That’s all we really are in the end, stories. And when we die and our soul becomes one with the great aether, we see the story of our lives play before our eyes. We see all of those that we loved and those that we lost. We see our struggles and our failures; our victories and our happiest moments.
I remember when I was young I read so many stories in my studies. Even when my lessons were complete for the day I would find some nook in a tree and would spend hours upon hours enraptured by the stories in my books. The ballads of warriors in their fight against evil, a hymn of prayer and hope to light a dark hour, a sonnet of true love that not even the bonds of time could break, the myths of ancient magics long forgotten by the realm that held the ultimate power, histories of lands that most have only dreamed of beholding, even the common folklore of the towns and cities…I read them all time and time again. And the more I read, the more I longed to see the world for myself.
I desired nothing more than the chance to see the world’s stories with my own eyes and maybe even write a few myself along the way. But who was I to abandon my duties, to escape from my destiny? I was young, I was reckless, and I would not be confined by some predetermined fate. My life was my own, and I would make my own way.
How foolish I once was. I thought myself learned and wise, when all I really did was run. I suppose after all these years I’ve never stopped running.
And so I did just that, I ran away from my home, from my destiny, taking with me my spellbook and my only friend in my youth who would accompany me throughout all of my years until the end. Emrys was a cheeky falcon, but faithful, loyal, and held an unwavering spirit.
The “Wandering Wizard” they called me. Looking back on it now, I can see how well such a title befit me. I was reckless in my youth as I continued my travels from one town to the next, never staying in one place for longer than a few days at a time. When my magic could be of service, I would offer my assistance. Whenever a soul cried out for help, I would do what I could. I never wanted their praise, and so I left as quickly as I arrived, leaving naught but a name.
But this is not my story. Well, at least not entirely. I played my part, but this is the tale of a group of wayward adventurers that originated from all walks of life. None of them, myself included, would ever have imagined that they would band together and endure through trials that would test their strength, their fortitude, the will, and the bonds of friendship they forged that would through time prove to be unbreakable.
They became more than just friends on the road looking for adventure. Neigh, adventure found us. They became a family, my family. And like all families they were not without their own struggles, but through it all we remained just that. In a time of need we could count on one another for their support.
Through some force, call it destiny, or fate, or the will of the gods, or even simple happenstance, this group of the most unlikely of friends banded together to face the darkness of the world.
Over time our company changed, as all things must as we sail down the river of time. Some left to make their own mark and to start their own lives, others…others passed in the course of our journeys, and no matter how much I learned, how powerful I would become, I could not reverse the flow of time and bring them back. Time indeed is the greatest foe of all, one that cannot be beaten. We can try to escape its clutches for a time, but must all one day succumb to it.
My pardons, it seems I have began to ramble. Please excuse an old man as he reminisces, my mind is not as sharp as it used to be. At any rate…
We did not choose our path, it was given to us. I once believed that we could control our fates, and to an extent this is true, but we all have to face our destinies in due course. After all, you can only run for so long.
And it mattered not when we left the company, as we would for the rest of our lives carry with us the memories of our accomplishments and of each other. Even as we drifted apart, we would still look back on the times we spent together and a smile would grace our lips or a tear would fall silently as we recalled the loss of one of our own.
You see, we never really forgot each other. Not even death could keep the memories of our adventures at bay. Even once we had disbanded, we would still join together every year once or twice to pay our respects to those that had fallen, be it to the sword in battle or to the icy claws of time. Years after we retired from the adventuring life, I would still pay visits to my friends, my family, if for nothing more than to check up on their lives at peace. I became an “uncle” of sorts to their children that would wander into town every now and then to visit their father or mother.
Just because the company disbanded never meant that I stopped my wandering, I’ll have you know. I became “The Wandering Wizard” entirely, the road my home.
But again, this is not just my story. This is a story of a company of friends. This is our story.
This is the story of a rogue that grew up alone on the streets of the big city, learning how to pickpocket and steal as his means of survival, of his vows to avenge those that had fallen and of how he found love more than once in the company. The soul. Without him we would surely our way and fall into darkness.
This is the story of a old militia captain, discharged from his duty, that fell into our company, of his own acts of heroism and bravery that soon led to the restoration of his rightful position as a military leader. The shield. Without him, how could we defend ourselves from our foes?
This is the story of an estranged cleric who thirsted for adventure and craved for his name to become known to the world as the leader of a group of heroes. The pride. Without him we would surely fall into obscurity.
This is the story of a bar maiden, sworn to peace, that guided our company in ways that I could not and supported us in our times of need. Though she chose not to raise her blade to fight, we would not have succeeded were it not for her aid. The calm. Without her peace our rage would have known no bounds.
This is the story of a ranger, caught up in the wilderness, who joined our family on a whim and became one of the greatest friends I have ever had, a bond that I carried with me for the rest of my life. The heart. Without him we would surely have withered and died.
This is the story of an old war veteran turned blacksmith who took up arms again to lead us into battle and through the woods, a man greater than I by any standard who I looked up to for guidance. The leader. Without his guidance we would fall into chaos.
This is the story of a crowned prince who had lost his memory to the fates of time who ventured with this company to regain what was lost at a terrible price. The sword. Without him how could we vanquish those that would do us wrong?
This is the story of a boy taken down in his prime, who had sought to finally become a man in his adventures with us. I can tell you that when his time came, he had achieved his lifelong quest. The youth. Without him the world seemed greyer and less vibrant than before…
This is the story of a young bard with no home to call her own that sought adventure, to live out her dreams that old songs and ballads had given to her, who found that and a home of her own in the company. The voice. Without her, how could our story be known truly?
This is the story of a man who had lost his family and everything he held dear to a madman, who, once our enemy, found his vengeance and his peace in our group. The strength. Without him how could we have carried on in our darkest hour?
And lastly, this is also my story, the story of a wizard who had run away from home and had found his place in the world amongst these strangers. I guided them as best I could, imparting what little wisdom I had to offer. Alone, we were weak. Together, we were strong. The wisdom. Without it we would have met disaster.
Listen, my friends and to any of those who read this, listen to the chronicles of the Tiki Company.
Every life is a story, but sometimes it takes you a lifetime to see how these individual little tales interweave, entwine, and join together to create an epic unlike any other that you have ever seen. This is the story of the Tiki Company, of its fights, its victories, its losses, and of all of the lives we have touched.
We are all leaves on the wind, cast about in the storm of life as we dance through the storms of time. We all share our beginnings, and we all must meet our inevitable ends and destinies. That, however, is not what matters. As with a leaf caught on the wind, we all end up on the ground sooner or later. What really matters, what is really important, is the path that we forge for ourselves along the way. Like the leaves on the storm winds, each path we take is unique as we flit about in the dark.
My name is Tibles of the Blue Leaf Clan, and in these last hours of my life I chronicle the entirety of the Tiki Company. All of my friends have passed on, leaving this last duty to me. I owe it to them, to all of them. It is time that I look back on my life and face the end after my long years.
I am done running.