I can remember the exact moment I really realized that I was different from everyone else. Honestly, I was probably blessed with ignorance of this fact for far longer than I should have been. Yes, I always did know that my hair was gold and no one else’s was; but there were people with red hair, and yellow hair, and brown hair and black hair, and once in a while there would be visitors to Nerosyan who had colorful hair. Back then my skin didn’t have the golden glean that it does now, it seems that as I get older more of these Aasimar traits have became more prominent. Back then, my eyes were just blue and not blue and gold as they are now. Sometimes I wonder if this trend will continue, if I gradually will become more and more grotesquely inhuman as I age.
I was around eight or nine when I first really figured it out. I was at the graduation ceremony. At the Temple of Sarenrae small children are sometimes taken in to do small tasks around the temple. These children are usually left on the steps of the temple when they are born to people who didn’t want them. Sometimes the knights would bring by a homeless child, and then sometimes a beloved child of a particularly devout family would be pledged to service in the temple. These children are called “rays” and can be seen scuttling about in abundance in the temple in their simple yellow robes.
After my encounter in the Worldwound my parents decided it was best for me to serve as a Ray in the Temple. At first I thought they were abandoning me. I would cry and scream at them to not leave me, and that I would be good, and that I’d never do it again. I never hated them for leaving me there because I always thought it was my fault that they brought me there. I was perhaps five or six when they left me there. But “left” is a harsh term. They never truly left me. My father came and visited me every time he brought produce to sell in the market, and my mother came as often as she could.
They loved me very much, and I came to understand much later that they felt they were doing the best for me by leaving me there.
But I first really realized that I wasn’t human on the day of my Ray Graduation ceremony. There were about fifteen of us Rays, and all of our parents were invited to attend the ceremony. We all stood in the temple, the sky was blue, and it was hot that day. We were barefoot in the temple, and the polished white stone floor was wonderfully cool on my feet. All of the Rays encircled an artistic depiction of a flower painted in all of the color and grandeur of the sun that was painted on the floor. The parents of each Ray stood behind them, and if that particular Ray didn’t have a parent a Priest or Priestess of Sarenrae stood there.
Everyone was so happy. The temple glowed on sunny days, and this day was no exception. I looked at all of the parent’s faces, and then at their son or daughter. Aria had hair the same color as her mother’s. Frell had the same red flush as his father. Sem was going to be rotund just like his parents. And then I looked at my parents. My parents were noticeably older than the rest of the group. They both had the weather-worn faces of ones who had spent many years working very hard. My mother’s face was always soft and kindly, and she had the smile lines and wrinkles around her eyes that proved her joy. She had soft dark brown curly hair that was very well seasoned with gray and was almost always pulled up in a messy bun. She usually wore a long soft dress with a print of tiny flowers. She was plump and goodly, and always smiling. It took me into my late teenage years to realize that she smiled so much to cover her loss.
My father was tall and dark, like a well-worn strap of leather. His skin was a dark bronze color which marked him as one likely not originally from Mendev but if he had lived anywhere else I had never heard of it. His face was tough and stoic most of the time, but I never had cause to think he didn’t love me. In fact, I could always see the love in his eyes. His hair was as dark as night, and also generously peppered with gray, like my mother’s.
I looked nothing like them. Not one feature on my face resembled any of theirs. My face wasn’t shaped like theirs, nor were my eyes – I did not have my mother’s freckles, or my father’s complexion. I felt foreign for the first time. With the other Rays standing side-by-side their birth parents I could see so clearly… that there was something not right with me.
I went through the ceremony with the feeling that there was something wrong with me. My mother tried to comfort me, but I wouldn’t tell her what was wrong. I didn’t know how to tell her that I thought she was too old to be my mom, that I couldn’t be hers because I didn’t look like her. They left for the farm, and I spent the next few weeks confused and feeling ill.
I was always close with the Temple’s Dawnmother. She reminded me of my mother, and she was always patient and kind to me. She noticed that I wasn’t behaving normally – introspective and closed off was never my natural state. She took me to her office – a sunny room, with an abundance of leafy green vine plants that spilled all across the floor and the walls. She got me to tell her how I felt. There was a little bit of a watery glaze to her eyes when she pulled a chair over to sit next to me. She told me that I was a blessed child, that the heavens and the Goddess loved me. She told me that I came from the angels and I was given to my mother and father.
She said that my parents loved me. That they had never thought they would have another child. I had known that my parents had had other children, but they were grown, and they never talked about them. There were always children around the house though, and when I was little I didn’t understand that they weren’t my brothers and sisters. There were many orphans in Mendev, and my parents were good people. I still didn’t understand, and it was a while longer before anyone gave the name “Aasimar” to what I was.
I had spent ten years of my life thinking that I was human. I mourned for a long time over the loss of my humanity. If I’m truly honest, I still mourn over it. I had been one of many, and now I was singular. I think I started to feel lonely then. I started to notice the stares then. In a few years the stares became catcalls or more if the man or woman was particularly vile or drunk. One part of me felt like I should feel complimented by the attention, but I just felt ashamed and more alien.
Someone once asked me with a voice of authority, “Why do you look like that if you aren’t to be touched?” I didn’t have an answer. There were plenty of people who just stared, so part of me wanted to let this man touch me, just for the attention, just so I knew that someone wanted me. I didn’t though. I ran.
I thought that in coming to Kenebras and doing good deeds I would eventually discover WHY I was put here. Why was I given to my parents? Was there even a reason? I thought that maybe if I proved myself someone would be able to look beyond the fact that I’m not human, and that I might feel accepted, a part of something, or maybe even loved. But I was so wrong. I’ve never been further from feeling accepted or loved. I feel forced, and tricked, and lied to.
If I was born to do this – to fight demons, to receive Terendelev’s gift, to become a “Wardstone” – why don’t I feel empowered?