Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

A bed time story

Once upon a time there was land of elves, men, and dwarves. The men lived in the plains and the elves in the great forests. The elves were born to their kind and the men to theirs with many working side in the villages and farms. The dwarves lived were ever they hung their tunics. They were simple folk, and would follow the sovereign of any land. They lived only for pleasure and knew no law or rule but what they must follow to earn bread and ale.

Men and dwarves might be born anywhere, but true elves were born in the forest, and men in the plains. Elves joined Man only by transfer, and when elven children were born in the plain, they grew more man like with each generation until they were men. Contrariwise, the children of men born in the forest grew elf like. The dwarves bore young where it suited them (they did not marry or set up house), but even they were not immune to the forest in there own rustic way. Some walked through forest, staggering into trees and not seeing them, others worshiped the trees, and still others became elves the moment they stepped into the forest. The sages of men said it was some aether in the forest air that sustained the elves, and that all under heaven would be men were it not for this “strange air”.

And so the kings of men were brought together under the bastard child the last of the mighty kings of yore. Reflecting his parentage, he was called simply the Prince. Believing the aether of the forest the cause of all of creatures contention he set out to destroy the forests. Many of the elves left the forest in fear, but not all. At first a tiny remnant, they called themselves wood elves to differentiate them from the masses of elves living among the men and dwarves.

Gradually they grew till there were more wood elves then plains elves, but the Prince was nothing if not crafty. He crafted arrows with poisons that caused madness. Further, he removed his seal from his offices and emirates across his empire, replacing it with the crest of the wood elves. Now there were two wood elf brotherhoods, one on the inside and one on the outside. Each said it was the true Way. Then, the Prince surrounded any forests he could find with his men, giving them three tasks:

One, let no one in. Two, let anyone out. Three: wherever any creature slips into the forest, ignore the creature and shoot the guide. Finally, the Prince had many people working in secret, often in such secrecy that they themselves did not know they were in his employ. Some were cripples to use up the strength of the wood elves, letting mercy destroy them and encourage them to destroy mercy. Some were sages of the Prince’s brotherhood pretending to be wood elves. Some were even the Prince’s own imperial guard, evil creatures of great power (not unlike himself) whom had participated in his palace rebellion against the true heir of the empire.

Into this malaise wood elf was born, he was named Struggle, as a testimony to his people. He was born in battle, nursed under arrows’ flight, and raised in the camp, and he was born with a hunger. Some creatures hunger for females, some for food, or sweet drink but this elf hungered for sword. He devoted his life to the sword, even to the extent of not wearing full armor, to swing his sword with greater speed, and drive its blade with greater accuracy.

His sword was swift and his strikes clean, but he was often wounded, sometimes near fatally. The madness of the arrows made his forget his name, or perhaps remember it to well. He would go to the edge of the forest and watch the enemy, sometimes to learn their weakness, others out of lust to be of them and not his own people. Too, without the armor he had no protection from a single glancing blow of his own comrades, and this almost killed him twice. Wounds from wood elves weapons are not poisoned, oft they even heal, but cut far deeper than the random arrows of the Prince.

Struggle was nearly lost once when trying to save a companion under fire. She was the Princes own, sold into slavery long before she could remember and neither she nor Struggle knew she had been sent to the forest as bait for one such as him. The Prince’s brigands had fired a barbed arrow with a cable into her thigh and begun to drag her out of the forest. Struggle was young and his armor weak, though his head was protected, his breastplate was thin. A wide leather belt, shoeless, a wooden shield, and tarnished silver sword was all he had. He took many hits of the mad arrows, stubbling he was hit and pierced from behind with a barbed arrow. Powerless, he watched his comrade be pulled into the Princes camp, fighting with all his life not to follow.

He tried to escape into the forest, but succeeded only in playing out the line from his captors. The Prince’s men were patient. They knew that if they simply jerked the line toward where his comrade had been drawn to, eventually he would follow.

Struggle fought to go deeper into the forest, far away from the battle lines, though dragging behind him the nearly invisible cable of the Prince’s militia. The poison of the arrow was to make him forget it was there except when the cable was cruelly pulled, so Struggle attempted to fight deeper and deeper into the forest, where it was said, a spring flowing with healing water, for the two part reason of escaping the front, and being healed. Along the way, he met a great and mighty warrior of the wood elves named Traveler. Traveler too was heading to the fount deep in the forest. The two became as brothers, sharing the path to quiet and stillness of the inner forest. The road was long. Both met fellow pilgrims and married them. They spoke constantly of what they would do when they found the fount, how they would go again to the front. Neither knew the way and they walked further.

Traveler found the spring first, then Struggle. They drank the sacred water, and both had a vision. For the first time in many years, the vision was not the same. At the spring in that still quite place, Traveler and Struggle continued to walk together, but both were looking for the fork in the road. After much petty quarreling, they parted badly, neither accustomed to it.

And so Struggle was twice wounded. Once by the Prince and once by his brother. He was troubled deeply by this, both cutting near to his heart. He pondered what to do as he had never pondered anything before. Question came instead of answers.

Why had those who called themselves his brothers and sisters hurt him so deeply? Why had he never been able to find good armor. Why was the silver of his sword so tarnished and the edge so dull?

Why did no one seem to want to fight the enemy? Around the sacred spring was a crowd: refreshed, strong and ready with sterling armor and blades that shined like fire. Yet they neither guarded the spring, nor when to the edge of the forest to guide creatures in. All dwarves believed in nothing at all, but why did some do work that helped the wood elves? Why did some elves live outside the forest, and become men, but dress and speak as elves? Why did some men become elves and others did not? He though often of his fallen comrades so he had known deeply others merely in passing. Why did they turn away from the wood elf way? What did he really know at all? What was the way of the forest and what was merely empty tradition passed down to him? He was crushed under the weight the questions.

Finally he stood resolved. He took off his armor, even his flawless helmet. He lay down his sword and walked naked out of the forest. He followed the cable that still pierced his heart, to the place where his sister had fallen. Though she had long left that place of failure he found her eventually. Together they cut the remaining cords, and parted ways at last.

He spoke the sage
s of the Prince’s many faces. He saw the way of the forest buried under the Princes half truths. He began again to wear the flawless helm of a wood elf. But what of the rest of his story? Will he ever see Traveler again? Will he return to the forest? Why doesn’t he have the rest of his armor? Tune in next time.

August 25, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment