Duties to the Cold Heart  (Nathaniel Pippin)

Art By: NariKins

Failings of a friend

Art: NariKins (Tip her on Kofi)

Growing up in an honest and hardworking home, he enjoyed frolicking through the forest surrounding the village, finding curious places to see and viewpoints to look from. He helped his parents with their work and quickly learned which trees to chop for thinning the woods and which would be perfect for the craftsmanship that needed to be done. His dad, Michael Pippin, enjoyed teaching his son how to be a good lumberjack, looking forward to working the forests with him and for eventually taking over the work. His mom, Annabelle Pippin (born Ventura), a skilled woodworker, tried teaching Nathaniel woodworking and while he had talent for it, he was too interested in being outside and unable to sit still for long.

His first homemade bow was poorly made, but he still managed to get a rabbit with it after months of trying. He got scolded heavily by his dad, as the poor critter hadn't died from a proper shot, but rather bled out. Eventually, his dad arranged for some lessons with the local hunter, so that he could work a bow properly and make a better bow with enough force behind it once he got older.

As a small child, he was helping his dad in the woods, picking up branches and kindling for a campfire, when he heard a voice and some giggling. When he went to check it out, it was a small creature, a fey creature as far as he knew, leading a local girl deep into the woods. He isn't sure how or why, but the fey seemingly ran away or lost interest and he brought the girl, Talah, over to his dad's makeshift camp. The only thing he really remembered, was the chilly feeling it had given him. Nathaniel's dad called off the camping trip with his son to bring back Talah to her father as quickly as possible, as he suspected that her father, the mayor, would be worried about his daughter disappearing into the woods on her own.

This was the start of some grievances between the mayor and Nathaniel's dad, as the mayor asked him and Nathaniel to keep an eye on her and take her into the woods under supervision. Since Talah insisted on going into the woods to look for plants and other things, unable to be dissuaded, this was the solution that the mayor pressed onto the Pippins.

It took some joy from Nathaniel's father, as he enjoyed spending time with his son and teaching him all that he knew, as his father had done. But now, Nathaniel had distractions in playing bodyguard and learning the things that Talah read. At first he tried to invite Talah to join in the learning of his trade and knowledge of the local fauna, but it didn't take long for her to know more than him when it came to fauna, and she had seemingly little interest in woodworking. Unwittingly, he grew to dislike her and felt that Nathaniel was taken from him, although he tried his best to not show it and never put it into words. Michael kept his word to the mayor and eventually Nathaniel and Talah were old enough to do things on their own and he was no longer needed.

Nathaniel kept going on small camping trips with Talah over the next couple of years, and learned how to hunt better and together they knew how to live off of what they found, although sometimes gambles were made. He traded in the pelts and helped the hunters with information, as well as helped his mom and dad with the woodshop and logging occasionally. Started to save up and asked the mayor to find a new book, an exotic book, on botanicas and the like, as a birthday present to Talah. That gift turned out to be more important than he knew.

After Talah's mom suddenly left, things were hard for a while, but life continues, it always does. The book helped as a distraction and Nathaniel did what he could to encourage this. Years of being friends and bodyguard, things melted together and just became second nature to him. They would leave some day, to find more amazing plants and creatures, and perhaps fey, the fey, it was always in the back of Nathaniel's mind, he wanted to know more, needed to. From children, to now young adults, in their 20's, their wanderlust and sense for adventure were brimming stronger than ever.

And even more suddenly than Talah's mom leaving, Talah was gone, without a trace. The only thing of note, was her room, frozen over. A chill went down his spine, a sense of uncomfortable familiarity and bewilderment overtook him, along with a deep sense of failure. He gritted his teeth, took his belongings and savings, and began the hunt.