330 The Aegis of Aegin Bloodthorn
*Eldovian Era 1715, 5th day of the 7th month*
It was only an hour or so before dawn when Aegin arrived back at the festival. The Tribesman, at least those that could hold their liquor, were still celebrating. Aegin walked by them, greeting them as they greeted him. Finally, he arrived at the Elder's tent in the centre.
It was the largest there. Considering that there were around thirty Tribes here, that meant nearly 200 elders were present. As Aegin approached the tent, it became clear that all of them were in attendance at this meeting. It occurred to him as he nodded to the guards standing outside the tent that he probably shouldn't have kept them waiting.
When Aegin entered though, there was no hostility. He nodded his head in respect to them, moving forward to where Rima and Tigin were both sitting near the centre of the tent.
"Now that we're all here, we should begin," Cora stated as she stood, giving Aegin a look that was halfway between grateful he was there and annoyed he took so long.
Aegin just smiled in return.
"18 months ago, the three of you entered the Hava Rastellan in search of something," Cora stated, "The reasons were different for all of you, but here you find yourselves after all that time. Two half-blood Tribesman from the Triad Cities and a Foreigner from the East who walks the Gluttonous Path of Chaos".
No one dared interrupt Cora as she spoke, stopping before where Rima and Tigin kneeled respectfully. Aegin supposed that was where he should be as well, but he hadn't moved to kneel, and nobody had said a thing about him standing behind the two.
"You find yourselves here, among the Northern Tribes of the Hava Rastellan, having not been asked, nor coerced, yet having made some of the largest contributions in the continuation of our people and culture," Cora stated. Tigin and Rima looked up in surprise at Cora's gentle and proud tone. Cora met their gazes for a moment before she looked around at the gathered Elders.
"As Tribesman, we take pride in our identities. In our culture. We have stayed true to the old ways, not allowing Order's influence to rewrite our histories and our way of life," said Cora, "The Hava Rastellan is old. It is harsh. But it is also, as we all believe, where the strongest are born".
Cora turned back to face Tigin, Rima and Aegin, "Or, as we should learn to acknowledge and accept, where they are reborn".
The Elders, all at once, lifted their hands and then brought them down onto their thighs in a ringing slap that echoed thrice in the tent, "The Balance restored, the peace returned, strongest are the Tribesman, whose places are earned".
Cora lifted her arms and spread them wide, "If you will accept it, the Northern Tribes have all agreed that you shall be offered places among our Tribes. You have all proven that you are one of us, regardless of your bloodlines, and we see fit to acknowledge that by our deepest and oldest traditions".
Cora turned to Tigin, "Tigin, Son of None, your allegiances it seems are now torn. Whilst you have served the Red Eyed Snake Tribe dutifully, the pursuit of your hard work now has a Tribe of her own. If you accept a place, you may wear the totems of both Tribes, but one must have your allegiance".
Tigin turned to look at Rima for a moment, then he turned back to Cora.
"Thank you, for this honour. As a half-blood, while I trained with the Tribes and fought with them, I was sure that I would never truly call myself a part of any Tribe. Now, to even be given a choice…The Red Eyed Snake Tribe will always have my gratitude and my friendship, but I should stick by the woman who has been my own Tribe since we were children. I will join her if she allows it".
Rima smiled, nodding.
"Tigin, Son of None, shall join the Blue Sands Tribe, but shall bare the proof of his friendship with the Red Eyed Snake Tribe among his totems," Cora proclaimed.
"The Elders accept Tigin, Son of None," the Elders proclaimed in unison.
Cora turned to Rima, "Rima Bluesand, you have already accepted the role of Chieftain for the newly formed Blue Sands Tribe, and now you may bare that proof with the rightful totems. Your time spent among the Red Eyed Snake Tribe was much shorter, but do you wish to bare your friendship with them as well?"
Rima hesitated before she shook her head, "No, the Totems are a sacred thing, and I spent far too little and contributed far less than Tigin ever did to the Red-Eyed Snake Tribe. Whilst I will always have their friendship in mind, I do not feel that it is right for me to bare it among the totems you have honoured me with".
Cora gave a small smile, then nodded, "Rima Bluesand, First Chieftain of the Blue Sand Tribe, shall bare her position and heritage among her totems".
"The Elders accept Rima Bluesand, First Chieftain of the Blue Sand Tribe".
Finally, Cora turned to Aegin, a smile upon her lips, "As Tribesman, we believe that those who walk paths, be they Chaos or Order, should not hold allegiance to the Tribes or Peoples who are born and remain unaligned. I also know as your friend, that you will place your allegiance with nobody but yourself even if we were to ask. Still, your efforts, however selfish or selfless they may be, we will not speculate which, did directly contribute to our continued survival".
The room seemed to hold it's breath as everyone looked at Aegin for a reaction of some kind before Cora continued, "If you will allow it, Lord of Gluttony, we would name you an Elder of Tribesman".
Aegin smirked, "Lord of Gluttony, how pretentious. I'm not much for such things. I am more than happy with a place to rest and a decent meal with friends. But these are both things I have not had in quite some time. There are even times I've questioned if I've ever truly had them".
Aegin looked around at the Elders, then at Rima and Tigin before turning back to Cora.
"Here, in the Hava Rastellan, this is where I was truly reborn," said Aegin, "This is where I realised the mistakes I had made, and came to be at peace with my regrets. This is where, for the first time in a long time, I could be among those who treated me as an individual, and not a means to an end. I am honoured to have met you and known you, and it would give me no greater pleasure than to know that wherever my journey may take me in my very long life, that I can return here and feel as if I am home among the people".
Cora gave him a warm smile, then turned as Mira approached her from behind with a desert fox skin pouch in her hands. Cora unwrapped it carefully, then took out leather strap that held several wooden beads carved with different symbols. The Elder's Totem. She stepped forward and presented it to Aegin, who, for the first time and much to everybody's surprise, knelt before the old woman.
"Around my neck," Aegin stated, "Where it will be closest to my Life Lines".
Cora was surprised, as were the Elders. They were all aware of how sacred Life Lines were. For Aegin to request such a thing was unheard of, but also an unprecedented honour for them. Cora did as asked, then she turned as Aegin stood and retrieved the second item, a traditional dagger, the hilt of which was also carved with symbols and totems of the Hava Rastellan.
Aegin smiled as he received it from her.
"I name thee, Aegin Bloodthorn, walker of the Path of Gluttony, and Elder of Tribesman," stated Cora.
Aegin chuckled at the name, but there it was, carved on the blade of the dagger. Bloodthorn. Aegin recalled his dagger of blood that he'd used to 'kill' Yashi, and realised where the name had originated from.
"Is the name not to your liking?" asked Cora, confused as to why he'd laughed.
Aegin just shook his head, "Names…I was named Bloodthorn before, a long time ago. I did not like it then. But now…now I cannot help but think that names have a way of finding us if they are meant to be".
"The Balance works in mysterious ways," Cora stated, "Perhaps the name was always meant for you".