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Old 09-08-2010, 02:54 PM   #1
Kyyn
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(What's with the word limit?!? I know I've seen longer posts in this section!)

Every eye in the neighborhood watched him warily, for all that he had been here before. Kyyn ignored the stares. He expected them. The people that mattered had more or less accepted him. The rest would come around in time- or not, as they chose.

There just weren’t that many trolls living in Qeynos. There weren’t many who would want to.

He came to a certain house and tapped on the door. Before the woman who had answered it had even finished widening her eyes, Kyyn had pulled out the bundle he had tucked under his arm and held it out to her.

“Found something that’s yours,” He told her, softening his harsh voice as much as he could. The woman numbly took the sack and looked inside. While she was still gathering her wits, Kyyn looked down at the little girl who had come to peek at him past her mother’s skirts. Silently, he pulled a freshly cleaned but somewhat battered ragdoll out of his belt pouch and held it out to her. The child laughed in delight and

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Old 09-08-2010, 03:18 PM   #2
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snatched the doll from him, then retreated back behind her mother. Without another word, Kyyn turned around and started to amble away.

“Th-the bandits?” The woman asked before he had gotten out of earshot. Kyyn paused, and turned around.

“I was over where they camp. I stopped and had a talk with them. They told me they won’t steal stuff no more. Said they was sorry,” he explained to her.

“They said… they were sorry?” She asked, dazed.

“Uh, well, no, I guess they didn’t say it, but they looked very, very sorry. ‘Nd they did some prayin’ with me there towards the end of our talk,” he elaborated.  She continued to stare at him, so he shrugged and tuned to leave again.

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Old 09-08-2010, 03:19 PM   #3
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"Wait!” She called. Kyyn sighed and turned around again and saw that she was fumbling coins out of a belt pouch.

“Guard already paid me,” Kyyn informed her, then turned around, leaving her staring after him.

He managed to keep himself under control until he had rounded the corner, but as soon as he was out of sight he doubled over with suppressed laughter. Even if the guard hadn’t paid him, he would have felt himself well rewarded. The look on her face had been priceless.

A few hours and few errands latter found him walking into the inn in the Starcrest Commune. Several of the Erudites in the place looked down their noses at him, but one dressed in priestly robes and bearing the symbol of Quellious and another dressed like a monk paused their discussion to smile at him. A couple of off duty guards also waved at him from their table. Kyyn waved to the guards and the priest and monk, and then made his way to the small corner table that was his usual spot.

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Old 09-08-2010, 03:20 PM   #4
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Kyyn was pleased when one of the barmaids screwed up her courage and came over to take his order. Usually the innkeeper had to serve him. The girls had been too scared of him. Kyyn ordered his usual of a bowl of stew and kettle of tea. He could drink with the best of them, but avoided alcohol in public.

After he finished his dinner, Kyyn pulled a small, battered book out of his pack and started reading as he sipped at his tea. No one bothered him here in the Commune. It was a quiet place, and the residents preferred that it stay that way. That suited him perfectly, since it meant that the worst he ever got was glares as long as he stayed out of trouble.

The sun set and the inn cleared as he laboriously made his way through the book- he had only recently learned to read, and it was still difficult for him. He had just about decided it was time to take himself to his room and call it a night when the innkeeper himself came over with another pot of tea- and to Kyyn's surprise, sat down himself with a mug of ale.

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Old 09-08-2010, 03:20 PM   #5
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Kyyn set his book down, poured himself another cup of tea, and waited patiently for the innkeeper to tell him what was on his mind. Patience wasn't a common trait in trolls. But then, Kyyn wasn't a common troll.

"I heard what you did for Margret in south Qeynos," The human finally commented. At Kyyn's raised brow, the innkeeper shrugged. "I've known her since she was a lass, and word travels fast around here. Her friends and I, well, we've all been a bit worried. Bad enough that her husband is laid up from what the bandits done to him. Worse that he lost his goods to them. That could've landed the whole family in the poorhouse. I wanted to thank you."

 "Wasn't any trouble. And there was a bounty on the bandits from the guards," Kyyn told him.

"Bounties aren't often much," The innkeeper said. "Not enough for the trouble, surely."

"Enough for tea," Kyyn informed him, and took another sip. The innkeeper rolled his eyes.

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Old 09-08-2010, 03:21 PM   #6
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Kyyn continued to drink his tea quietly as the innkeeper stared at him. Finally the man couldn’t stand the quiet.

