finest hunters of the realms took that stunning blow.
Mir was already on his feet, and dragged Dangelo away. I commanded the ne’er do well to stop, but he followed Dangelo! This was too much!
I knew Dangelo was worse than unprotected, since he only had on his leather armor, and was not at all acustomed to moving in it. I was upset to think someone would attack someone like this right on the Green.
The braggart tracked down Dangelo, and before I could find them, Dangelo was struck down! Those who witnessed the final blows said that Dangelo never struck at his attacker through the whole thing.
Dangelo’s friends hurried to help recover his things and take him somewhere to depart safely — this was long before ressurections and glyphs of warding.
A shrug is not consent for dueling. You know this, I know this, and as much as the braggart claimed otherwise, he obviously knew it, as well, or he would not have had to justify himself as much as he did.
The sneering jibes of the braggart started about how he had killed Dangelo, who had not fought back. They were quickly silenced when someone pointed out to the little boy that Dangelo could have killed him quickly with his worst weapon if he had wanted to.
Suddenly several people jumped to the murdering braggart’s defense in the telepathy of the gwethdesuan, people who had not even been there. As friends of Dangelo’s all over the Realms asked what had happened, I decided to take it upon myself to state succinctly what had happened.
“Dangelo was murdered in cold blood on the Town Green.”
Every time the murderer or one of his cronies tried to justify it, brag about it, or turn the story into something different, I thought again to those who would be listening on the gwethdesuan the gist of the matter. He had been slain without ever defending himself.
Let the murderer’s bragging rights reflect the truth of that.
Some people stopped to wonder about the reason one of our greatest heroes had been struck down by a conniving braggart, but I knew why.
A hero is someone who does the right thing, not neccesarily because it is convenient, or the safest for him, but because it must be done.
It took a great deal more strength to sit and take the incoming blows than to have defended himself. Strength of conviction, strength of character, and strength of will.
Dangelo proved who the victor was that evening.
Dangelo’s memorial service was a celebration through tears. (Skullcleaver, 378)
[Please share your memories of Dangelo in the comments below. I know there are still some of you with something of Dangelo’s to remember him.]