I live in a land called Calderwood. We are known for our massive forests, strong warriors, high mountains, and plentiful harvests. We are a proud people, though not pretentious. We are a people who, up to this point in our two hundred year history have been without enemy infiltration. Though we are young, we have fought hard for what we own and are at peace with all of our neighboring tribes. We trade willingly with them for food, livestock, and spouses. We’ve been blessed with generations of wise leaders and responsible laborers. What we have never known is defeat.
There have been many small battles throughout our history, more when we first began than in recent years, and two wars. The first war was with the land of Hermebia. It was the most deadly, and we learned much from our losses. The second, with the land of Cornick, took place nearly thirty years ago. Cornick is a land inhabited by the descendants of Namere, the natives of the southern part of Calderwood who refused to join with my people to become one. Though they dwelt within the land before my ancestors traveled here, they were not strong enough to sustain their claim to the land. They were forced by my ancestors to move beyond the southern reaches of the Great Calder Mountains. This land is called Cornick because of the great Lake Cornica around which their people now dwell. While this conflict was a sad time in the history of my people, for many of the people of Namere were kindreds of my people, the Calderians, it has been to our benefit. Now that Calderians are a unified and united people, unpolluted by the eccentric culture of the descendants of Namere, our own culture has been able to flourish and become more and more refined over the years we have spent in recovery and perseverance in our attempt to remain at peace and prosperity.
The reason I am writing these words, though, is a result of the fact that I fear our land is dangerously close to an attack from within. If what I fear were to come to pass, we would find ourselves in more ruin than if the Great Calder Mountains shifted and buried us beneath them. It would be better for us to be completely wiped out than for us to self-combust, but unless the inconceivable happens, we are quickly on our way.
Gnamel, a young warrior who is the nephew of our leader, King Garman, is half Namerian. Gnamel’s father, Leen, died in the war against the descendants of Namere when Gnamel was still in his mother’s womb. Gnamel never knew his father, closest brother to King Garman both in birth and in spirit. Gnamel’s mother was the daughter of the great-great-grandson of Namere himself, the treasured patriarch of the Namerian people. Gnamel was raised in a home of conflict, within a land of peace. Because he was the king’s nephew, he was invited into the royal family as one of their own. His father, Leen, never knew he was to be a father before his death, and the news of Gnamel’s birth was as sweetly rejoiced as the death of his father was bitterly grieved. Gnamel’s mother, Kuin, had loved her husband more than anything, and had known great joy in bearing his child. She was also a very true-hearted Namerian, as the blood of her ancestor ran strongly in her veins. The knowledge that her own people had killed her heart’s love, and her child’s father, had filled her with a turmoil too great for anyone to bear. She raised Gnamel as a Namerian of the purest degree, yet allowed him also to grow in his love and understanding of my people as well. Her world was one of contrasted loyalties, and thereby her son began to feel like a stranger in both of the cultures he loved.
Most Calderians who once held great esteem for their Namerian neighbors, had come to despise them when they rose in opposition to the ways and laws of Calderwood and sought to drive us out through violence and deceit. There were few Calderians who hadn’t lost at least one member of their extended family to the knife of a Namerian they had once considered their close friend. For this reason, few Calderians held anything but strong animosity for anyone of Namerian blood. Gnamel and his mother, Kuin, were of no exception if they ventured more than a few blocks from the safety of King Garman’s protection. In the same way, Kuin and Gnamel are not welcome in Cornick, the new land of her people south of the Great Calders. Kuin once convinced King Garman to allow her and Gnamel safe passageway to Cornick, to visit deeply-missed family. Their small traveling party became the near victims of a lynching almost as soon as they had crossed into the land of Cornick. The Namerians hadn’t forgotten that they were no longer welcome in their native lands, and on that day had firmly established the understanding that no one of Namerian blood would be welcomed in their new land of Cornick.
Namerians are a people of stubborn bitterness and will not likely forget their resentment. Nonetheless, none of them have ever attempted to invade Calderwood again. Their numbers are much smaller than ours and their people are fisherman and farmers, not warriors. Interestingly, we trade regularly with them on the borders of our lands–freshwater fish for wheat and barley, herbs and spices for timber. Both sides are very careful not to step onto the opposite shore of the shallow stream that has come to serve as the physical border between Calderwood and Cornick.
Now that Gnamel has grown into a strong warrior of a man, and his mother has completely retreated from society as a malignant reservoir of anti-Calderian sentiment, his desire to weaken the societal unity of Calderwood has grown into a slow-burning passion. Many wouldn’t know this from simply observing or interacting with him, though. In fact, even the royal family is largely unaware of his hatred for the people and land of Calderwood. This is where I come into the story. My only hope is that my involvement will bring about the necessary climate for change in Gnamel’s heart before he ruins himself, his people, and the family that has given him everything he knows.