We forge our own path, choose our own future. However, sometimes we need just a tiny nudge from someone else, a pointing hand to show us there is a path besides our current one, one that leads to our destiny. Sometimes, when we lose our way, the gods will send someone to get us back on track, to show us where we belong. We only have to be able to read the signs.
I cowered close to the ground, protecting the little belongings I had with all my might. The streets on Divinity’s Reach were a battleground, hidden from everyone’s eyes as they walked by. No one noticed me—the little girl with long brown hair clad only in a dirty white dress and covered with bruises, nor did they notice the four grown up boys in the shady corner that towered over me. They didn’t want to see us, so they just paid no attention. Those arrogant nobles, those Seraph, even the normal townspeople, nobody wanted to be forced out of their comfort zone, out of the nice, undisturbed life they led. They dealt only with smaller skirmishes, maybe a little argument with the neighbor. They might actually say they cared about those people out there in Shaemoor who get hurt by centaurs on a daily basis, but they didn’t. They couldn’t deceive me. I knew they lied. It was only my anger that made me endure the pain.
“You think you can just walk into our territory and beg like you want, eh, you little bitch?” One of the boys shouted the words while kicking me again. He had short blond hair and wore clothes as battered as mine, sullied with stains of different color and patched several times. He seemed the leader of the group that shouted insults at me while kicking my body everywhere their feet could reach. I cowered on the ground, keeping my eyes half-closed and trying to protect the little things I had while enduring their abuse. They would get bored, they had to; there had to come a moment when they noticed that I refused to cry, that I wouldn’t budge, and they’d get bored enough to leave me alone. However, time passed by very slowly, and I wasn’t sure how long I had been there. I didn’t expect anyone to save me.
“Hey, what are you rascals doing over there?” The voice clearly didn’t belong to any of the boys, a fact they recognized immediately. A grown up had interfered with their little game, and I was sure they weren’t pleased, but at least they ran away as fast as they could.
I didn’t plan to stay either. Ignoring the pain in my limbs, I tried to get up on my own. It took some time but finally I stood on my feet again.
“Are you okay little Miss? You don’t look very well.” A man had spoken. It was the same voice, so he had to be the one who had spoken up earlier. Why? No one else had concerned himself with me. I was a street rat, a beggar. Sometimes they had some copper to spare, but most of the time I was nothing more than an insect to them. Something that reminded them that their world wasn’t as beautiful as they wanted it to be.
“I’m okay, I don’t need help,” I answered, harsher then I intended. “Really,” I added a little more softly, and turned around and left, the little bag of sweets I had tried to protect firm in my hand. I never expected to see him again. I was wrong.
I had a well-guarded secret. In the nearby forest was an uninhabited cave. Not very deep, but the entrance was too small for adults to enter, and even most boys wouldn’t make it inside. Besides me, nobody seemed to know about it. That was where I hid my bow. It was everything I had left from my parents. One bow and a quiver full of arrows. I practiced shooting whenever I could, leaving only time to sleep and to get something to eat when I needed it, every time scrupulously collecting the arrows afterwards. I wasn’t very good, but sometimes I was lucky and managed to shoot a rabbit or something else small.
I washed up at the river nearby to get rid of the dirt, but most of the scratches and bruises still burned. However, I had no time to care about those, I had to practice; I wanted to get better. Some weeks ago I had watched a ranger hunting, and since then I wanted to be one myself. A childish dream. How was I supposed to learn without any help? At first I told everyone I knew what my goal was, but when everyone started to laugh about my words and nobody took me seriously, I stopped. I never stopped practicing, though—I just couldn’t, but I was disheartened. Would I ever manage to achieve my dream?
“That hurt!” I dropped the bow and looked at my left arm where the string had hit me. It was the fourth time this day, and my arm was already swollen. I could usually bear it, but after the beating I had gotten today, it wasn’t that easy. I didn’t want to feel any more pain. I rubbed the place where the string had hit me but jumped a second later when I heard a familiar voice.
“You are holding it wrong.” Had he been following me? How did he know about this place anyway? “Don’t worry, it is just coincidence,” he answered a second later, reading the concern in my eyes. “I stumbled over this place some days ago and got curious when I heard the sounds. Should I show you how to do it right?”
I hesitated a second, but then I nodded. He smiled and picked up the bow. “See, if you hold it like this, the string will hit your arm nearly every time, but if you hold it like that, it won’t.” He twisted his arm a couple more times to show me the difference. I had never noticed it before. “How about trying it yourself?”
He passed the bow to me. It worked. Why had I never noticed this myself? At that moment, I was sure I would never be able to become a ranger. I hadn’t even noticed something like this, how was I supposed to make my dream come true? I started crying.
Fifteen years have passed since then, and everything had changed for me. When I wander through Divinity’s Reach now, I try to pay more attention to the streets. I try to see what others ignore because it interferes with their comfortable little world. That was why I couldn’t overlook the little girl crying in the street with the two boys at her side. They weren’t ten yet, the same age I had been when I lay on the ground and an unknown stranger saved me.
“Why are you crying?” I approached the group slowly.
One of the boys muttered something to himself and stared at me, the second one stayed quiet while the girl continued sobbing. It took the girl a while to calm down enough to be able to speak, but between the sobbing finally some words came out.
“They said I would never become a good mesmer.”
I sighed, shot a scolding glance at both boys and smiled gently at the girl, bending to wipe her tears away. “You know, some years ago a stranger told me something very important.” I vividly remembered how he had wiped my tears and how his words had changed everything for me. I repeated them for her, word for word. “You can become everything you want; all you have to do is to believe in yourself and pursue your dream with all your might. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.”
She stared at me for a while, and then slowly nodded starting to smile again.
“Who was it?” one of the boys asked, curious.
“He never told me his name, but I met him again some years ago, though he didn’t seem to recognize me. After all, I’m not that little girl anymore. He’s Captain of the Seraph now.”
I bid the little group farewell to continue my walk, suddenly remembering what that boy had muttered to himself earlier. “The Hero of Shaemoor.” I hadn’t heard that name for a while, and I hadn’t expected anyone to remember anymore.
I smiled and patted the bow on my back. Logan didn’t know that not only had he given me this name, he had shown me a path, a path that led to my destiny.