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The Wanderer and the River

Popular with: Gaunt, Oresund, Athral Isle, Principalities
Unpopular with:
Less known by: Akathia, Tarsikka
Archtypes, if any: Warrior(1)
Variations, if any: NA

Once upon a time there was a young maid whose lover was a powerful lord1. Now, the lord was a fair man, though he was married to another, and when he discovered she was with child he vowed the child would enjoy all the privileges of a noble birth. The noble lord's wife, however, secretly plotted revenge on her husband's lover and child, and laid a trap for the woman.

The morning before the trap was to be sprung, the young mother went to gather water from a well. A songbird perched beside the well watching her, completely unafraid of her presence. As the young woman began to draw water, the song bird hopped upon her shoulder and began to sing softly into her ear. She listened to the bird's song, nodding, and as it took flight, so did she, transformed into a stork, taking her. She was never to be seen again by those she knew, though both the lord and his wife sought after her, for their own reasons.

Around this same time a group of monks, far from the noble lord's land, were surprised one morning to find a bundled newborn boy held in the beak of a stork. These monks had great vision and they foresaw the child was in danger. They took the boy from the stork, who flew off across the sea to the east. He was raised in secrecy, and though the agents of both the great lord and lady came to the monastery, each was turned away unaware.

Now the boy grew quickly, both in mind and body, and each day he would ask, "What is my name, and who is my father?" Five thousand, one hundred and ten times he asked with the same reply, "You are our great joy and your father is the land itself", the monks would reply, but on the five thousand, one hundred and eleventh time the boy, now approaching manhood, asked his question the monks could no longer deny him the truth.

The young man vowed he would regain his lost honor, and to that end, he would become a great warrior. The young man left the monks, traveling into a deep forest. Near the center, the young man found a clearing where a heron, a wolf, a bear, and a turtle sat around a shimmering pool, seemingly deep in meditation.

The young man approached the pool and when none of the creatures stirred, he sat down between the heron and turtle, falling into a deep trance. For the next three years not a one of the five moved an inch, and neither ate nor drank. Finally, the heron turned it's head to the man and asked, "Do you have balance enough to meet your fate?" And the man replied, "You have trained me well, I will weigh each choice carefully." Then the wolf asked, "Do you have speed enough to pursue your fate?" And the man replied, "You have trained me well, I will not hesitate to do what must be done." Then the bear asked, "Do you have strength enough to master your fate?" And the man replied, "You have trained me well, I will guard my heart against all to come." Silence followed for many days more, but finally the turtle spoke, "Do you have endurance enough to withstand your fate?" Again silence followed, but before the day was out the man sighed, "You have trained me well, I will withstand whatever trials face me."

From that day on he was known as Ronin, meaning "wave man" for he wandered as a drop in the ocean. For three years he wandered the lands, only drawing steel to defend the weak or punish evil. In the third year, the Heron of the pool came and told him that there was war across the sea, and he should go there.

"How shall I go then?" said the young man, "For that is for the army, and I may not present myself as a soldier: my father's wife still seeks me."

"Go down to the ocean's cove," said the Heron, "All will be arranged for you."

He did as he was told, and when he came to the sea, the Turtle was waiting for him, and he climbed on her back. He rode the turtle across the great sea, and sailed on her back for three more years. He sailed to numerous lands in this time, travelling to the north, and then to the west, and then to the south, and then to the east, in search of the war that would make his fate. He had a number of adventures in these years, but on the first day of the fourth year, he finally set his feet again on the land, and looked about, wondering what way he should go. Finally, he spotted a wolf on the edge of a wood, blinking at him, and he started off following it.

As he walked, he came across a raging river. The wolf had outpaced him, and he had no time to waste searching for a crossing, so he commanded the waters calm and let him pass. The river laughed and continued to block his path. "I will make a wager with you," Ronin said, "I will wade into you waters to my waist, plant my feet, and you will not be able to move me an inch. If you can not, you will allow me to pass. If you can, you may wash me down stream to wherever you'd like." The river replied, "You can try if you'd like, but you will lose this bet." Ronin waded out into the river's swift current to his waist, spread his feet, and braced against the rapids. For hours Ronin stood his ground as the river threw its might against him, and while the waters were fierce, they could not move him. But the river was wily. When the river found it could not break Ronin's stance, it instead attacked the rocks beneath his feet. As the ground was swept away beneath him, Ronin knew he had lost and, true to his word, allowed the river to carry him far down stream until he came to rest on the banks of a moon lit pool where the river slowed. There the waters of the river became a woman as beautiful as he could imagine. They fell deeply in love with each other, and from that day on, they never left each other's side.

With his bride by his side, Ronin continued on to find the war, now that he had a wonderful river-woman to share his fate with. Although she was a daughter of the River King, she gladly took up the way of the warrior, and learned the blade from him. They fought well, and earned a great deal of glory for themselves. Presently, they heard tell of a horrible monster, black as pitch with claws that could rend through solid rock, in service of the Enemy. Straightaway they resolved to hunt it down, and put an end to it.

One day, after a battle, Ronin and his wife were making their camp for the night, and Ronin spied a bear in the wood, watching them. This is how he knew that his fate had come to find them. The pair of them went into the wood, following the bear silently. The bear led them to a clearing, where they came across an enemy camp. Staying hidden, they watched till they saw a horrible beast, prowling around in the centre, surrounded by enemy soldiers. The bear sat, watching them silently. It took them no more thought than that to descend into the camp, and lay waste to the enemy camp, much as a hurricane. The beast howled in pain and fury as they attacked, and struck back just as swiftly. As they fought, out from a tent, there came a woman, whose magic was keeping the beast chained. With a cry, she recognised Ronin immediately. It was the woman who had been married to his father, and whose magic had turned him into the terrible beast. Ronin's bride swept down, attacking her like a rushing river, as Ronin faced the beast. The witch's control over the monster flickered for but a moment, and Ronin struck off the beast's head. Immediately, his father fell to the ground, unconscious, freed from his terrible curse. Ronin came to join his beloved, but as he did so, the witch raised her arms and called up a terrible cyclone, sweeping up him, his wife, and herself. Their battle carried on in the maelstrom, whirling with blades and magic, until it dissappeared into the sky, never to be seen again.

The enemy camp was all but destroyed, and what few survivors were left were taken into the force of Ronin's noble father, who turned against the Enemy and joined the war himself. One day, a beautiful stork appeared on the battle standard for his forces, and he knew that the warrior who had saved him was his very own son. Many years ago, one of the monks from the monestary had come to him, and told him of how his son had hidden there for so many years. He had resolved to find the boy immediately, whereupon his wife, secretly an evil sorceress, had transformed him into the horrible beast, and set him in service of the Enemy. He married the stork, who turned back into his lost lover, and they never after could curse tornados for any disasters they caused, for they knew that if the witch the were free of her eternal struggle, the destruction would be tenfold and a great many lives would be lost.