Lorcan didn’t know how the Terrasylvans would welcome him back. He had felt like an essential part of the Order during his time there, and he had felt valued, notwithstanding his only being there a year. He had made a number of friends among the Order and the villagers, and Lorcan hoped that they had missed him, perhaps counting the months until his return. Heaven knows that Terra Sylvae was the one place that Lorcan had ever felt truly at home. His hometown of Shalemont had never held many good memories, and the monastery, well…there were only ruins of that now. He had hoped that Terra Sylvae would be the one constant in his life, and that his comrades would continue to accept him.
Even though it had only been three years since Ul’vade and Evanlyn had brought him to Terra Sylvae, Lorcan felt that he had changed greatly. He had been witness to many amazing things; he had grown as a man (and he didn’t just mean his beard), and had learned a great deal about himself, and the world around him. There was so much to learn, and Lorcan only now understood how little he did know, so he couldn’t wait to fill his head with more knowledge and adventure. Oh, what he’d give for a little adventure! Even though he was really just starting out in life, Lorcan felt sure that there was much he could contribute to the Order, and he couldn’t wait to share what he’d seen and done.
Lorcan marched through the underbrush, thinning as he moved closer to the village, and whistled cheerfully as he went. It had never been so good to see the woods. All he’d been able to walk in on his crusade was palm trees and jungle foliage. It was pretty to be sure, but intolerably hot and noisy. He much preferred the cool silence of the forest. He imagined himself walking clear of the trees, finding himself in the midst of his waiting friends, being bathed in the shouts and praises of his comrades. Everyone would embrace him, and ask him amazedly how he looked so different, and what he had gone through, and- well…belike things. Lorcan expected that perhaps they would roll out some long red ribbon for him to walk on, and would play trumpets at his return. But, that would be ridiculous. Long red ribbons were expensive and impractical, and trumpets weren’t to be invented for several centuries. Perhaps a rousing Irish jig on a lute would be better. He could settle for that. Whatever his welcome was, Lorcan expected it to be grand.
What he was not expecting, however, was to be nearly shot in the head. Just as Lorcan stepped clear from the tree line, an arrow came whistling through the air, directly at his face. Lorcan reacted mercifully quickly, ducking low just as the projectile whizzed over him, vanishing into the underbrush behind him. As he ducked, Lorcan turned around to look at his wooden assailant, but thereby lost his balance, toppling backward into the dirt.
“Sorry mate!” cried out a voice from the distance. As Lorcan turned back around, he saw a young man sprinting toward him, bow in hand, with an apologetic smile on his face. He wore the cloak of a Ranger trainee, and Lorcan assumed it was this trainee’s misfire that had nearly killed him.
The trainee offered his hand to Lorcan, and pulled him to his feet. “I really am sorry mate,” he said, “I could have sworn that shot was going to make it, but the wind caught it, and it veered completely to the right.
Lorcan pushed aside the temptation to ask if he himself had been the actual target, and if he could thank the wind for his salvation, and waved aside the young man’s apology. “Don’t worry about it, accidents happen.” Lorcan was rather irritated, but he nodded his head understandingly. The lad looked apologetic enough to soften his heart a little.
The boy shrugged. Well, I have to run, welcome to Terra Sylvae!” With that, he turned and dashed off, leaving Lorcan standing there, grumbling as he brushed himself off and picked bits of grass and twigs off his tunic.
“I’m already from here,” muttered Lorcan. He began again walking across the spacious field leading to the village, all the while saying under his breath all the things he would have liked to tell the young archer about how he should be more careful.
As Lorcan climbed the hill overlooking the town, he sighed. So much for the pomp and circumstance, he thought as he climbed. He rose over the crest of the hill and looked over the village below. It looked a little different than he remembered; there were many new houses and shops, and among the throng of people in the market, there seemed to be many people Lorcan didn’t recall being there before.
So, a little tentatively, Lorcan descended the hill and strode into town. First order of business, he wanted to find some old friends. It was likely that the majority of the Order of the Rose would be training outside of town, so the closest people to him at this time of day would be Kane and Shay. Lorcan made his way through the crowded streets of town, making a path to Kane’s office. At this time of morning, the marketplace was packed to the bursting point with shoppers, and near-unnavigable. It had always amazed Lorcan how the population of a town seemed to multiply when there were daily activities of shopping, talking, and flirting to be done, and the market was the perfect example of this.
