Cluk “Werebear” Slakar is a living legend among the Narkarians for his martial prowess, and his loyalty to the Crown. His story began some forty-odd years before present times, when King Tjorden Eddadotir VIII, father of the current king Olyvanh Eddadotir III, still ruled all of Narkarn. While fighting against the recently independent Vorfon Kafi kingdom, the old king found his forces surrounded by a rebellion and uprising from the local eastern region of Caiwyn. To the south, the honorless swine of the Takumi Masani. To the north, the brothers who had forsaken their allegiance to their king. Fighting was gory and violent, and the king’s forces gave it their all. But the pressure was mounting and the lines were about to crack. In a skirmish, the king was wounded by a Vorfon arrow, that pierced his right side. A fatal injury that would have claimed his highness’s life there and then were it not for the actions of the loyal easterner Narkarian Captain Slakar.
Nicknamed the Werebear for his immense size, thick brown hair that covered his torso, and long beard, the warrior crushed enemies left and right with his axe, driving fear into the hearts of his enemies. A part of the vanguard lead by Lord Beojoren Wilfgrimm of Nyl Wo, the Werebear was near the king when he was shot and flew to his aid. In the midst of the chaos, Lord Wilfgrimm ordered him to take the king to safety. He lifted the king and dragged the incompetent monarch across leagues of enemy territory, fending off ambushes and the perils of nature, until he managed to return to the capital Nyl Wyn. Received as a craven initially, he was jailed and flogged for his cowardice and for not allowing the king to die in honorable battle. Legends say Cluk went to the gallows poles willingly and could be heard asking for more lashes.
When the king regained his senses some days later, he demanded to see Cluk. Irate to see his savior being mistreated, the monarch reinstated Cluk as a member of his royal guard and into a higher position in the military, granting him a banner with a rampant bear with bloodied teeth, on top of a pile of skulls. A great honor for a soldier of humble origins that had been a logger before joining the military and rising through the ranks due to his physical dominance and loyalty. He then ordered Cluk to gather an army and squash the rebellion, retrieving the king’s lost crown; something which Cluk complied to the letter. Coming from native Caiwynese who knew his land, vengeance was swift and relentless, and no stone was left unturned. Upon returning to the capital, Cluk found that the king had passed away due to his injuries, the pierced leaking liver poisoning the king’s blood. Silent but grave, the hero walked the long room hall towards the throne, where a young Olyvanh of just ten years of age sat on a throne too big for him, surrounded by a solemn court in morning. The sound of the footsteps the only thing disturbing the oppressive silence, Cluk kneeled and returned the crown to its rightful owner, took off his insignias and armor, and walked away.
Cluk self-exiled himself for his failure of not keeping the king safe. He traversed Eastern Narkarn, revisiting his homeland and the sites of the uprising, passing through Vorfon Kafi into Tremanath and finding isolation in one of the Temples in the Kymune mountains. His behavior had become erratic and uncharacteristic, his nightmares taking over his self-controlled nature, giving in to burst of rage and depression. The monks kept their distance, until Cluk lashed out on one of the novices. Scared to his breaches of the giant, the novice split hot broth on the former commander’s robes, triggering the outburst. An older sage intervened and quickly dominated the enraged northman. Ashamed, Cluk cried. Since boyhood he had always been able to suck his tears dry, but this time they just came pouring through, like unstoppable waterfalls. The monks retreated into other chambers, leaving him alone in the room with a bottle of rice wine Cluk drank into a drunken dreamless sleep.
The following morning, a flash of light awoke the hungover man. He found himself in his chambers, with the old monk from the previous day standing in front of him. In a very broken Narkarian, the monk said: “You hurt in. Here person no hurt. You well. I teach. Walk back mine”, and stood by the door, holding it with his crane. The mentally depleted warrior followed the tiny old man, unsure what to make of it all. The crossed the kitchens going outside, then gardens and pens of the temple, and then the walls itself. At this moment Cluk though he was being expelled. But the monk never stopped or turned his back to the man. Instead, just continued walking higher and higher, through a narrow and tortuous path uphill. Cluk followed the slow but sure-step of his silent companion. When the crane’s clacking on the ground stopped, they were in a small overhead path with a waterfall splashing violently through a tunnel it had carved out of the rock.
