Lost Journal Rin
“Awaken, Longtooth, it is time for you to join the land of the living.” The gravelly voice was soothing, yet, somehow… sinister. Rin cautiously opened his eyes; the dim morning radiance was more than he could bear. “Ha! Open your eyes, youngling, you must face the light sometime. Better to be done with it quickly.”
Eyes clinched shut, pain and confusion assaulted Rin’s mind, “How long?” he rasped.
The voice paused a moment before answering, “The sun has risen and set, and risen and set again while I have watched over you. It rises again as we speak.”
The young warrior’s chest throbbed with pain, with a tentative hand he touched the wound and winced. Now, memories flooded his brain. Orcs, by the smell of them, cloaked and masked in black descended upon his tribe in the night. There were so many. The screams of women and children ring in his ears now, as they did that night. So many. Rin stepped from his tent and was run through by a wicked spear. He remained conscious long enough to witness the savage brutality of the slaughter of his tribe. His brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, his parents and grandparents. “By the Spirits, are they all gone?” his voice cracked and tears flowed from his eyes.
“This I do not know, Longtooth.”
Rin sat in silence for a long moment before taking a deep breath and opening his eyes. He was not in the camp, “Thank the Spirits.” He was afraid the sight would have driven him mad. Rin looked around, to put a face with the unfamiliar voice. No one was near. “What…?”
The voice, “You look frightened, Longtooth.” Rin’s feet were under him in a flash, but his body was unprepared and dizziness quickly swept over him. “Be easy, your body is still weak.” Now, Rin feared he had gone mad after all.
“Where are you?”
“Look to the East, youngling.” Rin turned to the rising sun, squinting through the pain it brought. In the near distance, atop a low hill, was a coyote with a coat the blue shade of the mountaintops; its eyes, as intelligent as a man’s, were staring into Rin’s.
“Fyrenne? Blue Coyote? How is this possible? I am not a shaman, you cannot talk to me.”
“I choose with whom I speak! Not Man!”
“But…how? …Why? I am not worthy…I do not…” The words tumbling from Rin’s mouth quickly became incoherent.
“Man. So easily confused.” Now the voice held some contempt. “How does your kind thrive so greatly?”
But Rin could barely hear the words. The mix of pain and confusion was threatening to make him pass out.
“No, Longtooth! You must stay awake! In the sheepskin you carry is water, drink.”
With difficulty, Rin did as he was told. He took some time to gather his thoughts and accept what had become his reality. The Great Owl Tribe had fallen, the Secrets of the Ancients which had been protected by the tribe since the dawn of Man lost forever or, worse, stolen. His family may all be dead. And now, he was speaking with a Spirit Totem. He attempted to speak, but words failed him.
“You have many questions, Longtooth. I do not have all the answers, but I will tell you what I can. After the Great Owl Tribe was attacked, I was chosen to pull you from the carnage, nurse you to health, and guide you to your destiny.”
“You were chosen? By who?”
“By Owl, of course.”
“Great Owl sent a Spirit Totem to guide me to my destiny! Why? I am not worthy of this! Why not one of the elders, a shaman, a great seer? Why not Grandfather?”
“Because you are the one who has been chosen, Longtooth, not your grandfather.”
“Chosen for what?”
“I know not.”
“Have the Spirit Tablets been stolen?”
“Who attacked my tribe?”
“I know not. And I do not believe you are meant to know this either. Not yet.”
“What would you do if you knew, Longtooth? You would kill yourself trying to exact your vengeance. Your road is a long one, youngling, you must travel it one step at a time.” For a time, silence.
“You said you are here to guide me to my destiny.”
“Tell me what I must do.”
“You will travel West, past the mountains and toward the sea. You will find a… city – a great gathering of Man, where they dwell in lairs of wood and stone. This city is surrounded by mountains to the North, West, and East. To the South, it touches the icy waters of the sea. In this city you will find a new tribe, very unlike any you have heard of before. This tribe will help you find your destiny, though they do not know it. This is the first step of your road, Longtooth. Be wary, the Men who dwell in cities can be dangerous. Trust no one, Longtooth.”
