Only art can give you freedom.


An elven artisan, experienced at various types of visual arts. He threw away his noble heritage in exchange for freedom.


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‘’Again!’‘, ordered Ethremil to his twenty year-old son, Gildorel. ’’But why?‘’ asked the boy, ’’Father, I have already written the same sentence more than thirty times. This is really the best I can achieve’’. His father’s will did not dwindle an inch: ‘’I said: Again!’‘. His eyes, full of disappointment, stared deeply at the boy. Only when Gildorel resumed writing the same, undying words, Ethremil went on complaining ’’I will not have the my son, my firstborn blood, is an incompetent illiterate who can not even write in a decent calligraphy. Look at those scribbles! You should be ashamed of yourself, son. You know well our station, what means carrying the name of our family, and yet you insist in disappointing me. You will succeed in writing that sentence in a calligraphic style decent enough for the elvenkind, or you will skip dinner tonight.‘’ Gildorel looked at his old man with sour, defiant eyes… but just for a second. ’’Yes, father.’’ he replied in the end. He started dipping the quill in the ink pot again, and concentrate once more while sketching letters on the parchment. Silently, he waited Ethremil to exit the room, only then Gildorel switched the quill to his left hand. Finally, the quill started to dance on the parchment like a swan on the water, while it was only hiking like a cripple a few seconds ago.

Gildorel’s family came from the fey lands of Anseur Forest, a conservative elven oligarchy holding peaceful, albeit troublesome diplomatic relationships with the human kingdom of Morrain (that is where we live in). Ethremil and his wife spent more than one century of their lifetime in Galaron, the capital of Morrain where the king resides, as a high ambassadors of the elven lands. Gil was only ten years old, and his sister Lorelei was a mere two years old baby, when they moved away from Galaron with their father: apparently some diplomatic incident happened in those times, and the ambassador Ethremil was suggested to move out of the city for some years with his children for the safety of the whole family.

Ethremil decided to move out of sight of the human politics, into a small peripheral village called Hommlet by its inhabitants, while Gil’s mother would remain at the court of Galaron. Gil was too young at that time to remember his mother, or the big city, but this made it easier for him to settle in the new environment, and his family was wealthy enough to afford a luxurious manor in the plains. Despite the suspicion of humans towards Gil and his family since they were the first elven settlers in the village, he managed to make acquaintance with other young people in Hommlet, like Julio, Josef, and Thrall. All in all, his social life was an acceptable one… if it was not for the relationship with his father.

Ethremil had major plans regarding Gildorel’s life, being his firstborn son, he would be the one in succeeding him in his appointment as ambassador, once he would have resumed that office. For this reason, Gil should be properly trained in etiquette, courtship, diplomacy, writing and calligraphy, and entertainment arts. Alas, none of these disciplines actually fitted for the young elf boy. ‘’Ambassador, the boy Gildorel is actually left-handed, let me instruct him to use his favorite hand and we shall achieve great results.’‘, argumented the private instructor, but Ethremil would have none of it. ’’Nonsense’’, he interrupted, ‘’Only the humans are afflicted by such petty taints, not the elvenkind. We value tradition. We value culture! An elf with some dignity does anything the way he should, or does not do it at all. No compromises. My son will write with his right hand like any other literate elf. Do you feel up to the task, sir?’’ That was not a question, it was a threat. ‘’Yes, ambassador.’’ replied the instructor.

So Gildorel started learning jobs unfit for him, learning topics he could not care for, learning them the hard way. Yet everything his father showed him was only disappointment and refusal. Ethremil was so displeased by his son’s exploits that he decided to train his daughter Lorelei in diplomatic skills as well. The girl was brilliant. She succeeded easily in every task and challenge Ethremil gave her. She had a beautiful singing voice, a natural attitude for courtesy, a soft, fluent handwriting, and always expressed herself in a delicate, but persuasive way. She was everything her brother was not, Gildorel soon realized, and she was the pride of their father. Gildorel started envying her, for he tried so hard to please Ethremil in vain, while she succeeded brilliantly with practically no effort. Yet Lori was always respectful of her brother, always treated him with kindness and kinship, always greeted him with a smile. She was so perfect; Gildorel hated that. He thought he hated her as well… still, he knew that the main problem was with his father, and that at least was true indeed.

