Rhiannon set aside her project and leaned back in her chair by the dimming fire. Her fingers were stiff from an evening of stitching a coupon, a token gift for long-time members of Terrasylvae. As she wiggled her fingers towards the flames, she wondered what she’d gotten herself into when she began making these personal tributes. Each one was so unique that it required days of labor, but they were worth it, especially when the coupon family reunited itself at the shire events. One of these such occasions, in fact, was soon approaching.
“I can’t believe it’s been 20 years, Damian.” she remarked with content.
Suddenly aware of the silence, Rhiannon turned to notice her brother was sound asleep in the chair opposite her. He’d kicked off his boots when he’d returned from training; his supper sitting on the table losing heat for near an hour. Though training usually ended on time, Damian had lots to discuss with Kane and the two had likely chatted away the evening.
At least it looks like he got a few bites of food in him. She thought as she quietly approached him in his chair. She removed the bowl and spoon from his lap, placed them on a side table, and dimmed the lanterns for him to rest.
Rhiannon then returned to her chair and leaned closer towards the embers of her fire. Still feeling quite alert, she decided to feed the glow with some more wood. A couple breaths of air later, and the fire was burning bright and warm once again. She thought about the wood, the fire, and the air it took to fuel it, and then she reminisced of Terrasylvae.
It had been twenty years since she first joined a group of fencers. Rhiannon was drawn to the sword and enjoyed exploring this new art in her life. But the groups she first dueled with seemed to lack… something. She decided to take what she learned and share it with a small group of friends from her village. Before they knew it, they were all hooked. This first generation of friends developed a community where they could fence together, a community they called Terrasylvae. They established leadership, order, and a Rose Code with rules to abide by. Their fencing company became known as The Order of the Rose.
Before they knew it, more friends began to join their community and formed traditions. They began holding tournaments and dances. Occasionally the group even traveled to attend grand events with Rhiannon’s original teachers and peers. Terrasylvae was growing into a small community. It had its ups and downs, like every place does, but at the end of the day the smiles, laughter, and camaraderie kept a special little light glowing in Terrasylvae.
Damian stirred a little bit in his sleep, and Rhiannon looked over as he muttered something incoherent. He smiled and turned his head over before falling back into his deep sleep. Rhiannon reflected on her brother’s work. He’d taken on the responsibility of leading The Order of the Rose as its captain for three separate periods. It was a taxing job, but he loved it. However, about five years ago he’d felt it was time to turn the title over to someone new. Kane Driscol had recently returned from a two year crusade, and was itching to get back to his training in Terrasylvae. Damian saw this fire in him and felt he’d serve well as a captain.
And Kane did serve well. He went above and beyond the responsibilities asked of him. Because of this, Terrasylvae was able to evolve in organization and in structure. Growth became exponential as more people seemed to find their way into the land, and new training programs were developed. Soon, with the guiding eyes of Damian and Rhiannon, Terrasylvae had become a place not just for fencers in the order, but for heavy fighters, archers, dancers, gypsies, broderers, and scriveners.
Damian and Rhiannon were able to take on the new rank of Master Swordsmen. They watched the growth and all the new eager faces come and go. Kane’s fire seemed to spread among the members. He had an inward desire to always do his best to continue learning and growing. Unbeknownst to others in his company, his attitude was contagious. Many found a new inward drive to push their limits of learning, and Kane did his best to facilitate a place for each individual to grow.
A great force, however, can only be maintained for so long before there is a need to refuel. Perhaps that is why Damian himself is conked out… overseeing the community is a taxing duty. Rhiannon watched as her recently refueled fire was showing signs of dimming once again. She blew on it to feed it. The flames shimmered and shook for a minute before they regained their full height. She paused to ponder on what just a little burst of fresh air can do for a fire that has burned for so long.
Rhiannon realized, in fact, that even the strongest of fires need to refuel consistently. Kane lit quite a fire underneath Terrasylvae in his years as captain to help it grow. Now with the fire of his influence naturally fading, he has stepped down as captain. In his place, the town baker and previous lieutenant, Shay, has risen to captaincy. She is the breath of fresh air needed to keep the fire burning. It may twist and turn, even flicker out for just a moment, but as the new air feeds the fire, it rekindles to an even more beautiful flame.
Terrasylvae’s twentieth year is a milestone that all should be proud of, even for those who have not been around long enough to witness more than a few years of its existence. But no matter how new a member may be to the group, each one can learn of and focus on its foundations. Twenty years ago it was a group of friends with a common interest. Now it’s a whole village with many. If each individual can reflect on the years past, retain the integrity of its values, and look to its timeless leaders as a guide, then Terrasylvae’s flame can continue to burn bright.
It’s going to be a good twentieth year. Rhiannon smiled at the thought.