“Why do you call me ‘Longtooth’? My name is Rin’Daarg, grandson of Utholok.”
“Fyrenne is the name given to me by Man, Longtooth is the name given to you by Coyote. Rin’Daarg, grandson of Utholok, died the night the Great Owl Tribe fell to its enemies. This morning, Rin Longtooth was born.”
Rin has the athletic build of a hunter and warrior; his eyes are sharp and always observant. Like all members of the Great Owl Tribe, his skin is very tan and his hair, pulled into a topknot, is dark as well. Tribal tattoos cover his arms, chest, and shoulders. He is a quiet person, preferring to listen rather than speak. The values of his tribe instilled in him a compassion for those who cannot protect themselves, and mercilessness towards those who prey on the weak. Rin is driven to fulfill the destiny set before him by Great Owl, but he still enjoys the good things in life – warm food, strong drink, and rowdy nights. These things help to stem the harsh memories of the loss of his tribe and he indulges in them, perhaps too much.
He has lived in Grayhearth for several months, getting by on odd jobs or manual labor, often as a bouncer in the seedy taverns of the Three Gates district. He has managed to survive, but has spent many nights sleeping in cold alleyways and abandoned shacks. He was beginning to think his encounter with Blue Coyote must have been a dream, and maybe he had no destiny. But, he has recently met a few people who dream of leaving this place and finding adventure and glory in the world beyond the dirt walls of Grayhearth. Perhaps this is the new tribe of which Coyote spoke.
The territory that comprises Nördthagg is not a seamless nation, but rather a loose collection of tribes held together by the strength of their king – known as the Horn Father – and their mutual hatred of humans, elves, and dwarves. The Nörds, as a general people, are a mongrel mix of all the humanoid and goblinoid races. Humans, dwarves, ogres, orcs, giants, goblins and even elven blood runs in the veins of the typical Nörd. Much of their hatred for others stems from their treatment in the past.
Being of mixed blood, the people who would one day comprise the Nörds were shunned by their own people, ridiculed, feared, and often cast out of society. They were heavily persecuted under the Timerixian Empire and treated little better than slaves. The Kingdom of Åldoron banished these crossbreeds to the fjelds of southern Kalador where game was sparse and the land fairly inhospitable. It was here that these rejects from society mingled with the native people of the fjelds.
The tribes of the fjelds and Staag Steppes, although numerous, were never united under a single ruler or common cause until the Great War weakened the hold of Kalador on the region. A leader, Garag, arose from amongst the Nörds and the tribes swore obedience to him and his descendants, which continues to this day. The insurrection against the Kaladorans was swift and brutal. As had been done to them, the Nörds seized the best lands of Kalador and left the Kaladorans with the harsh region along the northern shore. Although the area is rich in iron ore and precious metals, the Nörds have a stranglehold over the Kaladorans and give them paltry portions of food for the resources they must mine to survive.
The Nördthagg is a perilous region to cross, even for the native Nörds. Although they are united under one king, the tribal boundaries are still intact and the various tribes still retain their ancient hatreds of each other. Crossing into the tribal lands of another without being granted passage often results in death. For an outsider, the journey can be especially difficult because the area is heavily patrolled. The waters surrounding Nördthagg are equally perilous as the Nörds are quickly taking to the sea in hopes of outward expansion.