The day his life changed, Gildorel was at the village emporium, collecting groceries. All of a sudden, he spotted a most intriguing woodcarving. It was a small statuette, representing a woman, elven girl, or perhaps a fey, but all that Gil saw in that art piece was ‘life’. Realizing that he could not shake the picture of that statue out of his mind, he started secretly to try and reproduce the figure: first as a drawn sketch on paper, then as a painting, then again as a solid figure sculpted out of flint, finally as a clay model. He found such a drive, such a passion in this newly found activity, that he could not just stop after that, and he actually started to dedicate himself to visual arts as a full fledged hobby or part time job. His attempt to do everything in secret was first thwarted by his old friend Joselfold (who in the meanwhile grew adult as quickly as only humans can do, and got himself a wife and two children), who discovered the hovel where Gildorel used to hide his art pieces. Josefold was amazed by the refinement of the paintings and statues he found, and soundly complimented Gildorel for his artistic skills. Gildorel felt like it was the first time he ever received a true compliment… It felt Good. After that event, it took short time for the news of Gildorel’s artistry to spread all over the village. Too short maybe; because it was not long before his father Ethremil became aware of it as well.

Gildorel found one day his father sitting in his secret private workshop, stern and grim, waiting for him. ‘’Son, I demand of you an explanation about all this.’’ he stated, strict, severe. ‘’Father! I…’‘, Gildorel was dismayed, ’’You are… not supposed to be here.‘’ ’’Where I am supposed to be is not of your concern, son. But your instruction and behavior are mine, instead. Now you will explain me what is this… madness.‘’ ’’Madness? This is (SPARTAAAA!) my hobby. All these pieces are the work of my free-will. They are my passion and the reflection of my soul. They are my art…‘’ ’’Art you say?!‘’, his father barked ’’this visual {\it junk} might only appease lowborns and illiterates. It is absolutely undignified for the station of your family. What are you, a laborer, who crafts tools with your hands? Are you a peasant?‘’ Ethremil was furious, like Gildorel never saw him before. ’’Of all the things you did in your lifetime that ever ashamed me, this is the biggest, son. You should be ashamed yourself. You spit on your whole noble ancestry with this futile defiance!‘’. Gildorel was broken, hearing those words, he did not imagine they could hust so much. ’’Enough of this.‘’ his father went on, ’’I want you to destroy all this {\it stuff}, and I want you to do it now and quickly. Then we will go home.‘’ In that very second, something changed inside Gildorel: ’’… no.‘’ He replied. ’’I beg your pardon, son?‘’. ’’NO!‘’ he stated once again, ’’This is mine. This is ME! I will not negate who I am to please you, father, ever again!‘’. ’’How do you dare to defy me? ME! Your father!‘’, spouted Ethremil ’’You will do as I say right now, young elf, or you will stop considering yourself my son.‘’ ’’I don’t want to be your son!‘’ Gildorel could not believe himself saying that ’’I am nothing like you! You care about our ancestors, about our family job, our rank… you don’t care at all about me, about how I really feel. You don’t even want me as your heir, let us face it. You want Lori to continue our family business, and that is right, because she is so better than me. Then why do you care about what I do so much? Leave me be! I don’t want you to be my father, I just want you to leave me alone!‘’. Gildorel rushed these words so quickly he had to take a long breath after that. A long moment of silence followed, then Ethremil spoke: ’’Very well.’’ he only said. He stood up, and left the room in slow pace.

