Rune of Beginnings
Something obscures you vision and it takes a moment to realize it is fog, something only found in the high mountain. A whistling sirocco dispels the mist, and you see ahead of you the gray stone walls of a structure built into the living rock of the mountain. A bleating infant, covered in gray-brown fur and laid in a basket of woven grass, cries for food. Stern-faced men and women clad in robes emerge from the gates of the structure, and after some debate, carry the baby minotaur inside.
Kragan explains the vision thusly, “I was abandoned at the gates of Heartrock by unknown parents. I bear no animosity to whatever mother left me there. Likely, I was not her only child, and there is only so much milk to go around. Leaving me there may well have saved her life, and life of siblings I will never meet. Whatever led to my abandonment, I was left to the parentage of Athas, the Primordial Earth itself. I have no regrets, for we are not the product of our parents, so much as we are defined by our emergence from their shadow. To emerge from the motherly embrace of harsh Athas and become my own being makes me strong indeed.”
The minotaur grows from infant to child, and child to young adult, in an environment of austerity. Around him, other children… Human, Gith, and Dray… provide playmates for only a short time before they are absorbed into their Novitiate training or pressed to apprenticeship in various menial tasks. The monastery, for that is what this structure appears to be, seems dedicated to the pursuit of psionic study. Those who cannot develop talents in this area quickly turn to tasks which support the monks. Hunting, pottery, stone carving, limited agriculture, and tending to goat herds all serve to facilitate the monk’s lifestyle. It is evident in the vision that the young minotaur has no formal skill with psionics, and is instead trained to hunt in the mountains for the monks.
Kragan explains the vision thusly, “Life in Heartrock revolved around the study of the Battleminds, psionic monks and martial experts. I myself never expressed more than the weakest spark of these mystical mental energies. Thus barred from entering the Novitiate, I was guided to other ways I might serve the monastery. I grew up healthy and strong, the mountain air making my lungs powerful. No one in the monastery ever went hungry, and I probably lived a better life than my brood family. A knack for mountain survival and tracking led naturally to my training as a hunter, and by the time I entered my teen years I was able to bring home more food than I consumed. An obvious extension to this profession was the ability to defend myself, and I received training in various combat styles.”
The child grew to an adult living a hard but rewarding life. Hunting the mountain slopes and learning to properly wield his chosen weaponry consumes more and more of the minotaur’s time. The games permitted youths in the monastery were little more than formative practice for adult profession, and so the transition is barely noticeable. As puberty works its changes on the minotaur’s body, his capabilities seem to expand greatly. Where nature saw fit to give him only the mildest spark of psionic power, the Primordial powers of Earth and Air begin to manifest in his day to day life. Fighting a hungry mountain cat to defend a kill, he unconsciously reaches out to the stone beneath it. Speaks of quartz burst up to skewer the hapless creature as his hammer swings down. Struggling against the winds of a devastating thunderstorm, his body seems to leach properties up from the rocks beneath him, flesh hardening to stone-like consistency.
Kragan explains the vision thusly, “From my adopted mother, harsh Athas, I inherited a gift of Primordial power. The mountains ever manifest the savage battle between Earth and Air, stone and sky. This same conflict flows in my veins and resonates in my flesh. My feet feel the Earth beneath me, and I draw from its stolid strength always. My arms strike with the buffets and thunder and the bite of lightning. Just as the mountains rest on Athas and bear the sky’s raging storms on their shoulders, I a creature of solid stance and savage countenance. In coming to adulthood, I found myself a true Warden, a Primordial guardian. A living mountain.”
Grown to adulthood, the minotaur reaches a cross-roads in his life. The monastery has nurtured him, and he has repaid this. However, he falls into a stagnant routine as the days give way to passing seasons. There is no new challenge, and no fresh learning, for a Warden among Battleminds. It is after escorting a delegation of monks to a nearby city, he seems to find his real calling. The ever-changing challenges of guarding travelers, of the open road, is a breath of new life for him. No longer the same tasks day after day, and an endless array of opportunities for new learning. His departure from the place of his upbringing is as stoic as his entry. Stern-faced men and women, some who were but children in the first vision and now grown to adulthood along side him, oversee his leave-taking without expressive emotion. A handshake, a hug, an wave… and he leaves the structure behind.
Kragan explains the vision thusly, “A baby cannot stay in the womb, nor a child in the cradle. Eventually, all must walk on their own, and leave behind the shelter that belongs to their parents. My mother is harsh Athas, and so she is ever with me. But, to become my own person, it was necessary to leave the cradle of Heartrock behind. Some nostalgia still attends me when I think on that place, and those I lived among. But I am not sad to have only my memories of home now, out here on the road of life. Others of my race seem consumed by clan and village, honor as measured in the estimation of others, identity within a group. My honor is measured under the constant vigil of the omniscient sky, remembered in the eternal dreams of the living stone. Whoever I offer my protection is my tribe, wherever I rest my head is my village. My mother is Athas, so all the teaming life within her bosom is my family.”
The minotaur travels for months, taking employment as a caravan guard or pilgrim’s escort. He never settles for long in one place, making new alliances with ease so long as he is treated with respect. His skills are sought after, and so he rarely has any troubles securing work. This life continues for a long time, and he makes many journey criss-crossing the desert sands with one caravan or another. With each cycle of the seasons, his power as a Warden seems to grow, and with it his skill in combat. One journey changes things, for he finds a strange sense of comfort in a small town nestled into a mountain range along a stretch of sand and salt flats. A town of many races, many peoples, and a strangely even distribution of wealth. The denizens seem both more independent, and also more in need of protection, than the residents of other towns. For the first time since departing the monastery, the minotaur finds himself settling for more than a few weeks.
Kragan explains the vision thusly, “The dune traders were excellent teachers, and I traveled far guarding their caravans. However, this new place, Salt View, calls to me. It is a haven, a place where many have gathered out of mutual need and complimentary skills. Yet it is ever-changing and has a strange mobility about its people. Mobility of thought and deed alike. It seems to me as if the vibrancy of the dune trader’s caravan is somehow bred with the constancy of Heartrock. For now, at least, I believe this will be my village, and its peoples my tribe.”