Rowaine/Arrian History

The following is the telling of an incident from Rowaine and Arrian's past, told from Rowaine's point of view.

Rowaine settles into her bed at the end of a tiring autumn day. It has been several months since her ninth birthday, a simple, austere celebration. The highlight of the day was when Sir Veketh said two whole sentences to her alone, and then asked her a question! She hoped her answer was right. The old dwarf's face was so hard to read. "Birthdays are an odd thing," Rowaine thinks to herself from under the covers. "No one at the monastery knows my real birthday. How could they - they weren't there after all." That much she knew; she was told that she arrived at the monastery before she was two. She once confronted the monastery's gardener with this accusation. Hep all but confirmed her suspicion. She figures that those children whose birthdays were unknown were simply assigned one. Perhaps that was why most students' birthdays fell in summer, when food was plentiful and the weather was so lovely. "Oh well," she thinks to herself. "The teachers know best."

Life was good at the monastery. There was plenty of work and plenty to learn. Sometimes Rowaine wondered why they had to know about so many things… Her religious and physical regimes were OK, and she really loved combat training with Dirrin. She had even been allowed to keep her wooden training axe to practice with in her spare time. But I mean, honestly, who needs to know how to carve all 226 dwarven runes? But she had good friends. Vor-wrek, Krag and Enok had turned their obsession with orcs into a club and had finally pestered her into joining. If only Arrian would leave her alone…

Arrian was several years older than Rowaine, and towered over her. For some reason, he hated her, and took every opportunity to show it. To some extent she expected it. Boys were boys after all, every girl got a frog in their bed at some point. But Arrian's behaviour went far beyond that. If ever they crossed paths, Arrian would deliberately bump into her. On more than one occasion, Rowaine's out-of-class assignments mysteriously disappeared. Rowaine was sure Arrian was to blame. Rowaine loved climbing the ugly oak tree beside the girls' dormitory; once when she was half-way up the trunk, Arrian roughly pulled her down and let her fall to the ground. That really hurt, more than the scratches and bruises told. When swimming in the river, Arrian would use his size advantage to hold Rowaine under the surface, panicking her. He always laughed it off, portraying these incidents as mere play, but Rowaine was becoming increasingly scared of the bully. Thankfully, their ages and gender kept them separate most of the time.

Rowaine drifts off to sleep. In the cold hours around midnight something wakes her - was that a sound outside? No one else has stirred. She lies in bed a moment longer, holding her breath in an effort to hear. There it is again! The snap of a twig outside. Rowaine debates inwardly. She is not supposed to leave the dormitory after dark.

Rowaine gets out of bed, dons her robe and reaches for her training axe. She opens the dormitory door and looks outside. Seeing and hearing nothing untoward, she exits and closes the door behind her. She crouches, worried that her light-coloured clothing contrasts too strongly with the dark stone of the dormitory wall. She looks towards Moradin's temple, the everburning torchlight inside illuminating the windows. Her breath catches as she sees a silhouette cross one of the window outlines.

Rowaine grips her axe and starts towards the temple when she is grabbed from behind. An arm snakes tightly around her neck and mouth. "Stay quiet, squirt," a male voice whispers. "Nod if you understand." Rowaine nods.

"I'm going to loosen my grip. If you scream or try to run, It'll be the last thing you do. Understand?" Rowaine nods. The arms about her waist and neck loosen and she gasps for breath. The hands never leave her neck. Rowaine cranes her neck around as far as she can and looks up at her captor's face. It is a face she recognises. Arrian.

"What are you doing?" Rowaine whispers. "You're not allowed out at night!"

"Neither are you!" Arrian hisses. "I'm leaving, and you've just complicated things." Rowaine notices the backpack on Arrian's back. He turns Rowaine around and glares at her. "If I let you go, what are you going to do?"

"I'm going to tell!" Rowaine says flatly, not quite feeling the bravery her voice portrays.

"We can't have that, now…" Arrian's grip on Rowaine's neck tightens. Rowaine fights back but the elf is too strong. She loses consciousness.

