An ache swelled in his heart he had not known before. For many winters past, he’d found his way from childhood to manhood in this wooded area he called his home. There had been a time not long ago that he welcomed the chance to leave, but the spirits unseen would have their own say. The tasks that had been put before him were not to be ignored, and like the acorn that strained against its shell to become the mighty oak, he’d found the strength to become the warrior his mother had wished him to be.
Across the field, the weathered trees that interrupted the horizon swayed in obedience to the insistent breeze, causing a shudder to pass atop his shoulders. The forest and the plains had not changed overmuch, and almost seemed to have stilled its heart, but to his astute senses, this place, and the very air that surrounded it, he knew was not the same.
He allowed the breath in his chest to escape and he put his feet in motion. It was time. Time to let go of all that he knew. There was no one left, no one for him to protect. The accomplishment was bitter in his mouth, for as he had watched them leave one by one, a piece of him had also gone. Oh, he would have those pieces back if only he could, but to ask would merely show a weakness he felt compelled to hide. No, at 20 summers he’d shown his worth and earned the respect of the people who gave it. There would be no going back.
A single breath caught against his ribs and he focused, as he’d done so many times before, upon his mother’s everlasting glow that surrounded him always, the constant he often forgot to remember.
His footsteps faltered as he turned to look back once more. No one needed him. No one called his name.
Yes. The time had come.
He followed the path he’d walked on with his brother not so long ago, holding his head high, keeping his eyes alert. He crossed the bridge to where the portal stood, his footsteps still crying out for the memories to follow.
From beyond the shimmering portal, his mother’s welcoming arms opened to him, and his little brother smiled with pride. Without looking back, and with his hand firmly on the hilt of his sword, he bit down on the memories, and left the homeland to begin the journey of an adventurous new life.