Party: Down & Outlands
Akko was born in Urzin, a traveling village built upon the backs of Horizonback Tortoises in Xhorhas, Exandria, to Gryz and Soon, two accomplished hunters. They carried enough prestige to be granted one of the handful of houses constructed on the back of a tortoise, and from a young age, taught Akko the ways of the hunt. Though not the brightest student, all that Akko lacked in brain power was more than made up for by his exceptional strength, once even catching the eye of Sunbreaker Olomon by single-handedly pulling free a Horizonback Tortoise that had become mired in the swamp. A noteworthy feat for anyone, but that much more remarkable for a ten-year-old.
That same year, Akko embarked on his first solo hunt, successfully tracking and bringing down a Moorbounder, though the effort lasted too deep into the night for him to safely return. A nearby cave provided shelter, and the light of the fire brought a glint from a half-buried, geometric shiny rock that would serve as his pillow.
When sleep came for Akko, he dreamt of countless unfamiliar vistas, places he sensed he could visit– had visited?– and lives he could lead– had lead?– wives, and husbands, and children, and the glory of lives lost in battle, and the quiet relief of passing wrinkled and happy in his sleep, and finally when he awoke, he saw a dreamlike echo of himself, still sleeping beside him, smiling.
And when his friend awoke, Akko gathered up the Moorbounder, and they laughed and talked about the dreams they had and the places they would travel, and it occurred to Akko that he wasn’t sure how long he had been gone, or when he had left Urzin. He picked up his pace, and his friend chimed in that he had nothing to worry about– the Moorbounder was still fresh. It had only been one night.
Hours later, Akko arrived back in Urzin, and with his friend’s help, found his tortoiseback home. Gryz and Soon were overjoyed by their son’s success, but found themselves disturbed by his inability to remember how he had accomplished it. His speech was stunted. His eyes had gone a light grey, almost white. He seemed distracted. Even simple questions were difficult to answer, though it didn’t seem to faze Akko. He talked of a friend, one they could not see, though he insisted they were there. A friend who seemed to know that which Akko did not remember, and at times, details he never should have known.
With time, Akko’s new normal became his family’s new normal became Urzin’s new normal. Akko was well-liked, and loved, and while more than capable, cared for in his eccentricities. Akko’s friend, they would learn, liked to wander. And where they would wander, Akko typically followed. Some worried that Akko might wander into danger, or find himself lost, and began to sew coins into his garments. The chain shirt he wore to lead hunting expeditions, originally with a few coins hanging from loose chains at the bottom to teach him stealthiness, was augmented with larger rings in places, crafted to hold coins. He was taught that when he needed help outside of Urzin, he could offer to a merchant, or an innkeeper, or an adventurer, a coin, for many people outside of his village granted them great value.
Over the next two years, Akko grew, and laughed, and loved, and hunted, and wandered until one night, he found himself in unfamiliar terrain. His friend had wandered off toward the mountains and taken too many turns, leaving the familiar sounds and smells of the swamp behind them. In the distance, Akko spied an enormous, wondrous shape, and soon after, a group of the strangest spiders he had ever seen. They spoke, though he could not understand, and wore armor like he did, and as they surrounded him, Akko pulled a coin from his shirt and offered it to them.
They took the coin.
And more.Follow @WorrierMN