AN: For some reason, this seems to be the time of the year when I'm able to write the most. The ideas just flow out of my like lava, all hot and ready to be formed into stone shapes. It's fun, or rather, it would be, if the ideas didn't try to interfere with my exam scheduel. Anyway, this is for Rowan of Rin, and I hope you all like it!
Disclaimer: I do not own Rowan of Rin. The person who wrote both this and Deltora Quest does.
Although it broke with tradition, as they all stood underneath the largest tree in the valley, not a single member of the village of Rin was quiet as they waited for the bride and groom to arrive.
Of course, considering who the groom was, it wasn't that big of a surprise.
Almost ten years had passed since the Second Big Chill, as the Travelers had come to call it, and life had, for the most part, been thankfully normal. Not once in those ten years had another prophesy come to pass, nor had there been even a single glimpse of the Zebaks that continually threatened their existence. Every winter the bukshaw were allowed to travel up the side of the Mountain to graze upon their ancestral feed, keeping the ice creepers in check with the molten heat of the heart that laid beneath their nest. After long consideration, it had been decided to leave the Pit of Ur where it had sprung up, a constant reminded of how greed had once turned the very land against their ancestors, something they had no desire to experience again. And every morning, as one of his duties, the tender of the bukshaw reported back whether he had heard the dragon roar out its morning challenge to the sun, for its silence could only mean despair was waiting for them just around the bend.
But with each year that had gone by without worry or question, the constant state of fear so many had lived in for so long started to fade, turning the tarnished memories that lingered in their minds once more into the legends and campfire stories they had started out as.
"If it wasn't for him," so many had grumbled under their breath, both hoping and in fear of the him in question overheard them, "then we could forget all together and move on with our lives. He's the one keeping them alive."
But of course, not one of them ever spoke a single word to his face, for it would do no good to anger not only the greatest hero Rin had ever known, but also the only Wiseman and healer who had faced the deepest depths of the darkness not once, not twice, but a total of four times within his life, saving the lives of everyone alive today. All before he turned twelve.
For that, the people loved him. It was what came after that still today has them muttering under their breath in fear when they whisper his name.
Shortly after the Second Big Chill had passed, once more allowing the village of Rin to enter once more into the soft growth of spring, Sheba, the former Wisewoman that had serviced their people for as long as any of them could remember, for she had been much older then even the eldest of Travelers, had shown up without warning in the center of the village square, snapping at and batting away any who came near. For almost the entire day she stood there, for Rowan had left early that morning to tend one of the calving bukshaw that had gone into labor early. From just before sunrise until late afternoon she had waited, her eyes fixed upon the fields where all knew he was. However, Sheba being Sheba, it wasn't until the boy came wandering back in with a tuff of pure white fur to prove to the others that the newest calf had been born a previously unseen color that much thought was given to her at all, for it was in that moment that she pounced.
Almost cat-like in her movements, Sheba had darted forward to dig her fingers into Rowan's arm, her nails digging deep into the exposed flesh that showed from his short-sleeved tunic. Ducking her head, it was with a smooth action that the ancient medallion that the old woman had always worn slid off over her neck and once more onto his, her voice deep and menacing as she turned to the stunned populace. Still holding him captive, standing at her full height for the first time in her life, Sheba said a single, life changing word before collapsing into his arms.
From that moment on, life changed for poor Rowan more then he could have ever previously imagined. His face grim as if he knew just how much things had turned on their head, he had carefully helped the dazed old woman back to her hut, cautious to settler her into her chair where she could do no harm to herself or others before returning to his own home later that night.
The next morning, Sheba, Rowan, the flying monster the witch kept as her pet, and the newly born, snow white bukshaw were gone, and gone two of them would remain for the next seven years.
By the time Rowan and his bukshaw returned, little had changed within the village, for the people of Rin were a hardy sort that resisted against differences an much as they could. However, there had been no denying that the fully grown man that returned to them and his unusually fierce companion were no more the same as they had been then winter was the same as spring.
The first thing most of them noticed was that he had grown, not so much that he could be counted amongst the giants that normally inhabited their village, but enough that he could comfortably look others in the eyes and see them for who they were. He had become strong too, the many years of living in the wild finally doing what civilized work couldn't and putting some muscle on his wiry frame, though not enough that he looked like he could hold his own in battle. Rather, it was a deadly kind of strength that was taken for granted, the kind that religed on speed and stealth rather then their usual brute strength. However, after the obvious was seen and observed, it was the deep, haunted look in his eyes that drilled into them that captured and held their attention, along with the newly polished medal that bounced against his chest.
It was the last two, the signed of a Wiseman, that led the people of Rin to both fear and hate their Rowan.
From the moment he had returned, nothing within the valley had every been the same, instead twisting into one big change after another that had all of them one edge. Crops that had previously thrived in their soils suddenly fell to dust at the slightest touch, while ones that had only ever grown close to the sea swept in, taking a new place in their plots of land. The once uniformly grey herd of bukshaw, all of whom had welcomed him and his own back like the long lost friends they were, was now speckled with browns and whites and reds, a menagerie of color that otherwise would have been found as unnatural. Those who had been sick the day before were heals moments after he saw them, and those who slighted him often found their noses runny the next moment the flowers bloomed, symptoms they had never experienced before that moment. There was never any telling when he might or might not appear, and because of it, everyone was always on edge.
But this, this had to be the biggest change he had ever enacted within the village of Rin, for the sheer absurdity of it all was so overwhelming, it was actually the most normal thing he could have done.
Tradition stated that Wise men and women never married, instead reserving their time and lives for their people. But if Rowan was going to throw tradition and caution to the wind and take a wife, then why not marry a Zebak while he was at it?
Rowan had always been a strange boy, and had grown up into an even stranger man. But watching him as he helped Zeel navigate the steep hill in her wedding dress, not a single one of them could claim that they had seen him any happier.
And today, despite his weirdness, that was all that mattered.