Member of the Sanctum Shields, specifically the Spears, Belster is a born ranger. Crawling through the mud and sludge of the Mire since before he could walk, and never tiring of the starry nights in the darkness of the pastures and fields around Sanctum, Belster hopes beyond hope that he can track down some clue that his elders have missed, something that will save Sanctum from the horrible pox.
The Cooper family have lived and worked in Sanctum for as long as it has stood, and before that they lived and worked in one of the three townships Sanctum grew into. By trade, Coopers are trained for (you guessed it) barrel making. However, Belster’s wanderlust and dedication to his own craft mean that his parents (and family) are just as proud of him for enlisting in the Spears as they are in his siblings for making solid barrels.
Belster’s mother often jokes that if he hadn’t been born on Winteranfang (the darkest, coldest night of the year) that he would have been content with cooping, but that his first glance at that cold night sky made him a wanderer forever!
“Bels,” as his friends affectionately called him, lived a fearless, even reckless, childhood. Whenever the whim suited him, he would disappear into the Mire for days at a time (driving his family mad). A gifted athlete, Bels would watch the Spears from treetops and rooftops, mimicking the various stances and swordplay being rehearsed.
The young Belster’s wanderlust was tempered only by his desire to do right by his community.
Coming of Age
Bels’ defining moment came when he was able to formally enlist in the Spears.
As part of the initiation to the Spears, young neophytes are sent out into the Mire alone with only a hunting knife and a small water-skin. For Bels, this was no test at all; to make it interesting, he decided to see just how far he could push himself. He strode deeper and deeper into the Mire, reckless of his location and confident that no matter where he went he would always be able to find his way back.
After two days of hiking, Bels’ confidence was not waning, but his sense of direction was. He had stumbled into one of the darkest, most canopied sections of swampland; neither the sun nor the stars were visible in the gloom, and pockets of quicksand, tar, and swamp monstrosities could be behind every tree and under every patch of cattails.
Hungry, but afraid to stop and forage; tired, but unwilling to let sleep take him, Belster continued putting one foot in front of the other. Finally, unexpectedly, he found himself in an area of flat, dry ground. The swamp’s canopy still held the reigns of the sky, but in the center of this ground-clearing was a large stone structure: it was crudely constructed, but covered in endless sigils and glyphs.
Curiosity overtook his survival instincts and he crept forward, knife drawn, to investigate. When he reached the monolithic structure, he placed his hand on one of the etched sigils, tracing it with his fingers. When he did so, it shone with an intense white light which blinded him.
When he regained his sight a few moments later, he found himself staring into the translucent grey eyes of a womanly specter, hovering in front of him! As he backed away slowly, wondering what malicious demons he had awoken by treading where he should not, the specter spoke in a melodic and lilting voice: “You have come as it was foretold, but it is not yet the appointed hour. Go. We shall meet again.” ‘
The specter pointed away from the structure, and Belster ran where the specter pointed as hard and as fast as he could.
Miraculously, after what seemed like only minutes of running, Belster broke through the dark canopy and emerged into daylight on familiar soil. Without looking back, Bels hurried back to town and spoke of his strange encounter to no one.
The specter’s words continue to haunt him: “We shall meet again.”
A Hero is Born…
To be continued…