Chpt. VI: Spring Festival

Rauron says:

Anar DF 2015 Special Mural new

“Oh, that painting. Yeah, it’s not as big as the others, but definitely no less important. I’m not particularly proud of how I behaved back then. Well, I suppose I might as well tell you the whole story.

This all happened in the spring of the year 3942. We’d been running missions along the south-western border of Weylin for several months. A fairly peaceful campaign, as there were little hostilities in this area. Our only loss was the departure of Gûron, who returned to the Order. And while the Anarquendor were doing fairly well, I was getting worse. While I did fulfill my duties, it was never more than the bare minimum. It had been over a year since I’d truly embraced my beastform, and the uncontrolled shapeshifting had grown increasingly frequent and persistent. I would spend days, even weeks in my beastform, relishing the wildness and freedom. Every return to my elven form and the Anarquendor was a disappointment, a source of frustration. Those days in elven form were marked by bad moods and extreme tiredness as I had to again get used to the physical weakness. In the daily live of the regiment, attending to chores and training, I found myself growling, sniffing, prowling about like a woodland creature. I skirted the edges of discipline, cared little for personal appearance. I’d cut off my traditional warrior dreads, uncaring for conventions. I had well and truly reached the point I resented being the elf, rather than the beast.

At the end of spring, the Anarquendor organized a little celebration, to commemorate the regiment’s 500th year of active duty. This event would be held at a little backwater tavern just across the border of Moira’s Bet; a suitable place to receive humans and other races we had befriended from the world of dragons. We arrived late at night, using the now familiar tree teleport. This magic was provided by several elves who were not part of the Anarquendor. I thought little of it at the time. I simply assumed they were assigned by command to facilitate the logistics. I was too self-absorbed to care much either way. My mind was on hunting and fighting, having been in elven form for a few weeks by then. Furthermore I was being closely watched by command, was even assigned the roll of Pengil to condaghor Tegingûr; usually a sign of trust and acknowledgment of skill, but to me this task as weapon-bearer was yet another leash I had to endure.
When we arrived at the tavern, the humans were already there. Greetings and pleasantries were exchanged and a meal was had. Hadingur, one of the Calenar, remarked upon my notably more savage behavior that night. I granted I might be more untamed than I had been in the past, but was that really such a bad thing? I still obeyed orders, I didn’t break any rules. I simply felt better letting go of the facade of civility. Hadingur and I spoke for a while until I sprung an idea. “Are you up for a hunt?”

Hadingur is the impulsive type, so it was no surprise when he agreed. Command gave their permission, and we set out into the nearby woods, were I’d spotted a wild boar earlier. We were joined on our hunting mission by Idilwen and a new recruit, Haradir. Haradir was a courier who’d earned his marks during the Undead War. A fast runner, and a lithe and dexterous fighter. I didn’t know much else about him yet.
The hunt itself was a wonderful diversion while it lasted. The calm and soothing darkness of the moonlit woods, the smell of the damp forest soil underneath our feet, the distorted sounds of the nightly wildlife. As far as I was concerned, this was all there needed to be to life. No obligations to meet, nothing to worry about. Stalking the forest for a good kill, a fresh meal. A world in which the only thing that was relevant was who got out on top in a fight. Of course, when you get used to being twice as tall and strong, anything less is aggravating torture. I knew the boar was around, but I couldn’t smell or hear him as well as I could as a beast. We split up to cover more ground, but it was slow plodding through the dense undergrowth. When finally I did catch sight of it, it took of at breakneck speed. I briefly tried to keep up, signaling the others to mark its position, but to no avail. I was riled for the rest of the night. I would never have let it escape in my beast form.

The remainder of the night proved eventless, safe for the deceptive cold of early spring. Dawn came and breakfast was had with our guests. Sleep was slow to lift from my mind. Then command called to see me. That got me alert quick enough. As I stepped into the tavern room they had elected to use as a meeting room while we were stationed there, I suspiciously took in the scene. They sat at the back end of the room, facing the only entrance. The autherdir’s spear was leaning against the wall, just behind to her right. Condaghor Tegingûr wasn’t wearing his sword belt, but his crossed arms could easily conceal a dagger. Bronad’angren, the Autherdir’s Pengil, stood to my right and slightly to the back, hindering my sword arm. It was a decidedly thorny setting, a perfect match to the uncomfortable conversation. “You’ve been talking to Hadingur.” They said. They seemed convinced Hadingur had tried to persuade me to part from the Anarquendor. I denied, of course. Hadingur wasn’t half bad for a human, but he most certainly didn’t have the gravity of character to persuade me of anything so drastic. Still, command wasn’t entirely wrong. I did have severe doubts about the Anarquendor, but the Calenar had nothing to do with it. I didn’t yet voice any of this out loud, of course. I wanted to see where this conversation was headed, then take my time deciding on a course of action; a lesson well received from my snake totem. When the Autherdir demanded I resolve my shapeshifting problem or face the consequences soon, I did almost lose my calm. As soon as I was excused, I retired to the seclusion of the surrounding woods, contemplating blood and murder. But even then, loyalty to the Anarquendor tempered any careless intentions.

