From the perspective of Tobin
I was just finishing up a game of Dragons Anti with Bel when Dunman told me to go to market for more supplies. I think she lets me win because every time she plays in the taverns, she only loses when the others are about to give up, do you think she cheats Sela? Anyway, on my way to the market I began to consider for the what’s seems like the millionth time in my short life, Who am I? The easy answer is Tobin, but that isn’t what makes this question keep returning. Why would my parents give me away to be raised by the Wittiker’s and who is this man who shows up in the nick of time to save us, not once, but twice. Is he me real father? Does he work for him? If so he must be someone really powerful to have such a retainer. Then also to hire a band of mercenaries to defend me. The Wittiker’s were always very kind to me, but they don’t have that kind of gold. Then I have Sela. A true mystery, but someone I have always been able to trust to be there when I really need help and protection. I can’t really understand how someone would get along without such a trustworthy companion. Granted she doesn’t say much nor really does she need to. Her presence is enough. These are the questions the flow through my mind, but do they really define me as who I am? It came to me then it was all unknown except the fact that I didn’t have to know. That it’s enough to trust that what I’ve done to this point was true. To understand its meaning without yet being able to say precisely what it was. To believe that I didn’t need to reach with my bare hands anymore. To know that seeing the fish beneath the surface of the water was enough. That it was everything. It was my life- like all life, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so belonging to me. With this new clarity I can see how dependent I currently am on all those around me Kali, Bel, Aroland, Dunman, Deularla, and even who is the same age as me even if he constantly says centaurs mature faster. So what is he could walk the day he was born. Am I so weak as to need so many protectors? What could be after me that would require this kind of protection. This is my new family, I couldn’t stand it if they were hurt because of me.
As I went from stall to stall picking up new supplies my thoughts turned to Deularla. She is very stout in her beliefs. She is always praying to protect us in our endeavors and grateful for all the opportunities and boons granted to the Seven Swords. She says we are blessed that after traveling so far that starting a new life has been so easy up to this point. As I see it, we should be grateful for all the things in our lives that make it easier, like Sela. We could use all the help we can get, so over the years I’ve joined her in her prayers. “To the First of all Saldarine, to The Protector. I pray to you, O Larethian, watch over Seven Splinded Swords
as they travel through the world, keep them safe from harm, guard them from evil, protect them from all ill, grant them the strength to overcome all obstacles, grant them the resilience to recover from loss, grant them the wisdom to find their way through the dark, grant them true friends to join them on their journey. Show them the joy in life, the pleasures of today and the promise of tomorrow. Give them the gift of a mind turned ever toward happiness and hope. Be with them, O Larethian, in good times and bad;
favor them with insight and good humor, with the courage to choose freely and the wisdom to choose well. I pray to you, bless them with your many gifts.”
I was returning from replacing the supplies when Sela caught my attention, appearing just at the corner of my vision as she usually does. When I turned she was gone, but over the years I’ve learned to pay close attention to these sorts of things. So I traveled along this new path and every time I had a feeling or saw her I knew it was time for me to adjust my course. Soon I found myself at the edge of town at the beginning of what appeared to be a game trail. It felt like this trail was for me alone. You might think following a game trail into the woods would be foolish or freighting, but I knew I was safe and this is just the way of life for me. As I followed the trail time all, but slipped away, I knew not how long I walked or really even where I was. My thoughts wandered off again, this time to some more recent events. Our time the ruined Elven city. During the fighting I felt like I didn’t really have a role to play. I was useless, so I went off like a child to play when the adults are busy, to see what I could find. At the time it felt like maybe I could help if I found something useful or save time later. Now though, as I look back it was foolish. What could I have done if I’d run into danger of some sort. Then not only would I be useless, but a burden on my friends. It would pull them away from what they needed to do to protect me. Have I always been so reckless? Now that I look back though I’ve never really been afraid of much due to my guardians and protectors. Brave to the point of foolhardiness.
At some point it just felt right to leave the path so I did. My melancholy leaving me as I moved among the trees and animals, there were so many animals. They weren’t scared of me, it was like the times I went out with Aroland, but he wasn’t here this time. Ambling along in an almost dazed state, I dimly wondered if I was becoming more like him, but that wasn’t right. It started to get dark, but it never really was too dark to see. Multi-colored lights started bobbing around me darting in and out, twirling around branches and leaves. Their presence filling me with joy. They must have been some kind of fey and for awhile I danced and twirled with them. When I neared a clearing they departed leaving, me in darkness for a time. Then I realized the moonlight was bright in the clearing. So I hastened my pace to enter and as I went past the last of the trees I was greeted with the brightest crescent moon I’d ever seen. Its glow almost as bright as the sun or more like the light of the sun glinting off a jewel left in the sky. I had to tear my gaze away, tears streaming from my eyes, for such beauty and power are not for mortal sight. I was humbled and have never felt so small. A man could lose his mind or even his soul at such an image of divine righteousness. Then I realized it was too late, my soul was lost, for everywhere I looked in this grove was full of such beauty. Majestic trees, moss so soft you’d sleep forever is you chose to lay down, a babbling brook. Every piece to the very last stone had its place, nature sculpted to perfection. A place that if a bard could see he spend the rest of his days writing and singing about nothing else. Too bad the centaur wasn’t here.
