Rise of the Runelords
Vanien sat by the campfire staring into the orange flames whilst listening to sounds of the nightly forest. A light wind was rushing through the leafs of the trees letting them whisper gently. Occasionally a bird or an animal would call out in the distance making Vanien raise her head and squint into darkness. It wasn’t fear, which caused this reaction but the fact that she tried to keep aware of her surroundings. After all it was always possible that danger was near so Vanien tried to make sure to not let her guard down. A little more relaxed the Half Elf looked back at the fire, watching the flames dance and twist for another moment before reaching into her bag take out a leather bound book, quill and ink.
Letting her fingers run over the rough material of the book, Vanien sighed lightly. It had been so long since she’d last written into the diary, she felt a little guilty since it was the only thing she couldn’t discipline herself to do regularly. She turned the cover and inhaled deeply while leaning back against the tree behind her and starting to read the first entry.
By the end of the page, Vanien had already forgotten her actual intention and was lost in her memories, thinking back to the day when she had decided to become a monk.
She had almost been 14 when she decided to join the Order of Wu even though becoming a monk hadn’t been her first choice and if things had suddenly changed it probably never would have crossed her mind.
Being so young, she never really cared very much about any god or putting her faith in one of them, though she never said it out loud.
Around her parents, it didn’t seem clever to say such a thing since they believe rather strongly and so she avoided giving them another reason to look down on her.
The daily life with them was already difficult enough and gaining their approval often was hard work.
It seemed that regardless what she did, it was never enough especially when she noticed that they always were very proud of her brother.
Castien was the favorite, not only because he wasn’t a Half-Elf but also due to his gender.
Secretly Vanien envied him, he had their parents respect and love while she had to always fight with the consequences of being the child of a love affair.
Even though she had tried to find out, she had never managed to figure which part of her parents had been the one involved in the liaison.
After a while Vanien had stopped caring to keep trying as it didn’t matter either way and she doubted it would have changed anything in the way her parents treated her.
Instead of bothering with an unsolvable mystery, she kept trying to please her parents, hoping that some day they would finally change their minds.
However things turned to the worse when Castien disappeared. Their father had sent him to visit a befriended family so Castien could meet their daughter. The two families wished to marry them in order to keep strengthen business relations. A few weeks after he had left, a letter was delivered to her father and it stated the young man never arrived.
Long weeks of waiting and searching passed since the arrival of the letter and Vanien’s parents had to get used to the thought that their beloved son would probably never return home.
The loss of Castien made the house even less welcoming than it had already been. Her mother spent hours sometimes days locked in her room and when one passed the door, he could hear her weeping. If she didn’t she walked through the house like a ghost, not responding when being talked to and if she did reply it was in vile sneers. Her father buried himself in work, often not coming home for days and when he did, he hardly stayed longer than a few hours.
Vanien seemed to have become invisible to both so she stuck to herself, taking long walks and exploring.
During these times she met one of the members of the Order of Wu and while their first encounter had been awkward, they had gotten along right from the start.
The young monk, who went by the name of Tiedo, soon became a good friend to Vanien and she enjoyed listening to his talks about the order.
She knew that the monks honored and adored Irori, god of enlightenment and self-perfection and she listened eagerly when her friend talked about the ways of his god or the education the monks received.
The more Vanien learned the more she felt drawn to a life of knowledge as well as perfection in mind and body.
Since Tiedo had been on a quest for the Order, his stay was naturally of limited duration and when his time to leave came, Vanien did not hesitate to request of him to take her with him so she could pledge to join the order.
Her friend agreed so the Half-elf returned home, packed her things and left a long letter for her parents explaining her intentions before she left the house looking forward to a new, unknown life.
A sudden cold breeze pulled Vanien back into the presence. She took a long, deep breath and put the diary back into her bag. It had been such a long time since she’d became a monk she couldn’t imagine it ever being anything else and she was glad that she had followed Tiedo back then.
Smiling lightly, she stretched her legs out and got up.
When she raised her head, she noticed two dark figures standing in the shadows of the trees and she hesitated.
The two figures slowly moved towards her and when they were closer to the fire it became clear that the two figures, were men in dirty clothes.
Both of them carried knives and grinned viciously, lazily circling around the fire from both sides and closing in on her.
“Didn’t think to find someone out her at this time” giggled one the smaller man, polishing the rusty blade of his knife.
The other man, on her left, walked closer, eyed her bag and blabbered “If ye clever elf, ye give us the the bag and we let ye live or we can cut ye throat and leave ye for the animals”
Standing with her back to the tree, she shrugged then replied quietly “I think I keep it”
The men grimaced, the taller one reached for the bag while his companion raised the knife, aiming to stab her in the chest.
In that moment, everything happened very quickly, Vanien grabbed the man’s wrist with her left and took a swing with her right.
Feeling the bone in his arm break as her fist connected with his elbow, his hand let go of the knife and he howled in pain.
The other attacker hesitated, threw a glance at his injured friend, showing a confused look on features.
Vanien rushed behind him, got hold of his greasy hair and drove his head against the trunk of the tree, knocking him unconscious.
Leaving the man lying on the on the ground, she turned around, glanced at the injured attacker and began making her way back towards the street, which led to the next village.