Homeland: Valley of the Owl
Fifty miles west of the White Mountains runs the Ulimar River that originates from Lake Odon, plunges from the High Fjeld at the breath-taking Shalig’tor Falls, meanders across the Low Fjeld, and once again descends at Totem Falls, bringing it to the Eastern Khord Flats of central Nördthagg. The Valley of the Owl (or Utholok Basin, named in honor of a great warrior-priest) is a deep gorge carved out by the deep waters of the Ulimar River over millions of years. The flora and fauna here are plentiful – a stark contrast to the rest of the steppes – and the Great Owl Tribe, although small in number, is considered wealthy due to their abundance of natural resources. The river here, though, is a raging torrent of rapids, which is not navigable but quite picturesque. Other tribes that reside on the resource-poor steppes, such as the Red Raven and Storm Wolf, have long been jealous of the Great Owl and have made occasional attacks, but nothing on a grand scale out of fear of the Horn Father. The Tuskans, a renegade warband that holds to no tribe, have attacked the Great Owl often, but only to pillage and not to conquer. The occasional elven scouting party from Lhathalon, which is situated just beyond the White Mountains to the east, has been spotted in the Valley of the Owl, but no contact has ever been made between the two peoples. It takes approximately 12 days by horse to reach Grayhearth from the Valley of the Owl and 10 days to travel to Odon, the capital of Nördthagg. Lhathalon is a 6 day journey through the White Mountains with an able mount and the proper mountaineering equipment.
Bonuses & Optional Character-Specific Skills
• +2 circumstance bonus to Diplomacy and Gather Information checks when dealing with Nörds, other than enemy tribes.
• -2 circumstance penalty to Diplomacy and Gather Information checks when dealing with enemy tribes: the Red Raven and Storm Wolf.
• +2 circumstance bonus on Survival checks within Nördthagg.
• Optional Skills: Knowledge (Geography: Eastern Khord Flats), Knowledge (Geography: Lower Ulimar River), Knowledge (History: Nörds), Knowledge (Local: Nörd Tribes), Knowledge (Religion: Spirit Totems).
Slain during a battle with witches and their giant skeletal guardians atop Altar Rock in the shadow of Mount Kur’dul, Rin’Daarg was interred within a cave to which the Raiders of the Tuskan Horn had fled. Unable to take the body with them, the Raiders stripped Rin of his weapons and armor, performed a short burial service, then left to avenge the death of their fallen brother-in-arms. They placed a stone in front of the cave entrance in hopes of returning one day to properly bury the body of their friend.
“Awaken, Longtooth, it is once again time for you to join the land of the living.”
Rin jerked awake with a start only to find himself immersed in immeasurable darkness. He felt cold and his muscles were painfully stiff. Every movement caused pulses of sharp pain that lanced through muscle, tendon, and bone.
With great effort he swiveled from what he perceived to be a rough stone table and was relieved to find solid ground beneath his feet. Stumbling through the darkness, the barbarian located through touch what appeared to be his gear and quickly lit a torch.
Rin’Daarg, grandson of Utholok, stood nearly naked within a rough cave of gray stone. Each breath formed a cloud of freezing mist and the barbarian shivered uncontrollably in the chamber’s cold. Rummaging through what was left of his belongings, Rin found a spare set of leggings and tunic, which he put on, before wrapping himself in a winter blanket for warmth.
Sitting on the stone table from which he had awoken, Rin had the uncomfortable feeling of being in a tomb, his tomb. The far wall seemed to taper into a short corridor that ended in an opening covered by a large stone. Had he been entombed? Why would the Raiders leave him to such a fate?
Rin sat for long moments rubbing his forehead. The memories would not come. The barbarian recalled the journey to Altar Rock after discovering the carnage in the village of the Gray Eagle, but little else. Clutching his fists in rage, Rin charged across the chamber and struck the stone walls; he continued to strike the unyielding rock until the ache in his body burned like a forge’s fire. The torch continued to flicker as the barbarian slumped to the ground in exhaustion.
Despite the burst of activity, Rin still felt a chill and had not broken a sweat. The winter blanket had fallen from his shoulders and was across the room. The barbarian also realized he was neither hungry nor thirsty. In fact, he felt nothing but the constant, bone-numbing cold. Looking at his hands – covered with deep gashes from striking the rough stone wall – Rin saw no blood, no bruises. The wounds were there, but they did not bleed. Inspecting himself further, the barbarian found other small gashes and cuts before lifting his tunic to a horrific sight – there was a wide, one-foot long deep cut running from his sternum to the top of his right hip. Cutting through ribs, outer tissue, and muscle, the wound was a grievous one and certainly fatal. With trembling hands, Rin touched what should have been a warm, moist wound only to feel dry, lifeless flesh and dead organs within.