Pointing his crane to the water, the man said “Stand…”, and moving his crane pointing down to the mountain’s base “…Leave”. Cluk disrobed himself and went into the pool formed by the water. “Stone”, he heard the monk say. The Werebear noticed there was a small flat-surfaced rock directly underneath the water canon. He tried to get on top of it and stand, a task that was proven surprisingly difficult. Several minutes and attempts later, Cluk stood up on top of the rock. The immense force of the water crashing against his broad shoulders. His eyes unable to see anything, his ears deaf to all but the roaring complaints of the fall. He lasted seconds until a slight change of the water flow made him shift his weight, slipping and landing hard on his side. Insult was added to injury, he was washed off the flat stone back into the pool.
“Mylinn, Kyute. Two things. Life want, balance. You, no balance. Water, make balance”. The cryptic words of the sage made little to no sense to Cluk, who just looked puzzled. With a good humored dismissal, the monk sat on a nearby boulder and both waited. A long time (could have been minutes or hours, Cluk only knew he was wet to the bones) in which the wind, water, and the chirp of birds were the sole companions to the men’s silence, a novice came rushing up the mountain. Confused by the odd scene, he approached his senior with caution, always eyeing Cluk. In whispered Tremanathi conversation, they chatted for a bit, until the sage waved the student to close in on the soaked Narkarian. The student started in a very fluent albeit mispronounced Narkarian: “Master Jo says you come as a wound in the Spiritual Migration. You are hurting because you have not found the balance in the duality. Your mind hasn’t dominated your body and your soul. Master Jho will come with you every day, at dawn, and come for you at dusk. You will fast, and you master balance when you can stand on that stone without hesitating from Mylinn, the sun rise, to Kyute, the coming of the Moon. When you are in balance with the water, you will be in balance with yourself, and you will no longer be a wound in the Spiritual Migration”.
And so it was. Day after day, the elder would get Cluk out of his bed, drop him at the waterfall, and return before the sun disappeared in the horizon. Sometimes, he would stay with novices and, oblivious to Cluk, would teach them to play yazo and sing, and read and write. While not paying attention to the slipping artist, he insisted in hearing Cluk repeat all they said. Many lunar cycles passed, and finally Cluk could stand the full day under the complaining water. He also possessed a conversational level of Tremanathi and discussed the nature of duality and the spiritual migration with Master Jho and other monks who had joined the class on the overpass. One a summer day, the old Master came at lunchtime bearing a small wooden pot of rice and vegetables, with a boiled egg. With a proud smile through his wrinkled face, announced: “You, balance.”
Although a Cluk would revised that local many times during his stay, he spent more time at the abbey helping with chores tailored towards his raw strength. He regained a lot of his lost muscle and weight, and resumed training with his axe. He found companionship with other senior students, understudies to the masters, who were highly skilled in the martial arts. They taught Cluk the art of the sword, and the mind of the war, and Cluk became a fighter capable both of delicate finesse and brutish efficiency. He shared with them the reason for his exile, his shame for not having saved his king. “Master Slakar, life not what us want be. Life give what us need become one with migration. He must finding balance through owning choices. You must are water, some time hard ice, other time slippery stone”. After more than seven years in retreat, Cluk sought Master Jho out. “I must walk. I be hungry for home”, he said with his best Tremanathi. The master smiled and bowed deeply. “Go, son of bear. Share the Balance you have learned in your home. You have made me a very proud teacher.” Cluk was stunned with the correctly spoken Narkarian. “I thought you barely spoke my tongue”. The old man grinned happily a missing teeth smile “Life is full of surprises. But you will not find out the answers if you don’t ask any questions”. And with this final lesson, Cluk left the monastery returning back home to the frozen north. He wandered for some years, performing small deeds as a beast and brigand hunter, news of his return began building up.
One day, a messenger found Cluk near a rivulet in the Frozen Tundra. Despite almost a decade since last time, Cluk recognized the insignia of Lord Wilfgrimm, in a letter that commended Cluk to join him in Nyl Wo and teach his nephew Jort to become a royal melee contender. The words of Master Jo Echoing in his brain, the veteran put the fire out and left to Nyl Wo within a heartbeat.
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