He was sat by the fire, tired after a long day of bullying two, strange, lanky fellows that followed him around. He almost drowned one of them. Vashti. Not on purpose, of course. He just wanted a good laugh at throwing her into the sea. It didn’t seem important to Rían at the time to consider whether or not she could swim. Jumping into the water and saving a woman from drowning would normally be seen as an act of heroism in any other context, but the Barbarian had somehow managed to make it seem a laborious and reluctantly undertaken task, done with all the enthusiasm and heart of a servant performing maintenance on their lord’s chamberpot. Naturally, Rían decided to pull the other fellow into the sea after asking for a hand to climb back onto shore after rescuing Vashti. The surprised face that the lanky and dark skinned elf made as Rían yanked him into the sea made the Barbarian laugh, which was only cut short by Vashti punching him into the nose.
She seemed thoroughly traumatized, though Rían did not understand why. It was only a learning experience after all. We all sink or swim, he figured. Got to learn somehow.
Virnaak was helped out by a stranger who happened to stroll by. The elf kept his head bowed as he was shyly escorted away from Rían, who was now left alone. Vashti yelled at him before leaving, saying Virnaak had some sickness that prevented him from being in sea water. Rían had a difficult time deciding whether he should be amused at the big fuss or if he ought to feel bad, but opted to have a swig of rum instead. He found his dwarf companion once again and talked of their fathers, how they both despised theirs. The dwarf had to go and bumbled off, and Rían went back to the boarding house.
He was still wet, clothes soaked, skin clammy, his hair even more of a red mop. The fire kept him company as he sat there wet, drunk, bleeding, and confused. Virnaak and Vashti came downstairs, the former with strange streaks of white across his face. The Barbarian didn’t understand apologies, didn’t like giving them. So he shared his rum with them instead. Simpler that way. Where the Barbarian came from, you argued with fists and made up with ale.
He looked at Virnaak’s uncanny, strangely familiar face. Didn’t know why it was familiar, but he gave the elf his flask, a gesture of trust from where Rían grew up. Not that he trusted Virnaak, of course. The Barbarian trusted no one.
Rían didn’t really sleep. He laid there awkwardly, keeping his eyes closed, ignoring the sounds behind him. He was trying his best to, at least. After the other two slept, he groaned and quietly got to his feet. He might be a big, lumbering barbarian, but he always prided himself on his stealth. He slipped out quietly, still a little too sober for his liking. But he didn’t have his flask now, since he gave it away to the elf.
The night air greeted him more warmly than anyone else ever had, and it was chilly out. He strolled a little ways—but not too far—from the bunkhouse, sticking to the shore, the water scintillating from the moonlight serving as his guide. He found a post near the waterline, flickering with the light from the torch. He sat down and rested his back against the post, taking in the dark, shiny view.
After fumbling around his clothing, he took out something that he rarely produced. He slowly opened the soft, leather bound journal. Only one page had writing, most of it scribbled over, the only legible word being ‘Dad’ signed at the bottom of the text. He remembered meeting his father for the first time. He could not have been older than six or seven. His father seemed concerned with Rían’s literacy and gave him the journal, encouraging him to write. Rían tried once and never bothered again, but he kept it with him, even though he never understood why.
Now, staring at the page, he wished he could read what his father had written. He cursed himself for scribbling over the words. He took out the quill that came with the journal and a little bottle of ink that he had never bothered to use, given to him by some mage or some pretentious cunt that he couldn’t be arsed to remember. He dipped the quill awkwardly into the ink and began to primitively etch something into the pages.
“I…” he said aloud to himself, drawing out the word as he wrote it down slowly.
It took him more time than he’d care to admit to finish, and when he was done, he stared at what he had written for at least half an hour, his shoulders hunched over like a great sack of rice. His face flushed red, completely embarrassed at what he had written. He considered chucking the journal into the lake, and probably would have, were it not so sentimental.
Sighing, he set the journal down, thinking about love, lamenting over his own violence. He thought about his sister and his mother. He missed them both. This is why I drink, he thought. He played with his mother’s eyepatch in his pocket, swearing that he saw her face and his sister’s somewhere between the stars. Then he looked at the name he wrote in the journal. The writing was childlike, and the pages were yellowed with age. He thought about that name, reminded himself of everything that happened earlier that day and the night that he was still awake for. He thought about Vashti, wondering where she wandered off to.