The barbarian, light-headed and confused, stumbled against the cave wall and swung his head low in disbelief. A thick fog still clouded his memory but he could make out humanoid forms standing upon Altar Rock. Turning, Rin saw the disfigured wizard Bastion mired in waist-deep snow being struck by ice shards that appeared from the sky and sliced at his burnt, raw skin. At the barbarian’s side stood the elven monk Stiehl striking an old woman; he had the look of desperation on his face and yelled to Rin, but he could not make out the words. The vision shifted and the barbarian felt himself lying in deep snow with warm blood spewing from a mortal wound in his side. A skeletal form stood above him with his blood upon its enormous, bone claws.
With a heavy sigh, Rin returned to the present and stood facing the wall. He pressed his palm upon the stone and felt nothing, only cold.
“What is to become of me,” the barbarian whispered out loud, grief growing in his heart.
“None of us knows our course only that we must follow the path,” came the immediate reply.
Startled, Rin turned too quickly for his stiff joints and lost his footing, tumbling to the floor. Rising slowly on one arm, the other hand scrambled across the floor and grabbed a nearby rock as an improvised weapon. The barbarian would go down fighting, as was fitting a tribesmen of the Great Owl.
“You look frightened, Longtooth. Drop the stone and gather your belongings. You have a long journey ahead of you,” said the voice.
“Where are you?”
“I am here. Look more deeply.” Rin gazed across the shifting shadows of the cave and a hazy form began to take shape. After a few moments, there stood before Rin a coyote with a coat the blue shade of the mountaintops. The creature looked at the barbarian with calculating eyes and turned its head to one side. Rin recognized the coyote and felt a glimmer of hope.
“Fyrenne. I… I don’t understand. What has happened to me?” Rin asked, his voice raspy and raw.
Blue Coyote, powerful spirit totem of the Nörds, walked over to the stone table from which Rin had awoken and smoothly jumped to its surface. “Your lifeblood is upon this stone, Longtooth. Your wounds do not bleed. You breathe out of reflex, not necessity.”
“Then I am dead? I have been brought back into the unlife?” Rin frantically scrambled to his feet and felt the world spinning. Had he become what he detested the most – one of the vile undead? Was this a curse? A spell? Who would do this to him? The questions overwhelmed the barbarian and he felt a trembling rage.
“Calm yourself, Longtooth. Now is not the time to allow emotion to overwhelm your intellect. If you were one of the undead, would you have emotions such as this? What care would you have? Ask yourself.”
Rin looked at Blue Coyote and felt a growing sense of peace. Fyrenne had guided the young barbarian before after the massacre of his people, the Great Owl Tribe. The spirit totem could be trusted, although Rin wondered why those he trusted the most – the Raiders of the Tuskan Horn – would leave him in such a situation. They were his friends, his comrades in arms. He had risked his life for them and they had done so in return. Why, in the end, would they leave him to die in a cave then seal the door?
Rin moved to the table and ran his finger across the dried blood. “Was I dead when my friends brought me here?”
“Ahh, now you are thinking. Good. Yes, Longtooth, you were slain atop the hill known as Altar Rock. Your friends interred your body here after leaving to avenge your death. As we speak, they chase a great cauldron of iron across the Asangaard Plateau.”
“Am I still dead? I do not feel, only cold.”
Fyrenne seemed to smile – if a coyote were capable of such – as the barbarian took a seat next to the spirit totem, his eyes searching for answers. “You are not dead, Longtooth, nor are you among the living. Your body and mind have reawakened due to powerful sorcery, but your soul has fled to the Spirit Lands. Look upon your back.”
Twisting was painful due to his tight, stiff joints, but Rin could see the dark brands received from the Dragon Totem of Mar’zacomatl during his last resurrection squirming like small snakes upon his spine.