After those events, Gildorel was alone, and poor, but finally free. He was only Gildorel now, his family name ultimately thrown away. He found a tiny hut where to live, paid with the money he collected working as a potter and artisan in the village workshop, and selling his art pieces. He was finally free to do what he liked, and what he could do best. Clay modeling was his favorite activity, because he could use both hands at once: that way he could be respectful of the elven tradition without handicapping himself in the process. At that time he didn’t speak anymore to his father, who behaved like they were complete strangers, but he did speak with his sister Lorelei, who loved him as a brother still. She was a bit worried at the beginning, but then she was very proud of the courage Gildorel showed to their father on that fateful day, and their relationship grew somehow closer than it ever had been before. It was actually from Lori that Gil learned that Ethremil was being called to Galaron once again, and he planned to move there soon, together with his daughter. Gil found himself happy that his sister could actually satisfy her dream of living in the capital, just as he did.

And then the fire came. The village granary burned to a crisp in a heartbeat, like a straw in the summer sun. And with the fire came the madness. Those bastards hanged Firecracker Nils for no reason other than his passion for fireworks, with no sensible proof. Panic and horror escalated quickly, up to the point where the whole village council was summoned, just one day prior to the scheduled departure of Ethremil and Lorelei. The town hall was overfull, Gil realized, and he spied Lori and Ethremil on the other side of the great hall. A dungeon crawl to an ancient warchief tomb, that was the plan of the burgomaster, filled with deathtraps, mortal dangers, and monstrosities. For the sake of the village community everyone had to make a sacrifice, that was the message: the secondborn of every family would take part in the adventuring. A general sense of discomfort and uneasiness filled the hall, people shouting, mumbling and complaining, the militia trying to keep the order. Gil turned his head, not to look at Ethremil, but to look at his sister instead. She was… defeated. She looked frightened, desperate, lost, her mouth dropped open in astonishment. She looked so tiny and fragile in a way that Gil never saw her before. She was… lovely. Gil felt in that very moment to love her so much, he never realized it before, he wanted to protect her. ‘’I want to take Lori’s place! I volunteer for the dungeon crawl in stead of my sister.‘’ He shouted. There were other people volunteering, he hoped they could accept his request. The burgomaster looked troubled ’’Uhmm… I don’t know, elf. You are, after all, a firstborn. Your father should decide.‘’ Everybody looked at Ethremil, impassive, straight-faced. ’’Why should he? This is my choice!‘’, Gildorel insisted. After that, Ethremil just gave him an inquisitive stare, and left the room without saying a word. It is not clear why, but in the end the village council accepted Gildorel’s request.

Outside the town hall, Gil met Ethremil, who was waiting for him ‘’If you think this reckless act of yours will win my approval, then you are sadly mistaken, boy.’’ the older elf said. Gildorel was not impressed: ‘’Ha! If you believe I could care less about what you think, then it’s you who is sadly mistaken. I did what I did for Lori, not for you, you fool!‘’ ’’Defiant to the end, eh, son?‘’ Ethremil went on, only to be interrupted by Gil: ’’And I am NOT your son. I have a name, it’s Gildorel, you gave it to me, you might as well start to use it.‘’ Gil left his old man there, and approached his sister who was crying loudly: ’’Oh Gil, why? Why did you sacrifice yourself for me?‘’. ’’Because I love you, sister.‘’ he answered, ’’Because I want to protect you, Lori. We will always be siblings by blood, no matter what our name is.‘’ ’’I love you too, brother. You will be my brother always. Thank you Gil, thank you so much!‘’ she told him while hugging him very tightly ’’Please don’t die.‘’ She warned him, then she smiled ’’What you did was really… human!‘’ He smiled back at her: ’’Hehe, more than human. That was very, very human.’’

Ethremil and Lorelei left Hommlet on the next day. ‘’Please find a way to contact me and tell me you are safe, Gil.’‘, she made him promise. Yet the adventure in the chief’s tomb was harder than everyone foresaw. Many proud youths lost their lives to the denizens of that place, among them Magellan and Marigold were the ones closest to Gildorel. The party found a treasure and escaped that place, but at high cost. By the time Gil recovered from the physical and mental wounds he suffered, months had passed, and the fellowship of the Goose was formed soon. Now the adventuring party moved to the town of Cillamar, but Gil still hopes to track his sister down and tell her that he is fine now, that he found a new life, a new freedom. A promise is a promise, after all.


Fellowship of the Goose pietro_silvi_355