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  • Writer's picturedecayintodust


A true name gives the magic users of the land power over that individual. To protect his tribe, Rampaging Bear has striven to keep his true name safe. Now, to protect himself, he must give it up.

Morning arrived to find that both dwarves had already risen and were mid breakfast by the time dawn’s rosy-fingered light touched the valley. Neither of them had spoken since waking up. They were content to make food over the fire and eat in the quiet stillness of the morning. 

As the day continued, both quietly worked around the place to ensure that the food stores were protected and that none had spoiled. They checked the furs and generally tended to anything that needed cleaning or maintenance. 

Spending most of the day in silence, each dwarf was lost in his own thoughts. Finally, at the evening meal, Rampaging Bear broke their unspoken truce of silence. “Did you know that your mother’s true name was actually Vella, my son?” Issgrym shook his head in the negative. Rampaging Bear continued, “Even knowing how valuable and dangerous it is to reveal to others, she never took an assumed name”. He paused for a time, lost in his own thoughts.

“Many times we overlook what is often the obvious and easy solution. It is good to be reminded.”

“I admire her for that. It showed a strength that I do not have.” Rampaging Bear looked hard at his son, “But I think it is time I told you my true name. Should something happen to me, you will need to know it for the seers to help you. I do not tell you this lightly. I was planning to wait until you passed the rite of confirmation but seeing how you have led our people during my...” he struggled to find the right word, finally settling on the closest, “absence. I believe you have earned the right to know my true name, my true self”. 

A few more minutes passed. Finally, quietly, the old chieftain softly uttered a single word. “Vartok”.

It was a good strong name, though Issgrym did not fully understand its depth. But why should he? He was no seer, and the name was not his own. He rose and embraced his father in a rare outward display of affection. “I will guard your name with my life, father”.

More time of introspection passed in the cave then Issgrym broke the silence. “You said a true name could help the seers find you in times of trouble. What of mother, have you asked them?”

Issgrym noted the pained look on his father’s face and then for the first time he noticed the lines that had been accumulating over the years. His father was old, and it was beginning to show. His grief for his lost wife had erased the last vestiges of youth from his countenance. The elder dwarf breathed in deeply and spoke, his voice choked with grief. “I have my son. They say it is a mystery. They have searched, yet she evades their sight as easily as she evades ours. Wherever she has gone only she knows, and she has not deigned to inform anyone, including the patrons”.

“I am sorry father” came the muffled reply.

Rampaging Bear shook his head briefly, as if to shake off the gloom the way a dog shakes off water. “Do not be. Many times we overlook what is often the obvious and easy solution. It is good to be reminded.” he paused and looked at his son with fresh eyes. “I think it is time for you to take on the mantle of leadership.”

Issgrym blinked in astonishment. He knew he would become leader of his clan someday. Yet he wasn’t sure that he wanted that day to be anytime soon.

It was a few minutes before the young dwarf spoke. “I am honored you think I am ready father. Yet, I have not gone through the rite of confirmation and even if I had I worry...” his voice trailed off softly while a brief look of pity touched his eyes.

Rampaging Bear nodded and finished his son’s sentence, “You worry that I will retreat into myself again once you are leader. You worry that in one fell swoop you will have lost both parents.” Issgrym nodded, his gaze averted. His father continued, “I understand my son. I will admit, it is a temptation. But no, I will not go back to that place. It is time to move forward. It is time for you to pass through the rite of confirmation and become an adult in the eyes of the tribe. You are already one in mine.”

{Next installment of Shadow of Death} - Coming Soon


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