“Why lad?” He burst out. “Why do you do it? Why come to live here in Qeynos, of all places? You work hard, risk your life, take half what another adventurer would take in your place, and it’s scant thanks you get for it…!” He trailed off when Kyyn just sat smiling at him.

“Ah, so you get to the point finally. I thought you had been wanting to ask me about those things. Not many have asked,” Kyyn said after a moment.

“All right then, I’m asking,” The innkeeper insisted after Kyyn was quiet for a long moment. Instead of answering, the troll pushed the book he had been reading across the table. The human picked it up, and seeing that it had no title on the cover or spine, opened it.

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Old 09-08-2010, 03:22 PM   #7
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"'These are the ways of those who seek within,'" He read aloud, "The path of those who would know peace. Harken, you who hear Her voice within your hearts to the gentle ways of Quellious The Tranquil, child goddess of peace..."

"It is a very long story," Kyyn informed him. As the human stared at him, he began...

---------------------------------------------

It was the gods' own little joke. I was born Sulikdalg- in the dialect of my village ‘butcher of children' or ‘killer of small weak things'. My parents wanted me to be a warrior, I think. My father was not a warrior, but he wished that he was. Most trolls do. I did not want to be a warrior. They were as good of parents as troll parents can be, though.

My village was mostly trolls and close to Nariak, and sworn to its wicked queen.  From very early I did not fit in very well. Troll children like to fight. I did not like to fight. I was always the quiet one. Off by myself, ‘brooding' everyone called it. I called it thinking. I liked to be calm and quiet. Everyone wondered what was wrong with me. So did I. I would think about that sometimes. I would also think that the

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Old 09-08-2010, 03:22 PM   #8
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constant anger and hate and fighting seemed very foolish. Why did they all waste their time on that, when it seemed to only make them unhappy? That made me wonder what was wrong with me even more, but I still thought it.

The other children tried to bully me, of course. I decided that I did not like bullies. I learned to fight them. I had to. Only I was big for my age and I fought cleaver, and they just pushed and tried to punch. Soon they learned that I usually won, even when I was outnumbered. They learned to leave me alone.

Of course, that meant they started picking on the smaller children, troll children and others too. I did not like that. I felt bad for the small children that could not fight back. And the bigger children always bullied them in groups. So I started to ridicule the bigger children. "You only pick on the littler ones than you, and lots of you at a time. You must be weak," I told them.

Of course, they tried to fight me for what I said. I sometimes lost, but mostly I won in the end. I told them I fought them because they had proven that they were weak, but I was lying. I could not tell them that it was because I did not like seeing the little children cry. They would have said that I was soft, and that is not a safe thing for a troll to be in a village of trolls near Nariak.

I became a sort of protector to the little ones. I taught them how to fight and how to avoid the older troll children. Do you see why my name was a joke?

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Old 09-08-2010, 03:23 PM   #9
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As I got older I came to the attention of the priest of the village. I did not like him. He was cold and hard like a priest that worshiped Innoruuk and Rallos Zek should be. He spoke to all the village children often, and asked many questions to make sure we were being raised ‘right'. I told him many lies, of course. He believed them. And more.

One day my parents told me that the priest wanted me for a student. I did not like the priest, but I was always curious about things, and I thought it would be a fine thing to understand the gods and why the world was the way it was. So I did not complain. My new master taught me many things. I learned to respect him and even like him in some ways, even though I didn't like many of the things he taught me. The traditions of my people and the gods that we worship are cruel, and I am not one for cruelty.

The time came that I had learned most of what I needed to know to be considered a priest. Only one thing was left. My master wanted me to choose a god to dedicate myself to. He wanted me to choose Innoruuk, which was his Patron. He would have liked it almost as much if I chose Rallos Zek or Cazic-Thule. I did not like any of those gods, and I was afraid that if I chose one of them that they would know I had been lying all this time and punish me. My teacher might have accepted a few of the other gods too, but I did not have the courage to ask.

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Old 09-08-2010, 03:23 PM   #10
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I thought about it a great deal, but could not decide what to do. So I told my teacher and my family that I had to go off alone into the forest to think alone. My family wondered if that was a good thing. My teacher did not. Instead, he was very proud. He said that it was not a decision to make lightly, and he was pleased that I was thinking so hard about it.

