Familiar Tales readers know that there is a role among the Hunter clans that, at least in River County, has gone unfilled for many years: that of the guardian. The last man to fill that role has been dead almost a century, and the other Hunters know that something’s missing. The Hunters hearth remains cold, never lit. So long as the main hearth burns, it’s not a major concern, but it is a concern. None of the inactive Hunters has felt the call to fill that role, and the priestess has not indicated that a Hunter has an unfilled vocation.
Arthur and the others knew of the role, but he had forgotten about it. He’d never had much to do with the guardian in the southern branch of the Clan, and he’s deliberately forgotten a great deal about that time. It is past and gone. He is Boianti, “born to be a Hunter,” and that is his duty until death. He strives to be nothing more or less. Until . . .
Until he went unwillingly to the Old Land. First, he was permitted to see the Lady’s chapel in the mountain, a place he had never, ever imagined he could behold with his own eyes. Then he learned of the connection between his favored blade and a legendary Hunter of the past. Were that not enough of a boon, the tie between Arthur and his soul’s daughter was recognized and affirmed by the priestess of the oldest line of the Clan, her and the guardian with her. He’d heard of beads blessed by the Lady and Defender both, but to be given a set! Arthur was about to faint in awe by that moment. Then came the Defender’s blessing, and the realization of a new vocation, should he be allowed to take it. He was called to be a guardian. Tay witnessed and confirmed the calling.
The guardian must be an experienced Hunter, one respected by the other Hunters, and one who is an elder. He must have proven that he can provide good counsel as well as being a warrior. He must be devout, and must be a father of two generations. He is generally a sensitive, but not necessarily a magic worker himself. Thus Meister Gruenewald could never be a guardian, because he has no grandchildren, and because he’s not especially devout. (He believes, but his religiosity is his business and none other’s.) Arthur now fits all the requirements. His words have also provided soul’s comfort to two Hunters at least. That’s the seal on his being a potential guardian.
The guardian supports the priestess, and Hunts spiritual as well as other prey. When he is called to a mundane Hunt, it means something very, very serious is in the offing. As in the Terrible Hunt, where Arthur acted as Hunter and as priest. He was Defender to the Lady. Lelia supported him with magic, he took that and with, let us say Special Assistance, Arthur closed the gate and sealed that infernal plane away from ours for the foreseeable future. And then collapsed, because he’s not built to handle that kind of power. Lelia may have kept him alive until other help came when she protected him from hypothermia. He thought so, later, when everyone put the pieces together. Most of the Clan assumed that he’d gotten hit by some of the backlash when the mages did whatever it was they did and everything went rodeo. Arthur, the priestess, and his older sister knew better. His sister could see the change, the new connection between her brother and the mages. And between Arthur and something else.
The elders in the clan want Boianti to stop leading the Hunters. They will never tell him that, or try to order him, because that’s not how it is done. He has not failed in his duties. They worry. He’s the oldest active Hunter, and they can see signs of wear and tear—everyone can. The other elders also worry about his mental state. Boianti will never marry, so he lacks that support and comfort. He has a family, yet he continues to Hunt, while working more than full time. A few of the elders have spoken to the priestess about this. She has watched Boianti, and thus far sees none of the warning signs. Yet.
She also sees the change in his heart, and the possibility set before him. She wants him to take up that call. The priestess knows that the clan is unbalanced. It’s not supposed to be a matriarchy, and the Hunters need a reminder of this, as do the others. The Lady is the handmaid of the Lord, not the primary deity. The priestess also knows that some of the younger Hunters need wise counsel from someone they trust. She can’t do all of her tasks without the guardian being present. He is the balance, the physical side of the Lord’s work. She represents the spiritual side, or so the clans believe.
Until a guardian comes forward, the fire in the Hunters hearth remains cold, and the Hunters are without a spiritual guide who truly understands what they are going through. The clan needs a guardian, be it Arthur or another older Hunter.
Wow. Did not see that coming. Saw and yet missed that Arthur was the Defenders’ focus at the end of the Great Hunt, and that his orientation has become more spiritual.
Can’t wait for the new books.
Thanks, John in Indy
You gave us a “snippet” where he accepted his role as Guardian but this is still an interesting article.
Someday, you should collect these articles and let us throw money at you. 😉
Very good an informative tell
I was thinking somewhat on these lines from the Terrible Hunt; with the story of Jude, Arthur counseled and healed him in part. That’ll take a great deal of courage and a hard-to-resist appeal, maybe something like “Umm, Bunicot? It, it might be time to think, umm, … would you please …” from Deborah.
It makes a huge amount of sense; Skander as Lord Temporal, and Boitani as Lord Spiritual (and with final say, Lord and Defender willing). That spins another interesting story line inside the Clan as well. Arthur defeating a young pup with nothing more than his cane and letting him live, because “Foolish Puppy!” and Why You Don’t Try The Guardian’s Patience. That and arguments between brothers and priestess, the kind that generates a mid-summer thunderstorm from friction. “We did need the rain, after all.”
When Arthur disciplined Arkady – the senior Hunter would have killed the fool without hesitation. That Arthur only inflicted repairable damage (and Arthur’s daughter only humiliated the brat) is a sign that he’s mellowed and is looking at things in a slightly different way. Slightly.
Wow. Time to go back and re-read a few Familiars.
Yep, and he’s going to ‘fight’ it…
Until it’s proven to him, I think.