We came upon the temple early in our expeditions. We were a relatively new band of travelers, yet fate had assembled us both with the tools of wanderlust and bloodlust. Not necessarily two words I would have fashioned together artfully, but my reasons for joining the band were simpler than that, and they were my own.
I had left the Mountain earlier than most of my tribe, but I had received permission from Master Grunsi – I alone, one of only a handful in the past ten years. My thanks to him, even now, years after his passing, are still inexpressible, and doubtless just as so in any form of human tongue.
“Charin,” he said, I remember vividly, sitting on the high seat of the Old Oak, his hands together at the tips, and his eyes closed lightly, pensive, but not sleeping. “The world beyond these boarders does not favor the female.” And upon opening his eyes, he said these words to me, the last I remember from his lips, “let not their judgments mask your good sense, even less, your will to be everything your heart calls you to be. You are in this world,” he said. “But not of it. Make what living you must to exist here, but follow always only the road of your innerness.”
The next morning before the sun’s light, I walked out; I descended the Mountain, leaving my tribe and the routine of my life of the previous 20 years.
I drifted among towns, the names of which are all now to me a blur. I made what living I could, practicing my Forms in the bits of the morning where most humans were still dreaming. I stayed low, just as I was taught, allowing those of this place to see me as a servant, an animal, a filth worker, even at times (their thoughts were clear) a whore. I did chores, menial, often sub-human, making what this new world (they called themselves ‘civilized’) called coin. They would pay for anything, even the most simple of duties. I raked hay, cleaned stables, collected eggs and firewood. I even spoke to the blind, told them stories, allowed them to listen to my voice. I collected several coppers each time, giving them only my company, an ear for their voices, a voice for them to hear as well – allowing them to still feel that they weren’t altogether ignored. That they were still acknowledged, part of the village and the people there.
In the morning, under the stars, my Forms were flawless, strong. I was faster than they knew. And I was just as much a part of the quiet that bolstered their sleep as was the silent air around their pillows. When they woke, I was there, dirt-covered, homely, not worthy of rivaling their own self-defined status.
But Wanderers are not made to keep to one town, one group of people, one view of the same. This was something I felt, and a feeling that, although a part of my innerness, with which I was ineffably intimate. I moved when I was called. Left. My belongings were scarce, but far more than sufficient.
Then came the one town where I found a stream of adventure to quench (at least dull) the cravings of my Wandering vessel’s soul.
It began in a small tavern of uninteresting description. It was a regular day, but an irregular late night.
There was a brawl beginning far after midnight. To an outsider, this was perhaps a shocking occurrence. But I had, at the time, been working there for more than several months, toiling behind the bar top, washing unwanted food and spit from used platters and food tools, and the brawl to those of us there, was quite commonplace.
Patrons in the common space were few, which, the barman was pleased reduced the number of lost platters and less clean up.
The initiators were a small group of drunk heroes who had drawn their swords and, for reasons still unknown to me, began swinging wildly.
Without noticing a man in the back suffered a large slash down his back and across his arm at the shoulder.
When he yelled, I jumped from my duties into the center room, grabbing free-standing mugs as I went. The mugs went first with one throw, each tagging the men above the neck with a string of cracks. My flurry of blows was invisible, but heavy in damage.
I recall the breaking of two jaws and more than ten ribs. The men were soft piles of unthreatening whimpers as I went over to the patron of the tavern. I went to check on his status. He had been slashed wholly on the back, but made no mention of it when inquired.
Yet, he offered more than his thanks. He had no name to go with his red eyes – they glowed in an odd inhuman way. He left that night with few words to me other than his brief gratitude. I returned to my chores, ignoring as best I could the surprise and incessant questions from the barman. “Lucky,” I said. “Just luck.”
The man, however, the red-eyed man, found me again the next morning, shortly after sunrise. Four others were with him. F’nor, Wen, and a short woman among them, greeted me as I was already one of them. There was one who spoke very little, another woman. Maynith. She had powers. Inhuman powers. Psionic, they called them. They recruited me into their travellings, persuading me (with relative ease) of the boons of this life. It was for their own benefit, but many would do well during the course of which. We would help others, as well as ourselves. Coin, prize, and the unknown.
I left with them then.
A temple of bandits was our first encounter.
I write this here deep into the long road I have traveled in the shadow of this choice. I have witnessed the death of several of those from this, my original company of friends. I have gained coin and my team glory. We have encountered feral oddities beyond words. And here, and now, I know not whether I’ll be able to see again the quiet stars of an early morning where the ‘civilized’ knew nothing of my origin, my quiet Forms, and my heart’s desire to roam. I have chosen to follow my way as a Wanderer – to face risk of death if it would allow me to see other lands, other people, and breath the air of other sides of this world.
I have made my choices, and I suffer no regrets. Not even if this be my final entry in the script of man.