Reign of Winter
Reflection in the calm of the storm
Traiel looked out over the snow blanketed surroundings, sighing slightly at his recent home looking unrecognisable. He had always found peace in the forests, a time to be alone, the assurance that came from being merely another part of the environment, so this change left him alienated, just like the change that had been and was being thrust upon him.
He stood watch out in the cold, his cloak wrapped tight around to buffer him from the harsh cold. All of his senses were dominated by that icy calm, his senses almost overwhelmed by the snap frozen still quality from everything around him. His grey eyes took in the glistening softness of the snow, a surreal scene with a timeless sense, hearing with crystal clarity the heightened sound of snow falling from a branch nearby to merge with the floor of the valley. Even the now-everpresent cold was hyper fresh to his perception.
The snap calm lent itself to reflection, and Traiel was glad for the moment of respite. The feeling in the air of both the calm before the storm, and the unnatural calmess of being in the eye of the storm seemed to be both reality, and expectation. The last few days that he and his mismatched companions had just been through had been the whirlwind, only to find out that this whirwind was just the prelude to the blizzard they were about to jump in to, like being trapped in the eye of the storm, the only exit the gale without.
It had started off as an icy breeze, with undead being razed in a crypt, the animals sent crazy by the extent of the unholiness, with the end of the breeze revealed as an opportunity grab from Rhoker. However, that breeze had only been the smallest of warnings for the blizzard that followed, whipping through when it came leaving all of his fellow Sentinel’s dead, the revelation of his friend being far more than he first seemed, oh and don’t forget that the world was about to get swept up like flotsam in a tsunami unless we dove in first.
The whirlwind had been good for one thing though, and that was he hadn’t been able to spend any time in reflection as they were swept from one event to another. The death of the Sentinels, the events with Marcus, even having a Taldon noble Lady as an acquaintance had been events that were swept through and out again just as quickly. He had had no time to process the death of his fellow Rangers, the death of his friend and killing Rhoker as each event had seemed insignificant next to the one that followed.
He stopped to remember walking into the Lodge, and not hearing Hait’s jests around a mug of ale and smell of roasted venison, or Trey’s stories about the latest trophy he had collected. Now they would be no more. He had only been a Sentinel for a few months, and was just finding his place with them, but most of his loyalty had been to Heldren. What did it now mean that they were all gone, with the exception of himself? Was he to pick up the mantle and resume the office of the Sentinels, but what right did he have to that? He had never thought from the perspective of the community of the Sentinel’s, just himself within that community, trying to find a place. He certainly had never sought leadership, and could never see it being thrust on him. Growing up, his best defence had been to withdraw and be passive in adversity, and he had found that that was all he wanted. Solace within the forest, and allow everyone to make their choices in freedom. In any case, it seemed that the question of the security of the Border Woods was mute when the whole world was at stake.
Whatever others thought of him now, he wasn’t good enough to do that. He had been lost in making a decision about which direction to head a day ago! Everyone had the freedom to make their own choices, so who was he to dictate the path for another. He thought back to the killing of Rhokar, when he had been lost in indecision about slaying the unarmed, surrendered bandit leader whilst Torin had just stepped in and ended his life. How simple it is to not consider the lives of others, and just take action. Torin’s words echoed through Traiel ‘kill him, get justice to the one that slaughtered your brothers’. Justice… such an interesting word. Who was he to lay out justice? Every man did what they thought was right, for Rhokar, seeking power was right, for Torin, killing Rhokar while he was on his knees was right and for Morgan, defending and attaching to the only place that had opened up itself as home was right. His Ulfen peers growing up had harrassed and looked down upon Traiel because they thought it was right to be strong. Those that followed the strictures of the Law did so because they thought it was right.
For Traiel, it came down to this. He could only do what was right, what his conscience demanded, and accept the consequences from there. Was it right to kill Rhokar for justice? Maybe. But had he done so, the consequence wouldn’t have been justice, it would have been vengeance, but since it wouldn’t have brought his fellow Sentinels back, the ultimate consequence would have been just another man’s life ended. Would it have been right to turn him into justice? Again, maybe. The practical concerns had made that choice just as hard, and Rhokar’s threat to Traiel had been ended when he was brought to his knees. Was all of this reflection doing any good? Again, probably not. He certainly had had no hesitation felling the creature Katarina put to sleep through her arcane Arts as it fell under. Was that any different? Overall then, in that moment of decision, the decision had to be made, and the consequences to be worn.