I grew up in this tiny village several hours away from the Capital. My father died when I was young, so it was up to me to help my mother carry those beautifully woven baskets to town, so she could sell them. And like every morning, I was running late, when I suddenly ... is what I would like to say about how my story began, but sadly, I must disappoint you. You see, my life started out quite boring. I had the luxury of growing up in the outskirts of a small town between Capilla, the seat of the Duke, and Leyla, a harbor town to the north. It was a busy little place and I can consider myself privileged to have brushed with all kinds of cultures and mentalities.
Both north and south of our town lay golden fields of oat and barley. I recall running through the fields with my friends, playing tag, and angry farmers chasing after us with their forks since we were trampling on their precious harvest. While I did enjoy the outdoors, especially during summer, I actually was an indoor child. 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 diarrhoea? Brew a tea with these herbs and drink at least three times a day. If you want, I can give you a thorough check and prescribe a few herbs, but I fear that you, as a reader, won’t have enough Capillian coins with you to pay for my services. No, I don’t offer discounts.
Anyway, going back to my happy little childhood, I was highly interested in what my mother did, so it came as no surprise that even though I was barely able to look over the table, I had already memorized what herbs and flowers were capable of alleviating. My father, on the other hand, was out all day and would only return when the night would set in. Actually, I never really understood how my mother fell in love with him - not only was he rarely to be seen, he had an earnest demeanor. Plus, he was a trapper. He went out, laid traps, and made sure no animals harmed the crops of our city. You see, while we don’t really have any issues regarding the color of your skin, or what your cultural background may be, there existed certain disgust towards those professions dealing with killing animals, or dealing generally with the dead. I know, I know. It’s really hypocrisy, right? I mean, come on, people. You like that roasted pheasant, but Nu forbid you went out and hunted it. Or take a look at these wonderfully elaborate cemeteries taken care of by various religious Orders. Everybody goes there once a year to pray for their ancestors. But heaven forbid you are the one responsible for digging the graves. People will literally spit at you when you walk down the streets.
In contrast to that, professions such as being an herbalist were regarded as a privilege. My mother would often receive free portions of bread or an extra bouquet of flowers while walking down the streets. She got so many presents she didn’t even know what to do with them anymore. So you see, my parents were really from two different worlds. Even now I regularly struggle to understand how they ever fell in love. But they did. And that’s why there’s me.
But not only their backgrounds were seemingly conflicting. Their looks and personalities were equally juxtaposed. My father’s deep blue eyes seemed to have seen much of this world’s horrors, yet his gaze always remained cool and unfazed. Unlike my mother, he had a bronze-colored complexion that stood in stark contrast to his ash-colored hair and blue eyes. My mother had mahogany-colored hair, with a pair of bewitching hazel eyes. Whenever she smiled, sunlight would break through even the darkest of clouds, basking the world in warm colors. As a mix of both worlds, I actually look a lot like my father - blue eyes, ashen hair. But trust me, I’m far from being stoic. I enjoy the company and the conversations. I always did.
As a child, I used to have a small group of friends I regularly played with - Elm, Valerian, Reed, and Lilly. Don’t worry, you won’t need to really remember them. They will be cannon fodder soon enough. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Hello there. My name’s Rowan.