Campfire Tales: the empty hand

Virens rubs his hands together, cracking the knuckle bones now and then. He doesn’t meet anyone’s eyes. He’s too busy remembering.

“Not every hand is suitable for holding the Spear or Sickle, or beating the Drum. Children and the aged can’t be expected to fight or die for the clan. Parents of children either. The sick or the wounded. Their value to the clan has already been paid, or will be someday. Hunters and workers feed and shelter them, and warriors defend them, for the sake of the clan.”

“You can leave a clan, raise your spear for another leader, if you want. Young adults are expected to at least meet with other clans for this reason. But until then, the clan is family.”

Virens often handles his knife when telling stories. Tonight, he doesn’t. He looks only at his hands.

“A warrior can die. A hunter can get lost, or fall to their prey. For that reason, the clan raises the children. We know who gave birth to us, who fathered us, but they are first among equals, not exclusive family as with other races. The First Spear of the clan has a parental role as well.”

“I say this so you will understand that I am not callous or heartless. The orc I was following, the leader of the first expedition to the hinterlands, and the victim of the calamity, was in the common tongue my half-brother, Acutus. We shared a mother but not a father.”

“We took to different clans when we grew up. I am not here for personal revenge. I am here on behalf of Tosk, and my clan, and his as well. But he was still family, and I still mourn him.”