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Old March 15, 2019, 12:50 AM   #1
Riven Stoke
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Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 346
Wealth Tier: Steel
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[Gonehameau] The Bear Who Stirs

OOC: This is just a re-introduction post. You're more than welcome to post and we can start a thread, but otherwise it's a quick IC explanation for Riven's disappearance. Thanks
--

Late Winter, Era XXVI
Village of Gonehameau, somewhere in the Arkdun Wilds

"Again!"

Steel sung against steel in the the village square. It had been singing since the dawn, with no end in sight. While Gonehameau's makeshift militia had willingly traded scythe for sword to train with Riven in the droll winter months, the muted exhaustion upon each face now screamed their regret.

"Again!"

By evenfall, warm air pushed through the woods. Snow turned to rain. And between the village's shops and stands, its once undisturbed courtyard now lay a swamp of mud and slush and blood. Riven could see, even hear the energy sap from his recruits. Once cries of war, each strike of the sword thundered with all the power of a blown mule.

"Again!"

The second moon rose, and training finally came to an end. Riven was sure to shake the hand of each man before dismissing them to their selion. None seemed interested in the platitude. Each of these men were from his mother's Shwarzbären Clan, bound to one another as distant cousins or nephews or uncles. So despite their exhaustion, they still laboured a smile or kiss before making the long track back to their farmstead.

Riven returned to his own family home just before the rain turned to deluge. His Uncle Brom was already at the table, but stood up to given Riven a long hug. Brom was a pious man now, a man of Aslan if ever there was. But the mix of crooked teeth, thinning hair and a prime spent entirely in his stein had left him an uncle, but never father. Closest thing to children was always Riven and his sister, Rohesia. "How did the training go?" Brom asked, genuinely excited.

"They're getting better. They hate me, but they're getting better. All except for this one lad with a gaunt face. Nice chap, but feth me, he swings that sword around like a woman with palsy." The pair shared a laugh, but it was stunted as the door to the backroom creaked open.

Rohesia emerged from the backroom to fetch Riven's supper. She approached with a tray of black stout, sour dough and mutton stew with turnip and onion. "Dankeschön, Schwester."Thank you very much, sister. said Riven in their native dialect, using his warmest voice. But Rohesia said nothing, only slamming the tray before him and retreating again to the backroom. Riven and Brom looked at each a moment, the nephew frowning and the uncle smiling.

"You still haven't given blessing for that girl to get married, now have you?" Brom asked, already knowing the answer. Riven only looked down to his stew. Each man swigged their stout before the elder continued. "Rohesia's fallen for a good man, Riven. He's good with a bow, gentle with his words... still has all his teeth too, the lucky bastard. Plus, he's a smith's apprentice; ten years doing that job, and he'll be too deaf to hear his wife's nagging."

"We've been over this, uncle. He's not one of us." A brief pause to stuff in a few spoonfuls. "Two of every five men in this village are Swarzbären. Three of five, if you discount the drunk and jobless. She couldn't fall for one of them? That boy she likes seems alright, but he's not from our clan, he doesn't even speak our dialect of Vagaran--"

"-- Because your father wasn't different either, right?"

Riven hadn't a retort. He heard all the stories, when his mother came home with his father. Sure, he was Vagaran. But he was from Arkdun instead of Gonehameau, was unfamiliar with their local dialect and worse of all, had an Aelyrianized family name.

"I'll never forget the day everyone met your father." Brom looked to the heavens, as if pleading the gods to remember the story proper. "I remember your grandfather called him a VINO... Vagaran In Name Only. And when he said his name was Stoke! The elders told your mother she'd be better off marrying an orc!! Oh gods, the looks on your parents' faces!!!" Brom heaved in a fit of laughter, his open hand slapping the table over and again. His uncle's chortle always made Riven smile, no matter how serious he tried to be. It seemed an eternity before he could wipe his tears and compose himself.

"I know what you're getting at, I do. But with everyone else now dead, I need to make sure Rohesia is earned by the right man." Remembering why Riven returned to Gonehameau, after such tragic loss, instantly returned Uncle Brom to ground. He could only reply while looking to the ground in vigil.

"... It should've been me in that shipwreck, not your mother and brother. When I heard what happened, it damn near killed me. The only thing to come from that tragedy is when you came back home. I wouldn't have been able to get this family in order without you." Riven couldn't stare at his uncle when he spoke this subject, but Brom's hand upon his forced his eyes to rise from the empty bowl.

"But it's been two eras since they passed now. And I think the only reason you won't let your sister marry is because you won't have a reason to stay here after she's wedded... am I wrong or right?" No response was required. The answer was in Riven's silence. "Your father's been gone a long time now, but he's with your mother and brother now. Before long, it'll be me standing before Aslan's judgement... so hear me now, kin. I want you to let your sister know love. I want you to explore the world like I never could. And when my time comes, I want you to tell me all your stories before setting my pyre aflame... can you do that for me, Riven?"

Again, no response was required. Nephew and uncle held each other long enough for each man to hide their tears before breaking apart. The tears continued come morning, when Riven invited Rohesia's love to break bread and bless their union. It was a few days longer saying farewell to his Swarzbären kin until his swaybacked sumpter was finally packed for the journey. Another kiss and huge to his sister and new brother-in-law, who were sure to have a small litter by the time they met again. And one final clutch from Uncle Brom, to whom he would likely never speak in this life again.

With a deep exhale, Riven's thighs squeezed into his mare. And as the snow crunched beneath its hooves, he wondered how long it would be until he saw his homeland again.
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