Then I heard his voice. It blended with the scenery perfectly and completed what I had assumed was complete before. “Hello child, my name is Corellon Larethian.” I searched for its source, but he was nowhere to be found. Not knowing what else to do, I knelt before his majesty and bowed my head. “I have called you here because you and your friends need my help. You are all in great danger. There is a tempest coming that will bend the trees low and may even cause the dance to stop completely. Your friends assuredly and mayhap even the world itself needs your protection. I can help you to protect them form the dangers coming. They may not all make it through even so, but the path will be made a little easier. Will you become one of my guardians to help protect the elves and ensure their legacies will be a boon to the world, not a burden. One of my hands to help sculpt Toril to my will?” How could I say no? I would never let my friends, my new family be hurt if I had any choice. A way for me to show my worth and cease being a burden. “Yes, I Tobin, lowly bastard that I am, swear to help you protect those I care about as I may and see your will be done.”
“Good, very good. My gift to you, a shield bearing my crest. It will help you in the times to come. Do nothing to disgrace me or my teachings. Learn quickly young one, you don’t have much time. Now rest and take refreshment at my brook.” I did as I was told and soon drifted off to sleep. When I awoke the sun was beating down on my face and I was back at the start of the trail into the woods. The shield lying beside me in the tall grass. I get into a kneeling position and start praying “Father Larethian, protector of the weak, help me to be strong against my fears. Father Larethian, protector of the wronged, help me to do right by all I meet. Father Larethian, protector of the home, help me to safeguard those within my walls. Father Larethian, help me to do what I must, be with me as I walk in the world.” I gathered up all the supplies and my new shield and rushed back to town. I’m going to need some armour from the sounds of it I think and a sword considering they never gave me one, I think to myself, as I head to the blacksmiths.
As I enter the forge, The Iron Hand, the heat hits me like the fiery breath of a dragon. The smithy approaches me, “Ello, this ere fine establishment tis mine. I be Dhurthal Ironhand what cana do for yah today.”
“Well I’m looking for some armour and a sword.” I reply as my eyes linger on a suit of heavy plate mail armour.
“Humph, What’sa runt like yeh gonna do with such things?”
“Protect my family.” Jangling my purse a bit seems to put any doubts he has aside.
“I hope yeh didn’t nick that, but who’m I to deny a rightful heir to protect what’s hiz. Now yeh be looking at someth’em there a wee’bit big for yeh, but I think I might be having some half’lin armour in the back that could do the trick and maybe a lighter blade for the young lord eh.”
I laugh as he turns to go “I’m no lord good man.” and he continues on his way. He comes back with an assortment of different pieces of protection. Piece by piece, doublet, greaves, breastplate, bevor, vambraces, he fits them to me, naming each and showing me how to done them. As each part was put in place I felt more and more as if I was being made whole. From my former weakness to strength. This was my path I’d found it now and. I’m not going to hesitate now. Finally he handed me a light blade, a rapier. Now I had all the equipment that I needed, all that was left was the training.
Well there had to be someone here that could help me with training. My friends always seemed to be busy and I couldn’t blame them, but maybe someone more focused could help me learn more quickly. I set off with my burdens looking for a possible candidate. I knew the other tavern in town, The Welcoming Hand, might be a good place to start. I head in that direction passing among the other shops and stores of Eveningstar. Waving to Orsborg, Tethyr, and some other who I know. All of them seem to look at me a little differently now and thats saying something because even though they all seem to like me, they also perceive on some level I’ve always been different. Now dressed as I am, their faces show different emotions. Most seems sad or disapproving though if asked they would no doubt say what else would you expect from a boy living among mercenaries. Others and these are the ones I try to hold on too, seem hopeful like I could really make a difference in their lives.
When I got to the tavern I passed a drunk man sitting against the tavern wall, passed out. I pass him without much notice, but I get my a feeling that I should turn around. Of course I do and pass the man again heading back the other way, when I get the little flicked out of the corner of my eye and it hits me. Oh no, really him! The drunk against the wall. That’s who I’m looking for… I take a closer look at him. He is dirty, smells of vomit and booze and I’m pretty sure he has a black eye, but I’m not positive due to the dirt. This is the first time I’ve ever considered ignoring my feeling and continuing on my way, but they never lead me astray before. I go to the stables and get a buck of water from the trough. Which I promptly threw on the man. He sputters, coughs and staggers to his feet. Slurring what I can only assume are curses. His blurry, red-shot eyes focus on me with the bucket still in my hands. His eyes narrow, his fists clench and he starts to advance on me. “Wait, you really don’t want to do that and I have a job for you.” He either isn’t listening or doesn’t care, but as he swings at me he slips in the water and falls back to the ground hitting his head. When he starts to get back up kick his leg out from under him and roll him onto his back where I promptly sit on his chest. I may not weight a whole lot, but with the armour and his current state its enough. “Now that I believe I have your attention. How would you like to train me to become a better fighter?”
“Now why in the blazing suns would I do that? You’re nothing more that a boy.”
“Well, you’re the one on your back, beside I have money to pay you and I suppose I live in a tavern where I’m sure I can persuade the owners to give you free drinks.” He lets this sink in though his haze, then a grin breaks across his face. “Now why didn’t you just say so. Here, help me up and let get to this tavern of yours. Can you believe the owner of this one threw me out! He’ll regret it believe me he will.” Once he is on his feet, he throws his arm around me almost staggering me with all the combined weight. “Hope your right about this Sela.” I say under my breath and start the long trek back to the Lonesome Tankard.