Where am I? What is this hellish place that creates itself before mine very eyes? I have been here before… but I no longer recall. My nearly 1500 years within the bowl of this desert have wrecked my memories. But something about this place, this specific place, is recognizable… I ask myself: why? Yet I have no response.
There are people surrounding me, Couldrons of all species, each one is dressed in black. This is Cimmerian, the corrupt kingdom that vies for power in this desert. Here I am, inside my tent. The storm is blowing outside, buffeting everything with sand. Inside this tent, it is surprisingly cool. Despite the fact that the storm is beating upon the walls of cloth, it holds itself up well. Being a tailor, I knew that it was my handiwork that made it well enough to withstand the carnage outside. There are Cauldrons entering randomly, each one handing me a piece of clothing, or a scrap of mail, waiting for me to repair it, or leaving the irreparable pieces here for me to use in repairs later. Some of them are impatient, but they must know that I am the best tailor here.
If I am still in Cimmerian… then I must be less than 200 years old. This is an old scene, an old memory… yes. Very old. Why do I remember this now?
My answer does not come, but something else enters my tent. He is a Xiru. Frail-looking, albino, but not the same Xiru that holds such power in Cimmerian now... This Xiru is different. Much older; older than any Cauldron that I have met before. The Xiru approaches my table.
"From whence I have come, I was ordered to find this place in which I currently inhabit." His form of speech is almost archaic. It is older than Tathoro's tongue, by at least 2000 years. This is an old creature.
"And what would you do here?" I ask.
"I would do what mine masters bid me, and they never stutter when they speak." He strips out of his armor, down to his smallclothes, and places it on the table. "I trust that you have skill enough to rework this metal and make it new again." He then places a hefty pouch that sounds of coin on the table and pushes it toward me. "Perhaps this will persuade you to make haste with the repairs." He reaches into another bag being carried by a Kaolin at least two feet taller than he. The Kaolin had walked in as I was talking to the Xiru. From the bag, the Xiru grabbed a change of clothing which included a tunic and cloak. He dons them, and then motions for the two to leave.
"Wait!" I call after him.
"What is it, master-tailor?" he replies.
"What is your name, so that I may remember it when you return for your armor?" I ask.
"Hast thou not heard it before?" he asks, almost in shock. "I have many, though none of them are important. Names are forgotten, just as are people. If thou must know, I am a high Commander of this army." And then he leaves the tent, the silent Kaolin following at his footsteps.
I remember this now. He leaves the tent, and the unexpected happens. An explosion rocks the sandy ground and punctuates through the sound of the storm. It is not far from here. Strange, I remember thinking. This is so far inside the camp. How could an explosion be so close? It was then that I realize that the enemy had cut deep into our forces. I am forced to don armor, a spear and a shield in my hands, and I am forced outside to face the onslaught.
I am not trained in combat, however I am not ill-prepared to handle it when I must. I black out, and the battle is a blur, a part of my animalistic brain's work. When I return from that state, however, there is death around me. The air holds the stench, and the heat of the Sun holds it to the sandy earth, and there is much to hold down. This is a victory for Cimmerian. The entire Lucent camp pushed back and destroyed in a massive change of hands. Perhaps it was due to this Commander-who-has-no-name. Perhaps he has died. My spear is broken, stained with the blood of Cauldrons. Can I truly call them enemy? They were only doing as bid.
Perhaps they were forced to fight as I was... This is the first day that I harbor doubts about my life in Cimmerian, and these doubts are large enough to push me to leave. But I bide my time.
For years. A hand on my shoulder--
And he was awake, being shaken by the shoulder by one of his fellow Vagabonds. He stood up and dusted himself off. He must have fallen asleep here in the heat of the day, because it was now night. The Stone Forest was lit with small flames at this hour, and Cauldrons of all race, of all shade, of all descent, yet of a single nation, intermingled and traded their wares, living meager existences that were rewarding to them, for no longer did they need to suffer beneath the chains of a nation. Here they could be free.
Back then, though... before Kalisei and the abandonment of nations by the Vagabonds, life was different, and it was not for the better.