“Dark magic,” the barbarian whispered.
“It appears the grave guardian gave you more than the gift of life, Longtooth. It also gave you unlife. Perhaps you should begin your quest for answers there, in the Valley of Bones.”
The barbarian recalled his first journey to the Valley of Bones and the weeks it took by horse while Raylen was dying from shadowblight, a dread disease passed to him by a two-headed shadow beast. Even well-equipped with horses and an armed party, the trip had been fraught with dangers. Rin’s confidence waned.
“How am I to make such a journey alone? Is it not still winter? I do not have a horse, or weapons. I would surely die,” Rin said coolly.
Blue Coyote leapt down from the table and was surely smiling at the barbarian as it began fading from view and said, “My dear Longtooth, you are already dead…”
Rin’s journey to the Valley of Bones within the rugged High Hearth Mountains took weeks as deep snows and raging winter storms deterred the barbarian’s progress. Crossing the frozen expanse of the Arrael River, Rin encountered a group of men who spoke not a word but opened their robes to reveal burnt flesh infused with a dragonbrand upon their chests. The apostles brought the rapidly degenerating barbarian to the Dragonbone Totem. During the course of his journey, Rin’s flesh had begun to peel from his body in thick sheets and the stiffness in his joints had grown to the point where his knees and elbows would no longer bend. Mar’zacomatl, the horrific dragon of bone with a chest aglow with crimson fire, greeted the barbarian and said his fate was tied to that of Bastion, the one who had originally restored his soul after Rin succumbed to the poison of the blood orchid. The grave guardian said luck was surely on the barbarian’s side for the Raiders of the Tuskan Horn were only a day away fighting for their lives against a tainted beast. Perhaps, if they survived, Mar’zacomatl could contact Bastion before Rin’s body disintegrated beyond repair.
As the party recovers in the aftermath of their battles with the denizens of the foul Blood Temple, Rin sits alone in a side chamber, gathering his thoughts
I have once again returned from the spirit world through the workings of a great power. Blue Coyote brought me back on the plains of my homeland after the slaughter of my tribe. Bastion sacrificed part of himself for me; giving himself to Mar’zacomatl in return for my life, after I foolishly ate the blood orchid. Why did I act so recklessly? I did not believe the warnings of the Dragon-Demon about the dangers of the plant; I witnessed Raylen eat the orchids, and I could not bear to be so weak… I have only my strength to offer my companions. Without it, I am of no use to them. I did not wish to fail them – my friends, my tribesmen. Now, once again, this foul creature has used its power to restore my body to health. Yet, it claims my soul rests in the Spirit Land. How can this be? I understand nothing of magic; I know only that my fate is tied to Bastion and Mar’zacomatl.
The Raiders of the Tuskan Horn. How different things are now. Ajax, the mighty and compassionate giant, died on Altar Rock at the hands of the same warriors from whom we took the horn, likely the same warriors who destroyed the manor at Grayhearth – who took Prince Amuund, Horace, and Graddimere, Lord of Grayhearth. What has become of them, I wonder? It seems I have failed them as much as I have failed to avenge the Great Owl Tribe; as much as I have failed the Eagle Shaman who tried to help me recover the Spirit Tablets, stolen from my tribe. My greatest failure…
Drydyn, too, was killed at the hands of our enemies. In our first encounter with the beast Praemus, whom it seems we now serve. How different things are… I must remember to return Mother Cynthia’s orphanage and help the children there. Around the campfire, Drydyn once talked about his life in that place. It saddened my heart to know my good friend had been treated in such a way, especially when he was only a child. He had great strength to endure that life and become the man he was. I will miss him.
