Beginnings: I am Rowan
You could call me many things. Overconfident asshole. Famous god slayer. Unrecognized herbalist. Whatever. But what I will not have you call me is self-centered, uncaring or unloving. Yes, I do stab people to death. But these people pretty much had it coming. See, I have this thing called patience. It’s like a long string of gum. You can pull on it or even twist it. But there will always be that moment when it snaps. And when that happens, you better run.
To be honest, I wasn’t quite patient when I was younger. If you had met me a few years earlier, or even worse when I was a teenager clouded in perfume d’angst, you’d probably be pierced up by now, and I wouldn’t even care. I’m cursed, after all. See these red eyes? They weren’t always red. I used to have pretty blue eyes. And fewer scars. All right, all right. I’ll start at the very beginning.
You see, my life was quite dull back then. I had the luxury of growing up in the outskirts of a small town between Gessud, the Capital of our kingdom, and Hossud, a large harbor town to the north. We were right in the dead center of the travel route, so we always had a lot of merchants hanging around at the market place — a large square lined with slabs of sandstone to keep feet dry and mud-free all year round. Along with the cardinal points of the town, aqueducts at the height of a grown adult had been erected. At the respective ends were small basins built of limestone that caught the falling water and from which people could fetch their supplies by the bucket.
Our town was dedicated to the deity Nu, so naturally, we had a big temple in her name. It was a large complex to the east, surrounded by massive walls and a well-guarded gate. Because houses were built up high, you could not see the temple very well from the market. The only hint that there was more was a rather wide road lined with flags bearing Nu’s symbol: a water pot. Practitioners in white linen garbs were a common sight to see. What are practitioners? You could say they are devout followers of a deity. Easily distinguishable by the color they wore. White was the color of Nu, so her practitioners all wore white clothes. Mind you that looks like a hassle to clean up, primarily if these practitioners specialized in combat. Blood is a tough stain to clean.
All around our town were fields upon fields with oat and barley. I vividly recall the golden colors in the setting sun and watch my friends being chased by angry farmers while they trampled on the precious grains. This might surprise you, but I was an indoor kid even though I certainly didn’t look like one. I have naturally brown skin and a sturdy build that I have inherited from my father. And boy was he an outdoor guy. Very muscular, tall, deep tan. What I’d call striking was the ash-blond hair and bright blue eyes that I also have — I mean had. My father would spend days away from our family, hunting in Sopdu’s Lair, to the East of our town. Whenever he came back, he’d always have a cart full of different game and venison to sell.
The reason why I preferred being indoors was simple: I was mommy’s little boy. Yes, I’m not ashamed to say that. My mother was an herbalist and used to mix up the weirdest concoctions for her clients. Have a blemish on your face? Take this ointment, apply once daily. Suffering from diarrhea? Brew a tea with these herbs and drink at least three times a day. Buy two love potions for the price of one. Only while supplies last. Yes, I loved learning a lot about herbs. By the time I was able to look over the counter, I had already memorized what herbs and flowers were capable of alleviating whatever ailments. If I could ever choose a career, I’d definitely strive to become a herbalist like my mother. But alas, here I am, wielding blades and killing people — kind of the opposite to saving. At least I keep herbalists busy.
Whenever I did venture outside, I’d meet my friends in the back alleys of the tall houses made of sandstone. They were shady places throughout the day and a cool respite during hot summers. While the main road consisted of cobbled stones, all other ways in town consisted of trampled down soil. Yes, it was a lot of fun stomping in muddy puddles whenever heavy rain set in. Oh, and the scolding we’d get from our parents after that! Honestly, I was having a blast. My closest friends were Elm, Valerian, Reed, and Lilly. Don’t worry. You won’t need to remember them. They will be cannon fodder soon enough. I want to say that I wish it weren’t so, but if it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t have met her — the one who turned my life upside down. Oh yeah, I almost forgot to introduce myself. My name’s Rowan.