So off I went. I made camp far from the village, next to a large hill. I hunted and fished for my supper, and enjoyed the quiet. It was... peaceful there. After a couple days I thought I should start thinking about what I had come to think about. I did not want to. I did not really want to go back to the village. But I knew they would come looking for me eventually, and I was not as good in the forest as some of the villagers. I knew they would find me if they wanted to.

So I thought and thought. Eventually, I decided that I could not decide. So I did what troll priests seldom do but other priests do all the time. I fasted. Every night I would pray by my fire and ask the gods which of them wanted me. I did not name the gods of my people in my prayers though. I prayed to any god that would hear me.

Then one morning I climbed the hill by my camp. The hill was steep, but the morning was cool and I was healthy, so it was not a hard climb. When I reached the top, I looked down into the valley on the other side.

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Old 09-08-2010, 03:24 PM   #11
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To my surprise, I saw a farm. Not a troll or a dark elf farm. They looked like gnomes, or perhaps even halflings. Except there were no machines, so they had to be halflings. I was shocked. Gnomes I had seen, but halflings I had only heard of. All I knew of them was that they were a weak people that worshiped the soft, weak gods of light.

I watched them from the hill for a long time. They seemed very happy. The children played games, and the adults watched and laughed. They sang as they went about their chores. I was jealous of them. I had never seen anyone so happy.

Suddenly, I realized I was very hungry. I had been fasting, after all. There down below was plenty of food. Chickens, cows, goats- and sheep. Sheep most of all. I love mutton more than anything. As I sat on the hill and looked down, my mouth watered and my stomach growled.

"Why not go and take what you want from them?" Said a soft voice in my ear. For some reason I was not surprised by this voice.

"They are happy, and there is plenty of meat to be had in the forest," I told the voice. "If I try to steal a sheep they will fight me for it. They will be unhappy, and I will have to fight them."

"Why do you care if they are happy?" asked the voice- not angrily, or with contempt, but sounding only curious to see how I would answer.

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Old 09-08-2010, 03:24 PM   #12
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"I don't know," I told the voice, "I'm not supposed to care about that at all, but I do."

"Others feel differently," Said the voice sadly. As I watched, a small band of roaring orcs charged out of the trees.

I was suddenly very angry.  Even hungry, I had been enjoying watching them. It had been very pleasant just to sit on the hill in the morning sun and watch. The orcs had spoiled it. Without pausing to consider, I leapt up and tore a branch from a tree, then began to race down the hillside.

I do not remember the race down the hill.  The next thing I knew I was meeting the charge of the orcs as the Halflings screamed and ran for their houses.  I fought the orcs like something out of a legend. My stick crushed their armor like it was parchment. Divine fire burst from my hands and consumed them. They could not stand against me.

I enjoyed it in some ways. The feeling of power, the challenge of countering their blows, the exercise; but I did not feel rage or hate. Not like my people would say I should in a fight. Instead I felt pity for them. If they had not tried to take what was not theirs and hurt those who were not hurting them, I would not have had to fight them to protect the halflings. The ones who's bones each swing of my branch crushed would have lived to see another sunrise, lived to see their children grow, lived to be old

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Old 09-08-2010, 03:27 PM   #13
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themselves. If they had just asked, perhaps the halflings would have sold them food. Perhaps they could have been friends. I doubted Halfling so close to Nariak had many friends they could trust.

In the end, the last few fled. I did not chase them. Instead I wept and prayed for the ones who had died, so strong were my feelings of pity for their foolish choices. When I looked up again, the halflings were all standing nearby.

"What do you want, troll?" One of them asked me fearfully. I wasn't sure what to tell him. How could I explain?

"I wanted to buy a chicken. The orcs got in the way," I told him finally. The look on his face when I said that was very funny. I had to fight with myself not to laugh at him.

In the end, he gave me a chicken while most of the others hid in the house. I took my chicken and was just turning to go when one of the children- a little girl with hair so blond it looked like polished gold, came running up and hugged my leg. Then, without saying anything, she ran off again. That made me very happy. I waved at the nervous Halfling man and walked away whistling to myself.

When I reached my camp, there was a surprise waiting for me. My fire was burning. I had not lit it that morning. And there was a big grey stone that had not been there when I left setting next to it. And on that stone sat the Halfling child that had hugged my leg at the farm.

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Old 09-08-2010, 03:28 PM   #14
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Except she wasn't a Halfling child anymore, she was a human child. And she wasn't dressed the same either. And she was glowing brighter than the late morning sunlight coming down through the trees.

