Ben had hesitated when the call was given to fall into line. Good Ben, a Halfling from Albion, had taken a step back when the call had been given to step forward. Plump, homely, stout and short like all of his race, the knowing glace of the officer and sideways looks from his squad-mates may have persuaded ben to do something he otherwise would have been against. That is to say, Ben climbed the trench ladder and joined the mad flurry running and screaming across No Man’s Land. All the soldiers in the line that day, and a good many others – till shellshock and madness set in, numbing the senses – thought and felt as Ben did. But the word “coward” was brandished about quite liberally in the trenches in those days, and so was the phrase “firing squad.” The wisest amongst them were just the poor and simple people, plucked from the fields and factories of their homeland for the promise of a grand crusade… People like Ben. The Great War for them was simply a misfortune into which they were dragged, and had Ben and his fellows been more aware of into what they had been dragged, they would have resisted instead of resigning themselves with joy to the prospect.

Strangely, because of his race – the Halfling’s natural aptitude with the wilderness – Ben advanced across No Man’s Land more swiftly than the other soldiers. He soon found himself in front of his peers, gone quite barmy with the moment. His fellow soldiers paid no mind to it, not even pausing as Ben was shot in the face. They left him there, twice over. The first time they simply bolted past Ben, caught up in the rush of the attack. The second time they scrambled back past him, lost in the madness of retreat. They all assumed Ben was dead until that afternoon, when he was seen staggering back towards the Alliance trench lines, screaming. Half Ben’s face was missing and he was blind. The wound had not killed him, but left him blinded and mad with pain. Ben could not see and made no attempt to find cover as he staggered and screamed. The noise attracted a military Cleric, whose gestures and words of turn undead did not put our minds or souls at ease for they held no effect on Ben – indicating that the Halfling with half his face missing was not undead, but still very much alive. In the end, one of the officers took a rifle and shot Ben dead before anyone could contemplate going and fetching him or other fool act.

That night, however, and several others after, there have been sightings of Ben staggering about No Man’s Land. This time even the Cleric hasn’t the heart to turn Ben away.


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