Some time later Rowaine awakens. Her neck aches and her head lists from side to side. She is being carried, slung over someone's back. Her head makes an indentation in the backpack her carrier is wearing. Something within glints in the faint starlight. She is in a forest. She remembers. Arrian.

Shortly thereafter Arrian deposits Rowaine in a small clearing, noticing her consciousness.

"Where are we?" Rowaine says. "What are you doing? What do you want?"

"So many questions, Rowaine. Goody-two-shoes Rowaine, star of a goody-two-shoes institution. I can barely stand to look at you!" Rowaine stays silent.

"I've had enough. I'm leaving, and I'm never coming back. You can keep your rules and regulations, your schedules and your hopelessly ordered life!"

"What will you do with me?" Rowaine asks in a timid voice.

"I certainly don't want you with me. This is where we part company. I'm going that way," Arrian points ahead, "and you're not. Where else you go, I don't particularly care. Just don't even think about following me."

"Which way is the monastery?"

"Behind you," says Arrian. "The path is lit with stones, even you should be able to follow them to your precious monastery." With that, he paces away into the forest, making very little sound. Rowaine's eyes lock on Arrian's back for as long as she can. Within seconds, she is alone.

Rowaine picks herself up, rubbing her sore neck. Her head is throbbing. She turns around and sees a faintly glowing stone on the track nearby. She rubs her arms against the cold, stoops to pick up her wooden axe and begins the unknown trek home.

After a quarter hour Rowaine's bare feet are chilled to the bone. She stops and stamps her feet, trying to pound some feeling back into them, when she senses something behind. She freezes, hearing something bulky closing in. She breaks into a run, as does her pursuer. She spots a tall tree and leaps for its lower branches, scrambling for purchase. Arm over arm, Rowaine puts distance between her and the ground when a large furry creature bounds into view, looking up at her. It is a bear!

The bear approaches the tree and stretches upright but Rowaine is out of reach. It tries to climb, but cannot. It shoves the trunk with its forepaws several times and Rowaine squeaks as the upper boughs wobble. Foiled, the bear backs away a few paces and sits down, its beady eyes peering up at the frightened child.

Rowaine pushes panic and cold out of her mind and tries to think what Enok would do. She begins talking to the bear in a calm, measured voice, saying whatever comes to mind. The bear's ears prick up and it studies her intently. Rowaine continues to babble. The bear rests its head on the ground but its eyes stay wide open, locked on the tree bearing Rowaine. After nearly an hour, Rowaine is spent and falls silent.

Rowaine spends a fearful night in the tree, trying desperately to stay awake. Despite her discomfort she frequently dozes off, waking with a start as she grips the branch she has nestled into. As dawn approaches the bear stands, stretches, then wanders away without looking back. Rowaine waits until the morning sunlight brightens the forest. There is no sign of the bear. She carefully climbs down. Where is the trail she was following? Rowaine places her wooden axe at the base of the tree she was in, takes note of the surroundings and sets out a short distance. She finds no evidence of a trail or any glowing stones. She returns to the tree and tries to remember how she got there last night. It was so dark, things look so different now… She takes her best guess, picks up her axe and carries on in the direction she hopes the monastery lies.

The sunlight is welcome but the going is hard. Rowaine sees a familiar sight and runs ahead. Her excitement turns to despair - it is the clearing where Arrian dropped her! Rowaine supresses a sob as she looks around, trying to get her bearings. She holds her axe limply and walks along the path, not truly knowing whether she is walking towards the monastery or away from it. She doesn't care any more, she needs to walk.

An hour later Rowaine faintly hears the bellowing of a dwarven voice. She yells in return as her legs give out and she falls to the ground. Berathoin bursts into view.

"Rowaine! Thank Moradin you're alright. What happened? Never mind, you're exhausted. Here, let me carry you."

"Berathoin, It's Arrian! He ran away, and took me. He's gone…"

"There there girl, you're OK. Don't worry about that, rest now… Old Berathoin will take you home."

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