View Full Version : A Winters Tale - Antonica Style OR Rahrvin's Story - Part One

12-11-2004, 05:30 AM
<DIV><FONT color=#ffffff><EM>The following links my favorite EQL character with his "descendent", my current EQ2 main. Hope you enjoy!</EM></FONT></DIV> <DIV><FONT color=#ffffff></FONT> </DIV> <DIV> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>Snow crunched underfoot.<SPAN>  </SPAN>The wind, howling imprecations, tossed up chaotic, blinding, sparkling, ice-laden blasts that cut through heavy coats, armor and protective clothing like the edge of a well-honed sword, and hurled heavy arctic gusts screaming downward along the mountain passes.<SPAN>  </SPAN>The forests, blanketed in white, were quiet, their summer lushness a dream in the minds of hibernating bears and hungry stags.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Bare branches creaked and snapped in counterpoint to the lamentation of the frozen wind; some, hanging low over ponds frozen into diamond clarity, scree-scree-screed back and forth against those icy surfaces, and tapped like skeletal fingers on the ice.</FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>Crossing powerful arms across his chest, Rahrvin Wolfheart frowned as he surveyed the winter Antonican landscape.<SPAN>  </SPAN>This, he imagined, was what Halas had been like – all of the time, this war of earth and tree against wind and snow.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Before the Shattering ripped his ancestral homeland away from the civilized lands, away from the grasp of its descendents, this must have been what his ancestors looked out on from their sturdy homes, day after day after day.<SPAN>  </SPAN>This cold whiteness, this keen-edged blade of a season, rife with death but bearing the promise of renewal, had given his people purpose, had shaped their direction and made them strong.</FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>Rahrvin laughed in the face of the gale.<SPAN>  </SPAN>The wind, taking offense at his lack of fear, whipped and howled with renewed enthusiasm, plastering Rahrvin’s red hair across his forehead and sending his warm winter cloak billowing out behind him.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Protected by wards of his own making, the young barbarian merely smiled; closing his eyes, he reveled in the snapping cold of the wind, and lost himself momentarily in memory.</FONT></P> <P align=center><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>***</FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>“Your ancestor, the first to bear the name of Rahrvin Wolfheart, was a great warrior of the spirits!” These words were always uttered by his grandmother before a round of tale-telling.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Sitting by the fire, heavy blanket across her lap, mug of steaming, spiced whiskey in hand, the ancient lady – once a fearsome warrior herself, and still possessed of powerful magics belied by her frail frame – would lean in close over her audience of attentive grandchildren, weaving a mystical spell of an entirely different nature than those of her shamanistic legacy.</FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>His grandmother loved telling stories about his ancestor.<SPAN>  </SPAN>She had other tales as well, as grandmothers do, but her favorites were of the great Animist who had journeyed all over Norrath, to continents that existed only in memory, to the moon that now stained the nighttime sky with its shattered body, and yes, even unto Planes beyond this existence, beyond comprehension – Planes that housed immortal beings of wonder and terror. </FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>“Rahrvin once spent an entire month defending an outpost of the elves from the depredations of fearsome snow beasts.<SPAN>  </SPAN>He marched tirelessly around the island that was their home, striking them down whenever they dared emerge from their crude huts and caves.<SPAN>  </SPAN>His claws were like razors, ice rained from the sky at his command, and he was aided by his wolf companion, a creature of brilliant white fur, slavering jaws and tearing paws. Think, you – would any of you have the courage and selflessness to perform such a task?”<BR><BR></FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>All of grandmother’s stories ended this way, with her piercing blue eyes traveling slowly over the enthralled faces of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, a bony finger extended as she makes eye contact with each and every one of them, daring them to speak.<SPAN>  </SPAN>And always, her gaze lingers a little longer on Rahrvin-the-current; her finger points a little more purposefully, directly between his eyes, seeming to bore into his skull, asking: “Would you have the courage?”</FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>“Rahrvin was one of the first of our people to be re-united with our cousins, the remnants of the Combine Empire.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Yes, my children, he traveled through the great portals to the moon that used to shine over us, to ruined Luclin.<SPAN>  </SPAN>There, he visited the great cities of our forefathers, and battled with them against their foes.<SPAN>  </SPAN>There, he walked the streets of the cities of the Vah Shir, whom we now know as Kerra, and learned at the feet of their great teachers.”</FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>“On our own world, he battled ferociously on behalf of the Wayfarer’s Brotherhood, cutting a swath of destruction and death among the dark sand elves, the undead hordes of fabled Mayong Mistmoore, the foul, twisted menagerie of Myragul, and other.<SPAN>  </SPAN>There – there are the weapons that he wielded, still preserved by the magic inherent within!”<BR><BR>Grandmother loves to point out the relics of Rahrvin to her younglings.<SPAN>  </SPAN>With a wave of her hand, she invokes the magic inherent in them, causing them to glow with scintillating auras and dance with light.<SPAN>  </SPAN>A katar shining with light that seems to wax and wane hangs on the wall beside her; next to it, a small shelf holds a glowing stone that pulses with green, and then drowns in shadow.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Glowing more brightly than even those two relics are a helmet and a pair of boots, remarkably preserved even after many centuries. <SPAN> </SPAN>An unnerving otherworldly quality radiates from the dark leather. <SPAN> </SPAN>Untouched by time, these relics serve as a real, physical reminder of the exploits of Rahrvin’s famous ancestor.</FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>It was the experience of his ancestor among the Vah Shir that was at the heart of Rahrvin’s current dilemma.<SPAN>  </SPAN>From the Shar Val beastlords, Rahrvin I had taken the tradition of naming the oldest male of each generation after himself.<SPAN>  </SPAN>It was believed that such a practice would allow the named child to be protected by the spirits of all the forefathers before him, and create a legacy of magic and power that would manifest itself as a protector such as that commanded by Rahrvin I. <SPAN> </SPAN>The family had continued this tradition without fail for nearly 500 years.</FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>Flash forward a few years; the young Rahrvin that sat at his grandmother’s side listening wide-eyed to tales of his ancestor now stands before her, garbed in armor and fur, with a war hammer strapped to his side.<SPAN>  </SPAN>He looks both more and less assured than that young innocent.<SPAN>  </SPAN>The mark of the spirits is now strong upon him, but the face of his grandmother, now ancient and buried in wrinkles, strikes at him and weakens his resolve. </FONT></P> <P><FONT size=3><FONT color=#ffffff>“What do you mean, there will not be another Rahrvin?”<SPAN>  </SPAN>Her voice is dry and soft, autumn leaves blowing across a field.<SPAN>  </SPAN></FONT></FONT></P> <P><FONT size=3><FONT color=#ffffff>Rahrvin doesn’t speak, finds he can’t speak. Instead, he turns his head and looks at the figure behind him.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Another barbarian, with hair like spun gold, furred forearms bulging with muscle, hands respectfully resting atop the pommels of his weapons, smiles encouragement back at him. A lute is slung across his back.<SPAN>  </SPAN>He winks slowly at Rahrvin, and sends wordless love back to him.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Rahrvin’s breath catches in his throat, and he turns back to his grandmother’s piercing gaze, unable to speak.<SPAN>  </SPAN></FONT></FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>“Ah,” the wise woman nods to herself, understanding. “I see. So, it’s that way, is it. Well, lad – no one wants you to give up yon handsome Bard there.<SPAN>  </SPAN>We only want a child of you, to carry on the family name, to carry on YOUR name from father to son, as it should be. Would you deny our family the unbroken protection of the ancestral spirits?”<BR><BR>“Grandmother, you don’t understand. I love him… I can’t…” it is barely more than a whisper.</FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>“Grandson, you must…”</FONT></P> <P align=center><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>***</FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>Rahrvin’s reverie was broken by a series of high-pitched yips, echoing and bouncing from hilltop to hilltop, accompanied by the growls and barks that meant only one thing.</FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>“Gnolls!” Rahrvin muttered to himself, wondering what in the name of the Seven could drag those vermin from their comfortable lodges during the heart of winter.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Shading his eyes from the glare of the sun, he peered out across the snow-covered plain. Squinting, he searched for the oncoming enemy.</FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>At first, he saw nothing.<SPAN>  </SPAN>The yips and howls continued to echo, a dancing sound that seemed to first come from the North, and then the South, and then spun out from the Western coast, to ricochet chaotically from the East.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Then, slowly emerging from the distance, Rahrvin spotted a roiling cloud of snow.<SPAN>  </SPAN>It could only be created by a group of several creatures moving at haste, and in numbers. </FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>Without another thought, Rahrvin reached within him for the power at his command.<SPAN>  </SPAN>His form shimmered in the snow-bright air, and vanished in a spill of power and magic.<SPAN>  </SPAN>In its place, a mighty bear charged through the snow, throwing up huge clouds as it ran.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Steaming breath poured from its powerful maw, and its eyes were bright with the reflected blaze of the sun.