Elven druid of the Athasian wastes.
On the full moon after the boy was born, his mother and father made sacrifice. They pricked his finger and added his blood to the nectar they poured upon the ground, and also to the food and crafts they burned so that the land and sky would know him as their own. When they were finished, the Soothsayer ensouled the boy, blessed him, and and gave his parents his fate:
“As the orb of the sun burns in the eye even after it closes, so shall this one be in the eyes of his people.”
This caused some stir among the Ember Moon tribe. The Chieftain’s wife objected that a weaver’s son’s predicted destiny should be finer than their daughter Ariyah’s ( “Her blade shall never break while she draws breath.” ) so the Chieftain drew up an agreement between their families. While the boy would be taught to fight, run, and hunt along with the rest of the children, he would be given as a pupil to the Soothsayer when he came of age. Since only a member of the war party could be named a chieftain, this settled the matter.
The boy was called Behkat — or “after-image” — and the Ember Moon tribe continued about their business. On the Summer Solstice of his eleventh year he moved his things to the Soothsayer’s tent, and began his schooling. He studied hard, and while he never begrudged Ariyah her position as the Chieftain’s heir apparent, the two of them played at friendly rivalry, and as they grew older became dear friends and confidantes. At the beginning of Behkat’s seventeenth year, he and Ariyah made a marriage pact, and their families set about making preparations.
The tribe settled that spring at an oasis they’d used many times before. The tribe made trade with passing caravans as usual. And then Ezma, one of the warriors, died suddenly in the night. By the time her body was found in the morning, her skin had gone chalk white. Heris and Jehat, who had found her, died within hours. Within a day, half the tribe was dead.
The Chieftain’s final act was to tell the handful who remained to burn what remained of the camp and then flee into the wastes to start anew. Ariyah was to lead them. Behkat would have to do his best as Soothsayer. They struck out at dawn with only the clothes on their backs. They made a full day’s journey when one of them, Jai, began to struggle. When they stopped to see what was the matter, they found chalk-white marks around his mouth. Hidden in his clothes was a small canteen. Ariyah took a stone and killed Jai and three others who’d also disobeyed by bringing water or other small supplies. “Our cowardice has killed us,” she told Behkat at the fire that night.
In the morning, Bekhat arose from his nightly meditations to a massacre. Ariyah had slit the throats of her last few followers, all save Behkat. She knelt on the rocky ground, and grasped a child’s obsidian dagger in her hand. “You alone obeyed my father, and so you alone deserve to die honestly,” she told him. She slit her throat before he could stop her. The blade fell from her hand and as she slumped to the ground and snapped in two.
Behkat turned away and went into the wastes alone. When the caravan found him, he was near death. He does not remember being found, nor indeed most of the journey back to Raam. Even so, he pledged himself to the house as he would any tribe who might show the same hospitality. Behkat has come to believe over the past few years that this second chance is the path by which he will fulfill his destiny.
- Because House Qalat took me in, I shall treat them as my new tribe, and defend them thus.
- Because only the land sustains, I shall strive to preserve it through cultivation and opposing defilement.
- Because the spirits are powerful and see what we do not, I shall strive to do their work by listening to their counsel and acting as they direct.
- Distrust that which appears to harm nature, gravitate toward that which appears to preserve it; anything from gardens v. strip mining to preservers v. defilers in combat.
- That which is weak can be struck down. Gravitate toward wounded opponents.
- Sense of hierarchy: those who are most important should be cared for most intently. Things (and people) who are not indispensable can be maintained, but never at the cost of those things which are actually important (party leader, followed by party members, followed by minions, etc.)