Here I’ve sat, for what feels like hours, staring at this blank page. The light from my campfire dances across the empty pages like my quill is supposed to. I’m not quite sure why I even traded for this journal in the first place. Those wolf pelts could have been put to much better use.
Perhaps I have something to say, yet I’ve never been one for talking much. So, an outlet, then? Perhaps ink will help where speech has failed?
It is a quiet night on the southern edge of the Lurkwood. As this gentle snow falls, my thoughts continually drift to my father. Every year around this time, he would take me on a “special” hunting trip. I never could figure out what was so special as a boy. It seemed like just another winter hunt in the Southwood and the Graypeaks. I resented it then; I would have rather been spending my birthdays back at the village with my friends. I was a foolish child.
He’s been gone well over a century now – or has it been two? The wind still carries his voice through the trees; I still see his footprints in the snow next to mine. Cellen was a good man, a kind man, and he did not deserve the tragedies he was dealt.
The snow always brings me back to those birthdays, and to him. But I can’t think of him without remembering that night. I was only 25 at the time, and here I am turning 310 today. However, the thunderous crash at the door still disrupts my thoughts to this day. It startled me out of my trance that night. I could hear screams, the clanging of plate armor from outside. Smoke filled the air. My father rushed in but was quickly followed by a soldier in heavy armor, then three more. We had no time to react, no time to grab anything, before we were hauled out of our own home. There were dozens of villagers outside, all surrounded by these steel-clad men.
Their armor bore the crest of the Rensha family; the family that stormed the Delimbiyr Vale with their mercenaries and claimed it as their own. Homes were engulfed in flames; livestock were being led away. The soldiers were taking our livelihoods, our homes.
I watched as two soldiers emerged from our home with my father’s leatherworking tools and all of our hunting gear. They threw it on to a large, open, horse cart with a mountain of other possessions. One ran over to a fellow soldier and casually lit his torch off the other’s before using it to light our home ablaze as well.
Frozen both from fear and rage, there was nothing we could do. We were not wealthy, we were not fighters, we had no defenses. Near as I could tell, the soldiers were not harming any villagers physically, though I’m sure any who put up a fight did not fare well.
As the last carts were hauled away, the man who must have led this troop stepped forward with a scroll. He unfurled it and boomed at us,
In the name of Ibun Rensha, ruler of the Delimbiyr Vale, this village shall be reclaimed by the Rensha family so that the area maybe cleared for forestry. The resources of this land will be used in the name of progress and prosperity for the entire Vale. Please know you are most welcome to relocate your families to Loudwater under the watchful eye of Lord Ibun Rensha.
With that, he mounted his horse and galloped after his convoy, leaving our once happy and humble village in shambles. There was nothing to salvage from our home; we were stranded with only the clothes on our backs.
We stood, staring silently in to the blackened ruins of our home. I wanted to scream, to cry, and to chase down the fiends who did this – all at once. Cellen stood with a stony face. To this day, I wonder what my father’s thoughts were at that moment, but I can never know. After a long while, he turned me to face him and put his hands on my shoulders. With a brief sigh, he simply said, “To Loudwater, then?”
“But what do we do now, father?” I was unable to conceive how my father was so steady, so calm at a time like this.
“Now? Now, son, we survive.”