Reign of Winter
A Legacy Given
Traiel had woken before dawn the morning they were to return through the portal back into the frozen hell of Irrisen to prepare for the journey, so when the impatient, expectant knock came at his cottage door in Heldren as the first rays of sunlight sharpened by the crisp air streamed through his window, Traiel was just finishing pulling the straps of his backpack closed. He turned and sighed, his heart filling with dread as he opened the door to his father standing proud outside. With no delay, his father greeted him with a short nod of approval. ‘So boy, you are ready to return to Oppara. Good, we leave in the hour.’ The approval quickly soured from his face when he saw his son’s face look down for a moment, before Traiel stood up straight, a challenging look in his face. ‘Come in father, we must talk’. ‘Talk? We have discussed this, there is nothing to talk further about. We will leave, and you will become a scout for the Ulfen Guard. This is finished.’ Traiel remained silent, unable to muster up words, but his father did come in, looking around and taking in the inside of the cottage.
The cottage had never truly been home for Traiel, having only been in residence there for a month. It was a place to sleep and eat, and this was reflected in the spartan appearance – the 1 room cottage had a bed, a near empty bookshelf which held the kitchen stuffs, a simple table with 1 chair positioned near the fire which held a pot warming with the mornings breakfast heating, but his father seemed almost comforted in this environment, and when offered, sat at the table, reaching out to inspect his son’s greatsword which had been resting on the table.
Traiel got two bowls from the bookshelf, and ladled out 2 bowls of gruel, and thrust one of the bowls into his father’s hands, who grunted and began digging in unceremoniously.
They ate in silence, which Traiel was glad for, feeling the despair in the pit of his stomach rise to overcome him whenever he tried to speak. After they finished, Traiel took his sword from the table, and sat on the bed looking at it, perhaps hoping that in so doing it would strengthen the words he was trying to communicate. His words, when they came, came out in a rush, over-assertive. ‘Father, I will not be coming with you. I have made my decision. I thank you, and understand the honour in joining the guard.. all I wanted was that honour.’ His father tried to break in, but Traiel steeled his voice, and suprisingly, his father backed down and remained silent, allowing Traiel to continue. ‘What I am doing, I have to do, this is bigger than Taldor, and bigger than being even than being Ulfen.’
Traiel discussed the events over the last week that had changed his direction, even talking about the village in Irrisen held under slavery ‘…. I always believed in allowing people to do make their own lives, but I got so angry that the choice they made was cowardice. I thought I knew the Ulfen spirit, but that village had no spirit left. I dishonoured my friend Nadja there by exposing her pain, and she was the only one there who made the choice to fight the slavery. All this time of trying to live up to living as an Ulfen was shattered when I saw those disparate people. Now, I must walk my own path, and it has to be bigger than Taldor, bigger than being in the Ulfen Guard. I must take the fight that has been begun back to Irrisen, or else there will be many more that won’t be able to make the choice.’
As Traiel continued to speak about his adventures, the assault on the Pale Tower, getting the village to safety, encountering those that had chosed to remain behind in fear, his thoughts came together, and a quiet confidence changed what had first been an aggressive defence of the challenge posed by his father’s authority into the steel of determination, and when he finished, his father remained quiet for a time.
The silence was broken by his father drawing his greatsword, the sword he had used when he had fought raiders from Irrisen, carving a name for himself that resounded amongst the Guard to this day, out of the scabbard slowly, deliberately. He turned it in his hands, contemplating, and reversed the sword so the hilt was faced towards Traiel. ‘Where you are going, you will need this. The blade is cold iron, and it will bite deep against many of the spawn you will face there.’ Traiel took the blade reverently, the nervous apprehension remaining exploding out in exhuberance at his father’s acceptance, though tightly controlled so his father would not see. ‘Thankyou father’ was all he managed to force out.His father looked at his son, and said ‘wield it well and with honour.’ He stood and walked out, calling behind him as he stood ‘…And I expect you to return it to me.’ Traiel sat for a moment staring at his new sword as the door closed, leaving him in silence.