His life was…out of control.
He’d liked being a pirate…it was fun…it was free…but after a few days of flowing beer, lawless neighbors (that stole half his money), and a feeling of living in the moment so strong that it utterly voided any sense of the future at all (leading in turn to blackout intoxication, maiming, and death) – he took the next ship out of harbor and crossed to a new world.
Or so he thought.
The ‘new world’, a continent he’d never set foot on, was much the same as the old. He’d picked up some odd jobs, met a few odd souls, and spent more time in the taverns…but…still empty.
Being free…was too free.
He realized that the cost of complete freedom, was having nothing, no one, to hold on to. No one held on you, no one held you back. You were alone.
It was invigorating at first; no fetters, no responsibility.
The sky was open, blue, above him. The wind blew over his skin…
He sat there, one day, on a porch above a blacksmith shop overlooking the sea. He’d just taken a job a little more bloody than most; it required the head of a renegade pirate.
At first, with his sensibilities fresh from days at the pirate cove, he’d taken the contract right away; without a second thought. He needed money, after all, and the renegade privateer was indisputably going to die as he had offended both the local authorities and the local cartels; it was only a matter of who took that bloody head first and collected the bounty.
Gwyrriun had found the island hide away; had swam out, skirting the deep unsettling blue abyss and instead keeping to a series of shallow islets to make his way out from the mainland; he’d snuck up on unsuspecting cronies and killed them, most of them never even saw him. He’d crept into the captain’s home, and killed everyone inside to save himself.
He’d collected the bounty.
The coins were…cold.
He’d killed before; many times. He’d killed from shadows, he’d killed to satisfy contracts, he’d killed for lords and ladies and kings and merchants and generals. He was good at it.
He used to just pick pockets. The occasional shake down. It was so easy to take the next step.
It started with beasts. Monsters.
Then he was the monster.
He took a breath.
The world was crazy.
The half-elf closed his eyes.
Life was supposed to be…life.
Why couldn’t he just…be?
Suddenly he felt keenly how out of place he was, everywhere. No home. His home had been ripped away by revolution, by change. By blood.
He hadn’t realized, until this moment, how much anger he kept inside. He was boiling, all the time.
Boiling so hot he didn’t even see himself. He didn’t have memories. It was all blackness. The past was too sad to even look at.
He thought, he could remember; if he wanted to. He thought, what I’ve been through isn’t as bad as others, and they go on just fine. What is wrong with me?
There was a dim memory…a friend. His squire. His only friend then, he’d been seperated when he’d been exiled. Was Vuelo still alive? Where was he? How in the world could he possibly contact him? There was no way. His only friend in this world was a cloud, drifted away long ago, into skies no longer visible, no longer known. Gwyrriun was set adrift on an ocean of pain, sadness, frustration, anger.
The anger was deep. It gave him the strength to kill. It rationlized his justice. It drove him.
He’d thought it had been some sense of adventure, of freedom. But it was raw, disastrous anger.
He wondered how many years had been taken from him? What could be left of life now?
The rogue had set off, taking the next ship out, had wandered on horseback through the forests, the mountains, and eventually came to the dwarven lands locked in their icy grip.
He’d found the cold comforting; it matched his heart.
He climbed the icy slopes, roamed the frigid wilderness. He didn’t take jobs now; didn’t pursue contracts. He barely ate. Once he fought a massive bear, but it wasn’t the cold blooded murder of the past. It was a test of will. It was a test of who wanted to survive. Gwyrriun was surprised to find that deep inside, past the pain, past the loneliness, he wanted desperately to survive.
To begin again…
To start over…
A chance to renew…
Was it too much to ask?
How did you go forward?
He knew he couldn’t just forget the past, he would have to deal with it. The bitter pain would have to be eaten, and become a part of him.
He climbed a mountain with smooth banks of glittering snow, his pinto easily ascending the slope in contrast to the effort his rider had in simply existing.
At the top, the scene stretched out all around, a frozen wonderland of white and green under a sky of paleness glowing.
He felt uncomfortable in the cities; he felt everyone knew each other, but no one knew him. He was always a stranger, everywhere. Once, in Acralis, he’d been drunk and gone raving mad through the streets, telling everyone that he was king of the elves, that they should bow to him, that they were fools; he’d been simply ignored. He’d fallen alseep right there on the cobbles, and simply been stepped over. He was nearly invisible.
In the dwarven capital, buried in its mountain home, he’d pleaded for help to find the throne room, he wasn’t sure why; an elven mage had looked down on him with pity, a gnomish engineer had scampered away awkwardly; finally a druid, shapeshifted into the form of a great panther, had led him to the place, but had quickly turned away as Gwyrriun gushed his thanks.
In the wilderness it was different.
The wilderness was timeless, it welcomed him; it swallowed his pain and left only peace. It was less challenging, to be sure, but he didn’t want to be challenged. He wanted to be coddled and secured and wooed, he wanted to be comforted and told it would all be alright. It wouldn’t, he knew, it would most likely never be all right. But it was what he needed, and the wilds provided at least a taste of it. And moments like this, perched on icy mountaintops, the wind now whipping at his road rough hair and worn clothes, there was a sort of peace that he desperately needed.
Not the freedom of pirates, or the freedom of the road; the freedom of being alone with yourself.
It was different than being alone.
Alone with yourself was…fearless. It was direct. it was, after all the distractions, after all the things other people did to you, thought about you, it was…life.
Gwyrriun wanted to live.