I knew who she was, of course. Anyone who lived among those that worshiped Innoruuk and Rallos Zek would know who she was.

I do not know why, but I did not say anything to her right away. Instead I went off a little ways to prepare my chicken. Then I cooked it. After it had cooked I held some of it out to her. She shook her head and smiled at me. I have never felt so good as when I saw that smile. It was like it took away all the pain and fear I had ever felt.

I sat at the foot of the stone to eat.

"Son of Trolls, do you know me?" She asked when I had finished. I knew her voice. She was the one that had spoken to me on the hill.

"Yes," I told her.

"Son of Trolls, what is my name?" She asked.

"Quellious," I said to her.

"Why did you fight the orcs, when you would not fight the halflings?" She asked me.

"I don't know," I told her. I felt ashamed that I did not know.

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Old 09-08-2010, 03:29 PM   #15
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"Your people would say that I am weak. A soft goddess worshiped by the weak. Do you agree?" She asked me. I looked up at her. I cannot explain what I saw in her face, in her eyes. Power like nothing else, vast and gentle, but even more immovable than the mountains. I saw the soft rain that makes the plants grow in the spring, the morning sun that wakes the world, the truth about the power that my people would call ‘soft' and ‘weak'. A power so great that all their striving and hating had never conquered it. A power that could heal the worlds hurts and sorrows, if only they would let it.

And I saw a place where I could belong. A place where what I had felt all my life was not something to be ashamed of, but to be proud of. A place where I could have something worth protecting, and be proud of protecting it. I saw a chance to find what I truly wanted, just by understanding what that truly was.

And then I understood.

"I fought the orcs because that was what YOU wanted. You were showing what I could be. Trolls fight. I am a troll that wants peace. But I'll still want to fight too. So you want me to fight for peace." I told her. She laughed in delight. Her laugh made me feel very good.

"Oh, you are very wise!" She declared. "With only a question and a glimpse of my eyes, you saw all that I could offer you laid out before you. There are some who take years to understand so much. Will you

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Old 09-08-2010, 03:31 PM   #16
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come to my servants, Son of Trolls, and learn from those wiser still? Will you fight to protect those who want only peace in my name?"

I could not think of what to say, so I said nothing. Instead I just bent forward and kissed her little foot. She laughed again, and touched my head and gave me her blessing, and then...

I woke up.

What? Of COURSE it was a dream. Gods don't usually do that sort of thing outside of dreams unless you're supposed to be a prophet or something. I am not supposed to be a prophet. Just a priest and a champion. For priests and champions they do that sort of things inside of dreams all the time. For other worshipers too. When I told this story to the priests here they all said it was a dream when I mentioned the voice talking to me. They know. It's a priest sort of thing to have happen.

I knew it was a special dream though. I was not hungry, and had the taste of chicken in my mouth. The stone was not there, and my fire was cold, but I could still feel the touch of her hand on my head. Later that morning I went over the hill, just to see. There was no farm there anymore, but there were old bits and pieces that might have been a farm a very long time ago.

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Old 09-08-2010, 03:32 PM   #17
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And I just knew. When you have that kind of dream, you know. Believe me. You know.

So, I went back home.  I told my teacher and my family that I had gotten an answer, but that I had to prove myself worthy before I could announce which god I served. They believed this. It is not an uncommon thing. I did not like to tell them that though. It was not exactly a lie, but I was lying all the same.

I worked as an adventurer for a while to save up money. My parents were very proud about that. They were less proud when I betrayed Nariak and fled to Haven, which is a whole different story.

My parents are decent for Nariakian trolls though. In the end, I did become a warrior just like they wanted. They are not happy with some of my choices, but we're still on speaking terms. I changed my name to the word for ‘soft' in the dialect of my village. ‘Kyyn' is my name now. It's sort of a little joke between me and the gods.

----------------------------------------

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Old 09-08-2010, 03:32 PM   #18
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"Incredible," The innkeeper said when Kyyn had finished his tale. "I figured you must have been driven out of Nariak, or had been betrayed by them or some such. That's how it usually works. But you weren't, were you? You chose to seek redemption all on your own."

"No, friend. Not redemption. Didn't do anything to need redemption," Kyyn corrected with a shake of his head.

"Well, whatever you call it, you still gave up everything for it," The innkeeper said, waiving away the distinction.

"I call it ‘coming home to where I belong.' And I think I gained a lot more than I lost." The troll retorted with a smile.

"I'll drink to that," The human declared, and he did.

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