This isn’t about me. And this isn’t the time to question the worth of the tale. I will continue, because this is what I do. I write because I love to write. I will honor my half-sister, and perhaps find some peace in the emetic miracle of this craft.
But yes, I digress …
That night at the Frosted Brew when Rakhanar met Eigengrau was to become one of his fondest memories in the last days of his true innocence. He’d found a friend. A furry friend, true, but loyal to a fault. Yes, with her dog-like brain, she had a tendency to run off, chasing butterflies or whatever interesting stink wafted her way on the wind, but her heart was pure gold.
Rakhanar stayed for a while, charmed and soothed by the gnoll, having no idea that this creature’s kin were at that moment camped on the outskirts of the City where he had been born, planning their next attack. But then again, neither did Grau. She was no spy. She was the exception to the rule, a reminder not to take anything for granted, not to typecast anyone or anything.
He stayed, he drank a few ales, and drank a few more ales. He listened to the chatter around him and scratched the scruff of the gnoll; she promptly fell asleep with her head in his lap and her feet in the air. Before he knew it, the night was gone and the gray of dawn was perking up to pink through the snow-framed, wide bay window that looked out over the icy waters surrounding New Halas.
Now this is a strange part of the narrative, because this is the day he met … me. Diaman Darshan.
It’s quite an experience to see yourself through someone else’s eyes. And this is what I see, when I hold this sparkling memory crystal, tapped from a young human berserker’s mind, and let my mind go empty.
It was a shock for Rakhanar to walk out of the fire-warmed tavern, even into the shelter of the ice caves of New Halas. Only then, it occurred to him; he really didn’t have much of a home to go to. The upstairs in his tiny little giant acorn home was barely furnished, the bed a gift that was really more suited to someone not quite so big. The furniture downstairs was fae sized, too, for the most part. Sitting and drinking and petting Grau while listening to the tales of his guildmates and the other warriors who frequented the Frosted Brew had put his conscience to sleep with the gnoll, temporarily. The thought of the fae city brought it roaring back. Guilt. Guilt over Siffy, and about failing in his mission at Crushbone Keep. The thought of going back to Kelethin while there were fae still captive …
He was still in his battered armor. He had to get some rest.
I probably stink to high heaven, too.
Rakhanar headed toward the circular platform where the crafting guild of New Halas, the Ravens of the North, had set up a workspace. He stumbled as he hit the steps, feeling the brews, and of course he had to turn back and scowl at whatever it was that had tripped him. Walking a few steps backward, he then turned and slammed into a slender, robed, dark-skinned male with shaggy white hair, sending him sliding across the icy stone on his rear. The fireball the male had been juggling turned into a missile, screaming off like a bottle rocket to zing off of a rafter, shriek past the ear of a mohawked barbarian, bounce off a sales counter and explode into a sizzling puff of steam in a snowdrift at the edge of the ice cave.
Dead silence. All eyes turned to stare at the two.
Rakhanar grimaced, peering at the male. Pointed ears peeked through the mass of white hair, but his skin was more chocolate toned, like Rakhanar’s, than the usual blue-black hue of the Tier’dal. Half-elf then. Ayr’dal. And apparently a magic-user of some kind.
The wizard gaped back, blue eyes in bright contrast to his burnt umber flesh. He flapped his hand, just realizing that the fireball had left its painful mark when he’d lost control of it.
“Ouch. That stings! Duds and dalmations! I wasn’t ready for that.” The wizard stuck his finger sideways in his mouth to cool the burn and glared up at Rakhanar.
“Bu big dupid oath,” he mouthed around his wound.
“What?” Rakhanar, drunk and tired, felt a flash of anger, but he managed to stomp it out before it got out of hand. It sputtered and died, smothered by his exhaustion, and was replaced by a flush of shame. “Never mind. I… I’m sah… sor… ” he started, but he couldn’t quite get the words out, surrounded by all these menacing bruisers with their scorecard eyes.
“Let me help you up. You alright, old man?”
“O – old – old man?” the wizard sputtered while Rakhanar stood poised with outstretched hand. “I’m hardly that old. Maybe to you, punk. I’ve half a mind to… “ He muttered something under his breath, but he did reach up and accept the proffered hand. Once on his feet, he slapped his flame-embroidered robe fussily, and then seemed to shrug it all off.
“Well. No harm, no foul, eh?” Looking up at Rakhanar, he nodded curtly, with a tight, cat-ate-the-canary smile. “Diaman Darshan, Wizard of Wildfire. And you are?”
Rakhanar paused, then said, more slowly than he intended, drawing out the last ‘r’, “Rakhanar…” Somehow after that introduction, he felt naked without a title. Rakhanar what? Roaming Rager? Nah. “Er, aye, uh, Rakhanar.”
Diaman barely batted an eye, simply met his gaze with a bit of a humorous twinkle in his eyes. “Just … Rakhanar?”
He nodded, feeling a flush rise to darken his cheeks. Botched that. Making it pretty obvious I don’t want my last name slung around.
“How intriguing.” The wizard made a little humming sound, his gaze thoughtful, and lifted a hand casually, palm up. Another fireball began to form over it. Behind him, a barbarian cleared his throat.
Diaman startled and snapped his head back to glance at the glowering giant. “Oh. Right. Maybe not.” He turned back to Rakhanar and shook his hand, dissipating the spark. This time he managed not to burn himself.
“Aye, I think they’ve seen enough of that today,” Rakhanar chuckled. “I’d buy you a drink for your trouble, but I just closed out the tavern.”
“Ah, that’s just as well. Not much of a drinker. The alcohol they sell in there is, um, flammable.” The wizard barked out a staccato laugh, just an octave too high.
Rakhanar tightened his lips, trying not to laugh at the image that called up in his mind. This half-elf’s a lit match. And here I am, a walking powder keg. Fun combo.
And that’s the moment I decided to be his scribe. I’d just cast my little modified version of “Bind Sight.” I was reading his mind, of course.
I didn’t tell him that for a long, long time, however. With a bit of prying, I found out about his furnishing problem, and as it turns out, I dabble a bit in carpentry. So I offered to make him a bed and a couple of chairs, and when he left, I slipped into the shadows and earned my second title. Shadow Walker Wordsmith.
I’ve been following him ever since.
* * *
Wizard of Wildfire & Shadow Walker Wordsmith ((a/k/a The Real Me ))