And now the companion with whom I have traveled the longest, who fought with the heart of a Spirit-Warrior by my side in all our battles, is gone as well. Can I trust any of my comrades as I trusted him? He was a selfless warrior, who fought not just for his love of battle, but to defend those who could not defend themselves. What will become of the Raiders without him? Raylen was the steady conscience of the Raiders; his practicality and good sense kept us alive on many occasions where my recklessness would have killed us all. I can only hope that his spirit will watch over us. Perhaps… there is a way. If we can recover some of Raylen’s body, maybe the Demon-Dragon will aid us once again by returning him to us. Would Raylen want that? To be in the debt of that unholy beast as Bastion is… as I am.
Now I find myself in another place of terrible and powerful evil. What is it that we hope to find here? Why have we come here at all? To help the cruel wolf-beast that killed Drydyn? I must ask my companions to help me understand.
Stiehl is wise and kind; he would not undertake a task for Praemus simply as a favor. I do not believe Raylen would have done so either. This Cyprus I know very little of, and cannot yet guess his motives; if he has any beyond that of any adventurer- fortune and glory. The dwarf, Butch, seems to be here to help at the request of the dwarves of Gholdoch, whom my companions helped while I was… gone.
That leaves Bastion. How could I not trust the man who made such a sacrifice to save me? Yet… my instincts tell me there is an evil in him now. When he gave himself to the Dragon-Demon, the man he was before was lost, and only the dark Apostle remained. He has sinister plans; I know it in my heart. But… I owe him my life. I am honor bound to protect him, and that is what I shall do. And, perhaps I misunderstand him. Perhaps the evil I sense is only the taint of Mar’zacomatl; the taint that I now share. Will others sense that taint in me as well? Am I cursed to fight an evil inside my heart until I die, or until it consumes me? Truly, my fate is tied to Bastion, his fate is tied to me, and both our fates are now tied to Mar’zacomatl.
I must focus on the task at hand. Remember Fyrenne’s words of guidance, “Your path is long, take one step at a time.” Destroying the unholy altar, and the foul protectors of this place, felt exhilarating. Too long has my destiny been toyed with at the hands of evil; it is time I exercised my will upon these wicked creatures. We will cleanse this unholy temple of its evils; we will complete our task, even if it is a favor for Praemus, because that is what Stiehl and Bastion wish to do. I will follow their lead; I know they will help me in return. When we have finished, we will continue our quest to find Lord Graddimere and the son of the Horn Father. I will find the Spirit Tablets and have my revenge on those who destroyed my tribe.” I am Rin Longtooth, the last of the Great Owl…
Staring at the massive, bloated corpse of the colossal bullfrog, Rin could not suppress a smirk. As the battle replayed in his mind’s eye – Stiehl pummeling the beast’s rubbery hide in futility, Cyprus being battered into submission, Bastion’s disembodied hand floating across the battlefield – Rin’s body began to shudder. His companions eyed him with concern, thinking perhaps he was falling victim to some type of poison. Suddenly, Rin was howling with a mad, uncontrollable laughter. Clutching his sides, with tears rolling down his face, the barbarian fell to his knees.
At once, a rush of thoughts and memories filled his mind. The slaughter of his family and tribe, and his inability to avenge them; their first adventure, the battle upon Altar Rock and the fall of the powerful half-ogre, Ajax Pelor; more dead companions- his good friends, Drydyn and Raylen; Lividicus drowning in magma, only to be reborn by the power of his deity; shadowy villains- Ameryl the Slayer, Mar’zacomatl, Praemus, Branson D’ard… Tuskan Raiders; more faces – Captain Zabbar, Gizzledorf, the Admiral, Horace, Lord Graddimere, Amuund Son of the Horn-Father… the Eagle Shaman and his tortured soul; battles, endless battles. Rin’s gruesome laughter turned into painful sobs of grief and regret.
“What is happening to me, Fyrenne?” he whispered, as much to himself as to his spirit guide.
“The fensir,” came the gravelly reply of Blue Coyote.
Rin’s head jerked up. He was no longer in the swamp, but on the eternal tundra of his homeland.
“How can this be? Where are we? How did we come to be here?” The flummoxed warrior sputtered questions at a rapid pace.
