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The winter months were long for Durbar. Winter weather, snow, and frost chilling wind forced the woodsman to remain in his smallish cabin most days. With little to do and no one to talk to, the monotony and drudgery wore down Durbar’s spirit. The winter was typically harsh as though the wild was trying to swallow the young man or drive him out. Durbar remained, stubbornly clinging to life in an otherwise bleak and barren landscape, in a small cabin with a small fire ever burning.
Despite initial enthusiasm for the possibility of seeking out Prince Rothan and pursuing a new life, Durbar’s stomach ached and his mind was like the storms beyond the walls of his cabin. The question of whether to fire his bow in the spring competition loomed over Durbar like a dark cloud. One day Durbar was calm and able to rest and work quietly, the next we couldn’t eat or sleep and spent most of the day rolled up into a ball like a child on his bed. His mind was clouded and his spirit unsettled.
The whole of winter was spent in a battle over what to do when the cold lifted. Life in the forest weighed on the young man more than ever. He was like a part of the forest, the trees, who stood still while life around them flourished and time marched on without them. He was a lone creature with no family and no community. Still, while it was a dreary and solitary life, it was the only one he knew. The thought of something unknown was terrifying and fear gripped him tightly. It was the first time he had been scared since his father died, and that fear made him angry. He did not know how to deal with the emotion, and it just pulled him even deeper into darkness, ever teetering between fear, longing and anger. Nothing he did helped to ease his psyche.
The only friend he had was his father’s old comrade, Znak, who lived in Harmon and ran a trade shop where Durbar sold and traded goods when he needed supplies. He knew very little about the city and had never spent much time there. Whenever he did go to the town, he stayed with Znak and never really saw much else. Sometimes he stayed there a few nights, if for no other reason just to have someone to talk to.
Two forces in him collided like two opposing storms. One storm was his deep loneliness and longing for more. The other storm was his fear of the unknown and a very different world that thrived in Harmon. These opposing and raging storms paralyzed him and made him feel weak. He wanted to be in control of his life and to have some direction. For the first time, his spirit flailed wildly like a tree in the midst of these two storms, on the verge of snapping.
He passed the time as he did every year: making arrows, tanning hides, and carving bows that he could sell in the city of Harmon. At times, the work was able to take his mind off the aching in his soul, but at others, he wasn’t able to focus enough to perform his tasks. He sometimes spent hours doing nothing but staring at the smoldering fire in a deep trance. He hardly ate anything at all, only enough to keep him alive. The walls seemed to close in around him, with the winter outside trapping him. Some days he thought about burning his cabin down just to force himself to leave. The only thing that kept him from losing his mind was working on bow after bow.
Finally, after two months of daily agony, as the end of winter approached, Durbar went off into the woods to visit his father’s grave. He rarely went to the spot where his father had been killed because it caused him pain. Durbar needed to make a decision; he was at his wit’s end. He hadn’t slept well in over a month. He was exhausted. His father was always so decisive, so confident, and Durbar longed for that kind of confidence, but he was not even close. In many ways, he was still the fifteen-year-old boy he was when Adar died.
There was still snow on the ground. It was even thick in shaded places and much of the forest was shaded. The air got cold when the sun went down, but it was still and clear, sobering really. As he approached the grave, the sun was low in the sky but was unable to penetrate most of the forest floor.
He got to the tree where his father laid. The tree was immense and dark. It was not far from where Adar was struck down. The trees around it were thick and made it a very quiet place to rest. Durbar marked the tree by carving his father’s name into the bark. He scarred it so badly that it had not been able to heal the grooves, and “Adar” remained clearly written there.
He collapsed from stress at the foot of the great tree and began to weep. For several minutes he sobbed and finally he looked up to the sky and cried, “Father, why did you leave me? I need you, Father. You are everything to me. I am lost without you. I don’t know what to do, Father. Please help me. Tell me what to do. I don’t know what to do.” He cried harder, repeating the various questions to the heavens truly hoping for an answer but finally drifted off to sleep, completely exhausted.
Durbar slept for about an hour underneath his father’s tree. When he awoke, it was nearly dusk. The cold mountain air was burning Durbar’s face. He shivered, face frosted from his frozen tears. It had been a long time since he cried like that. Much of the time he felt angry that his father was gone, and that anger prevented the sorrow that begged to be released. His pride tried to hold back the tears, but the love for his father was too great. He thought it made him seem weak to cry, but somehow, he felt better for it. He lay on his back and stared at the sky. For the first time since meeting Prince Rothan in the forest, his mind was empty. Finally, as the night stretched on and became deep, Durbar kissed the tree where his father laid and said, “Goodbye for now, Father. I will return someday to you, but until then I must leave you behind. I love you, and I await the day when we can see each other again.” With that, he made his way back to the cabin, ate some food, and went to sleep. The best sleep he had all of winter.