How Nameless Joined the Cartographers Guild
(This is continued after the night in the graveyard)
The streets of Halton are chilled as Nameless shoulders his bag, and leaves the home he and Wanda built. On his index and smallest finger, he puts white paint, and draws a simple design on the door of his house, marking it as abandoned. Any traveler or Beastfolk traveling through town could now wipe the mark off and begin to live there. This is how sure he was that he would not come back.
The sun wasn’t up – it was just a thought on the horizon, a dim red line that threatened to blaze a new day.
For now, he felt the crisp chill of night – so cold his breath turned to mist and froze the fur on his face. The only belongings he felt he needed rode on his back – some food, for the trip to Crossing, a bedroll to help with the cold, and some carving tools to spend his spare time on. Currently, he had no plan. All he had was a face, and a memory.
The few people who had repopulated the town did not notice one of their own leave the city gate for the first time.
None, except for Revered Storyteller. She waited at a clearing just a mile down the road, a fire burning hot under a medium-sized black pot. The cover trembled, its contents simmering just enough to move it.
She did not smile at him as he approached, or say a word. Nameless simply knew to sit, and take a bowl.
They sipped the stew for a while, watching the sun rise. It painted fire across the sky, lighting the clouds with the brilliance of a new day. Off in the distance, they heard the town wake up.
Revered Storyteller the last of her bowl at the same time as Nameless, slurping loudly with satisfaction. Now, she smiled a small, painful smile.
“I have one thing for you, before you go.” She reached behind the trunk she leaned on, and pulled out a very simple sword sheath. It was long, almost as tall as the Beastman she gave it to. “There is a smith in Crossing who will recognize the craftsmanship of this sheath as mine. Give it to her. She is no master craftsman, but she will forge you a hardy weapon.”
Nameless accepted it, and slid it underneath his bag. The weight felt good on his back, and it felt like the pressure gave him strength.
Revered Storyteller picked Nameless off the ground, and pulled their shoulders together. Their heads touched, a Beastman sign of good luck, and goodbye.
As they pulled apart, Nameless said, “I will find him. Even if it takes my entire life. Even if it takes my life. Even if he has renounced all evil and sheltered himself as a hermit distant in the spine, I will find him.”
The words echoed in Revered Storyteller’s head as he walked away. The Beastman’s eyes were dull when he spoke it. His tone flat, unboastful. He did not say it as if he was going to try his best, he did not leave room for error, or admit the possibility of failure. This wasn’t a prediction of the future, this was a Beastman who knew what he was going to do. It was the the quiet patience and conviction of the Wolf that guided this Beastman.
As he left her sight, she shivered.
The craftsman that Nameless took the sheath to saw it on his back and knew immediately what was expected of her. He took off his pack and gave it to her. She lay it on the counter, gathered metal – and begin to pound it.
Nameless watched her work, and admired the process. He read a book left on the counter, and read it while he observed. The word itself, blacksmith, is clever. When smithing, there is a layer of material that forms on the metal that turns the entire product black. Hence, the black. Smith is simple, taken from very old Estanic, and it meant “to smite.” Literally, a blacksmith is someone who smites black metal. Watching this Beastwoman work was the epitome of the word blacksmith. Her arms worked with a brutal efficiency, her strength turning a piece of seemingly unbreakable metal into something malleable was very quietly inspiring to Nameless.
After a day of work, she handed the finished greatsword to Nameless, and smiled. “The Reverend Mother was staying with me when it happened. She left when she found out, and was there for the other that escaped. She brought the other one here, and they worked with me for a while. After seeing the both of you, I know the butcher of Halton will die. And keep an eye out for him… If you ever run into the other Beastman, you would make a frightening team.”
Nameless nodded, a grin breaking out on his face. They gave each other the shoulder-hug, wishing each other the best. And then he left.
Crossing – The Next Day
The Slurred Swan is the busiest bar in town. Everyone he asked pointed in its direction, and laughed him off as a tourist who knew nothing. Nameless simply smiled and followed the fingers, and found a quiet corner in the bar.
The waitress were almost primarily Fae, and paid him exactly as much mind as his appearance implied – that he was a poor Beastman looking to forget his troubles. Still, they brought him a drink, and were embarrassed when he tipped them very well.
Mostly, Nameless was looking for mercenary companies that would take him in. His bottom line was food and companions to travel with, yet strangely, no company was taking new members. A particularly black company gave him the stink eye when he asked, and told him to piss off.
It wasn’t until the bar was shooing people out the door that a very short human pushed his face in, asking to put a poster up. The tired waitresses shooed him out, right past Nameless.
The Beastman walked outside, and followed him. After small distance, the short man glanced over his shoulder, and saw the sword on Nameless’ back. His eyes widened and he turned.
Nameless held his hands up.
“What is the poster for?”
The man exhaled deeply, apparently relieved. “You’d think it would be easier to find mercenaries looking to travel with us in this city, but I have had almost no luck.” The man shoved the poster to him.
Nameless gripped the poster, but ignored it. “Where is your group traveling to?”
Shorty stared at him, like Nameless had gone immediately and irreparably insane.
“We aren’t – we aren’t one group, its not just one area – I…” Shorty sighed deeply. “Have you really never heard of the Cartographer’s Guild?”