Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Character Background, Ranger

The entire hamlet had come out to pull help pull the raft to shore. The timber from the Greenwood had been a month in harvesting, and the current of the red river was strong. It would take all hands to maneuver the floating island, and the young lad was eager to be part of the effort.

Francis Ane Hopkins

His father owned the mill, and Ulrich was almost old enough to work among the men. He was sure that one day, the mill would be passed down to him, and the responsibility of overseeing the sawing the timber would be his.

It took several hours to secure the raft, and afterwards everyone gathered on the commons for the celebration of the harvest. Thanks were offered to Phusis, lord of all plants, for the plentiful bounty. To Phanes, lord of living creatures was promised responsible stewardship of the Greenwood, that it may always be a haven for the creatures of the wild and the Clans of Men who made their home there.

The sun was low in the sky when the crowd grew hushed. The Ferry was approaching, and upon it was a vardo. Not one of those elaborately decorated colorful Vardos used by The Wandereres. This was a simple wagon, devoid of ornamentation, and pulled by a single horse. A rustic man dressed in greens and browns sat in the drivers seat.

When the ferry docked, the driver quickly scanned the crowd, gave a nod, then proceeded down the road towards the mill. Ulrich looked towards his father, and found him looking into the worried face of his mother. The two looked toward Ulrich, and motioned for him to come to them. The three walked down the lane the vardo had travelled, but it was beyond their sight.

When they arrived at the mill, the driver had already unhitched the horse and let it drink freely from the river. Father clasped the driver by the hand with a warm "Welcome home, brother". Mother embraced the man. He then knelt before Ulrich. His face was worn with age marked with a number of scars. He smelt of leather, wild game, and steel. "I am your uncle Marten, Ulrich. I've come to claim you as my apprentice".
Vasily Surikov

The vardo contained the core of the lessons Ulrich was to learn over the next several years. There were the bones of creatures from fireside tales with names like Bugbear, Orc, Hobgoblin, and Ogre. There were holy symbols and wooden stakes. And there were weapons. Sword, bow, and dagger.

Marten took Ulrich on many excursions into the Greenwood. He taught him the ways of tracking, and admonished him to "kill no wolf" in this part of the forest; "harm no bear" in another. Countless hours were spent learning the art of warfare and the vulnerabilities of "the eaters of the flesh of men". Creatures of Darkness with naught but malice in their heart, and a taste for man-flesh on their tongue. After seven years, his training was complete. Ulrich was a Ranger.

Viktor Vasnetsov

"I am late in my years Ulrich. I no longer have the swiftness of youth. I have taught you everything I know. You are my last apprentice. Take the knowledge I have given you and guard it. And when old age makes your arms too weary to wield your sword, pass on your knowledge to another, that it may never die. I will retire here with your mother and father. Come seek me when you need advice. Take this sigil ring, that other men of our ilk will know you, and offer their camaraderie. There are many dark things in this earth, yet some few have the courage or knowledge to face them."

N.C. Wyeth

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