</FONT></P> <P><FONT size=3><FONT color=#ffffff>Charging in bear-form, Rahrvin quickly closed with the pack of gnolls.<SPAN>  </SPAN>His enhanced senses confirmed his earlier opinion – that the gnolls were chasing someone or something.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Well, no matter.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Anything the gnolls wanted, he was opposed to.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Redoubling his efforts, the enraged Shaman closed to fighting distance with the gnolls.<SPAN>  </SPAN>There were at least six of them – big, ugly dog-like creatures with crude leathers and even cruder weapons.<SPAN>  </SPAN>The expressions on their almost-human faces were hideous, and distorted by ugly emotions like rage, hatred and hunger.<SPAN>  </SPAN></FONT></FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>Seeing the charging bear pull up short in front of them, the gnolls stopped abruptly, and milled about in seeming confusion.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Rahrvin saw a tiny, wriggling form plowing through the snow as it continued to try to escape from its pursuers. </FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>Without wasting a breath, Rahrvin swiped a paw towards the gnolls.<SPAN>  </SPAN>From all sides, solidified ice and snow pelted the gnolls, sending them howling and yipping a few steps back.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Another swipe of the paw, and the gnolls collapsed in a coughing, retching heap.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Rahrvin charged in, his razor-edged paws tearing a swath of death through the ranks of Qeynos’s enemies.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Wherever his eye fell, blood painted the white, pristine snow with a crimson brush.</FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>Finally, unable to match the fury of the beast in front of them, the surviving gnolls turned and fled, their screams of rage and hatred music to the ears of the great grizzly. </FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>Watching them run away, Rahrvin allowed his bear shape to melt away.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Standing in the snow, he searched carefully about for the tiny object he had seen momentarily.<SPAN>  </SPAN>At first, he saw nothing.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Then, just in front of him, he saw a tiny movement, a tiny disturbance in the freezing white powder around him.<SPAN>  </SPAN>A sound penetrated his reverie, and he moved, intent on his target.</FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>There, tiny and squirming and glaring up at him with emerald eyes, was a tiny Kerran cub.<SPAN>  </SPAN>The infant’s fur was a shining white, which was why it had been so hard to find.<SPAN>  </SPAN>A slight marbling of fur suggested to Rahrvin’s trained eye that, upon attaining adulthood, this particular Kerran would bear the black stripes of the tiger clan.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Rahrvin knew that Kerran children were a particular delicacy to gnolls; had the pursuing pack caught its prey, this youngling would have found a very unpleasant welcome in the gnoll camps.</FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>“Hello, little one,” Rahrvin whispered, reaching down to pull the shivering ball of fur from its icy burrow.<SPAN>  </SPAN>“Are you what drove those gnolls to such a frenzy?”</FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>The creature hissed and spit, trying to swipe at Rahrvin with his tiny needle-like claws.<SPAN>  </SPAN>The shaman chuckled, and scratched the youngling under its chin.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Almost immediately, Rahrvin felt the tense muscles of the little fellow relax.<SPAN>  </SPAN>The hissing was replaced by a low purr; almost resentful at first, but rapidly becoming contented.<SPAN>  </SPAN>The shining green eyes started to recede behind lowering eyelids.</FONT></P> <P><SPAN><FONT color=#ffffff size=3></FONT></SPAN></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>“What to do with you, little one? Where in the world did you come from?”<SPAN>  </SPAN>Rahrvin had not heard of a missing Kerran child, and as a representative of the city guard, he would have, if there were such.<SPAN>  </SPAN>The infant currently purring against his shoulder must be the child of refugees.<SPAN>  </SPAN>There were still many homeless and disenfranchised souls pouring into Qeynos every day.<SPAN>  </SPAN>If something happened en route to the sanctuary of the city walls, no one would notice.</FONT></P> <P><FONT size=3><FONT color=#ffffff>An idea began to come to Rahrvin.<SPAN>  </SPAN>In his mind’s eye, he saw the face of his grandmother, so anxious that the first-born of his generation continue the unbroken line of namesakes.<SPAN>  </SPAN>He thought of Stradavarian, his bard companion, who regretted so strongly the lack of a child in their lives.<SPAN>  </SPAN>Here, in his hands, lay the answer to all his worries.<SPAN>  </SPAN></FONT></FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>Rahrvin tilted his head to look at the now-slumbering form that rested on his shoulder.<SPAN>  </SPAN>A slow, loving smile came to his lips, and he gently kissed the damp, cold fur of the little creature’s head.</FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ffffff size=3>“I shall call you Rahrvin, little one.”</FONT></P></DIV>