"The Age of Fire & Light"
Though my story has its seeds in the space that existed before time began – the seeds of light and dark, good and evil, nature and magic – mine is not the oldest story. Rather, my story is like any other mortal story, one with a perceptible ending; an ending that began with the founding of the Golenwich monastery nearly 1000 years ago.
In the lands of Xanaclan, along the Aneka River, a group of humans and elves worked to build a home for themselves and their ideals. They believed that their racial cooperation would result in an institution capable of lasting, unchanged, for a thousand-thousand years. (This institution they called the Golenwich monastery.) Unfortunately, they were barely able to preserve their monastery’s dogma for even a single elven lifetime.
In the early centuries of the monastery all monastic policies were based on an ideology of acceptance. Sex and marriage were permitted, a broad curriculum was developed from a mixture of the three different monastic traditions (but with an emphasis on the Way of the Four Elements), and anyone dedicated enough to join was welcome. However, despite these inclusive ideals, the prejudice idea on which the monastery was founded, and the racial hierarchy established by the narrow racial representation in the monastery’s founding members resulted in discrimination and conflict between new and old members. That is to say, while the founding members promoted equality and acceptance, they ignorantly undermined those ideals by holding onto powerful positions within the order and insisting on the fact that their monastery’s success was due to human-elf cooperation. On top of this, many of the founding members married each other (in strict human-elf/elf-human pairings) and had half-elf children who were inducted into the monastery and unwittingly indoctrinated on the subject of human-elf cooperation and half-elf superiority. By the time most of the founding members had passed away there was a distinct half-elf majority within the order. These members were pushing for more strict and exclusive acceptance policies. Then, almost immediately after my orphaned human father was accepted into the order, the last founder died, the half-elves took over, and the acceptance policies were amended. They were amended in such a way as to exclude any non-half-elves from joining in the future. As a result of these changes, my father was the last non-half-elf accepted into the order.
As my father grew up in the monastery he not only faced the discrimination that any non-half-elf faced during this period, he was also singled out for being the last accepted, and thereby the youngest, non-half-elf in the order. This discrimination was obviously not endorsed by the order’s new leaders, but it was also very rarely discouraged. By the time my father was 16 the order leaders had forbade non-half-elves from marrying or having children, citing the idea that non-half-elves didn’t have enough attention to dedicate to studying, meditation and maintaining a family. It was bad luck that, in this same year, my father met Fieree Iatvan, an elven woman, whom he ended up falling in love with. However, for another 15 years after meeting her, my father remained faithful to the order. It was only after the order leaders began shifting the order’s training focus towards the Way of Shadows that my father realized that the Golenwich monastery was no longer the monastery he was familiar with. It was at this point that he decided to begin a rebellion by marrying my mother.
Although the order leaders were angry with my father for disobeying his vow, they chose not to punish him because they did not want to draw attention to his transgression and thereby incur the wrath of the other minorities in the order. Nevertheless, my father purposefully drew attention to his sin on the day of my birth when he used me as the token for a protest against the order leaders. You see, during the months of my development, my father worked to band the various minorities of the order together. Then, when I arrived, my father, alongside his allies, marched me into the monastery, claimed me as his own, and demanded that I be accepted into the order.
This ultimatum was meant to put the order leaders into an uncomfortable position. That is to say, my father knew the leaders could not deny me access to the order since I met their half-elf requirement but he was also aware that they couldn’t accept the product of a union between two non-half-elves into the order without angering the other present minority groups. Unfortunately, the leaders felt no discomfort when they called for the execution of the dissidents.
Along with all his allies, my father died that day. Although the details of the engagement are known only by the half-elves who participated in the slaughter, it is known that my father and his followers did not go down without a fight. In the aftermath the surviving members of the order apparently retreated into the mountains without burying any of the dead so when villagers visited the monastery some days later they found that half-elf bodies far outnumbered the bodies of minority beings.
Quite obviously, I survived the massacre, although things might have been better for me if I hadn’t. I was raised in the order, but hardly trained to participate in their rituals or lifestyle. Instead I was harassed and bullied for being the son of a traitor.
After abandoning the physical monastery the order leaders decided that the Way of Shadows would become the only focus of the order, so, they’ve lived secretly in the mountains ever since – rarely seeing anyone and even more rarely being seen by anyone. It wasn’t until I was 15 that I met another being that was not a part of the order. It was an old human man; he was herding sheep when he came across me hunting. Having not been properly trained in the Way of Shadows, I was not the best hunter so he managed to sneak up behind me before I even noticed he was there. He grabbed my shoulder and turned me around; when he saw my face he exclaimed, “Horatio?”
I was dumbfounded, not knowing how he could know my name. As the situation dawned on him his eyes lit up with realization and then fear.
He asked, “do you know?”
“Know what?” I remember responding.
“Who your father was?”
I had no response, but, then and there he sat me down and told me the tale I have just recounted to you. The old man even informed me that I was named after my father, whom up until then, I had only known as “the traitor.” Afterward, I knew I could not stay in the order. The gentleman offered me a room in his home but I knew the order would not allow me to simply leave like that. Instead, without even learning the gentleman’s name, I withdrew into the forest and ran. Some days later while I was squatting next to a river I felt a hand on my shoulder, like when I first met the shepherd gentleman. Only this time when I turned around I realized the hand was not connected to anyone. In fact, it was the severed hand of my shepherd friend. I recognized it by the brass ring on the index finger. (To this day, I carry that ring and the burden of his death with me.) That was when I knew how seriously the order responded to me abandoning them, and I have been on the run from them ever since. Since that incident, I also tried to not fraternize with people. No one deserves to be maimed, tortured, or killed because of my choices. However, lately, I have been interacting with people a lot more. Interaction became necessary when I broke my leg while swimming in the Nyr Dyv. Luckily, a fisherman dwarf, named Conley Amber-Rust, found me before I drown. He rescued me from the lake, helped to splint my leg, gave me a home to stay, and introduced me to Thor Strongbrew and his delicious elixirs.
Even though it has been 16 years since I ran away from the Golenwich monastery, I know that they are still stalking me and that they could strike me or my friends at any moment. What allows me to remain calm is a little bit of alcohol and the assurance, that my friends and I can strike back just as hard as all the ranks of monks at the Golenwich Monastery. This is where I will stop speaking, but do not mistake this for the end of my story.