Toclulluth's raven black hair stood out from his pale skin, the filtered light lending an otherworldly look to his intense face. Not that it was all from the swirling clouds... Toclulluth - known as Toc to his few friends - was one of the last of the Wanderers.
The first Wanderer had broken off from the druids long, long ago. He had known that the practices of the druids were wrong, but how he could not say. He stopped worshiping their gods to find the Truth. Near the end of his life, he had gathered a few select followers, but he had not yet found the Truth. Finally, on his deathbed, he finally found what he was searching for. A man from Gaul had heard of his search and came to show him the Truth. When the man left, the Wanderer called his second in command into his chamber. With his last breath he cried, "I have found the truth, and it has set me free!" He was full of joy, freed from his past life; minutes later, he was freed from his earthly body, as well.
Though he was gone, his hunt for the One Truth was not. News of his deathbed conversion to this new religion, Christianity, spread like wildfire. Many of his followers chose to follow the same path. There were many others, though, that rejected that Truth, certain that there was a still higher truth. Through countless years, three factions evolved - the Wanderers, the Seekers, and what came to be known as the Hunters.
The Wanderers devoted their lives to this strange God they served, and followed His will as best they could, responding to His messengers and visions. The Seekers refused to believe that the God of the Wanderers held the Truth, and continued to search for a purpose. The third group followed a lord of Darkness, a power they believed was greater than any other. Theirs was a dark group indeed; their god demanded sacrifices, and death.
All three groups knew the practices of the ancient druids, their magic and potions. The Wanderers abandoned many of the practices, knowing they were wrong; even so, they were taught how to combat them, for the other two groups were sure to use them. The Seekers fell back to the ways of the ancient druids, but for the fact that they claimed no deity. The Hunters used the same practices, as well, but added darker, more dangerous acts. To cross a Hunter was death, especially if you claimed to be a Christian.
Toc glanced around the small plaza, feeling a presence he knew did not belong. The small college was a relatively safe haven for Wanderers; many held diplomas from the distinguished university. At the time, Toc was the only Wanderer on campus. Of course, there were others of the ancient sect, as well; he had discovered a Hunter, but he was only an Ovate, not even a Bard. There were also at least two Seekers, and though one was fairly advanced, they were harmless unless aggravated, and he had no reason to believe that they would be.
Toc looked up at the darkening sky - though it was ten in the morning, it looked more like ten at night. The wind began blowing harder, whipping trees and throwing leaves and dust into the air, then stopped so quickly that Toc had to shift his weight to keep from falling. The warm air suddenly turned cold as ice when a blast of wind caused the trees around Toc to lash and crack, sending leaves spiraling away into the menacing sky. Toc watched the sky and the wind for a moment, then turned to the driving force. Usually the weather was driven by nature alone, but this rain was did not seem to be a natural one...
As suddenly as it had become cold, rain slashed down, pounding the earth. Toc continued watching - then suddenly noticed the rain curving away from him, never actually coming in contact with his body.
Startled, he leapt for shelter, then resumed watching cautiously. It was an old trick; with the right help, water would curve away from either Wanderers or Hunters. But how would someone know? Was there another Wanderer on campus? Or could there be a Hunter, more knowledgeable than the young woman? Could the first have sent for backup, in case of a power struggle? As a thought came to Toc, his already white skin turned even paler. Could it be that they were planning for conquest? Toc sat down suddenly, his mind reeling with possibilities. It was not unheard of; in fact, there were many very well documented situations where a dean, president, or company head had been gradually turned to their side, caused to believe that the Wanderers, not the Hunters, were the evil. Even churches had become cold and dead through the quiet evil of a single Hunter.
The Hunters hated Christians with a vengeance; it was the greatest honor to bring a church to its knees. Even so, they had a certain respect towards the Wanderers; if they were planning to destroy an organization, they would usually warn the Seekers and Wanderers near to it.
He could report the situation to someone, but to whom? Toc glanced around, hoping the person was within sight. There was only a solitary young man, shoulders hunched against the wind, who had just appeared from around the side of a building. It couldn't have been him, since Toc had gotten under cover before the man could have seen him. If not the young man, who could be causing the storm? Was this a warning, to get out while there was still time? If anything, Toc was not easily frightened. Death was nothing to fear; his God had conquered it. Shrugging, Toc hunched his shoulders against the driving wind. Whatever it was, he was strong enough to stand firm; he may die, but that only lead to greater things. Whatever the strange intruder had planned, he would not find Toc so easy to get past. Pulling his coat up, he hurried out into the rain. It did not curve away now, and though the nearest building was only fifty feet away, Toc was soaked before he was half way there. Throughout the day, Toc thought back to those moments in apprehension; could it be that this small university was a Hunter target? Was it next on the long list of challenges to the Hunters?
Toclulluth was a full blooded Celt; his mother was from Cymru (Wales) and his father's family had lived on Mannin (the Isle of Man) as long as they could remember. The Celts had occupied the British Isles longer than any writings, or tales, could tell; the druids, likewise, were held in power. Throughout the years, many Christians visited the Isles, but the one that left the greatest impression was a young man named Patricious - better known as Saint Patrick. He had been captured by Irish raiders at the age of sixteen, but after six years of slavery, he escaped to Gaul. Even so, he longed to return, and teach the people the Truth; in 432, he fulfilled his dream. One of the many people he spoke with was an old, old druid, searching for the truth.
As time passed, the ancients grew less powerful. When Patricious visited Eire - Ireland, as it is now known - the druids were already falling from power, and with his teachings, most of the druids were thrown from any place of authority. Three sects grew in number, mostly from druids who refused to give up the old way. The Seekers took in anyone who did not follow the new God; the Hunter's ranks swelled with men wishing to destroy the Christians, once and for all. The Wanderers also grew, yet many of their number began to incorporate the old ways - and the old gods - into their practices. Fearful that they would become like the Seekers, lost and blind to the Truth, the True Wanderers disappeared. One day, dozens of the converted druids filled the marketplaces and city squares; the next, none were to be found. No one knew where they had gone.
Toclulluth shivered, looking up at the darkened sky. The clouds from the day before were still just as dark and foreboding. The temperature had never risen since the first blasting chill; it hovered around fifty degrees all day. Toc suddenly whirled, his eyes sweeping over the gray lawns. Strange... he was sure he had seen something, a shapeless figure in a dark cloak. It was almost as if someone had been watching him. There were a few people hurrying past, but none wore black. Toc shook his head, trying to figure out what was going on. Suddenly, something else caught his attention - the grass just in front of him had changed. Not perceptibly, not now, but he had seen it change, as much with his inner eyes as with his physical eyes. Carefully, he knelt down and touched a blade - it was a hard as steel, and as sharp as a honed knife. Toc drew in his breath, knowing what this meant. No lower class Hunter could do this; it could not be the young man, unless he had sorely underestimated him. Nor could it be a Seeker; they shunned contact with the Wanderers, and would never flaunt power like this. No, there was a Hunter on campus, and he was very, very strong. As Toc stood to his feet, he heard a voice meant only for him. A biting whisper spoke to his inner ear... "You are nothing to me. You don't have to leave, though - I will enjoy watching you suffer." Even as the first voice faded away from his thoughts, a second voice, quiet yet full of loving power, far more power than any mere man, nudged his thoughts. "I will be with you; I will never forsake you."
Though he was only nineteen, Toc was well versed in the ways of the druids - both good and evil. His training had begun when he was only five years old; it had ended only two years before. Over 1500 years after the first Wanderer had found the Truth, the newest High Wanderer was ready. Whatever it may be, even to the death, Toclulluth would fulfill his purpose...
This campus would not fall.