Shadows of Esteren
Arlan Mac Branain
As the third son of Baron’s younger brother Pwyll, I had more freedom then my older two brothers. With this time I explored, and once I was old enough to evade the nannies, this included getting out into the nearest woods and countryside. I always had great affinity for nature and could enjoy myself just wandering the trails.
At the age of 10 I began to attend school and though it interfered with my freedom, the subject matter was of interest enough to keep my attention. I particularly enjoyed the days when Demorthen Graenne would visit to impart a tale or two of the old ways and her hints of the secrets of the deep forest.
Over the next couple of years, the Demorthen seemed to pay several students especial attention, myself included. As time passed, the number dropped as the children matured until there seemed only two of us, myself and Iden Halloran, the son of an affluent merchant. Then upon the start of my twelfth year, Demorthen Graenne and my father approached me and I was informed that I was to be the Demorthen’s apprentice and I would leaving the town and living with her. The look of pride in my father’s face mostly offset the look of worry and concern that I would soon see in my mother’s. The idea of becoming immersed in the wilderness and discovering all of it’s secrets excited me incredibly, delaying the thoughts and feeling of leaving everything I’ve known behind.
Demorthen Graenne gave me a week to say goodbye, though now in hindsight, I see this was my first true test, would I waver in my commitment in the face of leaving those I love. The time passed quickly in a blur of celebrations and lessons. It seemed that my father and older brothers decided that they had to pass on years of sage advice and skills in that brief time we had only to be interrupted by my mother, who was trying to make sure I would have everything I would need to keep safe.
It was an emotional and exciting time, marred by only one thing, or in this case, person. From the very pronouncement of my apprenticeship, Iden Halloran, took a severe dislike to me. I had never really understood Iden’s interest in Demorthen Graenne or her stories as his family was one of the main merchants in timber and other such products of the wilds and when the Demorthen was away, his interests would turn to those of most boys. All I do know is that when my appointment became known to the town, I received nothing but harsh glares from him and once, when came across me in an alley, he could only speak of how I robbed him and his family and that he would never forget and someday I would pay. I didn’t like the idea that somehow I had wronged Iden but I had little time to ponder it and the incident quickly faded from memory.
Though there were many emotional swings and many tears, I remained on the path and followed the Demorthen out of the village on the appointed day. In the end, almost all of the equipment my mother had gathered remained behind. Demorthen Graenne had sighed heavily at the sight of the pile and, despite my mother’s protests, whittled the pile down to serviceable clothing and barely more then one set at that. She also allowed me to bring the new dagger my oldest brother had gotten made for me.
As the town disappeared from sight, my new life began. Over the next 7 years, I’ve been at the Demorthen’s side most of the time. After a couple of years, she allowed me to accompany her back to Baile Den-Tur to assist with the ceremonies, but only after she felt assured that I would be able to keep the necessary emotional separation from my family. At times, I also accompanied her deeper into the wilds then I had ever been before. I’ve learned so much, but realize how much more there is yet to learn.
In my 18th year, a new subject arose in our discussions, politics. She described how the old ways are threatened and how we must battle these new adversaries in order to protect the people and nature surrounding them. Demorthen Graenne would become impassioned when talking of the battles to come. However, having lived with people with other ideas, particularly my aunt. I know they are not bad people, just misguided. Instead of forming battle plans in my head for future use, I began to contemplate how to sway all people into understanding the true mysteries of the world. A year later, I’m still contemplating but have have to the understanding that I still need to learn more, not a just about the wilds, but a lot more about people.