The gods of Nevre: The Wanderer – Before

Doran was ostracized from his home village shortly after he learned to talk. He was taken in by a stranger that became his father. One day his father left and never returned. Doran had a big argument with himself and one of him ended up burning down the hut where he lived. Doran had two personalities, and they often argued with each other aloud.

“Look, all I’m saying is when we’re in town you should probably let me do most of the talking. You’re not good with people.” Doran was sitting at a small campfire eating a spit-roasted rabbit.

Inbetween bites his personalities were conversing with each other. “Maybe, but when people are stupid I have to say something.

“Then think it. We don’t always have to talk aloud you know.”

I don’t like thinking thoughts. I prefer voicing them.

Doran sighed to himself. “Why can’t we ever agree on things like this?”

Because we are more than just opposites. We’re opposites inhabiting the same body.

“That’s the most profound thing I’ve ever heard you say.”

Well, bub, don’t expect it again.

“That was a compliment.”

You think I don’t know that? Geeze.

– – –

Doran was at their wit’s end. They had moved further north to avoid civilization and now food was very scarce and they were surrounded by mostly open tundra. Doran had found the only forest this far north but had quickly come to realize it was the prince’s forest.

“Who goes there in the prince’s forest?” A soldier mounted on a horse was stopped on the road.

“Sorry, soldier, we didn’t know this was the prince’s forest. We will leave at once.” Doran’s rough voice was quiet to his relief as he stepped out to meet the soldier, arms raised.

The soldier looked around like he was expecting an ambush.”We?”

“Oh, sorry. I misspoke. It’s just me, Doran the mad. You’ve probably heard of us. I mean me.”

The soldier relaxed slightly. “Yes, I have. Actually, the prince wanted to see you at his castle if you are Doran. And put your hands down.”

Doran lowered his arms. “Why would the prince want to see us.” Doran’s other voice asked, saying prince venomously.

“Well, it’s you alright. He just wants to talk.” The soldier had an exasperated look on his face. “He told me if you didn’t want to come not to force you, and the offer is open for the next month.”

Doran’s more peaceful voice forced it’s way to the surface. “Yes, I think we will go with you.”

I don’t have to be happy about it though.” Doran’s less diplomatic voice added.

Rolling his eyes the soldier dismounted his horse. “Come, follow me.”

– – –

The prince, Amir watched from atop the castle walls as a dismounted soldier approached the castle gate with a man following behind. “Did he find him that fast?”

Amir’s court jester was watching with him. “I suppose so. Why am I here with you, my prince?”

“Because you’re the most diplomatic man in the castle. Don’t tell the royal court I said that.” The prince motioned to the guard at the gate to open it. “Besides, I think you’ll enjoy this. What’s your name again?”

The jester smiled. “Jesters never give their names to those they entertain, remember?”

Amir smiled back. “I was hoping you’d slip. Come, let’s meet this Doran the mad.”

– – –

The prince and his jester approached Doran. They made it to the base of the wall just as he was walking by.

“Ah, Doran. Just the man I was looking for.” The prince stepped up alongside him. “Shall we head to my throne room together?”

“Perhaps we can talk here m’lord? I’m not used to being inside.” Doran gave a slight bow. “I will be fine either way.”

The jester reached out a hand to Doran. “I’m the prince’s jester. Everyone calls me jester.”

Doran shook his hand, and his less delicate voice spoke. “We don’t usually trust someone who doesn’t give his name,” it grumbled.

Politely the jester waited for the other voice to answer himself.

“Well, we will this time. He is with the prince, after all.”

Very well, but I don’t like it.

“I know.”

“Well, is outside fine with you m’lord,” the jester asked.

The prince answered as he shivered slightly. “Well, it would be if I was used to standing outside for long periods of time with the army, but I usually get a heated tent. Let’s go inside.”

– – –

“So in short, if you see anyone poaching in my forest you have permission to stop them, and it’s your duty to at the very least report it. In exchange, you get to hunt for yourself and sell the furs in the nearby village. Is that acceptable to you?” The jester asked, reading the summary off a scroll.

Doran whispered to himself a few times before answering. “Well, we need to hunt to live, so we accept. Though half of me is annoyed with an official document.”

“Well,” the prince said, “this document is proof that we ever had such an agreement. You get a signed copy as well.”

I don’t know what good it will do, I can’t read.

“But I can,” responded Doran’s calmer voice.

“Well, it’s settled then. Please sign here.”

– – –

A young, orange-skinned child wearing no shoes ran past Doran in the direction of the prince’s castle.

“Hold up, child. Where are you running off to without shoes? You’ll lose your feet if you keep walking on the ice like that.”

“Oh, the ice never feels cold to me. It’s just warm enough to notice when my feet are bare, but I need to hurry to the king. My father died to the blade of lord Grigori Petrovich and my mother probably will too if she hasn’t already. The king is my only hope for justice.” Then she took off running again towards the castle. Doran turned towards the castle and began walking after her.

“Fool of a child. I must help her when she leaves crying.” Then in a different voice he answered himself. “You old soft fool. If we help her she’ll end up being nothing but a burden to us.” In the first voice, he said, “well if we don’t help her we may die soon ourselves. We’re getting too old to hunt.” In the second voice he said, “very well, but no others. We still prefer our solitude, don’t we?” He nodded to himself and started to jog towards the castle.

Just as he was in view of the castle a wave of energy exploded from the castle and he disappeared into his own mind. Body and all, leaving nothing behind.

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