| Reginold Brandish|
|Adventurer, Protector, Gentleman, Gnome.|
For Family and Adventure|
It never occurred to me that my upbringing was atypical. My family are made up of professional adventurers, for a time out of mind, farther back than any of us can fathom. We would travel the world, exploring and seeing and experiencing. Our nightmares were filled with banality because our waking moments were filled with, well, people might call them horrors, or monsters, or traps, curses... you know, adventure. Running a shop in a town wasn't for us. Our clan spirit simply wouldn't account for it.
My father, Arthur, was an archaeologist, who, in the course of his research, met my mother, Margaret. She carried the wanderlust of my ancestry, and the two of them seemed to go quite well together. He was in it for knowledge and exploration, knowing the now by knowing what came before the now. Decoding ancient puzzles and learn about where we came from, as a world. She was... well, she enjoys the thrill of it. Being the first to set in an ancient tomb since it was sealed, taking arms against lurking horrors. Together they made a team, and later, a family.
I was the first to come along. Reginold, named for my parents in a way. To advise, to counsel - coupled with battle. Ma and Da, right there, and now me, here. Later we were joined by the twins, Victoria and Veronica. Ma told me early on about purpose, and mine, as the oldest, was to keep my sisters safe. I was a knight, a guardian, and I had a clear purpose. It was wonderful, but we siblings couldn't have been more different.
Victoria was older by a few minutes, and she never let Nica forget it. Nica was kind, but taken to fancy and impulse. Victoria, well, got the rest. Calculating, independent, and quiet. Dad's deep thoughts with mom's love of a good contest. I use that word, contest, because I want to think kindly of her. She liked to fight, even when it wasn't really called for. It's how you found truth, she would say, but that truth meant treating poor Nica poorly, apparently, like a handy place to practice for some future bout. I kept them in line or apart when I could, all for the best.
Nica was compassionate, right from a young age. She would cry for the pain of others before she could talk. This strong sort of empathy also, unfortunately, led to her having trouble sorting herself from themselves. Her boundaries extended to the world around her. She seemed free with the idea of property. What’s hers was freely shared, but she sometimes expected the same from other she had just met.
Me? I kept the peace. Watchful and protecting, saving them from themselves and also from whatever else may come along. It worked well; I had a strong arm, a gift for languages, an eye for chance, good manners, and a keen sense of propriety. Whatever you do, do it fully, is my motto.
We children didn't stop the Brandish clan from adventuring. On the contrary, our differences made us better and stronger. Our perspectives, as different as they were, made us able to handle any challenge. Anything. Well, mostly anything. Until recently.
The Ruins of Aljidan
We had been contracted by the king of Curmeah. Alright, a part of it. A small part, called Orovalis. A new city-kingdom, but made in the image of an old one... a dragon kingdom! We couldn't resist. King Dolartu was his name, and he needed someone to check in on some nearby ruins, a city once known as Aljidan. You see, there was an evil king in this land, too, and at one time he ruled a city of slaves. They built a dam on the river Neph to keep water from the good cities in the east, so it needed to come down, and it did, taking the city with it. Hence, ruins.
The slaves of Aljidan were freed, and even years later there were a few were still around helping the new kingdom grow. Someone needed to survey the ruins that came out of their victory, but the former slaves felt it was a cursed place and wouldn't dare return. Fortunately, there was us. It's not that we didn't believe them - curses are real, after all - but nothing we couldn't handle.
And this place, the ruins of Aljidan, wasn't like anything we had ever seen before. Which is typical. Every place is different, after all. But this one - was so new. It was hardly 60 years since it came down, and we were used to ruins much older. The buildings were half buried and some were on their sides, dragged down as the lake behind the dam came spilling out, restoring the river but tearing apart the land around it. It was quiet, too. The desert usually is, but there was nothing here. Animals shied away from this place, which was a sure sign to any gnome that something bad had happened here. Something recent enough to still be in the memory of the world. It was just… empty.
It was fascinating.
We set up camp and began the survey. We knew the family rules, of course. Always stay within earshot. Don't touch anything magical you couldn't read (and especially don't touch it if you could). Beware the dark. Weapons out in the dark. Don't take on a threat alone. The typical sorts of Common sense maxims all families have.
That night it was different, however. Victoria was distant, distracted. She kept looking back over her shoulder, across the desert towards the ruins. Nica, Ma, and Da were too excited in reviewing the findings of the day. Pottery fragments, rusted shackles, and few others bits and pieces. Telling of the lives the slaves had - but nothing untoward. Nothing sinister, waiting in the shadows, or monsters leaping out of the ruins after us. But I was worried, still. I knew Victoria, and although she was typically quiet and apart in moments like these... but this was different, somehow. Her gaze wasn't inward, it was back into the darkness.
We slept, though I slept badly. My dreams were filled with dread and the echos of whispers, like a friend who spoke with another's voice. I woke, startled but silent, my hand going to my friend longsword, always beside me. I saw her, just out of the edge of the light. Victoria, clutching something tightly in her arms, like a large stone, wrapped in a blanket. She looked back at me, and I looked at her. I don't know how long that lasted, nor how to describe what I saw there. Was she.. Sorry? Or worried? Pleading? Determined. I've thought about this moment over and over and over, and every time I think I see something different, but never anything good. Victoria looked down, as if distracted by whatever she was carrying, then turned away and walked west into the darkness. And I sat there, and I let her, and gods above and below me, I don't know why. I've never told anyone this. Not mom or dad, and not dear Nica. I'm ashamed of it, and it's a secret that eats me up every day when I first wake and every night before I sleep.
The Brandish clan spent the next week searching the desert. We looked until our food ran out, and we looked until we couldn't find enough food to keep us going. We looked day and night until finally an expedition of dwarven guard from Orovalis came to find us and bring us back. We found only her footprints in the shifting sands. Victoria had left us, and the clan was broken, the family apart.
Not All Who Wander Are Lost
We returned to home to Barga in Boddendell, as much as any place is home for us that isn't our tent and our shared meals and our campfire. Its home to our people, but we were never there more than in passing. Mother and father were retiring, settling down, and, as they put it, enjoying their treasure hoard. They put a smile on it, but we all knew why. Only Nica was in good spirits. She was sad for the family, for the part of her that was outside of herself, but her nemesis had moved on, and for the first time in her life I think she felt free.
I couldn't have felt less so.
Nica wanted to see the world and explore her joy. I knew what I needed to do, too. I has failed, miserably failed, before. I needed to keep my remaining sister safe, but I also needed to rebuild the clan. Veronica and I wander, now, for the past few years. She is looking for herself, figuring out who she is, which is well and good. Me? I'm out on the family business, of course, and still looking out for my sister. Well, that's what I've told them. But really it's for both sisters, so still technically true. I just happen to not know where one of them is, at the moment. My purpose is to keep them safe, and I will.
You know... adventure.
|Place of Origin: Barga, Aljidan, Orovalis|
|Reginold Brandish is a member of the Brandish Clan|
|View the journals of Reginold Brandish.|
Related Articles: The Storm Wanes.
Contributor: Shawn Nicolen