Condaghor Tegingûr and Sylvitharion came up to me in the woods, to discussed what had transpired. I came to see an unexpected side of the Condaghor, and they talked sense into my turmoiled thoughts. In the end I came to see there was really only one path left for me to walk, if I hoped to remain part of the Anarquendor. I would have to challenge Autherdir Beriadanwen.
This was an enormous step to take, a dangerous leap, so I had no intention of rushing into it. Fittingly, today was also the day we celebrated the 500th year of service of the Anarquendor. An alarming juxtaposition, as I was going about plotting to uproot everything. There were games, dancing, food and laughter, but it all seemed very trivial to me. I decided to hold off any actions till the morrow; out of respect, but also to consider whether I was making the right choice. I spoke to many of the Anarquendor, carefully probing for opinions and advice. I also had my first proper conversation with the new elves, who I learned would apply for recruitment in the Anarquendor. They were Alagosion and Maurilin, niece and cousin, hoping to see more of the world and to find their own place in it. Torben, a shaman who like me leaned heavily towards a feral lifestyle. And lastly Tîwion, an unseasoned rune mage, exploring his father’s heritage. I questioned them too, without giving away too much. After all, if they were going to be part of the Anarquendor, they would become the new Autherdir’s responsibility, whoever that might be.
One of the last people I spoke that day was Yava’In. My attitude towards her has always skipped all over the place, but she’s always been truthful. In the end, I felt I had her trust. The Autherdir had ordered I should be ‘cleansed’, but Yava’In disagreed. She was even willing to lie about having performed a ritual. I thanked her, genuinely grateful.

The last day of our stay in this place arrived. I woke up markedly nervous and agitated. Today would be the day of the challenge. I had a solid breakfast, making sure my strength was up, and timing out when I’d confront the autherdir. I spoke to Lalaith, explaining my intentions and giving her time to prepare medical aid, should it be needed. Then I found some solitude, preparing, bracing for the momentous occasion.
Again Condaghor Tegingûr came up to me in the woods, and I figured the time had come. “The Autherdir has left.” he said. “She’s been called away on a mission.”
Sure enough, Autherdir Beriadanwen was gone. After working myself up in a frenzy for more than a day, the fight I’d been aiming at was not going to take place. The Anarquendor gathered around the fire pit, away from the prying eyes and ears of our guests, and were informed of the situation. A new order of command would have to be installed, and positions were open to all. I might have made a claim then and there, but it felt all wrong. No one stepped up at that moment. Everyone was probably still taking all of it in.
Condaghor Tegingur and Yava’In spoke to the guests, excusing the Autherdir, and continued to host the celebrations as if nothing untoward had happened. The games continued, but if yesterdays had seem trivial, today’s were galling. I participated of course. If I wouldn’t be having my fight, at the least I’d try to vent some energy through competition. I didn’t fare well.

Eventually Condaghor Tegingûr came up to me and gave me specific instructions to go into the woods and try to assume my beastform. Clearly my desire and frustration was easy to read. And if will had any influence on when the transformation took place, today would be an excellent day to test that theory.
And ahh, the bliss when it did happen! No sooner had I found a bit of seclusion and opened myself up to it, when the shift occurred. The strength, the vigor, the heightened senses, all of it like a soft balm on a sore wound that had festered for weeks. I was very briefly tempted to try and hunt down the boar that had escaped me two days past, but no. I would first return to the tavern, show myself. Out of respect for our guests, perhaps, or maybe just out of pride. I ran into Haradir and Alyan on my way back. They were on the lookout for me, to ensure I was safe. Again a testament as to why I should not give up on the Anarquendor, even on being an elf in general.
Back at the tavern I reintroduced myself, so to speak. I was of course limited to grunts and growls. It’s always interesting to see how others treat me like an entirely different entity when in that form. When everyone had had a look, I returned to the forest to have a real hunt this time.

The transformation didn’t last nearly as long as usual, ending just after nightfall, but it had been enough to center myself. It had also given me time to reflect on the last couple of days, on how I had felt and behaved. With these thoughts in mind I returned to the tavern. Haradir, being on guard, spotted me a long way off, so my arrival was reported before I stepped inside. There I found all of the Anarquendor and our friends, hard at work, arguing and debating. They were coming up with a way for me to control my shapeshifting! I was speechless. To think not long ago I’d sincerely considered leaving everything behind and surrender myself to the wild.
Yava’In eventually announced a course of action. A two part ritual would be held. First I would have to apologize to Rystill, Goddess of Nature. A daunting task, to which my instincts rebelled instantly. But I held my tongue. Next I would receive a second totem. The reasoning was that my first totem, the Snake, had been given specifically to help me cope with the shapeshifting, and thus it related primarily to my beastform. This new totem, the Beaver, would represent my elven form and help me find a balance between both shapes.
I was elated. Not only was I very receptive to the honours of receiving a second totem, I was also deeply moved by everyone’s willingness to help out. Eferil, ever perceptive, did note I should be truthful about my thoughts on apologizing to the goddess Rystill. This would indeed prove an obstacle in the ritual, but this was a worry for the future, and I did not intend to let it spoil the otherwise wonderful evening.

The remainder of the night wore away with idle chatter and songs. Eventually everyone retired, preparing to get up early for the journey back home. A wonderful conclusion to a very eventful couple of days.”