“We are nowhere and everywhere, Longtooth. As we have always been. Now, calm yourself. Breathe. Focus. Remember the words of your Grandfather.” Fyrenne was cryptic, as always.
The warrior did relax; the voice of his guide was soothing and comforting. He meditated, sitting with legs crossed. Memories of the gentle voice of his Grandfather, Utholok, replaced the terrible visions of death and battle and enemies.
“You will grow to be a mighty warrior, little Rin’Daarg.”
“Do you see that in Visions, Grandfather?”
“I see it with my eyes and heart.” The old shaman smiled and winked at his grandson.
“Will you teach me to fight?”
“Ha! You will know how to fight when the time comes, little one! You will wield sword and club and axe with the instinct of a warrior born. No, I will teach you much more important things, young son.”
“Like what, Grandfather?”
“When you are grown, and have faced many battles where your comrades have fallen, you will be overcome with sorrow. You will fall to your knees, and you will cry.”
“I never cry, Grandfather! You said I would be a mighty warrior! Warriors do not cry!”
“Yes, young son, all warriors cry. We cry for our lost brothers and for our vanquished foes. It is our compassion and honor that makes us warriors, not our sword-arms. A fighter without those things is only a mercenary; a man with a heart of stone, that will never feel the joys of valor, and will never know honor. It is alright to feel this way, grandson… it means you are a true warrior.”
Rin slumped to one side, exhausted. He looked around to find that he was still in the Nördthagg; Blue Coyote was sitting nearby, staring intently at him.
“Do you feel… better, Longtooth?” He asked with hesitancy, unfamiliar with voicing concern.
“Yes. Thank you… my friend.”
For a few moments they sat in understanding silence. Rin spoke first.
“When I asked what was happening to me, you said ‘the fensir’. What did you mean?”
“The simple hunters reminded you of the life you should have had, Longtooth – living in harmony with the wilderness, providing for your tribe. From deep in your mind, the thoughts of that lost life came to the surface. Like many humans, your spirit has been pained by so many battles. At times such as this, a warrior can be overwhelmed.”
“As Grandfather once told me it would be. But, there is more. I do not understand this feeling that plagues me. What can it be?”
“The great elk.” Blue Coyote yipped and spun around, as though dancing at Rin’s ignorance.
“The elk?” Rin contemplated the idea for a few moments, and then dismissed it.
“Bah! I have hunted many animals; it is the way of the tribes. It is harmony.”
“The second elk did not need to die. It was more meat than you could carry; more than the fensir needed. You knew this in your heart. Yet, you slew the great elk still.”
Rin stared at ground with intensity, disbelieving. He began to murmur, almost to himself.
“They kept saying… kept telling me to… What did it matter? One elk, or two? I did not think…”
“No! You did think, Longtooth. But, you did not listen to your heart! You listened to something else…” They paused a moment.
“My friends…”. Realization began to wash over Rin like the blinding dawn.
“Ahh, now you begin to see what truly troubles you, Longtooth.”
“But, they are my companions. They are my tribe.”
“Longtooth! They have no Honor! Look into you heart, you know it to be true.” Blue Coyote was muzzle-to-nose with the barbarian, his hot breath and bared teeth challenging Rin to argue.
They stared at each other until Rin could not stand it; he looked away, ashamed.
“But, Bastion saved my life. If not for my foolishness, he would not be the twisted man he has become. I made him what he is.”
“He walks his own path, Longtooth. As do all Men.”
“Stiehl is wise and honorable; I have nothing to fear from him.” Rin replied, changing tack.
“The elf is not who he once was; you sense the change in him – he battles darkness in his soul. He will lose that battle.”
“You cannot know that!” Rin countered
“What of the ‘Earl of Battle’?” sarcasm dripping in the spirit’s voice. “Does he know Honor? Does he show the compassion of a warrior?”
Rin could not reply; his voice had caught in his throat. After a little while, he found words.
“What will become of me? I cannot abandon them. I will not forsake my friends.”
“All men must walk their own path, Longtooth. All men.”