After several minutes’ struggle, Lorcan breaded the wall of commoners, and stepped into the Town’s Square, inhaling freely at last. He spotted the familiar office of the Order of the Rose across the square, in a small building made of darkly painted oak, the insignia of a rose entwined with a rapier carved into the doorpost. Lorcan walked quickly across the square, not wishing to be caught up in more of the town’s hustle and bustle, and ascended the front steps up to the office door. He breathed deeply for a moment, and pushed the door open. He expected to find an annoyed Kane grumbling behind a mountainous tower of field reports and requests from the villagers. He was half-correct in his expectations this time. The paperwork, constant as the sun, sat as it always did on the desk. But, in Kane’s chair, there sat a young lad, wearing light armor that was a little too big for him. The boy, who had been slouching, and on the verge of sleeping, bolted upright, and yelled, “Who are you? What do you want!?”
Lorcan, rather surprised, didn’t answer, his mouth lightly ajar. It was only after the boy repeated his questions that Lorcan came to himself. He eyed the boy curiously, wondering if he were some village boy making some kind of joke. He said, “I’m Lorcan MacBroin, and I’m looking for Kane Driscol. Would you know where I can find him?”
The Lad puffed himself up, squaring his shoulders, and proudly declared, “I’m Kane Driscol, Captain of the Order of the Rose. What do you need, citizen?”
Lorcan raised his eyebrow, a small, wry smile twisting his lips. “A little young to be Captain, aren’t you son?” Waving his hand at the boy’s ingingnat expression, Lorcan added, “I know Kane already, and I know that you aren’t the Captain. What’s your name lad?”
The boy deflated slightly, looking disappointed. “Vincent,” he mumbled, looking down.
“Well, Vincent, as much of a pleasure as it is to meet you, I do need to know where the real Kane Driscol is. I’m sure you’re doing an excellent job standing in for him, but I’m an old friend of the Captain’s so if you could tell me where he is…” Lorcan looked expectantly at Vincent, who perked up, anxious to be useful.
“Nobody’s seen him,” said Vincent, “he just ran off into the woods without telling anyone. The sergeants say that he’ll be back soon though.”
“I suppose that figures,” muttered Lorcan. He moved back toward the door, laying a hand on it to pull it open. He looked back toward Vincent, who had a worried expression on his face, as if he feared he had done something wrong. “Thanks lad,” Lorcan said as he pulled the door open. You look good in that chair. Maybe one day it’ll actually be yours.”
With that, he exited the office, leaving Vincent to grin proudly and ease back into the Captain’s chair. Lorcan was not having a particularly good day, and he was starting to show it. He grumbled to himself, brow furrowed, as he trudged through town. He supposed that it had been a little unrealistic to expect a big welcome home, but even realistically, he had expected a little better than being nearly killed, and not being able to find friends.
Unfortunately, the day wasn’t going to get much better. Instead of finding Shay’s home, he discovered ashes and burned ruins. He also received the frightful news that Shay had vanished, along with one of Blackkoven’s men, whom she’d been keeping prisoner, and who had likely been the one to set fire to the house.
And on top of that, almost no one from the Order recognized him when Lorcan joined them at training. Lorcan found th Order in the lower woods, going through the usual exercises. He got busy trying to greet his old friends, but to little avail. Ul’vade wouldn’t have noticed him if Lorcan hadn’t bumped right into him. Rhiannon and Evanlyn were teaching some newcomers, Laddy, Tilly, Ja’ika, and Veron had left to go find Shay, and Lorcan didn’t recognize just about anybody else. Since when had the Order become so numerous anyway? That wasn’t a bad thing of course, but there were about 3 times as many people as before. Lorcan knew that 2 years could be a long time, but how could so much have changed?
As night approached, Lorcan gave up his efforts to find old friends. Instead, he grumpily and dejectedly walked back into town, and made his way toward the chapel near the town’s center. The large stone chapel was one of the largest and sturdiest building in town, just below the Woodland Castle in strength, though much smaller. Before he had left on Crusade, it had been his home. He was a priest after all, and the chapel reminded him of the monastery that his father had sent him to live in as a young boy.
Lorcan figured that no one would have moved into the chapel in his absence. Terrasylvans were religious of course, but they weren’t exactly proactively religious. They tended to worship in their own way and time. Or, like Laddy had pointed out, preaching Christianity didn’t seem like it had much of a point, as they were surrounded by far, dragons, gods, and such creatures.
So, it was with little surprise that Lorcan found the chapel empty and unlit. Lorcan’s old key still worked, and he shoved the large door open, and stepped inside. Though completely dark inside, Lorcan managed to navigate the interior by memory, making it to the back of the church, down a corridor, and to his old room. Lorcan was very tired, and just wanted the day to end. He unslung his pack, placing it on the ground, and fell face first onto his dusty bed. It’s unlikely that Lorcan was even conscious when he hit the bed, but that was probably best, as it had become quite filthy without his care. Not like it would have mattered much, it was his own bed at least. The day had not been at all what Lorcan had expected, but he hoped a little that the next day would be a little more forgiving.