In The Steps of Bahamut
Rymon X. Woodmantle
One of the First Folk, The Keeper of Twofeather Circle
It was the 40th winter of my life when my father and I took a Walk. “As long as there is land and sky and grass, there will be those who live by these alone,” my father told me on my naming day. “Those people will always keep the land in order; those people are the Keepers, and you are one now.” We had stridden the length of his circle for a week, slowly going over every length and feature that I had known for many years before. He pointed out again the signs which defined his circle, letting me repeat each one and for whom it marked. I named each tree and pass, each type of stone and bush and grass, every hill and dale. He repeated the name of every Watcher’s tract, what they cared for, and how I will address them. The keeps and homes of the younger races we also observed, and the passes that they used. We spoke of these things long into the night, beneath a fern tree on the north bank of Whitehair River. When the sun rose the next day, he gave me my name and I took keep of our circle. My father and mother moved on, going on a Long Walk from which they have not yet returned. I have been blessed with this circle for quite a few seasons since.
We Keepers are given the right to have two names when we take our Circle; my family name is Rymon Xavier Woodmantle. My Circle name is Two Feathers. We’ve always been called Keepers, we’ve always kept. And, there are a lot of us. For every circle of ground in this land, there is a keeper. We walk off the measure of plots for farmers, the tract of pathways for travel, the fence lines of keeps. Ours is the final record of what starts where, and what ends where. Some of the races call us “landlords,” or waysayers. It doesn’t matter; by whatever name they can manage, it’s all the same. We do this because we were here first; we’re the elder people, first and arguably the best of His Creations. Here before the other people who we have to watch out for, so to speak. Being so, we’ve seen many races come and go, and lived through all of them with deep interaction and tolerance. The former because it is how we’ve always done things; the latter because, well, sometimes “people” are not easy to get along with. They think so much of themselves and so little of others; probably because if they didn’t, their existence in the world would seem small. Take the humans in this land, for instance. They like to call us by our given name as if they’ve walked with us for a while, and they often speak to us as one would talk to a child. Only a few actually ask to call us by name, while others do it as if it’s a given habit. I’ve had some of them ask “do you understand Common,” as if they’d just made it up, and I couldn’t possibly know that language. My people call it “baby talk,” and it is a generally accepted point of humor. Our reaction in open is to get along peacefully with even the most insensitive young one. To their faces, we put up with much of their misunderstanding, educating and guiding the ones who listen to enlightenment even as we chuckle at their silliness. Right up to the point when the Land comes into issue. Then, the talk gets hard and precise. The truth is spoken, and the young ones listen. The younger races know that our word is endlessly binding; it’s counted on like the rising and setting of the sun, and law with them. Our legend is to be accurate, incorruptible, accountable and impartial. They honor those qualities and we all get along in this Land with relative ease. Usually, there’s no debate on these roles.
We’ve had to argue the point over the ages, of course. No two people can ever live next to each other without some one of the two throwing a rock once in a while. To that end, we’re raised to handle ourselves in a fight. Many have been the generations of younger ones who have found out, to their dismay, that fighting an elf (as they call us) in his or her land is the worst of ideas. And even more have found out our value as allies. Again, a thing we hold to as legend. But for these occasional firebreaks, there is no question that we Keepers have the most pleasant job in the land.
We Keepers gather together on occasions to discuss the landships and celebrate births and joinings. It is in this way that we tend to our fellowship. Every Keeper knows each other, every mate and child and cohort (if we have one), and quite a few are related by blood, outside three paces. There are annual celebrations that have other significances, such as the Raising and Setting of the season, and Bow-As-One, when we gather to praise our Creator. On the business side of things, seniors come to take count of our leagues, and return to their stations to verify the ledgers every year. This is called a Gazing, and preparing for it occupies a good deal of our time during the year. It’s vitally important, because the young land “owners” use these ledgers to plot out their living places and cities.
This is much of what you’d need to know upon meeting me. Of course I’ll tell you these things if you ask, and more. Wear comfortable shoes if you want to know more, though; I can’t talk long without walking around, and in this land, that could take a bit of time.