The Wayfarer

My name is Fain, but most call me the Wayfarer, for that is all I am now.

Once, I had a wife, a family, a home, a good and honest life. Now all I have is a memory, a dream that eats away at my soul and drives me on to find the pieces of my heart.

I lived in the northern Veldt, between the woods and the wastes, the sea and the land. I was a furrier, stalking and trapping mink, black foxes, wolverines and other fine pelt-bearing beasts. In summer, I would go north with other men to spear seals in their mating colonies. In winter, when the samsun were sluggish, we would venture into the Roughlands to collect their moulted scales to sell to the great folk in their keeps for a prince's ransom, claiming we had stalked and killed the beasts ourselves. I made a good living, and my family never wanted for food in our humble but sturdy cottage. My wife was Reina, her hair as black as coal, her lips as warm as fire. We had two children, my boy named Edvarr after the earl, my girl named Samsari, a name I had heard from the Roughriders and taken a liking to, and a third was growing in her belly on the fateful day I set off into the wastes to hunt.

It was a cool day and the wind was strong from the west. I remember the mists coming down from the nameless mountains there like silver pennants on the stony lances of knights, glimpsed from afar. The last I remember rightly is the wind picking up, pulling at my cloak like a maiden trying to coax me out of it, and the mists unfurling all around me. To my left, my right, and when I turned it was all around me. I remember fear…

Then I remember bliss. A dream of paradise that the Gods themselves would weep at. Light and laughter. The sweetness of fruit and kisses on my lips. The softness of flesh or silk or both under my fingertips. Cool breezes on my skin, and warm wine in my stomach. It was a dream, I know – I think – but it was the sort of dream that is better than waking. The sort of dream that makes you close your eyes and pray for sleep to take you back once more.

And then I remember walking out of the mists again, the hard stone of the Roughlands crunching beneath my feet. My chest ached, and when I opened my shirt a found a strange tattoo covering my chest, like a tree of scrolls. Where it came from, what it signified I know not, but at that moment it seemed a mere distraction from finding my way back to that wonderous dream. I chased the mists as they receded into the mountains, but could not catch them, and the longer I pursued the more I felt another instinct pulling at me. Home was not so sweet as that misty land, but I needed to return there.

I walked back until the grass grew back to cover the sere earth, and after many days I came to where my cottage was… should have been. The glen had become an overgrown heath. The flagstones of the path were cracked and half-buried, and the timbers of the house were scorched, the roof and walls fallen. Vines and moss covered the place I had sat not a fortnight ago, as if it had been abandoned for a hundred years or more.

I fell in confusion, and lay in the long tangled grass until I understood – then I wept. I had dreamed away centuries, the years and lives of my family in those accursed, alluring mists. I was yesterday's man, long forgotten, without home or place. By that same strange instinct that had drawn me back I began to realise that this was not the case, however – three children must have lived, must have had families of their own. I was no longer a husband or father, but perhaps, surely, I was a grandfather, a great-grandfather? My flesh and blood were gone, but their flesh and blood lingered in the world still, little pieces of my heart scattered across Ahlonia. Suddenly I understood the image etched into my skin: it was a map of my bloodline… a map back to the place my soul hungered for. Somehow I knew that if I could find them, they would show me a way back into the misted land.

Purpose, then. I etched the names of Edvarr and Samsari into the roots of the tree with soot and the point of a knife, leaving a space for a third (strangely, there seemed to be a spot for a fourth, as well…), gathered my belongings, and set off.


Beckoned By The Mists (3)

Fain lost the world he knew when he wandered into the mists of Mierellia – and found a better, more intoxicating one. He hungers, aches to return to that heavenly dreaming, and the Gods only know what he would do to secure his passage back there.

Man Out Of Time (2)

The world is different, subtly and grossly from the one Fain left behind. This means he knows some old traditions and lore the rest of Ahlonia has forgotten, but is often bemused by new customs and changes.

Wayfarer (2)

Fain is a homeless traveller in a land where that is not a safe thing to be. This can often leave him insecure and under suspicion, but means he is familiar with many different realms and terrains, and isn't chained to his home by laws and obligations.

Uncanny (?)

The mists leave a mark on those they touch. Something about Fain is ever so faintly eerie and off. Though not remarkable to look at or speak to, there is an aura about him, a presence that makes him stand out from the crowd. He also has a remarkable sense of awareness, an ability to feel when something is not right with the world around him that can lead him out of – or into – danger.
((Not sure whether this should be a Character Trait or the other kind of Trait, hence the '?'))

Notes:

  • Inspired by Ryp van Winkle, the Nameless One, and Malcolm McDowell's villain from Star Trek: Generations.
  • Does someone or something in the mists have an interest in his bloodline? Why? Or is he mad, a serial-killing bogeyman who thinks he can earn his way back into paradise with the blood of his descendants?
  • Fain is not being entirely honest about his daughter's name: Samsari was the name of a Roughrider woman he was having an affair with, on his seasonal forays into the wastes.
  • The fourth slot on the lowest level of the family tree may mean that the unborn child was twins – or that his mistress Samsari was with child, unbeknownst to him.
  • Carries a hatchet, a wicked flensing knife and a staff, and knows how to use them – another legacy of him time in the mists, perhaps.
  • Skilled trapper, hunter and furrier. Very experienced at living off the land, travelling, woodcraft etc. Good toughness and presence.