The Philosophy of the Road
Cobus sat up, letting his wolf-lined cloak fall to his lap in the rosy light of dawn as he reached into the smoldering embers of last night's fire with a stick, attempting to stir some life back into ashes. Once he had a good breakfast fire started, he pulled his iron pot towards him and dug into his pack for the cloth wrapped saltback which he sliced thinly, filling the bottom of the cooking vessel.

While the pot heated up, and with the sound and smell of crackling bacon in the air, the cleric of Fharlanghn closely inspected his boots, starting with the soles, looking for cracks or damage to the pattern there. He then pulled the tongue and dug his hand into first one and then the other to be sure that the lining wasn't damaged by the many miles he had covered yesterday.

As his hands carefully felt for any problems that could lead to bruises or blisters, his mind cast back to Brother Zaret who had brought him on his first roadwalk, one that he thought at the time would never end. He remembered so vividly how the short, fat cleric had laughed at Cobus as he cursed the rocky trail they traveled for his first stone bruise.

The senior cleric said "While the road connects all of us in profound ways far beyond the physical sense, it is truly neutral. It will never exert itself to help or hinder us in our travels. Instead we must guard our own feet and care for our own boots. If you do that, there is no road you cannot travel, no destination you cannot reach."

Cobus reached into a small leather bag and pulled out a pinch of sand which he sprinkled over the still hot saltback as a ritualistic reminder of his connection to the dust of the trail. He absently ate it along with some hard biscuits as he continued to muse on Zaret's philosophy of the Eternal Pilgrim of Fharlanghn. The god of roads and travel didn't have a sacred place his worshipers traveled to but instead the road itself, the lines between the names on the maps, were all sacred places and so his clerics were constantly fulfilling their mission by staying in motion, seeing all there was to see.

He remembered with some chagrin the look on Zaret's face when he asked on their first outing why travel and movement were so important. His Brother Traveller explained that it is only through such exploration, such discovery of new places that we can improve ourselves. "Every step is a step forward" was carved in his door at the rectory, admittedly a door he seldom saw.

Cobus smiled slyly thinking he'd finally found a flaw in his logic when he asked how long Zaret had walked the roads of the Thrangian Kingdoms. "Hmmm," his elder pondered, "It must be more than 30 years now. I've tramped from Berghoff's Castle in the Kingdom of Gnut to the Silver Mines of the Kingdom of Flak. I've fought the foul undead near Laasdorf Castle to the isolated wharves of Ooblok. I daresay there isn't a foot of road in all of the Kingdoms that I haven't walked."

The young acolyte's grin turned downright wolfish as he sprung his trap. "If you have traveled all those roads and walked all those trails, what new things can you learn from retraipsing those steps? How can *that* move you forward?" Zaret rubbed his whiskered, leathery cheeks as his eyes sparkled in amusement at the question. "Young man, you show much promise in the sharpness of your question, but you also show your naivety about the Road. Travellers and the Road aren't static things. No Walker ever steps into the same Road twice, for it's not the same Road and he's not the same Walker. When you understand that, you'll be a true cleric of Fharlanghn."

Cobus scooped more sand into the pot to clean it and proceeded to pack away his few belongings before donning his very worn armor. Without looking behind him, he took his walking staff in hand and took long strides in the only direction that mattered: forward.
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4 Comments

Andy, this might be your best post ever. I love it. It's succinct and yet so rich with details as you bring his deity's philosophy to life. The saltback, the sand in the pot, the boots all work towards creating, in Henry James's terms, "the solidity of specification" that I love so much. Plus, it's a great concept for an adventurer. I cant wait to play on Saturday.
Henry James? Wow, that's a compliment indeed. I love that phrase, one I've never heard before, but it's exactly what I *try* to do, admittedly a tactic I've lifted wholecloth from your posts about Lotar and Wendall. I wanted to blend the small details of his reality with some of the more esoteric philosophies that have placed him in that reality. I'm still trying to get a firm grip on his personality, but so far I'm loving the character. Now if I can just get him to level 2.
Fantastic post, Andy!Cobus The Traveler sounds like a fascinating character. His conversation with the old cleric was brilliant! I love the philosophy. It will be interesting to see how much of the old man's wisdom Cobus will bring with him or come to learn along the way.
Thanks again, Amanda. Glad you liked him. It took me a long time to come up with this cleric, so I'm glad the work paid off.