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Julian Alexandre Varys
[. Character Information .]
[. The Awakening .]
He'd been born as any other child of the time had- to a Mother who sold her body to the streets and those men or beasts so drunk they could barely tell a b***h from a barrel, bumbling down rancid mud paths on their ways to God knows where from who the hell cares. She had died that night, of course. The victim of disease and the lacking of modern medicine or the means to pay for it. And Julian, nameless then, was taken in by an old woman who'd only ventured close to see if she could snag a pretty coin or something of more value than a orphaned child.

But it's funny how things work out in the end.


Dame is what he called her. And Foundling is what she called him, for a foundling was what he was and burden to Dame and her offspring until he found the strength of leg and tongue to walk and talk. When he'd come of useful age he toddled faithfully alongside Na, his favorite of the offspring. He was as close to Na as a pair of hands and just as quick to do her bidding without a word needing be said and she favored him too, holding him in a much higher regard than her own witless brothers despite the staggering gap in age. But when the Dame died and her eldest, a man who'd recently wed, inherited the small patch of mudland Julian became just another drudge. Na and her remaining siblings were sent away, counted more a burden than an asset to their Eldest Brother. The world had an order at the time, and Julian a place, but he could not whittle himself small enough to fit into it.


In his fifteenth year, or so he'd assumed, and in sorrow and pride exiled himself to the wood. He shunned fire for fear the kingsmen would hunt him down, and so by way of cold and hunger came near to refusing life itself. He never thought to anger or please a God by it.

He was not such a fool that he could go hungry in high summer when the wild plum awaited the touch of his hand before letting go of the tree, and Na had taught him to put a name to each useful plant, pointed out its favored ground and the most auspicious season and hour to seek it. By root and stem, flower and leaf, seed and fruit she'd showed him how every plant had been marked by the god who'd created it, that they might know its nature, whether benign or malign or both at once.


When he'd fled to the forest, he'd given up begging the gods for favors, for the prayers of his short years had been ignored; he threw himself to the mercy of the wood. He did not swear a vow, but kept himself just as strictly, living like a beast in the forest from one midsummer to the next without fire or iron or the taste of meat. He lived as prey and learned from the dogs of the kingsmen how to run, from the hare how to hide in the bracken, and from the deer how to go hungry.



The world the Gods had made for him was too big, so he'd sought to make it smaller. Round and round he went, every path he took a thread; tangled. From outside one might see just how tightly he'd knotted his little world, as if his little tracks could tame or contain the wood.


He knew by the signs that it would be a harsh winter and in the harvest months had thought himself diligent. The hollies had born a heavy crop of berries and birds had stripped them bare. Crows quarreled in the reaped fields and owls cried in the mountains, mournful as widows. Fur and moss grew thicker than usual and cold rains came, driven sideways into the cleft of mountainside he'd claimed as his own by north winds and followed at the heels by snow and sleet. Fruits he'd dried and nuts buried were not enough to stave off the hunger, not nearly enough. As he went hungry his belly grew, making a hollow just beneath his ribs for the chill to roost and winter, the old crone, found his bedside each night while he slept and wrapped her icy arms around him.

Though listless and starving he crept from the rock face, forced from shelter by hunger to scrape at the snow for any sign of green the way deer did. After his caches of food had gone he'd begun to eat unnamed plants from deep in the forest where even Na had never dared to venture, sucking frozen roots, gnawing twigs and tender inner bark, wood ears and lichens, and the powdery worm-eaten wood from hollow logs.

Poisons came in many a guise, not always so bold-faced as the signs he'd been taught and not always bitter and foul-smelling so he learned through trial and error not to trust the words of others. All signs given by the Gods are true, no doubt, but the readings of humans are not always so accurate and over the years he spent growing within the wood his senses were honed by need and fear.


Eating daily was a habit he'd gotten out of. Comfort was another. No longer did he expect to be warm when it was cold, or dry when it was wet. In submission to weather and need he'd learned endurance- or rather, indifference. But famine carried a goad and drove him through the forest year after year. Everywhere he found the promise of plenty, and always too long to wait.

-------------------


And so it was in his twenty third winter, or so he'd assumed by the number of winters he'd managed somehow to survive, when he came upon a tree, the only one of it's kind in the woods. It stood solitary in a glade where a great oak had fallen and all underfoot were the blue stars of forget-us-nots. The sun lit transluscent berries a shade between purple and black in gilt cages of thorn. Silvery buds sprouted from blackened twigs were only just unfurling to wave the first green banners of spring. Julian knew the tree to be sacred by the look of it: wood as black as coal and bark the grey-yellow shade of bone in great slabs like armor. He knew not to touch the berries, for even the birds avoided them. Winter had not shriveled them; they kept round and ripe. And he was hungry. Maybe he was dying.


A taste between sweet and tart, like wine on the path to vinegar, fermented on the tree. Nothing that tasted of danger. He knew he should wait for another, but he gorged himself, pricking his fingers on the thorns and ignoring their cries of warning. He stripped them from their cages until his hands were raw and red, pierced and scratched; his blood stark against the touch-stained berries, taste muddled as if he consumed himself.


He lay where he dropped, spine bent and cracked over the uprisal of a gnarled root which no doubt ran to the center of the earth; a root he'd been standing upon to reach the higher-ups. He shook and shuddered and slept, awaking in the deepest night to find he had been divided from himself. There lay his body, sleeping, dreaming, and he stood outside of it- awakening.

Julian Varys
Community Member
Julian Varys
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